Apr 15, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Secrets the Rich don't Want You to Know

The real numbers are displayed graphically on charts for years before Regan and after Regan.

Numbers are from David_Cay_Johnston. Johnston is the author of best-selling books on tax and economic policy, the most recently published of which is Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With The Bill, about hidden subsidies, rigged markets, and corporate socialism. It follows his earlier book Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich—and Cheat Everybody Else, a New York Times bestseller[4] on the U.S. tax system that won the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2003 Book of the Year award

Johnston's first book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business is an account of how, in the 1980s, the junk-bond kings usurped mob control of the casino industry. The book discusses corruption in the industry and the role of the U.S. government in that corruption.

Johnston received the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting "for his penetrating and enterprising reporting that exposed loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code, which was instrumental in bringing about reforms." He was a finalist in 2003 "for his stories that displayed exquisite command of complicated U.S. tax laws and of how corporations and individuals twist them to their advantage." He was also a finalist in 2000 "for his lucid coverage of problems resulting from the reorganization of the Internal Revenue Service."[5]

It will blow your mind!!! MUST SEE...!!! Monte

In search of a black swan : Nature Climate Change

Developing smart-grid technology to reduce electricity usage is a key challenge for green entrepreneurs.

Figure 1: Developing smart-grid technology to reduce electricity usage is a key challenge for green entrepreneurs.

Jason Aramburu, a 25-year-old Texan with a tangle of brown hair, first heard of biochar when — as an undergraduate at Princeton University — he visited the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama in 2006. Ancient Amazonians, he gleaned, churned charcoal into fields to boost their yields of yam and corn. But it was the realization that the practice of burning crop waste and burying the resulting charcoal in soil could also combat climate change — by locking the carbon away for thousands of years — that inspired Aramburu. Johannes Lehmann, the soil scientist based at Cornell University whose 2006 paper1 alerted Aramburu to biochar's carbon-storage potential, had no plans to put the idea into practice, “so I decided to do it,” says Aramburu. He rented space at an 800-square-foot metalworking shop popular with artists in Brooklyn, New York, and — dressed in old jeans, a welding jacket and cowboy boots — set about building a machine that could convert corn cobs, rice husks and other crop waste into biochar. Aramburu mined his fellow metalworkers for welding tips while they wolfed down Polish sausage at a food truck across the street called Rosie's. “I also watched a heck of a lot of YouTube videos,” he says. Three months later, the prototype — a gleaming, ten-foot tall, stainless-steel-coated tube — was ready. Aramburu swapped his jeans for a suit, and pitched his idea to venture capitalists. But he rarely got beyond the first meeting. Instead of giving up, however, he adjusted his approach. Aramburu comes from a family of entrepreneurs — included are two of his brothers. “I'm told my grandpa sold flowers in Santa Domingo,” says Aramburu.
“The world needs entrepreneurs more than it needs scientists at this point. We know enough about climate change. It's time to start doing something about it.”
Rolf Wüstenhagen
Without entrepreneurs, the world would be very different. According to the British economist John Jewkes's 1958 analysis2 of 60 key inventions discovered during the twentieth century, over half of them — including the zipper, the jet engine and the helicopter — were invented by entrepreneurs. “Their great gifts arise from the habit of calling everything, even the simplest assumptions, into question,” Jewkes wrote of the entrepreneur. Over 40 years on, Jewkes's faith in entrepreneurs is still shared by many economists, venture capitalists and scientists. According to Throop Wilder, CEO of lithium-ion battery start-up and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spin-out, 24M Technologies, entrepreneurs have “the ability to imagine a solution to a really big problem, the common sense to know how to convert the vision into a capital-efficient, doable plan and the ability to attract and organize great people around the common vision.” Wilder and many others believe that entrepreneurship is the only process that is sufficiently powerful to tackle climate change in the timescales required. With corporate research and development dwindling and many government coffers empty, how else will the world halve its greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, yet double the amount of energy it produces?3Enthusiasts note that entrepreneurs generate up to 75% of all clean-tech innovations. Rolf Wüstenhagen, a director of the Institute for Economy and the Environment at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland, hopes that this trend continues. “The world needs entrepreneurs more than it needs scientists at this point. We know enough about climate change. It's time to start doing something about it,” he says.

