Friday, October 2, 2009

Rap Pioneer Mr. Magic Passes Away

Legendary DJ Mr. Magic has died from a heart attack. Mr. Magic, born John Rivas, was a co-founder of the legendary Hip-Hop collective The Juice Crew, which featured Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, Marley, Marl, MC Shan, Craig G., Kool G. Rap and Masta Ace. He also launched “Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack,” in New York City which featured a young DJ Marley Marl in addition to future Co-Chillin Record label owner Tyrone “Fly Ty” Williams.

Cryogenics Lab Uses Head of Ted Williams for Batting Practice

According to a new tell-all book, the head of deceased baseball legend Ted Williams was mutilated by workers at an Arizona cryogenics lab, and even used for batting practice, the New York Daily News reports.

The book is authored by Larry Johnson, a former executive at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona. Johnson claims that the baseball legend was beheaded, his head frozen and abused in a number of bizarre ways.

According to the Daily News:

Johnson writes that in July 2002, shortly after the Red Sox slugger died at age 83, technicians with no medical certification gleefully photographed and used crude equipment to decapitate the majors' last .400 hitter.

The article goes on to say that Williams’ frozen head was used for bizarre batting practice by a technician trying to dislodge it from a tuna fish can. Holes were even drilled into Williams’ severed head for the insertion of microphones, and then frozen in liquid nitrogen so that Alcor employees could listen to the sounds of his brain cracking amid the dropping temperatures.

Johnson’s revelations come after years of hiding, fearing for his life after becoming a whistleblower at Alcor. Prior to that, he was chief operating officer for the company. With his new book, Johnson comes out of the shadows once and for all and reveals shocking, often gruesome details of atrocities he claims occurred at the facility, not only involving Ted Williams, but other people and even animals.

Johnson vividly describes the dismembering of live dogs, as well as incidents where human blood and toxic chemicals were dumped into a parking lot sewer drain. More than fifty frozen bodies—including that of Ted Williams—were stored in steel tanks alongside cardboard boxes and other junk.

The book is called Frozen: My Journey Into the World of Cryonics, Deception and Death, and will be in stores Tuesday.

Oil slides below $69 on weak US jobs data

Oil prices fell by more than $2 to below $69 a barrel Friday as disappointing U.S. unemployment figures reinforced doubts about the U.S. economic recovery, discouraging stock and crude investors.

By mid-afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for November deliver was down $2.35 at $68.47 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 21 cents to settle at $70.82 on Thursday.

Crude has hovered around $70 for months amid mixed signals about the strength of the U.S. economic recovery. On Thursday, poor economic data sparked a sell-off in U.S. stock markets, which continued Friday as the U.S. Labor Department released worse-than-expected jobless figures.

The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September, the highest since June 1983, as employers cut far more jobs than predicted — a net total of 263,000 jobs were lost last month, more than the 201,000 shed in August.

Economists had predicted losses of 180,000 jobs, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.1 percent Thursday and futures predicted a lower open on Friday as well. Most Asian markets closed lower Friday, with Japan's Nikkei 225 down 2.5 percent. Stocks were also lower in Europe, with London's FTSE 100 losing 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX down 1.9 percent and the CAC 40 in Paris off by 2.5 percent.

"At $70 a barrel, investors have priced in a fairly sharp economic recovery," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with consultancy Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. "That makes it vulnerable to bad economic news."

In other Nymex trading, heating oil fell 4.58 cents to $1.7816 a gallon. Gasoline for November delivery dropped 3.67 cents to $1.7212 a gallon. Natural gas for November delivery lost 4.6 cents to $4.42 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude fell $1.88 to $67.31 on the ICE Futures exchange.

Madoff trustee sues Madoff's family for $198M

NEW YORK — A trustee trying to recover Bernard Madoff's assets to reimburse investors has sued his brother, sons and a niece to recover nearly $200 million.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

In the court papers, Trustee Irving Picard says the money was received by the family members as a result of preferential payments, fraudulent transfers and breaches of fiduciary duties.

