The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America. When my late mother's next-door neighbors and I saw one on May 21st, I couldn't believe how big the woodpecker was. "That is one big-a@#%d woodpecker! It's almost as big as a duck," was my observation at the time. The Pileated Woodpecker prefers to drill dead trees, but this particular one has been allegedly drilling live ones in the neighborhood, prompting some in Parker, Pennsylvania to threaten the bird's life. We watched the woodpecker drum on what was left of the stump of the maple tree I had cut down in October 2008, it's head bobbing up and down. Pileated woodpeckers use the red top knot of feathers on their heads as whisk brooms to move sawdust away from the holes they drill. It was probably a Pileated woodpecker that drilled out a lodgement in a telephone pole near the client I was visiting early in May. There is a nest of blackbirds in the telephone pole this year, the parents flying in relays to feed the young inside. This species of woodpecker inspired cartoonist Walter Lantz to create the Woody the Woodpecker cartoon character. Woodpeckers can be weird, such as drumming on steel barrels, but they are never dull. The eyes of a Pileated Woodpecker always look like the bird is surprised about something.
Did you ever have a "Eureka!" moment? You know what I mean--one of those times when the solution to some nagging problem suddenly pops into your head? Well, I had one on the way home from cleaning up and decorating the gravesites in one of our family's plots in the Bradys Bend Cemetery just this afternoon. I decided to stop off and visit the McCalls, my mother's next-door neighbors who helped me during those two years I lived part time there taking care of the place and managing my mother's finances. We talked about a few things, and showed me around the old place, but, since the husband is involved in Parker City government, the problems of the country came up. Who was going to run for President in 2012 was one of the questions. Since it isn't going to be Donald Trump or former governor of Arkansas Huckabee, who is it going to be? I didn't think Sarah Palin would run because she is making too much money NOT running, which is probably true for Huckabee and Trump. Basically, I didn't care since all the politicians dissatisfy me anyway.
After an hour or so, I departed my old friends, but after driving a few miles I thought about what I said about Palin and Huckabee, that they would not run for President because they were making too much money not running. That was it! That was the answer! Right now, we use public money to help these morons run for office. This is backwards thinking. What we need is a public fund to pay these morons to NOT run for political office! Think of the money we would save! Think of the problems that could be instantly solved if these screwballs weren't trying to "solve" them. Just pay them to stay out of politics! It probably wouldn't cost us any more than public financing of campaigns. I should patent this idea. Maybe someone will send my idea to Oslo, Norway, and I'll get a Nobel Peace Prize, or something.
They weren't murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.
Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn't leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.
This is one great mystery series that verifies one of the critics' comment that the viewer will actually be angry when each episode is over. There is a lot of truth to that. The twists in the story to date are enough to whet the appetite of any mystery fan. Based on a Danish series, the investigation is based in Seattle and centers on Detective Sarah Linden, who can't seem to get off the case to move to the San Francisco area and get married. Her ostensible replacement, Detective Holder, has some baggage of his own. The victim's family's problems with mourning are also shown, giving an air of realism. Once you start watching this one, you won't be able to stop.
It has been a terrible spring around here for seeing and hearing birds. With all the rain, it is no accident that the one bird entry here this spring was the Great Blue Heron, a bird which loves water and has a tolerance for being wet. The other birds just struggled to stay dry, with ornery looking robins perched in trees with their feathers all puffed out, hating to be wet all the time. This morning, without a cloud in the sky, the whole wooded area above the Susquehanna River was alive with birds and they were all singing at once. For the first time in years, I saw a bluebird perched on a telephone wire. Three more of the shy bluebirds showed up to join the first one.
Purple martins like to hunt for bugs while flying. Members of the swallow family, in fact they are North America's biggest swallows, they dart around a lot while flying as the martins are trying to catch bugs in flight. At first, their forked tails made me identify them as regular swallows, but one came so close to my head that I saw it's purple color and took note of how it darted away from me at the last second the way bats do when they are catching prey in flight. The martin avoided me with its eyesight, while the bat uses sonar signals to "see" the outline of objects it might hit, which makes the bat's flying a bit more fluttery and jerky than the martin. The purple martin can fly with it's tail feathers forming a "V," as swallows typically do, or they can present their tail feathers as an open fan. It probably depends on the flight characteristics the bird needs at a point in time. As for calls, the martin emits chirps of varied length and pitch. To hear it, you should visit the Cornell University Ornithology Department's Web site.
