31 January 2008

Fuck You, Mary Hart

Ledger drug video buried by PR pressure
Thursday Jan 31 19:00 AEDT
By ninemsn staff

Plans to broadcast footage of Heath Ledger at a drug-fuelled party on US TV were pulled today 'out of respect for the family' — but Hollywood insiders say it had more to do with keeping in good with other celebrities.

The highly influential firm ID Public Relations, which represents A-list celebrities like Jake Gyllenhall, Ellen Page and Ben Stiller released a letter condemning Entertainment Tonight and The Insider for planning to release the drug video.

In the statement, the firm said that ET "purchased [the two-year old video] for a large sum of money in the hopes of stirring up a salacious and exploitive story about Heath, which would win them big ratings on the first day of sweeps".

Insiders say the powerful firm which formerly represented Ledger released the statement as an ultimatum.

"They essentially released a statement condemning this video," entertainment correspondent Sam Reubin told A Current Affair.

"If you dump on Heath Ledger in this incredibly unsavoury way, then guess what, we won't make our dozens and dozens of high profile clients available to you and your show.

"Shows like ET in the most part work in co-operation with celebrities and they didn't want to jeopardise all those relationships and this video certainly would have done that."

ET and The Insider dominate entertainment reporting on US television and a boycott by certain high profile celebrities would deal a major blow to the Paramount-produced TV shows.

"Certain media outlets' attempts to exploit and profit from his death is shameful and in the poorest of taste," ID PR partner Mara Buxbaum told Entertainment Weekly.

"We implore the media and the public to let this grieving family bury their son in private and with dignity."

Reps for Entertainment Tonight and The Insider had no further comment and referred to their earlier statement: "Out of respect for Heath Ledger's family, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider have decided not to run the Heath Ledger video which has been circulating in the world media."

I saw cheery Mary Hart announcing last night that ET was going to play this video today.
"Tomorrow -- the video of Heath Ledger in a room full of strangers and a table full of drugs while Michelle and Matilda were upstairs."

I was so pissed off. Heath's body is barely in the ground and trolls like the ET staff are already trying to stir up shit on his reputation. I'm glad that the agencies stood up and used their leverage to get this blocked. It's a bunch of bullshit. What a bunch of vultures. The Hollywood ratings mill makes me sick.

House of Cards

MBIA posts $3.5 billion loss
By Dan Wilchins, Reuters News Service
2 hours, 13 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) - MBIA Inc, a bond insurer struggling to keep the top credit ratings necessary to win new business, posted a record quarterly loss after writing down $3.5 billion and said it was looking at ways to raise equity to shore up capital.

The loss was wider than expected, and MBIA's shares fell 8 percent.

The world's largest bond insurer is looking to raise capital, but finding investors will be difficult. Smaller rival Ambac Financial Group Inc, which also faces potential rating downgrades, earlier this month scrapped plans to issue $1 billion of equity or convertibles, citing market conditions.

MBIA, which traditionally focused on insuring municipal bonds, strayed into insuring repackaged subprime mortgages and other consumer debt in recent years in an effort to boost returns.

That move has cost it dearly. Besides the $3.5 billion write down of credit derivatives linked to subprime mortgages, MBIA said on Thursday that it was setting aside an additional $713.5 million for losses, of which $613.5 million was for specific impaired bonds.

MBIA reported a fourth-quarter loss of $2.3 billion, or $18.61 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $181 million, or $1.32 a share.

On an operating basis, MBIA lost $3.30 a share, wider than the $2.97 loss forecast by analysts polled by Reuters Estimates. The operating number excludes losses on financial instruments at fair value and foreign exchange and estimated credit impairment on insured derivatives.

More pain may be coming. Activist investor Bill Ackman, who has been betting MBIA shares would decline for years, said in a report on Wednesday that the company could face losses of more than $11.6 billion from its collateralized debt obligations and related exposure.

Losses and boosts to reserves have slashed MBIA's net worth as a company, as measured by the recorded value of its shareholders' equity, to $3.65 billion as of the end of December from $7.2 billion a year earlier. As of the end of the third quarter, MBIA insured more than $670 billion of debt.


Since the end of 2007, MBIA has taken steps to boost capital, including selling $1 billion of surplus notes and securing up to $1 billion of financing from private equity firm Warburg Pincus. The Warburg Pincus deal, which closed on Wednesday, includes a $500 million investment in MBIA equity and a commitment to backstop a $500 million rights offering.

One possible investor in MBIA is billionaire Wilbur Ross, who told CNBC this week that he was looking at investing more than $1 billion in bond insurers.

MBIA Chief Executive Gary Dunton said capital raising should would offset the reserve boosts and impairment.

"We believe that these steps, along with reduced capital requirements resulting from slower business growth, will result in our capital position surpassing rating agency Triple-A requirements," Dunton said in a statement.

Without new capital, MBIA's main unit is in danger of losing top credit ratings from Moody's Investors Service, which said earlier this month it might issue a downgrade. That would make it hard for MBIA to win new business, and could also force investors to sell billions of dollars of securities.

Concerns about MBIA's ratings appear to be affecting new business. The company's fourth-quarter adjusted direct premiums, a measure of the value of new business won during the period, fell 38 percent to $262.4 million.

Fears of the impact of ratings downgrades on MBIA and other bond insurers, which combined insure more than $2.4 trillion of debt, have spurred New York State Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo to try to arrange a rescue with banks and others.

MBIA shares were down $1.12 at $12.84 in early New York Stock Exchange trade. The stock had fallen 12.6 percent on Wednesday, bringing it down 81 percent over the past year.

The company's loss came after Ambac earlier this month posted a $3.3 billion quarterly loss after writing down $5.2 billion for credit derivatives positions linked to assets including mortgages.

(Additional reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Christian Plumb; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Steve Orlofsky and Greg Mahlich)

Okay, so now the bond insurers are next in the cascading house of cards. Once the financial institutions have to start shoring up even more on the losses incurred on the rating adjustments that are happening to MBIA and Ambec, if the losses are big enough the industry will start triaging itself and only the big players will have the capital to cover their positions. Some of these places haven't even written off their losses from the mortgage debacle. Yikes. This is going to be an annus horibilis for anyone that has money.

Kylie Videos Galore!


A Kylie video player! How fun!


