Archive for the ‘DANGER’ Category

The Tragic Geography of Disconnected Youth

Monday, September 17th, 2012 Journal — More than one in seven young Americans are “disconnected” from work and from school, according to a report released Thursday by the Social Science Research Council‘s Measure of America project.

The report (PDF) is based on data from the U.S. Census and American Community Survey, and looks specifically at the numbers of young people aged 16 to 24 who are not working nor enrolled in school. The report tracked the data for the U.S. as a whole, in comparison to other countries, by race, and for the 25 largest metro areas as well as neighborhoods within cities.

Nationally, over 5.8 million young people (almost 15 percent) are disconnected — a figure that grew by 800,000 as a result of the economic crisis, according to the report.

Globally, the U.S. has a higher rate of youth disconnection than many advanced nations, including the United Kingdom (13.4 percent), Austria (11.4 percent), Canada (10.5 percent), Germany (9.5 percent), Norway (9.2 percent), Finland (8.6 percent), Switzerland (6.8 percent), Denmark (5.7 percent), and the Netherlands (4.1 percent).

Youth disconnection varies substantially by race. More than one in five (22.5 percent) young African-Americans are disconnected, 18.5 percent of Latinos, 11.7 percent of whites, and just 8 percent of Asian-Americans.

Phoenix, Arizona, has the highest rate of disconnected youth, at 18.8 percent. Miami is second (17.1 percent), and Detroit third (17.0 percent). These three metros, so hard hit by the economic collapse, attest to the lingering effects of the crisis on the economic status of young people. Seven of the 10 metros with the highest levels of disconnected youth are in the Sunbelt.

Youth disconnection varies substantially within cities and metros as well. Parts of the South Bronx have a rate of 35.6 percent — more than double that of the New York metro as a whole. In Los Angeles, the rate of youth disconnection in Watts is 25.1 percent, versus 3.5 percent in West L.A. (09/17/12)


Join the Reality Party

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 of Minds — James Howard Kunstler writes: Meet the new third party in national politics: Reality.

Reality is the only party with an agenda consistent with what is actually happening in the world. Reality doesn’t need to drum up dollar donations from anyone. Reality doesn’t have to pander to any interest group or subscribe to any inane belief system. Reality doesn’t even need your vote. Reality will be the winner of the 2012 election no matter what the ballot returns appear to say about the bids of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to lead the executive branch of the government.

In the vicious vacuum that national party politics has become, the Republicans and Democrats are already dead. They choked to death on the toxic fumes of their own excreta. They are empty, hollow institutions animated only by the parasites that feed on and squirm over the residue of decomposing tissue within the dissolving membranes of their legitimacy. Think of the fabled Koch brothers as botfly larvae and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association PAC (SIFMA PAC) as a mass of writhing maggots.

These are desperate days in the republic. Between the two empty spectacles of the official party nominating conventions, a terrible nausea rises in the collective gorge of the swindled body politic. The putative contest of ideas is a dumbshow in a hall of mirrors. None of it avails to reduce, mitigate, or even acknowledge, the tensions that may tear this country apart, in particular the web of fraud that shrouds all the operations of money and banking – which is to say: the fate of everything the nation thinks it has invested in itself and its future. In the USA of 2012, anything goes and nothing matters. Reality has a different view of where this all ends and how it will work out.

Compare and contrast the platforms of the Republicans and Democrats with the Reality Party:

The two major parties both propose that the colossal machine of everyday life in America can not only run indefinitely, but continue expanding, and include ever more member people who trade ever more schwag. All that is required, they say, is twiddling the settings of the machine, to get it back to running smoothly as it did in the good old days before the mystifying crash of 2008. They disagree slightly on which dials to twiddle. Reality knows we have entered along-term compressive economic contraction; that there is no way we can persist in the current living arrangement; and that the necessary outcome to avoid immense human suffering can be described as the downscaling and re-localizing of everything we do.

