Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Alaska bear falls through skylight into party, eats all the cupcakes -

Alaska bear falls through skylight into party, eats all the cupcakes - 

A young bear fell through an Alaska couple's skylight while they were preparing to celebrate their child's birthday, sending the humans scurrying out the room while he feasted on cupcakes.

A wildlife management co-ordinator said on Wednesday the bear that fell through the skylight of the couple's home in Juneau is believed to have been a juvenile male weighing about 82 kilograms.

"There probably isn't a neighbourhood or place where we have homes where the potential isn't there for you to run into a bear or observe a bear," said Ryan Scott of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "There is really no place where the potential isn't there."

The couple's home sits along a mountainside that overlooks downtown Juneau, and Scott said those types of neighbourhoods closer to trees see more bears. "Bears are extremely curious and will stake out any source of food they can find," he said.

The home owners, Alicia Bishop and Glenn Merrill, told the Juneau Empire the bear landed in their living room.

"I was literally in the room, and I heard this cracking," Merrill told the paper, describing the sound of the skylight's plexiglass creaking under the bear. "And the next thing you know, there's this bear that, I mean, literally, fell right from (the skylight). It was like one metre away from me."

Merrill told the paper he fled into an adjoining room and closed the door behind him, and Bishop said the animal feasted on her infant son's birthday cupcakes.

Bishop told the paper that she opened a door from the living room that led to the backyard and that the couple yelled at the animal until it casually walked out of their residence.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Bill Clinton Confessed He’s NOT Chelsea Clinton’s Real Father, Claims Ex-Aide -

Bill Clinton Confessed He’s NOT Chelsea Clinton’s Real Father, Claims Ex-Aide - 

It’s the secret that could ruin Hillary Clinton’s prospective bid for The White House.

President Bill Clinton once came clean that he was NOT in fact the biological father of the political pair’s only child, Chelsea Clinton. Even more shocking, he allegedly said the real father is the former mayor of Little Rock, Ark., Webster Hubbell, who’s also Hillary’s one-time law partner, claims former Clinton aide Larry Nichols.

This comes at quite a sensitive time given that Hillary will soon announce whether she will run for president in 2016 and her daughter is pregnant with her first child with her husband, 36-year-old Marc Mezvinsky.

But this isn’t the first time the rumor mill has circulated around the 34-year-old former First Daughter’s father.

The New Yorker on June 2 cited anti-Clinton blogger Robert Morrow’s claims that Hillary and Webster engaged in an affair in 1984 at the Governor’s Mansion during Bill’s second term.

At the same time, Bill – who later admitted to numerous affairs with Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky – was involved in a paternity scandal of his own. There were rumors abound that the 67-year-old got a local woman pregnant.

“We were discussing this woman’s claims that Bill had knocked her up and what we should do about it,” said Nichols. “But he denied that he could have gotten her pregnant. He said he had measles as a kid and that rendered him sterile.

“His exact words were, ‘I shoot blanks.’ Stunned by what I’d just heard, I asked him, ‘Then what about Chelsea?’ And he said, ‘Oh, Webb (Hubbell) sired her.’”

In an interview with The National ENQUIRER, blogger Morrow says the alleged scandal raises “character questions about Hillary.”

“Chelsea is a dead ringer for Webb,” he said of the former Associate Attorney General, who Bill appointed when he became Commander-In-Chief. “But Hillary initially kept the pregnancy secret from Bill!

“If your wife becomes pregnant, the husband is usually the second person to know,” he added. “But I find it very odd that Bill initially didn’t find out about his wife becoming pregnant – and had to learn that fact from a newspaper.

“According to well-respected author Edward Klein’s (2005) book, The Truth about Hillary, Bill discovered his wife was pregnant by reading it in the ‘Arkansas Gazette,’ Morrow continued.

“It’s unfortunate, sad really, that Chelsea has no real relationship with Hubbell – who I believe to be her real biological father – when he’s alive and kicking and living in North Carolina.

“But it could be she’s in denial, despite overwhelming proof that Webb is her real dad.”

As the governor of Arkansas, Bill appointed Hubbell as Chief Justice of the Arkansas State Supreme Court, but 10 years later he resigned just before pleading guilty to federal mail fraud and tax evasion for overbilling clients and served 15 months in prison.

The close Clinton family friend, author and lecturer has four kids of his own with wife Suzy and resides in Charlotte, N.C.

Paternity questions aside, Nichols said Bill was a great “father.”

“Whatever Chelsea does or doesn’t know about her paternity, I’m sure she considers Bill her real dad — despite there being no blood ties,” Nichols said. “I saw firsthand what a doting, loving father he was to his little girl.

“He always treated her as if she was his own – which in his heart, I believe she’s always been – from day one.”


Pope Francis Halts his Motorcade To Bless Disabled Young Woman -

Pope Francis Halts his Motorcade To Bless Disabled Young Woman - 

Pope Francis immediately halted his motorcade when a group of people with signs caught his attention.

The banners read, "Please Pope stop here to see an angel who has been waiting for you," and, "Please come and bless little Roberta."


Friday, 20 June 2014

STUDY: Negative people are more efficient at their jobs... -

STUDY: Negative people are more efficient at their jobs... - 

Everyone hates a hater. They’re the ones who hate the sun because it's too hot, and the breeze because it's too cold.