To market, to market

Jason Aramburu founded biochar clean-tech company re:char in 2009.
At the age of 20, Vinod Khosla tried to found a soya-milk company in India that would service the multitude of people who couldn't afford refrigerators. Now a billionaire living in Silicon Valley, he has done more perhaps than any other venture capitalist to spur radical innovation among clean-tech entrepreneurs. Between 2002 and 2008, his California-based company Khosla Ventures and a number of other venture-capital and private-equity funds boosted global investment in clean energy from $0.9 billion to almost$33 billion, according to the research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Khosla believes that the clean-tech sector needs a 'Cambrian explosion' of entrepreneurship, in which just a few radical innovators survive and transform the landscape. To fuel that explosion, venture capitalists must invest in 'black swan' technologies — ideas that have a 90% chance of failure, but would be game-changing if they succeeded, he explains. “They are engines that are 100 per cent more efficient, or quantumnanothingamajits that are ten times better at storing energy than today's batteries.” Although many venture capitalists are sceptical of Khosla's pursuit of high-risk 'black swans', Josh Lerner, a professor of investment banking at Harvard Business School in Boston, acknowledges that venture capital has a disproportionate impact on innovation. A dollar of venture capital is three times more potent in stimulating patents than a dollar of corporate research and development, according to Lerner4.
Khosla is at present rearing a 'black swan' called QuantumScape. The start-up, still in stealth mode, uses exotic physics rather than electrochemistry to make energy-storage devices for electric vehicles, and the US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy programme, which provided the enterprise's first grant, describes the device as “a completely new class of electrical energy storage device.” Like many other start-ups, QuantumScape did not invent the technology it is using, but licenses it from a university — in this case, Stanford in California. Until scientists are incentivized to commercialize their innovations rather than to simply publish more papers, entrepreneurs will have a central role in bringing low-carbon technologies to market, points out Pamela Hartigan, director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, UK. One of the very first jokes Hartigan heard when she took up her new position in 2009 was “how many Oxford dons does it take to change a light bulb?” she says. “The answer was 'change'?” Lucy Marcus, CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting, cautions that not all scientists are cut out to take their research to market. “The person who can sit in a lab for twenty years and produce an ingenious invention is unlikely to be the same person who wants to go to endless business-development meetings, hire people, and deal with sales and marketing,” says Marcus.
Wind turbines are the most mature form of clean technology on the market today, with corporations such as Siemens and GE amongst the leading manufacturers — yet seven of the top ten wind-energy companies were founded by entrepreneurs. Enercon, the fourth largest wind firm in the world according to the Global Wind Energy Council, was founded in 1984 by a graduate engineer called Aloys Wobben, who built his first prototype in his back garden. The next wave of entrepreneurship is likely to be in energy efficiency, according to Rob Day, a venture capitalist at the Boston-based private-equity firm Black Coral Capital. “People are realizing that the cheapest and cleanest kilowatt-hour is the one that doesn't get used in the first place,” he says. In particular, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are focusing on the smart grid — the use of computers and web-based approaches to add intelligence to previously 'dumb' assets such as lighting, and thereby reduce electricity usage, explains Day (Fig. 1) Between 2009 and 2010, venture capitalists globally doubled their investments in smart-grid companies to $2 billion, according to the research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Digital Lumens — a recent addition to Day's portfolio that was founded by two technicians based at Philip's Color Kinetics group — makes intelligent lighting systems that can reduce electricity usage in warehouses by up to 90%, compared with conventional lighting systems. “They've basically turned lights into computers,” says Day.
Day predicts an explosion of innovative, low-carbon business models, rather than simply products in the coming year. “The world doesn't need a two-hundredth solar-panel start-up,” he says, “but it does need two-hundred service companies dedicated to getting those panels on rooftops.” A UK-based solar-panel firm, Solarcentury, exemplifies this novel approach. As well as leasing its photovoltaic systems out to clients that would be otherwise unable to afford to buy them, Solarcentury recently struck up a partnership with ethical, Bristol-based Triodos Bank. The bank will buy solar systems from Solarcentury, which will then install them on school roofs throughout the UK. “The schools will each save around £1,000 a year and the bank will profit through the feed-in tariff,” says spokeswoman Charlotte Webster. Another company with an innovative business model is Lichtblick, a German provider of green electricity. In September last year, Lichtblick launched a 'swarm power plant', or 'schwarmstrom', in Hamburg, which involved installing around 100,000 Volkswagen gas engines in the basements of homes. The engines produce power on demand, softening fluctuations in the electricity grid caused by dips in wind or solar power, and store heat that can be used for hot water. The swarm can generate as much energy as two nuclear reactors, Lichtblick claims.