The lawsuit said the family members were completely derelict in their duties and responsibilities.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after he admitted losing billions of dollars for thousands of clients over a half-century career that saw him rise to be a Nasdaq chairman.

France, Germany optimistic about Iran talks

After holding wide-ranging discussions with Iran in Geneva on Thursday, France and Germany hail the talks as a first step and call for further steps.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said on Friday that the six-side talks - which also included Britain, China, Russia and the US - with Iran were a "first step" in the right direction.

He, however, urged "practical steps" to be pursued.

"Yesterday's talks marked a first step that must now be followed by others," Peschke told reporters. "That means a continuation of talks this month, as agreed, as well as practical steps that show Iran's readiness to address the justified concerns of the international community."

"Longer term, it must be established that Iran is meeting its commitments with the international community," he said.

The talks came after Iran's announcement to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it was building a nuclear facility in Fordu, south of Tehran.

During the seven-and-a-half hour meeting between Iranian representatives and diplomats from the P5+1 states, they agreed on key issues including access of UN inspectors to the Fordu site as well as continuation of talks by the end of October.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said that the Geneva meeting was "a step in the right direction and its results will be judged on the basis of facts".

He, however, urged Iran to answer international demands and clear up suspicions about its nuclear program by December or face sanctions.

In a letter to the UN nuclear watchdog on September 21, Tehran announced the existence of the plant, some 12 months earlier than Iran's IAEA Safeguards Agreement obliges the country to inform the agency of new developments.

The announcement provoked an outcry from the US, Britain and France. Iran, however, says it is shocked by the reaction, arguing that it needs to be praised for informing the agency a year in advance.

Peschke pointed to an agreement reached in principle between Iran and the major world powers during the Geneva talks that would see some of Iran's stockpiled enriched uranium processed in Russia and France in order to fuel a UN-supervised reactor in Tehran.
He said the agreement was "an important element, a measure that, if it works, could contribute to rebuilding trust."

CBS employee pleads not guilty in Letterman plot

NEW YORK — A CBS News employee has pleaded not guilty to trying to blackmail David Letterman for $2 million in a plot that spurred the TV host to acknowledge sexual relationships with female staffers on his show.

Robert J. Halderman entered his plea as he was arraigned on an attempted grand larceny charge Friday in a Manhattan court.

Prosecutors say Halderman demanded $2 million last month in exchange for not releasing information that would ruin Letterman's reputation. Letterman told millions of viewers on his show Thursday the threat concerned sexual liaisons with women who work for him.

Authorities say the plot prompted a sting operation at a posh New York hotel, with Letterman's lawyer secretly recording Halderman's threats.

Halderman is a producer for the true-crime show "48 Hours."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

NEW YORK (AP) — A CBS News employee has been indicted in an extortion plot against David Letterman, who acknowledged sexual relationships with female staffers on his show after the man tried to blackmail him for $2 million, the Manhattan district attorney said Friday.

Robert J. Halderman, a producer for the true-crime show "48 Hours," was arrested Thursday and indicted on one count of attempted first-degree grand larceny, punishable by five to 15 years upon conviction, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.

"Our concern here is extortion, and that's what we're focusing on," Morgenthau said.

Documents filed in Stamford Superior Court in Connecticut show that Halderman, of Norwalk, was required to pay about $6,800 a month in child and spousal support to his ex-wife. Prosecutors declined to say whether Halderman had financial problems or other motives.

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Chicago Eliminated, Will Not Host 2016 Summer Olympics

Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting for the 2016 Summer Olympics host city on Friday, bringing to a surprising end the Windy City's bid to host the Games.

The conventional wisdom was that Chicago was either the favorite to host the Games or the co-favorite along with Rio de Janeiro, but instead Chicago was the first of the four finalist cities eliminated. Tokyo was eliminated in the second round of voting. At approximately 12:30 PM ET Friday we will learn the results of the final vote, and either Rio or Madrid will be announced as the 2016 host.