...the computers were all shut off last night for the first time in a long time. It was eerily quiet in the house when I shut the lights off....

Off to Texas tomorrow. Be back in a week. If I'm inspired by the greenery, heat and sun, I may post sometime next week.


29 January 2008


As you can obviously tell, I haven't been feeling like writing anything of relevance or opinion lately. I've been letting others tell a story for me, which is really lame, I know. But I promise I will be back, with an intention of writing much more interesting shite than I have in the past. Please bear with me -- I'm trying to incite a personal transformation of some type that is sapping all my energy, consuming me in fact. I hope the butterfly is more beautiful than the chrysalis....

Predictable...and regrettable

No science in the PM’s ear: Canada dismisses National Science Adviser at its peril
Friday, January 25, 2008 | 08:04 AM ET
By quirks
By Bob McDonald, host of the CBC science radio program Quirks & Quarks.

The one scientist in this country who had direct access to the Prime Minister is being dismissed. Canada’s National Science Adviser, Dr. Arthur Carty, was appointed by former Prime Minister Paul Martin to provide expert advice on the government’s role in matters of science and science policy. Now, less than four years after the position was created, the Harper government feels that it’s no longer necessary.

The National Science Adviser is a voice of reason to the government over actions it should take on issues such as climate change, genetically modified foods, managing fisheries, sustaining the environment - any time the politicians need to be educated on the basic science behind those often controversial issues. Of course, decisions are seldom made for purely scientific reasons; all too often, the interests of industry, special interest groups or a misinformed public will cloud the scientific truth. The Adviser’s job is to provide clarity and perspective.

Dr. Carty is extremely well qualified for this position. He was president of the National Research Council for 10 years and a prominent professor at Waterloo University for 27 years, among other accomplishments.

Eliminating the National Science Adviser is the latest in a string of events showing how our current government, at least at the top level, does not seem to be interested in the scientific perspective.

Soon after taking power, the Harper government moved the National Science Adviser position from the Privy Council Office down to Industry Canada, where Dr. Carty reports to the Minister there instead of directly to the PM. Following that, our Prime Minister embarrassed the country internationally by backing out of the Kyoto Accord and stonewalling the climate change discussions in Bali.

Science, in its purest form, seeks the truth. When a scientific paper is published, it’s not expressing an opinion, it’s showing the results of careful measurements, data gathering, hypothesizing, experimentation, validation by peer review, all in an effort to get the clearest picture of what’s happening in nature. Sure, debate is part of the process, so is skepticism, but that makes the science stronger. You cannot shoot down good science unless you have good alternative scientific evidence to back it up.

Politics, on the other hand, is affected profoundly by opinion. Politicians need to please everyone to gain votes. So, when a scientific study points out a serious problem such as climate change and a solution that requires a hard decision about reducing carbon emissions, the politician must consider the effect of that decision on jobs (votes), industry (financial support), and public opinion (votes).

At the same time, those who feel threatened by a scientific finding, such as polluting industries, will lobby the government with their own experts who try to dismiss or cast doubt on the original finding. Notice I said dismiss or cast doubt. Industry-hired guns seldom arrive on the scene with their own evidence from experiments they performed and published that counter the mainstream idea. Usually, they’ll say, “I don’t believe it,” which is just an opinion, or they’ll look for small uncertainties in the data and focus on that to cast doubt on the results.

All science involves uncertainties - that’s the way the system works. But it takes a scientific eye to determine whether those uncertainties are significant or not. Without that perspective, a politician hears conflicting views or biased information that clouds the issue and confuses the public.

That’s where the National Science Adviser comes in. He or she is an independent, expert witness whose job is to provide perspective and education to the people at the top where the decisions are made.

Apparently, that’s no longer going to happen in Canada.

- Bob McDonald

Why would the Harper government think they know how things work better than the president of the NRC? Oh right.....remember who we're talking about here. Conservatives always know what's best for all of us. At least having an unbiased scientific perspective should be a good dose of reality on policy decisions...that's why science advisors to the government had their role in the first place. Apparently the Harperites know more, better. This is what the Bush Administration did seven years ago....turned their back on scientific consideration in public policy -- and look at the mess they're in now. Harper's just as intent on turning Canada into a industrial-military theocracy as the Bushies were.

I just hope it doesn't translate into too much damaging, incoherent policy that we can't turn back on once implemented. Here's hoping the Science, Technology and Innovation Council is up to the task of providing counsel as much as is required now that Harper doesn't have a direct advisor to communicate with.

25 January 2008

What we're missing...

Carmakers confront the end of easy oil

Since Henry Ford introduced the moving assembly line in 1913, the world's automakers have relied on a single source of power - the gasoline-dependent internal combustion engine. Today, the twin threats of US$100-a-barrel oil and global warming are convulsing an industry addicted to cheap, abundant petroleum. Auto companies, already hurt in 2007 by the lowest US demand in a decade, are struggling to perfect cars that run on ethanol, diesel, natural gas, hydrogen and household electricity. They're under the gun from California and more than a dozen other jurisdictions to cut carbon exhaust by 2020 with vehicles that must get 19 km per litre of gasoline, about double today's average. Bill Reinert, who helped design Toyota Motor's Prius hybrid, says automakers are endangering themselves by basing sales and profits on the big, fast cars that many US customers say they want in 2008. In five years, as oil shortages and global warming intensify, car companies may be out of step with drivers' demands for fuel-efficient vehicles. Even worse, degrading stretches of the planet like Fort McMurray will only delay - not prevent - the time when the world must function in a post-peak-petroleum economy. Canada's oilsands region may eventually provide a quarter of US crude oil demand, currently at 21.3 million barrels per day, Reinert says. "At that point, the environmental impacts are totally irreversible," he says. "You turn this area into an ecological sacrifice zone." Toyota investors say the company's priority must be weathering a weak US market, not chasing breakthroughs in green technology. Last year, US sales declined 2.5% to 16.1 million vehicles industry-wide. "There's cake, and there's frosting," says Jeffrey Scharf, president of Scharf Investments, a fund firm that owns Toyota stock among its $700 million in assets. "Hybrids are more into the area of frosting."

