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Market economy: correct itself or rescued by bailout? How many trillions are enough? Who shouldn’t be bailed out?

Hey, Fed, prevent another disaster, bail ME out!

“Bailout” fever runs beyond the US, to affect Europe, to affect Asia… Market economy and private ownership - upon such economy systems democracy stands. The bailout tosses out dumb questions - don’t bailouts challenge the fundamentals of market economy? Impact on the ownership of the very top firms, the key performers in world’s major economies? Should market economy adjust itself or can it be rescued by bailouts? How many trillions would be enough in a global financial crisis? Who should not be bailed out?

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Has anyone bothered to ask: Why $700 billion? Why not $800 billion to bail out the economy? Or a trillion? Jeez, as long as the dam has burst, why not make it a cool $7 trillion?

Okay, $7 trillion it is, and if you think that's an exaggeration, you're wrong. In this year alone, we have committed an amount that is more than half of our entire annual gross national product to assorted bailouts and guarantees. No, that doesn't mean that we have diverted half our GNP for bailouts; it means that we have created half our gross national product virtually out of nothing.

Bank Bailout cartoon by Mark Hurwitt  read more »

Now it's official: US in recession since 2007, one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression of 1930's

Officially, the U. S. economy refuses to enter a full-scale recession. I’ve enjoyed all the euphemisms – ‘slowdown,’ ‘contraction,’ ’turndown,’ ‘softness,’ ‘pullback,’ and my personal favorite, ‘growth recession.’

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The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, making official what most Americans have already believed about the state of the economy.

The NBER is a private group of leading economists charged with dating the start and end of economic downturns. It typically takes a long time after the start of a recession to declare its start because of the need to look at final readings of various economic measures. The NBER said that the deterioration in the labor market throughout 2008 was one key reason why it decided to state that the recession began last year.

the NBER did not give any reasons or causes of the recession. But it is widely accepted that the housing downturn, which started in 2006. The current recession is one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression of the 1930's.  read more »

Piracy renewed: almost 40 ships seized by Somali pirates & more than $150m(£101m) in ransoms paid so far this year

three British security guards board a helicopter to be transferred to a Royal Navy vessel

Troubled waters & age-old problem renewed: pirates inspired by Johnny Depp’s antics or by oil - the new treasure?

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Three escape pirate-hijacked tanker

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Three British guards jumped overboard and were rescued from the water after battling in vain to prevent pirates hijacking a chemical tanker off the coast of Somalia. The Liberian-flagged Biscaglia came under "sustained and heavy attack" early Friday morning, Nick Davis, Director of Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS), said in a statement. The three APMSS-employed security guards -- all former British servicemen -- mounted "sustained non-lethal resistance" but were unable to stop the attackers seizing control of the ship, Davis said.

The trio were airlifted to safety by a German naval helicopter and flown to a French frigate after the vessel summoned assistance from coalition warships. They were later transferred to a British Royal Navy ship. All three were unhurt, Davis said. "I have spoken with my team leader on the phone and he informs me that the level of violence was significant and forced them reluctantly to leave the vessel after every effort was made to ensure the safety of the ships crew," Davis said. Pirates continued to shoot at the three in the water, Davis said. "The hijacked vessel with pirates in control then attempted to run them down."  read more »

Troop increases in Afghanistan; soldiers doubt sense of mission: “Politicians need to clarify it more clearly”

soldiers suffer doubts about the sense of their mission in Afghanistan

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German military troops are suffer from a lack of support from their countrymen, the new Protestant bishop for the Bundeswehr said on Tuesday, and soldiers suffer doubts about the sense of their mission there, Dutzmann said. “In Afghanistan the soldiers notice how painstaking the civil reconstruction is. Politicians need to clarify the sense of the mission more clearly,” he said. Chaplains serving the soldiers there are answering more questions about the sense of life from these troops who face life-threatening situations each day, he said.

US Army deserter seeks asylum in Germany

US Army deserter André Lawrence Shepherd has applied for asylum in Germany, his lawyer told reporters on Thursday. Shepherd said he did not want to participate in a war that violates international law. He said he had submitted his asylum request on Wednesday, although the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees told the DPA news agency it did not have a record of such a document.

Shepherd, 31, has previously served in Iraq where he repaired and maintained Apache helicopters. "I believe that the helicopters are responsible for a substantial number of civilian deaths," he told reporters in Frankfurt. "I am ashamed that I was a part of these horrible acts." Shepherd has appealed to both the Geneva Refugee Convention and EU guidelines that provide protection from persecution for deserters if the military services in question are seen as having violated international law.  read more »

Greenland, semiautonomous Danish territory, takes symbolic leap: 75% voters vote for independence. Oil, key issue?

Greenland town

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The inhabitants of the world's largest island turned out yesterday in midwinter darkness to vote for what many believe is the first step towards independence. The people of Greenland voted overwhelmingly for increased autonomy from Denmark - a move that will see the 56,000-strong population take greater control over the island's potentially huge natural resources and mean Greenlandic becomes the official language.

Greenland iceberg

According to the island's election commission, 76% of voters supported the proposal, which outlined a system for sharing future oil revenues with Denmark and gave locals control over the courts, the police and the coastguard. Denmark would retain responsibility for security and foreign relations. The referendum was supported by the Danish government.

Around 72% of the island's 40,000 registered voters cast their ballots at voting stations in 18 municipalities. The high turnout came despite the small number of daylight hours and sub-zero temperatures in many parts of the island, 80% of which is covered by ice. The system is likely to come into effect from June 21 next year, the island's national day. It is almost certain to be rubber-stamped by the Danish and Greenlandic parliaments.  read more »

Bread-loaf-sized satellite Firefly on lightning & gamma rays, most powerful natural particle accelerator in atmos.

'Firefly' CubeSat Mission to Study Lightning's Link to Terrestrial Gamma Ray Flashes

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Firefly is a new mission to study lightning and gamma rays with CubeSats, small satellites in the shape of a cube.

Firefly, it's called, this new small satellite mission sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It's designed to help solve the mystery of the most powerful natural particle accelerator in Earth's atmosphere: TGFs, or terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. TGFs likely result from thunderstorms.

The mission is the second project under the new NSF CubeSat program. A CubeSat satellite, about the size of a loaf of bread, consists of three cubes attached end to end in a rectangular shape.

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Photo courtesy of NASA/GSFC

Original Source: National Science Foundation

"Clean City" São Paulo says no to visual pollution, bans public advertising for a cleaner, more serene environment

What price oil?

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To the undiscerning eye of a visitor, there is nothing too unusual about Florêncio de Abreu Street in downtown São Paulo. The buildings, many of them noble structures with brightly painted façades and stone balconies, reflect the city's rich history, and the constant noise of commercial bustle and angry traffic are the classic sounds of a major modern metropolis. But until 2006, much of that eye-catching architecture went unseen. São Paulo is a supremely intense city whose futuristic mix of skyscrapers, helicopters, advertising and rain has earned it comparisons with the urban imagery of the sci-fi film Blade Runner. But for the longest time, the nice bits, like the buildings along Florêncio de Abreu Street, were hidden behind billboards, electronic ads, shop signs and street banners.

a ban on outdoor advertising in São Paulo, including billboards, neon signs and electronic panels  read more »

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