Vancouver Island a terrorist threat?

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times:

[Armed] Border Patrol agents [in fatigues] began conducting random checks and undercover surveillance at the Washington state ferry terminal in Anacortes this year. The agents intercept disembarking passengers, inquire about citizenship, request IDs, and run vehicle and criminal background checks. A plainclothes officer patrols the small terminal.

They set up checkpoints that have netted “50 people — 49 of them Latinos, mostly from Mexico — on suspicion of immigration violations” and “four U.S. citizens on charges of personal use of marijuana” in order “to secure a porous border and send a message, not to chalk up mass arrests.”

Locals are unimpressed. Some Latinos haven’t left the islands in months. These are domestic ferry runs, not runs across the border–as if we should regard Vancouver Island a threat. They see racial profiling and the imposition of a police state, terms the reporter diminishes by enclosing in quotes and accusing the locals of “tossing around.”

“We ought to be able to travel within our country without being subject to being searched,” said Jack Sprout, a retired orchardist.


The Bank for International Settlements–“the central bankers’ bank”–has warned that “the difficulties in the sub-prime market were a trigger for, rather than a cause of, all the disruptive events that have followed,” and that “the magnitude of the problems yet to be faced could be much greater than many now perceive.”

Historians would recall the long recession beginning in 1873, the global downturn that began in the late 1920s, and the Japanese and Asian crises of the early and late 1990s respectively.

In each episode, a long period of strong credit growth coincided with an increasingly euphoric upturn in both the real economy and financial markets, followed by an unexpected crisis and extended downturn.

In virtually every instance, some form of new economic discovery or new financial development provided a further ‘new era’ justification for rapid credit expansion, and predictably became a focus for blame in the downturn.

The report also states that “the eventual global slowdown could prove to be much greater and longer lasting than would be required to keep inflation under control. This could potentially even lead to deflation, which would evidently be less welcome.”

Algeria says oil will rise to $170 a barrel by year-end

OPEC’s president, Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil “has predicted that the price of oil will climb to $US170 a barrel before the end of the year on a fall in the value of the US dollar and political conflicts.”

“Political conflicts,” of course, refers to the Bush administration’s and Israel’s continued sabre-rattling at Iran, whose nuclear weapons program is most likely a figment of the imagination. Much less a figment, of course, is the United States’ and Israel’s own nuclear stockpiles, but these we are not to regard as a threat.

Number 3?

Carolyn Baker points to yet another forecast of financial collapse:

Fortis is a large bank and insurer in the Netherlands and Belgium. It took over ABN Amro last year, together with RBS and another bank. Last Thursday, its share lost 17% because Fortis attracted foreign capital.

I was shocked when I read the following, which was brought out 4hours [June 28, 2008 3:45] ago:

American ‘meltdown’ reason for money injection Fortis.
28th of June, 9:10
BRUSSELS/AMSTERDAM – Fortis expects a complete collapse of the US financial markets within a few days to weeks. That explains, according to Fortis, the series of interventions of last Thursday to retrieve € 8 billion. “We have been saved just in time. The situation in the US is much worse than we thought”, says Fortis chairman Maurice Lippens. Fortis expects bankruptcies amongst 6000 American banks which have a small coverage currently. But also Citigroup, General Motors, there is starting a complete meltdown in the US”

This fits in the picture, with the other press releases last week, like the short advise of Goldman Sachs and some other of the same messages last week.

The original text appears to be in Dutch. I cannot confirm the translation.

Barclay’s Bank assesses Fed’s credibility at less than zero

In a second warning from a major bank, Barclays “warn[ed] that the US Federal Reserve has allowed the inflation genie out of the bottle and let its credibility fall ‘below zero’.” This warning apparently focuses entirely on inflation prospects, and ignores other risks. According to the article, Barclays believes “that US headline inflation would hit 5.5pc by August and the Fed will have to raise interest rates six times by the end of next year to prevent a wage-spiral. If it hesitates, the bond markets will take matters into their own hands.”

The trouble is that raising interest rates could severely inhibit economic activity; this is why the Fed held interest rates steady this week. This apparently does not matter to Barclays. Tim Bond, the bank’s chief equity strategist, wrote, “This is the first test for central banks in 30 years and they have fluffed it. They have zero credibility, and the Fed is negative if that’s possible. It has lost all credibility.”

