Gloom in the Pearl of Doha

SUBHEAD: Gloom grips Qatar's Arab Riviera after unexplained alcohol ban in the Pearl of Doha.  

By Benjamin Barthe on 21 February 2012 for the Guradian - 
  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/21/qatar-arab-riviera-gloom-alcohol-ban)

 
 Image above: Shoreline of The Pearl in Doha. From (http://www.hedonister.com/2010/12/after-the-palm-and-the-world-comes-the-pearl-in-doha-qatar).
 
There are car dealers on both sides of the road – Rolls-Royce on the right, Ferrari on the left – leading to the bridge over to the Pearl in this new district of Doha. Located on a man-made island to the north of Qatar's capital, a mixture of big houses with private beaches, 50-floor luxury hotels and marinas for the ultra-rich, the Arab Riviera, as its promoters have dubbed it, is the emirate's most recent folly.
But the sale of alcoholic beverages was banned on the island at the end of last year and gloom has gripped many residents. The managers of top-notch restaurants and boutiques complain sales have dropped by about half.

"When we heard the news we thought it was the end of the world," says a waitress at the Mango Tree, a Thai restaurant where the bottles behind the bar have been replaced by water jugs. The foreigners who once turned up in droves on weekend evenings, filling the cafe terraces of this golden enclave, have taken refuge in the hotels at West Bay, the business quarter of Doha, where alcohol still flows freely.

"We'll die of boredom here," says the proprietor of a coffee stall.

The prohibition order was issued by the United Development Company, one of Qatar's leading shareholding companies. The Pearl is its flagship operation. But a member of the ruling al-Thani family is clearly behind this move. As to the reason, one source cites an over-indulgent binge, the sight of which supposedly upset some Qatari passers-by. Another notes the need to tidy up the emirate's image for the Pan-Arab Games last December. A third source suggests a communication campaign by the ruling family a year before the country's first general election.

With no official explanation, foreign investors are assuming this is just a temporary drought. They remain convinced that, once consumption of alcohol has been restricted to the inside of restaurants, the ban will be lifted all over the 400-hectare island.

But the episode has made a lasting impression, being symptomatic of the tension that has taken hold of Qatar, predominantly conservative in religious matters, since it started to come to terms with the extreme modernity championed by Doha. "Qataris are basically pretty traditional," says a French expatriate. "They are not as broad-minded as their rulers."

The Pearl affair also illustrates the divisions at work in a country (population 1.7 million) where four-fifths of the residents are foreigners – primarily Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese and Filipinos – making up the workforce on which the Qatar miracle is based. It was for their benefit that a subsidiary of Qatar Airways, the Qatar Distribution Company, started selling pork in its supermarket during the buildup to Christmas. This new departure prompted an outcry on the internet "I never thought the day would come that I have to ask the waiter in a restaurant in Qatar what kind of meat is in their burgers," one tweeter complained last November.

This reaction, mainly voiced on social networks, is unlikely to sap the power of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. At the beginning of December the emirate won its bid to host the Fifa World Cup in 2022, with the undertaking that special areas would be set aside for consumption of alcohol.Two weeks later the regime opened a new mosque in Doha in honour of Abdul Wahhab, the Saudi founder of the fundamentalist branch of Islam which bears his name and theoretically still holds sway in Qatar. "It's a constant balancing act," says a foreign diplomat, "but for the time being the Emir has things under control."

The latest example of this schizophrenia is Doha's acquisition of The Card Players, a painting by Cézanne, with a bottle of wine in full view between the two players.

• This article originally appeared in Le Monde.
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The oldest plant in the wolrd

SUBHEAD: 32,000-year-old plant reborn from ancient fruit found fossilized squirrel burrow in Siberian ice. By Sarah Frier on 20 February 2012 for Bloomberg News - (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-20/32-000-year-old-plant-reborn-from-ancient-fruit-found-in-siberian-ice.html) Image above: A revived 32,000-year-old narrow leaf campion. From (http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/21/32000-year-old-frozen-remains-used-to-grow-ancient-arctic-flower).

Researchers in Russia have revived a fertile plant from the remains of 32,000-year-old fruit that was found buried within the fossilized burrows of ancient squirrels deep in the Siberian ice.

The resurrected plant, from an era of woolly mammoths and saber-tooth cats, is the oldest viable multicellular living organism, according to the study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is also the first plant returned to life from permafrost conditions, researchers said.

The discovery raises the possibility of reviving other frozen organisms with prehistoric gene pools, researchers said. Using a horticulture technique called micropropagation, researchers grew the plant from fruit tissue in a test tube of nutrients. The ones that grew roots were transferred into pots with soil and light, where they developed flowers and seeds.

“There is abundant permafrost in northern Alaska and Canada,” said Buford Price, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who edited the paper, in an e-mail. Finding an organism that could produce a plant with dark green leaves and small white flowers shows the benefit of pursuing goals that seem impossible, he said.

Price said he expects the researchers to “get increased funding levels to expand this work, going deeper and looking at other likely locations of animal burrows where plants were stashed.”

The fruit was found preserved 124 feet (38 meters) deep in permafrost, ice at below-freezing temperatures that hadn’t melted or been disturbed since the late Pleistocene epoch. The ancient burrows can store as many as 800,000 seeds, the report said.

Permafrost covers about 20 percent of the earth’s surface and is now under extensive investigation for preserved life that could be revived, according to the researchers led by David Gilichinsky at the Institutes of Cell Biophysics and Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science at the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Pushchino, Russia.

See also: Ea O Ka Aina: 5th oldest tree in world destroyed 1/17/12 .

Walmart to sell unlabeled GMO Corn

SUBHEAD: Monsanto's Bt GMO corn to be sold at Wal-Mart with no indication it is a genetically modified organism.  

By Ethan Huff on 21 February 2012 for Natural News - 
(http://www.naturalnews.com/035029_GM_corn_Walmart_Monsanto.html)

 
Image above: Corporations are people too. Let's see if Texas will execute one of them. From (http://rogerhollander.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/i-refuse-to-believe-that-corporations-are-people-until-texas-executes-one/).

Most of the genetically-modified (GM) corn products forced on American consumers today are hidden in processed foods in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), corn oil, corn starch, and various other corn-based additives.

But soon to be available at a Walmart near you is Monsanto's Bt sweet corn, the agri-giant's first ever GM corn product made available to consumers as whole ears right on the cob in the produce section-- and like with all other GMOs, neither Walmart nor Monsanto has any intention of labeling this new "Frankencorn."

Monsanto first unveiled this new variety of GM sweet corn back in August, which rivals Syngenta's GM sweet corn that has already been on the market in limited form for the past ten years, claiming that it would be available to farmers for planting during Fall 2011.

Now, the corn appears set to make its debut in Walmart stores across the country as early as Summer 2012, unless massive public outcry is able to convince the multinational retailer to scrap the corn, or at least voluntarily label it. This disturbing development comes courtesy of both Food & Water Watch and Sum Of Us, which recently drew attention to the issue by creating petitions against Walmart's potential sale of the corn.

Though Monsanto's GM sweet corn contains three genetically-engineered (GE) traits that have never been used in food eaten directly by people, and that have never been properly tested, Walmart still intends to quietly stock its produce shelves with this phony corn in the very near future.

Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have rejected Monsanto's Bt corn, how about Wal-Mart? In a recent campaign alert (http://sumofus.org/campaigns/walmart-monsanto), Sum Of Us explains that immense consumer pressure has already resulted in commitments from Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's, and General Mills not to use the new GM corn in any of their products.

But as of the announcement, Walmart has made no such commitment, presumably because of the company's close-knit relationship with Monsanto, a "match made in hell" that Food & Water Watch has humorously dubbed "Walsanto" (https://www.facebook.com/WalsantoWatch?sk=info). But there is still time to stop Walmart's stocking of Monsanto's latest GM poison which, if successful, has the potential to completely destroy the viability of the entire crop.

If Walmart rejects the GM corn, many others will likely follow, which will result in farmers refusing to plant it. It is a simple supply and demand situation, but one that is complicated by the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refuses to mandate that any GMOs be labeled, which means millions of people consume them all the time without knowing it. This is why YOUR help is needed to spread the truth about both GM sweet corn and GMOs in general to your friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers.