Shareholder ambivalence about clean cars is only one hurdle to surviving the end of easy oil. Reinert, a former US Navy submariner, says he lies awake at night wondering whether he's making the right recommendations for the future of Toyota - and the planet. His suggestions run from building lightweight compacts and plug-in hybrids to redesigning smog- and people-choked cities and populating them with electric-only cars. Reinert says nobody can say for sure how the separate tailpipe emission, fuel economy and manufacturing regulations promulgated worldwide by multiple levels of government will affect the environment. There's no blueprint for the impact of increasingly scarce oil on a US economy already labouring with a mortgage crisis and a dropping dollar. Add industrialization in China and India, and the number of cars and trucks worldwide may double to 2.1 billion by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. "We don't have a past, a history or a database that allows us to explore the simultaneous impact of recessions, disruptions to the energy supply and climate change," says Reinert, who spent six years in the 1980s maintaining solar- and wind-powered telephone towers in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. "We don't have the legislative, regulatory, financial or product planning tools." Toyota is making excuses for not moving faster on fuel-efficiency, says Daniel Becker, a Washington lawyer and former head of global warming programs at Sierra Club. Since Toyota's 2003 hit with the second-generation Prius, which gets as much as 45 mpg in city driving, the company has slid backwards, he says. Toyota's technical triumph with the petroleum-saving Prius shows carmakers can be a force in mitigating the environmental damage Reinert worries about. He says that's only a start. As threats from the end of easy oil multiply and global warming accelerates, the desecration at Fort McMurray may be a harbinger of what's to come if automakers and politicians fail to act.
(Vancouver Sun 080125)

.....is competent leadership, at all levels, government and corporate, to do the right thing as opposed to chasing the almighty dollar. There needs to be a sea change in how corporations work and how they define 'profit' - a need to realize that shareholder value is not the only factor that needs to be considered when making decisions that affect the entire world. Now that corporations have the influence to change the face of the world and the future, it is necessary that they realize there are other, bigger, more pervasive consequences of decisions that need to be brought to light in the boardrooms and government offices of the world. I'm not sure how to go about this...if it comes down to revamping economic models, we may never get to this point. If we never get the leadership that is so desperately required, then gob help us all.

24 January 2008

Vroom Vroom Beep Beep

Canadians revving up car culture: StatsCan
CBC.ca - -
WINNIPEG (CBC) - More Canadians are relying on their cars as their exclusive means of transportation, owing to an increase in suburban construction far from the downtown cores, according to a Statistics Canada study released Tuesday.

The study, which examined the travel habits of Canadians in one given day, found that 74 per cent of Canadian adults said they made all their trips - as either a driver or a passenger - by car in 2005. By comparison, 70 per cent of Canadians reported they travelled everywhere by car in 1998 while 68 per cent said the same in 1992.

In the study, Statistics Canada analyst Martin Turcotte links the growing car culture to the development of new low-density communities built since 1991. Statistics Canada characterizes low-density communities as those in which two-thirds of the housing units are single, semi-detached and mobile homes.

"There are very clear links between living in a peripheral neighbourhood and depending on the automobile as the primary mode of transportation for day-to-day travel," he said in the study, which culled data from the 2005 General Social Survey.

"The farther people live from the city centre, the more time they spend behind the wheel."

Meanwhile, the percentage of people over the age of 18 travelling by foot or bicycle has decreased from 26 per cent in 1992 to 19 per cent in 2005, Turcotte said.

The federal agency also found that 77 per cent of Calgarians and 75 per cent of Edmontonians travelled exclusively by car as either a driver or a passenger, largely because of the cities' low-density neighbourhoods.

By comparison, 65 per cent of Montrealers relied solely on their cars. In smaller urban centres, 75 per cent of people living in the downtown core made all their trips by car.

The study also found that 80 per cent of people living in low-density areas made at least one trip behind the wheel of the car, compared to less than 50 per cent of people living in high-density neighbourhoods.

Differences between the sexes were also observed, with 81 per cent of men reporting they drove their vehicles at least once during the day, compared to 66 per cent of women. The study suggests the difference is likely linked to higher numbers of women being passengers in cars and reliant on public transit.

This posting generated a lot of reaction on the 'Your View' boards. Lots of opinions and I agree that taxing those that have to drive these long commutes is probably a bit unfair. There are lots of reasons people move to far-flung suburbia. My point there was that maybe when it comes to our impact on the environment, we can't have and shouldn't think we are entitled to have everything. People started talking about people proposing tolls or taxes to restrict traffic congestion as as socialists who hate freedom. Really? When we're forced into a police state due to unaffordable gas prices, failing economic system and a devastated environment, all that freedom really ended up for shit, didn't it? Taxes is wrong. High gas prices are what is need to curb consumption. This will be coming soon enough, without the influence of government!

Residents of Edmonton, Calgary rely on their cars more than other Canadians: study
The Canadian Press - By Lorrayne Anthony, The Canadian Press

Edmontonians and Calgarians feel the need hop into their cars to get around more than folks in other large, urban areas, a new study found.

Seventy-seven per cent of Edmonton residents and 75 per cent of those living in Calgary relied on their cars to make all their trips on the day they were surveyed, a Statistics Canada study reported Tuesday.

Those least likely to use their cars for every trip were people living in Montreal (65 per cent), Toronto (66 per cent) and Vancouver (69 per cent).

"We have these older urban neighbourhoods in the downtown core of the larger cities - the best example is Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver - where ... there is a mix of use. Both residential and commercial use in the same area, which makes it easier for people to walk," said Statistics Canada researcher and author of the study Martin Turcotte. "That's not the case in newer suburbs."

People in other cities fell somewhere between: Seventy-four per cent of those in Quebec City, 72 per cent of Winnipeggers and 72 per cent of those living in Ottawa-Gatineau used cars for every trip. Of those living in smaller metropolitan areas - St. John's, N.L., Sherbroke, Que., Sudbury, Ont., Regina and Abbotsford, B.C. - 75 per cent of residents travelled exclusively by car.

The study, done in 2005, examined the use of motor vehicles for everyday trips such as commuting and running errands by people aged 18 and older in census metropolitan areas.

"I got my licence the day after I turned 16," said Paula Cocciolo, a 17-year-old Calgarian, who drives a car to school every day. "I hate public transit. It's dirty and I don't feel safe. I just don't like it."

