Friday, September 30, 2011

Re: So funny...

Every experience is valuable!  I've done things far worse than you, Mitch!  But, 'The road of excess leads to the 'Palace of Wisdom!'  We are wiser for...
The Grail Castle myth is important, as besides the first secular myth teaching humility, learning that big lesson!  The duty of a knight (overcoming fear and anger).
When Parsifal (or whichever 'night' I forget?), was allowed back in the Grail Castle (after spending a life of learning: saving damsels in distress and slewing dragons).  When back in he noticed that someone was suffering.  So, instead of ignoring it (being oblivious to other's in pain) as he had the first time, he didn't make the same mistake twice.  He inquired of the suffering person, 'What ails thee, Uncle?'

On Sat, Oct 1, 2011 at 10:20 AM, MITCHELL RENNER <mitchellrenner@msn.com> wrote:

Good advice!

Overcoming the 'I' involves 'knowing thyself', all the strengths and weaknesses, being aware.

Sometimes we grow to comfortable with our weaknesses and let them sometimes get the best of us.

It made me think of what is 'reason' and what is 'excuse'. My intention was partly to explain that I was literally 'braindead' early this week due to an encounter over the weekend, which I'm not really proud of and won't get into the details of, other than to say I was lying face down in the gutter at 4 am in urban Chicago, unsure of where my friend's apartment was, a Kafka-esque nightmare of my own making. Every reason is an excuse for mistakes made, and every excuse is also a reason. The only difference being intention. The important thing is that we are open to questioning our own motivations. But there is also the matter of how far one is willing to go with such self-interrogation. Few are willing to attempt to strip the ego bare of all conditioning, arriving at some understanding of 'emptiness'. Along such lines, there is the work 'Myth of Sisyphus' by Albert Camus, who summarizes life's experience as the ultimate 'absurdity' of existence, written during the early years of World War II. In an offhand way, it tries to justify or excuse the behavior of millions of people slaughtering each other on the battlefield.

This moment of clarity, where the mind is devoid of unconscious impulse, does not happen suddenly. I like to think that it arrives in steady waves, flashes, like the tide coming in, for those who dare to wade further out from the safe shores of familiarity. Each new, larger, surmounting crest of awakening presents its own set of new challenges that the ego tries to adjust to and assert stability against. The ego cannot be let go of completely, in one sudden moment; it would lead to psychosis for the unprepared, which includes me. Is this an excuse? No, we are not judged ultimately by one act or another, although each act contributes to our own suffering or enlightenment. 'Judged' is not the best word, anyway; there is no judgment, only consequences.

I thought about how the most celebrated icons of humanity were all too human, and also succumbed to the worst of their own temptations. Extremists use the fallibility of humankind to justify harsh measures of controlling individuals and society. Of course we must reprove our basest instincts and our worst behavior, just as we should celebrate our greatest efforts and transcending acts against impulsive nature. We cannot expect change without the ability to scrutinize and accept criticism, nor without putting effort into our lifelong goals and dreams. The carrot or the stick? One of the oldest metaphors in the book. At some point, we need neither, if we are fortunate to be so wise.

It also reminds me of a comment by John Cage, that every single thing that was put into a work 'mattered'. This coming from a man who at the same time suggested his work was 'meaningless'. Therein lies the koan of perceptible reality. The question is, what do we do with the time we are given, which I laugh to say, was uttered by Tolkien's wizard character Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But beyond this, what do we see, in what we have done.

Carelessness in some cases is inexcusable; we expect ourselves to rise above our conditions, and accept certain responsibilities in life. To some artists, responsibilities can seem like the walls of a prison cell. We must ask ourselves what we are responsible for, and work together to come to some mutual agreements, as to how life should be ordered and, in turn, disordered. Too much freedom in the same sense can serve as one's own prison.

Please excuse my philosophical banter and recklessness. I wish to destroy the walls of unconsciousness and open the mind to limitless possibility. In the process, sometimes like Icarus, I get to close to the flickering flames of warm temptation. Our fabricated wax wings melt away we fall to the ground and die a little bit. And then we're placed back into the maze, seeking a way 'out', only, a little bit wiser the next time.

The psychological disconnect of our understanding of nature and our failure to do so, is the maze of our making. In fury of not being able to figure out some way out, sometimes we fall back on the same paths we once walked before, exulting in our own sense of security in familiarization, only to realize later, the same traps that had been set are still there, about to apprehend us. How much of this maze have we explored? How much is enough? It isn't just a maze of barren walls and tunnels, but a maze of every single living experience that can be known. It's quite capable for a human being to be satisfied with just a simple set of experiences, and grow like a vine along those narrowly limited reaches, ever content in following the rays of the sun in some small corner of existence. I have no qualms for such. I merely question those who say 'this way is clear' when it is clearly 'trapped', those who seek to lead others down into the depths of some hellish experience. At some point I must learn to let go, but moreso, as Hutch teaches, 'to teach'. I may not know the way out, but I know of a greater expanse of freedom that can be attained.

At some point, I ask myself, do I want this for myself, simply, or do I acknowledge others, that we are all one and the same? The Theravadan and Mayahana Buddhists seem to disagree on this point, fundamentally. One waits to help others out into the sea, to presumably reach the 'other shore'; the other goes there alone. Is the Theravadan's path just 'romantic' love?

We continue wandering in that primeval forest, looking for new paths, vistas, experiences, until the place where we must give up, only to one day, return again: Nietzsche's 'eternal recurrence', and the Buddha's 'wheel of existence', or 'samsara'.

Mitch


Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 07:04:37 +0930
Subject: Re: So funny...
From: creativehaqi@gmail.com
To: creativehaqi.love@blogger.com; mitchellrenner@msn.com
CC: janking80@msn.com; ricnjan@q.com; myaslowitz@gmail.com; tobywheelerji@yahoo.com; jamur@charter.net; rajeshkhadka@hotmail.com; sarojtamang@hotmail.com; projectsdada@mac.com; keithalyons@gmail.com; www009pj@gmail.com; cfitzgerald@stanfordmed.org; bbryanmd@aol.com; hanknad@aol.com

What does 'sleepy' have to do with 'Reuters' and 'AP?'   A stretch by any imagination.... Does 'sleepy,' take your cognition away?  Why make some excuse?

I find when I fuck up (which is often), it's just better to come clean and admit, thus I say, 'Sorry, I fucked up!  Teach me!'  Or, an apology might be in order.  

All the time in my life now, I find myself apologizing... Why?  Because I finally realize how 'fucked up I' really am...   But, the 'I' 'I' call 'I,' is not the 'I!' 

The goal... Getting beyond the 'I!' 

And what about love...?  Not romantic love, but the kind without an object of desire.

H.

On Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 3:53 AM, MITCHELL RENNER <mitchellrenner@msn.com> wrote:

Oops, I feel embarrassed. Nope, Richard, AP isn't owned by Reuters. I was pretty sleepy last night. Thanks for the catch.


Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2011 15:33:11 +0930
Subject: Re: So funny...
CC: janking80@msn.com; ricnjan@q.com; myaslowitz@gmail.com; tobywheelerji@yahoo.com; jamur@charter.net; rajeshkhadka@hotmail.com; sarojtamang@hotmail.com; projectsdada@mac.com; keithalyons@gmail.com; www009pj@gmail.com; cfitzgerald@stanfordmed.org; bbryanmd@aol.com; hanknad@aol.com


Corpos. anymore, not countries.  The corpos., control the politicians that do the 'dirty work.'

H.

On Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 1:19 PM, MITCHELL RENNER <mitchellrenner@msn.com> wrote:
Reuters also owns AP...

I've heard that the Rothschild family 'controls' Reuters but I've never followed up on that claim.

Wouldn't surprise me. If you can't beat them... buy them out.



RE: So funny...

Good advice!

Overcoming the 'I' involves 'knowing thyself', all the strengths and weaknesses, being aware.

Sometimes we grow to comfortable with our weaknesses and let them sometimes get the best of us.

It made me think of what is 'reason' and what is 'excuse'. My intention was partly to explain that I was literally 'braindead' early this week due to an encounter over the weekend, which I'm not really proud of and won't get into the details of, other than to say I was lying face down in the gutter at 4 am in urban Chicago, unsure of where my friend's apartment was, a Kafka-esque nightmare of my own making. Every reason is an excuse for mistakes made, and every excuse is also a reason. The only difference being intention. The important thing is that we are open to questioning our own motivations. But there is also the matter of how far one is willing to go with such self-interrogation. Few are willing to attempt to strip the ego bare of all conditioning, arriving at some understanding of 'emptiness'. Along such lines, there is the work 'Myth of Sisyphus' by Albert Camus, who summarizes life's experience as the ultimate 'absurdity' of existence, written during the early years of World War II. In an offhand way, it tries to justify or excuse the behavior of millions of people slaughtering each other on the battlefield.

This moment of clarity, where the mind is devoid of unconscious impulse, does not happen suddenly. I like to think that it arrives in steady waves, flashes, like the tide coming in, for those who dare to wade further out from the safe shores of familiarity. Each new, larger, surmounting crest of awakening presents its own set of new challenges that the ego tries to adjust to and assert stability against. The ego cannot be let go of completely, in one sudden moment; it would lead to psychosis for the unprepared, which includes me. Is this an excuse? No, we are not judged ultimately by one act or another, although each act contributes to our own suffering or enlightenment. 'Judged' is not the best word, anyway; there is no judgment, only consequences.

I thought about how the most celebrated icons of humanity were all too human, and also succumbed to the worst of their own temptations. Extremists use the fallibility of humankind to justify harsh measures of controlling individuals and society. Of course we must reprove our basest instincts and our worst behavior, just as we should celebrate our greatest efforts and transcending acts against impulsive nature. We cannot expect change without the ability to scrutinize and accept criticism, nor without putting effort into our lifelong goals and dreams. The carrot or the stick? One of the oldest metaphors in the book. At some point, we need neither, if we are fortunate to be so wise.

It also reminds me of a comment by John Cage, that every single thing that was put into a work 'mattered'. This coming from a man who at the same time suggested his work was 'meaningless'. Therein lies the koan of perceptible reality. The question is, what do we do with the time we are given, which I laugh to say, was uttered by Tolkien's wizard character Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But beyond this, what do we see, in what we have done.

Carelessness in some cases is inexcusable; we expect ourselves to rise above our conditions, and accept certain responsibilities in life. To some artists, responsibilities can seem like the walls of a prison cell. We must ask ourselves what we are responsible for, and work together to come to some mutual agreements, as to how life should be ordered and, in turn, disordered. Too much freedom in the same sense can serve as one's own prison.

Please excuse my philosophical banter and recklessness. I wish to destroy the walls of unconsciousness and open the mind to limitless possibility. In the process, sometimes like Icarus, I get to close to the flickering flames of warm temptation. Our fabricated wax wings melt away we fall to the ground and die a little bit. And then we're placed back into the maze, seeking a way 'out', only, a little bit wiser the next time.

The psychological disconnect of our understanding of nature and our failure to do so, is the maze of our making. In fury of not being able to figure out some way out, sometimes we fall back on the same paths we once walked before, exulting in our own sense of security in familiarization, only to realize later, the same traps that had been set are still there, about to apprehend us. How much of this maze have we explored? How much is enough? It isn't just a maze of barren walls and tunnels, but a maze of every single living experience that can be known. It's quite capable for a human being to be satisfied with just a simple set of experiences, and grow like a vine along those narrowly limited reaches, ever content in following the rays of the sun in some small corner of existence. I have no qualms for such. I merely question those who say 'this way is clear' when it is clearly 'trapped', those who seek to lead others down into the depths of some hellish experience. At some point I must learn to let go, but moreso, as Hutch teaches, 'to teach'. I may not know the way out, but I know of a greater expanse of freedom that can be attained.

At some point, I ask myself, do I want this for myself, simply, or do I acknowledge others, that we are all one and the same? The Theravadan and Mayahana Buddhists seem to disagree on this point, fundamentally. One waits to help others out into the sea, to presumably reach the 'other shore'; the other goes there alone. Is the Theravadan's path just 'romantic' love?

We continue wandering in that primeval forest, looking for new paths, vistas, experiences, until the place where we must give up, only to one day, return again: Nietzsche's 'eternal recurrence', and the Buddha's 'wheel of existence', or 'samsara'.

Mitch


Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 07:04:37 +0930
Subject: Re: So funny...
From: creativehaqi@gmail.com
To: creativehaqi.love@blogger.com; mitchellrenner@msn.com
CC: janking80@msn.com; ricnjan@q.com; myaslowitz@gmail.com; tobywheelerji@yahoo.com; jamur@charter.net; rajeshkhadka@hotmail.com; sarojtamang@hotmail.com; projectsdada@mac.com; keithalyons@gmail.com; www009pj@gmail.com; cfitzgerald@stanfordmed.org; bbryanmd@aol.com; hanknad@aol.com

What does 'sleepy' have to do with 'Reuters' and 'AP?'   A stretch by any imagination.... Does 'sleepy,' take your cognition away?  Why make some excuse?

I find when I fuck up (which is often), it's just better to come clean and admit, thus I say, 'Sorry, I fucked up!  Teach me!'  Or, an apology might be in order.  

All the time in my life now, I find myself apologizing... Why?  Because I finally realize how 'fucked up I' really am...   But, the 'I' 'I' call 'I,' is not the 'I!' 

The goal... Getting beyond the 'I!' 

And what about love...?  Not romantic love, but the kind without an object of desire.

H.

On Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 3:53 AM, MITCHELL RENNER <mitchellrenner@msn.com> wrote:

Oops, I feel embarrassed. Nope, Richard, AP isn't owned by Reuters. I was pretty sleepy last night. Thanks for the catch.


Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2011 15:33:11 +0930
Subject: Re: So funny...CC: janking80@msn.com; ricnjan@q.com; myaslowitz@gmail.com; tobywheelerji@yahoo.com; jamur@charter.net; rajeshkhadka@hotmail.com; sarojtamang@hotmail.com; projectsdada@mac.com; keithalyons@gmail.com; www009pj@gmail.com; cfitzgerald@stanfordmed.org; bbryanmd@aol.com; hanknad@aol.com


Corpos. anymore, not countries.  The corpos., control the politicians that do the 'dirty work.'  

H.

On Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 1:19 PM, MITCHELL RENNER <mitchellrenner@msn.com> wrote:
Reuters also owns AP...
 
I've heard that the Rothschild family 'controls' Reuters but I've never followed up on that claim.

Wouldn't surprise me. If you can't beat them... buy them out.


This dark and dreary theme (haunted by doom), the zeitgeist of current (2011) America... Better read this article and/or see the motion picture,. U.S. friends...

Take Shelter (2011)

A Splintering Psyche or Omens of Disaster?

