Clinton Touts Steps To Isolate Iran

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday 11 countries have become the first to “significantly reduce” imports of oil from Iran.

“I am pleased to announce that an initial group of 11 countries has significantly reduced their volume of crude oil purchases from Iran,” she said.

Clinton said Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom were the first to join the United States in an effort to isolate Iran economically in an effort to pressure Tehran to abandon an alleged nuclear weapons program.

The European Union has agreed to comply with the sanctions but allowed its members until July 1 to phase out existing contracts with Iranian suppliers.

“The actions taken by these countries were not easy,” Clinton said. “They had to rethink their energy needs at a critical time for the world economy and quickly begin to find alternatives to Iranian oil, which many had been reliant on for their energy needs.”

Although not an oil importer, Saudi Arabia said this week it would act unilaterally or in cooperation with members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to keep oil supplies intact and oil prices stable while the supply from Iran diminishes.

Woman, 101, Becomes Oldest Paraglider

OGDEN, Utah (UPI) — Guinness World Records announced a 101-year-old Utah woman has been named the Oldest Female to Paraglide Tandem.

The record-keeping organization said Mary Allen Hardison of Ogden, went tandem paragliding with a Cloud 9 Paragliding Company instructor as part of her 101st birthday celebration on Sept. 1.

Hardison, a great-great grandmother, said she was inspired by her son, Allen, 75, who had recently taken up paragliding as a hobby.

“I feel very humble in setting a new Guinness World Record. My desire is for the elderly to keep on going, do things as long as you are physically able. Be positive. Friends don’t like a grumpy person,” Hardison said.

Arrested Man Lists Self As ‘Drug Dealer’

HOLIDAY, Fla. (UPI) — Police said a man who allegedly stabbed another man and lists his occupation as “drug dealer” was arrested on a probation violation.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said Deaundre Barnes, 22, allegedly stabbed Thomas Grippo, 23, at a home in Holiday during a fight sparked when Barnes told Grippo and his girlfriend to “shut up” early Sunday morning, the Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla., reported Wednesday.

Grippo told police he didn’t realize he’d been stabbed until he arrived home and discovered he was bleeding.

Police said Barnes was sentenced to five years of drug offender probation in June and is listed by the Florida Department of Corrections as an “absconder/fugitive.”

Barnes was taken to the Pasco jail and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and violating his probation.

Bird-Like Wings Carry Man 330 Feet

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, March 21 (UPI) — A Dutch man said he completed a flight of about 330 feet using homemade wings based on those of a bird.

Jarno Smeets, 31, an engineer, said he controlled the 55-foot wings using two Nintendo Wii controllers, the accelerometers from an HTC Wildfire S smartphone and Turnigy motors when he took off Sunday at a park in The Hague and flew for about a minute.

“Ever since I was a little boy I have been inspired by pioneers like Otto Lilienthal, Leonardo da Vinci and also my own grandfather,” Smeets said.

Smeets has been chronicling his progress on the Human Bird Wings project on YouTube.

Police Van ‘Planking’ In R.I. Investigated

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (UPI) — Police in Rhode Island said they are investigating after pictures were posted online of two women “planking” on a police van.

Providence police said an internal investigation was opened after photos appeared on Facebook of two women “planking,” a posing trend involving a person lying on their stomach with their bodies rigid like a wooden plank, on a city police van, WPRI-TV, Providence, reported Wednesday.

“The incident took place several months ago. The officers operating the police van identified themselves and the administration will take necessary action,” police spokesman Steven Pare said.

A witness said the women were drunk and one of them appeared to fall off the van while taking the pictures.

Pink Hair Suspension Overturned In Delaware

NEWARK, Del. (UPI) — Officials in a Delaware school district said a girl who was suspended last week for dyeing her hair pink is being allowed to return to class.

Brianna Moore, 12, a sixth-grader at Shue-Medill Middle School in Newark, was allowed to dye her hair pink as a reward for good grades last week, and she was suspended Thursday for violating a school policy banning “excessive hair colors, red, blue, green etc.,” the Wilmington News Journal reported Wednesday.

