Central Bank Caused Bankruptcy

Pop Goes The Alpha ( Natural Resources)

by  • August 4, 2015

If you want a cogent metaphor for the central bank enabled crack-up boom now underway on a global basis, look no further than today’s scheduled chapter 11 filling of met coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources (ANRZ). After becoming a public company in 2005, its market cap soared from practically nothing to $11 billion exactly four years ago. Now it’s back at the zero bound.
ANRZ Market Cap Chart

ANRZ Market Cap data by YCharts

Yes, bankruptcies happen, and this is most surely a case of horrendous mismanagement. But the mismanagement at issue is that of the world’s central bank cartel.

The latter have insured that there will be thousands of such filings in the years ahead because since the mid-1990s the central banks has engulfed the global economy in an unsustainable credit based spending boom, while utterly disabling and falsifying the financial system that is supposed to price assets honestly, allocate capital efficiently and keep risk and greed in check.

Accordingly, the ANRZ stock bubble depicted above does not merely show that the boys, girls and robo-traders in the casino got way too rambunctious chasing the “BRICs will grow to the sky” tommyrot fed to them by Goldman Sachs. What was actually happening is that the central banks were feeding the world economy with so much phony liquidity and dirt cheap capital that for a time the physical economy seemed to be doing a veritable jack-and-the-beanstalk number.

In fact, the central banks generated a double-pumped boom——first in the form of a credit-fueled consumption spree in the DM economies that energized the great export machine of China and its satellite suppliers; and then after the DM consumption boom crashed in 2008-2009 and threatened to bring the export-mercantilism of China’s red capitalism crashing down on Beijing’s rulers, the PBOC unleashed an even more fantastic investment and infrastructure boom in China and the rest of the EM.

During the interval between 1992 and 1994 the world’s monetary system—–which had grown increasingly unstable since the destruction of Bretton Woods in 1971——took a decided turn for the worst. This was fueled by the bailout of the Wall Street banks during the Mexican peso crisis; Mr. Deng’s ignition of export mercantilism in China and his discovery that communist party power could better by maintained from the end of the central bank’s printing presses, rather than Mao’s proverbial gun;  and Alan Greenspan’s 1994 panic when the bond vigilante’s dumped over-valued government bonds after the Fed finally let money market rates rise from the ridiculously low level where Greenspan had pegged them in the interest of re-electing George Bush Sr. in 1992.

From that inflection point onward, the global central banks were off to the races and what can only be described as a credit supernova exploded throughout the warp and woof of the world’s economy. To wit, there was about $40 trillion of debt outstanding in the worldwide economy during 1994, but this figure reached $85 trillion by the year 2000, and then erupted to $200 trillion by 2014. That is, in hardly two decades the world debt increased by 5X.

To be sure, in the interim a lot of phony GDP was created in the world economy. This came first in the credit-bloated housing and commercial real estate sectors of the DM economies through 2008; and then in the explosion of infrastructure and industrial asset investment in the EM world in the aftermath of the financial crisis and Great Recession. But even then, the growth of unsustainable debt fueled GDP was no match for the tsunami of debt itself.

At the 1994 inflection point, world GDP was about $25 trillion and its nominal value today is in the range of $70 trillion—-including the last gasp of credit fueled spending (fixed asset investment) that continues to deliver iron ore mines, container ships, earthmovers, utility power plants, deep sea drilling platforms and Chinese airports, highways and high rises which have negligible economic value. Still, even counting all the capital assets which were artificially delivered to the spending (GDP) accounts, and which will eventually be written-down or liquidated on balance sheets, GDP grew by only $45 trillion in the last two decades or by just 28% of the $160 trillion debt supernova.

Here is what sound money men have known for decades, if not centuries. Namely, that this kind of runaway credit growth feeds on itself by creating bloated, artificial demand for materials and industrial commodities that, in turn, generate shortages of capital assets like mines, ships, smelters, factories, ports and warehouses that require even more materials to construct. In a word, massive artificial credit sets the world digging, building, constructing, investing and gambling like there is no tomorrow.

In the case of Alpha Natural Resources, for example, the bloated demand for material took the form of met coal. And the price trend shown below is not at all surprising in light of what happened to steel capacity in China alone. At the 1994 inflection point met coal sold for about $35/ton, but at that point the Chinese steel industry amounted to only 100 million tons. By the time of the met coal peak in 2011, the Chinese industry was 11X larger and met coal prices had soared ten-fold to $340 per ton.

And here is where the self-feeding dynamic comes in. That is, how we get monumental waste and malinvestment from a credit boom. In a word, the initial explosion of demand for commodities generates capacity shortages and therefore soaring windfall profits on in-place capacity and resource reserves in the ground.

These false profits, in turn, lead speculators to believe that what are actually destructive and temporary economic rents represents permanent value streams that can be capitalized by equity owners.

But as shown below, eventually the credit bubble stops growing, materials demand flattens-out and begins to rollover, thereby causing windfall prices and profits to disappear. This happens slowly at first and then with a rush toward the drain.

ANRZ is thus rushing toward the drain because it got capitalized as if the insanely uneconomic met coal prices of 2011 would be permanent.

Needless to say, an honest equity market would never have mistaken the peak met coal price of $340/ton in early 2011 as indicative of the true economics of coking coal. After all, freshman engineering students know that the planet is blessed (cursed?) with virtually endless coal reserves including grades suitable for coking.

Yet in markets completely broken and falsified by central bank manipulation and repression, the fast money traders know nothing accept the short-run “price action” and chart points. In the case of ANZR, this led its peak free cash flow of $380 million in early 2011 to be valued at 29X.
ANRZ Free Cash Flow (TTM) Chart

ANRZ Free Cash Flow (TTM) data by YCharts

Self-evidently, a company that had averaged $50 to $75 million of free cash flow in the already booming met coal market of 2005-2008 was hardly worth $1 billion. The subsequent surge of free cash flow was nothing more than windfall rents on ANZR’s existing reserves, and, accordingly, merited no increase in its market capitalization or trading multiple at all.

In fact, even superficial knowledge of the met coal supply curve and production economics at the time would have established that even prices of $100 per ton would be hard  to sustain after the long-term capacity expansion than underway came to fruition.

This means that ANRZ’s sustainable free cash flow never exceeded about $80 million, and that at its peak 2011 capitalization of $11 billion it was being traded at 140X. In a word, that’s how falsified markets go completely haywire in a central bank driven credit boom.

As it happened, the full ANZR story is far worse. During the last 10 years it generated $3.2 billion in cash flow from operations——including the peak cycle profit windfalls embedded in its reported results.   Yet it spent $5 billion on CapEx and acquisitions during the same period, while spending nearly another $750 million that it didn’t have on stock buybacks and dividends.

Yes, it was the magic elixir of debt that made ends appear to meet in its financial statements. Needless to say, the climb of its debt from $635 million in 2005 to $3.3 billion presently was reported in plain sight and made no sense whatsoever for a company dependent upon the volatile margins and cash flows inherent in the global met coal trade.

So when we insist that markets are broken and the equities have been consigned to the gambling casinos, look no farther than today’s filing by Alpha Natural Resources.

Markets which were this wrong on a prominent name like ANRZ at the center of the global credit boom did not make a one-time mistake; they are the mistake.

As it now happens, the global credit boom is over; DM consumers are stranded at peak debt; and the China/EM investment frenzy is winding down rapidly.

Now comes the tidal wave of global deflation. The $11 billion of bottled air that disappeared from the Wall Street casino this morning is just the poster boy—–the foreshock of the thundering collapse of inflated asset values the lies ahead.

Scientific Materialism

DARK SCIENCE: Abortion organ harvesting rooted in the philosophy of scientific materialism (and the refusal to recognize consciousness)

Wednesday, August 05, 2015
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Tags: scientific materialismabortion organ harvestingconsciousness
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Delicious
(NaturalNews) Over the last few weeks, America has experienced shock at the revelation that human babies are being harvested for their organs during live abortion procedures. This is all being carried out by Planned Parenthood in the name of “science.”

But what kind of science underlies such seemingly evil activities? What sort of philosophy must be infecting the minds of individuals who can look at a human baby and see it only as a collection of biological parts to be harvested and sold for profit?

The answer is found in scientific materialism.

The false paradigm of materialism

Scientific materialism is the default philosophy underpinning virtually all modern science: medical science, agricultural science, technology, economics and more. It is based on the false assumption that everything in our universe is made of material stuff. This belief excludes any idea of consciousness, free will, the non-physical mind and the value of any conscious being which possesses such qualities.

Scientific materialism is essentially a philosophy of death… A philosophy that places no value in life whatsoever, believing that life itself is nothing more than a purposeless accident that just happened to take place on our planet, without any meaning, design, or end goal.

