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KN4M 10-31-12

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  • robalini
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com http://robalini.blogspot.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2012
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      Steamshovelpress.com is back! New web content! New book product! New conference information! PLUS: a new, daily, twitterish quip: "Parapolitics Offhand!"

      Now available on CD and through US Mail only: Popular Parapolitics, 219 pages, illustrated, of comentary on the nexus of parapolitics and popular culture. $15 post paid from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121.


      Project Pegasus

      Project Pegasus is a quest begun in 1968 by Andrew D. Basiago when he was serving as a child participant in the US time-space exploration program, Project Pegasus.

      Project Pegasus was the classified, defense-related research and development program under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in which the US defense-technical community achieved time travel on behalf of the US government -- the real Philadelphia Experiment.

      Project Pegasus was launched by the US government to perform "remote sensing in time" so that reliable information about past and future events could be provided to the US President, intelligence community, and military.

      It was expected that the 140 American schoolchildren secretly enrolled in Project Pegasus would continue to be involved in time travel when they grew up and went on to serve as America's first generation of "chrononauts."

      The children found, however, that in the process of serving as child time travelers attached to Project Pegasus, they became America's time-space pioneers.

      Andy was the first American child to teleport and one of America's early time-space explorers, as will be told in his soon-to-be-published book, Once Upon a Time in the Time Stream: My Adventures in Project Pegasus at the Dawn of the Time-Space Age.

      In 1968, he resolved to one day tell the true story of his time travel experiences in Project Pegasus and reveal to the world that the US government had made secret a teleportation technology that if made public would revolutionize transportation across the face of our planet.

      Today, Andy serves as the Team Leader of the new Project Pegasus, the only group in the world that is lobbying the US government to declassify its time travel secrets.

      Under Andy's leadership, the mission of today's Project Pegasus is to lead the campaign in law, politics, and culture to urge the US government to disclose its teleportation capability, so that this revolutionary technology can be used to advantage humanity in the 21st century.

      Andy envisions a world in which teleports will replace airports for "real time" transit between major transport hubs around the world, thereby making long-distance travel faster, easier, safer, and cheaper.

      The declassification and deployment of the US government's teleportation capability may also be the most important environmental cause of our time, for it will prevent billions of tons of pollutants from conventional transport from entering the atmosphere every year.

      Project Pegasus invites you to join Andy in his heroic quest to usher in the Time-Space Age. Together, we can transform life on Earth. Let's go for it!


      Celente Adjusts Presidential Election Forecast

      Kingston, NY, 9 October 2012 — One year ago, on 3 October 2011, I forecast that President Obama would defeat any of the Republican front-runners competing for the nomination, Mitt Romney among them.

      That forecast was not based on perceived or substantive differences between the Republican challengers and the President, nor was it made to further an agenda. My forecasts are based on data, facts and analysis, not on wishful thinking, wants or needs.

      I'm an avowed political atheist: I don't believe in political religions nor do I bow to political gods. And I will not participate in their ritual by voting for what I (and millions of other Americans) regard as a choice between the lesser of two evils.

      I do, however, believe in God and believe He would judge it a sin if I cast my vote for "evil" ­ be it the lesser or the greater.

      When I forecast an Obama win in 2011, it wasn't because of his policies, principles or performance in office, but because of his performance on stage. And until he bombed in Denver at last week's TV debate, Barack `Mr. Cool' Obama had shown himself to be far a more accomplished song-and-dance man than Mitt `Stuffed Shirt' Romney."

      And that's all it is, one big show: The Presidential Reality Show. One year ago we wrote:

      The Presidential Reality Show

      "Reflecting back on the debates between Republican candidates, Celente says, "This isn't politics as an exercise in Democracy in action, it's politics as show business for ugly people.

      Anyone who saw the September 12th debate hosted by CNN witnessed an early episode of The Presidential Reality Show. It was a star-spangled, made-for-TV-spectacle appropriating the lowest common denominator elements of the World Wrestling Federation, the Miss America Pageant and American Idol.