The rest of us, then, can take comfort in the fact that haters may not want to get involved in as many activities as the rest of us. 

But in a twist of irony, that grumpy person you know may actually be better at their job since they spend so much time on fewer activities.

This, according to U.S. research, gives them the opportunity to hone their skills in specific tasks more so than people with a sunny disposition.

Researchers at the University of Illinois and University of Pennsylvania found that people who had a positive attitude were likely to get involved in more activities. 

Meanwhile people who ‘hate’, do very few things with their time.

In two studies, participants reported all of their activities over a one-week period and also completed a measure of attitudes.

Nearly 15 per cent of the differences in how many activities people took part in over a week was associated with being a hater versus a 'liker'.

Haters and likers didn’t differ in how much time they spent doing activities throughout the week; they merely differed in the number of activities that they did.

Haters could be characterised as less active because they do fewer things as people with a positive attitude.

But they could also be characterised as more focused because they spend more time on the small number of tasks.

‘The present results demonstrate that patterns of general action may occur for reasons other than the desire to be active versus inactive,’ the researchers wrote.

‘Indeed, some people may be more active than others not because they want to be active per se, but because they identify a large number of specific behaviours in which they want to engage.’

The findings may have implications for understanding the development of skills and expertise.

For example, likers may adopt a jack-of-all-trades approach to life, investing small amounts of time in a wide variety of activities. This means they never have expertise in one activity.

In contrast, when haters find an activity they actually like, they may invest a larger amount of time in that task, allowing them to develop a higher level of skill.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

China Must Import More Water Than The US Imports Oil -

China Must Import More Water Than The US Imports Oil - 

In one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted of China’s bubblicious property market, Professor Gan Li at Texas A&M University estimates that there are a whopping 49 million vacant homes in China right now.

As a percentage, this is twice the vacancy rate that the US housing market experienced at the peak of its recent bubble… suggesting that China has a rather painful housing collapse in store.

This should be a brutal blow to the economy given that housing comprised 15% of GDP last year. And the slowdown is already apparent.

In fact, China’s president Xi Jinping uncharacteristically announced a ‘new normal’ recently, declaring the heady days of 10% GDP growth to be over. His vision of China is moderate growth and less stimulus.

But I’ve identified a far greater problem for China… one that few people are talking about. And frankly I’m not sure they can fix it.

We discussed earlier that China does not have the capacity to feed itself. By the estimates of one state official, the country’s agricultural imports require more land to grow than the entire land mass of California.

The reasons are simple. For one, China doesn’t have enough fertile land in production to support its population’s growing food demand.

Theoretically this is fixable. With a bit of time, patience, and technology, barren soil can be rehabilitated In other words, China doesn’t have enough enough productive land capacity to support its population.

But the far greater issue is China’s massive freshwater deficiency.

Chief Economist Qian Keming of China’s Agriculture Ministry summed it up by telling the audience at the Third China International Agribusiness Forum:

“Fresh water resources are only 2100 cubic meters per capita, which is only 28% of the world’s average level.”


“The shortage of [water for agricultural irrigation] each year is about 30 billion cubic meters. China imported about 148.6 billion cubic meters of water in 2013, which was equivalent to 38% of China’s agricultural water.”
Here’s that number in perspective: China water imports of 148.6 billion cubic meters last year handily exceeded the 569 MILLION (0.569 billion) cubic meters of oil that the United States imported.

Water is THE critical resource in agriculture. Without it, you’re not producing. This makes China’s deficiency a long-term headwind to their food production dilemma.

It’s not something they can import their way out of either, because all of this comes at a time of flat (and even declining) yields, particularly from the world’s largest food exporter… which just happens to be the United States of America.

After decades of growth, grain yields in the US have topped out. Farmers have managed to extract all that the earth is capable of providing.

Many developing markets are no help either. Most people don’t realize that Africa, despite its legendary agricultural potential, is actually a net importer of food.

So between the supply constraints and the constantly growing demand, it’s clear where this trend is going.

The BEST possible scenario to unfold is rising food prices. The worst case could be shortages.

All of this is potentially destabilizing. History shows that while human beings will put up with a lot of sacrifices at the behest of their governments, starvation is not one of them.

This approaching ‘food crunch’ is the reason why agriculture is THE investment for the next decade and beyond.

But more importantly, it’s another gigantic nail in the coffin for the status quo. And there are plenty more.

Nearly every ‘developed’ western nation is bankrupt. Most major central banks are insolvent… and they’ve created bubbles everywhere. The century-old monetary experiment is starting to draw to a hasty, inevitable conclusion.

Meanwhile apathy is at high tide. You can see it in voting booths and streetside revolutions around the world– people are sick and tired of the status quo… of thieving politicians… of war… of getting spied on… of being told what they can/cannot put in their bodies.

They’re finally now starting to wake up and demand real changes– not just changing the players in charge, but changing the game itself.

Politicians will fight with every resource they have to maintain the status quo. But in conjunction with the fundamentals of food, the confluence of all these forces together is more than any system can possibly withstand.

It might not be today. It might not be this decade. But at some point in our future, there will be a complete reset in the way society organizes and governs itself.

Just make sure you’re wearing your seat belt.