Virtually all scientists in the Western world today operate from a cult-like belief in scientific materialism. By definition, then, they do not believe in the existence of consciousness, free will, or the mind. Thus, when they see an infant that is alive and being delivered from the womb of a mother, they do not see a conscious being that can experience pain, retain memories, or one day make decisions of its own. All they see is a collection of tissue: heart, liver, genitals, a brain, legs and arms and so on.

The value of a conscious being is far more than the sum of its biological parts

The philosophical delusions of scientific materialism literally block the mind of a scientist from being able to recognize that this human being is worth more than the collection of its parts. And what is this new born human being really worth? According to Planned Parenthood it’s worth about $100 per organ. But you and I know that the value of a human being cannot be expressed as a financial figure. The value of a conscious being goes far beyond the realm of scientific materialism or economic materialism. That value can only be understood in the context of embracing the value of creativity, free choice, divine inspiration, and innovation stemming from free will.

To look at a human being and see it only as being worth the collection of its parts is much like looking at a grand piano and seeing its value is nothing more than firewood rather than an instrument through which great composers can express some of the most sacred emotions in the human experience. Sit someone like Mozart in front of a piano and you’ll discover that the instrument (and the man) is worth far more than the collection of its parts. Similarly, if you nurture a human child and give it inspiration and the freedom to express ideas and creativity, then you will give rise to a conscious being of unlimited value which may make unfathomable contributions to the future of human civilization.

But because modern science does not believe in the nonmaterial realm of existence, it cannot grasp the very concept of any being having a value beyond its parts. Planned Parenthood refers to a human baby as merely “tissue” to be “harvested” for science.

As a result of this twisted mythology that infects the belief systems of nearly all modern scientists, the dangers of scientific totalitarianism in our modern society are very real. Because there is no separation of science and state in our modern society, scientists have become the new high priests, dictating all matters of importance to the government, covering medicine, agriculture, technology and even parenting.

For example the recently passed mandatory vaccination law in California known as SB 277 establishes the precedent that scientific totalitarianism should override parental rights. This law rejects the idea that individuals in society should be allowed to make choices regarding the health of their own children. It even denies the right to a public education to all children who have not been injected with whatever deadly chemicals the pharmaceutical industry is pushing this year, confirming yet again that science believes children have no value to society whatsoever unless they are wholly obedient to the agenda of the high priests of scientific totalitarianism.

Science believes bodies only exist to generate profits, not to serve as vessels for consciousness

Is this same philosophy of scientific materialism that believes, for example, that cancer patients only exist to enrich the financial profits of oncology centers and pharmaceutical companies. The actual quality of life for a cancer patient is of no concern whatsoever to those who operate in the cancer industry. That’s why their treatments — such as chemotherapy — are literally derived from chemical weapons that were originally developed for warfare. These chemical weapons, when dripped into the veins of cancer patients, cause tremendous suffering and permanent organ damage, destroying the quality of life of the cancer patient and more often than not literally killing the patient before the cancer kills them.

Yet this is known as “science.” It is a science that recognizes no value in the human experience of the patient being treated. There is no consideration whatsoever for the suffering, the pain, the fear and the consciousness of the patient. Instead, patients are seen as biological tools to be exploited for profit, in exactly the same way that Planned Parenthood sees unborn human infants as biological specimens to be chopped up and sold for profit.

Mass murder in the name of “science” will continue until the day consciousness is universally recognized

As long as science is unable to embrace the reality of nonmaterial consciousness, it will continue to devalue life and cause untold pain and suffering across the populations of the world. Until medical science embraces the reality of human consciousness and free will, it will be unable to honor the simple idea of universal medical choice.

The artifacts of scientific materialism are observable all around us. They include the frequent reports of medical kidnapping: the phenomenon of hospitals kidnapping children and senior citizens to force treatments upon them against the wishes of those individuals or their parents. Medical kidnapping is, of course, rooted in the philosophy of scientific materialism, believing that free will and free choice are nothing more than illusions of a biological brain, and therefore they don’t count. Under the tyranny of scientific materialism, the state asserts its power to dictate medical interventions upon people who individually choose to reject them. The justification for totalitarian medical interventions that override individual medical choice is that “science” demands it… and more specifically, that “science” is only understood by “scientists” while everyday people are too stupid to understand it (and therefore too stupid to be “allowed” to make their own decisions).

What’s crucial to understand here is that this death-worshiping philosophy allows the state and even the medical establishment to justify absolutely anything — including the mass murder of human babies — in order to achieve its scientific agenda. Think about it: if Planned Parenthood can literally murder babies and chop them into pieces to be sold off for scientific research, there is almost nothing they cannot similarly justify… including mass executions or even genocide.

Scientific tyranny in America today resembles the Third Reich in more ways than one

I’m reminded of the science-based propaganda of the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 40s. Then, the value of a human being was quantified solely by that person’s ability to contribute to a stronger government regime. Individuals who are no longer contributing to society — such as the physically handicapped, mentally handicapped, or elderly — were conveniently rounded up and murdered by the state. Propaganda posters reminded the citizens that financially supporting less-than-productive individuals who were not contributing to the nation was weakening the country as a whole and burdening the German people.

Thus, scientific materialism demanded that individuals be executed by the state for “the good of society”. This is the exact same thinking under which vaccine mandates are now pushed today across California and other states. While vaccine proponents will, if they are truly honest about it, admit that vaccines do cause brain damage and even kill some children, their excuse is that it’s worth it for “the good of society”.

Not surprisingly, this is the same argument that Planned Parenthood is now putting forth in the harvesting of organs from once-living human babies. They say the harvesting of these tissues is being done “for the good of society” because such tissues are sold off for scientific research. Once again, this was precisely the same justification used in the Tuskegee medical experiments carried out over four decades on black men in America. Similarly, the NIH also funded criminal medical experiments on prisoners in Guatemala. And back to the Nazi regime in Germany, pharmaceutical companies conducted mass medical experiments on Jewish prisoners, justifying the practice by saying that what they would learn from using Jews as human guinea pigs would “contribute to science” and help create “a better society.”

These are the justifications of scientists who worship materialism. And these are scientists who are a grave threat to all of humanity and its children. Any society that refuses to recognize the value of consciousness is a danger to all conscious beings. And the fact that today in America, over 3500 babies are aborted and killed every single day, reveals just how little value is placed on human lives in a society dominated by scientific materialism.

The recognition of non-physical consciousness is the key solution

What’s the answer to all this? The answer is the universal recognition of consciousness. This is the next step in human understanding and human progress. It is a step that will render much of today’s so-called scientific “facts” obsolete, in much the same way that the discovery of quantum mechanics rendered Newtonian physics obsolete in the realms of atomic physics.

Consciousness is the next great realm of discovery for humanity, and it is a realm that cannot be fully explored or understood through the limited reductionism of materialistic science. Consciousness is more than material; it is mind, it is self-awareness, it is spirit and soul interacting with the biological brain, creating what might be called cognitive computational holography.

In the realm of high-level physics, consciousness is increasingly understood as the actual creator of all that is material. Without the Observer, many physicists now believe, there would be nothing in the material world to observe. Is the act of observation through a conscious mind that literally creates the physical world which appears to be real. A more detailed exploration of these concepts demands an entirely different article, of course, but the point is that the mass murder of babies through abortion is not a phenomenon that stands alone. It is an extension of a doomed philosophy that continues to infect the minds of nearly all scientists in the Western world today: a doomed philosophy of scientific materialism.

This is why we must all be wary of anything being pushed upon us in the name of “science.” It’s not just that much of today’s science is really nothing more than corporate-funded junk science with a profit agenda; it’s also the fact that nearly all modern scientists reject the idea of consciousness, the soul, and anything originating in the realm of spirit or the divine. And because of that, these scientists do not value life… not any life… and certainly not your life either. They will destroy your life, or take your life, in an instant if it means gaining power or profits in the name of “science.”

Above all, recognize that scientific materialism is really a 17th-century concept that has persisted into the modern day only because of the suppression of real science by those who worship materialism. Science today has become the Church of Scientism, complete with its own suppression of knowledge, its “Bible” of faith-based assumptions, and its domineering stance of intellectual bullying and real-world tyranny against those who do not follow the faith. Led by empty-minded, soulless bullies and denialists like Richard Dawkins, today’s Church of Scientism remains a grave danger to all conscious life everywhere… not just on planet Earth but other planets across the galaxy which may harbor advanced biological life forms that will one day be callously “harvested” for “tissue” by Earth scientists in exactly the same way Planned Parenthood runs human baby chop shops on Earth today.

It is my belief, however, that intelligent life in our universe will not tolerate the extra-terrestrial colonization of other planets by a species steeped in such an idiotic scientific delusion. Earth scientists ridiculously believe they have unraveled the greatest mysteries of the cosmos while, at the same time, they still haven’t grasped the reality of arguably the most self-evidence truth of all: that we are all conscious, self-aware beings and not deterministic biological robots.