She explained that her family of four each take a car to their daily activities: Her older brother, a student at the University of Calgary, drives to class every day, her mom drives to work and her father drives to the train station, where then takes public transit to work. Cocciolo said that in the spring and summer, more people in Calgary bike or in-line skate their way through the day's activities, but when the cold sets in people reach for their car keys.

The mercury drops in Montreal as well, but there were striking differences between people who lived in central neighbourhoods in that city and those living in central neighbourhoods elsewhere. Twenty-nine per cent of Montrealers living within five kilometres of the city centre went everywhere by car, compared with 43 per cent in Toronto, 56 in Vancouver and 66 in Calgary.

The study looked at metropolitan areas, which for the report were categorized as consisting of one or more adjacent municipalities situated around a major urban core. The study revealed a clear relationship between dependence on cars and the housing density of neighbourhoods.

Over 80 per cent of residents of very low-density neighbourhoods - at least two-thirds of the dwellings are single, semi-detached and mobile homes or "traditional suburban dwellings" - made at least one trip by car during the day. In contrast, less than half of people living in very high-density neighbourhoods - where less than one-third of the dwellings are traditional suburban dwellings - did so. The association between density and the use of cars varied depending on the distance from the city centre. Residents living less than 10 kilometres from the city centre were more likely to use their car for all trips if they lived in a lower-density "suburban-type" neighbourhood than a high-density neighbourhood.

More than 10 km from the city centre, however, the impact of neighbourhood density on automobile use dwindled until it almost vanished. This reflects the complicated interaction between housing density and distance from the city centre, Turcotte said. Usually, many locations in suburban neighbourhoods are zoned only for residential construction. As a result, places such as shopping centres, recreation centres, office buildings and other places of work become difficult to reach on foot or by public transit, the study reported.

In contrast, it found the central neighbourhoods of large cities are generally characterized by a greater mix of uses and by greater density, two conditions that favour public transportation and travel on foot.

Age and sex are among the factors that have a substantial impact on the probability of driving. On the question that was asked, 81 per cent of Canadian men aged 18 and over made at least one trip behind the wheel of a car. The corresponding figure for women was just 66 per cent. This difference is probably attributable to the fact that women are more likely to take public transit and that they are often passengers when they travel by car, the study reported.

Baby boomers between ages 45 and 54 were particularly likely to have driven their cars during the day. When the density of the neighbourhood of residence and the other factors were kept constant, the odds that people aged 45 to 54 drove a car on all the trips they made in a given day was 2.5 times higher than the odds for 18-to 24-year-olds. Similarly, people with children aged 5 to 12 also had odds 1.6 times higher than people without children that age to have driven on at least one trip.

Calgary and Edmonton are newer cities thus much more car-oriented. They also have the ability to spread out and out (not like Vancouver), thus the urban planners have had no impetus to build in any other way than a way to generate more and more income from a bigger tax base that becomes more and more dependent on a form of transportation that is soon going to become prohibitively expensive, particular for the lower and lower middle classes.

22 January 2008

What the hell????

Heath Ledger found dead in New York
By Christine Kearney, Reuters
1 hour, 19 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday, possibly of a drug overdose, New York City police said.

The Australian-born Ledger, 28, who was nominated for an Oscar two years ago for "Brokeback Mountain," was found dead by a housekeeper at his apartment in the trendy SoHo neighborhood, police spokesman Paul Browne said.

"We are investigating the possibility of an overdose," Browne said.

The housekeeper found Ledger at 3:26 p.m. (2026 GMT) and tried to wake him for his appointment to have a massage, Browne said. As far as he knew, only Ledger and the housekeeper were in the apartment, Browne said.

"There were pills within the vicinity of the bed," Browne said.

Ledger was nominated as best lead actor for his role as a gay cowboy in "Brokeback Mountain," but the award went to Philip Seymour Hoffman for his role as Truman Capote.

The handsome star was reported last year to have broken up with his longtime companion, actress Michelle Williams, who played his wife in "Brokeback" and was the real-life mother of the actor's young daughter, Matilda.

Ledger's other film credits included "A Knight's Tale," "The Patriot" and "Monster's Ball." He is currently starring in "I'm Not There," one of several actors playing a role representing Bob Dylan, and was due to appear as The Joker in the next Batman film.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney and Steve Gorman; Editing by Patricia Zengerle)


Fed slashes key rate to 3.5%
Citing weakening economic outlook, Federal Reserve makes biggest cut in nearly 24 years - three quarters of a point.

By Paul R. La Monica, CNNMoney.com editor at large
January 22 2008: 12:02 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Federal Reserve slashed two key interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point Tuesday following an unscheduled meeting, citing continued concerns about a weakening economy and turmoil in the financial markets.

The Fed lowered its federal funds rate, which impacts how much consumers pay on credit card debt, home equity lines of credit and auto loans, to 3.5 percent from 4.25 percent.

The rate cut came more than a week before the Fed's next regularly scheduled meeting, a two day session that concludes on Jan. 30. Some market observers think the Fed will cut rates again at this meeting.

The Fed also lowered its discount rate, which is what it costs banks to borrow directly from the central bank, by three-quarters of a point, to 4 percent.

This was the biggest rate cut by the Fed since October 1984. And it was the first cut between regularly scheduled meetings since a half-point cut on the day the market reopened following the September 2001 terrorist attacks

"Broader financial market conditions have continued to deteriorate and credit has tightened further for some businesses and households. Moreover, incoming information indicates a deepening of the housing contraction as well as some softening in labor markets," the Fed said in a statement.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington Tuesday morning, said that he hoped the rate cut would restore some confidence in the financial markets and U.S. economy.

"I think it's very constructive and what I think it shows to this country and to the rest of the world [is] that our central bank is nimble and able to move quickly," he said.

Investors didn't appear to share this sentiment. Stocks plunged at the open Tuesday morning, following two straight days of massive selloffs abroad. But stocks bounced off their lows as the morning progressed.

"You can get into a debate as to whether we're in a recession or not, but it's a really turbulent period right now and that makes it difficult for investors to figure out what to do," said Phil Dow, director of equity strategy with RBC Dain Rauscher.

Dow said the rate cuts are a welcome sign that should eventually help to stabilize the markets but he cautioned that stocks, particularly beaten down financial services companies, could still see more pain.

Along those lines, Rich Yamarone, chief economist with Argus Research, added that the Fed may be hitting the panic button, "There is no economic reason that the Fed couldn't wait until next week to cut rates," he said. "Something bigger is looming."