      "Given that this is what is passed off as political `debate' in America, come Election Day, the American Idol winner (a.k.a. The President of the United States) will be the best performer. And Barack Obama has proven that he can out-perform and out-teleprompt them all ­ he will tell the teleprompted truth the audience wants to hear.

      And on a stage where performance counts more than the heart, fans (a.k.a. the electorate) will vote for the Best Actor. That actor will be the man who commands the stage, Barack Obama." (Trend Alert, Celente Picks 2012 Presidential Winner, 3 October 2011)

      Indeed, the Obama/Romney debate was an insult to anyone with a shred of intelligence. But Obama's unexpectedly comatose performance served to negate ­ at least temporarily ­ the showbiz advantage that otherwise would have led him to victory.

      Which contestant will win The Presidential Reality Show and lead America for the next four years?

      Can Obama regain his "cool" and find his rhythm? What will Romney do for an encore? Will there be an October, or even a November surprise?

      You'll find the answers and our forecasts in the just-released Autumn Trends Journal.

      Beyond politics, The Trends Journal analyzes trends and provides forecasts on where the global economy is heading, Iran/Israel and the Middle East wars, plus environmental, foreign policy and financial trends.

      Over the course of 30 years of trend forecasting, our track record is unrivaled.

      Zeke West
      Media Relations, The Trends Journal
      (845) 331.3500 ext. 1
      ©MMXII The Trends Research Institute


      October surprise
      US and Israel prepare to strike Iran
      09 October, 2012

      The United States and Israel are already involved in discussions over how they could soon conduct a joint surgical strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, a source close to the talks tells Foreign Policy magazine.

      After months of urging from Israeli authorities for the US to intervene in a rumored Iranian plan to procure a nuke, a source speaking on condition of anonymity tells Foreign Policy's David Rothkopf that the two allies have come close to signing off on an attack against Iran.

      Although no plan of action has been set in stone yet, the source says the attack will likely be from the sky and consist of drone strikes and bomber jets for only "a couple of hours" at best but would not require more than "a day or two" of action.

      But while the US has not officially signed onto the strike, the source reports, American involvement would be absolutely necessary in order to effectively take out the structures where Iranian scientists are assumed to be attempting to procure a nuclear warhead.

      "To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordow, would require bunker-busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering," Rothkopf writes in the article, published Monday, October 8. "The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others."

      Israel has long attested that Iranian officials are enriching nuclear materials to be used with volatile warheads, despite longstanding claims from Iran that any program they are operating exists for peaceful purposes only. Hostilities between Israel and their neighboring foe have only worsened as of late, prompting Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to insist that America draw "red lines before Iran," and demand that the US offer them an ultimatum before time runs out. Last month US President Barack Obama dismissed Israel's warnings against an escalating nuclear threat, though, saying he understand their concerns over what damage Iran could do with a nuclear weapon, but that he would continue to "block out any noise" from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he insists on American intervention.

      Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly only days later, though, President Obama appeared to be more willing to act if Iran is proven to be procuring a weapon of mass destruction, vowing, "the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," and said that any attempts by Iran to procure a nuclear warhead would "threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy" and is "not a challenge that can be contained."

      Now following a report RT published last week concerning classified footage of Iranian facilities believed to be handed over to American intelligence from a defected member of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entourage, the US may finally be ready to give in to Israeli pressure and strike Iran.

      If the rumored plan of attack is put into action, the source says, the strike is expected to set back the nation's nuclear program "many years," and doing so without civilian casualties. The end result, however, could be one immensely beneficial to America, specifically its holdings in the Middle East where the country has long expressed a vested interested.

      Should US provide power to strike Iran, the source says, the attack would have a long-term effect in the region, but particularly on America's investments there. The strike, says the source, would be "transformative," – "saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the (Persian) Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come."