Christina School District spokeswoman Wendy Lapham said the suspension was overturned and Moore was allowed to return to class Tuesday. She said the middle school is the only school in the district with a hair color policy and officials are likely to review the rule.

The reversal came after negotiations between the district’s lawyer and the ACLU of Delaware, which took up the Moore family’s case.

“Every hour a child spends out of school affects their education,” said Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware. “I wish the schools would think twice before they do that.”

How The Devil Has Won

Many Americans likely remember the iconic voice and lively commentaries of conservative radioman Paul Harvey who broadcast for more than 60 years until his death in 2009. On Tuesday, Harvey’s familiar voice surfaced once again as one of his more prophetic commentaries made its way through the viral waves of the blogosphere.

The monologue, entitled “If I Were The Devil,” is attributed to Harvey and has been circulated in various forms via the Internet since around 1999. Harvey’s original version dates back to 1964, according to Snopes.

Harvey’s monologue, in each of the slightly altered forms it has taken over the years, tells how if he were the devil he would set about to take over the world by first inducing moral decline in its most powerful Nation. Listen to a version Harvey reportedly broadcast on ABC Radio on April 3, 1965 below:

With so many distractions from an always-on 24-hour news cycle and the constant creation of new information thanks to the Internet, how is it possible that a 47-year old broadcast from a dead conservative radio host went viral this week? Perhaps Americans are concerned and Harvey’s words are more striking than ever before as the Nation continues to slide into a condition that many conservatives would say is decidedly not American at all.

Below is a transcript of a different form of Harvey’s monologue published on the FOX Nation website Tuesday. Throughout the text, links to recent news stories have been included as examples of how the moral decline discussed in the commentary is rampant in the United States today:

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.”   To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square.” In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington”…

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, Good Day.

This is only a small selection of available recent reports that coincide with the Harvey monologue, so maybe it is no surprise it went viral. It appears to be quite relevant to worried conservatives.

The Militarization Of America

America is a declining empire trying to resurrect itself through military intervention and armed occupation.

The more than $1 trillion decade with Iraq has finally ended. But neocon dreams of democracy for Iraq did not pan out. Iraq has a corrupt, shaky and ineffective government. Thousands of people continue to die in sectarian violence as Iraq wallows in a bloody civil war.

As for Afghanistan, most of the original terrorists in al-Qaida who planned 9/11 are either dead, in prison, on the run or holed up in Pakistan. Washington tells us that Pakistan is our most trusted Muslim ally, ignoring Peter Bergen’s 2011 New York Times bestseller The Longest War: The enduring conflict between America and al-Qaeda. Bergen writes that Pakistan has consistently been found to be “one of the most anti-American countries in the world.”

It seems obvious that the continued occupation of Afghanistan — a country that has defeated the armies of the Russian tsars, the British Empire and the Soviet Union — is doomed to fail.

We Need Cronkite

What makes news today are celebrity overdoses, dirt on Presidential candidates and the best new reality series. But consider what Walter Cronkite said on Feb. 27, 1968, following the Tet Offensive: “It seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past.”

Cronkite made this statement four years into that war. America is into its second decade of fighting in Afghanistan, and even a stalemate now seems impossible.

If the goals of victory were the killing of Osama bin Laden and the almost complete destruction of al-Qaida within Afghanistan, then victory has been achieved. But if the neoconservatives still believe we can institute a democratic government in Kabul, they are either naïve or initiating wars simply for the sake of war.

For decades, our government has been arrogant in imposing Western principals and ideals. Washington cannot understand that Afghanistan, a tribal and Muslim country, will not accept Western ideals any more than we would accept a prescript declared on us by a foreign power.

Imposing On Others

I am a peaceful fellow who is past middle age. I always tried to either walk or, better yet, run away from a real conflict. But if armed Chinese soldiers occupied and patrolled the streets of my city, I would clean the barrel on my hunting rifle. I am willing to bet that a great many of you would do the same to resist foreign occupation.

Yet Washington thinks American ideals should be welcomed with outstretched arms. Some of this has to do with the experience of World War II and how Europeans welcomed the United States as a liberator.