By A. O. SCOTT

Published: September 29, 2011

"You've got a good life, Curtis," says Dewart, Curtis's best friend and co-worker. (Dewart is played by Shea Whigham, Curtis by the amazing Michael Shannon.) "I think that's the best compliment you can give a man: take a look at his life and say, 'That's good.' "

Michael Shannon plays a father besieged by nightmares in "Take Shelter," directed by Jeff Nichols.

A sinister corollary to Dewart's homespun truism might be that the greatest fear a man can experience is that of losing the good life he has. It is this anxiety, which afflicts Curtis in especially virulent form, that defines the mood of "Take Shelter," Jeff Nichols's remarkable new film. It is a quiet, relentless exploration of the latent (and not so latent) terrors that bedevil contemporary American life, a horror movie that will trouble your sleep not with visions of monsters but with a more familiar dread.

We like to think that individually and collectively, we have it pretty good, but it is harder and harder to allay the suspicion that a looming disaster — economic or environmental, human or divine — might come along and destroy it all. Normalcy can feel awfully precarious, like a comforting dream blotting out a nightmarish reality.

What if everything that Curtis values were to be suddenly swept away? We are not talking about a life of luxury and ease, but about modest comforts and reasonable expectations: a decent job with health benefits and vacation time, a loving family, a house of your own. Curtis has all of this. He works in heavy construction and comes home to the tidy home he shares with his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), and their daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), who is deaf.

Without being a hokey paragon of proletarian virtue — Mr. Shannon's scarecrow frame and sharply angled features seem designed to repel sentimentality — Curtis is clearly a dedicated employee, a loyal friend, a doting husband and a gentle father. This makes the intensity of his terror, and his helpless, potentially destructive reactions to it, all the more alarming.

Curtis, who lives in a stretch of northern Ohio susceptible to tornadoes, has recurring nightmares of a huge, apocalyptic storm. A viscous, brownish rain falls from the sky ("like fresh motor oil," he says), as funnel clouds gather on the horizon. Shadowy, zombielike figures appear at his windows and rattle his doors, and in one especially scary episode his living room furniture rises into the air and comes crashing to the ground, as he and Hannah cower against a wall.

Are these dreams projections or premonitions? If "Take Shelter" were "Inception" or an M. Night Shyamalan brainteaser, it might turn this question into a cinematic puzzle. But while Mr. Nichols employs a handful of tried-and-true (and therefore always persuasive) shock effects to blur the viewer's sense of reality, there is something at stake beyond formal cleverness. The ambiguity that is so unbearable to Curtis — the sense that he might be losing his mind and also receiving omens of impending disaster — is crucial to the film's logic.

Curtis is a practical, thoughtful type of guy, and his two-fold response to his bad dreams reflects this aspect of his temperament. (Dewart is much more of a hothead, and if you met them both at a bar, you would think he was the crazy one, not Curtis). Troubled by a family history of mental illness — his mother (Kathy Baker) was institutionalized in her 30s and now lives in an assisted-living center — Curtis checks psychology books out of the library and presents a therapist with a plausible self-diagnosis.

But at the same time, he goes to great expense to expand the storm shelter in his backyard, borrowing heavy equipment from work and a lot of money from the bank. Curtis believes that he is delusional, but he also believes in his visions. At a certain level of realism — assuming, that is, that you interpret "Take Shelter" as a film about a man struggling with a psychological disorder — this is an important insight into a painful paradox of mental illness that rarely shows up in movies. Curtis suspects that he is sick, and is both ashamed of his condition and determined to seek treatment. But at the same time he cannot shake the conviction that his fears have meaning.

He is hardly a wild-eyed prophet on the street corner, screaming that the end is near. His diffidence makes his desperation especially painful, and his increasingly strange behavior is made more unsettling by his generally calm demeanor. Mr. Shannon's taciturn, haunted performance manages to be both heartbreaking and terrifying. You feel sorry for this guy, even as you want to run in the other direction.

In trying to protect himself and his family from whatever it is that he believes is coming, Curtis risks making his fears come true, putting his job, his marriage and his daughter's well-being in jeopardy. And in showing the potential dispossession of a working-class family, Mr. Nichols, without banging a topical drum, points toward a social catastrophe that is all too real.

Is Curtis mad, or is he prescient? You can debate this question when the movie is over — the brilliant final scene invites as much — but you are unlikely to find a comfortable answer. The real question is what difference it makes. Mr. Nichols, who scrutinized a different kind of masculine anxiety in his first film, "Shotgun Stories" (also starring Mr. Shannon), is too smart and too sober a filmmaker for that, and in "Take Shelter" he has made a perfect allegory for a panicky time. There is no shortage of delusion and paranoia out there in the world. There is also a lot to be afraid of.

"Take Shelter" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Children will hear some bad words, while grown-ups confront their own deepest fears.

TAKE SHELTER

Opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols; director of photography, Adam Stone; edited by Parke Gregg; music by David Wingo; production design by Chad Keith; costumes by Karen Malecki; produced by Tyler Davidson and Sophia Lin; released by Sony Pictures Classics. Running time: 2 hours.

WITH: Michael Shannon (Curtis), Jessica Chastain (Samantha), Shea Whigham (Dewart), Katy Mixon (Nat), Ray McKinnon (Kyle), LisaGay Hamilton (Kendra), Robert Longstreet (Jim) and Kathy Baker (Sarah).


A version of this review appeared in print on September 30, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Splintering Psyche Or Omens of Disaster?.


www.traidingsuccess.com, slogan:  'We give more; take less!'

Nope! Now America less safe! But, this is the way the Gov. controls us, by fear!

I love taking trains (Xining to Lhasa, Tibet), but by bicycle even better!


Tired of Commercial Travel?
I am, as I write this, traveling from California to Texas at the astounding speed of nearly 80 miles an hour. The more science-fiction minded of you may assume I’m in a landspeeder or piloting some sort of heavy mech. But no, the technology I’m using here today is called a “train.”

bug_altext

These days, getting halfway across the country requires you to choose between being mildly uncomfortable for a long period of time, or being deeply dehumanized for a few hours. You can drive for long periods of leg-cramping boredom, or you can fly and be treated as if you were a farm animal that might explode at any moment.
Or you can split the difference and take the train, which takes forever and gets kind of dull once you get over the initial “I’m on a train!” rush, but at least you can pay a lot of money to sleep uncomfortably through part of it.
All in all, the most efficient and pleasant approach to travel is to be drugged and thrown into the back of a van, only to wake up some time later in the well-appointed office of a crime lord, but that can be tough to book during the holidays.
Another alternative, one that’s gotten increasingly popular with the rise of social media, is what’s called “life swapping.” Instead of flying out to Urbana, Illinois to visit your parents for Thanksgiving, you find someone in Urbana who has family in your area and agree to be each other’s proxy. While they’re listening to your parents complain that you wasted your degree in marine biology, you’re close to home hearing your proxy’s fiancé discussed in icy tones. It’s still pretty tense, but at least it doesn’t involve being crowded by dozens of strangers at a luggage carousel.

