China Asks for US Bonds in Yuan, Record Military Spending, Economy Still at Brink
Revealing News Articles
June 15, 2009
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on top-level Chinese officials requesting the US to issue bonds in the Chinese yuan, new figures showing record military spending in 2008, analyses indicating the US economy is still at the brink of a major downturn, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. The most important sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Quote of the week: "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common." Assyrian tablet 2800 B.C. as quoted in Times of London
Top Chinese banker Guo Shuqing calls for wider use of yuan
June 8, 2009, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
The head of China's second-largest bank has said the United States government should start issuing bonds in yuan, rather than dollars, in the latest indication of the increasing importance of the Chinese currency. Guo Shuqing, the chairman of state-controlled China Construction Bank (CCB), also said he is exploring the possibility of issuing loans to trading companies in yuan, allowing Chinese and foreign companies to settle their bills in yuan rather than in dollars. Mr Guo said the issuing of yuan bonds in Hong Kong and Shanghai would help to develop the debt markets in China and promote the yuan as a major international currency. It was the first time the head of a major Chinese bank has called for the wider use of the yuan, although a chorus of senior government officials have already voiced their concerns about the stability of the dollar and have said the yuan should be used more widely. "I think the US government and the World Bank can consider the issuing of [yuan] bonds," he said, asking for a "mutual cooperation" between the US and China to promote Chinese financial services. Mr Guo is a former head of China's foreign-exchange administration, which manages the country's $1.9 trillion foreign exchange reserves. He said he was confident the yuan would become a major currency in the medium-to-long term. Two months ago, before the G20 meeting in London, Zhou Xiaochuan, the head of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, published a personal paper proposing to replace the dollar as the international reserve currency. His call came after Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, asked the US to guarantee the safety of China's huge pile of US debt.
Note: For many more important reports shedding light on the hidden realities of the US and world economic crisis, click here.
Military spending sets new record
June 8, 2009, BBC News
Global military spending rose 4% in 2008 to a record $1,464bn (£914bn) - up 45% since 1999, according to the Stockholm-based peace institute Sipri. "The global financial crisis has yet to have an impact on major arms companies' revenues, profits and order backlogs," Sipri said. Peace-keeping operations - which also benefit defence firms - rose 11%. Missions were launched in trouble spots such as Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "Another record was set, with the total of international peace operation personnel reaching 187,586," said Sipri. As the world's aerospace and defence industry prepares for next week's Paris air show centenary, it seems much of the focus is set to shift away from troubled civilian aircraft makers, which are struggling with reduced orders from recession-hit airlines, towards the companies that make fighter jets and other military hardware. In total, the 100 leading defence manufacturers sold arms worth $347bn during 2007, the most recent year for which reliable data are available. Almost all the companies were American or European. "Since 2002, the value of the top 100 arms sales has increased by 37% in real terms," Sipri said. US military spending accounted for 58% of the total global spending increase during the decade, with extra funds set aside to fight the "war on terror". "The idea of the 'war on terror' has encouraged many countries to see their problems through a highly militarised lens, using this to justify high military spending," said Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of the military expenditure project at Sipri.
Note: With all of the government cost-cutting in so many sectors, why aren't more people calling for military cutbacks? For a top U.S. general's insight into the profiteering that drives war (and "peacekeeping" operations as well), click here.