Here is the catch: The period 1925 to 1945 was an aberration — 20 years of dictators. Consider that before Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, much of Europe had thrived for decades with democracy. The United States helped restore that political order (except in Spain, which suffered with Franco until his death in 1975).

While the United States left scores of military bases in Europe to protect the West from a possible Soviet invasion, there was no occupation. The boys were back home months after victory in Europe. The Nazis had occupied Europe. Because of that, the murderous will of the French, Polish and Dutch resistance was visited upon German troops.

On this subject I was struck last year while re-watching Ken Burns’ PBS series, The Civil War, first broadcast in 1990.

In one segment the documentary tells of how Union cavalry surrounded a lone Confederate soldier who had no horse and whose clothes were dirty and tattered. A Union officer said to him that it was obvious that he had no wealth and not the means to own slaves. The officer asked: “Why are you fighting this war?”

The Confederate answered: “Because you are here.”

The Washington establishment fails to consider this universal truth in human nature. Senator John McCain continues to advocate the bombing of both Syria and Iran. And with the courageous exception of Ron Paul, the contenders for the GOP Presidential nomination strongly favor using the military over diplomacy and oppose any reductions in defense spending.

Exactly who is this enemy that America must outgun? Nobody has a good answer.

Neoconservatives always call upon the lesson the world learned when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler. How much better the world would have been, they argue, if Britain had stood up to Germany.

But is that the only lesson of the past 100 years? What of President John Kennedy’s refusal to launch a military strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis? It can be argued that America’s diplomacy-first gambit saved the human race.

If you don’t like the Kennedy example, consider World War I. Because some crackpot shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, war erupted. That war cost 20 million lives. Diplomacy could have prevented that war and, as a result, prevented the rise of Hitler and, thus, World War II.

I can only scratch my head when I listen to leaders like McCain. Have any of them read history?

Wars Serve A Purpose

Why war trumps diplomacy is explained by Stephen Glain in his new book, State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire. Glain concludes:

U.S. relations with the world, and increasingly America’s security policy at home, have become thoroughly and all but irreparably militarized. The culprits are not the nation’s military leaders, though they can be aggressive and cunning interagency operators, but civilian elites who have seen to it that the nation is engaged in a self-perpetuating cycle of low-grade conflict. They have been hiding in plain sight, hyping threats and exaggerating the capabilities and resources of adversaries. They have convinced a plurality of citizens that their best guarantee of security is not peace but war, and they did so with the help of a supine or complicit Congress. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. presidents have ordered troops into battle twenty-two times, compared with fourteen times during the Cold War. Not once did they appeal to lawmakers for a declaration of war.

I am not saying we should never use force. I believe America has enemies, and those enemies should be dealt with in a swift and deadly manner. I also believe that only if another nation is a real and “legitimate threat” to the United States should we initiate war.

America should be using the best special forces in the world with surgical strikes on those that would do us harm. America should use the RQ-1 Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles on terrorist groups and even possible terrorist groups. I am prepared to live with some collateral damage that will result from such strikes. This will be less deadly to foreign civilians and will save the lives of our young men and women in uniform, while helping to restore America’s standing in the world.

Compare this strategy to the armed occupation of Afghanistan. It is a non sequitur, and the real powers who run this country know it.

They know, and they just don’t care.

Yours in good times and bad,

–John Myers
Editor, Myers’ Energy & Gold Report

Editor’s note: It’s time to make your submissions for this month’s You Sound Off! feature, which will run March 28. Get your submission in by March 26. It should be no more than 750 words (if they are longer, we probably won’t read them). We will select the one or two we think are the best of the week to publish. We reserve the right to edit for grammar and style but will try not to alter the meaning.

Send your submissions to Please include your name, address and telephone number (only your name will be published) so we can contact you if we need to clarify something. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.–BL

Cyberbullying Laws Could Lead To Internet Censorship

Because protecting copyright holders did not seem reason enough for American citizens to go along with total government censorship of the Internet with bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act, lawmakers have chosen a new vehicle for censorship: protecting children.