In past years I tried to avoid travel by substituting voice chat, but trying to get a dozen of my relatives to install and configure voice conferencing software was, well, trying.
Trying to get a dozen of my relatives to install and configure voice conferencing software was, well, trying.
In the end the only thing we could all get working was the built-in voice chat on World of Warcraft. It was going pretty well until my cousin Verb made a crack about my great-aunt Leenie’s undead avatar being an improvement over her real face, and Leenie brought up Verb’s addiction to prescription antifungal cream, and everyone took sides and called each other names and then someone discovered the /spit command and that was pretty much it for that attempt at family togetherness. Still, it was better than most pick-up groups.
The next big step is, of course, video chat. I’m tempted to try to get everyone on Google Hangouts later this year, but I’ve realized that, bizarrely, it’s only physical presence that keeps certain members of my family in check. Without the threat of slashed tires or jus down the blouse, they have no real motivation to be nice to each other.
The train is fun for the first couple hundred miles, but in the end it’s still being locked in a moving vehicle with strangers who either didn’t like where they were or don’t want to be where they’re going. So for the upcoming holidays, I’ll probably have to put on my easily removable shoes and pack my 3.4 ounces of vodka and take a plane.
I’m still hoping to piss off the right Mafioso, though.
Photo: pmiaki/Flickr
- – -
Born helpless, naked, and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg overcame these handicaps to become a vagabond, a vagrant and a vagodepressor.

Self fulfilling prophecy... We're conceiving our own demise, interesting... The homo sapien, underdeveloped consciousness, overdeveloped intellect.


A Splintering Psyche or Omens of Disaster?

By A. O. SCOTT

Published: September 29, 2011

"You've got a good life, Curtis," says Dewart, Curtis's best friend and co-worker. (Dewart is played by Shea Whigham, Curtis by the amazing Michael Shannon.) "I think that's the best compliment you can give a man: take a look at his life and say, 'That's good.' "

Michael Shannon plays a father besieged by nightmares in "Take Shelter," directed by Jeff Nichols.

A sinister corollary to Dewart's homespun truism might be that the greatest fear a man can experience is that of losing the good life he has. It is this anxiety, which afflicts Curtis in especially virulent form, that defines the mood of "Take Shelter," Jeff Nichols's remarkable new film. It is a quiet, relentless exploration of the latent (and not so latent) terrors that bedevil contemporary American life, a horror movie that will trouble your sleep not with visions of monsters but with a more familiar dread.

We like to think that individually and collectively, we have it pretty good, but it is harder and harder to allay the suspicion that a looming disaster — economic or environmental, human or divine — might come along and destroy it all. Normalcy can feel awfully precarious, like a comforting dream blotting out a nightmarish reality.

What if everything that Curtis values were to be suddenly swept away? We are not talking about a life of luxury and ease, but about modest comforts and reasonable expectations: a decent job with health benefits and vacation time, a loving family, a house of your own. Curtis has all of this. He works in heavy construction and comes home to the tidy home he shares with his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), and their daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), who is deaf.

Without being a hokey paragon of proletarian virtue — Mr. Shannon's scarecrow frame and sharply angled features seem designed to repel sentimentality — Curtis is clearly a dedicated employee, a loyal friend, a doting husband and a gentle father. This makes the intensity of his terror, and his helpless, potentially destructive reactions to it, all the more alarming.

Curtis, who lives in a stretch of northern Ohio susceptible to tornadoes, has recurring nightmares of a huge, apocalyptic storm. A viscous, brownish rain falls from the sky ("like fresh motor oil," he says), as funnel clouds gather on the horizon. Shadowy, zombielike figures appear at his windows and rattle his doors, and in one especially scary episode his living room furniture rises into the air and comes crashing to the ground, as he and Hannah cower against a wall.

Are these dreams projections or premonitions? If "Take Shelter" were "Inception" or an M. Night Shyamalan brainteaser, it might turn this question into a cinematic puzzle. But while Mr. Nichols employs a handful of tried-and-true (and therefore always persuasive) shock effects to blur the viewer's sense of reality, there is something at stake beyond formal cleverness. The ambiguity that is so unbearable to Curtis — the sense that he might be losing his mind and also receiving omens of impending disaster — is crucial to the film's logic.

Curtis is a practical, thoughtful type of guy, and his two-fold response to his bad dreams reflects this aspect of his temperament. (Dewart is much more of a hothead, and if you met them both at a bar, you would think he was the crazy one, not Curtis). Troubled by a family history of mental illness — his mother (Kathy Baker) was institutionalized in her 30s and now lives in an assisted-living center — Curtis checks psychology books out of the library and presents a therapist with a plausible self-diagnosis.

But at the same time, he goes to great expense to expand the storm shelter in his backyard, borrowing heavy equipment from work and a lot of money from the bank. Curtis believes that he is delusional, but he also believes in his visions. At a certain level of realism — assuming, that is, that you interpret "Take Shelter" as a film about a man struggling with a psychological disorder — this is an important insight into a painful paradox of mental illness that rarely shows up in movies. Curtis suspects that he is sick, and is both ashamed of his condition and determined to seek treatment. But at the same time he cannot shake the conviction that his fears have meaning.

He is hardly a wild-eyed prophet on the street corner, screaming that the end is near. His diffidence makes his desperation especially painful, and his increasingly strange behavior is made more unsettling by his generally calm demeanor. Mr. Shannon's taciturn, haunted performance manages to be both heartbreaking and terrifying. You feel sorry for this guy, even as you want to run in the other direction.

In trying to protect himself and his family from whatever it is that he believes is coming, Curtis risks making his fears come true, putting his job, his marriage and his daughter's well-being in jeopardy. And in showing the potential dispossession of a working-class family, Mr. Nichols, without banging a topical drum, points toward a social catastrophe that is all too real.

Is Curtis mad, or is he prescient? You can debate this question when the movie is over — the brilliant final scene invites as much — but you are unlikely to find a comfortable answer. The real question is what difference it makes. Mr. Nichols, who scrutinized a different kind of masculine anxiety in his first film, "Shotgun Stories" (also starring Mr. Shannon), is too smart and too sober a filmmaker for that, and in "Take Shelter" he has made a perfect allegory for a panicky time. There is no shortage of delusion and paranoia out there in the world. There is also a lot to be afraid of.

"Take Shelter" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Children will hear some bad words, while grown-ups confront their own deepest fears.

TAKE SHELTER

Opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols; director of photography, Adam Stone; edited by Parke Gregg; music by David Wingo; production design by Chad Keith; costumes by Karen Malecki; produced by Tyler Davidson and Sophia Lin; released by Sony Pictures Classics. Running time: 2 hours.

WITH: Michael Shannon (Curtis), Jessica Chastain (Samantha), Shea Whigham (Dewart), Katy Mixon (Nat), Ray McKinnon (Kyle), LisaGay Hamilton (Kendra), Robert Longstreet (Jim) and Kathy Baker (Sarah).


A version of this review appeared in print on September 30, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Splintering Psyche Or Omens of Disaster?.


www.traidingsuccess.com, slogan:  'We give more; take less!'

What do you think of this article? Good if you can read in English, a test of sorts...? Helen, Irllin, Melinda, Richard, Jerry maybe, Michael...?

  • California's Bowers Museum Opens Tombs of China

By REUTERS

Published: September 30, 2011 at 1:30 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The closest one may ever come to being touched by a deity may be at southern California's Bowers Museum when "Warriors, Tombs and Temples: China's Enduring Legacy" opens this week showing off an ornate case that holds a bone from the Buddha's finger.

The treasure trove, residing at the Bowers from October 1 through March 4, was excavated from a key area near Xian in Shansi Province, the end point of the Silk Road and capital of the three great unification dynasties, Chin, Han and Tang.

"It is actually the cream of the crop," grins guest curator Suzanne Cahill at the Bowers, which is located in Santa Ana, about an hour south of Los Angeles and near the Disneyland theme park and other tourist attractions.

Sadly, the Buddha's bone itself didn't make the trip to the Bowers as it rarely travels. But the new show is enough to bring out a parade of Buddhist priests to bless the case that holds the holy relic.