Until this simple, self-evident realization is grasped, consciousness-denying people like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins and even Stephen Hawking are little more thanmasters of self delusion exhibiting unrivaled cosmic stupidity. Even an average Buddhist monk understands more about the universe than the most celebrated scientific materialists of the western world… people who are so self-deluded, they’re still searching for the “God particle!”

Beyond hilarious

Country Run By Idiots

You Live In A Country Run By Idiots If…

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/08/2015

Via Monty Pelerin’s World blog,

We truly live in a country run by idiots. The contradictions between common sense and government actions are just too many to have happened by accident or chance. But perhaps the leaders are not the idiots. Maybe the people tolerating such leaders and laws are the true idiots.

What follows is a contrast between common folk wisdom and what Washington considers wisdom. These contradictions are inconvenient for government, threatening to reveal their incompetence or hidden agenda. The author of this piece is unknown although it sounds like something that could have come from Jeff Foxworthy who popularized this presentation style.

Oh, and regarding the image above – we are the idiots for accepting this nonsense.

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If you have to get your parent’s permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor or check out a library book, but not to vote who runs the government, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than ten rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy leaders in Egypt , you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If, in the largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not a 24-ounce soda because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If an 80-year-old woman can be strip-searched by the TSA but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is cute, but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government intrusion, while not working is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, Subsidized Housing and Free Cell Phones, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to incentivize NOT working with 99 weeks of unemployment checks and no requirement to prove they applied but cannot find work, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you more safe according to the government, you live in a country run by idiots.

 

If you are offended by this article, I’ll bet you voted for the idiots who are running our great country into the ground.

*  *  *

idiots stooges

GOD BLESS AMERICA

Strange Things Happening

10 Very Strange Things That Have Happened In Just The Past Few Weeks

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/09/2015

Submitted by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

Have you noticed that events have begun to accelerate?  Over the past few weeks, things have officially started to get very weird.  Chinese stocks are crashing, the Greek debt crisis is spiraling out of control, the New York Stock Exchange was down for about four hours on Wednesday thanks to a “technical glitch”, and global politicians have been acting very strangely.  After several years of relative calm, could it be possible that the second half of 2015 will usher in a time of chaos and confusion on a worldwide scale?  Personally, I have never been more concerned about a period of time as I am about the last six months of 2015.  And if I am right, what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg.  The following are 10 very strange things that have happened in just the past few weeks…

#1 On Wednesday, the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and the Wall Street Journal were all taken down by unexpected “technical glitches“.  Authorities are assuring us that hackers were not responsible for any of this.

#2 In China, a full-blown stock market crash is unfolding.  The Shanghai Composite Index has plummeted more than 30 percent in less than a month, and the Chinese version of the NASDAQ has dropped by more than 40 percent.  The amount of “paper wealth” that has been lost in China is 15 times greater than the GDP of Greece.

#3 Just the other day, hackers were able to hack into a German surface-to-air missile battery

Well, this is absolutely terrifying. According to The Local, hackers attacked a German Patriot surface-to-air missile battery, like the one shown above, stationed along the Turkish-Syria border. The cyber attack caused the battery to carryout “unexplained” orders.

 

It’s believed that cyber attackers managed to exploit the Patriot battery in two different ways. The first exploit was through the Sensor-Shooter-Interoperability, which controls interactions between the actual, physical missile launcher and its control system, while the other was on the guidance chip. These weaknesses could have allowed the hackers to steal data or, more worryingly, actually take control of the battery.

#4 Earlier this week, Barack Obama told reports that “we’re speeding up training of ISIL forces“…

#5 Just a few days ago, the U.S. Mint announced that they were sold out of American Eagle silver coins on the exact same day that the price of silver hit a new low for 2015.  How does that make any sense?

#6 On June 30th, an unexpected blood moon was seen over a significant portion of the United States.  The following is an excerpt from a recent articleby Caiden Cowger

On June 30, 2015, a surprise blood moon appeared in the sky, that was only seen in the United States.

 

According to the National Weather Service, large wildfires in Canada have been burning. Due to extremely high winds, smoke from these fires have traveled into the United States.

 

According to NBC-Chattanooga“the smoke should remain in the higher atmosphere and not affect air quality, it gives the moon and sun a rosy glow.

 

Here’s what causes the effect:

 

As light from the moon or sun enters the atmosphere it gets scattered by particles like water, aerosols, and in this case smoke. Green, blue, and purple colors are sent in all directions but colors with longer wavelengths like red, orange and yellow continue through the atmosphere and remain visible to the human eye.”

#7 Even though NASA recently stated that they know of “no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth” and that “no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years“,  NASA has teamed up with the National Nuclear Security Administration to try to figure out a way to use nuclear weapons to destroy asteroids that are threatening our planet.  If there is no threat, why spend so much time and energy on this?

#8 A couple of weeks ago, we learned that Barack Obama has issued 19 “secret directives“.  What is Obama planning, and why won’t he let the general public know about it?

#9 This week, Pope Francis called for the creation of “a new economic and ecological world order where the goods of the Earth are shared by everyone, not just exploited by the rich.”  So exactly what would such a “world order” look like?

#10 The Greek people just overwhelmingly voted to reject austerity, so EU officials have responded by giving the Greek government a one week deadlineto come to an agreement that will include even more austerity for the Greek people.  If the Greek government does not submit, EU officials are threatening them with bankruptcy, the collapse of their banking system and expulsion from the euro.

Things promise to only get stranger from here.  One week from today, on July 15th, a massive military exercise known as “Jade Helm” begins.  More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military will be taking part in drills that will be conducted in the states of Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Mississippi and Florida.

Then in September comes the end of the Shemitah year, the fourth blood moon of this tetrad, the launch of a radical new sustainable development agenda at the United Nations that is being endorsed by the Pope, and a vote on a UN Security Council resolution that would formally establish a Palestinian state.

And that is just the stuff that we know about.

What Stopped The 2008 Crash?

The One Lesson To Learn Before A Market Crash

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/13/2015

Submitted by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

Greece is saved!!! I mean BANKERS are saved!!! The market will celebrate the total capitulation of Greece to the EU bankers. Nothing has been resolved. The debt won’t be repaid. The can has been kicked again. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ireland and even France are essentially insolvent. It’s all a ponzi scheme. The bankers win and the people lose. Hope is not a strategy. Hussman’s weekly tome shows how a crisis plays out. Bad shit happens and the powers that be react with bad solutions that keep their wealth and power protected. Their bad solutions lead to a worse crisis. More bad solutions. And so on, until complete collapse.

Look back to the 2007-2009 market collapse, and you’ll notice something. Despite repeated monetary and fiscal interventions, a positive shift in market internals didn’t happen until March-April 2009. In hindsight, it was none of those interventions that produced the shift, but instead the change in accounting rule FAS 157 in the second week of March 2009 that finally ended the collapse. That accounting change eliminated the “mark-to-market” rule that had required banks to report the value of their assets at market value, and instead allowed banks considerable discretion to choose the value at which those assets were reported. With the stroke of a pen, banks that were insolvent on a mark-to-market basis became whole on a mark-to-model basis. In hindsight, regulatory authorities used that change to abandon any further action that might have put those insolvent banks and financial institutions into receivership or conservatorship. In the end, it was not monetary easing, nor troubled-asset relief, that ended the collapse. It was a change in accounting rules.

 

A similar failure of memory seems to prevail when the media incorrectly suggests that the collapse of the market in 2008 began with the Lehman bankruptcy on September 15. The fact is that the market fully recovered to even higher levels the following week as the government banned short selling of financial stocks (much like China is doing more broadly at present). Weeks later, in a wicked case of “sell the news,” the actual collapse started literally 15 seconds after the TARP bailout was passed by Congress. Investors want to tie market outcomes to very specific events or catalysts. But history suggests a different lesson: once extreme valuations are joined by a shift toward risk-aversion among investors, the specific events become irrelevant. One way or another, the market is likely to get hit by a truck.

 

In October 2008, as the global financial crisis was in full force, Robert Prechter of EWT published a very instructive graphic illustrating how the accumulating market losses were descending along a “slope of hope” (the corollary to bull markets climbing a so-called “wall of worry”) despite repeated official interventions. Notice that aside from very short-term rallies following various interventions, the market kept collapsing. We encourage investors to learn from this now.

 

The S&P 500 would ultimately plunge below 700 by March 2009. Importantly, investors who “followed the Fed” during the 2007-2009 collapse would have done so through the 55% loss in the S&P 500, because the Fed began easing weeks before the 2007 peak, and kept easing all the way down. As in every other market cycle across history, it was far better to follow the condition of investor risk-preferences directly.