As many as five States — Delaware, Kentucky, Indiana, Maine and New York — are working to implement cyberbullying laws that critics say could make surfing the Web a legal minefield.

According to USA Today, the legislation is aimed at “bringing our laws into the digital age and the 21st century,” said Senator Jeffrey Klein (D-N.Y.) who sponsored a bill to criminalize cyberbullying. “When I was growing up, you had a tangible bully and a fight after school. Now you have hordes of bullies who are terrorizing over the Internet or other forms of social media.”

Some examples of the State laws:

  • In Indiana, a proposed bill would give schools more authority to punish students for off-campus activities such as cyberbullying from a computer not owned by the school.
  • In Maine, a proposal would define bullying and cyberbullying, specify responsibilities for reporting incidents of bullying and require schools to adopt a policy to address bullying.
  • In Delaware, meetings are under way to decide how a new cyberbullying policy would regulate off-campus behavior.

Critics say that the new legislative trend toes the line of infringing upon free speech. Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, told USA Today the movement in the legislatures and the courts is focusing on the disciplinary system and is shortsighted, saying: “You’re not going to be able to punish people into being more tolerant.”

Internet censorship in the name of protecting children was also proposed by SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-Texas) recently. Through the Protect Our Children From Online Pornographers Act (PCFIPA), Smith proposes some of the same measures included in his previous wildly unpopular attempt at Internet censorship.

Expanded Conventions Raise Security Issues

TAMPA, Fla. (UPI) — Events at off-site venues will raise the cost of Secret Service protection at the Republican and Democratic national conventions, a U.S. House panel learned.

The Secret Service’s top official recently told Congressional members the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., included possible activities at locations other than the main sites, creating cost issues for providing protection, The Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Fla., reported Monday.

“Both the RNC and DNC have added events to their schedule that will be located some distance from the convention site and will attract large numbers of people,” Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said in written testimony submitted this month to a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee.

Sullivan said, “[The] addition of these venues will likely require more protective site personnel and equipment” as dignitaries, delegates and the public “move from one secure zone to the next.”

The changes could impact the agency’s original cost projections and “will require close monitoring,” he said.

The Secret Service secures the venues for national political conventions in a variety of ways, including uniformed officers, Transportation Security Administration personnel, metal detectors, canine explosive detection teams, as well as its counter-assault and counter-sniper personnel.

The matter hasn’t been raised as a potential problem in discussions with local officials, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Tampa police Chief Jane Castor all told the Times.

Foster told the Times he hadn’t “heard a thing” about plans to pay for security at a possible pre-convention welcome party at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Asked whether Tampa’s $50 million Federal grant for security could cover some of St. Petersburg’s costs, Castor said, “Whether it can or it can’t, we’re going to make sure it’s a safe event.”

Ryan: Budget For Real Spending Discipline

House Republicans introduced an ambitious, if risky during an election year, budget plan to restructure the way government operates and set the Nation on a course to eliminate its deficits by 2040.

The proposal, authored by Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would reduce debt by reshaping Medicare and Medicaid while deeply cutting other domestic spending and reshaping the tax code to give Americans lower tax rates.

The plan will be rejected by the Democratic Senate, though The Washington Post  reports that it is likely less intensive than most Tea Party conservatives would consider ideal. Ryan’s plan, which he drafted with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (Ore.), would turn Medicaid spending into a block grant program and cut food stamps and other social welfare programs. The plan, like past GOP budget proposals, also calls for offering seniors retiring in future years payments with which to buy private health insurance coverage along with a traditional fee-for-service option to alleviate Democratic concerns over the restructuring. Many of the budget plan proposals have proven to be anathema to most Democratic lawmakers in the past.

In a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street JournalRyan defends his proposals, “Our budget’s Medicare reforms make no changes for those in or near retirement. For those who will retire a decade from now, our plan provides guaranteed coverage options financed by a premium-support payment. And this year, our budget adds even more choices for seniors, including a traditional fee-for-service Medicare option.”

The timing of the plan’s release is expected to make Republican willingness to make deep cuts and change the way healthcare funding is handled a key issue for Democrats in 2012.