Thousands of people gathered at a rally in Downtown Chicago Friday morning for what most in the Windy City thought would be a celebration, and when President Obama made the trip to Copenhagen to appeal for the Games early Friday morning, many viewed that as the final push that would deliver the Games to the United States.

Instead, Chicago is out, and the Olympics will not be coming to America in 2016.

Potential Sale of Ebony Magazine Draws Ire

Business insiders say that Ebony magazine may be looking for a buyer – and soon.

Is Ebony magazine for sale? And is the legendary black-owned publication on the verge of being purchased by a white media company?

Business insiders say that Ebony, the 64-year-old black-oriented magazine founded by John H. Johnson in 1945, may be looking for a buyer – and soon.

“Now it appears Johnson Publishing’s chairman and CEO, Linda Johnson Rice, has reached what must have been an agonizing decision: Johnson Publishing is seeking a buyer or investor for its flagship publication, Ebony, in an effort aimed at securing the survival of the nation's oldest magazine devoted to African-American life,” Newsweek reported in last week’s edition.

Newsweek said that Rice has contacted Time Inc. and Viacom about a possible purchase of Ebony or a partnership. Time Inc. bought Essence magazine – a publication for black women – in 2000. Viacom purchased BET in 2000.

A source familiar with Ebony’s financial difficulties confirmed for that the magazine is being shopped to several potential buyers.

No couple alert: Al Sharpton & LisaRaye

The rumormill had it wrong when buzz of LisaRaye’s romantic relationship with Rev. Al Sharpton began circulating Monday.

Supposedly the two had been spotted at different events for the Congressional Black Caucus looking pretty cozy. But when S2S saw them at her birthday party last Thursday, there was no chemistry there, and we definitely didn’t see any hand holding going on.

So, what of reports that they’re attached at they’re practically attached at the hip? LisaRaye told us that she and Al are part of a White House educational tour, which also features Newt Gingrich.

Both LisaRaye and Al are going through divorces now, but as for rumors of their coupledom, Al told S2S publisher Jaime Foster Brown that he thinks it’s one of the most ridiculous things he’s ever heard.

“I went on an 80-city tour with Hillary Clinton and nobody ever accused me of sleeping with her,” Al pointed out.

Black Women Bear Brunt of Domestic Violence

Close to five in every 1,000 black women aged 12 and up are victims of domestic violence and abuse.

LeAnna M. Washington is busy at work these days like many of her colleagues in the state senate, looking to push through Pennsylvania’s budget, finally freeing needed dollars to strapped social service agencies that aid the most vulnerable.
Washington once was among them.

Well before she was called “senator,” looking to right wrongs, she was called “Cookie,” looking for love. When she was 18, she figured she found it.She became a married woman, with a black eye as a honeymoon present from her new groom – the first of many.

“It was the big secret,” Washington told “But women being beaten was not unfamiliar to me. And I got used to being beaten.”

As have many black women across the country.

While the sensational incident between pop stars Rihanna and Chris Brown recently snagged headlines and electrified airwaves, the struggle against domestic violence among African-Americans is an age-old and often silent battle. Those fighting to end it hope the spotlight from Domestic Violence Awareness Month will draw recruits.

It’s not just about donning purple ribbons or playing celebrity public service announcements. It’s about absorbing the reality that close to five in every 1,000 black women aged 12 and up are victims of domestic violence, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s understanding that among those abused aged 15 to 34, murder by a husband or boyfriend remains a leading cause of death.

More importantly, it’s about actively working on changing those outcomes, said Dr. Oliver J. Williams, executive director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community.

“We have to figure out ways for our communities to own it,” Williams said. “We have to devise ways to get communities to see what actions and activities they can do to be engaged and involved, to develop solutions to it.”

First observed in October 1987, Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from a single day of unity to a month-long endeavor to spotlight a social condition that was considered taboo for polite conversation.

Verbal, sexual and physical abuse are forms familiar to a large swath of black females. Historically so, Williams said. These are the scars of slavery, lack of education, discrimination, unemployment and other frustrations that have been exacerbated among African-Americans.