U.S. patent office cancels Redskins trademark registration - does not permit trademarks that "may disparage" -

U.S. patent office cancels Redskins trademark registration - does not permit trademarks that "may disparage" - 

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team's name "disparaging to Native Americans." The landmark case, which appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans. 

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that "may disparage" individuals or groups or "bring them into contempt or disrepute." The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word "Redskin." 


The Sunni-Shiite Divide Explained In 100 Seconds -

The Sunni-Shiite Divide Explained In 100 Seconds -

The battle between Islam's two major branches began over 1400 years ago when the Islamic prophet Mohammad died and the two sides clashed over who should succeed him. This centuries old 'war' is once again threatening Iraq's (and indeed the Middle East - and thus the world's) stability. The Washington Post's senior national security correspondent Karen DeYoung explains in 100 seconds just how we got here...

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Fukushima's Giant Ice Wall Can't Get Cold Enough to Freeze -

Fukushima's Giant Ice Wall Can't Get Cold Enough to Freeze - 

Remember how Japan decided to build that crazy ice wall to contain the Fukushima nuclear plant's radioactive water leaks? Well, its construction is behind schedule—because its engineers can't achieve temperatures low enough to freeze the ice.

The ice wall was to be constructed by driving vertical pipes, spaced about a meter apart, between 20 and 40 meters into the ground. Then, coolant was to be pumped through them, effectively creating a barrier of permafrost around the affected buildings, keeping the contaminated water in and groundwater out.

But now, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has admitted that an initial, smaller inner ice wall—a proof-of-concept, if you like—is proving difficult to construct. A TEPCO spokesperson has explained that:

"We have yet to form the ice stopper because we can't make the temperature low enough to freeze water. We are behind schedule but have already taken additional measures, including putting in more pipes, so that we can remove contaminated water from the trench starting next month."
The engineers involved with the project are using a calcium chloride coolant, chilled down to -30C, or -22F. While that's been enough to create smaller versions of these permafrost walls elsewhere in the past, the same isn't true at Fukushima. Indeed, the project had already been greet with skepticism by some engineers and scientists who—perhaps now correctly—pointed out that the project may struggle to work at such scales and time spans.

The huge amounts of water leaking from the Fukushima site continue to be a real and growing problem, then. Let's hope the engineers can find something more effective than their calcium chloride coolant. 


Monday, 16 June 2014

Electronic smart cup counts calories and monitors hydration - in real time -

Electronic smart cup counts calories and monitors hydration - in real time - 


The app market is congested with health trackers and calorie counters, but a new product claims to monitor exactly what you consume in real time.

The Vessyl smart cup system is trying to revolutionize the way we drink by identifying any liquid that is poured into it and reporting back nutritional content like calories, caffeine, even grams of protein.  The idea is to simply link Vessyl to your smartphone, and the device will track consumption levels as you sip.

“We wanted the feedback to be really, really quick because we want to make sure we empower consumers to make healthier choices in real time," Justin Lee, CEO of Mark One, the company behind Vessyl, told Fast Company Design.

Mark One claims the container recognizes thousands of beverages— and has the ability to distinguish between similar drinks like Gatorade Cool Blue and Glacier Freeze. Unlike many calorie counters, the device contains a processor and runs algorithms to match your drink with thousands that have been tested and quantified. Whether your drink is store bought like a bottled Frappuccino or a homemade juice, the system is able to measures a drink's content in real time. 

The sleek design features a screen for displaying nutritional data while the spill-proof lid, non-stick interior make it similar to other thermos products on the products. Customers can customize the color of their lid and cup base.  The current model is not dishwasher safe. 

On-the-go beverage tracking sounds like a good idea for dieters.  But are consumers prepared for all the information you'd get, say, on a night out after pouring your wine into the Vessyl?


Comcast is turning your home router into a public Wi-Fi hotspot -

Comcast is turning your home router into a public Wi-Fi hotspot - 

comcast wifi hotspots

If you're a Comcast cable customer, your home's private Wi-Fi router is being turned into a public hotspot.
It's potentially creepy and annoying. But the upside is Internet everywhere.

It's been one year since Comcast (CMCSA) started its monster project to blanket residential and commercial areas with continuous Wi-Fi coverage. Imagine waves of wireless Internet emitting from every home, business and public waiting area.
Comcast has been swapping out customers' old routers with new ones capable of doubling as public hotspots. So far, the company has turned 3 million home devices into public ones. By year's end it plans to activate that feature on the other 5 million already installed.
Anyone with an Xfinity account can register their devices (laptop, tablet, phone) and the public network will always keep them registered -- at a friend's home, coffee shop or bus stop. No more asking for your cousin's Wi-Fi network password.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Pope Francis Warns The Global Economy Is Near Collapse - "an economy built on money-worship and war cannot survive" -

Pope Francis Warns The Global Economy Is Near Collapse - "an economy built on money-worship and war cannot survive" - 

The global economic system is near collapse, according to Pope Francis.

An economy built on money-worship and war and scarred by yawning inequality and youth unemployment cannot survive, the 77-year-old Roman Catholic leader suggested in a newly published interview.