      Should Israel strike Iran without the direct aid of the US, however, America would not necessarily be in the clear. Although President Obama has advocated for a peaceful resolution to Israeli/Iranian disputes, Iran's officials have suggested that they have no problem with striking the US if their allies make the first move.

      Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh of Iran's Revolutionary Guard told reporters last month that his country "will definitely be at war with American bases should a war break out," explaining that "There will be no neutral country in the region," and, "To us, these bases are equal to US soil."


      Crisis-hit Europeans see cruel joke in EU Nobel
      Karolina Tagaris
      ATHENS | Fri Oct 12, 2012

      "Is this a joke?" said Chrisoula Panagiotidi, 36, an Athens beautician, laughing derisively upon hearing that the European Union had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

      Three days ago she lost her job, becoming one of the one-in-four Greeks who is unemployed in the fifth year of a biting recession. Told it was no joke at all, her incredulity quickly turned to disgust.

      "It mocks us and what we are going through right now," she said. "All it will do is infuriate people here."

      Across a continent where the EU's policies are blamed for deepening the worst economic crisis in living memory, many Europeans said they were simply baffled by the prize. Others were outraged.

      "I can't get my head around it. They'd be last on my list. It's such a bland and inert organisation," said Philip Deane, 48, an IT consultant walking along the River Liffey in Dublin.

      "Given the state of the economy, the timing is really, really bad."

      Ireland, like Greece, has been forced to turn to the European Union and IMF for a financial bailout, delivered in the framework of a strict austerity programme.

      Mariana Fotiou, 69, an Athens lottery ticket vendor was furious.

      "It makes me so angry. We have a financial war on, don't they realise that? The only morale it will boost is Merkel's," she said, referring to the German chancellor, whose insistence on austerity measures as the price for aid has made her a hate figure in Greece.

      Earlier this week Merkel visited Athens. Protesters burned Nazi flags and clashed with police in fury at her presence.

      The irony of awarding the prize at a time when the EU is being pilloried in several European capitals, occasionally by crowds of rioters, was not lost on the Nobel Committee itself.

      "The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU's most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights," said Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland in announcing the award in Oslo.

      Ed Balls, a politician from the opposition British Labour Party, joked at a panel discussion in Dublin: "They'll be cheering in Athens tonight, won't they."


      Yet even in countries hard hit by the tough economic times, there were still many people who said they understood the logic of awarding a prize to an organisation credited with helping maintain peace for more than half a century on a continent that was ripped apart in two world wars.

      "It's a good thing," said 48-year-old Howard Spilane in Ireland, where unemployment has tripled since the crisis hit.

      "Europe's in a crisis, but compared to the wars - even compared to the Cold War - Europe is in a better place. People are suffering, but they are not dying. On balance they have achieved a lot."

      Such warm responses were also common in parts of Eastern Europe, where many prize membership in the EU as a badge of hard-won European identity and a bulwark against a return of Communist-era totalitarianism.

      "I am glad of it, although I do find it strange," said Andras Kocsis, an 18-year-old student in Budapest, the Hungarian capital. "I think it's right, because indeed the EU does a lot for the rights of the people."

      But even in the ex-Communist countries, praise was far from universal for an organisation that many have come to resent.

      Petr Hajek, deputy head of the office of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who once supported the EU but has since turned against it, said the EU lacked "democratic legitimacy" and was contributing to "animosity among nations".

      "Freedom and democracy are shivering in the corner similar to the way it was in the regimes we experienced in the 20th century in Europe," he said.

      In Bosnia, which hopes to join the bloc but still remembers how a hesitant and divided EU stood by during its 1992-95 war, Kada Hotic called the award "shameful". Her son, husband and two brothers were among 8,000 Muslim men and boys massacred by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

      "The EU had an obligation to protect minorities in Europe but was incapable or unwilling to protect Muslims in Bosnia and even today it is doing so little to prevent conflicts across the world," she said.