The two major parties regard the rule of law as optional, especially in money matters. Neither party has any will to interfere with a broad array of financial rackets that range from the blatant manipulation of markets, interest rates, and currencies to computerized front-running thievery, traffic in booby-trapped derivatives and counterfeit shorts, pervasive accounting fraud, channel stuffing, irregularities in central bank bullion leasing, flagrant confiscation of private accounts, municipal bond-rigging flimflams, “private equity” looting operations, offshore banking dodges, and untold other scams, rip-offs, and cons that have crippled the basic functions of finance, namely: price discovery, currency as a reliable store of value, and the allocation of surplus wealth for productive purpose. Reality knows that the absence of the rule of law is suicidal. Reality is incapable of pretending that it doesn’t matter. Reality provides work-arounds for intractably dishonest political arrangements: civil war and revolution. Both are invoked out of extreme desperation and have unpredictable outcomes. Like Reality itself, they are what they are. (09/11/12)


Everything Won’t Be Alright

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 Automatic Earth — Ashvin Pandurangi writes: Looking around at those… around me – family, friends, acquaintances and random faces in the crowd of apathy – the level of complacency is so concentrated I can taste it, yet I can’t even describe how bad it tastes. I’m not really talking about the understanding people lack about the numerous predicaments we face as a species – that’s definitely there too… but what I’m talking about is even worse. It’s the assumption that we can just go about our day to day lives, doing our day to day work, having our day to day fun… and humanity will eventually heal itself, no matter how bad the injuries sustained.

This is a cultural phenomenon that has infested the Western world, and refuses to be eradicated. It is where many of us ultimately place our hope and stake our lives, sometimes without even realizing we are doing it. We previously discussed the entertainment enemas that have penetrated modern culture (and the lives of deluded teenagers) in Culturally Programmed Myths of Omnipotence. They have given us the vision that we can always become bigger, “better” and stronger as individuals and nations, evolving towards God-like glory, no matter what obstacles are in our way – all of the stories about superheroes, vampires, werewolves, wizards, robots and aliens – it’s all about the propaganda of pernicious power.

We even see this mentality taking root in academia and scientific research through the field of “transhumanism” (very well portrayed in the documentary, TechnoCalyps). As you can probably guess from the name, transhumanism tells us that we are on the way to becoming something more, something other, than human beings. Forget random mutation and natural selection, the transhumanist says – we can circumvent all of the slow evolutionary nonsense that we only theorized about a century ago. Now we can transform ourselves into a new species over the course of a few decades with the help of modern technology and “intelligent designers”. Just a little bit ironic, don’t you think? …

Most importantly, though, I am here to make clear that no one is immune from the mentality that “everything is alright” or “everything can be alright”, including me. I have my own personal beliefs about how humanity can be preserved and even perfected, and I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with that. What’s wrong is when I forget to remind myself where those beliefs come from and where they are truly leading me. Do they simply make me feel good and comfortable and “enlightened”? Am I simply willing to swallow the red pill because someone slick tells me it will “open my eyes”?

Or is there something more fundamentally true about why I have deep concerns and why I have ultimate hope. What sacrifices are really required of myself and others to reach our maximum human potentials? I believe these are questions we must repeatedly ask ourselves, because the moment we become too comfortable and too uncritical of our beliefs, or the beliefs of others around us, is the moment that we become apathetic and willing to go wherever the world takes us. It is only when we confront the umcomfortable truths of our situation in this world that we will be able to become the best we can possibly be. (09/11/12)


Arctic Warming Accelerating! ! !

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 Polar Science — Scientists in the Arctic are warning that this summer’s record-breaking melt is part of an accelerating trend with profound implications. Norwegian researchers report that the sea ice is becoming significantly thinner and more vulnerable. Last month, the annual thaw of the region’s floating ice reached the lowest level since satellite monitoring began, more than 30 years ago. It is thought the scale of the decline may even affect Europe’s weather.

The melt is set to continue for at least another week – the peak is usually reached in mid-September – while temperatures here remain above freezing.

The Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) is at the forefront of Arctic research and its international director, Kim Holmen, told the BBC that the speed of the melting was faster than expected.

“It is a greater change than we could even imagine 20 years ago, even 10 years ago,” Dr Holmen said. “And it has taken us by surprise and we must adjust our understanding of the system and we must adjust our science and we must adjust our feelings for the nature around us.”