“We are excluding an entire generation to sustain a system that is not good,” he told La Vanguardia’s Vatican reporter, Henrique Cymerman. (Read an English translation here -http://www.patheos.com/blogs/catholicnews/2014/06/pope-francis-interview-with-la-vanguardia-full-text/#ixzz34XQikRFJ ) “Our global economic system can’t take any more.”

The pontiff said he was especially concerned about youth unemployment, which hit 13.1 percent last year, according to a report by the International Labor Organization.

"The rate of unemployment is very worrisome to me, which in some countries is over 50 percent," he said. "Someone told me that 75 million young Europeans under 25 years of age are unemployed. That is an atrocity."

That 75 million is actually the total for the whole world, according to the ILO, but that is still too much youth unemployment.

Pope Francis denounced the influence of war and the military on the global economy in particular:

“We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer endures, a system that to survive has to make war, as the big empires have always done,” he said.

"But since we cannot wage the Third World War, we make regional wars," he added. "And what does that mean? That we make and sell arms. And with that the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies -- the big world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money -- are obviously cleaned up."

Pope Francis is gaining a reputation for pointed comments on the global economy. In April, amid feverish media coverage of French economist Thomas Piketty's bombshell book on income inequality, he made clear his stance on the widening wealth gap with a tweet saying: "Inequality is the root of social evil."

Pope Francis ditches bulletproof Popemobile...  'At my age I don't have much to lose'... - 

Pope Francis has announced he will no longer used a bullet-proof Popemobile as the glass 'sardine can' keeps him away from the people. 
The armoured vehicles were introduced after the 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II in a bid to prevent further attacks on the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. 
During the interview with a Spanish newspaper which was reported by Vatican Radio, Pope Francis said: 'It is true that anything could happen, but let's face it, at my age I don't have much to lose.'

He continued: 'I know that something could happen to me, but it's in the hands of God.' 
The Argentinian pontiff was more diplomatic when questioned on the World Cup claiming he will be neutral when it comes to who he will support during the competition. 

When asked about his legacy, Pope Francis said: 'I have not thought about this. But I like it when you recall someone and say "he was a good guy, he did what he could, and he was not that bad." With that, I would be content.'


Saturday, 14 June 2014

GOOGLE to collect personal health data from fitness apps, Android wearables... -

GOOGLE to collect personal health data from fitness apps, Android wearables... - 

Google GOOGL +0.12% is planning to launch a new health service called Google Fit to collect and aggregate data from popular fitness trackers and health-related apps, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans. It will launch the service at the Google I/O conference for developers, being held on June 25 and 26.

Such a service would mark a direct challenge to Apple AAPL -1.09%’s HealthKit framework, launched last week and rolling out with its new mobile platform iOS 8 this fall to aggregate data from wearable devices and apps. Last month Samsung also unveiled Sami, a biometric data platform that collects health information from devices and apps too.

Google Fit will aggregate data through open APIs, instruction sets that allow apps to share information, and will also announce partnerships with wearable device makers at its I/O conference, Forbes understands. One source with knowledge of Google’s plans said Google Fit would allow a wearable device that measures data like steps or heart rate to interface with Google’s cloud-based services, and become part of the Google Fit ecosystem. Google could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

It’s unclear if Google Fit will be a service build into the next version of Android, or a standalone app that Android users will be able to download independently.

Google has kept much of what it will announce at I/O under wraps but it has scheduled several developer sessions where it could conceivably talk about Google Fit. There is a session on “wearable computing with Google” on Day 1, followed by “designing for wearables,” and then the broader “Android and cloud” session on Day 2.

Creating health platforms has been a laborious process for both Google and Apple, sources say. Among the complications: the concern over privacy and how best to process information as sensitive as health data, as well as how to provide valuable feedback without veering into the realm of FDA-regulated diagnosis.

Google has been in this field before with Google Health, which also acted as a health portal but was shut down in 2012.

“Google Health never took off because consumers actually don’t want to aggregate their data,” says Derek Newell, CEO of digital health care platform Jiff. “They haven’t wanted to. What they want is information. They want meaning, rewards and a feedback loop.”

Google may want its new health platform to tie in with Android Wear, a version of Google’s Android mobile operating system that’s built for smart watches and other wearable devices. This way, someone wearing two or three wearable devices that run on Android Wear could have disparately collected data like steps, heart rate and temperature, aggregated by Google Fit as a central collection point.

Large tech companies like Apple, Samsung and Google are looking into data collection as a next step in broadening their ecosystems — in particular, becoming a hub for the health data picked up by the myriad sensors we’ll probably be wearing on our bodies over the next few years.

Microsoft MSFT +1.58% is getting in the game later this year with its own smart watch that measures continuous heart rate, Forbes first reported earlier this month. It’s unclear if Microsoft will also launch a health-data platform too, though it already has HealthVault, a web-based platform launched in 2010 to store health and fitness information.

Last week Apple explained that HealthKit would be a framework that wearables and health apps could use to send data to a separate Apple app called Health. Users would be able to store data including steps, sleep and heart rate in the Health app, along with their medical history. Third-party apps could then ask for access to Health, as they already do for apps like Contacts or Photos.

Google’s Android has dominated smartphone till now and is expected to account for 80% of global smartphone market by the end of this year, while Apple will retain 14.8%. But Android faces some challenges here.

If the next version of Android comes out with a version of Google Fit, top vendor Samsung could simply re-engineer the open-source platform and replace Google Fit with its own health platform, Sami.