Ryan also reiterates the GOP’s desire to simplify the tax code with the plan similar to those offered by both GOP Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. It replaces the current six brackets of the tax system with just two tax levels: a 10 percent marginal tax for low-wage earners and 25 percent for those with higher incomes. Corporate taxes would also be slashed from 35 percent to 25 percent, and corporate taxes for overseas profits mostly would be eliminated under the Ryan proposal.

To offset the lower tax rates, which Republicans contend will spur economic growth, the budget proposal allocates $1.028 trillion in Federal spending for fiscal year 2013; the spending allocation will also likely raise a stink among Democrats at $19 billion less than the cap imposed after last summer’s contentious debt ceiling negotiations.

Paul, however, says his plan is the only way to turn around the U.S. economy without making dangerous sacrifices, “Like last year, our budget delivers real spending discipline. It does this not through indiscriminate cuts that endanger our military, but by ending the epidemic of crony politics and government overreach that has weakened confidence in the nation’s institutions and its economy. And it strengthens the safety net by returning power to the states, which are in the best position to tailor assistance to their specific populations.”

Democratic critics say the Ryan plan is a surefire way to make Congressional budget negotiations the same tedious embarrassment that they were last year.

Editor’s note: It’s time to make your submissions for this month’s You Sound Off! feature, which will run March 28. Get your submission in by March 26. It should be no more than 750 words (if they are longer, we probably won’t read them). We will select the one or two we think are the best of the week to publish. We reserve the right to edit for grammar and style but will try not to alter the meaning.

Send your submissions to Please include your name, address and telephone number (only your name will be published) so we can contact you if we need to clarify something. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.–BL

Green Light Turns Yellow

It was all going so swimmingly for gold investors: The European Central Bank had thrown out another €529.5 billion in easy-money accommodation for eurozone banks, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had publicly indicated that his quantitative easing gun was loaded and he had an itchy trigger finger.

Then it all fell apart. It started with Bernanke’s most recent testimony before Congress, which was then firmly backstopped by last week’s policy statement from the Federal Open Market Committee. Both strongly suggested that further quantitative easing is off the table in the short term.

After riding high for much of February on bullish news, precious metals prices hit the skids following Bernanke’s testimony on Feb. 29 in front of the House Financial Services Committee.

How dramatic was the fall in gold? Consider that the metal hit its monthly high… and its monthly low… in the same day.

This was a major, bearish technical signal that simply had to be acknowledged. And in doing so, we must also admit that the rally of the previous weeks was much more fragile, and more dependent upon speculative trading funds, than anyone had imagined.

The fact that the markets nose-dived so quickly upon Bernanke’s testimony indicates that some very big money, in a limited number of hands, had been betting that Bernanke was going to outright endorse a third round of quantitative easing in a very clear and direct fashion.

In the end, the markets reacted not so much to what Bernanke said, but what he didn’t say. In short, he didn’t come right out and publicly endorse more quantitative easing. And last week’s FOMC statement did not do so either.

Other factors have played a role in gold’s correction, most notably the brightening economic picture in the United States and at least a temporary resolution to the European credit crisis. In other words, the market believes that even Bernanke can’t find sufficient cause for another round of quantitative easing.

Looking Forward

At the very least, the downdraft in gold has been accompanied by significant short-selling. And this infers a short-covering rally to follow at some point.

Regardless, the correction in gold seems to be well overdone and unjustified, given the broader monetary backdrop. There’s already far too much liquidity in the global system, along with obvious inflation in Asia and “stealth” inflation in the West, to see a collapse in gold demand.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial board put it:

In addition to the European Central Bank’s liquidity burst, China is easing its reserve requirements to stimulate more bank lending. The Bank of England has been all-in for some time, and the Bank of Japan recently joined the party. Lesser central banks have been following suit, as the world takes its cues from the grandest monetary maestro, Mr. Bernanke, who has announced that the Fed will keep interest rates at near-zero for another three years.

Does this sound like a tight-money policy? Purely on monetary momentum alone, the future looks bright for gold and tangible assets over the long term.