All hands on deck

Although entrepreneurs have a critical role to play in tackling climate change, they can't win the fight alone. “There's a great romance about the lone, charismatic entrepreneur saving the world, but in this case that's simply not going to happen,” says Arati Prabhakar, a partner at California-based US Venture Partners who works closely with clean-tech entrepreneurs. This is mainly because most venture-capital funds — the entrepreneur's main source of revenue — are loathe to invest millions or billions of pounds in a technology that may take over a decade to bring to market, she explains. Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist based at Stanford University, California, agrees. “Dot com companies can start-up on peanuts, but you are not going to demonstrate carbon capture and storage at power-plant scale without spending a lot of money,” he says. As a result, many game-changing innovations perish in the 'valley of death' — the period when an entrepreneur's savings run out before the innovation has had time to attract a venture capitalist.
The idea that a lone entrepreneur can save the world is not only wrong, it's also dangerous, states Prabhakar — it relieves the pressure on corporations, governments and scientists to do their bit. Marcus agrees. “Climate change is far too important an issue to leave to just the private sector,” she says. “It's all hands on deck.” Conspicuously absent from 'the deck' so far are corporations, says Lerner. Between 2008 and 2009, corporate research and development in clean-tech globally dropped 16% (ref. 5). And although many pharmaceutical giants buy up start-ups to foster innovation — a practice that was kick-started by Genentech's merger with Roche in 1990 — similarly fruitful alliances have failed to emerge in the clean-tech sector, Lerner explains, depriving entrepreneurs of a critical revenue stream. “Maybe what the clean-tech sector needs is a successful merger that will inspire other giants to say 'we have to go and play that game too',” says Lerner. Although corporations have failed to pull their weight so far, Usher predicts that utility companies and development banks will play an increasingly important role. “We're going to need very big financial actors to be able to pull off large offshore wind farms and the like, so there won't be much room for entrepreneurs.” Wüstenhagen agrees. Although entrepreneurs provide innovation, they don't have the established brands, distribution channels and manufacturing capacity necessary to roll innovations out on a large scale, he points out6.
Governments could also do more to help entrepreneurs, according to Leo Johnson, who heads up the sustainability and climate change team at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Without the right economic incentives — such as those in China — entrepreneurs can't flourish, he explains. In China, wind-energy companies enjoy a three year, 100% income-tax break, and a 50% tax break for the following three years, says Johnson, “it just helps to even the playing field a bit.” Johnson would also like governments to levy a carbon tax, kill the $550 billion subsidy that fossil fuels enjoy each year and plough the extra money back into clean-tech. Tom Dean, who researches green entrepreneurship at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, agrees. “Much of our problem results, not from the lack of technology or innovation, but from the lack of economic incentives to employ that technology,” says Dean7.
“Global advertising spend is expected to reach $500 billion in 2011. If we can spend that much on advertisements for new cars and impotence medication, then certainly it's at least feasible to think that the private and public sectors together could invest that much in energy.”
Rob Day
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Global Energy and Emissions Model, global investment in renewable energy must rise to $500 billion by 2030 if the world is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 42 to 39 gigatonnes a year. In 2010, just over half of that figure — $243 billion — was invested, according to the group's latest analysis, which was published in January8 (Fig. 2). Together, governments and the private sector must ramp-up investment if that target is to be met, says Day. “Global advertising spend is expected to reach $500 billion in 2011. If we can spend that much on advertisements for new cars and impotence medication, then certainly it's at least feasible to think that the private and public sectors together could invest that much in energy,” he says.

Figure 2: Global total new investment in clean energy from 2004 to 2010 (in billions of dollars).
Global total new investment in clean energy from 2004 to 2010 (in billions of dollars).
Includes corporate and government research and development, and small distributed capacity.
The recession has dealt a severe blow to clean-tech entrepreneurs. Between 2008 and 2009, investment in clean-energy companies by venture-capital and private-equity funds plummeted globally by 42% to $6.8 billion, with early-stage venture-capital funds hit worst, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance'sGlobal Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010 report5. “The venture-capital community is seeing about a fifth of the amount of capital flowing into its coffers today versus five years ago,” says Wilder. “As a result, the filter on which ideas get funding has become much stricter.” Many small venture-capital funds folded, and funding to the UK government's Carbon Trust, which catalyses investment in early-stage clean technologies, was cut by 40% in February of this year. The impact of the recession is visible in the number of energy-related patents coming out of the US, points out Michael Lenox, director of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Virginia. A preliminary analysis by Lenox suggests that although the number jumped threefold in the past decade, it levelled off at 1,000 per year when the economic crisis struck. The worst is over, however. According to the research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance, venture-capital investments in clean-tech rocketed by 71% in 2010 compared with 2009, reaching $4.6 billion. “Investors and lenders are starting to recover their nerve, and many funds that refrained from investing during the recession are starting to get hungry for deals,” says Marcus.

Green shoots

Today, Jason Aramburu and his team — which consists of two engineers, two business developers and a brood of chickens — work out of an old concrete-mixing factory in the industrial heart of Austin, Texas. “We're looking into getting some goats,” says Aramburu. A close friend of his operates a pedicab company out of the office, a 400-square-foot house that Aramburu painted blue, green and red. In front of the house is a garden where he grows kale, broccoli and chard — fuel for his prototypes. The garden is also littered with re-purposed 55-gallon oil drums, the raw material for Aramburu's latest model. He decided to move to Austin in 2009, after realizing that he needed to do more work on his innovation before he would attract venture-capital funds. According to Rob Day, he made the right decision. “So often, I get approached by clean-tech entrepreneurs who have a better mousetrap, but they haven't ever actually caught a mouse.” Aramburu recruited two local engineers, both of whom had day jobs, but agreed to help in their spare time in exchange for a stake in the company. Together, they optimized the initial prototype, using thicker metals for the casing.
Aramburu launched re:char in March 2009. Although he initially wanted re:char to be a benefit corporation — a new type of company that is dedicated to solving social and environmental problems — he decided against it because the certification process was too expensive, and is only legally recognized in Maryland and Vermont. “We decided to sign our own contract that says pretty much the same thing,” he says. In the meantime, Aramburu was running out of money. After months of applying for grants, in September 2010, “things started happening,” he says. The foundation Echoing Green awarded re:char £60,000. “Once we had that funding it was much easier to get more from other groups,” says Aramburu. The Dutch Postcode Lottery soon added £170,000 to the pot, and the Hitachi Foundation a further £50,000. A venture-capital fund offered to invest in re:char in exchange for a stake in the company, but Aramburu, much to his delight, found himself in a position to turn it down. “It didn't make sense to accept funding that had strings attached to it when we had plenty of money rolling in from foundations.”
Thanks to the grants, Aramburu could try out his machines in the field. He singled out Haiti and Kenya, countries where farmers often make charcoal from illegally logged wood and sell it to make up for a bad harvest. In both countries, charcoal production is the number-one driver of deforestation. In January, civil unrest in Haiti made Aramburu shift his focus to Kenya, where he is now located. There re:char partnered with the African Christians Organisation Network, a non-governmental organization in western Kenya that has been selling biochar to local farmers for the past five years. “They wanted a bigger, better process,” says Aramburu, who envisages that small groups of farmers will invest in a shared biochar unit by putting down a deposit and then paying for its total cost in monthly payments. Partnering with a local non-governmental organization has been critical, he says. “These guys have been going door-to-door in the village, selling biochar, for five years, so we've got a great head start.” In six months time, Aramburu will go out to raise another round of investment, this time around $1 to 2 million, he says. The venture-capital fund that Aramburu turned down a year ago is eagerly waiting in the wings, he says.
Stoyek Okumo, a farmer who grows kale, maize and beans on a one-acre patch of land in Bungoma County in Kenya's Western District, is one of Aramburu's customers. Three months ago, Okumo tested Aramburu's biochar on a portion of his crops. After one season, his yields of maize grown in biochar and manure were twice those of maize grown in diammonium phosphate, the chemical fertilizer that he normally used. Over the coming months, Okumo will use re:char's technology to generate more biochar and finish treating the rest of his farm. Okumo is hopeful that if enough farmers practice biochar, it will help not only the crops, but the climate too.