 

 

Don’t make the mistake of getting the relationship between monetary interventions and the risk-preferences of investors backwards. Monetary easing and other interventions can be very effective when they occur against a backdrop of risk-seeking investor preferences, but history shows that they regularly fail when they occur against a backdrop of risk-aversion among investors. The best measure of investor risk preferences is the uniformity or divergence of market internals across a broad range of risk-sensitive securities. Prechter describes the prevailing psychology of investors with the term “socioeconomic orientation,” and his observations on this, I think, are exactly correct:

 

“People keep asking, ‘What effect will the next central-bank plan have on the stock market’s behavior?’ This is the wrong question. The socioeconomic orientation turns the question around: ‘What effect will the next stock market move have on the central bank’s behavior?’Just study [the chart above] and you can see that the authorities are not pushing the stock market around; the stock market is pushing the authorities around. Sadly, when markets push authorities around, authorities push people around. All it does is make things worse.”

MCCAIN AND THE POW COVER-UP

MCCAIN AND THE POW COVER-UP

The ‘war hero’ candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam

Published: 12 hours ago

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Sydney H. Schanberg won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for international reporting “at great risk” from Vietnam and Cambodia. After the war he served as city editor of the New York Times. The Academy Award-winning film “The Killing Fields” was based on his book “The Death and Life of Dith Pran.” Schanberg was a journalist for 50 years. 

This is an expanded version of a story that appeared in the Oct. 6, 2008, issue of The Nation. Research support was provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.

By Sydney H. Schanberg

The Nation – John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn’t return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero who people would logically imagine as a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.

Almost as striking is the manner in which the mainstream press has shied from reporting the POW story and McCain’s role in it, even as the Republican Party has made McCain’s military service the focus of his presidential campaign. Reporters who had covered the Vietnam War turned their heads and walked in other directions. McCain doesn’t talk about the missing men, and the press never asks him about them.

The sum of the secrets McCain has sought to hide is not small. There exists a telling mass of official documents, radio intercepts, witness depositions, satellite photos of rescue symbols that pilots were trained to use, electronic messages from the ground containing the individual code numbers given to airmen, a rescue mission by a special forces unit that was aborted twice by Washington – and even sworn testimony by two Defense secretaries that “men were left behind.” This imposing body of evidence suggests that a large number – the documents indicate probably hundreds – of the U.S. prisoners held by Vietnam were not returned when the peace treaty was signed in January 1973 and Hanoi released 591 men, among them Navy combat pilot John S. McCain.

Mass of Evidence

The Pentagon had been withholding significant information from POW families for years. What’s more, the Pentagon’s POW/MIA operation had been publicly shamed by internal whistleblowers and POW families for holding back documents as part of a policy of “debunking” POW intelligence even when the information was obviously credible.

The pressure from the families and Vietnam veterans finally forced the creation, in late 1991, of a Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. The chairman was John Kerry. McCain, as a former POW, was its most pivotal member. In the end, the committee became part of the debunking machine.

One of the sharpest critics of the Pentagon’s performance was an insider, Air Force Lieut. Gen. Eugene Tighe, who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) during the 1970s. He openly challenged the Pentagon’s position that no live prisoners existed, saying that the evidence proved otherwise. McCain was a bitter opponent of Tighe, who was eventually pushed into retirement.

Included in the evidence that McCain and his government allies suppressed or sought to discredit is a transcript of a senior North Vietnamese general’s briefing of the Hanoi politburo, discovered in Soviet archives by an American scholar in 1993. The briefing took place only four months before the 1973 peace accords. The general, Tran Van Quang, told the politburo members that Hanoi was holding 1,205 American prisoners but would keep many of them at war’s end as leverage to ensure getting war reparations from Washington.

Throughout the Paris negotiations, the North Vietnamese tied the prisoner issue tightly to the issue of reparations. They were adamant in refusing to deal with them separately. Finally, in a February 2, 1973, formal letter to Hanoi’s premier, Pham Van Dong, Nixon pledged $3.25 billion in “postwar reconstruction” aid “without any political conditions.” But he also attached to the letter a codicil that said the aid would be implemented by each party “in accordance with its own constitutional provisions.” That meant Congress would have to approve the appropriation, and Nixon and Kissinger knew well that Congress was in no mood to do so. The North Vietnamese, whether or not they immediately understood the double-talk in the letter, remained skeptical about the reparations promise being honored – and it never was. Hanoi thus appears to have held back prisoners – just as it had done when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and withdrew their forces from Vietnam. In that case, France paid ransoms for prisoners and brought them home.

In a private briefing in 1992, high-level CIA officials told me that as the years passed and the ransom never came, it became more and more difficult for either government to admit that it knew from the start about the unacknowledged prisoners. Those prisoners had not only become useless as bargaining chips but also posed a risk to Hanoi’s desire to be accepted into the international community. The CIA officials said their intelligence indicated strongly that the remaining men – those who had not died from illness or hard labor or torture – were eventually executed.

My own research, detailed below, has convinced me that it is not likely that more than a few – if any – are alive in captivity today. (That CIA briefing at the agency’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters was conducted “off the record,” but because the evidence from my own reporting since then has brought me to the same conclusion, I felt there was no longer any point in not writing about the meeting.)

For many reasons, including the absence of a political constituency for the missing men other than their families and some veterans’ groups, very few Americans are aware of the POW story and of McCain’s role in keeping it out of public view and denying the existence of abandoned POWs. That is because McCain has hardly been alone in his campaign to hide the scandal.

The Arizona senator, now the Republican candidate for president, has actually been following the lead of every White House since Richard Nixon’s and thus of every CIA director, Pentagon chief and national security advisor, not to mention Dick Cheney, who was George H. W. Bush’s defense secretary. Their biggest accomplice has been an indolent press, particularly in Washington.

Read WND’s related story, “POW case haunts McCain’s image as war hero”

McCain’s Role

An early and critical McCain secrecy move involved 1990 legislation that started in the House of Representatives. A brief and simple document, it was called “the Truth Bill” and would have compelled complete transparency about prisoners and missing men. Its core sentence reads: “[The] head of each department or agency which holds or receives any records and information, including live-sighting reports, which have been correlated or possibly correlated to United States personnel listed as prisoner of war or missing in action from World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam conflict, shall make available to the public all such records held or received by that department or agency.”

Bitterly opposed by the Pentagon (and thus McCain), the bill went nowhere. Reintroduced the following year, it again disappeared. But a few months later, a new measure, known as “the McCain Bill,” suddenly appeared. By creating a bureaucratic maze from which only a fraction of the documents could emerge – only records that revealed no POW secrets – it turned the Truth Bill on its head. (See one example, when the Pentagon cited McCain’s bill in rejecting a FOIA request.) The McCain bill became law in 1991 and remains so today. So crushing to transparency are its provisions that it actually spells out for the Pentagon and other agencies several rationales, scenarios and justifications for not releasing any information at all – even about prisoners discovered alive in captivity. Later that year, the Senate Select Committee was created, where Kerry and McCain ultimately worked together to bury evidence.

McCain was also instrumental in amending the Missing Service Personnel Act, which had been strengthened in 1995 by POW advocates to include criminal penalties, saying: “Any government official who knowingly and willfully withholds from the file of a missing person any information relating to the disappearance or whereabouts and status of a missing person shall be fined as provided in Title 18 or imprisoned not more than one year or both.” A year later, in a closed House-Senate conference on an unrelated military bill, McCain, at the behest of the Pentagon, attached a crippling amendment to the act, stripping out its only enforcement teeth, the criminal penalties, and reducing the obligations of commanders in the field to speedily search for missing men and to report the incidents to the Pentagon.

About the relaxation of POW/MIA obligations on commanders in the field, a public McCain memo said: “This transfers the bureaucracy involved out of the [battle] field to Washington.” He wrote that the original legislation, if left intact, “would accomplish nothing but create new jobs for lawyers and turn military commanders into clerks.”

McCain argued that keeping the criminal penalties would have made it impossible for the Pentagon to find staffers willing to work on POW/MIA matters. That’s an odd argument to make. Were staffers only “willing to work” if they were allowed to conceal POW records? By eviscerating the law, McCain gave his stamp of approval to the government policy of debunking the existence of live POWs.

McCain has insisted again and again that all the evidence – documents, witnesses, satellite photos, two Pentagon chiefs’ sworn testimony, aborted rescue missions, ransom offers apparently scorned – has been woven together by unscrupulous deceivers to create an insidious and unpatriotic myth. He calls it the “bizarre rantings of the MIA hobbyists.” He has regularly vilified those who keep trying to pry out classified documents as “hoaxers,” charlatans,” “conspiracy theorists” and “dime-store Rambos.”

Some of McCain’s fellow captives at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi didn’t share his views about prisoners left behind. Before he died of leukemia in 1999, retired Col. Ted Guy, a highly admired POW and one of the most dogged resisters in the camps, wrote an angry open letter to the senator in an MIA newsletter – a response to McCain’s stream of insults hurled at MIA activists. Guy wrote: “John, does this [the insults] include Senator Bob Smith [a New Hampshire Republican and activist on POW issues] and other concerned elected officials? Does this include the families of the missing where there is overwhelming evidence that their loved ones were ‘last known alive’? Does this include some of your fellow POWs?”