In addition, we can’t forget about the $1.5 trillion in excess banking reserves that is being held by the Fed right now. This money officially doesn’t exist… until the Nation’s banks start withdrawing the funds to make loans and thereby insert the money into the economy.

Sustained U.S. economic growth, in other words, won’t be the end of liquidity injections. Instead, it will mark the beginning of a new phase, as the velocity of today’s huge, overhanging money supply accelerates and inflation truly kicks in.

And finally, does anyone really believe that the Fed and the ECB are going to drain the punch bowl anytime soon? Is Bernanke going to suddenly stop printing money?

In fact, one can put forth a very credible argument that more quantitative easing will be necessary — unemployment is still at record levels in the eurozone and the economic data in the U.S. continues to be mixed. In his Senate testimony, Bernanke claimed that the record for quantitative easing was “positive,” and he maintains that his previous two monetary injections didn’t spark inflation at all.

Rest assured, Bernanke still has his finger on the QE trigger, and it’s itchy.

The technical damage that has been inflicted on the gold chart cannot be ignored, of course. The market’s swift reaction to last week’s FOMC statement, for example, sent gold below its widely watched 200-day moving average.

So in the short term, dollar-bullishness based on improving U.S. economic data and a consensus that the worst is over in Europe may continue to hamstring gold prices.

But over the long term, an improving U.S. economy has the potential to unleash massive amounts of price inflation, which will result in a weaker U.S. dollar and stronger gold and commodity prices.

In short, the future may be a bit choppier than we had hoped, but I’m confident that the metals are headed much higher once the current correction has run its course.

The Potential For Economic Armageddon In November

While gold should slowly but surely resume its climb soon, there’s a very real possibility that the metal could absolutely explode higher. And it’s actually getting more likely every day.

You see, the Republican primary contest has lasted longer, and been more vitriolic, than anyone had imagined. The candidates are doing the opposition research for the Democratic Party, and spending their war chests attacking each other. At this point, I think the odds of unseating President Barack Obama in November are 50/50 at best.

And that means American investors are precariously balanced on a fence. Fall on one side with a Republican victory, and we still have problems… but they’re solvable. Fall on the other side with a Democratic victory, however, and there’s big, big trouble ahead.

We’ll see our debt burden continue to grow with massive spending and no entitlement reform, rising taxes and other attacks on the productive sectors of society, and monetary inflation to a degree that will make recent dollar- and euro-printing pale in comparison.

Make no mistake: This will be economic Armageddon. And the odds of it occurring grow more likely with every day that the Republican nomination remains contested.

That’s one reason why many investors are looking at the current correction in gold and silver as a major buying opportunity. And I agree with them.

In fact, I’m going to provide some specific, bargain-priced recommendations in upcoming issues of my free e-letter, Golden Opportunities.

In the meantime, with Rick Santorum having recently won Mississippi and Alabama, the calls for Newt Gingrich to withdraw from the race are growing more strident. If he remains in the contest, it should help decide the nomination more quickly for Mitt Romney, since Gingrich will split the anti-Romney vote with Santorum.

But don’t count on Gingrich running away from the spotlight he loves so much. To be fair, Gingrich has some great ideas. I’ve discussed many of them with him over the years, as he has appeared at our annual New Orleans Investment Conference.

In fact, as you’ll see below, he presented much of his future platform at our 2010 New Orleans Investment Conference.


Why there? Because the New Orleans Conference is famed for bringing in the world’s top experts in geopolitics, economics and investments together with today’s most successful and opinionated individual investors.

History has shown that there’s simply no better place for investors to get actionable strategies to protect and build their wealth, and there’s no better place for the most accomplished experts to present their views.

Gingrich gave a rousing presentation at the 2010 New Orleans Conference. It’s the speech that’s widely credited with having launched his Presidential campaign, and you’ll see why.

So, enjoy Gingrich’s inspiring speech. But also be sure to protect yourself from the dangers he foresees, and which are growing more real with every day that passes.

–Brien Lundin

More Suicide During Economic Low Point

NEW YORK (UPI) — U.S. and Canadian researchers said an analysis of the monthly suicide rate in New York suggests a correlation between suicide and a bad economy.