The Economy Is Still at the Brink
June 7, 2009, New York Times
Whether at a fund-raising dinner for wealthy supporters in Beverly Hills, or at an Air Force base in Nevada, or at Charlie Rose's table in New York City, President Obama is conducting an all-out campaign to try to make us feel a whole lot better about the economy as quickly as possible. "It's safe to say we have stepped back from the brink, that there is some calm that didn't exist before," he told donors at the Beverly Hilton Hotel late last month. Mr. Obama thinks that the way to revive the economy is to restore confidence in it. If the mood is right, the capital will flow. But this belief is dangerously misguided. We are sympathetic to the extraordinary challenge the president faces, but if we've learned anything at all two years into the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes, it is that a capital-markets system this dependent on public confidence is a shockingly inadequate foundation upon which to rest our economy. We have both spent large chunks of our lives working on Wall Street, absorbing its ethic and mores. We're concerned that nothing has really been fixed. We're doubly concerned that people appear to feel the worst of the storm is over – and in this, they are aided and abetted by ... the fact that the Dow has increased by 35 percent or so since Mr. Obama started to lay out his economic plans in March. But wishing for improvement and managing by the Dow's swings are a fool's game. The storm is not over, not by a long shot. Huge structural flaws remain in the architecture of our financial system, and many of the fixes that the Obama administration has proposed will do little to address them and may make them worse.
Note: For many more important reports shedding light on the hidden realities of the US and world economic crisis, click here.
Fed Would Be Shut Down If It Were Audited, Expert Says
June 10, 2009, CNBC
The Federal Reserve's balance sheet is so out of whack that the central bank would be shut down if subjected to a conventional audit, Jim Grant, editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, told CNBC. With $45 billion in capital and $2.1 trillion in assets, the central bank would not withstand the scrutiny normally afforded other institutions, Grant said. "If the Fed examiners were set upon the Fed's own documents ... to pass judgment on the Fed's capacity to survive the difficulties it faces in credit, it would shut this institution down," he said. "The Fed is undercapitalized in a way that Citicorp is undercapitalized." Grant said he would support legislation currently making its way through Congress calling for an audit of the Fed. Moreover, he criticized the way the Fed has managed the financial crisis, saying the central bank's target rate should not be around zero. "I think zero is the wrong rate for almost any economy," Grant said, adding the Fed has "embarked on a vast experiment in moral hazard. Interest rates are the traffic signals in a market economy, and everything's green. ... You have to wonder whether these interest rates are the right clearing rate or rather they are the imposition of a central bank." Amid a disparity between analysts predicting there will be no rate hikes soon and the fed funds futures indicating tightening by the end of the year, Grant said he thinks the Fed indeed will begin raising rates as inflation creeps into the picture. Fed funds futures have fully priced in as much as a half-point rise in the target rate from its current range of zero to 0.25 percent. "If the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when there's too much unanimity of opinion, then one begins to worry about this," he said. "The Fed proverbially has been late."
Note: For an astonishing five-minute video clip of a Congressional hearing where the Inspector General of the Fed acknowledges she knows almost nothing about trillions of dollars missing from the Fed, click here. For many more important reports shedding light on the hidden realities of the economic crisis, click here.
Wauseon plant to open Monday for 110-mpg car engines
May 30, 2009, Toledo Blade (Toledo, OH's leading newspaper)
The man who drove his 20-year-old Mustang from Napoleon, Ohio, to Las Vegas and back last year on 39 gallons of fuel will open his first manufacturing facility Monday to allow others to get 110 miles per gallon. Doug Pelmear, owner of Horse Power Sales.net Inc. and Hp2G LLC, will hold an open house ... in Wauseon to begin manufacturing his revolutionary engine. The factory ... will be tooled to initially turn out 20 of Mr. Pelmear's custom engines per day with one shift of 25 workers. A Decatur, Ind., specialty car company, Revenge Designs Inc., has contracted with Mr. Pelmear to purchase 2,000 engines for use in a new vehicle it plans to unveil at the end of this year at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. The vehicle is to be called the Revenge Verde Super Car, which will use Mr. Pelmear's 400-horsepower engine and its 500 foot-pounds of torque to travel up to 200 mph and get 110 mpg - though admittedly not at the same time. "The engine is going to be a really great partnership with the car," explained Emily Levault, a spokesman for Revenge Design. "The idea behind this was to give people what they want while putting people back in their jobs." Ms. Levault said the Verde will be introduced as both a left and right-hand drive, so that it can be marketed around the world. Mr. Pelmear has said that he employs more precise tolerances and manufacturing techniques to decrease heat and energy loss and increase the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. He said he has more than quadrupled the industry average engine efficiency of about 8 percent.
Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports on breakthrough developments in auto and new energy technologies, click here.
UN announces launch of world's first tuition-free, online university
May 19, 2009, UN News Centre
A leading arm of the United Nations working to spread the benefits of information technology today announced the launch of the first ever tuition-free online university. As part of this year's focus on education, the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technology and Development (GAID) presented the newly formed University of the People, a non-profit institution offering higher education to the masses. For hundreds of millions of people around the world higher education is no more than a dream, Shai Reshef, the founder of the University of the People, told reporters. They are constrained by finances, the lack of institutions in their region, or they are not able to leave home to study at a university for personal reasons. Mr. Reshef said that this University opened the gate to these people to continue their studies from home and at minimal cost by using open-source technology, open course materials, e-learning methods and peer-to-peer teaching. Admission opened just over two weeks ago and without any promotion some 200 students from 52 countries have already registered, with a high school diploma and a sufficient level of English as entry requirements. Students will be placed in classes of 20, after which they can log on to a weekly lecture, discuss its themes with their peers and take a test all online. There are voluntary professors, post-graduate students and students in other classes who can also offer advice and consultation. For the University to sustain its operation, it needs 15,000 students and $6 million, of which Mr. Reshef has donated $1 million of his own money.
Fighting a cold? Every bit of sleep counts
January 17, 2009, Los Angeles Times
People who sleep less than seven hours a night appear to be almost three times as likely to catch a cold as those who sleep eight hours or more, a new study has found. Quality of sleep may count even more than quantity. Those who spend as little as 25 minutes a night tossing and turning face more than five times the risk of sniffing and sneezing. The age-old advice to get a good night's sleep is well-supported by medical research. Sleeping less than seven hours a night has been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain and hardening of the arteries. Studies have also found that serious sleep deprivation disrupts the immune system. But those were experimental studies that kept subjects up for most of the night, then measured their immune responses. One of the surprising findings from the new study, published Monday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, was just how little it took to knock down defenses against the common cold. "Very small disruptions in sleep, very small losses in terms of duration of sleep, were associated with pretty big increases in your probability of getting sick if you're exposed to a virus," said Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University and the first author of the study. "It's not just insomniacs or people being deprived of sleep." Controlling for numerous factors that can influence health -- including age, race, income, education, smoking, exercise and depression -- the study found that the longer and better participants slept, the better they were able to resist or fight off infection, Cohen said.
Note: For another fascinating article on colds, see the Wall Street Journal article available here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Tapping your cell phone
November 13, 2008, WTHR-TV (Indianapolis NBC affiliate)
Imagine someone watching your every move, hearing everything you say and knowing where you are at every moment. If you have a cell phone, it could happen to you. After four months of harassing phone calls, Courtney Kuykendall was afraid to answer her cell phone. The Tacoma, Washington, teenager was receiving graphic, violent threats at all hours. And when she and her family changed their cell phone numbers and got new phones, the calls continued. Using deep scratchy voices, anonymous stalkers literally took control of the Kuykendall's cell phones, repeatedly threatened Courtney with murder and rape, and began following the family's every move. "They're listening to us and recording us," Courtney's mother, Heather Kuykendall, told NBC's Today Show. "We know that because they will record us and play it back as a voicemail." How is something like this possible? Just take a look on the internet. That's where you'll find the latest spy technology for cell phones. Spyware marketers claim you can tap into someone's calls, read their text messages and track their movements "anywhere, anytime." Security experts say it's no internet hoax."It's real, and it is pretty creepy," said Rick Mislan, a former military intelligence officer who now teaches cyber forensics at Purdue University's Department of Computer and Information Technology. Mislan has examined thousands of cell phones inside Purdue's Cyber Forensics Lab, and he says spy software can now make even the most high-tech cell phone vulnerable. "I think a lot of people think their cell phone calls are very secure but our privacy isn't always what we think it is."