Poverty tends to be an indicator for abuse, though violence is not confined to one social class. The difference is having options and resources to escape – options not always afforded by those struggling to survive day-to-day. Feeling trapped leads many women to stay put - and in peril.

For Washington, those days seem like a lifetime ago, but the memories still make her cringe.

Like when she and her young children would barricade themselves inside a bedroom, dresser against the door, and remain huddled together until they heard her husband's truck pull away in the morning.

Or the time she tried to exact revenge after a beating by tossing a pot of boiling water at him, and instead he dumped the hot water on her.

Or the day he unexpectedly stepped in puppy feces, dragged her to the spot, twisted her arm and shoved her face in the smelly mess.

But the beatings were the constant, followed by the apologies, the promises to change. Until the next beating.

“A lot of people ask me to come and share my story,” Washington said. “The toughest woman will stop and pay attention, and that’s because it’s not just unique to me. We all know this story, but just with different players.

“Sometimes I laugh when I hear myself repeating the stories, asking myself, ‘Why did I take that?’ But it was real life. And it happens all the time.”

And cycles continue, through generations. Boys .....

Close to the Missing Link -- Oldest Human Ancestor Discovered

Newly discovered species is close to "missing link" and provides more compelling proof of human evolution

If there's one thing that recent paleontological discoveries have taught us, it's to expect the unexpected. A recently discovered miniature T. Rex predecessor cast doubt on many theories, including the idea that T. Rex evolved its bizarre proportions (small arms, huge legs) over time (its ancestor had them too) and that it was a scavenger (the mini-Rex was fast and ideally suited for hunting).

Now an equally appealing discovery had been made. Scientists excavating in the dusty Middle Awash region of Ethiopia have unearthed an amazingly complete skeleton of a new species of hominid -- an ancestor to modern man -- which they have named Ardipithecus ramidus, nicknamed "Ardi".

The find began in 1994 with the unearthing of a hominid hand. One and a half decades later, Ardi was revealed in her full form, a skeleton consisting of over 125 bone pieces. Among the most complete hominid skeletons found to date, Ardi is approximately 4.4 million years old, 1.2 million years older than the famous "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis) skeleton. Ardi is in fact the oldest hominid found to date.

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Analysis: Iran to escape nuclear sanctions until 2010

No new sanctions were ever likely to be imposed on Iran at the meeting in Geneva, no matter what Iran said. None now will be imposed until next year at the earliest.

An Iranian long-range Shahab-3 missile is fired in desert terrain at an unspecified location in Iran on September 28, 2009 Photo: AFP/GETTY

But while even Russia seems to think that some punishment is inevitable if Iran does not change course, the purpose of sanctions becomes less clear as time passes.

Even if both the Russians and the Chinese agree to tough measures, analysts do not believe they would stop Tehran completing a nuclear device should it wish to do so.

North Korea, an economically far more isolated regime, has managed to test plutonium-based weapons and claims to be on the way to developing a uranium-based one too.

"Sanctions won't really work for two to three years, and that's all they need to become a nuclear power," said Mustafa Alani, a regional specialist at the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai.

Far more likely are sanctions which Russia and China approve but water down from American demands enough to avoid doing real damage to Iran, and especially its oil industry.

Iran is China's third largest source of oil, and has done energy deals worth an estimated $100 billion with Beijing in the last five years.

Sun Bigan, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, even argues in a current strategy that it is in China's interest to prevent the Iranian leadership becoming pro-American.

That could lead to China's oil supplies being drastically curtailed as America, even under President Barack Obama, strove to maintain its "global goals and dominance", he wrote.

Currently, UN sanctions ban imports of equipment that can assist uranium enrichment, military equipment exports and "dual use" imports that can be used for either civilian or military purposes. Some individual regime figures are also targeted.

New proposals include restrictions on investments in the Iranian energy industry – almost impossible for China to support, given the high-profile presence of its state-owned oil companies – a ban on insuring Iranian oil tankers, and a ban on imports of refined oil products such as petrol.