You can also sign this petition by April 1, 2012, asking Walmart not to stock Monsanto's GM sweet corn: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org Sources for this article include: http://sumofus.org/campaigns/walmart-monsanto http://fooddemocracynow.org http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/BuyingNon-GMO/index.cfm

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Claim for Hawaiian Crown Lands

SOURCE: Laurel Douglass (douglassl001@hawaii.rr.com) SUBHEAD: It is Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians who should have jurisdiction and title over Crown lands in Hawaii. By Rita Kawehi Kanui-Gil on 20 February 2012 to OHA - (rkanui@yahoo.com) Image above: Detail from pastel drawing of Queen Liliokalani from historic photograph by Wayne Takezono, 1999. From (http://www.cedarstreetgalleries.com/bin/detail.cgi?ID=1883). Aloha Kakou: LETTER OF INTERVENTION Rita Kawehi Kanui-Gill, Na Aha Maluhia On the 9th of Feb. I attended an OHA meeting at the Waimanalo Halau at 5:30 p.m. to hear the presentation. While at the meeting I listened to what Malia Kaaihue and other Executive members; Bill Meheula and other legal people present give their perception of the matter at hand... Senate Bill 2783...The Kakaʻako Lands and Development Project concepts to gather input from the community...a hearing was set to be heard on the next Monday 13th of Feb. at the Legislature. After listening and reading the hand outs, it became apparent to me that there is no "history" per se laid out in terms of the title on those lands...because, I know that the State of Hawaiʻi does not have any title to lands in Hawaiʻi, so how can OHA "accept" this land without understanding the history and more importantly, who has the title to those lands of Kakaʻako? When time came to open it up for discussion, I was the fifth person to raise my hand and give my input. I explained how many historical documented evidences were kept from our people; such as the KUʻE Petition, Cleveland and Liliuokalani Treaty and now, the "Liliuokalani Red Ribbon Letter" where she took back all the Crown Lands and the Treaty from the US, rendering them without JURISDICTION and TITLE to any lands in Hawaiʻi. Not to mention years of research that reveals when the US occupied our country...she left a trail for us to follow. Apparently OHA was not aware of the Red Ribbon Letter and I asked the "legal executive" group to do their due diligence on this document which was posted on the internet for the world to see, read and grasp the essence of what the Red Ribbon letter means for us today. JURISDICTION: Is still within each Hawaiian and Part-Hawaiian to know that all American entities that come after this letter was written would be illegal, and therefore the; State, Counties and Corporations all fall under the Federal Government are just ipso facto (here, but not really?) and all of their courts, office, dept. and associations are illegal because Liliuokalani took back the Treaty and ALL of the Crown Lands. TITLE: Remains in the people; Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians who can trace their ancestors back to the time in history will know because you have to have the, "koko" to have title. While there is at the world court partial complaints filed from the time of 1893 to 1999, that weighed 52 pounds, we are collecting more documented evidences against the present systems from 1999 to the present who are continuing to act belligerently under occupation towards myself and all of the Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians who have jurisdiction and title over our lands in Hawaiʻi...NOT THE STATE OF HAWAIʻI or OHA...IF OHA HAD TITLE, WHY DID THE STATE "GIVE" THEM THE LANDS? HUMMM, Something is terribly wrong with the lack of history presented in the power point presentation and the way Malia Kaaihua gave the presentation using words such as; "Ceded" and "Public Lands" without the true history will confuse our future generations. As the Poʻo for, Na Aha Maluhia NAM, (Councils of Peace) we are a "Not for Profit/for profit" hui of Hawaiians and Part-Hawaiians who are descendants of those who signed the Kuʻe Petition that Liliuokalani speaks to in her Red Ribbon Letter who were there on Feb. 9th to listen and comment. There were at least 4 people who raised questions that agreed to attend the Mondayʻs meeting on Feb. 13, to intervene and claim lands to our ahupuaʻa of Waimanalo, for the Hawaiians and Part-Hawaiians living there...well, we didnʻt have a chance...according to reports a group of people from OHA, Legislature and other groups met over the weekend who followed up on the phone and concocted a plan to "pass" SB 2783, BEFORE the hearing, on Monday. Na Aha Maluhia is based in Waimanalo...is a subsidiary of; The Hawaiian Kingdom Office of Healing, Education and Economic Development Co., filed in the Bureau of Conveyances since 1998...whose focus is on; inmate issues, homeless issues, waiting list issues and blood quantum issues which pits Hawaiians against Hawaiians...dividing our people. All of these issues have been paid with lip service and continues to pit Hawaiians agains one another. Our job is to bring all of the inmates home, resolve the homeless problems, put our people on their lands and to reverse the blood quantum issues because those are all imposed American laws, that have no bearing on us as a people and our lands which is FRAUD, GENOCIDE etc. all are violations of international law. This LETTER OF INTERVENTION sends a message to all entities that as Hawaiians and Part Hawaiians we believe and, like Liliuokalani claim ALL the CROWN LANDS for our people and all the people of Hawaiʻi as we will fix the irregularities that exists on our lands, through NAM who will raise these issues and take legal action against all of those who planned to pass this bill BEFORE the hearing and so arrogantly let their feelings known like a "shark frenzy" and using "psychological bullying" as a way to put fear into the people who came to testify AGAINST this bill. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and their supporters in The State of Hawaiʻi have done nothing for us because, even they donʻt have the title to our lands because they are proudly saying they are a state agency...where as in the beginning of OHA they denied even being with the state. Today, it is clear that OHA is a part of the State of Hawaiʻi...who is serving the needs of the state first and not the Hawaiian people to whom they were supposed to serve. Sure some entities who are Hawaiian gets served but an audit is due to see who got served and who did they serve with all of our monies. We pray that this intervention will stop everything in itʻs tracks until TITLE is clearly determined. WHO HAS TITLE? as the first educational question that needs to be share with all the people of Hawaiʻi...that truth, justice and restitution be sought for all the wrongs now being committed since 1999 to the present. This bill SB 2783 must be stopped at all costs because our peopleʻs lives depend on us to do them justice through filing a, Letter of Intervention, on behalf of all the Hawaiians, part Hawaiians and foreigners who live in Hawaiʻi. Someone said, "if they gave you back all the lands, what would you do?" I replied, first set up a government structure, education on the treaty and constitutional rights and door to door needs to find out the state of the people, what they need and everything would stay as it is with regard to the people...the taxes and other upgrades are needed to be done, starting with education of the true Hawaiian history and each oneʻs role while living in Hawaiʻi, then organize a Constitutional Conventions to address these points and reroute the taxes paid by foreignerʻs to be distributed to all of those who are Hawaiian and part Hawaiian. There is more but I will stop here. In closing, we intervene and claim all CROWN LANDS including Kahoʻolawe to Na Aha Maluhia a hui based on Hawaiian Kingdom Laws, not State or Federal Laws...managed and controlled by the Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians who are the only entity who have jurisdiction and title to lands in Hawaiʻi, for All the people of Hawaiʻi. In God We Trust, Rita K. Kanui-Gill .