"Buddha was cremated and they harvested whatever was left," explains Bowers President Peter Keller. The bone was found in the Famen Temple built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), an era of opulence and greater exposure to the outside world.

"When they build a temple, they have what's called a founding deposit, which is a holy object they bury under the temple," explains Cahill. "And in this case, it's probably the holiest relic in all of Asia, which was supposedly the Buddha's finger bone."

The finger was associated with miracles and drew many pilgrims. Occasionally Tang emperors went to the temple, dug up the finger and marched it around villages in elaborate processions. Upon returning, an emperor would deposit treasures with the finger -- priceless items of gold and silver he had especially made including the case bejeweled with a Sri Lankan sapphire.

NEVER BEFORE SEEN

Famen Temple was sealed in 874 A.D., and the treasure sat until 1987 after a Ming Dynasty pagoda collapsed and restorers discovered what they always suspected might be underneath: a treasure trove including a delicately sculpted golden dragon, a bejeweled headdress and a silver box and glassworks bearing Persian influence, items never before seen outside of China.

Many of those items make their world debut in the Bowers exhibit, along with a green-faced terra cotta soldier from the Chin Dynasty (221 BC - 207 BC). While each of the 8000 soldiers like this one is known to have individualized expressions, none is known to be colored. Tests show the green coloring is not the result of oxidation but appears to be paint, meant to intimidate a battlefield adversary.

The soldier and his comrades stand guard over the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. In only 14 years he unified the country, standardized the language and connected the scattered fragments of what is The Great Wall.

Despite his accomplishments, Qin Shi Huang was regarded as a ruthless conqueror who betrayed allies and ruled with an iron fist. Cahill recalls a story deriding the emperor after he died on the battlefield.

"They brought him back, they put a wick in his belly button and it burned for two weeks because he was so fat living off the sufferings of the people," Cahill said.

Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of his tomb in 215 BC, employing some 700,000 laborers working 38 years to build a complex larger than most cities. It's been called "the eighth wonder of the world."

While the Bowers' exhibit many highlights of treasures unearthed at Xian, it leaves people hungry for even greater riches yet to be discovered.

"Landing at the airport, you see a valley containing 78 burial mounds," Keller said about his many trips to Xian. "It's China's answer to Egypt's Valley of the Kings!" And for the next six months, parts of it are at the Bowers.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

www.traidingsuccess.com, slogan:  'We give more; take less!'

This will cause us, the U.S., no end of trouble... On the other hand, such helps to reduce over-population (the war never ends!).


News Analysis
American Strike on American Target Revives Contentious Constitutional Issue

Published: September 30, 2011

WASHINGTON — The reported killing of Anwar al-Awlaki on Friday, an American citizen hit by a missile fired from a drone operated by his own government, instantly reignited a difficult debate over terrorism, civil liberties and the law.

The Obama administration had long argued that Mr. Awlaki, 40, had joined the enemy in wartime, shifting from propaganda to an operational role in plots against the United States, and last year it quietly decided that he could be targeted for capture or death like any other Al Qaeda leader. It was unclear whether the same formal determination had been made about another radicalized American who may have been killed in the same strike, Samir Khan.
Some civil libertarians questioned how the government could take an American citizen’s life based on murky intelligence and without an investigation or trial, claiming that hunting and killing him would amount to summary execution without the due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution.
With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Mr. Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, a former agriculture minister and university chancellor in Yemen, had challenged the administration’s decision to place his son on the kill list, but the lawsuit was thrown out of federal court in Washington.
On Friday, Jameel Jaffer, the A.C.L.U.’s deputy legal director, said the government’s targeted killings violated United States and international law. “As we’ve seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts,” Mr. Jaffer said.
Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas who specializes in national security law, said he believed the killing was legal. But he said it was “plenty controversial” among legal specialists, with experts on the left and on the libertarian right who are deeply opposed to targeted killings of Americans.
The administration’s legal argument in the case of Mr. Awlaki, Mr. Chesney said, appears to have three elements: First, Mr. Awlaki posed an imminent threat to the lives of Americans; second, he was fighting with the enemy in the armed conflict; and third, there was no feasible way to arrest him.
But critics note that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that no American shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In ordinary circumstances, that requires a trial and conviction before government officials can order the execution of an American.
No public legal process led to Mr. Awlaki becoming, early in 2010, the first American citizen to be placed on the C.I.A.’s list of Qaeda-linked terrorists to be captured or killed. Officials said that every name added to the list undergoes a careful, if secret, legal review. Because of Mr. Awlaki’s citizenship, the decision to add him to the target list was approved by the National Security Council as well.
One complicating factor is that the precedents mainly involve the military detention of Americans who sided with the enemy during World War II, not the killing of Americans in a highly unconventional war. “What’s tricky here is that many people don’t accept that this is a war,” Mr. Chesney said. “I don’t think there has ever been a case quite like this.”
The American-educated son of an American-educated Yemeni technocrat, Anwar al-Awlaki embodied the puzzle of radicalization: How did an American citizen come to call for mass murder, in eloquent English, deftly mastering the megaphone of the Internet?
Mr. Awlaki’s eerily calm religious justifications for violence against his fellow Americans, broadcast and recycled across the Web for years, had a profound impact on a small number of young Muslims in the United States, Canada and Britain. In a score of plots since 2006, investigators discerned Mr. Awlaki as an important radicalizing influence, his written, audio and video sermons stored on hard drives, e-mailed among conspirators and treated as an authoritative clerical imprimatur for their deeds.
At least since 2009, American intelligence officials asserted, he had taken on a more significant role in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based branch of the terrorism network. Notably, they said he had helped recruit and train Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian who tried to blow up an airliner headed for Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009 with a bomb sewn into his underwear.
Whatever the details of his hands-on participation in terrorism, Mr. Awlaki left no doubts about where he stood, certainly since November 2009, when he praised Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army major accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, as a hero.
The latest issue of Inspire, the slick English-language online magazine that he and Mr. Khan contributed to and may have edited, promised that “coming soon” would be an article by Mr. Awlaki titled “Targeting the Populations of Countries That Are At War with the Muslims.”

Stephen in Auckland, N.Z.

Stephen, thanks for inquiring...

Arriving Monday evening, October 3rd, 1815 hours, ANZ792. But, no need to meet me, unless 'dying to.'  The man I'm staying with initially, Jim Berger, is meeting me with a station wagon, and we're  returning to his Mt. Eden place with little hassle.  I don't mind riding and do usually.  But, in a new city at night, trying to find an address, sometimes challenging.

I remember having to do this in Majimump, W.Aus., out in the middle of nowhere in the dark locating a 'hobby' farm house, this after a 120KM ride.  I did.  Same thing in Serpentine, trying to find Ove.  But, I guess I'm getting old and soft...

Every year this, tour cycling (around the world) gets more challenging.  More aches, more pains, more wanting to rest, etc.  

This last trip from Perth to Adelaide (3,000KM in 40 days) it was my hands and feet.  After about 6,7 hours my feet 'screaming' at me, STOP!  At the end of the day I had no feeling in my finger tips.  So, how many more years can I do this?

I will get to Machu Picchu in Peru.  I will get to Bolivia.  In the meantime, Auckland, New Zealand.  (Interesting that the Dutch discovered both N.Z. and Aus. first, but didn't want either...).

Our slogan:

'We eat hills for breakfast,
The wind for lunch!
We dine on lofty peaks!
We let nothing stop us!

Hutch

P.S.  What kind of job?



Via the Internet I've
www.traidingsuccess.com, slogan:  'We give more; take less!'