It’s not clear whether the taped confession McCain gave to his captors to avoid further torture has played a role in his post-war behavior in the Senate. That confession was played endlessly over the prison loudspeaker system at Hoa Lo – to try to break down other prisoners – and was broadcast over Hanoi’s state radio. Reportedly, he confessed to being a war criminal who had bombed civilian targets. The Pentagon has a copy of the confession but will not release it. Also, no outsider I know of has ever seen a non-redacted copy of the debriefing of McCain when he returned from captivity, which is classified but could be made public by McCain. (See the Pentagon’s rejection of my attempt to obtain records of this debriefing.)

All humans have breaking points. Many men undergoing torture give confessions, often telling huge lies so their fakery will be understood by their comrades and their country. Few will fault them. But it was McCain who apparently felt he had disgraced himself and his military family. His father, John S. McCain II, was a highly regarded rear admiral then serving as commander of all US forces in the Pacific. His grandfather was also a rear admiral.

In his bestselling 1999 autobiography, Faith of My Fathers, McCain says he felt bad throughout his captivity because he knew he was being treated more leniently than his fellow POWs, owing to his high-ranking father and thus his propaganda value. Other prisoners at Hoa Lo say his captors considered him a prize catch and called him the “Crown Prince,” something McCain acknowledges in the book.

Also in this memoir, McCain expresses guilt at having broken under torture and given the confession. “I felt faithless and couldn’t control my despair,” he writes, revealing that he made two “feeble” attempts at suicide. (In later years, he said he tried to hang himself with his shirt and guards intervened.) Tellingly, he says he lived in “dread” that his father would find out about the confession. “I still wince,” he writes, “when I recall wondering if my father had heard of my disgrace.”

He says that when he returned home, he told his father about the confession, but “never discussed it at length” – and the admiral, who died in 1981, didn’t indicate he had heard anything about it before. But he had. In the 1999 memoir, the senator writes: “I only recently learned that the tape … had been broadcast outside the prison and had come to the attention of my father.”

Is McCain haunted by these memories? Does he suppress POW information because its surfacing would rekindle his feelings of shame? On this subject, all I have are questions.

Many stories have been written about McCain’s explosive temper, so volcanic that colleagues are loathe to speak openly about it. One veteran congressman who has observed him over the years asked for confidentiality and made this brief comment: “This is a man not at peace with himself.”

He was certainly far from calm on the Senate POW committee. He browbeat expert witnesses who came with information about unreturned POWs. Family members who have personally faced McCain and pressed him to end the secrecy also have been treated to his legendary temper. He has screamed at them, insulted them, brought women to tears. Mostly his responses to them have been versions of: How dare you question my patriotism? In 1996, he roughly pushed aside a group of POW family members who had waited outside a hearing room to appeal to him, including a mother in a wheelchair.

But even without answers to what may be hidden in the recesses of McCain’s mind, one thing about the POW story is clear: If American prisoners were dishonored by being written off and left to die, that’s something the American public ought to know about.

10 Key Pieces of Evidence That Men Were Left Behind

1. In Paris, where the Vietnam peace treaty was negotiated, the United States asked Hanoi for the list of American prisoners to be returned, fearing that Hanoi would hold some prisoners back. The North Vietnamese refused, saying they would produce the list only after the treaty was signed. Nixon agreed with Kissinger that they had no leverage left, and Kissinger signed the accord on January 27, 1973, without the prisoner list. When Hanoi produced its list of 591 prisoners the next day, U.S. intelligence agencies expressed shock at the low number. Their number was hundreds higher. The New York Times published a long, page-one story on February 2, 1973, about the discrepancy, especially raising questions about the number of prisoners held in Laos, only nine of whom were being returned. The headline read, in part: “Laos POW List Shows 9 from U.S. – Document Disappointing to Washington as 311 Were Believed Missing.” And the story, by John Finney, said that other Washington officials “believe the number of prisoners [in Laos] is probably substantially higher.” The paper never followed up with any serious investigative reporting – nor did any other mainstream news organization.

2. Two defense secretaries who served during the Vietnam War testified to the Senate POW committee in September 1992 that prisoners were not returned. James Schlesinger and Melvin Laird, both speaking at a public session and under oath, said they based their conclusions on strong intelligence data – letters, eyewitness reports, even direct radio contacts. Under questioning, Schlesinger chose his words carefully, understanding clearly the volatility of the issue: “I think that as of now that I can come to no other conclusion … some were left behind.” This ran counter to what President Nixon told the public in a nationally televised speech on March 29, 1973, when the repatriation of the 591 was in motion: “Tonight,” Nixon said, “the day we have all worked and prayed for has finally come. For the first time in twelve years, no American military forces are in Vietnam. All our American POWs are on their way home.” Documents unearthed since then show that aides had already briefed Nixon about the contrary evidence.

Schlesinger was asked by the Senate committee for his explanation of why President Nixon would have made such a statement when he knew Hanoi was still holding prisoners. He replied: “One must assume that we had concluded that the bargaining position of the United States … was quite weak. We were anxious to get our troops out and we were not going to roil the waters …” This testimony struck me as a bombshell. The New York Times appropriately reported it on page one but again there was no sustained follow-up by the Times or any other major paper or national news outlet.

3. Over the years, the DIA received more than 1,600 first-hand sightings of live American prisoners and nearly 14,000 second-hand reports. Many witnesses interrogated by CIA or Pentagon intelligence agents were deemed “credible” in the agents’ reports. Some of the witnesses were given lie-detector tests and passed. Sources provided me with copies of these witness reports, which are impressive in their detail. A lot of the sightings described a secondary tier of prison camps many miles from Hanoi. Yet the DIA, after reviewing all these reports, concluded that they “do not constitute evidence” that men were alive.

4. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, listening stations picked up messages in which Laotian military personnel spoke about moving American prisoners from one labor camp to another. These listening posts were manned by Thai communications officers trained by the National Security Agency (NSA), which monitors signals worldwide. The NSA teams had moved out after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and passed the job to the Thai allies. But when the Thais turned these messages over to Washington, the intelligence community ruled that since the intercepts were made by a “third party” – namely Thailand – they could not be regarded as authentic. That’s some Catch-22: The U.S. trained a third party to take over its role in monitoring signals about POWs, but because that third party did the monitoring, the messages weren’t valid.

Here, from CIA files, is an example that clearly exposes the farce. On December 27, 1980, a Thai military signal team picked up a message saying that prisoners were being moved out of Attopeu (in southern Laos) by aircraft “at 1230 hours.” Three days later a message was sent from the CIA station in Bangkok to the CIA director’s office in Langley. It read, in part: “The prisoners … are now in the valley in permanent location (a prison camp at Nhommarath in Central Laos). They were transferred from Attopeu to work in various places … POWs were formerly kept in caves and are very thin, dark and starving.” Apparently the prisoners were real. But the transmission was declared “invalid” by Washington because the information came from a “third party” and thus could not be deemed credible.

5. A series of what appeared to be distress signals from Vietnam and Laos were captured by the government’s satellite system in the late 1980s and early ’90s. (Before that period, no search for such signals had been put in place.) Not a single one of these markings was ever deemed credible. To the layman’s eye, the satellite photos, some of which I’ve seen, show markings on the ground that are identical to the signals that American pilots had been specifically trained to use in their survival courses – such as certain letters, like X or K, drawn in a special way. Other markings were the secret four-digit authenticator numbers given to individual pilots. But time and again, the Pentagon, backed by the CIA, insisted that humans had not made these markings. What were they, then? “Shadows and vegetation,” the government said, insisting that the markings were merely normal topographical contours like saw-grass or rice-paddy divider walls. It was the automatic response – shadows and vegetation. On one occasion, a Pentagon photo expert refused to go along. It was a missing man’s name gouged into a field, he said, not trampled grass or paddy berms. His bosses responded by bringing in an outside contractor who found instead, yes, shadows and vegetation. This refrain led Bob Taylor, a highly regarded investigator on the Senate committee staff who had examined the photographic evidence, to comment to me: “If grass can spell out people’s names and a secret digit codes, then I have a newfound respect for grass.”

6. On November 11, 1992, Dolores Alfond, the sister of missing airman Capt. Victor Apodaca and chair of the National Alliance of Families, an organization of relatives of POW/MIAs, testified at one of the Senate committee’s public hearings. She asked for information about data the government had gathered from electronic devices used in a classified program known as PAVE SPIKE.