Apr 14, 2011

Thom Hartmann: President Obama finally puts Reagan in the grave - Thank you!

"Hallelujah!!! ... Monte"

The Real Housewives of Wall Street | Rolling Stone Politics


America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we're broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year's retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?

Most Americans know about that budget. What they don't know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the "official" budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.

This article appears in the April 28, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue will be available on newsstands and in the online archive April 15.

Now, following an act of Congress that has forced the Fed to open its books from the bailout era, this unofficial budget is for the first time becoming at least partially a matter of public record. Staffers in the Senate and the House, whose queries about Fed spending have been rebuffed for nearly a century, are now poring over 21,000 transactions and discovering a host of outrages and lunacies in the "other" budget. It is as though someone sat down and made a list of every individual on earth who actually did not need emergency financial assistance from the United States government, and then handed them the keys to the public treasure. The Fed sent billions in bailout aid to banks in places like Mexico, Bahrain and Bavaria, billions more to a spate of Japanese car companies, more than $2 trillion in loans each to Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, and billions more to a string of lesser millionaires and billionaires with Cayman Islands addresses. "Our jaws are literally dropping as we're reading this," says Warren Gunnels, an aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. "Every one of these transactions is outrageous."

Wall Street's Big Win

But if you want to get a true sense of what the "shadow budget" is all about, all you have to do is look closely at the taxpayer money handed over to a single company that goes by a seemingly innocuous name: Waterfall TALF Opportunity. At first glance, Waterfall's haul doesn't seem all that huge — just nine loans totaling some $220 million, made through a Fed bailout program. That doesn't seem like a whole lot, considering that Goldman Sachs alone received roughly $800 billion in loans from the Fed. But upon closer inspection, Waterfall TALF Opportunity boasts a couple of interesting names among its chief investors: Christy Mack and Susan Karches.

Christy is the wife of John Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley. Susan is the widow of Peter Karches, a close friend of the Macks who served as president of Morgan Stanley's investment-banking division. Neither woman appears to have any serious history in business, apart from a few philanthropic experiences. Yet the Federal Reserve handed them both low-interest loans of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars through a complicated bailout program that virtually guaranteed them millions in risk-free income.

RS Politics Daily: Political news and commentary from Rolling Stone writers and editors

The technical name of the program that Mack and Karches took advantage of is TALF, short for Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility. But the federal aid they received actually falls under a broader category of bailout initiatives, designed and perfected by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, called "giving already stinking rich people gobs of money for no fucking reason at all." If you want to learn how the shadow budget works, follow along. This is what welfare for the rich looks like.

In August 2009, John Mack, at the time still the CEO of Morgan Stanley, made an interesting life decision. Despite the fact that he was earning the comparatively low salary of just $800,000, and had refused to give himself a bonus in the midst of the financial crisis, Mack decided to buy himself a gorgeous piece of property — a 107-year-old limestone carriage house on the Upper East Side of New York, complete with an indoor 12-car garage, that had just been sold by the prestigious Mellon family for $13.5 million. Either Mack had plenty of cash on hand to close the deal, or he got some help from his wife, Christy, who apparently bought the house with him.

The Macks make for an interesting couple. John, a Lebanese-American nicknamed "Mack the Knife" for his legendary passion for firing people, has one of the most recognizable faces on Wall Street, physically resembling a crumpled, half-burned baked potato with a pair of overturned furry horseshoes for eyebrows. Christy is thin, blond and rich — a sort of still-awake Sunny von Bulow with hobbies. Her major philanthropic passion is endowments for alternative medicine, and she has attained the level of master at Reiki, the Japanese practice of "palm healing." The only other notable fact on her public résumé is that her sister was married to Charlie Rose.