The Choices We Make

SUBHEAD: In its Whig Moment the Republican Party has offended history so gravely that it goes up in a vapor of its own absurdity. By James Kunstler on 20 February 2012 for Kunstler.com - (http://kunstler.com/blog/2012/02/the-choices-we-make.html) Image above:President Zachery Taylor (L) and Millard Fillmore (R) his Vice President, who later President and was the last Whig to do so. Filllore went on to he active with the No Nothing Party. From (http://www.dipity.com/carolinewelch/History-8/). The misalignment of politics and reality threatens to scuttle both major parties, but it's especially gratifying to see the Republicans sail off the edge of their own flat earth on the winds of religious idiocy. For forty years it has not been enough for them to just be a conservative party. They had to enlist the worst elements of ignorance and reaction, and they found an endless supply of it in the boom regions of the Sunbelt with its brotherhood of TV evangelist con-artists and a population fretful with suburban angst.
Now, in the last hours of the cheap oil economy, the forty year miracle of the Sunbelt boom dwindles and a fear of approaching darkness grips the people there like a rumor of Satan. The long boom that took them from an agricultural backwater of barefoot peasantry to a miracle world of Sonic Drive-ins, perpetual air-conditioning, WalMarts, and creation museums is turning back in the other direction and they fear losing all that comfort, convenience, and spectacle. Since they don't understand where it came from, they conclude that it was all a God-given endowment conferred upon them for their exceptional specialness as Americans, and so only the forces of evil could conspire to take it all away.
Hence, the rise of a sanctimonious, hyper-patriotic putz such as Rick Santorum and his take-back-the-night appeal to those who sense the gathering twilight. And the awful ordeal of convictionless pander and former front-runner Mitt Romney drowning in his own bullshit as he struggles to extrude one whopper after another just to keep up with the others in this race to the bottom of the political mud-flow.
There is an obvious dither backstage now among those who cynically thought they could manipulate and control these dark impulses of the frightened masses as the candidates all pile into a train wreck of super-PAC obloquy. Won't some level-headed adult like the governors of New Jersey and Indiana step up and volunteer? Is this finally its Whig Moment - the point where the Republican Party has offended history so gravely that it goes up in a vapor of its own absurdity? I hope so. The conservative impulse is hardly all bad. We need it in civilization. But it can't be vested in the sheer and constant repudiation of reality.
The opposing Democrats have their own problem with reality, which is that they don't tell the truth about so many things despite knowing better, and, under Obama, they act contrary to their stated intentions often enough, and in matters of extreme importance, that they deserve to go down in flames, too. Just as there is a place for conservatism in civilized life, there is also a place for the progressive impulse, let's call it - for making bold advance in step with the mandates of reality and an interest in justice for all those along on the journey.
The Democrats under Obama don't want to go to that place. They want to really go to the same place as the fretful Sunbelt fundamentalists, but by a different route - and that place is yesterday, by means of a campaign to sustain the unsustainable. Mr. Obama is pretending that an economic "recovery" is underway when he knows damn well that the banking system is just blowing smoke up the shredded ass of what's left of that economy. He pretends to an interest in the rule of law in money matters but he's done everything possible to prevent the Department of Justice, the SEC, and a dozen other regulatory authorities from functioning the way they were designed. He has never suggested resurrecting the Glass-Steagall act, which kept banking close to being honest for forty years. He never issued a peep of objection about the Citizens United case where the Supreme Court tossed the election process into a crocodile pit of corporate turpitude (he could have proposed a constitutional amendment redefining corporate "personhood."). He declared he'd never permit a super-PAC to be created in his name, and now he's got one. Mr. Obama represents a lot of things to a lot of people. He is mainly Progressivism's bowling trophy, its symbol of its own triumphant wonderfulness in overcoming the age old phantoms of race prejudice. Alas, that's not enough. Where exactly is the boundary between telling "folks" what they want to hear and just flat-out lying?
Neither party can articulate the current reality, which is that we have to reorganize civilization pretty drastically. I've reviewed that agenda many times in this space and it largely amounts to rebuilding local economies at a smaller and finer scale. That is just not on the table for all current leadership, or even in the room. If neither party can frame an agenda consistent with that reality, then we'll have to get there without them, probably after a very rough period when the pretending still lingers in the air like a bad odor and no reality-based consensus is able to form, no agreement about what we should do. That's the period when a lot of things fall apart and people get hurt. These are the choices we're making right now.
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Three Island Anti-GMO Rally

SOURCE: Mandala Ethnic Arts (MandalaEthnicArts@maui.net)
SUBHEAD: Tuesday, February 21st effort to convince Hawaii legislature to label GMO products.  

By Mandala Ethnic Artson 18 February 2012 in Island Breath -
   
Image above: Still from video below showing some of the organizers of the demonstrations. 

  OAHU  
WHEN: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, from noon until 5:30pm There will be a GMO labeling rally

WHERE: Hawaii State Capitol building at 415 South Beretania Street, Honolulu.  
Video above: Promotion for GMO labeling demonstration at the Hawaii State Capital. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWSrak3ohrg)  

KAUAI  
WHERE:
At Papaya's Natural Foods Waipouli Shopping Village, Kapaa  

WHEN:
Meet up at 3:00pm March to Kapaa Library 4:00pm Kauai will march in solidarity with the other islands on Tuesday, February 21 from 4pm to 6pm in Kapaa. On Tuesday February 21st, meet at the lawn in front of Papaya's Natural Foods and Cafe in Kapaa at 3pm. We will gather our signs and our aloha aina. At 4pm we will walk from Papaya's along the mauka sidewalk to the Kapaa library. (Approximately 1.1 mile.)

We will have vehicles near the library to shuttle folks back to their cars. This community walk is to bring awareness to the right to know issue regarding the labeling of GMO food and local issue of chemical spraying in our state by the big 5 chemicial corporations doing genetic engineering experiments and open field testing near our schools and communities. Join GMO-Free Kauai on facebook for more information. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3334925340063&set=o.142345032491898&type=1&ref=nf Mahalo nui loa and malama `aina.

MAUI  
WHERE:
Near the intersection of North Kihei Road and Piilani / Mokulele Highway in Kihei  

WHEN:
Tuesday 12:00pm until 6:30pm Peaceful sign-waving in support of Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition scheduled to coincide with the GMO JUSTICE LABELING RALLY at the State Capitol in Oahu. We will be protesting to call attention to the GMO corn field in full view of the highway and because the legislature is dragging its feet in scheduling hearings for a GMO labeling bill for Hawaii. While this event may have been publicized as occurring between 12 and 2:30, a number of people who wanted to be involved could not arrive until around 3, so the concept of a '2nd shift' was developed, and we expect to see reinforcements arrive around 3 to carry on until 6.

We are also supporting signature gathering for the ballot initiative in CA, beginning Feb 18. Please observe the requirements of Maui County ordinance 12.42, maintaining distances of 6' from the hwy and 50' from the intersection, while participating in this event: http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientID=16289&stateID=11&statename=Hawaii
 


FACEBOOK PAGES
Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition: https://www.facebook.com/HawaiiGMOJustice?ref=ts
GMO Free Maui: https://www.facebook.com/groups/147568151924562/
Occupy Monsanto Maui: https://www.facebook.com/OccupyMonsantoMaui
OWS Maui: https://www.facebook.com/OccupyMaui?sk=info

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We're still aboard the Titanic

SUBHEAD: The 1% and their corrupt public servants will get a good view of this titanic disaster from afar.  

By Ashvin Panderangi on 18 February 2012 for the Automatic Earth  
(http://theautomaticearth.org/Finance/were-still-sinking-with-the-titanic.html)

 
Image above: Approximately 12:45 a.m., April 15, 1912 the Titanic fires a distress rocket. From (http://www.atlanticliners.com/titanic_gallery.htm).
 
The real story of the RMS Titanic that goes unmentioned in Western public schools is, of course, one of extreme wealth inequality, class warfare and, ultimately, the complete and utter disdain that the richest people had for the lives of the poorest people in a time of crisis. Just shy of one hundred years from the day the Titanic sunk (April 15, 1912), and we are all still stuck on that same dreadful voyage. The global economy has side-swiped an iceberg at full speed and is mathematically destined to go under, no matter what the Captain and crew decide to do.

Except, now, it’s not only the poorest two-thirds of the ship’s passengers that are being left to die, and there is no priority for “women and children”. It is true that the entire corporate establishment has benefited from systemic fraud, propaganda/manipulation and taxpayer-funded bailouts, but it is a very small percentage of people who are truly being guaranteed a lifeboat. These institutions and the people who run them are gifted vast sums of money over and over again, while the rest of us patiently, helplessly and hopelessly wait to be “rescued”.

Among the 1% of people who have been given every possible advantage to survive the systemic meltdown, we must include those in charge of defense industrial conglomerates. We are now in a state of perpetual, taxpayer-funded war that surpasses any notion of political ideology or appropriate response to “external” threats. However, that is an issue for another time and place. Right now, we will focus on the criminal banking class, which has been feasting on the public coffers for years while hundreds of millions of people struggle to keep their jobs, stay warm, find their next meal and/or avoid being victimized by an ever-growing police state.

Never before in history have such vast amounts of wealth been transferred so quickly from so many people to so few. The worldwide property bubbles of the last few decades, and specifically the last one, were made possible first and foremost by extensive fraud in the banking and real estate sectors of the global economy. Although government regulations and loose monetary policy certainly had their roles to play in the Western housing bubble, it was the private banks originating “liar’s loans”, slicing them up, securitizing different loan tranches and marketing them as top-grade investments that really fueled the credit explosion.