The bald eagle was a real treat. I've seen them before, near my old hometown of Parker, fishing the Allegheny River. This eagle was bound for the Susquehanna and buzzed a few yards in front of the windshield of my car. It moved so fast through the air there was no danger of hitting the big raptor.
Above are images of Osama bin Laden provided down through the years by the government and the mainstream media. From one Osama report to another, neither the media nor the government seems to remember what Osama looked like in the previous photos that were given to the media. Does anyone know for sure what photos are of Osama and which ones are fakes? Oh, I don't know why I'm asking this when the American people spent the past few years hardly giving Osama a second thought. American Idol was more important, and then all of a sudden the government claimed they finally got Osama although I don't know how they can be sure with the anomalies in the images that have been cropping up since this whole thing started. One thing is for sure, the American people don't care. If the media and the government both say the government shot Osama, that's good enough for them despite the reality of the "old Osama," the "skinny Osama," and the "fat Osama," photos shown above, all of which flowed from government to media with no one asking a question. Some mainstream newspapers reproduced Photoshopped fakes of a bin Laden that had been shot. They were pretty gruesome, so I won't show them. Doesn't anyone in mainstream media check anything anymore? If it is that easy to fool governments and media outlets just by giving them a photo of a guy with a heavy beard, maybe I'll give these a try:
Ed Rendell now has a full-time job with Ballard, Spahr, a Philadelphia law firm, among some other employment offers he cashed in. Another opportunity for Rendell was the one from NBC as a part-time political analyst. The law job is getting to the former governor. He mentioned to one reporter recently that having to be at work on a fixed schedule, and being where other people expect him to be, is going to be tough. Well, I have one thing to say in sympathy to Rendell:
What Rendell is complaining about is trying to make a living in the real world, where, yes, people expect you to function on a fixed schedule and to be in places where you are expected to be. Sometimes reality can be like a bucket of ice water in the face, but if being on a time table is all Eddie has to complain about that tells me that he is not experiencing what every new white collar employee should expect for his "initiation." What Rendell needs to really know he is in the real world is (the envelope please):
Yes, Rendell is never going to know the joys of the American white collar workplace until he has his very own workplace bully to harass, humiliate, and backstab him on a daily basis. A couple of days of being bullied at work, and Rendell will know what it is like to work in the real world, especially after his boss tells him that workplace bullying isn't illegal, so Rendell will just have to keep playing "find the soap" white collar style. If Rendell can't find any workplace bullies at the law firm, I think I know where he can find at least one.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Big banks like Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc should be reclassified as government-sponsored entities and have their activities restricted, a senior Fed official said on Tuesday. The 2008 bank bailouts at the height of the financial crisis and other implicit guarantees effectively make the largest U.S. banks government-guaranteed enterprises, like mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig. "
"That’s what they are,” Hoenig said at the National Association of Attorneys General 2011 conference. He said these lenders should be restricted to commercial banking activities, advocating a policy that existed for decades barring banks from engaging in investment banking activities. (End of article excerpt)
Note: I think Mr. Hoenig forgot that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac swirled down the financial toilet bowl in the wake of the real estate bubble that popped in 2008. Hoenig's plan sounds like perpetual corporate welfare for the elephantine banks that caused the whole mess in the first place.
While waiting in the parking lot of Saint Michael's church in Greenville, Pennsylvania to prepare for Good Friday services, a familiar large bird flew low over the parking lot. It was one of my old fishing partners, a Great Blue Heron. With their long necks in a U-shape like the "gooseneck" piping on a kitchen sink, the heron looks like those drawings of Pterodactyls flying back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. This bird had to fan its long wings during this flight, which ended somewhere behind the church cemetery across North High Street. Back in 1986, I was flycasting in Chester County's French Creek with a heron just a few yards away, standing very still and peering into the water to find a fish or softshell crab to seize in its long bill. The big bird ignored my presence, maybe because it knew it was doing the same thing I was, trying to catch a fish in a different spot in the creek. This bird has extended its range in the wetlands of Pennsylvania. Even after all of these sightings of Great Blue Herons in flight, I still have to remind myself that Pterodactlys are extinct and it must be another heron. It's interesting to watch them fish, especially whenever the heron decides to change its position. With deliberation, the bird takes slow-motion steps, one foot at a time, being careful to not reveal its presence to the fish.