Samsung has long sought to find ways to lessen its dependence on Google’s software by heavily customizing Android for its Galaxy range of smartphones. More recently it cut Android out all together on the update to its smart watch, Gear, which runs on Tizen, and Gear Fit, which runs on Samsung’s own low-power operating system.

“There’s lots of little players, and no data standards,” says Newell. “[Apple and Samsung] are going to step in the middle of all that and facilitate the collection of that data and let developers develop on top of it.” Now it looks like Google will do the same.

Read more -

Friday, 13 June 2014

China used more cement in the last THREE years than the USA used in the ENTIRE 20TH Century -

China used more cement in the last THREE years than the USA used in the ENTIRE 20TH Century - 

The car I drive to work is made of around 2,600 pounds of steel, 800 pounds of plastic, and 400 pounds of light metal alloys. The trip from my house to the office is roughly four miles long, all surface streets, which means I travel over some 15,000 tons of concrete each morning.
Once I’m at the office, I usually open a can of Diet Coke. Over the course of the day I might drink three or four. All those cans also add up to something like 35 pounds of aluminum a year.
I got to thinking about all this after reading Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization,  by my favorite author, the historian Vaclav Smil. Not only did I learn some mind-blowing facts, but I also gained a new appreciation for all the materials that make modern life possible.

This isn’t just idle curiosity. It might seem mundane, but the issue of materials—how much we use and how much we need—is key to helping the world’s poorest people improve their lives. Think of the amazing increase in quality of life that we saw in the United States and other rich countries in the past 100 years. We want most of that miracle to take place for all of humanity over the next 50 years. As more people join the global middle class, they will need affordable clean energy. They will want to eat more meat. And they will need more materials: steel to make cars and refrigerators; concrete for roads and runways; copper wiring for telecommunications.
I had already read Smil’s books on energy and diet. Smil says at the start of Making the Modern World that he won’t spend much time on those topics (which means climate change doesn’t come up much). Instead he’s interested in the materials we use to meet the demands of modern life. Can we make enough steel for all those cars and enough concrete for all those roads? What are the risks if we do? In other words, can we bring billions of people out of poverty without destroying the environment?
Smil excels at answering big questions like these. Although he doesn’t make many predictions, he does something that’s even more valuable: He explains the past. He helps you understand how we got where we are, which tells you something about where we’re going. I study Smil’s histories so I can understand the future.
He argues that the most important man-made material is concrete, both in terms of the amount we produce each year and the total mass we’ve laid down. Concrete is the foundation (literally) for the massive expansion of urban areas of the past several decades, which has been a big factor in cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half since 1990. In 1950, the world made roughly as much steel as cement (a key ingredient in concrete); by 2010, steel production had grown by a factor of 8, but cement had gone up by a factor of 25. This animated GIF shows the dramatic transformation of Shanghai since 1987. 

Most of what you’re seeing in that picture is concrete, steel, and glass.
You can also see the importance of concrete in the graphic below, which illustrates what Smil calls the most staggering statistic in his book:

Infographic: Comparing China's Concrete Usage in the 20th and 21st Centuries - Making the Modern World by Vaclav Smil, Book Review | GatesNotes.com The Blog of Bill Gates


Australia seized a whopping 360 Million from dormant bank accounts - & this kind of thing is going on all over America -

Australia seized a whopping 360 Million from dormant bank accounts - & this kind of thing is going on all over America - 

Do you have a bank account that you don't actively use or a safe deposit box that you have not checked on for a while?  If so, you might want to see if the government has grabbed your money.  This sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true.  All over the world, governments are shortening the time periods required before they can seize "dormant bank accounts" and "unclaimed property".  For example, as you will read about below, just last year the government of Australia seized a whopping 360 million dollars from dormant bank accounts.  And this kind of thing is going on all over America as well.  In fact, all 50 statesactually pay private contractors to locate bank accounts and unclaimed property that can be seized.  In some states, no effort will be made to contact you when your property is confiscated.  And in most states, the seized property permanently become the property of the state government after a certain waiting period has elapsed.  So please don't put money or property into a bank somewhere and just let it sit there.  If you do, the government may come along and grab it right out from under your nose.

In this day and age, broke governments all over the globe are searching for "creative ways" to raise revenues.  In Australia for example, the time period required before the federal government could seize a dormant bank account was reduced from seven to three years, and this resulted in an unprecedented windfall for the Australian government over the past 12 months...

The federal government has seized a record $360 million from household bank accounts that have been dormant for just three years, prompting outrage in some quarters amid complaints that pensioners and retirees have lost deposits.

Figures from the Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC) show almost $360 million was collected from 80,000 inactive accounts in the year to May under new rules introduced by Labor. The new rules lowered the threshold at which the government is allowed to snatch funds from accounts that remain idle from seven years to three years.

The rule change has delivered the government a massive bonanza with the money collected in the year to May more than the total collected in the past five decades combined.

Most Americans are not going to be too concerned about this because it is happening on the other side of the planet.

But did you know that this is happening all over the U.S. as well?

For instance, the waiting period in the state of California used to be fifteen years.

Now it is just three years.

And when California grabs your money they don't just sit around waiting for you to come and claim it.  Instead, it gets dumped directly into the general fund and spent.

