It hadn't occurred to me that underwater bubbles could do this sort of thing, but I have to admit, it made me smile.
53 year-old Dieter Zorn died from a heart attack on Tuesday evening, just minutes after being bitten by an Aspic viper, during his ‘Reptile Show’ in Faugères, southern France.
He had been touring villages in the Hérault area of France, teaching the public to overcome their fear of snakes and other reptiles.
Zorn was bitten several times by the viper, but was able to put the creature back into a secure container, to prevent it from attacking members of the audience, which included children, according to regional daily Midi Libre.
Emergency services arrived on the scene and administered a blood-thinner to Zorn, but were unable to save him after he went into cardiac arrest.
His colleague Uschi Kallus, who ran the 'Reptile Show' along with Zorn, told The Local he had suffered an "extremely rare allergic reaction" to the bite, and emphasized that Zorn would not have wanted the viper to be blamed for his death.
"His ambition and his objective in life was to help people to conquer their fears about snakes and reptiles," she added, noting that the incident was "exceptionally uncommon."
(General Keith) Alexander runs the nation’s cyberwar efforts, an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe. In his telling, the threat is so mind-bogglingly huge that the nation has little option but to eventually put the entire civilian Internet under his protection, requiring tweets and emails to pass through his filters, and putting the kill switch under the government’s forefinger. “What we see is an increasing level of activity on the networks,” he said at a recent security conference in Canada. “I am concerned that this is going to break a threshold where the private sector can no longer handle it and the government is going to have to step in.”
In its tightly controlled public relations, the NSA has focused attention on the threat of cyberattack against the US—the vulnerability of critical infrastructure like power plants and water systems, the susceptibility of the military’s command and control structure, the dependence of the economy on the Internet’s smooth functioning. Defense against these threats was the paramount mission trumpeted by NSA brass at congressional hearings and hashed over at security conferences.
But there is a flip side to this equation that is rarely mentioned: The military has for years been developing offensive capabilities, giving it the power not just to defend the US but to assail its foes. Using so-called cyber-kinetic attacks, Alexander and his forces now have the capability to physically destroy an adversary’s equipment and infrastructure, and potentially even to kill. Alexander—who declined to be interviewed for this article—has concluded that such cyberweapons are as crucial to 21st-century warfare as nuclear arms were in the 20th.
And he and his cyberwarriors have already launched their first attack. The cyberweapon that came to be known as Stuxnet was created and built by the NSA in partnership with the CIA and Israeli intelligence in the mid-2000s. The first known piece of malware designed to destroy physical equipment, Stuxnet was aimed at Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz. By surreptitiously taking control of an industrial control link known as a Scada (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, the sophisticated worm was able to damage about a thousand centrifuges used to enrich nuclear material.
The success of this sabotage came to light only in June 2010, when the malware spread to outside computers. It was spotted by independent security researchers, who identified telltale signs that the worm was the work of thousands of hours of professional development. Despite headlines around the globe, officials in Washington have never openly acknowledged that the US was behind the attack. It wasn’t until 2012 that anonymous sources within the Obama administration took credit for it in interviews with The New York Times.
But Stuxnet is only the beginning. Alexander’s agency has recruited thousands of computer experts, hackers, and engineering PhDs to expand US offensive capabilities in the digital realm. The Pentagon has requested $4.7 billion for “cyberspace operations,” even as the budget of the CIA and other intelligence agencies could fall by $4.4 billion. It is pouring millions into cyberdefense contractors. And more attacks may be planned.
The Basel-based BIS lambasted firms and households as well as the public sector for not making good use of the time bought by ultra-loose monetary policy, which it said had ended up creating new financial strains and delaying rather than encouraging necessary economic adjustments.
The BIS, a grouping of central banks, was one of the few organisations to foresee the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008.
Since then, government bond yields have sunk as investors seek a traditionally safe place to park funds, regulators tell banks to hold more bonds and central banks buy bonds as a means of pumping money into vulnerable economies.