Individual American congressmen are preparing bills to extend the United States' own sanctions against companies that trade with Iran, penalising energy firms that sell the country refined oil products and the financial firms that fund the trade.

But again, Chinese firms and those elsewhere in a rising Asia could be the ones that profit. "America is leading the West, but everyone else does not give a damn," said Ahmad Abdullah, a Hong Kong-based energy analyst. "China is now making a lot of headway in Iran and so is India."

The long term goal of sanctions is to disillusion Iran's people with its leaders, and middle class opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election may well have been influenced by the strains on its economy.

But Iranian opposition leaders support the government over the nuclear programme and sanctions. "Iran has nationalised the nuclear issue," Mr Alani said. "They have made it a popular issue, saying America and Israel are trying to deny their right to nuclear technology."

Five-year-old boy kills 800-pound alligator

When are kids too young to be trained for firearm usage? Maybe this story from the Houston Chronicle will change the way of thinking of a lot of people!

Michael Paulsen Chronicle
At age 5, Simon Hughes is no stranger to hunting. His first big trophy — a 12-foot-6, 800-pound alligator, may be hard to top, though.

There are hunters who go a lifetime dreaming of that big kill. Then there's Simon Hughes, who helped nab a beast of an animal on an East Texas hunt — while still in the first grade. The 5-year-old boy from Goodrich was part of a hunting crew that recently killed an 800-pound, 12-foot-6-inch alligator that has wildlife experts shaking their heads.

The reptile, whose size is at a state record level, is now at the taxidermist waiting to be mounted. Simon's family, meanwhile, is fielding calls from CNN and Good Morning America to feature his exploits.

Simon learned to drive all-terrain vehicles and shoot firearms when he was only 4. So he was primed and ready to go on an alligator hunt this past weekend with his father, Scott Hughes, a sixth-generation rancher, and hunting guide Chuck Cotton.

Simon had a new junior-sized .410-gauge shotgun. His first gun had been too big, having a recoil that opened a small cut below one eye after he fired it.

Neither his father nor mother worry about Simon using firearms, because he has been taught gun safety since he was big enough to walk and stand in a deer blind.

“That's the way it is in rural areas,” Scott Hughes said. “We don't think of guns as playthings or something used in videogames.”

By the time of the alligator hunt, Simon could shoot clay pigeons.

Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack, a former Texas Ranger, has been bird hunting with Simon and said he shoots pretty well for his age. “Of course, you always keep an eye on children,” said Hammack, “but he's learned a lot from his father.”

Scott had obtained a state permit to kill two of the 40 alligators populating his 5,000-acre spread near Lake Livingston because he knew something “real big was out there” and driving small alligators from the swampy areas and into his stock ponds.

State law requires alligators be caught on a baited hook or shot with a bow and arrow. So they baited a hook on Saturday with some “smelly armadillo roadkill,” which apparently alligators adore.

When they returned the next day, the line was taut. Something had been snared and was resting beneath the dark 4-foot-deep waters.

‘Never afraid for a second'
The hunters soon discovered their catch was an alligator. They attached it to an all-terrain vehicle with a sturdy line, but the gator proved so strong it almost dragged their vehicle into the water.

Finally, the animal, after thrashing and rolling, surfaced a second time, and Simon, poised 5 feet away, fired the first and what proved to be fatal shot. Cotton, just to be sure, fired one more shot at the giant reptile, which had managed to rip the hook out of its mouth.

Simon said he screamed “holy moly” when he saw the catch of the day. “I was never afraid for a second,” he said of the gator, which is 20 times his size.

Taxidermist Stephen Moye said the head of the 12-foot- 6-inch reptile weighs 104 pounds by itself.

A state wildlife biologist estimated the gator's weight at more than 800 pounds. Finding an alligator of such size is rare, state officials said. Although the record length for a Texas alligator exceeds Simon's kill by 1 foot and 8 inches, the record weight for a gator killed on state property is only 690 pounds, records showed.

Simon, meanwhile, has shown pictures of the gator to his classmates in Good­rich, near Lake Livingston, but that won't be nearly as impressive as when he can bring the mounted head to show-and-tell and display its ferocious 12-inch bite.