If you do not believe that California does this, just check out the following information that comes directly from the official website of the California State Controller's Office...

The State acquires unclaimed property through California's Unclaimed Property Law, which requires "holders" such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies to annually report and deliver property to the Controller's Office after there has been no customer contact for three years. Often the owner forgets that the account exists, or moves and does not leave a forwarding address or the forwarding order expires. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.

And it is not just bank accounts and safe deposit boxes that are covered by California law.  The reality is that a vast array of different kinds of "unclaimed property" are covered...

The most common types of Unclaimed Property are:

Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents

Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends

Uncashed cashier's checks or money orders

Certificates of deposit

Matured or terminated insurance policies


Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts.

And when a state government grabs your property, the consequences can be absolutely devastating.  The following is an excerpt from an ABC news report from a few years ago...

San Francisco resident Carla Ruff's safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked "owner unknown."

"I was appalled," Ruff said. "I felt violated."

Unknown? Carla's name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address -- a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too -- still does -- and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she's the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.

"They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed," Ruff said.

To make matters worse, Ruff discovered the loss when she went to her box to retrieve important paperwork she needed because her husband was dying. Those papers had been shredded.

And that's not all. Her great-grandmother's precious natural pearls and other jewelry had been auctioned off. They were sold for just $1,800, even though they were appraised for $82,500.

And some states are even more aggressive than the state of California in going after bank accounts.

In a recent article, Simon Black noted that the state of Georgia can go after "dormant bank accounts" after just one year of inactivity...

In fact, each of the 50 states has its own regulations pertaining to the seizure of dormant accounts. And the grand prize goes to… the great state of Georgia!

Georgia’s Disposition of Unclaimed Properties Act sets the threshold as low as one year.

In other words, if you have a checking account in Georgia that you haven’t touched in twelve months, the state government is going to grab it.

So much for setting aside money for a rainy day and having the discipline to never touch it.

As economic conditions get even worse, the temptation for governments all over the planet to grab private bank accounts is going to become even greater.

We all remember what happened in Cyprus.  When the global financial Ponzi scheme finally collapses, politicians all over the world are going to be looking for an easy way to raise cash.  And our bank accounts may be one of the first things that they decide to confiscate.

So please don't keep all of your eggs in one basket, and check on all of your accounts in regular intervals.

In this day and age, it pays to be diligent.


12 Numbers About The Global Financial Ponzi Scheme That Everyone Should Know -

12 Numbers About The Global Financial Ponzi Scheme That Everyone Should Know - 

The numbers that you are about to see are likely to shock you.  They prove that the global financial Ponzi scheme is far more extensive than most people would ever dare to imagine.  As you will see below, the total amount of debt in the world is now more than three times greater than global GDP.  In other words, you could take every single good and service produced on the entire planet this year, next year and the year after that and it still would not be enough to pay off all the debt.  But even that number pales in comparison to the exposure that big global banks have to derivatives contracts.  It is hard to put into words how reckless they have been.  At the low end of the estimates, the total exposure that global banks have to derivatives contracts is 710 trillion dollars.

That is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable.  And the reality of the matter is that there is really not all that much actual "money" in circulation today.  In fact, as you will read about below, there is only a little bit more than a trillion dollars of U.S. currency that you can actually hold in your hands in existence.  If we all went out and tried to close our bank accounts and investment portfolios all at once, that would create a major league crisis.  The truth is that our financial system is little more than a giant pyramid scheme that is based on debt and paper promises.  It is literally a miracle that it has survived for so long without collapsing already.

When Americans think about the financial crisis that we are facing, the largest number that they usually can think of is the size of the U.S. national debt.  And at over 17 trillion dollars, it truly is massive.  But it is actually the 2nd-smallest number on the list below.  The following are 12 numbers about the global financial Ponzi scheme that should be burned into your brain...

-$1,280,000,000,000 - Most people are really surprised when they hear this number.  Right now, there is only 1.28 trillion dollars worth of U.S. currency floating around out there.

-$17,555,165,805,212.27 - This is the size of the U.S. national debt.  It has grown by more than 10 trillion dollars over the past ten years.

-$32,000,000,000,000 - This is the total amount of money that the global elite have stashed in offshore banks (that we know about).

-$48,611,684,000,000 - This is the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts.

-$59,398,590,000,000 - This is the total amount of debt (government, corporate, consumer, etc.) in the U.S. financial system.  40 years ago, this number was just a little bit above 2 trillion dollars.

-$70,088,625,000,000 - This is the total exposure that JPMorgan Chase has to derivatives contracts.

-$71,830,000,000,000 - This is the approximate size of the GDP of the entire world.

-$75,000,000,000,000 - This is approximately the total exposure that German banking giant Deutsche Bank has to derivatives contracts.

-$100,000,000,000,000 - This is the total amount of government debt in the entire world.  This amount has grown by $30 trillion just since mid-2007.

-$223,300,000,000,000 - This is the approximate size of the total amount of debt in the entire world.

-$236,637,271,000,000 - According to the U.S. government, this is the total exposure that the top 25 banks in the United States have to derivatives contracts.  But those banks only have total assets of about 9.4 trillion dollars combined.  In other words, the exposure of our largest banks to derivatives outweighs their total assets by a ratio of about 25 to 1.