The BIS said in its annual report that a rise in bond yields of 3 percentage points across the maturity spectrum would inflict losses on U.S. bond investors - excluding the Federal Reserve - of more than $1 trillion, or 8 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.
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Brushing aside the contention that austerity is counterproductive, the BIS said countries must redouble their efforts to make their debt manageable because growth alone will not do the job.
"Over indebtedness is one of the major barriers on the path to growth after a financial crisis. Borrowing more year after year is not the cure," the report said.
The fiscal adjustments required in rich countries are especially sizeable when projected increases in age-related spending are taken into account. Indeed, the adjustments are so large that governments are likely instead to water down entitlements such as pensions, the report said.
I have said since 2007 that the path of "bailout and lowering rates" in all of its forms could not possibly work. It cannot work because a person who has too much debt cannot make themselves financially healthy by borrowing more money any more than you can drink yourself sober.
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Lowering interest rates and injecting more and more credit into the system simply makes each unit of it worth less. But since you cannot print "money", that is, economic surplus -- you can only print credit -- you have no capacity to actually generate economic growth by expanding credit directly.
Your only hope is that by making borrowing cheaper you will entice people to take those loans and produce with them. They must produce more than the loan costs, principal and interest. If those loans are instead consumed or used to pay entitlement handouts then you are further distorting both credit and cash markets by sending false signals as to actual demand that does not in fact exist.
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We are now collectively in worse shape than we were in 2008 because we have issued trillions of additional credit into the system for which there is no matching production.
Exponents are a bitch. The longer you wait to deal with any problem that has a compound factor (that is, "X% per year") the worse it gets and the damage increase is not linear it becomes exponentially worse over time. A 10% fiscal deficit that is "counteracted" with something like QE (which is what we've run, more or less, since 2007) doubles in 7 years -- not 10 -- and then it doubles again in another 7. In 21 years it is not three times the original problem's size it's eight times larger!
We've already doubled down -- and doubled -- the pain we needed to take in 2007. It will be four times as bad, and we will not survive it as a nation or society, if we let this go on for another seven years.
There is one reason and one reason only why the world's major equity markets are, for the most part, floating around their all-time highs: QE.
It has absolutely nothing to do with the strength of the underlying economy and everything to do with the corruption of traditional price signals that central banks have, in their desperation wisdom felt happy to allow in pursuit of rainbows and unicorns for everybody.
Now ... the Fed finds itself confronting the realities of market confidence.
As they have striven to generate confidence in a moribund economy by continually talking in the most optimistic language they can feasibly muster, markets have been blithely ignoring the jawboning and focusing solely on the free money being handed out by a generous but thoroughly misguided Fed.
Now, however, the Fed is going to have to face reality in the world it has created, and it will not be pretty.
Their choice is a stark one:
Pull back on the monetary lever as they continue to threaten to do (and watch as markets crumble in front of their eyes) or be forced into continuing (perhaps even expanding) the purchase of both treasuries and mortgage-backed securities in order to avert disaster.
Already, as they overplay their hand and people genuinely begin to fear that they will be as good as their word and begin "tapering" as soon as this fall, wheels are coming off the clown car all over the place.
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Which brings us to the $64,000 question:
When push comes to shove and instability slithers across multiple asset classes, will the Fed actually go ahead and taper? Can it afford to?
A complex question, but fortunately one with a simple answer:
James T. Reynolds Sr. and his family turned Cancer Fund of America into a charity empire. At least a dozen family members work at one of five cancer charities. Those charities have raised nearly $250 million over the past decade and spent an average of $400,000 a year on direct cash aid to patients. Tax filings show the family has made as much as $1 million a year in salaries.
Since 2008, this charity has given nearly $1.3 million in cash assistance to about 1,900 breast cancer patients, according to its financial filings. But that is only about 2 percent of the $54.8 million raised through direct mail and professional telemarketers. About 86 cents of every dollar raised has been kept by the charity's for-profit solicitors. Breast Cancer Society told the IRS it shipped $36 million worth of medical supplies overseas in 2011. But the two companies named as suppliers of the donated goods said they have no record of dealing with Breast Cancer Society.