The devices were motion sensors, dropped by air, designed to pick up enemy troop movements. Shaped on one end like a spike with an electronic pod and antenna on top, they were designed to stick in the ground as they fell. Air Force planes would drop them along the Ho Chi Minh trail and other supply routes. The devices, though primarily sensors, also had rescue capabilities. Someone on the ground – a downed airman or a prisoner on a labor gang – could manually enter data into the sensor. All data were regularly collected electronically by U.S. planes flying overhead. Alfond stated, without any challenge or contradiction by the committee, that in 1974, a year after the supposedly complete return of prisoners, the gathered data showed that a person or people had manually entered into the sensors – as U.S. pilots had been trained to do – “no less than 20 authenticator numbers that corresponded exactly to the classified authenticator numbers of 20 US POWs who were lost in Laos.” Alfond added, according to the transcript: “This PAVE SPIKE intelligence is seamless, but the committee has not discussed it or released what it knows about PAVE SPIKE.”

McCain attended that committee hearing specifically to confront Alfond because of her criticism of the panel’s work. He bellowed and berated her for quite a while. His face turning anger-pink, he accused her of “denigrating” his “patriotism.” The bullying had its effect – she began to cry.

After a pause Alfond recovered and tried to respond to his scorching tirade, but McCain simply turned away and stormed out of the room. The PAVE SPIKE file has never been declassified. We still don’t know anything about those twenty POWs.

7. As previously mentioned, in April 1993, in a Moscow archive, a researcher from Harvard, Stephen Morris, unearthed and made public the transcript of a briefing that General Tran Van Quang gave to the Hanoi politburo four months before the signing of the Paris peace accords in 1973.

In the transcript, General Quang told the Hanoi politburo that 1,205 U.S. prisoners were being held. Quang said that many of the prisoners would be held back from Washington after the accords as bargaining chips for war reparations. General Quang’s report added: “This is a big number. Officially, until now, we published a list of only 368 prisoners of war. The rest we have not revealed. The government of the USA knows this well, but it does not know the exact number … and can only make guesses based on its losses. That is why we are keeping the number of prisoners of war secret, in accordance with the politburo’s instructions.” The report then went on to explain in clear and specific language that a large number would be kept back to ensure reparations.

The reaction to the document was immediate. After two decades of denying it had kept any prisoners, Hanoi responded to the revelation by calling the transcript a fabrication.

Similarly, Washington – which had over the same two decades refused to recant Nixon’s declaration that all the prisoners had been returned – also shifted into denial mode. The Pentagon issued a statement saying the document “is replete with errors, omissions and propaganda that seriously damage its credibility,” and that the numbers were “inconsistent with our own accounting.”

Neither American nor Vietnamese officials offered any rationale for who would plant a forged document in the Soviet archives and why they would do so. Certainly neither Washington nor Moscow – closely allied with Hanoi – would have any motive, since the contents were embarrassing to all parties, and since both the United States and Vietnam had consistently denied the existence of unreturned prisoners. The Russian archivists simply said the document was “authentic.”

8. In his 2002 book, Inside Delta Force, Retired Command Sgt. Major Eric Haney described how in 1981 his special forces unit, after rigorous training for a POW rescue mission, had the mission suddenly aborted, revived a year later and again abruptly aborted. Haney writes that this abandonment of captured soldiers ate at him for years and left him disillusioned about his government’s vows to leave no men behind.

“Years later, I spoke at length with a former highly placed member of the North Vietnamese diplomatic corps, and this person asked me point-blank: ‘Why did the Americans never attempt to recover their remaining POWs after the conclusion of the war?’” Haney writes. He continued, saying that he came to believe senior government officials had called off those missions in 1981 and 1982. (His account is on pages 314 to 321 of my paperback copy of the book.)

9. There is also evidence that in the first months of Ronald Reagan’s presidency in 1981, the White House received a ransom proposal for a number of POWs being held by Hanoi in Indochina. The offer, which was passed to Washington from an official of a third country, was apparently discussed at a meeting in the Roosevelt Room attended by Reagan, Vice-President Bush, CIA director William Casey and National Security Advisor Richard Allen. Allen confirmed the offer in sworn testimony to the Senate POW committee on June 23, 1992.

Allen was allowed to testify behind closed doors and no information was released. But a San Diego Union-Tribune reporter, Robert Caldwell, obtained the portion relating to the ransom offer and reported on it. The ransom request was for $4 billion, Allen testified. He said he told Reagan that “it would be worth the president’s going along and let’s have the negotiation.” When his testimony appeared in the Union Tribune, Allen quickly wrote a letter to the panel, this time not under oath, recanting the ransom story and claiming his memory had played tricks on him. His new version was that some POW activists had asked him about such an offer in a meeting that took place in 1986, when he was no longer in government. “It appears,” he said in the letter, “that there never was a 1981 meeting about the return of POW/MIAs for $4 billion.”

But the episode didn’t end there. A Treasury agent on Secret Service duty in the White House, John Syphrit, came forward to say he had overheard part of the ransom conversation in the Roosevelt Room in 1981, when the offer was discussed by Reagan, Bush, Casey, Allen and other cabinet officials.

Syphrit, a veteran of the Vietnam War, told the committee he was willing to testify but they would have to subpoena him. Treasury opposed his appearance, arguing that voluntary testimony would violate the trust between the Secret Service and those it protects. It was clear that coming in on his own could cost Syphrit his career. The committee voted 7 to 4 not to subpoena him.

In the committee’s final report, dated January 13, 1993 (on page 284), the panel not only chastised Syphrit for his failure to testify without a subpoena (“The committee regrets that the Secret Service agent was unwilling …”), but noted that since Allen had recanted his testimony about the Roosevelt Room briefing, Syphrit’s testimony would have been “at best, uncorroborated by the testimony of any other witness.” The committee omitted any mention that it had made a decision not to ask the other two surviving witnesses, Bush and Reagan, to give testimony under oath. (Casey had died.)

10. In 1990, Colonel Millard Peck, a decorated infantry veteran of Vietnam then working at the DIA as chief of the Asia Division for Current Intelligence, asked for the job of chief of the DIA’s Special Office for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. His reason for seeking the transfer, which was not a promotion, was that he had heard from officials throughout the Pentagon that the POW/MIA office had been turned into a waste-disposal unit for getting rid of unwanted evidence about live prisoners – a “black hole,” these officials called it.

Peck explained all this in his telling resignation letter of February 12, 1991, eight months after he had taken the job. He said he viewed it as “sort of a holy crusade” to restore the integrity of the office but was defeated by the Pentagon machine. The four-page, single-spaced letter was scathing, describing the putative search for missing men as “a cover-up.”

Peck charged that, at its top echelons, the Pentagon had embraced a “mind-set to debunk” all evidence of prisoners left behind. “That national leaders continue to address the prisoner of war and missing in action issue as the ‘highest national priority,’ is a travesty,” he wrote. “The entire charade does not appear to be an honest effort, and may never have been. … Practically all analysis is directed to finding fault with the source. Rarely has there been any effective, active follow through on any of the sightings, nor is there a responsive ‘action arm’ to routinely and aggressively pursue leads.”

“I became painfully aware,” his letter continued, “that I was not really in charge of my own office, but was merely a figurehead or whipping boy for a larger and totally Machiavellian group of players outside of DIA. … I feel strongly that this issue is being manipulated and controlled at a higher level, not with the goal of resolving it, but more to obfuscate the question of live prisoners and give the illusion of progress through hyperactivity.” He named no names but said these players are “unscrupulous people in the Government or associated with the Government” who “have maintained their distance and remained hidden in the shadows, while using the [POW] Office as a ‘toxic waste dump’ to bury the whole ‘mess’ out of sight.” Peck added that “military officers … who in some manner have ‘rocked the boat’ [have] quickly come to grief.”

Peck concluded: “From what I have witnessed, it appears that any soldier left in Vietnam, even inadvertently, was, in fact, abandoned years ago, and that the farce that is being played is no more than political legerdemain done with ‘smoke and mirrors’ to stall the issue until it dies a natural death.”

The disillusioned colonel not only resigned but asked to be retired immediately from active military service. The press never followed up.

My Pursuit of the Story

I covered the war in Cambodia and Vietnam, but came to the POW information only slowly afterward, when military officers I knew from that conflict began coming to me with maps and POW sightings and depositions by Vietnamese witnesses.

I was then city editor of the New York Times, no longer involved in foreign or national stories, so I took the data to the appropriate desks and suggested it was material worth pursuing. There were no takers. Some years later, in 1991, when I was an op-ed columnist at Newsday, the aforementioned special Senate committee was formed to probe the POW issue. I saw this as an opening and immersed myself in the reporting.

At Newsday, I wrote thirty-five columns over a two-year period, as well as a four-part series on a trip I took to North Vietnam to report on what happened to one missing pilot who was shot down over the Ho Chi Minh trail and captured when he parachuted down. After Newsday, I wrote thousands more words on the subject for other outlets. Some of the pieces were about McCain’s key role.