It's hard to imagine a pair of people you would less want to hand a giant welfare check to — yet that's exactly what the Fed did. Just two months before the Macks bought their fancy carriage house in Manhattan, Christy and her pal Susan launched their investment initiative called Waterfall TALF. Neither seems to have any experience whatsoever in finance, beyond Susan's penchant for dabbling in thoroughbred racehorses. But with an upfront investment of $15 million, they quickly received $220 million in cash from the Fed, most of which they used to purchase student loans and commercial mortgages. The loans were set up so that Christy and Susan would keep 100 percent of any gains on the deals, while the Fed and the Treasury (read: the taxpayer) would eat 90 percent of the losses. Given out as part of a bailout program ostensibly designed to help ordinary people by kick-starting consumer lending, the deals were a classic heads-I-win, tails-you-lose investment.

So how did the government come to address a financial crisis caused by the collapse of a residential-mortgage bubble by giving the wives of a couple of Morgan Stanley bigwigs free money to make essentially risk-free investments in student loans and commercial real estate? The answer is: by degrees. The history of the bailout era reads like one of those awful stories about what happens when a long-dormant criminal compulsion goes unchecked. The Peeping Tom next door stares through a few bathroom windows, doesn't get caught, and decides to break in and steal a pair of panties. Next thing you know, he's upgraded to homemade dungeons, tri-state serial rampages and throwing cheerleaders into a panel truck.

It was the same with the bailouts. They started out small, with the government throwing a few hundred billion in public money to prop up genuinely insolvent firms like Bear Stearns and AIG. Then came TARP and a few other programs that were designed to stave off bank failures and dispose of the toxic mortgage-backed securities that were a root cause of the financial crisis. But before long, the Fed began buying up every distressed investment on Wall Street, even those that were in no danger of widespread defaults: commercial real estate loans, credit- card loans, auto loans, student loans, even loans backed by the Small Business Administration. What started off as a targeted effort to stop the bleeding in a few specific trouble spots became a gigantic feeding frenzy. It was "free money for shit," says Barry Ritholtz, author of Bailout Nation. "It turned into 'Give us your crap that you can't get rid of otherwise.' "

The impetus for this sudden manic expansion of the bailouts was a masterful bluff by Wall Street executives. Once the money started flowing from the Federal Reserve, the executives began moaning to their buddies at the Fed, claiming that they were suddenly afraid of investing in anything — student loans, car notes, you name it — unless their profits were guaranteed by the state. "You ever watch soccer, where the guy rolls six times to get a yellow card?" says William Black, a former federal bank regulator who teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri. "That's what this is. If you have power and connections, they will give you a freebie deal — if you're good at whining."

This is where TALF fits into the bailout picture. Created just after Barack Obama's election in November 2008, the program's ostensible justification was to spur more consumer lending, which had dried up in the midst of the financial crisis. But instead of lending directly to car buyers and credit-card holders and students — that would have been socialism! — the Fed handed out a trillion dollars to banks and hedge funds, almost interest-free. In other words, the government lent taxpayer money to the same assholes who caused the crisis, so that they could then lend that money back out on the market virtually risk-free, at an enormous profit.

Cue your Billy Mays voice, because wait, there's more! A key aspect of TALF is that the Fed doles out the money through what are known as non-recourse loans. Essentially, this means that if you don't pay the Fed back, it's no big deal. The mechanism works like this: Hedge Fund Goon borrows, say, $100 million from the Fed to buy crappy loans, which are then transferred to the Fed as collateral. If Hedge Fund Goon decides not to repay that $100 million, the Fed simply keeps its pile of crappy securities and calls everything even.

This is the deal of a lifetime. Think about it: You borrow millions, buy a bunch of crap securities and stash them on the Fed's books. If the securities lose money, you leave them on the Fed's lap and the public eats the loss. But if they make money, you take them back, cash them in and repay the funds you borrowed from the Fed. "Remember that crazy guy in the commercials who ran around covered in dollar bills shouting, 'The government is giving out free money!' " says Black. "As crazy as he was, this is making it real."

This whole setup — in which millionaires and billionaires gambled on mountains of dangerous securities, with taxpayers providing the stake and assuming almost all of the risk — is the reason that it's insanely premature for Wall Street to claim that the bailouts have actually made money for the government. We simply can't make that determination until the final bill comes in on all the dicey securities we financed during the bailout feeding frenzy.

In the case of Waterfall TALF Opportunity, here's what we know: The company was founded in June 2009 with $14.87 million of investment capital, money that likely came from Christy Mack and Susan Karches. The two Wall Street wives then used the $220 million they got from the Fed to buy up a bunch of securities, including a large pool of commercial mortgages managed by Credit Suisse, a company John Mack once headed. Those securities were valued at $253.6 million, though the Fed refuses to explain how it arrived at that estimate. And here's the kicker: Of the $220 million the two wives got from the Fed, roughly $150 million had not been paid back as of last fall — meaning that you and I are still on the hook for most of whatever the Wall Street spouses bought on their government-funded shopping spree.