CBO reports that S. 744 would have only a marginal impact in reducing future illegal immigration. According to CBO, S.744 would reduce the future inflow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. over the next two decades by only 25 percent. CBO estimates that by 2033, 7.5 million new illegal immigrants will have entered the U.S. and taken up residence.
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The CBO estimate is in sharp contrast to the rhetoric of the bill’s sponsors, who have said the bill “contains the toughest border immigration enforcement measures in U.S. history.”
The assurances of the bill's proponents that the bill will somehow help the economy obscure copious evidence that the bill will wreak enormous damage to the employment prospects of American workers who have already seen their wages and employment rates plummet over the last several years.
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Not only will the bill grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants, it will act as a magnet for future illegal immigration and substantially increase the number of legal immigrants ... The bill is structured so that most of the immigrants will be low-skilled. These immigrants will compete with Americans in the low-skilled labor markets.
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Recent history shows that a grant of legal status to illegal immigrants results in a further influx of illegal immigrants who will crowd out low-skilled workers from the workforce. Contrary to the mythology promoted by some supporters of the bill, this isn't because low-skill Americans -- regardless of race -- are unwilling to work. It's because they're unwilling to work at the cut-rate wages (and often substandard conditions) offered to illegal immigrants -- a cohort highly unlikely to complain to the EEOC, OSHA or the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. This inexorably increases the number of low-skill Americans depending upon the government for subsistence, swells the ranks of the unemployed and reduces the wages of those that do have a job.
... the Hispanic vote terrifying Republicans isn't that big. It actually declined in 2012. The Census Bureau finally released the real voter turnout numbers from the last election, and the Hispanic vote came in at only 8.4 percent of the electorate -- not the 10 percent claimed by the pro-amnesty crowd.
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In raw numbers, nearly twice as many blacks voted as Hispanics, and nine times as many whites voted as Hispanics. (Ninety-eight million whites, 18 million blacks and 11 million Hispanics.)
So, naturally, the Republican Party's entire battle plan going forward is to win slightly more votes from 8.4 percent of the electorate by giving them something they don't want.
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Who convinced Republicans that Hispanic wages aren't low enough and what they really need is an influx of low-wage workers competing for their jobs?
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Big Republican donors -- and their campaign consultants -- just want to make money. They don't care about Hispanics, and they certainly don't care what happens to the country. If the country is hurt, I don't care, as long as I am doing better! This is the very definition of treason.
Hispanic voters are a small portion of the electorate. They don't want amnesty, and they're hopeless Democrats. So Republicans have decided the path to victory is to flood the country with lots more of them!
It's as if Republicans convinced Democrats to fixate on banning birth control to win more pro-life voters. This would be great for Republicans because Democrats will never win a majority of pro-life voters, and about as many pro-lifers care about birth control as Hispanics care about amnesty.
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Listening to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus burble a few weeks ago on "Fox News Sunday" about how amnesty is going to push the Republicans to new electoral heights, one is reminded of Democratic pollster Pat Caddell's reason for refusing to become a Republican: No matter how enraged he gets at Democratic corruption, he says he can't bear to join such a stupid party as the GOP.
David Cameron said something last week that was the precise opposite of the truth – by which I do not mean, obviously, that he told a deliberate falsehood. What he did was simply relay the perversely inverted logic that has become conventional wisdom. What the Prime Minister said was: “If you want a low-tax economy, you have to collect the taxes that are owed.” When what he should have said, of course, was: “If you want to collect the taxes that are owed, you have to have a low-tax economy.”
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If people regard levels of tax as fair (in the true sense of the word, not the Left-wing sense, which actually means “vindictive”), they will not go to expensive and dangerous lengths to escape from paying. The more punitive and discouraging of wealth-creation taxes are, the more they are avoided by stealth or geographical relocation – or by the even more economically disastrous measure of people being disinclined to increase their own productivity. Ah yes, but isn’t this the problem that those heads of government are determined to address? Rather than lowering taxes to levels that those who are taxed find acceptable, they will simply close off all the avenues of escape. There is to be no more possibility, by international agreement (which is to say, the coercion of smaller, less rich countries), of geographical movement for tax advantage. It will not be acceptable any longer for large corporations, or even private individuals whose profits or income are global, to lodge themselves in places that charge low business or personal taxes. These wicked places, known as “tax havens”, are the criminal “fences” of the international financial world: accepting, and sometimes agreeing to hide, the wealth that rightly belongs to other governments.