Though I wrote on many subjects for Life, Vanity Fair and Washington Monthly, my POW articles appeared in Penthouse, the Village Voice and APBnews.com. Mainstream publications just weren’t interested. Their disinterest was part of what motivated me, and I became one of a very short list of journalists who considered the story important.

Serving in the army in Germany during the Cold War and witnessing combat first-hand as a reporter in India and Indochina led me to have great respect for those who fight for their country. To my mind, we dishonored U.S. troops when our government failed to bring them home from Vietnam after the 591 others were released – and then claimed they didn’t exist. And politicians dishonor themselves when they pay lip service to the bravery and sacrifice of soldiers only to leave untold numbers behind, rationalizing to themselves that it’s merely one of the unfortunate costs of war.

John McCain – now campaigning for the White House as a war hero, maverick and straight shooter – owes the voters some explanations. The press were long ago wooed and won by McCain’s seeming openness, Lone Ranger pose and self-deprecating humor, which may partly explain their ignoring his record on POWs. In the numerous, lengthy McCain profiles that have appeared of late in papers like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, I may have missed a clause or a sentence along the way, but I have not found a single mention of his role in burying information about POWs. Television and radio news programs have been similarly silent.

Reporters simply never ask him about it. They didn’t when he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in 2000. They haven’t now, despite the fact that we’re in the midst of another war – a war he supports and one that has echoes of Vietnam.

The only explanation McCain has ever offered for his leadership on legislation that seals POW files is that he believes the release of such information would only stir up fresh grief for the families of those who were never accounted for in Vietnam. Of the scores of POW families I’ve met over the years, only a few have said they want the books closed without knowing what happened to their men. All the rest say that not knowing is exactly what grieves them.

Isn’t it possible that what really worries those intent on keeping the POW documents buried is the public disgust that the contents of those files would generate?

How the Senate Committee Perpetuated the Debunking

In its early months, the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs gave the appearance of being committed to finding out the truth about the MIAs. As time went on, however, it became clear that they were cooperating in every way with the Pentagon and CIA, who often seemed to be calling the shots, even setting the agendas for certain key hearings. Both agencies held back the most important POW files. Dick Cheney was the Pentagon chief then; Robert Gates, now the Pentagon chief, was the CIA director.

Further, the committee failed to question any living president. Reagan declined to answer questions; the committee didn’t contest his refusal. Nixon was given a pass. George H.W. Bush, the sitting president, whose prints were all over this issue from his days as CIA chief in the 1970s, was never even approached.

Troubled by these signs, several committee staffers began asking why the agencies they should be probing had been turned into committee partners and decision makers. Memos to that effect were circulated. The staff made the following finding, using intelligence reports marked “credible” that covered POW sightings through 1989: “There can be no doubt that POWs were alive … as late as 1989.” That finding was never released. Eventually, much of the staff was in rebellion.

This internecine struggle (see coverage, at left) continued right up to the committee’s last official act – the issuance of its final report. The “Executive Summary,” which comprised the first forty-three pages – was essentially a whitewash, saying that only “a small number” of POWs could have been left behind in 1973 and that there was little likelihood that any prisoners could still be alive. The Washington press corps, judging from its coverage, seems to have read only this air-brushed summary, which had been closely controlled.

But the rest of the 1,221-page Report on POW/MIAs was quite different. Sprinkled throughout are pieces of hard evidence that directly contradict the summary’s conclusions. This documentation established that a significant number of prisoners were left behind – and that top government officials knew this from the start. These candid findings were inserted by committee staffers who had unearthed the evidence and were determined not to allow the truth to be sugar-coated.

If the Washington press corps did actually read the body of the report and then failed to report its contents, that would be a scandal of its own. The press would then have knowingly ignored the steady stream of findings in the body of the report that refuted the summary and indicated that the number of abandoned men was not small but considerable. The report gave no figures but estimates from various branches of the intelligence community ranged up to 600. The lowest estimate was 150.

Highlights of the report that undermine the benign conclusions of the Executive Summary:

* Pages 207-209: These three pages contain revelations of what appear to be either massive intelligence failures, or bad intentions – or both. The report says that until the committee brought up the subject in 1992, no branch of the intelligence community that dealt with analysis of satellite and lower-altitude photos had ever been informed of the specific distress signals US personnel were trained to use in the Vietnam war, nor had they ever been tasked to look for any such signals at all from possible prisoners on the ground.

The committee decided, however, not to seek a review of old photography, saying it “would cause the expenditure of large amounts of manpower and money with no expectation of success.”

It might also have turned up lots of distress-signal numbers that nobody in the government was looking for from 1973 to 1991, when the committee opened shop. That would have made it impossible for the committee to write the Executive Summary it seemed determined to write.

The failure gets worse. The committee also discovered that the DIA, which kept the lists of authenticator numbers for pilots and other personnel, could not “locate” the lists of these codes for Army, Navy or Marine pilots. They had lost or destroyed the records. The Air Force list was the only one intact, as it had been preserved by a different intelligence branch.

The report concluded: “In theory, therefore, if a POW still living in captivity [today], were to attempt to communicate by ground signal, smuggling out a note or by whatever means possible, and he used his personal authenticator number to confirm his identity, the U.S. Government would be unable to provide such confirmation, if his number happened to be among those numbers DIA cannot locate.”

It’s worth remembering that throughout the period when this intelligence disaster occurred –from the moment the treaty was signed in 1973 until 1991 – the White House told the public that it had given the search for POWs and POW information the “highest national priority.”

* Page 13: Even in the Executive Summary, the report acknowledges the existence of clear intelligence, made known to government officials early on, that important numbers of captured US POWs were not on Hanoi’s repatriation list. After Hanoi released its list (showing only ten names from Laos – nine military men and one civilian), President Nixon sent a message on February 2, 1973, to Hanoi’s Prime Minister Pham Van Dong. saying: “U.S. records show there are 317 American military men unaccounted for in Laos and it is inconceivable that only ten of these men would be held prisoner in Laos.”

Nixon was right. It was inconceivable. Then why did the president, less than two months later, on March 29, 1973, announce on national television that “all of our American POWs are on their way home”?

On April 13, 1973, just after all 591 men on Hanoi’s official list had returned to American soil, the Pentagon got into step with the president and announced that there was no evidence of any further live prisoners in Indochina (this is on page 248).

*Page 91: A lengthy footnote provides more confirmation of the White House’s knowledge of abandoned POWs. The footnote reads:

“In a telephone conversation with Select Committee Vice-Chairman Bob Smith on December 29, 1992, Dr. Kissinger said that he had informed President Nixon during the 60-day period after the peace agreement was signed that U.S. intelligence officials believed that the list of prisoners captured in Laos was incomplete. According to Dr. Kissinger, the President responded by directing that the exchange of prisoners on the lists go forward, but added that a failure to account for the additional prisoners after Operation Homecoming would lead to a resumption of bombing. Dr. Kissinger said that the President was later unwilling to carry through on this threat.”

When Kissinger learned of the footnote while the final editing of the committee report was in progress, he and his lawyers lobbied fiercely through two Republican allies on the panel – one of them was John McCain – to get the footnote expunged. The effort failed. The footnote stayed intact.

* Pages 85-86: The committee report quotes Kissinger from his memoirs, writing solely in reference to prisoners in Laos: “We knew of at least 80 instances in which an American serviceman had been captured alive and subsequently disappeared. The evidence consisted either of voice communications from the ground in advance of capture or photographs and names published by the Communists. Yet none of these men was on the list of POWs handed over after the Agreement.”

Then why did he swear under oath to the committee in 1992 that he never had any information that specific, named soldiers were captured alive and hadn’t been returned by Vietnam?

* Page 89: In the middle of the prisoner repatriation and U.S. troop-withdrawal process agreed to in the treaty, when it became clear that Hanoi was not releasing everyone it held, a furious chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer, issued an order halting the troop withdrawal until Hanoi complied with the agreement. He cited in particular the known prisoners in Laos. The order was retracted by President Nixon the next day. In 1992, Moorer, by then retired, testified under oath to the committee that his order had received the approval of the President, the national security advisor and the secretary of defense. Nixon, however, in a letter to the committee, wrote: “I do not recall directing Admiral Moorer to send this cable.”

The report did not include the following information: Behind closed doors, a senior intelligence officer had testified to the POW committee that when Moorer’s order was rescinded, the angry admiral sent a “back-channel” message to other key military commanders telling them that Washington was abandoning known live prisoners. “Nixon and Kissinger are at it again,” he wrote. “SecDef and SecState have been cut out of the loop.” In 1973, the witness was working in the office that processed this message. His name and his testimony are still classified. A source present for the testimony provided me with this information and also reported that in that same time period, Moorer had stormed into Defense Secretary Schlesinger’s office and, pounding on his desk, yelled: “The bastards have still got our men.” Schlesinger, in his own testimony to the committee a few months later, was asked about – and corroborated – this account.