The institute has been deploying its icebreaker, Lance, to research conditions between Svalbard and Greenland – the main route through which ice flows out of the Arctic Ocean. During a visit to the port, one of the scientists involved, Dr Edmond Hansen, told me he was “amazed” at the size and speed of this year’s melt.

“As a scientist, I know that this is unprecedented in at least as much as 1,500 years. It is truly amazing – it is a huge dramatic change in the system,” Dr Hansen said. “This is not some short-lived phenomenon – this is an ongoing trend. You lose more and more ice and it is accelerating – you can just look at the graphs, the observations, and you can see what’s happening.” (09/11/12)


The Top American Science Questions in 2012

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Future Positive — Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

Science now affects every aspect of life and is an increasingly important topic in national policymaking. invited thousands of scientists, engineers and concerned citizens to submit what they felt were the the most important science questions facing the nation that the candidates for president should be debating on the campaign trail.

ScienceDebate then worked with a number of  the leading US science and engineering organizations to refine the questions and arrive at a universal consensus on what the most important science policy questions facing the United States are in 2012. Here is their answer:

1. Innovation and the Economy.  Science and technology have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII, when the federal government first prioritized peacetime science mobilization. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains a world leader in innovation?

2. Climate Change.  The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?

3. Research and the Future.  Federally funded research has helped to produce America’s major postwar economies and to ensure our national security, but today the UK, Singapore, China, and Korea are making competitive investments in research.  Given that the next Congress will face spending constraints, what priority would you give to investment in research in your upcoming budgets?

4. Pandemics and Biosecurity.  Recent experiments show how Avian flu may become transmissible among mammals. In an era of constant and rapid international travel, what steps should the United States take to protect our population from emerging diseases, global pandemics and/or deliberate biological attacks?

5. Education.  Increasingly, the global economy is driven by science, technology, engineering and math, but a recent comparison of 15-year-olds in 65 countries found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 23rd, while average U.S. math scores ranked 31st.  In your view, why have American students fallen behind over the last three decades, and what role should the federal government play to better prepare students of all ages for the science and technology-driven global economy? (07/23/12)


Titanic Banks Hit Libor Iceberg

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

CommUnity of Minds — Ellen Brown writes: At one time, calling the large multinational banks a “cartel” branded you as a conspiracy theorist.   Today the banking giants are being called that and worse, not just in the major media but in court documents intended to prove the allegations as facts.  Charges include racketeering (organized crime under the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO), antitrust violations, wire fraud, bid-rigging, and price-fixing.  Damning charges have already been proven, and major damages and penalties assessed.  Conspiracy theory has become established fact.

In an article in the July 3rd Guardian titled “Private Banks Have Failed – We Need a Public Solution”, Seumas Milne writes of the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal admitted to by Barclays Bank:

It’s already clear that the rate rigging, which depends on collusion, goes far beyond Barclays, and indeed the City of London. This is one of multiple scams that have become endemic in a disastrously deregulated system with inbuilt incentives for cartels to manipulate the core price of finance.

. . . It could of course have happened only in a private-dominated financial sector, and makes a nonsense of the bankrupt free-market ideology that still holds sway in public life.

. . . A crucial part of the explanation is the unmuzzled political and economic power of the City. . . . Finance has usurped democracy. …

If the last quarter century of U.S. banking history proves anything, it is that our private banking system turns malignant and feeds off the public when it is deregulated.  It also shows that a parasitic private banking system will NOT be tamed by regulation, as the banks’ control over the money power always allows them to circumvent the rules.  We the People must transparently own and run the nation’s central and regional banks for the good of the nation, or the system will be abused and run for private power and profit as it so clearly is today, bringing our nation to crisis again and again while enriching the few. (07/23/12)


The Earth is Finite

Friday, June 1st, 2012 of Minds — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: Imagine you own a comfortable 3000 square foot home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a big  family room, and a three car garage located on over an acre of land. Your home provides very comfortable shelter for you, your spouse and your three kids.

Then your spouse’s brother loses his job. Soon he and his wife can’t make their mortgage payments, and so they move in with their two kids. Now your home is less comfortable with nine people living there, but with some creative scheduling, it is livable.

But the economy continues to worsen, more family members lose their jobs, and suddenly you have twenty people living in the house. With this four-fold increase in population, living conditions in your home have changed from being livable to being nearly intolerable.