The public has no way of knowing how much Christy Mack and Susan Karches earned on these transactions, because the Fed has repeatedly declined to provide any information about how it priced the individual securities bought as part of programs like TALF. In the Waterfall deal, for instance, we know the Fed pledged some $14 million against a block of securities called "Credit Suisse Commercial Mortgage Trust Series 2007-C2" — but that data is meaningless without knowing how many units were bought. It's like saying the Fed gave Waterfall $14 million to buy cars. Did Waterfall pay $5,000 per car, or $500,000? We have no idea. "There's no way of validating or invalidating the Fed's process in TALF without this pricing information," says Gary Aguirre, a former SEC official who was fired years ago after he tried to interview John Mack in an insider-trading case.

In early April, in an attempt to learn exactly how much Mack and Karches made on the TALF deals, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa wrote a letter to Waterfall asking 21 detailed questions about the transactions. In addition, Sen. Sanders has personally asked Fed chief Bernanke to provide more complete information on the TALF loans given not only to Christy Mack but to gazillionaires like former Miami Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga and hedge-fund shark John Paulson. But Bernanke bluntly refused to provide the information — and the Fed has similarly stonewalled other oversight agencies, including the General Accounting Office and TARP's special inspector general.

Christy Mack and Susan Karches did not respond to requests for comments for this story. But even without more information about the loans they got from the Fed, we know that TALF wasn't the only risk-free money being handed over to Wall Street. During the financial crisis, the Fed routinely made billions of dollars in "emergency" loans to big banks at near-zero interest. Many of the banks then turned around and used the money to buy Treasury bonds at higher interest rates — essentially loaning the money back to the government at an inflated rate. "People talk about how these were loans that were paid back," says a congressional aide who has studied the transactions. "But when the state is lending money at zero percent and the banks are turning around and lending that money back to the state at three percent, how is that different from just handing rich people money?"

Those kinds of deals were the essence of the bailout — and the vast mountains of near-zero government cash turned companies facing bankruptcy into monstrous profit machines. In 2008 and 2009, while Christy Mack was busy getting her little TALF loans for $220 million, her husband's bank hauled in $2 trillion in emergency Fed loans. During the same period, Goldman borrowed nearly $800 billion. Shortly afterward, the two banks reported a combined annual profit of $14.5 billion.

As crazy as it is to lend to banks at near zero percent and borrow back from them at three percent, one could at least argue that the policy may have aided American companies by providing banks more cash to lend. But how do you explain the host of other bailout transactions now being examined by Congress? Like the Fed's massive purchases of securities in foreign automakers, including BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Mitsubishi and Nissan? Or the nearly $5 billion in cheap credit the Fed extended to Toyota and Mitsubishi? Sure, those companies have factories and dealerships in the U.S. — but does it really make sense to give them free cash at the same time taxpayers were being asked to bail out Chrysler and GM? Seems a little crazy to fund the competition of the very automakers you're trying to rescue.

And then there are the bailout deals that make no sense at all. Republicans go mad over spending on health care and school for Mexican illegals. So why aren't they flipping out over the $9.6 billion in loans the Fed made to the Central Bank of Mexico? How do we explain the $2.2 billion in loans that went to the Korea Development Bank, the biggest state bank of South Korea, whose sole purpose is to promote development in South Korea? And at a time when America is borrowing from the Middle East at interest rates of three percent, why did the Fed extend $35 billion in loans to the Arab Banking Corporation of Bahrain at interest rates as low as one quarter of one point?

Even more disturbing, the major stakeholder in the Bahrain bank is none other than the Central Bank of Libya, which owns 59 percent of the operation. In fact, the Bahrain bank just received a special exemption from the U.S. Treasury to prevent its assets from being frozen in accord with economic sanctions. That's right: Muammar Qaddafi received more than 70 loans from the Federal Reserve, along with the Real Housewives of Wall Street.

Perhaps the most irritating facet of all of these transactions is the fact that hundreds of millions of Fed dollars were given out to hedge funds and other investors with addresses in the Cayman Islands. Many of those addresses belong to companies with American affiliations — including prominent Wall Street names like Pimco, Blackstone and . . . Christy Mack. Yes, even Waterfall TALF Opportunity is an offshore company. It's one thing for the federal government to look the other way when Wall Street hotshots evade U.S. taxes by registering their investment companies in the Cayman Islands. But subsidizing tax evasion? Giving it a federal bailout? What the fuck?

As America girds itself for another round of lunatic political infighting over which barely-respirating social program or urgently necessary federal agency must have their budgets permanently sacrificed to the cause of billionaires being able to keep their third boats in the water, it's important to point out just how scarce money isn't in certain corners of the public-spending universe. In the coming months, when you watch Republican congressional stooges play out the desperate comedy of solving America's deficit problems by making fewer photocopies of proposed bills, or by taking an ax to budgetary shrubberies like NPR or the SEC, remember Christy Mack and her fancy new carriage house. There is no belt-tightening on the other side of the tracks. Just a free lunch that never ends.

Matt telling it like it is...  No one is better at it in my opinion...  Monte

Apr 13, 2011

What Drives Human Evolution and Innovation?