-$710,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 - The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives contracts generally fall within this range.  At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives exposure to global GDP is about 21 to 1.

Most people tend to assume that the "authorities" have fixed whatever caused the financial world to almost end back in 2008, but that is not the case at all.

In fact, the total amount of government debt around the globe has grown by about 40 percent since then, and the "too big to fail banks" have collectively gotten 37 percent larger since then.

Our "authorities" didn't fix anything.  All they did was reinflate the bubble and kick the can down the road for a little while.

I don't know how anyone can take an honest look at the numbers and not come to the conclusion that this is completely and totally unsustainable.

How much debt can the global financial system take before it utterly collapses?

How recklessly can the big banks behave before the house of cards that they have constructed implodes underneath them?

For the moment, everything seems fine.  Stock markets around the world have been setting record highs and credit is flowing like wine.

But at some point a day of reckoning is coming, and when it arrives it is going to be the most painful financial crisis the world has ever seen.

If you plan on getting ready before it strikes, now is the time to do so.


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Norad Admits F-22 Fighter Jets Intercepted 4 Russian Bombers 50 Miles Off California Coast -

Norad Admits F-22 Fighter Jets Intercepted 4 Russian Bombers 50 Miles Off California Coast - 

"At the height of the Cold War I do not remember them getting this close," notes a retired Air Force Lt. Gen. as The Washington Free Beacon reports that four Russian strategic bombers triggered U.S. air defense systems while conducting practice bombing runs near Alaska this week, with two of the Tu-95 Bear H aircraft coming within 50 miles of the California coast, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) confirmed Wednesday. Two U.S. Air Force F-22 jets were scrambled and intercepted the bombers over the Aleutians but the remaining two nuclear-capable bombers then flew southeast and entered the U.S. northern air defense zone off the coast of Northern California, before 2 more F-15s were scrambled. As House Armed Services Committee member Connaway ranted, "truth of the matter is we would have squashed either one of those [bombers] like baby seals."

As The Washington Free Beacon explains, Four Russian strategic bombers triggered U.S. air defense systems while conducting practice bombing runs near Alaska this week, with two of the Tu-95 Bear H aircraft coming within 50 miles of the California coast, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) confirmed Wednesday.

Davis said the latest Bear H incursions began Monday around 4:30 p.m. Pacific time when radar detected the four turbo-prop powered bombers approaching the U.S. air defense zone near the far western Aleutian Islands.

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 jets were scrambled and intercepted the bombers over the Aleutians.

After tracking the bombers as they flew eastward, two of the four Bears turned around and headed west toward the Russian Far East. The bombers are believed to be based at the Russian strategic base near Anadyr, Russia.

The remaining two nuclear-capable bombers then flew southeast and around 9:30 P.M. entered the U.S. northern air defense zone off the coast of Northern California.

Two U.S. F-15 jets were deployed and intercepted the bombers as they eventually flew within 50 miles of the coast before turning around and heading west.

A defense official said the four bombers also were supported by two IL-78 aerial refueling tankers that were used for mid-air refueling during the operation this week.
The bomber incursion is the latest Russian nuclear saber-rattling amid stepped up tensions over Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, called the Russian flights “intentional provocations.”

“Putin is doing this specifically to try to taunt the U.S. and exercise, at least in the reported world, some sort of saber-rattling, muscle-flexing kind of nonsense,” Conaway said in an interview. “Truth of the matter is we would have squashed either one of those [bombers] like baby seals.”

“It’s a provocation and it’s unnecessary. But it fits in with [Putin’s] macho kind of saber-rattling,” he said, adding that he expects Russia will carry out more of these kinds of incidents in the future.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former Alaska commander for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said he does not remember a case of Russian strategic bombers coming that close to the U.S. coast.

“Again we see the Obama administration through their covert—but overt to Mr. Putin—unilateral disarmament, inviting adventurism by the Russians,” McInerney said in an email.

“At the height of the Cold War I do not remember them getting this close. Mr. Putin had to approve this mission and he is just showing his personal contempt for President Obama right after meeting him in Normandy less than a week ago,” McInerney said.

McInerney said no American president has been treated with such disrespect in U.S. history.

“A sad day indeed and at the same time Mosul and Tikrit [Iraq] fall to radical Islamists after the Obama administration’s failed Iraq policy,” he added. “He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yet again.”

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STUDY: Dogs prefer to earn treats rather than receive handouts... -

STUDY: Dogs prefer to earn treats rather than receive handouts... - 

In humans the ‘eureka moment’ is a commonly known feeling that occurs when we solve a particularly troubling problem.
But new research suggests that we’re not the only animals to experience this - dogs, too, gain pleasure from solving a tricky task.
In a series of experiments, scientists found dogs were happier when they earned a reward by performing a task, rather than just being handed a treat.

The research was carried out by Dr Ragen Mcgowan and colleagues from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Sweden.

During tests, the researchers used six matched pairs of beagles, reports Companion Animal Psychology.
Each of the 12 dogs were trained to use three of six different pieces of equipment, ranging from a ‘dog piano’ to a lever that would make a bell ring.