A whole plethora of debt-based “assets”, securities and derivative instruments were generated through the collateralization of residential and commercial property, which, in turn, created an entire industry of speculation, financial engineering, commissions and returns. The benefits of this industry accrued to fewer and fewer institutions as they pawned off the “assets” and derivative instruments to other institutional investors such as pension and hedge funds, and then dumped what remained directly onto taxpayers after the great bust of 2008.

This class warfare by the 1% no longer takes the form of some stealthy wealth extraction operation hidden behind cultural optics, clever marketing and flimsy regulations, but is happening out in the open for every neglected, second-rate passenger to see. It has gotten to the point that the U.S. federal government AND the major banks openly admit that extensive fraud occurred with the transfer of mortgage titles and subsequent foreclosure of property. Why else would there be an “investigation” and a settlement of $40 billion by the five largest banks?

Even a symbolic settlement such as this one can no longer be made without turning it into a complete travesty of the justice system. They got caught red-handed stealing our money and our homes, and now they have to pay us back a very tiny portion of the stolen wealth… with our money. The Financial Times reports that the settlement agreement contains a clause allowing the banks to count future loan modifications made under the $30 billion [taxpayer-funded] Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) as credits for the money owed under the agreement.
US Taxpayers to subsidize $40bn housing settlement
However, a clause in the provisional agreement – which has not been made public – allows the banks to count future loan modifications made under a 2009 foreclosure-prevention initiative towards their restructuring obligations for the new settlement, according to people familiar with the matter. The existing $30bn initiative, the Home Affordable Modification Programme (Hamp), provides taxpayer funds as an incentive to banks, third party investors and troubled borrowers to arrange loan modifications.
Neil Barofsky, a Democrat and the former special inspector-general of the troubled asset relief programme, described this clause as “scandalous”.
“It turns the notion that this is about justice and accountability on its head,” Mr Barofsky said.
BofA, for instance, will be able to use future modifications made under Hamp towards the $7.6bn in borrower assistance it is committed to provide under the settlement. Under Hamp, the bank will receive payments for averting borrower default and reimbursement from taxpayers for principal written down.
But people familiar with the matter told the FT that state officials involved in the talks had had misgivings about allowing the banks to use taxpayer-financed loan restructurings as part of the settlement. State negotiators wanted the banks to modify mortgages using Hamp standards, which are seen as borrower-friendly, but did not want the banks to receive settlement credit when modifying Hamp loans. Federal officials pushed for it anyway, these people said.
This is just one striking and patently obvious example of how the major banks have been guaranteed a lifeboat off of the capsizing global economy by central governments and banks. There are, of course, many more – the Fed, BOJ and BOE’s quantitative easing programs, the ECB’s “trash for cash” LTRO operations or secondary market purchases of peripheral sovereign debt, the SNB’s fixed exchange rate policy, the IMF/EU bailouts that are used to meet interest payments and recapitalize banks, the quasi-nationalization of large financial institutions across the Western world, the outright theft of MF Global’s client funds by JP Morgan, etc., etc., the band plays on and on.

One of the most fundamental ways in which the banks have been kept afloat is the suspension of mark-to-market accounting rules in the U.S. and Europe. Yes, the banks still get to pretend that the ship isn’t even sinking while any and all burdensome debt-assets remain on their balance sheets. As the Wall Street Journal reports in a recent article, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have unilaterally decided that they will stop marking corporate loans, which are currently worth $100 billion, to market value in anticipation of the U.S. corporate sector rolling over.
Change In Loan-Tallying Method
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley have reduced their use of "mark-to-market" accounting, shielding them from swings in the value of some loans made to companies. After several months of internal discussion, the two companies are making an accounting change affecting a portion of corporate loans that have a combined value of more than $100 billion.
The change will value that portion using so-called historical-cost accounting, according to financial filings and people familiar with the matter. Under that accounting method, assets generally are held at their original value or purchase price. Goldman and Morgan Stanley could set aside reserves against possible losses on the loans and hedge them in other ways.

The banks are making the change in part because, as a result of regulators' rules, securities firms using historical-cost accounting won't have to hold much-larger amounts of capital against the assets if their values go down. There also will be less fluctuation in Goldman and Morgan Stanley's earnings, because marking the loans to market creates immediate gains or losses for the companies as the values of the loans fluctuate.
Immediate losses for the banks, you say? Heavens no, we wouldn’t want that! Not until the banks have safely dumped all of their distressed assets onto the backs of 99% of the population and abandoned ship. That is why The Automatic Earth constantly stresses the importance of people constructing their own lifeboats in their homes and communities – because there are only a few available on deck and none of them have your name on it, or the names of your family or your friends or your neighbors. The corporate/banking elites and their corrupt public servants will make sure to get a good view of this titanic disaster from afar, but, then again, there is really nowhere left for them to go.
See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Here's the Deal 7/5/09
Ea O Ka Aina: The John Brown Moment 2/13/12

 .

KIUC Disinformation Effort

SOURCE: Mark Jeffers (markjeffers@hawaii.rr.com) SUBHEAD: Responses to KIUC's full page Smart meter ad paid for by members, without their input on its message. By Ray Songtree on 16 February 2012 in distributed email - (to KIUC Board and County Council) Image above: Photo of "Smart Meter Free Zone". From (http://www.norad4u.com/knowledge/smart-radiating-meters). In KIUC's full page SmartMeter ad on Feb 15, paid for by we members, without ANY member input into its message, we once again see one sided disinformation. Because millions of people have been subjected to a new invasive technology without informed consent, does not make it worthwhile. Millions received asbestos in their homes and lead in their paint also. Energy conservation can be better had through empowering people with education and choice, not remote control of our appliances and punishing us with tiered rates for using electricity when we come home from work. The WHO quote used is cherry picking. May 31, 2011 – WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified RF from cell phones as a 'Possible Human Carcinogen'. The FCC issued warnings on cell phones in 2009. See; (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/27/fcc-now-recommends-precautions-for-cell-phone-use.aspx) Because SmartMeters are always on, sending as much as 190,000 transmission per day, (http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=6030) not 8 as KIUC says, they pose the same threat that cell phones do over time. To produce a MESH network, SmartMeters are on 24/7. There are no health conclusions on electromagnetic fields because there have been no long term studies. WHO acknowledges only laboratory studies, not surveys of symptoms and diseases over many years in the population. Our “science” is based on verification through duplication of results. Insurance companies won't cover a disease that has not been 'duplicated' in lab, but that doesn't mean the disease isn't real. Electrosensitivity is new, not a pathogen, but a response to unnatural RF never seen on planet before. Doctors are seeing RF induced disease after ten years of low level exposure and this is why Parliament of Europe adopted the Bio-Initiative Report (www.Bioinitiative.org) on wireless precaution, and why the American Academy of Environmental Medicine have called for ban on SmartMeters. See (http://aaemonline.org/images/CaliforniaPublicUtilitiesCommission.pdf). “Evidence” is a technical term based on standards made up by industry based on the thermal heating of tissue, not on the metabolic effect on living organism. There are no safety standards that measure disruption of cellular reproduction for example. Without this kind of standard, safety studies as they exist now are simply irrelvant and industry knows this. And KIUC already knows this, as they have read letters to TGI, have studied KauaiTruth.Com, and received emails and oral testimony, but KIUC continues with the disinformation. KIUC is willing to hurt a percentage of the people on Kauai. The CCST statement used in ad can be reversed “ There are no studies proving safety” is also true. The CCST report was based on industry sourced data as revealed by Daniel Hirsch. See (http://www.ccst.us/projects/smart2/documents/letter8hirsch.pdf). CCST report is not scientific at all, was not peer reviewed, and therefore, by the criteria of many is worthless. But at least it was honest enough to end with the conclusion that “more studies are needed.” In other words, CCST doesn't know if SmartMeters are safe and neither does KIUC. The FCC quote used in ad repeats the realtity that there have been no conclusive studies. A laboratory cannot quickly reproduce a ten year exposure. Many people get headaches from cell phones, but not one study can reproduce this. KIUC ad is disengenous, misleading, and dangerous, and the employees and management that produced this ad may be criminally liable in future for giving health advice. One of my goals is to save them from this liability. The Environmental Defense Fund is funded by industry and is a double speak name for a rubber stamp tool to make industry look green. In my County Council testimony Feb 8, JoAnn Yukimura was not aware of how foundations are created by industry to look independent, but serve their masters. Here is how EDF describes itself.. "Our organization offers a unique perspective given our proven track record of enabling markets and innovation to gain environmental benefits.” There you have it, the EDF is a PR firm for industry. Their business is selling the brand name called Green. In fact modern technology continues to poison the aina where ever factories exist. See (http://mashable.com/2011/11/16/apple-pollution). KIUC can offer NO security with smart meters because they don't own the software and have no idea what it is capable of. Period. Washington, D.C., August 14, 2011 — Former CIA director James Woolsey;
“They’re constructing a smart grid that will make it easier for you or me to call our homes on our cell phones and turn down our air conditioner on a hot afternoon. But that may well mean that a hacker in Shanghai can do the same thing with his cell phone, or worse. A so-called smart grid that’s as vulnerable as what we’ve got is not smart at all. It’s a really, really stupid grid.”
Opt Out program will not protect anyone from the neighbor's wireless RF effects. Insects and plants won't be protected either. Those in apartments with dozens of meters won't benefit from opting out. A moratorium on rollout is necessary and if KIUC needs to break its contract on using SmartMeters they can do so legally by claiming they were disinformed about health effects. The community will back KIUC and we will have unity and trust. David Bissell, CEO of KIUC makes over $330,000 a year. He is buttressing up his own decisions here, and the entire ad lacks objectivity. Not offering objectivity keeps people dumbed down. Shame on KIUC for this plantation approach to its own ohana. Those wanting a good overview on SmartMeters might want to read this article; (http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=872) KIUC could never ever counter it. Read it and know the truth about Smart Meters. We need regime change at KIUC. I especially urge the Filipino community to NOT vote for incumbents running for Board. My daughter is half Filipino. We need new faces at KIUC and a new heart.
Emerging suit against KIUC By Adam Asquith on 16 February 2012 in distributed email - (in response to Ray Songtree email)