Yamarone suggested that the Fed might be worried that the problems facing banks and mortgage lenders are going to get worse very soon.

More aggressive action
Before Tuesday, the Fed had cut the fed funds rate by a full point since September. Investors have been clamoring for more - and bigger - rate cuts hoping that they would kick-start a moribund economy and encourage businesses and consumers to spend.

More cuts: And the Fed is still widely expected to aggressively cut rates again at its Jan. 30 meeting. According to futures listed on the Chicago Board of Trade, investors are pricing in an 66 percent chance that the Fed cut another half-point.

"This was a big step but there is still more to go," said Keith Hembre, chief economist with First American Funds. Hembre thinks that the Fed will cut the fed funds rate to at least 2.5 percent within the next few months.

Fed lending has helped: The Fed has also loaned $70 billion to banks through a series of three auctions since December to help mitigate the effects of the credit crunch on Wall Street. That appears to be working as the Fed said Tuesday that "strains in short-term funding markets have eased somewhat."

Government "stimulus" plan: President Bush and Congress are also working on an economic stimulus package to help beleaguered consumers. The plan is widely expected to include payments to consumers, and tax breaks to spur investments by businesses.

Too little, too late? Despite these efforts, markets have plunged so far in 2008. At this point, Hembre said, it's probably too late for the Fed to prevent a recession - he said it takes several months for rate cuts to have an impact. But he added the Fed's efforts could help to make a recession brief.

"This rate cut certainly leads to a better outlook in 2009, but it may not have any effect on the first quarter or even first half of this year," Hembre said.

Or too much? Still others think the Fed needs to proceed cautiously, especially since it's fair to argue that aggressive rate cuts during 2001 may be the reason why banks are in the subprime mortgage mess they are in now.

William Poole, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, voted against the current rate cut. According to the Fed's statement, Poole did "not believe that current conditions justified policy action before the regularly scheduled meeting next week."

Fed board member Frederic Mishkin did not participate in the emergency meeting.

In addition, high prices of oil, gold and other commodities, coupled with a weak dollar, are a sign that inflation is not necessarily dead. One market strategist said he thinks the Fed made a mistake by cutting rates so drastically since it could lead to bigger inflation worries down the road.

"The Fed is sacrificing the U.S. dollar, which may well compound our problems in the future. I think the auctions are a more precise way to alleviate credit issues," said Haag Sherman, managing director of Salient Partners, an affiliate of investment firm Sanders Morris Harris.

I am convinced the Fed is withholding information that would make the panic worse if disclosed and are doing things in very small steps to avoid a complete rush to the doors. The subprime and banking mess is just starting to roll now from what I've read, with things probably bottoming out Q2/Q3 2008. 3/4 of a point is a huge cut for an emergency decision, especially when it's mentioned this could've been done next week as the meetings are scheduled. Do you think all the big pension and fund managers know something we don't know thus all the stampeding to get out of equities?????

"Something bigger is looming" could be the understatement of the year!

21 January 2008

North America's Ashtray

Tar Sands vs. Clean Water: Eating The Earth For Cars

The tar sands production center in northern Alberta in Canada is one of the clearest signs that the easy-to-get oil is on the wane. Tar sands are a low grade hydrocarbon deposit that requires enormous energy input to process and convert it into something resembling petroleum.

They are not technically petroleum, but a sludge that can be turned into oil if washed and cooked with steam (which is not an abundant natural resource in the boreal forest of northern Alberta, especially during the Canadian winter). Turning tar sands into oil requires almost as much energy input as they contain at the end of the processing - so they are barely a "source" of energy. To date, vast quantities of natural gas have been used to make the steam to process the tar sands to create something resembling petroleum, but natural gas has its own supply problems that make dedicating gas to tar production difficult to maintain. There are serious proposals to build nuclear reactors next to the tar sands, which is a sign of lunacy, to be polite about it.

Tar sands extraction causes enormous ecological destruction. The process begins with clearcutting the boreal forest, destroying habitat and soil. The trees are either milled into lumber, which releases some of the carbon into the atmosphere, or the trees are burned as slash, which releases nearly all of the carbon into the atmosphere. The carbon reserves locked up in the forest soils are also released into the atmosphere.

After the land is cleared, the "overburden" subsoils and rock are strip mined using enormous dump trucks the size of a house. Eventually, the mine reaches the layer where the tar sands congealed eons ago, and then the tar sands are mined. It is possible that the tar sands are the single largest strip mine anywhere on Earth.

The waste "tailings" left over when the mining is finished are a toxic slurry that is poisonous to life. In addition to huge amounts of energy, vast quantities of water are also needed in the tar sands industry. While Canada has more water than any other country -- it is the Saudi Arabia of water -- polluting the planet's largest supply of fresh water for a short term burst of energy production is one of the most insane behaviors imaginable. After the era of fossil fuels winds down, and the era of climate change starts up, access to clean drinking water will be unbelievably important. Tar sands production threatens to turn much of central Canada's water reserves into oily wastes unfit for consumption.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of the rise of the tar sands industry is that all of this destruction is only expected to supply a small amount of the demand for oil. In 2007 about one million barrels per day of tar sands is produced in Alberta -- about one percent of the global consumption of about 85 million barrels per day. It is predicted that with considerable investment, Canadian tar sands production might reach a couple million barrels per day within a decade. This means that an area the size of Florida will be totally deforested, strip mined, drained of clean water, and doused with toxic effluent to meet a small percentage of global oil demand for a couple of decades (at best).

A reader of this website [oilempire.us] suggests that the rush to mine tar sands resembles an indigent cigarette addict looking through ashtrays to find a couple of butts that can be relit to get a couple final (nasty tasting) drags of tobacco smoke.

14 January 2008

Makes Sense to Me...

A couple quotes I thought you'd appreciate:

"In a world that has begun to believe that financial profit is the only religion, sometimes not wanting money is more frightening to capitalist society than acts of terrorism."

Arundhati Ray

"The conspicuous spending of the "winners" during the 1990's was not reducible to greed or spiritual malaise. It was an intelligible, even biologically induced competition for rank. In a society that had sacrificed the rituals of social stability for the commodities of personal mobility, it made sense for the individual to compete through goods."