Senior author Dr. Sandro Galea of the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues at the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy; the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing; and Weill Cornell Medical College examined the suicide and economic data from 1990 to 2006.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, said the New York suicide rate was 29 percent higher at an economic low point in the economy in 1992, compared to an economic high point in 2000.

“The reasons behind an individual’s decision to take his or her life are often complex and difficult to understand, even for family and friends,” Galea said in a statement. “It is usually a combination of forces with, for example, economic stresses on top of a strained relationship. Economic hardship can hurt a person’s self-worth and limit the availability of social resources, including mental healthcare.”

While broader economic conditions were shown to affect suicide, Wall Street volatility was not.

First author Arijit Nandi, an assistant professor at McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy and a former student of Galea’s, said the finding was surprising because it goes against the archetype of the despairing stockbrokers on the window ledge jumping to their death.

The bigger picture, Nandi said, is more complex.

“The causes of individual cases of suicide, such as losing money in the stock market, may be distinct from the causes of suicide rates, which are defined at the population level and may reflect a multifactorial causal mechanism,” Nandi said.

Man Builds House By Wife’s Grave

TAMALEMEQUE, Colombia (UPI) — An 84-year-old Colombian man who built a small house next to his wife’s grave after she died five years ago said he is not finished constructing the home.

Alejandro Garcia of Tamalemeque said he attempted suicide after his wife of 56 years, Maria Antonia, died of a lung infection in 2007 and he decided to build a small house next to her grave after his son died of leukemia shortly afterward, Colombia Reports said Tuesday.

Cemetery worker Jose Manuel Pacheco said Garcia often receives visitors in his small home and is popular among the town’s residents.

“He spends all day here and goes out to eat with his daughters, then comes back and takes care of his wife,” Pacheco said.

Garcia said he receives $80 in government assistance every two months and puts most of the money back into the home.

“The first shelter I did with cardboard and pieces of wood, then it gradually got better. With my next paycheck, I will tile the floor,” he said.

Church Bans Dog From Funeral

HELSINGBORG, Sweden (UPI) — A Swedish woman said the church hosting her husband’s funeral is refusing his final wish, to have his dog attend the service.

Gun Thern, whose husband of 56 years, Willy Thern, 81, died Saturday, said it was her spouse’s final wish to have their dog Milo attend his funeral service, The Local reported Tuesday.

“In our 56-year marriage we had, all told, eight dogs,” Thern said. “Because we never had any children, they became our girls and boys.”

However, Thern said Markus von Martens, the priest at Valluv Church in Helsingborg, told her she could not bring the 9-year-old canine into the facility.

“This is primarily because we have people with allergies. If we allow dogs in the church then we’ll be forced to clean up afterwards. That’s a big project for a church from the 1100’s,” von Martens said.


Man Apologizes For Rude Mug Shot

AKRON, Ohio (UPI) — An Ohio 18-year-old has apologized for his mug shot, which features him displaying his middle finger and grabbing his crotch.

The mug shot taken of Mitchell Peterman after he was arrested Sunday on charges of underage drinking and obstruction went viral online after it was posted to Facebook by Bath Township police, the Akron Beacon Journal reported Tuesday.

Peterman, a student at the University of Akron, apologized for his rude photo Monday and police took the picture off Facebook later in the day.

“I haven’t even seen them. I don’t even want to look at them,” Peterman said of the pictures. “It’s something I wish I wouldn’t have done, something I wish I could undo. So, I’m just going to try and distance myself from it, learn from it and leave it behind.”

Woman Fined $6,000 For Flowers

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (UPI) — A New Hampshire woman said her condo board is charging her $50 per day for planting flowers in her small front yard.

Kimberly Bois, who has owned the Portsmouth townhouse since 2008, said the fines have grown to nearly $6,000 and the condo board has put a lien on her home for the owed sum, WBZ-TV, Boston, reported Tuesday.

“It just feels like we’ve been bullied and really all we wanted to do was have a conversation to figure out how this can benefit all of us,” Bois said.

Bois said the board refused her offer to pull up the flowers and pay a portion of the legal fees.