You are reaching the limits of your home’s ability to shelter you. After all the home is finite — it is limited to 3000 square feet.

Now humanity’s home is the Earth. While the Earth is quite large, it is still finite.  As in the example above, living on Earth was comfortable when the number in the human family was under one billion. Our species, Homo Sapiens, has existed for over 200,000  years on the planet. For 199,790 of those years, our population remained under one billion.

We reached 1 billion humans in 1800. By 1900, the world population was 1.5 billion. At that time, my grandfather was a young man raising his family that would eventual include 8 children. I was born in 1945, and would be one of three children. When I was a freshman in high school in 1960, the world’s population had doubled to 3 billion. Today, as I write this essay the World census is estimated to be 6.8 billion.

Humanity’s home, the Earth, is getting full. Our human population has increased over four-fold since 1900. We are reaching the limits of the planet. This is what really lies at the heart of our current world economic crisis. We are encountering Peak Oil, Peak Water, Peak Soil and Peak Food as a result of overpopulation, and the political-economic policy of over-consumption in order to maximize corporate profits.

Modern humans are no longer called people, they are consumers. Remember, when George W. Bush called on the American people to: “Go out and buy something.” Peak does not mean we are out of oil, water, soil or food. It means we are reaching the Peak of possible production for these necessities of life on a global basis.

Our current system of Market Capitalism, which is based on the premise of unlimited growth, has collided with the reality of a finite planet.

Things must change. We can expect no help from Big Government, the long term for Government is the length of time before the next election, and all political decisions are based on one dollar = one vote. We can expect no help from Big Business, they are only interested in the bottom line of their Profit and Loss Balance Sheets, and they clearly own our government directing it to base every political decision on what will increase the bottom line. Remember, “What is good for business is good for the nation.”

It will be up to us ordinary humans to solve our own problems by ourselves, and despite the actions of our government and corporations.

So, what can we do?

Imagine, if every human limited themselves to having only one child, the total population could be reduced dramatically within a few generations. This is something we can do voluntarily, if we choose to. Human reproduction remains in the control of ordinary humans.

In the meantime, there are lots of very practical things that can also be done. Today’s author shares two proposals that you can begin implementing tomorrow. (06/01/12)


British Butterflies in Freefall

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Small tortoiseshell (c) Jim Asher/ Butterfly ConservationBBC Animal Science — The British butterfly population is continuing a marked downward trend. This is according to a national survey which revealed that numbers of the insects fell by more than 20% between 2010 and 2011.

The results, announced by the charity Butterfly Conservation, appear to contrast with a recent study revealing a boom in numbers of rare UK species. But while rare species may thrive in Britain’s “pollinator hot spots”, the more general outlook appears bleak. …

In July and August 2011, more than 500 volunteers counted butterflies on these patches of countryside. Each person counted an average of 47 butterflies and saw seven different species. This is a reduction of more than 20% in the number of butterflies per survey compared to 2010. It is also a 40% reduction compared with 2009, when each recorder saw an average of 80 butterflies and eight different species.

Butterfly Conservation has blamed the decline on “last year’s record-breaking cold summer”, but also said there was a long-term and “ongoing deterioration of suitable butterfly habitat across the countryside”.

The once ubiquitous small tortoiseshell was one of the species badly-affected, with less than one seen per kilometre walked, on average. Butterfly Conservation says that, less than a decade ago, this species was “likely to be seen in almost every garden and flowery place through the summer months”. (06/01/12)


Danger and Opportunity

Sunday, October 30th, 2011 of Minds— Donald B. Halcom writes: The recent history of the United States of America has indicated a propensity for economic “bubbles”. The “.com” bubble of the 1990’s, the “housing bubble” of the 2000’s and indeed the current National Debt crisis of the USA are all manifestations of bubbles.

The belief in bubbles is inherently tied to a false belief in the infinite. This is a false belief because there is nothing on the earth that is infinite. Infinite growth of money, property values, debt, the stock market or any other earthly resource is physically impossible. We all live on a finite planet with finite resources. There are those who will claim that the National Debt is not a bubble. This is profoundly not true. The payment of the National Debt is based upon the false assumption of continuous and unrelenting growth of the US economy. These false assumptions based upon infinite growth will produce monumental tragedies eventually.