Robert Frank

The Next Quagmire

Report: Iran accuses Bush of fanning 'Iranophobia'

(CNN) -- Top Iranian officials heaped scorn on President Bush's visit to the Middle East, with one of them saying the American leader was attempting to stir up "Iranophobia," a state-run Iranian news agency reported Monday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reportedly accuses President Bush of fomenting tensions.

Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency noted the comments of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Ala'eddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

President Bush, in a speech Sunday in Abu Dhabi, labeled Iran as the "world's leading sponsor of terror" and asked allies to join the United States in confronting Iran "before it's too late."

But Mottaki -- who made his remarks to Al-Jazeera news network Sunday -- said the United States "was the main cause of extremism in the region as it has been supporting terrorist and extremist groups during the past six years."

He said Bush was trying to foment tensions in the Persian Gulf over the Strait of Hormuz incident on January 6. The U.S. military described a confrontation between U.S. ships and Iranian boats, but Mottaki called the American version of the story fabricated, the Islamic Republic News Agency said.

The report paraphrased Mottaki as saying that "fanning the fuel of Iranophobia was the objective of Bush's visit to the region."

Mottaki also noted growing bilateral cooperation between Iran and its neighbors, saying that U.S. officials can't "understand the historical, religious and cultural commonalties between Iran and other regional countries."

The Iranian news agency, paraphrasing Boroujerdi, said Bush's talk about Iran "is the saber-rattling of a defeated man."

He indicated that Bush embarked on the trip to shore up support for his unpopular policies and that his visit to the West Bank and the Persian Gulf "was just a political propaganda campaign as he knew his policies in the region were futile."

Boroujerdi said that referring to Iran as a threat won't affect the country's ties with its neighbors.

"Bush would achieve no results from his visit to the region given Iran's current cooperation with the regional states as well as Tehran's firm decision to safeguard regional security with the help of the regional countries," the lawmaker said.

Doesn't an initiative to go into Iran seem to be the last thing the Bush Administration should be doing? Crazytown!

Iraq is a mess, back home everything is being sucked down a financial black hole, but yet, suddenly, going into Iran seems like a good idea? And what the hell happened to Osama Bin Laden? Wasn't he supposed to be in Pakistan? Why is no one looking for him anymore? I guess it's not important, because he wasn't the purpose to pre-emptively strike this region of the world, anyways.

I watched the documentary "Why We Fight" on CBC Newsworld last night. It was very interesting and disturbing. Even Eisenhower warned of the collusion of the industrial-military-political complex in 1960. The entire face of nationalized militarism has completely changed in the past ten years thanks to Bush cronyism, and is now so corporatized I'm not even sure we could change things to something less deadly if we wanted to. The U.S. Government spends three-quarters of a trillion dollars on defense budgets annually and I would take a guess that most of that goes to capitalists and the Congresspeople they give 'finders fees' to. Where is this money coming from? Oh yeah, magical fiat-currencyland. It's all a big crock of manipulative, deceitful corrupt bullshit.

Best quote from the documentary? "Now that war has become extremely profitable, you can only expect more of it."

True or what?

From Skybar - this one is excellent...and disturbingly true.

11 January 2008

Holy Shit!

Gold tops $900 US an ounce as U.S. recession fears grow
Last Updated: Friday, January 11, 2008 | 5:04 PM ET
CBC News
Gold prices topped $900 US an ounce for the first time ever on Friday as investors flocked to what is increasingly seen as a safe haven for their money.

Gold futures for February delivery rose to $900.10 US an ounce in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $6.50 US from Thursday's close. The contract eventually settled at $897.20 US, up $3.60 US.

Gold broke through the $850 US level only last week. It rose by more than 30 per cent last year and has tripled in the last six years.

"Gold has reached a new high on the back of several factors all combining to create a very positive environment for the precious metal," ScotiaMocatta analyst Camilla Sutton told CBCNews.ca. "The combination of weakening U.S. economic fundamentals, inflation fears and high oil prices combined with de-hedging of some corporate gold books and strong [exchange-traded fund] demand has all helped gold reach an all-time nominal high."

Sutton said a pullback is likely but that the medium-term
outlook for gold is still positive. "The next major psychological level is certainly $1,000 US gold, and ScotiaMocatta believes we will see this in 2008," she said.

The TSX gold sub-index rose two per cent to a new 52-week high on Friday. Barrick Gold, Goldcorp, and Kinross Gold all hit new 52-week highs.

Investors are increasingly worried about a U.S. recession. Two major U.S. investment banks came out this week with predictions that the U.S. economy will either head into a recession this year or is already in one.

Last week's U.S. jobless report — which came in much weaker than analysts were expecting — also rattled markets and heightened recession fears.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's comments Thursday that the Fed remains ready to make further "substantive" interest-rate cuts if needed served to further drive down the already weak U.S.dollar and drive up gold prices.

More market watchers now predict that the Fed will slash its key lending rate by half a percentage point on Jan. 30.

On Thursday, American Express added to the caution, with news that more of its customers are behind in their credit card payments. It set aside $440 million US to account for overdue loans. Capital One said much the same thing on Wednesday.

This really worries me. The fat cats know exactly what the rest of us fear, unfortunately they have the financial wherewithal to move their vehicles into the gold safe haven. Crap - I worry that this is going to be the terrible economic downturn your grandmother warned you about that's going to wipe out everything I have. Oh well, I guess myself along with the other 99.5% of the population that can't afford to buy gold at $900 an ounce, or any of the other precious metals, for that matter. They're all priced ridiculously high right now. Man, ominous signs everywhere, getting worse by the day.....

Gabriel & Dresden - Friday, January 25th - The Warehouse

GABRIEL & DRESDEN - 3 HOUR SET LIVE @ Warehouse Nightclub 731 10th Ave S.W.
Fri January 25, 2008

Fehrenheit Promotions Presents


Dom G - Weapon Records Eden Records

Tyler C www.djtylerc.com

Special Agent www.warehousenightclub.ca

Doors 9pm - 7am 18 + ID
Drink specials dollar hi balls til 1030pm

Private Club Members and invited guests only.