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2011/03/22/Matt_Ridley_Deep_Optimism - Entire video worth the time to view... Monte

Matt Ridley, journalist and author of The Rational Optimist, examines the driving force behind human evolution and technological innovation, especially over the past 100,000 years. Ridley argues the answer lies in the development of exchange, or trade. ---- Via trade and other cultural activities, "ideas have sex," and that drives human history in the direction of inconstant but accumulative improvement over time. The criers of havoc keep being proved wrong. A fundamental optimism about human affairs is deeply rational and can be reliably conjured with. Trained at Oxford as a zoologist and an editor at The Economist for eight years, Matt Ridley's newest book is The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. His earlier works include Francis Crick; Nature via Nurture; Genome; and The Origins of Virtue. - The Long Now Foundation Matt Ridley's books have sold over 800,000 copies, been translated into 27 languages and been short-listed for six literary prizes. In 2004 he won the National Academies Book Award from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine for Nature via Nurture. In 2006 he published Genome, a national bestseller. In 2007 he won the Davis Prize from the US History of Science Society for Francis Crick. His most recent book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, was published in 2010. He is married to the neuroscientist Professor Anya Hurlbert. They have two children and live at Blagdon near Newcastle upon Tyne.

Hedge Fund Gamblers Earn the Same In One Hour As a Middle-Class Household Makes In Over 47 Years

By Les Leopold, AlterNet April 13, 2011 http://www.alternet.org/story/150570/hedge_fund_gamblers_earn_the_same_in_one_hour_as_a_middle-class_household_makes_in_over_47_years

We live in a very, very rich country. Yet we seem to be utterly consumed by a collective hysteria that we’re about to go broke. Historians are certain to look back at this period and wonder why the richest country in history consumed itself in a struggle over how many teachers to fire. How rich are we? Just take a look at the latest reports on what the top hedge fund managers haul in. In 2010 John Paulson led the list with a record $4.9 billion in personal earnings. That’s a whopping $2.4 million an HOUR. Here’s a factoid to make you wretch: It would take the median US household over 47 years to earn as much as Paulson pocketed in just 60 minutes. And, every hedge fund manager pays a lower tax rate than the average family. The top 25 hedge fund earners took in $22.07 billion in 2010. Thanks to a generous tax loophole these billionaires will pay a top tax rate of 15 percent instead of 35 percent. Closing that loophole on just those 25 individuals – just 25 guys who wouldn’t miss a penny of it -- would raise $4.4 billion, which is enough to rehire 126,000 laid-off teachers. Wait a sec. This is America, not Russia. Don’t we want our entrepreneurs to go out there and earn as much as possible? We don’t want to punish the successful who are building up our economy, do we? Maybe that’s a strong argument when you’re talking about the CEO billionaires of Apple and Google and other successful companies that make products we use. But when it comes to financial billionaires, we don’t even know what they do for a living. Each and every day I ask people and I get a blank stare or something like: “They invest. They make money.” Sure enough, but how do they make so much money? Where does it come from? How can hedge fund firms with fewer than 100 employees make as much profit as companies like Apple with tens of thousands of employees? This much we know. They speculate. The place bets. They jump in and out of markets at lightening speeds. They have secret betting formulas just like card counters in Vegas. And as any state attorney general can tell you, a good number of them cheat by betting with illegal insider tips, front-running trades, sneaking in trades after markets close and so on. The entire industry is barely regulated as it plays with a bankroll of $2.2 trillion that comes mostly from enormously rich investors. You can bet the next crisis will bubble out of this vast and murky casino. I have yet to hear a convincing argument that financial billionaires produce economic value commensurate to what they earn. And if they don’t, that means they are siphoning off the wealth from the rest of our nation. Either we do something about it or we’ll watch our standard of living crumble. Blah, blah blah. We’ve heard it all before. We know that super-rich financiers are gaming the system. We know they pay low taxes or none at all. We know they’re stashing their cash in offshore accounts. But now that the economy isn’t crashing anymore, it seems there’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to learn to live with a new kind of aristocracy. Get used to it. Maybe not. There’s a movement underway for what economist Dean Baker aptly named a “financial speculation tax.” The idea, first put forth by the late James Tobin to raise money to help eradicate global poverty, is to place a very small tax on all financial transactions. Here’s how Baker’s Center for Economic and Policy Research describes it: The FST (also known as a financial transactions tax or the Robin Hood tax) is a modest set of taxes on Wall Street trading – e.g. 0.25% (1/4 of a percent) on a stock purchase or sale and 0.02% (1/50 of a percent) on the sale or purchase of a future, option, or credit default swap. These rates are proportional to the actual transaction costs in the industry. An FST would raise over $100 billion per year in badly needed revenue or $1 trillion over the course of a decade.This is a substantial sum of revenue, which skims the fat off of a sector of the economy that can afford to pay it. The beauty of this kind of tax is that it grabs the financial booty before it lands in the financiers’ pockets. You avoid all the lobbying over loopholes and trying to get back money that someone already has claimed as his or her own. You also avoid the entire argument about whether or not the person has really “earned” it. By taxing financial speculation in real time, we reclaim some of the ungodly accumulation of speculative wealth in the financial sector. Everyone knows that the financial sector has grown too large for the good of our nation. Everyone knows that its size allows it to play fast and lose with our implicit guarantee of its bets. (Correction: everyone knows but Tim Geithner, who actually believes the financial sector should get even larger so it can provide more speculative services to emerging markets all over the world.) The financial speculation tax is the perfect way to put that money back to work for the common good. Furthermore, it’s the very best way to make the financial sector pay us back for all the damage it has done to the economy. Before we succumb to financial amnesia we should recall that Wall Street, and it alone, went on a massive gambling spree that crashed the economy and killed 8 million jobs. To save the system from falling into another Great Depression we bailed them out and now they are again making record profits. Meanwhile, long-term unemployment remains at record highs and states are in enormous fiscal distress. Every American not tied to Wall Street knows that the high-stakes financial gamblers should be paying us back. The speculation tax is the very best way to do it -- grab the money before they stash it in their offshore accounts. We’re not alone. Financial transaction taxes are high on the agenda of European nations that seem much less intimidated by their financial barons. The United Kingdom already has such a tax on stock and bond transactions, and there are no adverse effects on its financial center. On March 8, a coalition of progressives succeeded in getting the European Parliament to endorse this Robin Hood tax by a vote of 529 to 127. This non-binding proposal if enacted would raise approximately $286 billion a year for the European Union. The G20 group of the leading industrial nations is considering such a tax, but the US and its billionaire bankers are fighting hard to keep it off the agenda. Back in the USA an ad hoc collection of economists are mounting a petition drive to put the issue back on the agenda. It says in part: The financial crisis has shown us the dangers of unregulated finance, and the link between the financial sector and society has been broken. It is time to fix this link and for the financial sector to give something back to society. …This money is urgently needed to raise revenue for global and domestic public goods such as health, education and water, and to tackle the challenge of climate change. Needless to say, winning won’t come easy because Wall Street is determined to kill any and all efforts to siphon money away from its casinos. The joke is that when the big boys were on their knees two years ago begging for money, this tax easily could have been a condition for bailing them out. But in truth, the Obama administration is siding with Wall Street and has come up with every lame excuse for why it can’t work, even though it’s working just fine in England. Clearly, we need our own Robin Hood movement like the one organized in Europe that delivered more than 500,000 petitions to the European Parliament. And that in turn requires we develop the will to fight Wall Street. Each time I write about these issues, my editors worry that you, the readers, have given up -- that nobody believes it’s possible to fight Wall Street and win. Well, I’m not giving up on you.