      IMF: Austerity is much worse for the economy than we thought
      Brad Plumer on October 12, 2012

      Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund made a striking admission in its new World Economic Outlook. The IMF's chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, explained that recent efforts among wealthy countries to shrink their deficits — through tax hikes and spending cuts — have been causing far more economic damage than experts had assumed.

      How did the IMF figure this? That was the tricky part. Blanchard could have just plotted a simple graph showing that countries undertaking heavy austerity measures, such as Greece and Portugal, are faring more poorly than their peers. But that doesn't actually prove anything—perhaps those countries are undertaking austerity because they'd run into economic trouble.

      So, instead, Blanchard did something more subtle. He studied the IMF's previous economic forecasts. If a country is already struggling for other reasons, the forecasters are likely to have taken that into account. And what Blanchard found was surprising: IMF forecasts have been consistently too optimistic for countries that pursued large austerity programs. This suggests that tax hikes and spending cuts have been doing more damage to those economies than policymakers expected. (Conversely, countries that engaged in stimulus, such as Germany and Austria, did better than expected.)

      This all comes down to a long-standing debate over what's known as the "fiscal multiplier." Economists tend to agree that tax increases and spending cuts hurt growth. The question is how much they hurt growth—a variable that usually changes at different points in time.
      This matters a lot for policy. If tax hikes and spending cuts only hurt growth a little bit, then a government with debt problems will want to enact some austerity measures. If a tax increase, on average, raises $10 in revenue but reduces output by $6, that might be painful, but it will ultimately shrink the deficit. (Indeed, those are basically the numbers that policymakers in Britain and elsewhere had been using.)

      But if tax hikes and spending cuts hamper growth significantly, then austerity could be ill-advised. Indeed, if the fiscal multiplier is really, really high in certain situations—such as during a downturn—then austerity could prove counterproductive. Those higher taxes and severe spending cuts will cripple growth so much that the nation will end up with an even bigger deficit than it started out with.
      Blanchard is now arguing that the fiscal multiplier appears to have been much higher over the past few years than policymakers, including the IMF, had assumed. It's not 0.6. It's somewhere between 0.9 or 1.7. If true, then countries in Europe and the United States should have been pursuing stimulus measures to boost growth—and not insisting on budget cuts. (Not surprisingly, Paul Krugman is claiming vindication, since this was his view all along.)

      Yet it's worth noting that not everyone is convinced by the IMF's results. Over at the Financial Times, Chris Giles tried to replicate Blanchard's calculations and found that the analysis was heavily skewed by Greece and Germany. That is, austerity appears to have kneecapped Greece much more forcefully than anyone expected over the past few years. And Germany seemed to get an exceptional boost from its stimulus programs. But if you remove those two countries from the equation, the results are murkier:

      For the countries where the full data is available on the IMF website, the results lose statistical significance if Greece and Germany are excluded.

      Moreover, the IMF results are presented as general but are limited to the specific time period chosen. The 2010 forecasts of deficits are not good predictors of errors in growth forecasts for 2010 or 2011 when the years are analysed individually. Its 2011 forecasts are not good predictors of anything.

      So there are some caveats here. Fiscal multipliers can change over time. Keynesians have often said as much: Stimulus is a good idea when the economy is weak, but the returns diminish when the nation is at full employment. Similarly, as Blanchard notes, economists still need a much better understanding of when, exactly, stimulus is effective and when austerity can help shrink the deficit. How does monetary policy factor in? Does the price of oil and other commodities matter? And so on.

      For now, though, as both Kate McKenzie and Matt Yglesias point out, it's quite significant that the IMF has shifted its stance on austerity so dramatically. In the 1990s, the fund was famous (or infamous, if you prefer) for ordering countries with debt troubles to tighten their belts. But now the IMF is urging countries in the euro zone, such as Netherlands and France, to loosen up a bit. True, those countries do have high debts. But with Europe still facing weak growth, budget-cutting might not be the answer just yet. For the IMF, that's a big change in attitude.
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