This is being written with the intent of educating as many people as possible about a future that may be absolutely devastating or, if we execute well, a new dawn for mankind.

Short Synopsis of the Intent

1)     Fossil fuels are finite resources.

2)     Sunshine is a finite resource.

3)     Fossil fuels stored the sun’s energy over millions of years.

4)     We are about to consume all this energy over about 300 years.

5)     Once this stored energy is consumed, the energy party is over.

6)     Fossil fuels are also the sources for many chemicals.

7)     When fossil fuels are gone, our chemical party is also over.

8)     The infrastructure of the world will change post fossil fuels.

9)     A new infrastructure must replace the old before the old dies.

10)   Failure to do so will produce devastation.

The history of the world has always been about the exploitation of resources in one form or another. Before the year 1800, these exploitation’s were mainly about agricultural resources. Agriculture requires arable land and a consistent supply of water. Wild trees and grasses are also agricultural resources. Countless wars were fought over these resources. Resource wars over minerals such as precious metals and iron were also important. About the only exceptions to these resource wars were religious wars.

Using the year 1800 as a reference, mankind’s resources began to change. The exploitation of coal began and this initiated the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the steam engine led to larger scales of farming and locomotives plus much more. Mankind cannot exploit what he does not know exists.

Somewhere around 1860 the exploitation of oil began.  Fossil fuel exploitation, including natural gas, really began to grow. Internal combustion engines were invented, without which the airplane would not exist. People like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and James Clerk Maxwell came along. These people, among others, led to the exploitation of hydroelectric power as well as fossil fuel fired electrical plants. About the year 1900 the exploitations of fossil fuels were in full bloom.

Fossil fuels lay in the ground for at least a million years before mankind discovered them. Before DNA created plant life on the earth there was no oxygen in the atmosphere. There were no life forms that used oxygen to live. There was no coal, oil or methane. The plant life took light from the sun, carbon dioxide and nitrogen from the atmosphere and water from rain to form hydrocarbons. The growth and death cycles of these plants repeated over millions of years and their residues were covered by dirt. Eventually the residues were under enough pressure to form coal, oil and methane down in the bowels of the earth. (10/30/11)



Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Paul KrugmanWhat we need! New York Times — Opinion: Nobel Prize Winning Economist Paul Krugman writes: Friday brought two numbers that should have everyone in Washington saying, “My God, what have we done?”

One of these numbers was zero — the number of jobs created in August. The other was two — the interest rate on 10-year U.S. bonds, almost as low as this rate has ever gone. Taken together, these numbers almost scream that the inside-the-Beltway crowd has been worrying about the wrong things, and inflicting grievous harm as a result.

Ever since the acute phase of the financial crisis ended, policy discussion in Washington has been dominated not by unemployment, but by the alleged dangers posed by budget deficits. Pundits and media organizations insisted that the biggest risk facing America was the threat that investors would pull the plug on U.S. debt. For example, in May 2009 The Wall Street Journal declared that the “bond vigilantes” were “returning with a vengeance,” telling readers that the Obama administration’s “epic spending spree” would send interest rates soaring.

The interest rate when that editorial was published was 3.7 percent. As of Friday, as I’ve already mentioned, it was only 2 percent.

I don’t mean to dismiss concerns about the long-run U.S. budget picture. If you look at fiscal prospects over, say, the next 20 years, they are indeed deeply worrying, largely because of rising health-care costs. But the experience of the past two years has overwhelmingly confirmed what some of us tried to argue from the beginning: The deficits we’re running right now — deficits we should be running, because deficit spending helps support a depressed economy — are no threat at all.

And by obsessing over a nonexistent threat, Washington has been making the real problem — mass unemployment, which is eating away at the foundations of our nation — much worse.  …

I find it useful to think in terms of three questions: What should we be doing to create jobs? What will Republicans in Congress agree to? And given that political reality, what should the president propose?

The answer to the first question is that we should have a lot of job-creating spending on the part of the federal government, largely in the form of much-needed spending to repair and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. Oh, and we need more aid to state and local governments, so that they can stop laying off schoolteachers. (o9/04/11)