America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we’re broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year’s retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.
Most Americans know about that budget. What they don’t know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the “official” budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.
Now, following an act of Congress that has forced the Fed to open its books from the bailout era, this unofficial budget is for the first time becoming at least partially a matter of public record. Staffers in the Senate and the House, whose queries about Fed spending have been rebuffed for nearly a century, are now poring over 21,000 transactions and discovering a host of outrages and lunacies in the “other” budget. It is as though someone sat down and made a list of every individual on earth who actually did not need emergency financial assistance from the United States government, and then handed them the keys to the public treasure. The Fed sent billions in bailout aid to banks in places like Mexico, Bahrain and Bavaria, billions more to a spate of Japanese car companies, more than $2 trillion in loans each to Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, and billions more to a string of lesser millionaires and billionaires with Cayman Islands addresses. “Our jaws are literally dropping as we’re reading this,” says Warren Gunnels, an aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “Every one of these transactions is outrageous.”
By clicking on the link below, a slideshow can be downloaded that shows the succession of events that led to the damage sustained by the reactors at Fukushima in Japan. Along with the slide show is another video report from Arne Gunderson of Faire Winds that describes why fission is still taking place in what appears to be the reactor in Fukushima Unit 1.
This just in from Webster Tarpley's Web site, which I found in a search for "Osama Bin Laden Chauffeur, Libya" after reading a brief report that Osama's chauffeur, who spent six years at Gitmo for his Al Qaeda terrorism, is now running around revolting against Gadaffi in Libya with some of his other Al Qaeda pals. I still can't figure out why we would be helping Al Qaeda fighters even if Gadaffi isn't a "good guy."
According to the London Daily Telegraph of March 26, Darna (also transliterated as Derna or Darnah), a key city in the rebel heartland between Benghazi in Tobruk, is commanded by al-Hasidi, an al Qaeda terrorist controller who trained and hobnobbed with Osama bin Laden at the Khost terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Hasidi boasts of having sent 25 fighters to fight US and NATO forces in Afghanistan; one wonders how many they managed to kill. Hasidi was a US prisoner of war after being captured by the Pakistanis, but tells the Wall Street Journal of April 2 that he now hates the US only “less than 50%” hinting that Americans can redeem themselves by appeasing Al Qaeda with arms, money, political power, and diplomatic support. At his side in the city leadership is Sufian bin Kumu, Osama bin Laden’s chauffeur, another terrorist who was an inmate at Guantánamo Bay for six years. Also among the Darna city fathers is al-Barrani, a devoted member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which merged with Al Qaeda in 2007.
I used to poke fun at all the reports about the "aides" to Osama bin Laden our people kept capturing and killing during the Iraq invasion. I would joke about when we could expect to hear about Osama's "personal trainer" getting busted, or his hair stylist getting zapped by a drone, or maybe his butler getting snatched by a Delta team. After all, we kept hearing about how he lived in a cave somewhere, but the Bush Administration and the media made it sound like the guy had a posse bigger than Charlie Sheen's. Now that I have learned Osama actually had a chauffeur, I guess it is time to take it all back!
What follows are the opening paragraphs of an article that appeared in the Bloomberg site last year. After years of draconian enforcement of the Byzantine Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act on financial institutions across America, an aged money laundering scheme was finally exposed involving some of the "too big to fail" banks that brought us the disasterous real estate bubble, the biggest white collar swindle in the history of the universe. At least some of them got caught for something. In this case, they helped finance the Mexican Drug Cartel's air force. Some of you turned down for small business loans or harrassed for $5.00 balances on your credit cards were unlucky enough to choose the wrong kind of business to start. Apparently, running drugs and machine guns between the US and Mexico has a "lower risk profile" in the minds of our financial professionals than someone who wants to start a tanning salon or a vending machine business.
Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles east of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak. So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet.
They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else.
The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.