I found out the the DOE issued themselves a categorical exemption from the NEPA process for their money for Smartmeters. THis can be challenged but I want to now spend my time filing a class action lawsuit against KIUC for invasion of privacy and other civil rights violations. There was successful lawsuit in Maine that at least forced an opt-out. Please let other members now that I am working on a suit and would welcome multiple claimants.

See also:

Anti Smart Meter Group Seeks Federal Injunction (http://naperville.patch.com/articles/smart-meter-group-seeks-federal-injunction#video-8809603)

In Illinois, members of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group gathered at the city of Naperville's Municipal Center Friday afternoon to announce that the group has filed for injunctive relief in federal court.

The group and its attorney Doug Ibendahl were on hand to answer questions from a group comprised mostly of supporters of the organization. Members of the group explained the reason for the court filing and also stated that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is also investigating the city of Naperville for open meeting violations, among other violations.

Members of the audience were allowed to ask questions, many of which were centered around whether the group had approached the city and shared its concerns. Some also asked what they might do to keep the new meters from being installed at their homes.

The city of Naperville, according to its information, has stated that the smart meter installation will begin the first week in January.

Ibendahl said he was not certain how quickly the federal court would take to hear the complaint, but said that the group didn't seek a temporary restraining order because the members of the group are reasonable people and they hoped that the city would "do the right thing."

The group has sought to have a question placed on the ballot in March, which would ask voters: Shall the city of Naperville immediately and permanently stop the implementation of the $22 million smart meter project and dismantle all related equipment?” Earlier this week, the group learned that a resident had filed an objection to the question and a hearing is scheduled for next week.

One member of the audience asked if the group had filed the complaint in federal court as retribution for the objection filed earlier this week. The members said said that was not the reason.

Ibendahl said that the members felt they had exhausted all of their options after attempting to talk with the city and felt that filing in federal court was their last resort.

The city of Naperville issued a news release about 15 minutes prior to the group's news conference. In it the city said that the opposition will not stop the city from moving forward with the smart meter installations.

“We are confident that the case will ultimately be dismissed by the court system,” City Attorney Margo Ely said in the release. “The Smart Meter Awareness Group has pursued their opposition to the city’s project in multiple forums, including frequent appearances at City Council meetings, numerous FOIA requests, appeals to the Attorney General and now a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit raises no new issues from the opposition. It simply has no merit.”

For more information on the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group visit its website at www.NapervilleSmartMeterAwareness.org. To learn more from the city of Naperville on the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative, visit www.napervile.il.us/smartgrid.aspx.

Video above: announcement by Naperville Smart Meter Awareness. From (http://naperville.patch.com/articles/smart-meter-group-seeks-federal-injunction#video-8809603). .

BPA link to obesity & diabetes

SUBHEAD: Study shows strengthened link to estrogen mimicking chemical that is making us fat and sick.  

By Lynn Peeples on 16 February 16 in Huffington Post - 
  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/bpa-chemical-hormone-obesity-diabetes_n_1276996.html)

 
Image above: Plastic containers including those with BPA's in sorting bin. From (http://naturallyyoursblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/bpa-reduces-male-reproductive-health.html).
 
The modern lifestyle of super-sized french fries and couch potatoes often takes the blame for the rising rates of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. -- perhaps rightly so. But growing evidence suggests another factor in the dual epidemics: modern chemicals.

Exposure to even minuscule amounts of synthesized substances -- used in everything from pesticides to water bottles -- can scramble hormone signals, scientists say. This interference can trick fat cells into taking in more fat or mislead the pancreas into secreting excess insulin, a hormone that regulates the breakdown of fat and carbohydrates.

Among the most ubiquitous and scrutinized of these so-called endocrine disruptors is bisphenol A, better known as BPA. The chemical is a common ingredient in plastics and food-can linings.
"When you eat something with BPA, it's like telling your organs that you are eating more than you are really eating," says Angel Nadal, a BPA expert at the Miguel Hernandez University in Spain.
Nadal's latest research, published last week in PLoS ONE, finds that the chemical triggers the release of almost double the insulin actually needed to break down food. High insulin levels can desensitize the body to the hormone over time, which in some people may then lead to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.
To achieve this feat, BPA fools a receptor into thinking it is the natural hormone estrogen, an insulin regulator. Nadal's team found that even the tiniest amounts of BPA -- a quarter of a billionth of a gram -- did the trick. The effect disappeared when the researchers stripped the specific receptors from the study mice, evidence that they had in fact pinpointed BPA's chemical mechanism, which had previously eluded scientists.

In laboratory tests of human cells, the response was even more pronounced.
"That pretty much nails it," Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the new study, told The Huffington Post. He notes that despite the prior associations made between BPA and metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes, doubt had lingered because of a lack of understanding about how the phenomenon occurred. Long-term studies of children -- tracking BPA exposures and health outcomes -- remain ongoing around the world.

An estimated 90 percent of people in developed countries have BPA circulating in their blood at levels often higher than the threshold for causing hormone disruption used in Nadal's study. This high incidence is due not only to exposures from leaching food packages but also BPA-infused cash register receipts, dental sealants and toilet paper.

"People are seeing effects of BPA down to 1000-fold below [Nadal's threshold]," adds Frederick vom Saal, another expert in endocrine disruptors at the University of Missouri-Columbia. "It takes so little of this chemical to cause harm."

The chemical industry disagrees. "BPA is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals used today and has a safety track record of 50 years," says Kathryn Murray St. John, a spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, a lobbying group for the plastics industry. She highlights recent regulatory rulings in favor of the safety of BPA.

Vom Saal, who also wasn't involved in the Spanish study, explains why the "standard estimates of safety" may be invalid. Minute amounts of the chemical may be even more potent than larger quantities, he says, which can flood the receptors and essentially turn them off, stopping the flow of insulin. In other words, the dose does not make the poison -- at least not in the ordinary sense. Yet the traditional dose-response assumption remains the basis for most regulatory tests that have deemed the chemical safe.
The consequences of the continued widespread use of BPA could be most dire for pregnant women and developing fetuses, who appear to be particularly sensitive.

"The fetus is not only exposed to BPA but also to higher levels of insulin from the mother, making the environment for the fetus even more disruptive," says Nadal. "This is a very delicate period."
Previous studies have suggested that the environmental chemicals in the womb can preprogram weight gain later in life. BPA, for example, may tell a growing fetus to develop more fat cells.

Nadal adds that BPA is just one of a larger cocktail of at least 20 endocrine disruptors commonly used in everyday items, including phthalates, nicotine, dioxin, arsenic and tributyltin. Further, obesity and diabetes aren't the only risks posed by the chemicals. Studies also hint at links with cancer, infertility, heart disease and cognitive problems.