“Now we’ve gone down a rabbit hole that I just can’t seem to get out of and it’s very sad, and it’s upsetting,” she said.


Stolen Bike Left With Note Signed ‘Drunk’

ASPEN, Colo. (UPI) — A Colorado man said he has his stolen bicycle back after the thief left it at a courthouse with a note signed “Drunk.”

Jay Maytin of Aspen said the bicycle he received as a gift in 1999 was missing for less than 24 hours when he saw a newspaper article describing a bike that had been left Friday at the Pitkin County Courthouse and turned over to Aspen Police, The Aspen Times reported Tuesday.

“Sorry. I stole this bike. I rode it home. Please give it back — Drunk,” the note accompanying the bike read.

“I knew a drunk took it because it doesn’t have much of a re-sale value,” Maytin said. However, he said, “to me it’s worth $500. It’s transportation.”

Maytin said he would not have pressed charges against the thief.

“All I wanted was my bike back,” he said.

India Now World’s Leading Arms Importer

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (UPI) — Sweden’s International Peace Research Institute, which tracks the global arms trade, reports that India is the world’s leading arms importer.

SIPRI’s latest report notes that for the period 2007-11, India accounted for 10 percent of global arms imports.

While the bulk of India’s foreign weapons came from the Russian Federation, including 120 Sukhoi-30MK multi-role combat aircraft and 29 MiG-29K fighters, India also diversified its arm suppliers and purchases during the period included 20 British Jaguar warplanes.

Besides India, for the period 2007-11 other Asian states were responsible for the bulk of armaments. South Korea, Pakistan, China and Singapore imported significant amounts of weaponry, with those four countries and India accounting for 30 percent of all imports of major conventional weapons for the period.

The SIPRI report named the United States and Russia as key arms suppliers that, respectively, accounted for 30 and 24 percent of all weapons exports.

Housing Starts Slide, But Permits Are Up

WASHINGTON (UPI) — New home construction starts in the United States fell 1.1 percent January to February, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Housing starts dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000, compared with a upwardly revised figure for January of 706,000.

The rate of single-family housing starts in the month was 457,000, which was 9.9 percent below the 507,000 annual rate for January.

For multiple-unit housing starts, the annual rate in February came to 233,000.

Permits issued for privately owned housing units rose 5.1 percent month to month to an annual rate of 717,000. A year earlier in February, the annual rate stood at 534,000 permits. The new rate is a 34.3 percent climb over the rate 12 months prior.

Permits issued are an indicator of what direction construction starts might take one or two months down the road.

Completed housing projects in January were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 568,000, which is 6.2 percent above the revised figure for January of 535,000 units and 7 percent below February 2011, when 611,000 housing completions were posted.

Poll: Alternative Energy Loses Support

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Support for development of fuel sources such as wind and solar power has diminished in the United States during the past year, a survey found.

The March 7-11 poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press, found 52 percent of those responding indicated support for alternative fuel was more important than increasing oil, coal and natural gas production, while 39 percent indicated expanding exploration of coal, oil and gas was the more important of the two choices.

Although a majority went for alternative fuels, support for solar, wind and hydrogen power was not as popular as it had been in March 2011, when 63 percent indicated that was their favorite choice, while 29 percent chose coal, oil and gas exploration.

Respondents who identified themselves as Republicans were more apt to have changed their preferences — with 33 percent indicated support for alternative energy sources, down from 47 percent in 2011.

The survey found “as in the past … there continues to be broad public support for an array of policies aimed at addressing the nation’s energy supply.”

Nearly 80 percent overall indicated support for improving fuel efficiency in cars, while nearly 70 percent indicated support for federal research for alternative energy sources. Sixty-five percent indicated support for improved rail, bus and subway systems.

Concerning the controversial method of mining called fracking, 37 percent indicated they have only heard a little about it and 37 percent, indicated they have never heard of it. Only 25 percent indicated they had heard a lot about it.

A majority — 52 percent — indicated support for fracking, a figure held up mostly by Republicans, 73 percent of whom indicated they supported fracking, compared to 33 percent of Democrats.

The poll was based on 1,503 interviews and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.