This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
In an age when true heroes and leaders are in short supply, it hurts even worse to lose one. Since Major Winters' death took place with little media notice, I want as many to know as possible that we lost someone special. The central figure behind the Stephen Ambrose book and HBO mini-series Band of Brothers passed away as quietly as he performed his deeds of courage and honor in World War II on January 2nd of this year, just a few weeks short of his ninety-third birthday. During his service for the people of the United States, Major Winters rose to command Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division after "Easy" Company lost their first commander during the pre-dawn airborne assault behind German lines in Normandy, France. Winters landed in France after having lost most of his equipment in the jump, gathered as many of his lost men as possible, leading them to a rally point. They went into action against a German artillery emplacement at Brecourt Manor, an action still studied at West Point as a textbook example of a light infantry assault against a fixed position. With only .30 caliber machine guns as their heaviest weapons, the paratroopers under Winters' command assaulted the trenches and gun positions with mostly small arms and grenades, silencing all the artillery pieces. Winters then led E Company as a lead unit in the capture of Carentan, a key crossroads town necessary for the amphibious forces to secure the Normandy beachhead in that sector. The 101st Airborne was planned to be in the field for only the first few days of the D-Day assault, but were still fighting as infantry over 30 days later before finally being relieved.
In September, 1944, the 101st Airborne dropped around Eindhoven, Holland as part of the ill-conceived attempt to gain a bridge over the Rhine River at Arnhem, Holland in Operation Market-Garden. Easy Company was one of the lead units in the liberation of Eindhoven, but later suffered a set back when the German Waffen SS armored units, which were much stronger in Holland than the Allies thought, counterattacked Easy Company at Nuenen. Winters and his men remained fighting in Holland, between the Rhine and the Waal River, until November 1944. Winters, then a Captain, was promoted to command the battalion that included his beloved Easy Company. As battallion commander, Winters was part of the 101st Airborne's defense of the Belgian crossroads town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944. As the Allied forces drove into Germany, Easy Company men stumbled onto a Nazi concentration camp built to hold Jews until they could be murdered. The men of Easy Company concluded their last action by seizing Hitler's Alpine stronghold, the "Eagle's Nest," in southern Bavaria. Along the way, Major Richard Winters was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, a Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm among others.
Once, the manager of one of my "clients" discussed reading a lot of military history books and couldn't make up his mind just how some military commanders are better than others. I immediately thought of Winters, as officers at his level are more crucial than generals in winning wars. It was my conclusion that the skills of men like Richard Winters are natural to them, especially how Winters could look at a piece of ground and instinctively know how to use it to advantage in either defense or assault, but this isn't the most important trait in leaders like Richard Winters. They might be able commanders, and honorable warriors, but war is not their preferred vocation in almost every instance. After Brecourt Manor, and seeing some of his men get killed and wounded, all Winters could do was pray silently that if he survived the war he could find a quiet piece of land in the country and live the rest of his days in peace. Richard Winters spent his last years on his farm outside Hershey, Pennsylvania.
When you read that the radiation levels are TEN MILLION TIMES above normal in the containment area, the Japanese water purification plants were ordered to stop taking in rainwater as the atmosphere is full of radioactive particles, and the rain water in Massachusetts had measureable levels of radioactivity, even if those levels were described as NOT being a threat, and the radiation made it at least as far as Iceland, it is time to break out the boron, all the concrete the world's nations can contibute, along with tons of sand, and bury every one of those things. Now, they are talking about months of waiting to get the reactors under control. Those reactors are already out of control, with one of them, probably Reactor Number 3 that had the huge explosion two weeks ago, throwing neutron beams. The thing is melting down, and there might be a chain reaction. The nuclear power industry is going to have to eat this one. They can't hang on anymore trying to salvage the notion that their form of power generation is safe. The plant should not have been built where it was, with earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis. Trying desperately to hang on while slowly dribbling out the truth that the reactors are already out of control.
The nuclear power industry is going all in when it is time to fold. They have no business betting everyone's health and safety when we have nothing in the game.