Overall, half of the developed world is now overweight and one in six is obese -- about double the numbers of 30 years ago. Approximately 250 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide.

Sure, our lifestyle has changed over the decades in parallel with the increased use of BPA. Yet scientists have noticed the same fattening trend in newborns, lab rodents, pets and wildlife that live in close proximity to humans. Have babies or mice really changed how much they eat or exercise? Experts highlight this as further evidence that more than just caloric intake is driving the current epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

"The scary thing is, this is occurring in children. Thirty years ago, we called Type 2 diabetes 'adult-onset,'" vom Saal says. That's not the case anymore.

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Help preserve Koloa Camp

SUBHEAD: The residents of historic Koloa Camp are threatened by Grove Farms development plans. From Ken Taylor on 16 February 2012 in Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/02/help-preserve-koloa-camp.html) Image above: Community members, including County Councilman Kipikai Kualii, gather to support historic Koloa Camp residents. From original email. Please join the Koloa Camp tenants and Wailani Rd residents Sun, Feb. 19 for sign waving at 4 pm near the monument on Maluhia Rd in Koloa. This is a great chance to show public support for the tenants' efforts to preserve some Inland history and to purchase their homes and halt the Mar 8 evictions. Also, come by, and sign-help distribute our petition. We need 3,000 Kaua'i resident signatures by Fri, Feb 24. See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Losing Lifelong Koloa Homes 12/13/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Saving Koloa Camp 1/8/12 .

Town moves to save tigers

SUBHEAD: Entire village in India relocates to make more room For tiger habitat. By stephen Messenger on 16 February 2012 for TreeHugger - (http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/entire-indian-village-relocates-sake-tigers.html) Image above: A Bengal tiger and her cub rest in tall grass. From (http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/bengal-tiger/).

It's no secret that most human-animal conflicts don't end well for wildlife -- but in a rare show of interspecies hospitality, an entire community in India has decided to relocate in order to make room for big cats in need of some extra space. Last week, all 350 residents of Umri, a village in an important wildlife preserve in the northern region of Sariska, packed up their things and moved to a new, less ecologically sensitive locale nearby, and all for the sake of securing a bit of space for a rapidly dwindling tiger population.

Over the course of a century of encroaching development in India, the nation's once thriving tigers numbers have been reduced by over 98 percent. In recent decades, the establishment of protected zones, like the Sariska Tiger Reserve, have enabled the species to avoid extinction for now. The tiger's long-term survival, however, may depend on a reversal of trends -- by letting the wilderness reclaim some of the land it lost to humans.

According to the BBC, Umri is actually the second village to relocate entirely on account of helping tigers. And, in the coming years, four other communities are likely to follow, but they aren't without incentive.

The villagers are compensated with land, cash and livestock worth up to 1 million rupees ($20,000) and relocated to the nearest cultivable plots outside the reserve, Rajasthan's chief wildlife warden AC Chaubey told the BBC.

No matter the cost, conservationists believe that relocating villages in the tiger's habitat could help bolster their numbers -- and the help is much needed. From an estimated population of 100,000 at the turn of last century, a 2011 census reveals that a mere 1,700 are still exist in the wilds of India.

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PMRF target of Peace & Freedom

SUBHEAD: The US is re-directing its attention from the Middle East to the Pacific. That means a target on us.

 By Anonymous on 17 February 2012 for Island Breath -  
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/02/pmrf-target-of-peace-freedom.html)  
Image above: PMRF demonstrator prepares "De-Occupy Hawaiian Lands" sign before event 2/11/2012. The invitation came on February 3rd in the form of an email with the SUBJECT "Stealth".
Please bring your own signs, be as theatrical and outrageous as possible, and bold or colorful lettering, and easy to read. Say what you want, but try to make them relevant to the issue of the Aegis missiles, U.S. Occupation of Hawaiian land, desecration of sacred sites, defense spending, jobs on the westside at any cost, military industrial complex, Jeju Island, toxic dumps on the beach - what ever you think would look great on YouTube to the outside world.

Wear a costume or assume an animated character, or just come as you are. We want to educate and inform folks about Kaua`i and Hawai`i being the laboratory and the logistical hub of Obama and Inouye's Asia/Pacific region endless war spiderweb of launch sites.

As you probably know from the State of the Union speech, the whole focus of the empire is being shifted away from the Middle East, and redirected straight toward us. Kaua`i will be hosting the remote death machines, to rain down on our manufactured enemies, and to conduct warfare in outer space.
The gist was to quietly put together a demonstration at the entrance to the Pacific Missile Range Facility out beyond Kekaha on the westside of Kauai. The demonstration was to be in support anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-corporate events planned for this weekend.
 
Image above: Demonstrator gather at PMRF entance gate on 2/11/2012. Note base security SUV and officer.

The demonstration occurred one week before a community conference on the impacts of missile defense on democracy, culture and the environment in the Pacific, Asia, and the World on Oahu and Kauai between February 18th and 21st. Event On Kauai PMRF Missiles Destroy Environment, Democracy, and Cultures Kapaa Library, Tuesday February 21, 2012, at 6:30pm Moderated by Koohan Paik Tuis event is sponsored by the Kauai Alliance for Peace & Social Justice, co-sponsored by the International Forum on Globalization. Contact Ray Catania. Phone 822-7646 or e-mail may11nineteen71@gmail.com for more details. See announcement for all events at: (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/02/pmrf-missiles-destroying-us.html)



 
Image above: Demonstrators include old, young, men women, with backgrounds on the mainland and from Hawaii. .

Flaws in robo signed foreclosures

SUBHEAD: Foreclosure improprieties in California cast doubt on the validity of almost every case examined. By Gretchen Morgenson on 15 February 2012 for the NYT - (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/business/california-audit-finds-broad-irregularities-in-foreclosures.html) Image above: Registrar Jeff Thigpen of Guilford County, N.C., shows a group of signatures on loan documents all "signed" by Linda Green. From (http://dailyreporter.com/2011/07/19/report-mortgage-robo-signing-goes-on/). An audit by San Francisco county officials of about 400 recent foreclosures there determined that almost all involved either legal violations or suspicious documentation, according to a report released Wednesday. Anecdotal evidence indicating foreclosure abuse has been plentiful since the mortgage boom turned to bust in 2008. But the detailed and comprehensive nature of the San Francisco findings suggest how pervasive foreclosure irregularities may be across the nation.

The improprieties range from the basic — a failure to warn borrowers that they were in default on their loans as required by law — to the arcane. For example, transfers of many loans in the foreclosure files were made by entities that had no right to assign them and institutions took back properties in auctions even though they had not proved ownership.

Commissioned by Phil Ting, the San Francisco assessor-recorder, the report examined files of properties subject to foreclosure sales in the county from January 2009 to November 2011. About 84 percent of the files contained what appear to be clear violations of law, it said, and fully two-thirds had at least four violations or irregularities.

Kathleen Engel, a professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston said: “If there were any lingering doubts about whether the problems with loan documents in foreclosures were isolated, this study puts the question to rest.”

The report comes just days after the $26 billion settlement over foreclosure improprieties between five major banks and 49 state attorneys general, including California’s. Among other things, that settlement requires participating banks to reduce mortgage amounts outstanding on a wide array of loans and provide $1.5 billion in reparations for borrowers who were improperly removed from their homes.

But the precise terms of the states’ deal have not yet been disclosed. As the San Francisco analysis points out, “the settlement does not resolve most of the issues this report identifies nor immunizes lenders and servicers from a host of potential liabilities.” For example, it is a felony to knowingly file false documents with any public office in California.

In an interview late Tuesday, Mr. Ting said he would forward his findings and foreclosure files to the attorney general’s office and to local law enforcement officials. Kamala D. Harris, the California attorney general, announced a joint investigation into foreclosure abuses last December with the Nevada attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto. The joint investigation spans both civil and criminal matters.

The depth of the problem raises questions about whether at least some foreclosures should be considered void, Mr. Ting said. “We’re not saying that every consumer should not have been foreclosed on or every lender is a bad actor, but there are significant and troubling issues,” he said.

California has been among the states hurt the most by the mortgage crisis. Because its laws, like those of 29 other states, do not require a judge to oversee foreclosures, the conduct of banks in the process is rarely scrutinized. Mr. Ting said his report was the first rigorous analysis of foreclosure improprieties in California and that it cast doubt on the validity of almost every foreclosure it examined.