On Sat, Oct 1, 2011 at 6:05 AM, Stephen D <stephendnz@gmail.com> wrote:
Hey Hutch,

Have you confirmed your date of arrival yet?? 

Depends on what day, I was thinking that I might ride out, on my bike and meet you, show you the way to Mt Eden.. :-) but i have just started a new job, so it would depend on when you get here during the week might be a bit more difficult.. 


Stephen

It's time to say 'goodbye' to many things...


Four thousand U.S. dollars are counted out by a banker counting currency at a bank in Westminster, Colorado November 3, 2009. Picture taken November 3, 2009.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Is it time to say goodbye to big banks?

WASHINGTON - Startup banks and niche players aren't afraid to kick the big players while they're down. And with the major banks regularly raising their fee structures and paying minuscule interest on savings, it's worth asking: Is it time to go small, new and different?

Glad I don't use Bank of AntiAmerica!


Bank of America to charge debit card use fee

4:17am EDT

- Bank of America Corp plans to charge customers who use their debit cards to make purchases a $5 monthly fee beginning early next year, joining other banks scrambling for new sources of revenue.

This is called 'Solidarity,' what wins in the end! Remember, Poland?


                     NYC Transit Union Joins Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street
First Posted: 9/29/11 12:39 PM ET Updated: 9/29/11 04:56 PM ET
New York City labor unions are preparing to back the unwieldy grassroots band occupying a park in Lower Manhattan, in a move that could mark a significant shift in the tenor of the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street protests and send thousands more people into the streets.
The Transit Workers Union Local 100's executive committee, which oversees the organization of subway and bus workers, voted unanimously Wednesday night to support the protesters. The union claims 38,000 members. A union-backed organizing coalition, which orchestrated a large May 12 march on Wall Street before the protests, is planning a rally on Oct. 5 in explicit support. And SEIU 32BJ, which represents doormen, security guards and maintenance workers, is using its Oct. 12 rally to express solidarity with the Zuccotti Park protesters.
"The call went out over a month ago, before actually the occupancy of Wall Street took place," said 32BJ spokesman Kwame Patterson. Now, he added, "we're all coming under one cause, even though we have our different initiatives."
The protests found their genesis not in any of the established New York social action groups but with a call put out by a Canadian magazine. While other major unions beyond the TWU have yet to officially endorse Occupy Wall Street, more backing could come as early as this week. Both the New York Metro Area Postal Union and SEIU 1199 are considering such moves.
Jackie DiSalvo, an Occupy Wall Street organizer, says a series of public actions aimed at expressing support for labor -- from disrupting a Sotheby's auction on Sept. 22 to attending a postal workers' rally on Tuesday -- have convinced unions that the two groups' struggles are one.
"Labor is up against the wall and they're begging us to help them," said DiSalvo, a retired professor at Baruch College in her late 60s who has emerged as a driving force in the effort to link up labor and the protests. DiSalvo is herself a member of the Professional Staff Congress, which represents teachers at the City University of New York.
Recent anti-labor actions like Scott Walker's in Wisconsin "really shocked the unions and moved them into militant action," DiSalvo said, and the inflammatory video of a NYPD deputy inspector pepper-spraying several protesters on Saturday also generated union sympathy.
"There's a lot of good feeling. They've made a lot of friends," said Chuck Zlatkin of the postal union.
When a band of about 100 protesters showed up at a postal workers' rally featuring Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday, complete with purple hair and big drums, "they went a long way towards touching people and making connections," Zlatkin observed.
If unions move to support the protests in a major way, that could mean thousands more people marching in Lower Manhattan. Thus far the protesters have not managed to come near the 10,000 or so who attended the unrelated May 12 march on Wall Street. The Strong Economy for All Coalition, which receives support from the United Federation of Teachers, the Working Families Party, plus SEIU 32BJ and 1199, previously helped put together that demonstration. Now they will be rallying for the grassroots group.
"Their fight is our fight," director Michael Kink said. "They've chosen the right targets. We also want to see a society where folks other than the top 1 percent have a chance to say how things go."
Asked if the union support could dilute the message of the Occupy Wall Street protesters -- which has itself been dismissed as incoherent -- organizer DiSalvo said the rag tag group's stance would remain unchanged.
"Occupy Wall Street will not negotiate watering down its own message," she said, union support or not.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Whatever happened to integrity in any country (of the world)?


Exclusive: Justice Department probing Chinese accounting

Thu, Sep 29 2011

WASHINGTON | Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:26pm EDT


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is investigating accounting irregularities at Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges, said an official with the Securities and Exchange Commission, suggesting criminal charges may be brought in addition to civil proceedings.
"There are parts of the Justice Department that are actively engaged in this area," Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement at the SEC, said in an interview on Tuesday.
He told Reuters that a number of federal prosecutors around the United States were taking part in the investigation, but he declined to name them.
Involvement of U.S. attorneys general in various locations adds investigative firepower to the SEC and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which are also probing the accounting methods of certain U.S.-listed Chinese companies.
"I think that you will see greater (Department of Justice) involvement as time goes on," Khuzami said when asked if criminal charges would be filed in the investigation.
A former federal prosecutor, he declined to elaborate on which Chinese companies or auditors were being scrutinized by the Justice Department.
An SEC review of accounting problems at foreign-based stock issuers sharpened its focus earlier this year when dozens of China-based companies began disclosing auditor resignations or book-keeping irregularities.
For example, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd in May resigned as auditor of Chinese software company Longtop Financial Technologies Ltd, saying it had found falsified financial records and bank balance confirmations.
Shares of some Chinese companies listed in the United States fell on Thursday after Khuzami's statements became public. Among them, Sohu.com Inc closed 4.7 percent lower at $50.62, Baidu Inc fell 9.2 percent to $110.29, China Sky One Medical Inc declined 3.8 percent to $2.29, and Sina Corp ended down 9.7 percent at $73.23.
The SEC has struggled to gain access to documents it needs in the investigation because strict Chinese laws have made auditors reluctant to turn them over.
The FBI has an embedded agent in an SEC working group on Chinese companies that enter the stock market through so-called reverse mergers with U.S. shell companies.
Officials from the SEC and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) are due to meet with their Chinese counterparts in Washington, D.C. in October for a second round of talks on joint inspections of auditing firms in China.
"Not having proper accounting and reliable audit review for publicly traded companies with operations in China is just not acceptable. We have to find a path to resolution of this issue," Khuzami said. "It is ... a big issue for us."
Earlier in September, the SEC sought a federal court order to force the Shanghai arm of Deloitte to turn over its work papers regarding Longtop Financial.
The results of the Deloitte subpoena enforcement action will be closely watched by other auditing companies, Khuzami said. The federal government is also pursuing other options to ensure better accounting practices at U.S.-listed companies based in China, he said.
"Obviously, the results here will inform the conduct of others that are similarly situated. In that sense, it's going to be instructive," Khuzami said. "At the same time, we're not a one-trick pony; There are other efforts to reach resolution of these issues. We continue to work closely with our regulatory counterparts in China and in other countries to find a path to resolution."
In a recent interview with Reuters, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, underscored the government's commitment to fighting accounting fraud of any kind. He declined, however, to comment on specific cases that could be brought against Chinese firms listed in the United States.
The Justice Department declined comment for this story, saying it does not confirm or deny investigations.
In any criminal case, the question would be whether the company lied to the auditor, or whether the auditor acted recklessly or knowingly in not detecting the alleged fraud.
Merely not providing records under these circumstances -- as in the Deloitte case -- would not likely rise to the level of criminal violation, Khuzami said.
The PCAOB, the agency that oversees auditors of public companies, has inspection authority over auditing firms, while the SEC has enforcement authority over those companies.
Together, the two agencies have greater leverage over auditing firms than do criminal authorities, Khuzami said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by John Wallace and Tim Dobbyn)

Here's another part of the 'equation,' the coming 'hot' war: the U.S. versus China, for #1 in the world! Stay tuned!