“My friends were proud of me, and I was proud of myself,” Simon said of the photos that show him standing alongside the monstrous gator. “It's humongous!”

Nike: No deal with Vick

Nike is denying reports that it has a new endorsement deal with Eagles QB Michael Vick.

In a statement to CNBC, Nike says that it "does not have a contractual relationship" with the former Falcons star. Instead, the company has only agreed to "supply product to Michael Vick as we do a number of athletes who are not under contract with Nike."

On Wednesday, Michael Principe, managing director of the agency representing Vick, announced that Nike had signed Vick to a new endorsement deal. That was later confirmed by Vick's agent, Joel Segal, who told Sports Business Journal that Vick was "excited to be part of the Nike team again."

At the time, Nike declined comment.

Nike originally signed Vick in '01, terminating the contract after Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges resulting from his involvement in a dogfighting ring.

Federal Reserve Governor Says Goodbye To Double Dip Recession

For the first time, a federal government official has said that that odds of a double recession are almost gone. Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, said that the economic rebound was robust enough that it should carry into next year without slowing.

Fed watchers have been concerned for several months that an expanding economy might cause the Fed to raise interest rates. Lacker’s comments at least imply otherwise.
The Fed seems to be painfully aware that as unemployment hits 10%, which it may have in September, that a jobless recovery will need ready credit availablity to consumers and businesses so that fourth quarter retail and capital equipment spending continue on the path that they set the last two months.

The Fed has also made it clear that its activity in the mortgage securities markets are to help hold home loan rates down. That may be contributing to the fact that, despite a rapidly rising federal deficit and Treasury borrowing, mortgage rates are near historic lows.

The most likely period for the economy to slow or reverse again is at the end of the current, new quarter. There are significant worries that retail spending will be light again this year and that because consumer activity is such a large part of GDP that the expansion could stall.

The Fed, in its view, will continue to push a monetary policy consistent with the demands of keeping liquidity high. Along with that, all Mr. Lacker needs is a little help from the consumer.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Pajamas Media » Why Did Bank of America Pay ACORN? » Print

"we can just go to the Bank of America community website [3], which notes that the firm works with ACORN in more than 20 cities to provide “special mortgage products.” Or we can go to the ACORN Housing website, which describes a program [4] that produced $246 million in mortgages from Bank of America with “flexible underwriting and discounted pricing.” Or this page [5], which describes a program with low down payments, no private mortgage insurance, no cash reserve necessary, and flexibility on income requirements, such as being able to include public assistance.

Yes, ACORN and Bank of America joined forces to become the ultimate subprime lender."

Feds Will Raise Interest Rates Soon

By Bryan McAffee

About a month ago many of you might remember Ben Bernanke being widely quoted as saying that the economy is well on the way to recovery. I scratched my head at this because it made almost no sense to me at all then. Unemployment is still at 9.7% with no expected dip in those numbers any time soon. Outside of a small blip in auto sales thanks to an artificial government program that probably ruined demand for the next 6 months at least, durable goods orders are down. The real estate market is still in shambles and no where close to recovering from the devastating hit it has taken. So, why in the world would the Fed chairman say something like this.

Then today I read this story and it was all crystal clear to me; they are just preparing us for large interest rate raises because they are freaking out about large scale inflation which is heading directly for us. Notice in this article that Fed Reserve member Richard Fisher says:

“I expect that when it comes time to tighten monetary policy, my colleagues and I will move with an alacrity that, if needed, will be equal in speed and intensity.”


Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and also a hawk against inflation, waded into the debate in a speech Tuesday in Easton, Pa., saying the Fed may need to act “well before” unemployment — now at a 26-year high of 9.7 percent — returns to normal. The Fed, he said, will need to be on guard “to prevent the Second Great Inflation.”