Yes, these recent weeks are like someone opened Pandora's box, or flipped a switch to loose all bedlam on the planet. The Italian newspaper, Il Sole 24Ore, interviewed veteran anti-Western Muslim fighter, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, who informed the paper that he had previously recruited Muslim fundamentalist fighters to help kill our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and boasted that some of those fighters are now serving in the effort to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi, the flaky dictator of Libya. al-Hasidi bragged that "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader (United States)."
al-Hasidi was busted in Pakistan in 2002 and turned over to US troops for fighting against them in Afghanistan. He was transported to Libya because Colonel Gaddafi was actually supporting the United States in its war on Al Qaeda terrorism. Gaddafi was so supportive of the War on Terror that Senator John McCain actually advocated providing military aid to the Gaddafi, who was once ridiculed by President Reagan as "a Middle Eastern flake." McCain expressed this opinion prior to all the recent problems in Libya. The United States even removed Libya from the list of terrorist supporting nations after 2001, which is why the custody of al-Hasidi was entrusted to them. al-Hasidi was released in 2008. The reason for his release was not reported.
Gaddafi has a long history of having a reason to despise Al Qaeda since British Intelligence hired a Libyan cell of Al Qaeda to try to assassinate Gaddafi in 1996. Gaddafi retaliated by getting Interpol to issue an international warrant for the arrest of Al Qaeda maximum leader, Osama bin Laden. Unnamed Western intelligence agencies had the warrant quashed, and bin Laden went on to conduct his extensive bombing and terrorist campaign that included, lest we forget:
The London Telegraph reported during the week of March 14, 2011, in an article by Richard Spencer: "An al-Qaeda leader of Libyan origin, Abu Yahya al-Libi, released a statement backing the insurrection (against Gaddafi) a week ago, while Yusuf Qaradawi, the Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood theologian issued a fatwa authorizing Col Gaddafi's military entourage to assassinate him." The London Telegraph also described the situation as: "The West and al-Qaeda on the same side." It is interesting to note that Qatar has been used as a base of operations for Central Command (CentCom) the US military unit that ran the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
I spent this week in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, the hometown of the late novelist, John O'Hara, and once the center of coal production in eastern Pennsylvania. After spending the work week in this city, I made my way up to Interstate 81 via Pennsylvania Routes 61 and 42, which come close to the town with the perpetual coal fire in the former underground mine, Centralia, and eventually takes you to Interstate 80 at Buckhorn. I lasted until a little after noon, and found myself hungry, so I exited at Snow Shoe to get some fish and chips at a restaurant near the I-80 interchange. After eating, I walked out into the sunshine to see the surrounding trees sparkling from a thin coating of ice. It was like someone had draped diamonds over the bare trees. It was a real show. Back on the Interstate, the trees flanking the highway shimmered as if silver had been painted or sprayed on them. After all of the "weather" of the past few months, the cold snap of the past five days was most unwelcome, but seeing winter show itself off like this after the offical start of spring this past Monday made me forget the dirty piles of snow that made getting out of my carport an adventure. Winter has its own blue and white beauty.
Interesting article at the WSJ this morning re Credit Unions. It would appear that a law suit is about to get filed against the big banks (again). Five of the nation’s biggest credit unions had their balance sheets polluted with crap CDOs. Now they want their money back. From the article:
The National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA, has threatened to sue several investment banks unless they refund over $50 billion of mortgage-backed securities sold to the five institutions, called wholesale credit unions. The names involved? The NCUA is accusing Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill LynchCitigroup Inc unit, . and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. of misrepresenting the risks of the bonds to wholesale credit unions.
Surprised? I’m not. Goldman Sachs has commented on the pending litigation:
Goldman said the NCUA “has stated that it intends to pursue…on behalf of certain credit unions for which it acts as conservator” claims that offering documents for certain securities Goldman sold “contained untrue statements of material facts and material omissions .”
Untrue statements of material facts?? Material omissions?? I’m shocked!
Watch this case as it evolves. This may set an interesting precedent. It could very well backfire on the US Treasury Department. Way back in the spring of 2008 our good friend Hank Paulson (and former T.Sec.) forced Fannie Mae to issue a $1 billion + Preferred Stock offering. Fannie of course went bust less than six months later. The offering document on this deal was littered with material omissions and misstatements of facts. But this deal was pushed out to the public by the Treasury Secretary. All the big banks (led by Merrill) sold this swill to the public.
If the NCUA wins its fight with the banks, the lawsuit against Treasury re the garbage Fannie pref is assured.