China Set to Launch Its Own Space Station; Mission: Unknown

China is just days away from launching an ambitious rival to the International Space Station, pictured above. A rocket launch carrying an unmanned test module named Tiangong 1 — literally, “Heavenly Palace 1” — is scheduled for this week. Allegedly, the 8.5-ton Tiangong 1 module is designed to practice autonomous rendezvous ops in orbit, in order to prep for a manned space base around 2020. But China-watchers and space specialists are trying to figure out if there’s an additional agenda for the Heavenly Palace.
Will it be a spacelab equipped strictly for scientific research? Is there a military mission? Is it a jobs program for China’s “large, young, highly motivated and growing population of space scientists and engineers?” (That’s how Gregory Kulacki, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, describes China’s space workforce.) Is the whole space-station program really just a PR ploy? Or some or all of the above?
The short answer is, we don’t know. The “opacity” of this and Beijing’s other space initiatives “should raise questions about Chinese intentions,” Dean Cheng, an analyst with the hawkish Heritage Foundation, tells Danger Room. One thing is for sure: Beijing has been awfully busy in space, with more and more satellite launches plus occasional spacewalks and even plans for a putting a man on the moon by 2030.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a University of California professor and author of China in the 21st Century, has a theory about Beijing’s obsession with spectacle, whether a massive engineering project, the Olympics or the theatrical unveiling of a new stealth-fighter prototype. Spectacles “play a role in confirming a vision, based partly in official myth but also in tangible reality, that China is a once-powerful country that was laid low for a time and has now risen again to a more natural status,” Wasserstrom wrote.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean Beijing intends to start a new space race against the U.S., which recently announced plans for new, gigantic rockets and a possible manned mission to an asteroid or even Mars. “China’s progress is steady but slow,” Cheng says. “Manned launches every other year hardly suggests a space-race mentality. At the same time, however, these are steady improvements, from a single man to two-man to three-man. The Tiangong spacelab … will mark another step forwards for China’s manned space program.”
Photo: NASA

There's no need to be afraid! The transition we're going through right now (in the world) nothing more than movement from one opposite (extreme greed; bubble bursting) to extreme sharing (bubble making)!

Capitalism, I'm afraid brings out the worst in people, not the best!  So, what can we do about this?  'Just a little more sharing, please!'  H.

Unless politicians act more boldly


The world economy

Be afraid!

Unless politicians act more boldly, the world economy will keep heading towards a black hole


IN DARK days, people naturally seek glimmers of hope. So it was that financial markets, long battered by the ever-worsening euro crisis, rallied early this week amid speculation that Europe’s leaders had been bullied by the rest of the world into at last putting together a “big plan” to save the single currency. Investors ventured out from safe-haven bonds into riskier assets. Stock prices jumped: those of embattled French banks soared by almost 20% in just two days.
But those hopes are likely to fade, for three reasons. First, for all the breathless headlines from the IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington, DC, Europe’s leaders are a long way from a deal on how to save the euro. The best that can be said is that they now have a plan to have a plan, probably by early November. Second, even if a catastrophe in Europe is avoided, the prospects for the world economy are darkening, as the rich world’s fiscal austerity intensifies and slowing emerging economies provide less of a cushion for global growth. Third, America’s politicians are, once again, threatening to wreck the recovery with irresponsible fiscal brinkmanship. Together, these developments point to a perilous period ahead.
Slipping and grasping
Most of the blame for this should be heaped on the leaders of the euro zone, still the biggest immediate danger. The doom-laden lectures from the Americans and others in Washington last week did achieve something: Europe’s policymakers now recognise that more must be done. They are, at last, focusing on the right priorities: building a firewall around illiquid but solvent countries like Italy; bolstering Europe’s banks; and dealing far more decisively with Greece. The idea is to have a plan in place by the Cannes summit of the G20 in early November.
That, however, is a long time to wait—and the Europeans still disagree vehemently about how to do any of this (see article). Germany, for instance, thinks the main problem is fiscal profligacy and so is reluctant to boost Europe’s rescue fund; yet a far bigger fund is needed if a rescue is to be credible. The most urgent solutions, such as restructuring Greece’s debt or building a protective barrier around Italy, require the most political courage—something that Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy et al have yet to exhibit. The chances of a bold enough plan will shrink if markets stabilise. The less scared they are, the more likely Europe’s spineless policymakers are to jump yet again for a plan that does just enough to stave off catastrophe temporarily, but lets the underlying problem get worse.
Much of the world is now paying for their timidity: witness the increasingly dark economic backdrop. A slew of recent indicators suggests the euro area is slipping into recession, as Germany’s exports slow, the fiscal screws tighten, confidence slumps and the banks’ travails imply tighter credit. Even if the euro-zone crisis were to be solved tomorrow, the region’s GDP would probably shrink over the coming months.
America’s economy is still limping along, though the summer slump in share prices and consumer confidence suggest future spending will weaken further. The Federal Reserve is trying new ways of support, somewhat half-heartedly. Whatever it does, America is currently on course for the most stringent fiscal tightening of any big economy in 2012, as temporary tax cuts and unemployment insurance expire at the end of this year. That could change if Congress came to its senses, passed Barack Obama’s jobs plan and agreed on a medium-term deficit-reduction deal by November. If Democrats and Republicans fail to hash out a compromise on the deficit, draconian spending cuts will follow in 2013. For all the tirades against the Europeans, America’s economy risks being pushed into recession by its own fiscal policy—and by the fact that both parties are more interested in positioning themselves for the 2012 elections than in reaching the compromises needed to steer away from that hazardous course.
What about the cushion the emerging markets provide? That, too, is getting thinner. Their growth is slowing (as it needed to, since many economies were overheating). Recent falls in emerging-world currencies and stock prices show that financial panic can afflict the periphery too (see article). Some emerging economies, including China, have less room to repeat their 2008-09 stimulus because of the debts that splurge left behind. Monetary policy can be loosened: several central banks have cut rates. But, overall, the emerging world will be less of a buoy to global growth than it has been hitherto.
Some of these constraints are unavoidable. Many governments have less room to support weak economies than they did in 2008. Some caution, too, is understandable from central bankers who have waded ever deeper into unconventional monetary policy. But governments are not just failing to act: they are exacerbating the mess.
Lacking conviction and courage
In the aftermath of the Lehman crisis, policymakers broadly did the right thing. The result was not a rapid return to prosperity in the West, but after such a big balance-sheet recession that was never going to happen. Now, more often than not, policymakers seem to be getting it wrong. Their mistakes vary, but two sorts stand out. One is an overwhelming emphasis on short-term fiscal austerity over growth. Fixing that means different things in different places: Germany could loosen fiscal policy, while in Britain the reins should merely be tightened more slowly. But the collective obsession with short-term austerity across the rich world is hurting.
The second failure is one of honesty. Too many rich-world politicians have failed to tell voters the scale of the problem. In Germany, where the jobless rate is lower than in 2008, people tend to think the crisis is about lazy Greeks and Italians. Mrs Merkel needs to explain clearly that it also includes Germany’s own banks—and that Germany faces a choice between a costly solution and a ruinous one. In America the Republicans are guilty of outrageous obstructionism and misleading simplification, while Mr Obama has favoured class warfare over fiscal leadership. At a time of enormous problems, the politicians seem Lilliputian. That’s the real reason to be afraid.