Inflation typically occurs when spending is out of control; classically, too many dollars chasing too few goods; moreover, we might attribute the lack of supply to low productivity. In a situation where supply and demand would regulate interest rates, out of control borrowing–as with the U.S. government’s spending on its military–should push interest rates sky high, to restrain spending. Yet even the pro-capitalist Economist acknowledges a need for spending on a neglected infrastructure; this article points to the levee breaches in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, the Minnesota bridge collapse, the recent levee breaches and flooding this year, while we face drought here in the west, and a growing population overall as examples of problems that need remedying. According to the Economist:

In 2005 the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that $1.6 trillion was needed over five years to bring just the existing infrastructure into good repair. This does not account for future needs. By 2020 freight volumes are projected to be 70% greater than in 1998. By 2050 America’s population is expected to reach 420m, 50% more than in 2000. Much of this growth will take place in metropolitan areas, where the infrastructure is already run down.

If America does not act, says Robert Yaro of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), a body that plans for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, it will have the infrastructure of a third-world country within a few decades. Economic growth will be constricted, and the quality of life will be diminished.

If consequences of the United States’ foreign policy came home to roost on September 11, 2001, the costs of empire close for a kill. By some measures, the U.S. spends more than the entire rest of the world on its military. This money does not exist, except as debt. Further, the spending and the policies, instead of securing U.S. access to oil, have further jeopardized it, adding to inflationary pressures as the cost of transportation adds to the cost of everything else, so much so that jobs may return to the U.S.

“It’s not just about labor costs anymore,” says [economist Jeff] Rubin. “Distance costs money, and when you have to shift iron ore from Brazil to China and then ship it back to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh is looking pretty good at 40 bucks an hour.”

But when Barclays worries about inflation, the bank partly worries about “a wage-spiral.” I can’t say I know how this plays out. But contradictions are apparent.

And I’ve got a view!

So I figured out how to get Google Earth to show me the view from the property I bought on June 21st. I have a lot to learn about Google Earth, but this is surely a clue. At the north end of Clear Lake, you can see the community of Nice. Lucerne is behind the hills to the left. I think the light area in the lower right corresponds to the area shown in the parcel map below adjacent to the intersection of Benson Place and Chandos Trail. From a topographic overlay, not shown here, the terrain on the property slopes from about 1960 feet of elevation on the Benson Place side to 2000 feet at the back end of the lot.

Buying land

I’ve taken a plunge. It’s a pretty cheap plunge, but a plunge nonetheless. It is land, land not very far from Harbin Hot Springs, or at least, a lot closer than I am now. Harbin Hot Springs uses ozone rather than chlorine to sanitize the water in its pools and is much more vegan-friendly than Lupin.

If all goes well, I will be graduating with a Master’s Degree next year. I hope to continue on towards a PhD in the Transformative Studies program at California Institute for Integral Studies. This is an online program; for the most part I do not need to be in any particular place to participate in this program.

I am paying $750 per month to be at Lupin and spending over $300 per month on gasoline getting back and forth to CSU East Bay. In contrast, my mortgage will be less than $200 per month; it will be paid off in three years. The land will need some minimal development in order to be habitable. I hope to surround the property with trees and put something minimally habitable on it that won’t substantially raise the property taxes.

It appears there is geothermal in the area. The land is on a northward facing slope.

Gee, maybe the British deserve a vote on Lisbon treaty, too.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s response to the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty was to push through his own government’s ratification. For this, he received praise at a European Union meeting which had to consider the rejection.

But the process in Britain isn’t quite over. There is a lawsuit pending, because Ireland was the only EU country to put the treaty to a vote. The case in Britain argues that a referendum should also be held in Britain. A ruling is due next week.

Meanwhile, according to Radio Netherlands, ratification is also in question in the Czech Republic, whose “President Mirek Topolanek says he cannot guarantee the country’s parliament will vote for the document.” It may not be compatible with the Czech constitution.

Whose rules do you follow?

I’ve often said the only difference between government and organized crime is in whose rules you follow. I’ve also said that police were just another gang, even wearing a distinctive color (of authority).

Now it emerges that the New York City police have used force in one fifth of traffic stops. Actual arrests were relatively rare: “In nine out of 10 police stops involving use of force in 2006, the suspects were not arrested.”

But we’re supposed to trust the police as “sworn peace officers.”