*Pages 95-96: In early April 1973, Deputy Defense Secretary William Clements “summoned” Dr. Roger Shields, then head of the Pentagon’s POW/MIA Task Force, to his office to work out “a new public formulation” of the POW issue; now that the White House had declared all prisoners to have been returned, a new spin was needed. Shields, under oath, described the meeting to the committee. He said Clements told him: “All the American POWs are dead.” Shields said he replied: “You can’t say that.” Clements shot back: “You didn’t hear me. They are all dead.” Shields testified that at that moment he thought he was going to be fired, but he escaped from his boss’s office still holding his job.

*Pages 97-98: A couple of days later, on April 11, 1973, a day before Shields was to hold a Pentagon press conference on POWs, he and Gen. Brent Scowcroft, then the deputy national security advisor, went to the Oval Office to discuss the “new public formulation” and its presentation with President Nixon.

The next day, reporters right off asked Shields about missing POWs. Shields fudged his answers. He said: “We have no indications at this time that there are any Americans alive in Indochina.” But he went on to say that there had not been “a complete accounting” of those lost in Laos and that the Pentagon would press on to account for the missing – a seeming acknowledgement that some Americans were still alive and unaccounted for.

The press, however, seized on Shields’ denials. One headline read: “POW Unit Boss: No Living GIs Left in Indochina.”

*Page 97: The POW committee, knowing that Nixon taped all his meetings in the Oval Office, sought the tape of that April 11, 1973, Nixon-Shields-Scowcroft meeting to find out what Nixon had been told and what he had said about the evidence of POWs still in Indochina. The committee also knew there had been other White House meetings that centered on intelligence about live POWs. A footnote on page 97 states that Nixon’s lawyers said they would provide access to the April 11 tape “only if the Committee agreed not to seek any other White House recordings from this time period.” The footnote says that the committee rejected these terms and got nothing. The committee never made public this request for Nixon tapes until the brief footnote in its 1993 report.

McCain’s Catch-22

None of this compelling evidence in the committee’s full report dislodged McCain from his contention that the whole POW issue was a concoction by deluded purveyors of a “conspiracy theory.” But an honest review of the full report, combined with the other documentary evidence, tells the story of a frustrated and angry president, and his national security advisor, furious at being thwarted at the peace table by a small, much less powerful country that refused to bow to Washington’s terms. That President seems to have swallowed hard and accepted a treaty that left probably hundreds of American prisoners in Hanoi’s hands, to be used as bargaining chips for reparations.

Maybe Nixon and Kissinger told themselves that they could get the prisoners home after some time had passed. But perhaps it proved too hard to undo a lie as big as this one. Washington said no prisoners were left behind, and Hanoi swore it had returned all of them. How could either side later admit it had lied? Time went by and as neither side budged, telling the truth became even more difficult and remote. The public would realize that Washington knew of the abandoned men all along. The truth, after men had been languishing in foul prison cells, could get people impeached or thrown in jail.

Which brings us to today, when the Republican candidate for President is the contemporaneous politician most responsible for keeping the truth about his matter hidden. Yet he says he’s the right man to be the Commander-in-Chief, and his credibility in making this claim is largely based on his image as a POW hero.

On page 468 of the 1,221-page report, McCain parsed his POW position oddly: “We found no compelling evidence to prove that Americans are alive in captivity today. There is some evidence – though no proof – to suggest only the possibility that a few Americans may have been kept behind after the end of America’s military involvement in Vietnam.”

“Evidence though no proof.” Clearly, no one could meet McCain’s standard of proof as long as he is leading a government crusade to keep the truth buried.

To this reporter, this sounds like a significant story and a long overdue opportunity for the press to finally dig into the archives to set the historical record straight – and even pose some direct questions to the candidate.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/mccain-and-the-pow-cover-up/#7D3K04Samg7yUMYM.99

Maybe It’s Here Already

12 Ways The Economy Is Already In Worse Shape Than It Was During The Depths Of The Last Recession

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By Michael Snyder at The Economic Collapse

Did you know that the percentage of children in the United States that are living in poverty is actually significantly higher than it was back in 2008?  When I write about an “economic collapse”, most people think of a collapse of the financial markets.  And without a doubt, one is coming very shortly, but let us not neglect the long-term economic collapse that is already happening all around us.  In this article, I am going to share with you a bunch of charts and statistics that show that economic conditions are already substantially worse than they were during the last financial crisis in a whole bunch of different ways.  Unfortunately, in our 48 hour news cycle world, a slow and steady decline does not produce many “sexy headlines”.  Those of us that are news junkies (myself included) are always looking for things that will shock us.  But if you stand back and take a broader view of things, what has been happening to the U.S. economy truly is quite shocking.  The following are 12 ways that the U.S. economy is already in worse shape than it was during the depths of the last recession…

#1 Back in 2008, 18 percent of all Americans kids were living in poverty.  This week, we learned that number has now risen to 22 percent

There are nearly three million more children living in poverty today than during the recession, shocking new figures have revealed.

Nearly a quarter of youngsters in the US (22 percent) or around 16.1 million individuals, were classed as living below the poverty line in 2013.

This has soared from just 18 percent in 2008 – during the height of the economic crisis, the Casey Foundation’s 2015 Kids Count Data Book reported.

#2 In early 2008, the homeownership rate in the U.S. was hovering around 68 percent.  Today, it has plunged below 64 percent.  Incredibly, it has not been this low in more than 20 years.  Just look at this chart – the homeownership rate has continued to plummet throughout Obama’s “economic recovery”…

Homeownership Rate 2015

#3 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, government dependence has skyrocketed to levels that we have never seen before.  In 2008, the federal government was spending about 37 billion dollars a year on the federal food stamp program.  Today, that number is above 74 billion dollars.  If the economy truly is “recovering”, why is government dependence so much higher than it was during the last recession?

#4 On the chart below, you can see that the U.S. national debt was sitting at about 9 trillion dollars when we entered the last recession.  Since that time, the debt of the federal government has doubled.  We are on the exact same path that Greece has gone down, and what you are looking at below is a recipe for national economic suicide…

Presentation National Debt

#5 During Obama’s “recovery”, real median household income has actually gone down quite a bit.  Just prior to the last recession, it was above $54,000 per year, but now it has dropped to about $52,000 per year…

Median Household Income

#6 Even though our incomes are stagnating, the cost of living just continues to rise steadily.  This is especially true of basic things that we all purchase such as food.  As I wrote about earlier this year, the price of ground beef in the United Stateshas doubled since the last recession.

#7 In a healthy economy, lots of new businesses are opening and not that many are being forced to shut down.  But for each of the past six years, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened.  Prior to 2008, this had neverhappened before in all of U.S. history.

#8 Barack Obama is constantly telling us about how unemployment is “going down”, but the truth is that the  percentage of working age Americans that are either working or considered to be looking for work has steadily declined since the end of the last recession…

Presentation Labor Force Participation Rate

#9 Some have suggested that the decline in the labor force participation rate is due to large numbers of older people retiring.  But the reality of the matter is that we have seen a spike in the inactivity rate for Americans in their prime working years.  As you can see below, the percentage of males between the ages of 25 and 54 that aren’t working and that aren’t looking for work has surged to record highs since the end of the last recession…

Presentation Inactivity Rate

#10 A big reason why we don’t have enough jobs for everyone is the fact that millions upon millions of good paying jobs have been shipped overseas.  At the end of Barack Obama’s first year in office, our yearly trade deficit with China was 226 billion dollars.  Last year, it was more than 343 billion dollars.

#11 Thanks to all of these factors, the middle class in Americais dying.  In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  But by 2014, only 44 percentof all Americans still considered themselves to be “middle class”.

When you take a look at our young people, the numbers become even more pronounced.  In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  But in 2014, an astounding 49 percent of all Americans in that age range considered themselves to be “lower class”.

#12 This is something that I have covered before, but it bears repeating.  The velocity of money is a very important indicator of the health of an economy.  When an economy is functioning smoothly, people generally feel quite good about things and money flows freely through the system.  I buy something from you, then you take that money and buy something from someone else, etc.  But when an economy is in trouble, the velocity of money tends to go down.  As you can see on the chart below, a drop in the velocity of money has been associated with every single recession since 1960.  So why has the velocity of money continued to plummet since the end of the last recession?…

Velocity Of Money M2

If you are waiting for an “economic collapse” to happen, you can stop waiting.

One is unfolding right now before our very eyes.

But what most people really mean when they ask about these things is that they are wondering when the next great financial crisis will happen.  And as I discussedyesterday, things are lining up in textbook fashion for one to happen in our very near future.

Once the next great financial crisis does strike, all of the numbers that I just discussed above are going to get a whole lot worse.

So as bad as things are now, the truth is that this is just the beginning of the pain.

Source: 12 Ways The Economy Is Already In Worse Shape Than It Was During The Depths Of The Last Recession

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