The other dog in each pair was trained on the other three pieces of equipment.
The dogs were then taken to an ‘arena’ that had all six experiments in.
At the entrance to the arena the dogs were held behind a gate, while also inside was a ramp leading to one of three rewards - a treat, a person to pet them, or another dog.
Each of the dogs in the pair took turns being the control and then the experimental dog.
The experimental dogs were only given access to the treat on the ramp when they successfully manipulated the three pieces of equipment they had been trained to use.
The control dogs, meanwhile, were given access to the reward when the puzzles were solved by their partner in the other arena, irrespective of how they used the equipment.
The dogs in the pairs were then tasked with performing the same run several times, and also played both roles of experimental and control dog.


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Black man driving white wife to work accused of being illegal cabbie, has car seized... -

Black man driving white wife to work accused of being illegal cabbie, has car seized... - 

ity investigators wrongfully accused a black man of being an illegal taxi driver after they spotted him dropping off his wife at work, believing she was a white livery cab passenger, a lawsuit charges.

Married couple Dan Keys Jr., 66, and Symone Palermo, 53, are suing the Taxi and Limousine Commission for $3 million, claiming that in an act of racial profiling its agents seized their Lincoln Town Car for eight days and gave each of them summonses — despite their attempts to explain they are husband and wife.

The couple claims that TLC investigators pulled over Keys, a car salesman, because they mistook Palermo, who is biracial, for being white and assumed she was a customer.

“Upon information and belief, when attempting to identify illegally operated taxis, it is the official policy or custom of [the city and the TLC] to instruct its employees to target and single out vehicles operated by minorities with white passengers,” the lawsuit says.

On the morning of May 8, 2013, Keys drove Palermo from their Bayside home to her job at Bob’s Discount Furniture at the Shops at SkyView Center in Flushing. Palermo sat in the backseat of the car because rain had dampened the front passenger side seat the previous evening, the suit says.

After dropping Palermo off, Keys was pulled over by TLC investigators and accused of operating the black Town Car as an illegal cab, according to the lawsuit filed last week in Queens Supreme Court. 

The lawsuit claims that investigators — not yet knowing the couple’s relationship — lied to Keys and claimed a “white female” passenger confirmed to them that he was an unlicensed hack.

When Palermo arrived to clear up the misunderstanding, the investigators refused to let them go and instead wrote both of them summonses with false allegations, the lawsuit says. Palermo was ticketed because she is listed as the owner of the Town Car, which was seized.

"We think there was no basis for the TLC to have pulled over my clients in the first instance,” the couple’s lawyer, David Haber, told DNAinfo New York.

“Once they pulled over my clients, [the investigators] had many opportunities to let them go — to realize they pulled over the wrong people. Instead they doubled down on their mistake. I believe that they flat-out lied in their summonses."

A city administrative judge eventually ruled in the couple’s favor and dismissed the summonses. However, the TLC kept the Town Car until Palermo won her case on May 16, 2013.

The TLC declined to discuss the lawsuit’s allegations.

“We're respectfully reserving comment at this time in light of the pending litigation," agency spokesman Allan Fromberg said in a statement.


Monday, 9 June 2014

Banks Share Customer Withdrawals, Money Moves With Spy Agencies... -

Banks Share Customer Withdrawals, Money Moves With Spy Agencies... - 

The U.S. Treasury Department said it sets limits while allowing the nation’s intelligence agencies to access reports that banks file on suspicious or large money moves by customers, including information about Americans.

The Treasury, saying it was responding to a public records request, released the protocol at the end of last week, describing how it provides some information in bulk to the National Counterterrorism Center, the hub of the government’s anti-terrorism intelligence efforts. The document, partially redacted, also sets conditions for searching the database.

The 2010 memorandum of understanding between the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the NCTC requires intelligence agencies to make “best efforts” to tap information valuable only to specific cases and immediately destroy data obtained in error. Redistribution is limited.

The Obama administration has been seeking to assure the U.S. public and allies that they’re not subject to continual surveillance, while defending intelligence collection as vital to stopping terrorism. Unlike the vast data tombs unveiled by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the U.S. has publicly required financial firms for decades to report suspicious activity to the Treasury for anti-money-laundering efforts. The information can be shared with law enforcement and has been used in past terrorism cases.

“Financial data can be some of the most relevant as to how people are connected,” NCTC Director Matthew Olsen said in an interview. “That’s why it’s vital that we have access” to the FinCEN database, he said.

While his unit also looks at travel patterns, phone records and other pertinent data when investigating potential international terrorist activity, tracking the money is key, he said. FinCEN data, for example, can help map financial flows from individuals in the U.S. to terrorist networks in Yemen or Syria, he said.

“Financial connections are the most binding between people,” he said. “When we can find connections based on money, it’s not a smoking-gun piece, but it helps with analysis.”

U.S. banks file more than 15 million currency-transaction reports each year, spurred by movements of $10,000 or more into or out of an account, according to FinCEN. Financial institutions -- including banks, brokerages, money-transfer businesses and casinos -- also file more than 1.5 million suspicious-activity reports annually.

“The data we collect is publicly known,” FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said in an interview. “It’s not raw data. It’s suspicious, large-cash transactions that meet a threshold.”

The guidelines seek to balance privacy and the prevention of national-security threats, she said. “We think we’ve gotten that balance right, although it is something we must always be ready to re-examine.”

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