Nothing can really be said to lessen the horror of what happened to the people of the Fukushima Prefecture on the main island of Honshu in Japan. The tremendous earthquake and horrible tsunami that followed claimed thousands of lives. Now, the whole world is threatened by a nuclear disaster as several nuclear power plant reactors are burning and exploding. Radiation has been emitted into the atmosphere and will eventually travel over the United States. Alleged panic buying of potassium iodide and potassium iodate has swept the product off the shelves of health food stores and pharmacies. I say allegedly because, after researching several on-line stores' forum services, it appears that a third party intervened sometime between March 11th and March 15th, canceling several orders over that weekend that had earlier been confirmed in documentation, some with shipping dates. To sweep all of a little-purchased commodity off shelves that fast I have to suspect an "institutional buyer," which will go unnamed, sucked up all of it including demanding the cancellations of previously confirmed sales. In most areas, by the time either the iodide or iodate becomes available, it won't matter either way. Hopefully, if people actually need the potassium iodide it will be available without the people having to pay some "scalper" on Ebay to get it.
The truth is, these are spent fuel rods spewing the radiation. Only radioactive iodine can be blocked from entering the thyroid gland with potassium iodide or potassium iodate. Again, the radioactive iodine that might enter someone's body can be blocked from entering the individual's thyroid gland by taking 130MG of one of these substances. The thyroid gets filled up with iodine and can't take in the radioactive iodine. The person will not get thyroid cancer, but the radioactive iodine is still inside the person's body. It isn't going to disappear. Potassium iodide/iodate does nothing for all the other forms of radiation such as plutonium, uranium, strontium, cesium, and tritium. Our best hope is that most of the fallout will dissipate over the distance from the source. It reduces at a rate of about the cube of the distance from the source.
All of this is a symptom of how we've let technology get away from us. As George Washington once said, when likening another institution that has been running away from us, the government, to that first manifestation of energy to serve us, fire, "Like fire, government is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." Well, the same can be said about technology that develops faster than the means to control it, and becomes more dangerous while, for some reason, we become less prudent and less individually responsible to each other.
Another long distance trip led to the playing of CDs to take the edge off the monotony of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Manhattan Transfer CD, Swing, first produced in 1997, highlights some 1930s and 1940s swing and "jump" songs, along with some ballads. The members of Manhattan Transfer are always in excellent voice and produce great harmonies. Their last big FM radio hit, The Boy From New York City (1981) is probably the one most people remember the most, while I gravitate more toward their part of the soundtrack of A League of Their Own, which was the old jump song, Choo, Choo, Ch' Boogie, which happens to be the last track on Swing. The first track is an old Benny Goodman hit, King Porter Stomp (written by the great Fred "Jelly Roll" Morton), which is titled Stomp of King Porter on the CD.
One of the few journalists really digging into the biggest financial swindle in the history of the known universe, Matt Taibbi, is back after "The Bubble Boys" again in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. I think it was in the musical The Music Man where con man Robert Preston sings, Never Steal Anything Small. That is probably the secret to the success of "The Bubble Boys" avoiding prosecution. Following the advice of Machiavelli in The Prince and The Commentaries, the swindlers went for the whole enchilada right away, instead of nibbling away like some small time check kiter. People can understand small schemes like kiting and lapping accounts (taking from one account to pay another), but what "The Bubble Boys" did was so staggeringly huge that everyone experiences nothing but "shock and awe." Rather than rip off just their own banks, these boys decided to loot the entire economy. Machiavelli always warned aspiring tyrants to do outrageous things to the people as quickly as possible. This makes them too stunned to react, but little things, like canceling the Super Bowl, would tick them off. So, "The Bubble Boys" of Wall Street turned into pirates pulling alongside your ship and swinging over to grab everything that isn't nailed down. Since Matt Taibbi tells it all so much better, we'll start the article here and link to the rest on Rolling Stone's Web site.
Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.
"Everything's (expletive deleted) up, and nobody goes to jail," he said. "That's your whole story right there. Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that."
I put down my notebook. "Just that?"
"That's right," he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. "Everything's (expletive deleted) up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there."
Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth - and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.
The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom - an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities - has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What's more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions - from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even "one dollar" just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick "The Gorilla" Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.