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What is at the heart of all this is the growth of governments: the treasuries of the world are becoming needier and greedier. And the most powerful countries are going to see to it that no little upstart island or remote corner of the earth can sit on a penny that they might decide is rightfully theirs – even if it resides in those outlying places perfectly legally. We are approaching a defining moment in the relationship between private property and the democratic state. Underlying almost all political debate on this matter now is the unspoken assumption that privately owned wealth is inherently evil, and that its only moral justification is to provide revenue that governments can redistribute.
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To speak of rich individuals or corporations contributing their fair share to the cost of government services sounds reasonable enough but it raises the question of how much government should be spending . . .
On Saturday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said that the IRS–and much of the federal bureaucracy–needs to be abolished ... suggesting that it would undercut much of the cronyism rampant in Washington.
She said the tax code needs to be simplified with the adoption of a flat tax. "That way we can abolish the bureaucracy that is so burdensome and expensive, and it would allow some sledgehammering of the crony capitalism and the corruption within [government]," Palin said.
...expanding equality of opportunity increases inequality because some people are simply better able than others to exploit opportunities.
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Lindsey cited research showing that “by the time they reach age 3, children of professional parents have heard some 45 million words addressed to them — as opposed to only 26 million words for working-class kids, and a mere 13 million words in the case of kids on welfare.” So, class distinctions in vocabularies are already large among toddlers. Parental choice of neighborhoods and schools mean that children of college-educated parents hang out together. Such peer associations may have as much effect on a child’s development as do parents. These factors, Lindsey said, explain why “people raised in the upper middle class are far more likely to stay there than move down, while people raised in the working class are far more likely to stay there than move up.”
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Today, the dominant distinction defining socioeconomic class is between those with and without college degrees ... Soon the crucial distinction will be between those with meaningful college degrees and those with worthless ones.
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“Most American kids,” Lindsey concluded, “are now raised in an environment that is arguably less favorable for developing human capital than that in which their parents were raised.” America’s limited-government project is at risk because the nation’s foundational faith in individualism cannot survive unless upward mobility is a fact.
In a video released Wednesday, a clenched-jawed, simmeringly furious Morrison says, “Those who think that it is OK to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have NO place in this army … Female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army … If that does not suit you, then get out … The same goes for those who think that toughness is built on humiliating others … The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” Holeeee. Efffing. Crap. It’s brilliant.
The words are powerful. But the utterly credible fury is what nails it. It is a validation of the frustration and anger a whole lot of people who have been on the receiving end of that “toughness” have been enduring for a very long time. And it says, yeah, you’re right. This is goddamn outrageous.
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In the U.S. and Australia and around the world, the plague of abuse needs to be openly addressed and firmly dealt with. And in a culture of rampant aggression, it needs more leaders like Morrison, who are willing to express their contempt for offenders. Leaders who are willing to demand, of “every one of you,” to “Show moral courage and take a stand.”
A Zionsville mom wanted a local bakery to draw a graduation cap on the picture of her daughter on the cake, but the worker taking the order heard something different.
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When Gambrel picked up the cake for her Indiana University graduate daughter Laura, instead of a mortarboard style cap, they had iced in a cat.
Gambrel says the Marsh bakery offered to fix the mistake, and even gave her a plastic cap to cover the cat. It turns out everyone liked the cat picture better anyway.
Perhaps their primary function is to put off the more unenlightened members of the male sex, who will be so repulsed by the sight of a nubile young girl with gorilla pins that they will forget to assault her, but maybe the truth is more subtle than that.