“Clearly, we need to set up a process where lenders are following every part of the law,” Mr. Ting said in the interview. “It is very apparent that the system is broken from many different vantage points.”

The report, which was compiled by Aequitas Compliance Solutions, a mortgage regulatory compliance firm, did not identify specific banks involved in the irregularities. But among the legal violations uncovered in the analysis were cases where the loan servicer did not provide borrowers with a notice of default before beginning the eviction process; 8 percent of the audited foreclosures had that basic defect.

In a significant number of cases — 85 percent — documents recording the transfer of a defaulted property to a new trustee were not filed properly or on time, the report found. And in 45 percent of the foreclosures, properties were sold at auction to entities improperly claiming to be the beneficiary of the deeds of trust. In other words, the report said, “a ‘stranger’ to the deed of trust,” gained ownership of the property; as a result, the sale may be invalid, it said.

In 6 percent of cases, the same deed of trust to a property was assigned to two or more different entities, raising questions about which of them actually had the right to foreclose. Many of the foreclosures that were scrutinized showed gaps in the chain of title, the report said, indicating that written transfers from the original owner to the entity currently claiming to own the deed of trust have disappeared.

Banks involved in buying and selling foreclosed properties appear to be aware of potential problems if gaps in the chain of title cloud a subsequent buyer’s ownership of the home. Lou Pizante, a partner at Aequitas who worked on the audit, pointed to documents that banks now require buyers to sign holding the institution harmless if questions arise about the validity of the foreclosure sale.

The audit also raises serious questions about the accuracy of information recorded in the Mortgage Electronic Registry System, or MERS, which was set up in 1995 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and major lenders. The report found that 58 percent of loans listed in the MERS database showed different owners than were reflected in other public documents like those filed with the county recorder’s office.

The report contradicted the contentions of many banks that foreclosure improprieties did little harm because the borrowers were behind on their mortgages and should have been evicted anyway. “We can deduce from the public evidence,” the report noted, “that there are indeed legitimate victims in the mortgage crisis. Whether these homeowners are systematically being deprived of legal safeguards and due process rights is an important question.”


The Joke is on Us SUBHEAD: If you own a gun, you can rob a bank — but if you own a bank, you can rob the entire world. By Brian J. O'Conner on 13 February 2012 for the Detroit News - (http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120213/OPINION03/202130311/Foreclosure-deal-joke-us)

The recently announced $25billion nationwide settlement on illegal foreclosures reminds me of a joke my dad used to tell:

A robber is hauled before a judge, who finds the evidence skimpy. "Not guilty!" the judge declares. "Terrific!" the robber exclaims to his lawyer. "Does this mean I get to keep the money?"

I'm betting that after the foreclosure deal was announced Thursday, that same sentiment echoed throughout the big banks, hedge funds, mortgage processors and all the others who bred the busted mortgage bubble that produced the worst worldwide financial crisis since the Great Depression. Because, if they're OK coughing up $25billion, they must be hanging on to much, much more.

Case in point

If you doubt me, consider another government settlement over ongoing, wholesale fraud perpetrated by a company that, interestingly, is one of the five big banks involved in the foreclosure deal. Earlier this month, a court filing by JPMorgan Chase & Co. revealed the mega-bank will pay $110 million to settle claims it unfairly inflated overdraft fees on customers. The case included one example of the bank posting a $1,725 automatic bill payment five days early, which generated $231 in extra overdraft fees.

I've written about the scourge of banks defrauding their own customers by tweaking procedures to increase overdrafts. But it's a profitable scourge — even if you get caught. As American Banker reports, Chase itself said it made $500 million a year after taxes by rigging customer accounts with added overdrafts.

Let's do the math: Steal $500million a year for several years, minus $110 million one-time penalty = a pretty good deal. But it doesn't equal justice.

A joke on consumers

So, just as in my dad's joke, the robbers get to keep the money, minus a small service charge. But there's another joke here, and it's being played on consumers, workers, homeowners, students and anyone else who's been paying the price for bankers' financial misconduct for years already and will continue paying it for many more to come.

It's business as usual for the banks, though, and a profitable one. Consider that JPMorgan has received 22 waivers from the Securities and Exchange Commission allowing it to avoid penalties in fraud cases, including one recent case that involved a $228million settlement.

Getting back to my dad's original gag, I'd say the real humor in the punch line isn't the robber's lack of discretion, but his lack of ambition. Because, if you own a gun, you can rob a bank — but if you own a bank, you can rob the entire world.

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Europeans may balk on Greece

SUBHEAD: Such a scenario would prove to be a horror movie not just for Greece but for the world economy. By James G. Neuger on 15 February 2012 for Bloomberg News - (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-15/greece-warns-euro-partners-on-threat-of-expulsion-after-bailout-hits-snag.html) Image above: Greek police face riot conditions while buildings burn. From (http://www.republicmonetaryexchangenewsblog.com/2012/02/athens-burns-buildings-on-fire-as-chaos-riots-flare-up/). Greece said that Europe’s wealthier countries are “playing with fire” by toying with the idea of expelling it from the 17-nation euro area as talks over a second aid program ran into new obstacles. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos leveled the accusation after a decision slated for tonight on aid totaling 130 billion euros ($171 billion) was postponed until at least Feb. 20 and possibly until after a full-time Greek government emerges from elections later in the year. “We are continually faced with new terms,” Venizelos told reporters in Athens today. “In the euro area, there are plenty who don’t want us anymore. There are some playing with fire, domestically and abroad. Some are playing with torches and some are playing with matches. But the risk is equally great.” Two years after pledging to pull Greece back from the brink, European leaders are torn between pouring more aid into the struggling economy or risking an unprecedented national bankruptcy that might force the country out of the euro and prompt renewed market tumult. Tonight’s euro finance meeting was canceled late yesterday and replaced with a conference call at 5 p.m. Brussels time. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the euro panel, now targets a Greek aid decision at the previously scheduled Feb. 20 meeting. Very Strict Conditions “Ultimately the question is whether Greece has political will to sort out their economy and fulfill the conditions,” Finnish Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen told reporters in Helsinki. She spoke of “very strict” attitudes in creditor countries. The official loans, supplemented by about 100 billion euros of debt relief from private bondholders, have been in the works since July. Each day lost brings Greece closer to a March 20 bond redemption when it must come up with 14.5 billion euros or become the first country in the euro’s 13-year history to default. The postponement is “very worrying” and “reflects a growing concern among some euro-area countries that Greece will not abide by the conditions of the second bailout package,” said Nicola Mai, an economist at JPMorgan Chase Bank in London. “It appears that some euro-area countries are willing to let Greece default.” Tensions over Greece pushed the euro down 0.2 percent to $1.3105 at 3:25 p.m. in Brussels. Meantime, evidence mounted that the euro’s guardians have made progress ring-fencing Greece’s woes. Portugal raised 3 billion euros today, selling debt maturing in up to 12 months after increasing the amount to meet investor demand. Greek Cuts Greece’s caretaker Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, yesterday met Europe’s demand for 325 million euros in savings by making cuts to defense, public investment and local authorities, two government officials said. The head of Greece’s second-biggest political party, New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras, sought to meet a second demand today by providing a signed pledge to back the “objectives, targets and key policies” of the austerity program. Samaras, seeking early April elections, left open the possibility of “modifications” to Greek policies to promote growth. The head of the rival socialist party, former Prime Minister George Papandreou, dispatched his own written pledge, NET TV reported. Greece has depleted its credibility by missing targets for deficit reduction, economic reforms and asset sales that were set when it obtained a 110 billion-euro aid package in May 2010. As a result, the once-taboo notion of a departure or expulsion from the euro zone has crept into the mainstream political debate. Horror Movie “We cannot give anyone a pretext or motive to apply such a scenario that would prove to be a horror movie not just for Greece but for the world economy,” said Venizelos. Also unclear was whether the European Central Bank, buyer of 219.5 billion euros of weaker countries’ bonds in the past two years, would contribute to debt relief in the new package. Euro statutes bar the central bank from financing governments. One workaround would be for the ECB to funnel profits from its Greek holdings back through its national branches to euro governments. The central bank probably spent about 47 billion euros to buy Greek bonds with a face value of 60 billion euros, yielding potential profits of 13 billion euros, according to Juergen Michels, chief European economist at Citigroup in London. Central bankers have agreed “that we don’t wish to make a profit on Greece,” ECB council member Luc Coene of Belgium said Feb. 13 in remarks that were embargoed until today. “So when we distribute profit from a given year to the Belgian state, we will provide a breakdown of what’s due to Greece and it’s then up to the government to decide how to use it.” .