In other words they are going to be raising interest rates, regardless of whether the economy is actually in recovery or not, and this is going to be their cover. You see, one of the basic rules of economics is that when you have a lot of debt (like the U.S. does) and you are running a large deficit (like the U.S. is) then loaning money to you becomes increasingly risky. So, in order to hedge that risk you raise interest rates. If you don’t, or if the Fed and Treasury decides to simply monetize the debt (which they are already doing, read this article for more), the natural and inevitable result will be large and fast inflation. The Federal Reserve knows this as well as we do, and they know that one way to fight this is going to be raising interest rates.

From the above article it is almost a certainty that the Fed will be doing this regardless of whether we are actually in a recovery or not. They are just going to do it . . . period. So, what happens when they raise interest rates when we are not in an actual recovery? Well, let’s just say it’s not going to help the job market any. I hate to sound like Chicken Little, but if I were you, I’d just keep your eye on the sky. Also, buying gold might make sense right about now too.

So, does Starbucks' Via instant coffee really taste fresh-brewed?

The baristas at Starbucks are extra perky this week, and not because they're downing espresso shots (though maybe they are). It's because of the launch of Via, a new line of Starbucks instant coffee. As much as I wanted to get my latte and run this morning, the woman at the cash register insisted I try Via and went on to explain the two "irresistible" varieties: Colombia medium roast and Italian extra bold. Everywhere I looked, I couldn't escape Via: in-store displays, posters, digital screens and at the registers, where free samples were abundant. Starbucks went all out for this launch, making sure its patrons see Via even in their dreams. My barista insisted the coffee tastes just like regular Starbucks, and I was sold. I'll pay $2.95 for a three-pack of instant coffee that tastes just like the stuff I usually get for $2 and change. Well, as I found out later, Via doesn't taste exactly like Starbucks. But to be fair, it's close enough and offers a bold taste that not many other instant coffees do. So, what's the verdict? Starbucks has done a great job marketing the product, but it should tone down the promises a bit. Instant coffee is instant coffee, after all.

Michele Bachmann Asks Fed Chairman Bernanke About ACORN

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) seems to be developing a one-track mind. At a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Bachmann asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about...ACORN?

To be fair, Bachmann also asked about one of her other pet issues, the threat of a one-world currency replacing the dollar -- which does actually bear a relationship to the questions of monetary policy.

But here she has the man who runs our country's whole money supply, right in front of her and required to take her questions, and this is what she asks about?

Michele Bachmann Asks Fed Chairman Bernanke About ACORN

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) seems to be developing a one-track mind. At a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Bachmann asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about...ACORN?

To be fair, Bachmann also asked about one of her other pet issues, the threat of a one-world currency replacing the dollar -- which does actually bear a relationship to the questions of monetary policy.

But here she has the man who runs our country's whole money supply, right in front of her and required to take her questions, and this is what she asks about?

Comcast denies possible purchase of NBC, claims it can only offer a window

Surprising absolutely no one who has ever waited for a repair or installation, an internet rumor Wednesday suggested Comcast is in talks to take advantage of an oddly scheduled window of availability to purchase NBC Universal. Whether it shows up on time is still up in the air, but with ownership of the media group divided 80/20 by GE and Vivendi the rumored deal would be worth $35 billion, with around $7 billion due Vivendi during this annual period when it can exercise a put option on the shares it owns. Time Warner and DirecTV owner Liberty Media have also been rumored as suitors, can anyone imagine NBC and Syfy under the same umbrella as Versus?

Sarkozy Snubs Obama on Nuclear Threat Stance

More background on the Sarkozy reaction to Obama

(…) Don’t take it from me. Take it from Sarkozy, who could not conceal his astonishment at Obama’s naivete. On Sept. 24, Obama ostentatiously presided over the Security Council. With 14 heads of state (or government) at the table, with an American president at the chair for the first time ever, with every news camera in the world trained on the meeting, it would garner unprecedented worldwide attention.

Unknown to the world, Obama had in his pocket explosive revelations about an illegal uranium enrichment facility that the Iranians had been hiding near Qom. The French and the British were urging him to use this most dramatic of settings to stun the world with the revelation and to call for immediate action.