In fact what will happen is that all those nice, feminist men who pride themselves on being above their own cultural conditioning will be buying the drinks, and the old misogynists will leave the ladies alone – the successful suitors will be a pleasantly self-selecting group of males who are intellectual, lentil-eating, gentle and good at listening. The sex will be awful, of course, but it will be ever so respectful.
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Let’s just admit what we are – great apes in cotton dresses – and live accordingly. It would all be so much more relaxing, and perhaps without the attendant neuroses and maintenance that we ladies have to endure for the summer months, men and women would get along much better – if you are covered in hair, you have nothing to hide.
The more I think about it, the more I think these hairy stockings could solve a lot of problems. Relationships will be more honest; flirtation truer to our animal instincts; al fresco sex will be … warmer. My only question is, where can I get a whole bodysuit?
This colorful view of Mercury was produced by using images from the color base map imaging campaign during MESSENGER's primary mission. These colors are not what Mercury would look like to the human eye, but rather the colors enhance the chemical, mineralogical, and physical differences between the rocks that make up Mercury's surface.
Young crater rays, extending radially from fresh impact craters, appear light blue or white. Medium- and dark-blue areas are a geologic unit of Mercury's crust known as the "low-reflectance material", thought to be rich in a dark, opaque mineral. Tan areas are plains formed by eruption of highly fluid lavas. The giant Caloris basin is the large circular tan feature located just to the upper right of center of the image.
Fedenisn's life changed dramatically last Monday after she handed over documents and statements to CBS News alleging that senior State Department officials "influenced, manipulated, or simply called off" several investigations into misconduct. The suppression of investigations was noted in an early draft of an Inspector General report, but softened in the final version.
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After the CBS News made inquiries to the State Department about the charges, Schulman says investigators from the State Department's Inspector General promptly arrived at Fedenisn's door. "They talked to both kids and never identified themselves," he said. "First the older brother and then younger daughter, a minor, asking for their mom's place of work and cell phone number ... They camped out for four to five hours."
Schulman says the purpose of the visit was to get Fedenisn to sign a document admitting that she stole State Department materials, such as the memos leaked to CBS. Schulman says it was crucial that she didn't sign the document because her separation agreement with the State Department includes a provision allowing disclosures of misconduct. Furthermore, none of the materials were classified.
China's shadow banking system is out of control and under mounting stress as borrowers struggle to roll over short-term debts, Fitch Ratings has warned.
The agency said the scale of credit was so extreme that the country would find it very hard to grow its way out of the excesses as in past episodes, implying tougher times ahead.
"The credit-driven growth model is clearly falling apart. This could feed into a massive over-capacity problem, and potentially into a Japanese-style deflation," said Charlene Chu, the agency's senior director in Beijing.
"There is no transparency in the shadow banking system, and systemic risk is rising. We have no idea who the borrowers are, who the lenders are, and what the quality of assets is, and this undermines signalling," she told The Daily Telegraph.
While the non-performing loan rate of the banks may look benign at just 1pc, this has become irrelevant as trusts, wealth-management funds, offshore vehicles and other forms of irregular lending make up over half of all new credit. "It means nothing if you can off-load any bad asset you want. A lot of the banking exposure to property is not booked as property," she said.
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Fitch warned that wealth products worth $2 trillion of lending are in reality a "hidden second balance sheet" for banks, allowing them to circumvent loan curbs and dodge efforts by regulators to halt the excesses.
This niche is the epicentre of risk.
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Overall credit has jumped from $9 trillion to $23 trillion since the Lehman crisis. "They have replicated the entire US commercial banking system in five years," she said.
The ratio of credit to GDP has jumped by 75 percentage points to 200pc of GDP, compared to roughly 40 points in the US over five years leading up to the subprime bubble, or in Japan before the Nikkei bubble burst in 1990. "This is beyond anything we have ever seen before in a large economy. We don't know how this will play out. The next six months will be crucial," she said.
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Wei Yao from Societe Generale says the debt service ratio of Chinese companies has reached 30pc of GDP – the typical threshold for financial crises -- and many will not be able to pay interest or repay principal. She warned that the country could be on the verge of a "Minsky Moment", when the debt pyramid collapses under its own weight.