Recommended buying paintings, etc. as an investment years ago... I collect children's 'art,' now all over the world!


Yeats painting 
'A Fair Day, Mayo' is the most expensive piece art ever bought in Ireland

A Jack Yeats masterpiece has been bought in Dublin for one million euros, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction in Ireland.
The oil painting, 'A Fair Day, Mayo', was bought by an anonymous phone bidder at the sale in Dublin on Wednesday night.
Eamon de Valera, who was to become Irish president, displayed the picture in his office during the 1920s.
The artist was the brother of Nobel Prize winning Irish poet WB Yeats.
The painting depicts a bustling country fair and is from Yeats' expressionist period.
Before coming to auction it had been owned by the Reihill family for the last 67 years, Mr JP Reihill Snr buying it from Leo Smith for 250 Irish punts in 1944.
The picture is believed to be staying in Ireland.
The auction was held in the Adam's Irish Art Sale at St Stephen's Green, and the item had a pre-sale estimate of 500,000 to 800,000 euros.
Auctioneer James O'Halloran, Adam's managing director, wasn't surprised with the interest in the painting.
"This picture was one of the largest and most valuable works by Yeats to appear on the market for many years," he said.
"The work had never been on the market before, yet had been seen in a number of very prestigious exhibitions including "Images in Yeats" which was held in Monte Carlo in 1990 and more recently "The Moderns" at IMMA earlier this year."
A second painting by Jack Yeats, called 'The Dawn', also featured in the sale and was sold for 80,000 euros.
The previous top price for a Yeats was the 820,000 euro paid for ' A Blackbird Bathing in Tír na nÓg' in 2005.
It was bought by the Northern Ireland businessman Barney Eastwood who is understood to have a significant collection of impressionist paintings.
The Monaco-based tycoon Michael Smurfit is reputed to hold one of the largest private collection of Yeats paintings.

Corruption in government! Why? First of all, the everyday bureaucrat... What is his/her motivation? To keep his/her job, or to get rich fast! How does s/he accomplish this? By, negotiating the cesspool of human nature (cunningness), sometimes trapped

  • China Fires 12 Government Workers in Illegal Adoption Scandal

By SHARON LaFRANIERE

Published: September 29, 2011

BEIJING — Twelve government employees have been fired and stripped of their Communist Party membership after an investigation into allegations that family planning officials kidnapped children in an impoverished rural area in the southern Chinese province of Hunan, People's Daily, the party's official newspaper, reported Thursday.

While investigators concluded that the government workers did not engage in "baby trading," they did find "severe violations" of regulations, according to the newspaper's Web site, People's Daily Online. As a result, eight babies or toddlers were illegally adopted from the city of Shaoyang between 2002 and 2005, the article said.

In a scandal that has drawn widespread coverage, parents and grandparents claim that officials from Longhui, a county supervised by Shaoyang, illegally seized at least 16 children between 1999 and 2006 because of alleged violations of family planning rules. The Chinese news media have reported that some of the children were later adopted by foreigners.

Government investigators examined 14 cases. In one case, parents voluntarily surrendered their child because they were unable to provide care. Five other children were deemed abandoned because the facts about their parentage were hidden by "involved persons," the newspaper said. No further details were given.

Investigators found no evidence that the city's orphanage, called the Shaoyang Social Welfare Institute, paid kickbacks to officials who delivered babies, the newspaper's report said.

Edy Yin contributed reporting.


How did all this debt happen in the world? We wanted it now, and to pay later. But, the later, became later, and later, until we mortgaged our future! Now, the invoice is due, and we don't want to know about it, let's bury our heads in the sand! We'r

News Analysis

Even if Europe Averts Crisis, Growth May Lag for Years

In the best case, a bailout of troubled banks and governments could keep the financial system from experiencing a major shock, though easing the huge debt could take years.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nature's (the Tao's) way of helping to balance, an out-of-balance world!


Listeria cases likely to rise through October: officials

Listeria bacteria in a microscopic image courtesy of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. REUTERS/Handout
CHICAGO | Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:15pm EDT
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Cases of illness in the U.S. listeria outbreak linked to tainted cantaloupes -- already the deadliest in a decade -- likely will rise in the next month as more people who have been infected with the bacteria begin to develop symptoms, health officials said on Wednesday.
To date, 13 people have died and 72 people have been infected in the outbreak in 18 states, including two pregnant women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (For a graphic on the outbreak, click here: link.reuters.com/nax93s)
Unlike E. coli and salmonella, two common causes of foodborne disease, listeria bacteria can cause illness as long as two months after a person has consumed contaminated food, making these outbreaks especially vexing.
"We will see more cases likely through October," U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a telephone briefing.
Dr. Barbara Mahon of the CDC said the agency is only reporting on laboratory-confirmed illnesses and deaths.
"We do expect the number of cases will increase and the number of deaths may well increase," Mahon told the briefing.
Health officials have traced the source of the outbreak to cantaloupes grown by Jensen Farms in Colorado shipped between July 29 and September 10. Such outbreaks are far more common in processed meats and cheeses and it is not yet clear how listeria bacteria got into the fruit.
"Listeria is a very common organism, which means it is very easily introduced into food at any point in a food chain -- in the field, at home and anywhere in between," said Martin Wiedmann, a professor of food science and a listeria expert at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
After consumption, symptoms of E. coli and salmonella usually take one to three days to emerge but listeria's symptoms are not noticed for one to eight weeks.
"That also makes it very difficult to trace back the source of outbreaks, particularly if they are small," Wiedmann said. "Most people don't remember what they ate in the last two months."
HIGH LEVELS OF CONSUMPTION
Listeria rarely causes serious illness. For listeria to do so, it needs to get onto the food and grow to levels where it can cause disease. Because it can grow at low temperatures, that can happen anywhere along the food chain.
"You need very high levels of listeria to get sick," Wiedmann said. "With listeria, we're talking about people having to ingest in excess of a million organisms."
Wiedmann said the reason there are not more outbreaks is that even when people are exposed to the bacteria, the numbers of organisms are usually too low to cause illness.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said the infected cantaloupe is being pulled off store shelves but there is still a risk of infection from fruit in people's refrigerators.
He said people should check with their grocery store if they are not sure of the source of their cantaloupe, and if they are in doubt, "throw it out."
Frieden said those most at risk are the elderly, the pregnant and people with a weakened immune system, such as people who have had an organ transplant or cancer.
Gene Grabowski, a food crisis expert at Levick Strategic Communications who handled an outbreak of tainted spinach in 2006-2007, said fresh produce is increasingly becoming a source of foodborne disease because more people are eating fruits and vegetables at every meal.
"People were not eating cantaloupes or blueberries for breakfast 10 to 15 years ago," Grabowski said.
Frieden said multi-state foodborne illnesses have increased in recent years. So far, there have been 12 in 2011.
"It is not that food is getting riskier but we are getting better at identifying problems," he said.
Grabowski said the cantaloupe outbreak underscores the challenges for all distributors of fresh produce.
And it is likely to renew perennial fears about the safety of the food supply, said Chris Waldrop, director of the food policy institute at the Consumer Federation of America.
Waldrop said some of these concerns should be addressed by the Food Safety Modernization Act, which gives the FDA more authority to regulate outbreaks. Hamburg said the FDA is working to release guidelines and regulations for the production of safe produce.
(Additional reporting by Anna Yukhananov in Washington; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Eric Beech and Bill Trott)