Note: For lots more on increasing corporate and governmental threats to privacy, click here.
Apocalypse now? 30 days when the world didn't end
September 9, 2008, Times of London (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
The beginning of the first serious experiments using CERN's Large Hadron Collider this week has given rise to a welter of fanciful scare stories about the obliteration of the Earth by a pocket black hole or a cascade reaction of exotic particles. Similar predictions have been made around the launch of several other particle physics experiments and even the first atomic weapons tests. Predictions of the world's end are nothing new though. We've picked out 30 of the most memorable apocalypses that never, for one reason or another, quite happened. 1: 2,800BC: The oldest surviving prediction of the world's imminent demise was found inscribed upon an Assyrian clay tablet which stated: "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common." 4: Mar 25, 970 AD. The Lotharingian computists believed they had found evidence in the Bible that a conjunction of certain feast days prefigured the end times. They were just one of a wide scattering of millennial cults springing up in advance of that first Millennium. The millennial panic endured for at least 30 years after the fateful date had come and gone, with some adjustment made to allow 1,000 years after the crucifixion, rather than the nativity. 8: 1648: Having made close study of the kabbalah, theTurkish rabbi Sabbatai Zevi predicted that the Messiah would make a miraculous return in 1648, and that his name would be Sabbatai Zevi. 9: 1666: A year packed with apocalyptic portent. With a date containing the figures commonly accepted as the biblical Number of the Beast and following a protracted period of plague in England, it was little surprise that many should believe the Great Fire of London to be a herald of the Last Days.
U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations
April 23, 2008, New York Times
The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes – from writing bad checks to using drugs – that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations. Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences. The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation. The United States ... has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.) The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate. "Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror," James Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. Prison sentences here have become "vastly harsher than in any other country to which the United States would ordinarily be compared," Michael Tonry, a leading authority on crime policy, wrote. Indeed, said Vivien Stern, a research fellow at the prison studies center in London, the American incarceration rate has made the United States "a rogue state, a country that has made a decision not to follow what is a normal Western approach."
Note: Many people are not aware that violent crime in the US has dropped by over 50% in the last 15 years. Yet the prison population continues to grow rapidly at the same time. For more on this, click here.
Parents Think Boy Is Reincarnated Pilot
June 30, 2005, ABC News
Six decades ago, a 21-year-old Navy fighter pilot on a mission over the Pacific was shot down by Japanese artillery. His name might have been forgotten, were it not for 6-year-old James Leininger. Quite a few people, including those who knew the fighter pilot, think James is the pilot, reincarnated. James' parents, Andrea and Bruce, a highly educated, modern couple, say they are "probably the people least likely to have a scenario like this pop up in their lives." But over time, they have become convinced their little son has had a former life. From an early age, James would play with nothing else but planes, his parents say. But when he was 2, they said the planes their son loved began to give him regular nightmares. "I'd wake him up and he'd be screaming," Andrea [recalled]. She said when she asked her son what he was dreaming about, he would say, "Airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out." Over time, James' parents say he revealed extraordinary details about the life of a former fighter pilot. They say James told them his plane had been hit by the Japanese and crashed. Andrea says James told his father he flew a Corsair, and then told her, "They used to get flat tires all the time." James also told his father the name of the boat he took off from, Natoma, and the name of someone he flew with, Jack Larson. After some research, Bruce discovered both the Natoma and Jack Larson were real. The Natoma Bay was a small aircraft carrier in the Pacific. And Larson is living in Arkansas. "It was like, holy mackerel," Bruce said. "You could have poured my brains out of my ears. I just couldn't believe it."
Special note: For an engaging 60-minute interview of Fred Burks by host Randall Libero of the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio network, click here. For a most fascinating and intriguing 10-minute video clip on a chi gong master from Indonesia, click here. Check out also, an exciting documentary which says that using the Internet we can completely change the way we are governed at this link. Let's make this happen! And to view a Power Point presentation of a most amazing, ancient underground city in Turkey, click here.
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