Tickets starting at $15 Advance More at the door
Onsale at Ticketmaster, clubZone.com All Underground locations, Phonics, Giant 45

Ticketmaster (Calgary)


Climate Control

Oil Prices: It Gets Worse

Wednesday, Nov. 07, 2007

Oil prices hit a record high of $97 a barrel on Tuesday, but the next generation of consumers could look back on that price with envy. The dire predictions of a key report on international oil supplies released Wednesday suggest that oil prices could move irreversibly over the $100-a-barrel threshold in the not too distant future, as the global economy faces a serious energy shortage.

This gloomy assessment comes from the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based organization representing the 26 rich, gas-guzzling member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The agency is not known for alarmist warnings, and its World Energy Outlook is typically viewed by policy wonks as a solid indicator of global energy supplies. In a marked change from its traditionally bland, measured tones, the IEA's 2007 report says governments need to make urgent, bold decisions on energy policy, or risk massive environmental and energy-supply crises within two decades — crises and shortages that could spark serious global conflicts.

"I am sorry to say this, but we are headed toward really bad days," IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told TIME this week. "Lots of targets have been set but very little has been done. There is a lot of talk and no action."

The reason for the IEA's alarm is its expectation that economic development will raise global energy demands by about 50% in a generation, from today's 85 million barrels a day to about 116 million barrels a day in 2030. Nearly half that increase in demand will come from just two countries — China and India, which are electrifying hundreds of cities and putting millions of new cars on their roads, most driven by people who once walked, or rode bicycles and buses. By 2030, those two countries will be responsible for two-thirds of the world's carbon gas emissions, which are the primary human activity causing global warming.

India and China have argued against enforcing strict emission controls in their countries, on the grounds that these could hinder their economic growth and prompt a global economic slowdown. But the new IEA report says working with China and India on alternative energy sources and curbing emissions is a matter of global urgency.

The bad news is not only environmental. As the world scrambles to boost energy supplies over the next two decades, an ever-greater percentage of its supplies of oil and gas will come from a dwindling number of countries, largely arrayed around the Persian Gulf, as the massive North Sea and Gulf of Mexico deposits are finally exhausted. That will leave the industrialized countries far more dependent on the volatile Middle East in 2030 than they are today, and the likes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran will dictate terms to companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron, which increasingly operate as contractors to state-run oil companies in many producer nations.

"Most of the oil companies are going to be in an identity crisis, and need to redefine their business strategies," Birol says. The soul-searching may have already begun, as oil executives begin sounding the alarm about the supply crunch that lies ahead. Last week, Christophe de Margerie, CEO of the French oil giant Total, told the Financial Times that even the target of 100 million barrels a day is an optimistic one for an industry that currently produces 85 million — far short of the 116 million barrels a day the IEA projects will be needed by 2030 to fuel the global economy.

And in a sharp departure from the usually reassuring comments offered by Big Oil executives, De Margerie said companies and governments now realize that they have overestimated the amount of oil that could be extracted from places difficult to reach and costly to explore. "It is not my view, it is the industry view," he said. In other words, the message is that the current sky-high oil prices may not be a temporary burden on the world economy.

Forecasting prices, however, has become an increasingly inexact science for analysts, as prices in recent months have galloped ahead of their worst predictions. Says Oswald Clint, a London-based analyst for Sanford Bernstein: "A year ago, our predictions for November 2007 were about $50 to $62 dollars a barrel" — at least $35 short of Tuesday's price. The oil-research firm predicts that expanded production will bring oil prices back to $70 a barrel by 2010. But to Birol, that sounds optimistic.

"If you want to lower prices you have to slow down oil demand growth in China and India, use cars more efficiently, use biofuels, and also convince producing countries to pump more oil," says Birol. But he is uncertain any of that will happen. "I don't see the political will." Then again, nothing fuels political will like a soaring price at the gas pump.

10 January 2008

You Don't Want My Perfectly Good Junk? Fine.

Sexually active gay men no longer allowed to donate organs
Last Updated: Monday, January 7, 2008 | 10:08 PM ET
CBC News
A number of organ donation groups said Monday that they are unaware of new Health Canada regulations that mean sexually active gay men, injection drug users and other groups considered high risk will no longer be accepted as organ donors.

The new rules, which came into effect in December, are similar to the regulations for determining who can donate blood. Those rules exclude groups that are at high risk of transmitting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C and B.

Dr. Gary Levy, who heads Canada's largest organ transplant program at Toronto's University Health Network, said he was unaware of the new policy on organ donations. Officials at several transplant programs in the country said because they were unaware of the new regulations, they would continue to consider all potential donor organs.

"We have not been informed, first of all, that Health Canada is considering this," said Dr. Gary Levy, who heads Canada's largest organ transplant program at Toronto's University Health Network. "Obviously if Health Canada wishes to discuss that, we would hope they would engage all stakeholders."

Dr. Peter Nickerson, director of Transplant Manitoba, which procures organs in that province, said transplant programs must now by law interview family members of the donor as part of the screening process.

"We'll be asking about things like travel, history of infectious disease, whether they've [donors] been in jail — that puts you at increased risk," Nickerson said. "Have they been an IV drug abuser in the past? Have they had tattoos? There's a whole list of questions we go through."

They are also asked about the donor's sexual orientation. The donor will be excluded if the donor is a man who had sex with another man in the previous five years.

Health Canada had contracted the Canadian Standards Association in 2003 to come up with standardized guidelines to ensure the safety of the organ donation system.

Transplant programs have been screening potential donors, but in some cases use organs from people in high-risk groups if they've tested negative for diseases. The new legislation means that practice must stop.

A spokeswoman for Health Canada confirmed the new regulations in an e-mail, but the department didn't make anyone available to explain the changes.

Focus should be on behaviour: gay activist
Levy said organ donors shouldn't be held to the same high standards as blood donors because the stakes for the organ recipient are higher.

"Organ donation and the opportunity to save a life at a specific time — we have no substitute therapies," Levy said.

Levy estimates that out of 100 organ donors at his Toronto hospital every year, about seven will be rejected because of the new regulations. About 4,000 Canadians are waiting for an organ transplant.

Some in the gay community complained that the new policy is wrong-headed and that Health Canada should focus on risky sexual behaviours, not sexual orientation.

"I think it's more of an issue of anal sex, anal intercourse, than it is to do with whether someone is gay or straight," said Dean Robinson, a gay activist.