Raw Milk is Safe

SOURCE: Katie Gelfling (k.gelfling@gmail.com) SUBHEAD: US government data indicates risk associated with raw milk is less than for most other foods. By Sara on 1 August 2012 for the Healthy Home Economist - (http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/government-data-proves-raw-milk-is-safe/) Image above: Painting of "The Milkmaid with her Cows on a Summer Day" by Julien Dupre. From (http://www.paintinghere.com/painting/A_Milkmaid_with_her_Cows_on_a_Summer_Day_830.html). I guess ambulance chasers like food borne illness attorney Bill Marler have to do something for a living. Otherwise, why would they attempt to demonize an inherently safe, healthy food like raw milk?

This just in from researcher Dr. Ted Beals MD as published in the Wise Traditions Journal, Summer 2011:

Raw Milk Risk Extremely Small Compared to Risk of Other Foods

WASHINGTON, DC June 22, 2011: Data gleaned from U.S. government websites and government-sanctioned reports on foodborne illnesses show that the risk of contracting foodborne illness by consuming raw milk is much smaller than the risk of becoming ill from other foods, according to research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD, appearing in the Summer, 2011 issue of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

“At last we have access to the numbers we need to determine the risk of consuming raw milk on a per-person basis,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation that provides information on the health benefits of raw, whole milk from pastured cows.

The key figure that permits a calculation of raw milk illnesses on a per-person basis comes from a 2007 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FoodNet survey, which found that 3.04 percent of the population consumes raw milk, or about 9.4 million people, based on the 2010 census. This number may in fact be larger in 2011 as raw milk is growing in popularity. For example, sales of raw milk increased 25 percent in California in 2010, while sales of pasteurized milk declined 3 percent.

In addition, Dr. Beals has compiled published reports of illness attributed to raw milk from 1999 to 2010. During the eleven-year period, illnesses attributed to raw milk averaged 42 per year.

“Using government figures for foodborne illness for the entire population, Dr. Beals has shown that you are about thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk,” says Fallon Morell. “And with good management practices in small grass-based dairies offering fresh unprocessed whole milk for direct human consumption, we may be able to reduce the risk even further.”

“It is irresponsible for senior national government officials to oppose raw milk, claiming that it is inherently hazardous,” says Dr. Beals. “There is no justification for opposing the sale of raw milk or warning against its inclusion in the diets of children and adults.”

According to Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, “Where raw milk is concerned, the FDA has an agenda apart from protecting the public health. The agency wants to restrict and discourage the sale of unprocessed dairy products. This will have the effect of denying freedom of choice.”

“Every time there is a possible connection between illness and raw milk, government officials issue dire press releases and call for bans on raw milk sales,” says Fallon Morell. “However, these numbers fail to justify the government opposition and prove what we’ve known all along, that raw milk is a safe and healthy food.”

See also: www.realmilk.com/real-milk-pathogens.html

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545 acres Maui agland jeopardized

SUBHEAD: Central Maui's largest new proposed development is being planned in a traditional burial ground. Again!  

By Lucienne De Naie on 24 February 2012 in Island Breath -  
(laluz@maui.net)


Image above: Kanaka maoli hold vigil over Waiale burial site planned to be "relocated" because it is in an "inconvenient place".
From original email.

The Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) Waiale Project is asking the state to reclassify 545 acres from AG to URBAN. Planned are 2550 units; a new shopping center; new industrial zones and commercial development on 545 acres with 6,670 new residents. Waiale is billed as all about AFFORDABLE HOUSING.

But for who? As planned 34% is to be affordable (863 units) and 66% market priced (1687 units).

PLEASE SPEAK UP FOR A BETTER PLAN THIS WEEK. FEB 16th The proposed project sets aside1 burial dune (75 plus sets of iwi) and 5 other "islands" of burial sites. The other long, high dunes. DUNES that haven't been sand mined are shown as high-density development area.This is NOT the project design that was under community discussion during 3 years of Maui Island Plan Review.
  • This is NOT respectful to a place with traditional cultural value
  • This is not in line with Wailuku-Kahului Community Plan that lists ALL inland dunes as important cultural sites
  • This is NOT sound planning.
ACT!
State Land Use Commission will hear testimony Thursday, Feb 16th 10 am Makena Resort (Old Maui Prince Hotel) : Wailea Salon Room  

CAN'T ATTEND?
EMAIL COMMENTS by end of day Feb 14 to both address links below. Just copy and paste any of the points ATTACHED BE SURE TO ASK THE LUC to require conditions if they approve the reclassification request. Waiale is agenda item: A10-789

Riley.K.Hakoda@dbedt.hawaii.gov
Jesse.K.Souki@dbedt.hawaii.gov
CC: Clare Apana (kouwahine@gmail.com)  

TALKING POINTS
What the Land Use Commission needs to know PLEASE ASK the LUC to place conditions, if they approve the boundary change. Over three hundred burials have already been disturbed during the building of Maui Lani next door to the Waiale project. enough is enough!

 Fifty acres of disturbed (sandmined) dunes on the WAI’ALE site already have almost 90 known sets of kupuna iwi. Most of these will be preserved in place in one dune. Other burials are being removed for roads.

MANY MORE BURIALS ARE LIKELY TO BE UNCOVERED IF MORE DUNES ARE BULLDOZED, RATHER THAN PROTECTED. COPY & PASTE FOR TESTIMONY POINTS.
1. A&B's Waiale Master plan only "protects" one sandmined dune with 70 plus iwi kupuna. They pretend that this is the only "undisturbed dune" on the site, and no more iwi will be disturbed! This is not true. People want all the dunes there protected. They are not "degraded' like the A&B consultants say. ASK: the LUC to require a study be done to list Waiale Burial dunes on state and national Historic Register, as it deserves.
2.The Waiale dunes are part of the same dune system as Maui Lani, where 300 iwi kupuna have already been shamefully disturbed. We need to learn from our mistakes at Maui Lani, and make things pono with our lands and our ancestors who watch over them. ASK: The LUC to require a Traditional Cultural Property Study be done for the Waiale project site, folowing federal guidelines.
3. A&B speaks with pride about their 33 acres of "Cultural preserve" areas, but don't reveal that only the areas where our kupuna iwi have already been crushed and scattered by sandmining bulldozers are in the "preserve"
4. Undisturbed natural sand dunes that still remain on the site, are planned to be leveled (with the sand likely sold) for high density housing and commercial areas.Pu'u One are unique features created over 80,000 years ago, and should not be removed for profit.
5. P'uu One (natural sand dunes) are described as "cultural resources", whether they have known burials or not, in the Wailuku-Kahului community Plan. Our Pu'u One are Wahi Pana and give life to our land. ASK: The LUC to require alternative project design that protects un-mined sand dunes on site as shown in Maui Island Plan Directed Growth Maps approved by GPAC and Maui Planning Commission.
6. Ask that habitat aras be required for endangered native moth and traditional aumakua: Native Pueo- both found on this site and a section 106 Federal Consultation with native hawaiians be initiated.
7. Wai'ale would use up to 2.8 million gal of water a day: no impacts to our streams or aquifers are being discussed. ASK: the LUC to require Waiale project design alternatives, based on reduced water demand and usage
8. Wai'ale has no plan for its sewage: the project proposed to put another million gallons of sewage into the overworked Kahului wastewater plant. ASK: the LUC to require Waiale to include analyses of the project connecting to a NEW regional treatment facitliy, not put more burden on an aged plant in a Tsunami/ inundation zone.
9. There is another Map for Wai'ale, a design that protects natural dunes. Waiale project was reviewed during Maui Island Plan process and maps adopted for the area set aside open space to protect dunes and burials. PLEASE ASK: LUC to support the Maui Island Plan Map for the Waiale project area. Community input supported a large buffer area for the dunes AND a large community park. More natural area= less water demands.
Conclusions: Enough is enough! Why can't our kupuna be alowed to rest in peace and watch over the 'aina as was intended? Give Maui people jobs building homes not digging up our Kupuna's graves.

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