Obama refused. Not only did he say nothing about it, but, reports Le Monde, Sarkozy was forced to scrap the Qom section of his speech. Obama held the news until a day later — in Pittsburgh. I’ve got nothing against Pittsburgh (site of the G-20 summit), but a stacked-with-world-leaders Security Council chamber it is not.

Why forgo the opportunity? Because Obama wanted the Security Council meeting to be about his own dream of a nuclear-free world. The president, reports the New York Times citing “White House officials,” did not want to “dilute” his disarmament resolution “by diverting to Iran.”

Diversion? It’s the most serious security issue in the world. A diversion from what? From a worthless U.N. disarmament resolution?

Yes. And from Obama’s star turn as planetary visionary: “The administration told the French,” reports the Wall Street Journal, “that it didn’t want to ’spoil the image of success’ for Mr. Obama’s debut at the U.N.”

Image? Success? Sarkozy could hardly contain himself. At the council table, with Obama at the chair, he reminded Obama that “we live in a real world, not a virtual world.”

He explained: “President Obama has even said, ‘I dream of a world without [nuclear weapons].’ Yet before our very eyes, two countries are currently doing the exact opposite.”

Sarkozy’s unspoken words? “And yet, sacr? bleu, he’s sitting on Qom!”

At the time, we had no idea what Sarkozy was fuming about. Now we do. Although he could hardly have been surprised by Obama’s fecklessness. After all, just a day earlier in addressing the General Assembly, Obama actually said, “No one nation can . . . dominate another nation.” That adolescent mindlessness was followed with the declaration that “alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War” in fact “make no sense in an interconnected world.” NATO, our alliances with Japan and South Korea, our umbrella over Taiwan, are senseless? What do our allies think when they hear such nonsense?

Bismarck is said to have said: “There is a providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America.” Bismarck never saw Obama at the United Nations. Sarkozy did.

Texas Judge Allows Gay Divorce

Texas Family District Court Judge Tena Callahan has ruled that a gay couple can get divorced, even though the state has a ban on same-sex marriage.

A judge ruled Thursday that a married gay couple in Dallas can be granted a divorce, setting the stage for a same-sex marriage battle royal in the Lone Star State. Dallas state district judge Tena Callahan ruled that two men married in Massachusetts could be divorced in Texas, a state with a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Callahan declared that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violated equal protection under the law. "This is huge news. We're ecstatic," Dallas attorney Peter Schulte, who represents the man who filed for divorce, told The Dallas Morning News. The men in the case are asking not to be identified in the press because one of them is not out to his employer.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says he will appeal her ruling.

Unemployment 9.8 Percent; Worst Since June 1983 … -263,000 Lost Jobs

Employers cut more jobs than forecast last month and the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high, calling into question the sustainability of the economic recovery.

The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, the highest since 1983, from 9.7 percent in August, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Payrolls fell by 263,000, following a revised 201,000 decline the prior month that was more/less than previously reported.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday said the expansion may not be strong enough to “substantially” bring down unemployment, indicating the central bank will be slow to drain the trillions of dollars it’s pumped into the economy. UAL Corp. is among companies still cutting jobs on concern spending will fade as government stimulus wanes.

Payrolls were forecast to drop 175,000 in September after a 216,000 decline initially reported for August, according to the median of 84 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Estimates ranged from decreases of 260,000 to 100,000. Job losses peaked at 741,000 in January, the most since 1949.

The Labor Department today also published its preliminary estimate for the annual benchmark revisions to payrolls that will be issued in February. They showed the economy may have lost an additional 824,000 jobs in the 12 months ended March 2009. The data currently show a 4.8 million drop in employment during that time.

The projected decrease was three times larger than the historical average, the Labor Department said. Most of the drop occurred in the first quarter of this year, probably due to an increase in business closings, the government said.

September’s losses bring total jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 to 7.2 million, the biggest decline since the Great Depression.

Today’s report showed factory payrolls fell 51,000 after decreasing 66,000 in the prior month. Economists forecast a drop of 52,000. The decline included a drop of 3,500 jobs in auto manufacturing and parts industries.