Oh boy - as if there wasn't enough of an Conservative initiative to alienate gays. It appears some people are prepared to let people die to further a ridiculous cause. And to those of you who talk about statistical risks, blah, blah, blah -- I'd just like to say that Canadian Blood Services screens ALL blood that comes through it's doors, and the Organ Donor process is not akin to drawing lottery numbers, okay? There is a concerted effort to marginalize gays in subversive ways as much as these initiatives were mandated in the 1950s.

...and my blood and organs AREN'T as good or better than most peoples in this country? Give me a break. Oh well, your loss. Fuck you.

There's lots of good dialog on this here and here.

From Montreal Simon:

First they don't want my perfectly healthy gay blood.

Now they don't want my perfectly healthy gay organs.

Not that I was in any hurry to donate my heart, my eyes and my kidneys. But it does seem a bit unfair.

Why should others be judged by their behaviour....while we're judged by who we are?

Even if we're monogamous. Or practice safe sex. Or are as healthy as anybody else...or healthier.

Even if all blood donations are TESTED.

And what about all those people waiting desperately for scarce organs? Don't they count?

In a society still poisoned by homophobia it's hard to tell where science and public safety end... and ignorance and prejudice begin.

But this seems like just another attempt by Stephen Harper's Con government to please the religious wingnuts.... who believe that ALL gay people are diseased.

And are prepared to do ANYTHING....even make sick Canadians suffer and maybe even die....to advance their crazy cause.

But hey...I'm not about to let these freaks get me down. If they hate me so much they won't even allow me to save another human's life ....they are not diminishing me... they are diminishing themselves. It's THEIR problem not mine.

Why should I beg for other people's lives? When I don't beg for ANYTHING. Why should I even take these quacks seriously? When they tell me my body is toxic...but I KNOW it's not.

And all I'll say is that SOMEBODY is REALLY going to pay for this!!!!!

Yup. You see I'm such a good citizen I not only wanted to donate my dreamy eyes, my brave heart, and my sturdy kidneys.

I was also prepared to make the ULTIMATE sacrifice. And donate my humungous cock to some guy... gay OR straight.... who was lucky enough to win the BIG draw.

But now I CAN'T.


Isn't senseless discrimination absurd? I'm even more alienated.... but RELIEVED.

The old wingnuts could end up dying from the gay blood or gay organs they DIDN'T receive.

And the poor boys will be soooooo DISAPPOINTED...

04 January 2008

02 January 2008

Pastafarians, Rejoice!

Here is a montage of various FSM decorations that adorned people's Christmas trees, doors, and cookie sheets this year!


What a great way to start 2008!

Oil hits $100 US, gold also hits record
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 | 1:25 PM ET
CBC News

Oil hit $100 US a barrel for the first time and gold prices broke a 28-year-old record on Wednesday as the bull run in commodities got new wind.

Data from the New York Mercantile Exchange indicated the price of the February contract for light, sweet crude oil hit $100 US shortly after noon ET. The price slipped to $99.32 US by 12:18 p.m. ET, up $3.35 US.

That broke the record of $99.29 US a barrel that was set last November.

Oil prices jumped after OPEC warned it might not be able to meet its share of global oil demand as early as 2024.

Fresh violence in Nigeria — a major global oil producer — was also seen as a factor in driving up prices.

On Tuesday, armed militants attacked two police stations and a hotel in the main oil industry centre of Port Harcourt. Thirteen people, including four police officers and six attackers, were reported killed in the raids.

Attacks by the militants have reduced Nigeria's oil exports by about 20 per cent over the past two years, putting upward pressure on global prices.

On Thursday, the U.S. government releases its weekly report on oil supply data. Analysts are looking for supplies to show a seventh consecutive weekly decline.

Oil prices rose almost 60 per cent in 2007 as inventories shrank amid continuing strong demand. The big rise in oil is often cited as one of the main reasons for the rise in the Canadian dollar. The loonie — which gained almost 20 per cent against the U.S. dollar last year — was up .12 cents at $1.01 US in early afternoon trading.

Gold breaks 28-year-old record
The futures contract price for gold for February delivery hit $861.60 US per ounce in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $23.60 US from the previous close.

The spot gold price hit $858 US an ounce in morning trading. That tops the previous intraday record high of $850 US an ounce set on Jan. 21, 1980.

Once inflation is taken into account, of course, gold is nowhere near record levels. For gold prices to hit an inflation-adjusted record high, bullion would need to be worth about $2,200 US an ounce today, depending on which inflation measure is used.

Stronger oil prices, a weak U.S. dollar and global political tensions were all cited by analysts as reasons behind gold's latest rise.

Gold prices rose 30 per cent in 2007 and are up more than 50 per cent in the last two years.

Platinum also hit an all-time high.

Yeesh. Things are already looking dire. OPEC is already scaling back their reserve estimates by another decade. Last year they were all, "we'll be able to provide swing production for decades", along with the IEA/CERA estimates that Peak Oil was 30 or 40 years away. Does it not seem strange that speculation and political issues are causing swings in futures pricing of 5% on a regular basis if there's continually increasing supplies in the pipe? Still, no one seems to want to go any deeper into the assertions that production is flat, while demand continues to increase, particularly in those nations that used to be dependable exporters (eg. Saudi Arabia, Norway, Russia) but now feel the need to hold onto more and more of their production for insatiable domestic consumption (hey, the Russians are buying cars now at record numbers too).

This will affect the U.S. most of all. With the subprime mortgage fiasco only to get worse this year, potential chocks in the importing chain will raise the cost of energy and the inflation even more. It all could not have some at a worse time. The U.S. imports upwards of 70% of its oil and gas, and 70% of its economy depends on consumer spending. How scary a tenuous situation is that?

It seems everyone understands that we may have to very soon start living with less or spending a lot more for the same things. I think 2008 is going to be the year of a start to global economic hurt, the year when everything becomes obvious to the most ignorant, when the politicians, economists and bankers will no longer be able to say, "everything's good - don't worry, be happy and spend, spend, SPEND!

All they were interested in is trying to keep the sinking ship afloat until bonus time at Christmas so all the powerful shills make their big money. Certain governments will try to navigate the system through all of this year's shit by throwing liquidity at the banks, etc. until the mortgage and credit crises work through the system, but I'm sure they're crapping bricks too. They can't be too confident that they're going to be able to drive through the oncoming storm either. Batten the hatches! It's gonna be a wild ride!