Les Leopold is the executive director of the Labor Institute and Public Health Institute in New York, and author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It(Chelsea Green, 2009).

A Great Collection of Science-Oriented Tutorial Videos - Khan Academy

Great help for students!  ....   Monte & Eileen

Bill Gates talks about the Khan Academy on the Gates Notes

Salman Khan talk at TED 2011 (from ted.com)

RE: http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/great-collection-science-oriented-tutorial-videos.htm

The internet provides a great learning environment, and lots of sites offer collections of free videos that you can watch in order to teach yourself about various subjects. One excellent example, which has been mentioned a couple of times recently in our forums, is the Khan Academy. It hosts over 2000 short videos, instantly available for you to watch online within your browser for free. The site is very much science-oriented, and covers subjects such as maths, algebra, physics, chemistry, finance and so on. Each video is short, concise, educational, and very easy to follow. The videos have already been viewed some 44 million times in total, and it's not hard to see why. Not only is the content great, but the titles are clearly laid out on a single page, ready for you to just click on any that you want to view. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you're a student or you know someone who is.

The URL you need is www.khanacademy.org.

Apr 12, 2011

Zac Brown James Taylor - Colder Weather - Sweet Baby James - ACM Awards 2011

Brown, who is often cited for having worn out his cassette tape of 'James Taylor's Greatest Hits' at least three times because he played them too often, adds "James Taylor is the single biggest influence I have, period."
And that influence has paid off for Brown who leads all contenders this year with nine personal nominations, five of which are shared with the Zac Brown Band. The southern rockers garnered an Album of the Year nod for 'You Get What You Give' (Atlantic/Southern Ground Artists) as well as nominations for Vocal Group of the Year and Song of the Year for "As She's Walking Away" featuring Alan Jackson.
Said Taylor of the collaboration, "I'm honored to have been asked to perform with the Zac Brown Band...I'm a fan and think they're one of the truest and most authentic talents out there. Can't wait to make some music together." http://www.zacbrownband.com/

Colder Weather Lyrics
She'd trade Colorado if he'd take her with him
Closes the door before the winter lets the cold in,
And wonders if her love is strong enough to make him
She's answered by the tail lights
Shining through the window pane

He said I wanna see you again
But I'm stuck in colder weather
Maybe tomorrow will be better
Can I call you then
She said you're a ramblin' man
And you ain't ever gonna change
You gotta gypsy soul to blame
And you were born for leavin'

At a truck stop diner just outside of Lincoln,
The night is black as the coffee he was drinkin',
And in the waitress' eyes he sees the same 'ol light a
He thinks of Colorado
And the girl he left behind him

He said I wanna see you again
But I'm stuck in colder weather
Maybe tomorrow will be better
Can I call you then
She said you're ramblin' man
And you ain't ever gonna change
You got a gypsy soul to blame
And you were born for leavin' (born for leavin')

Well it's a windin road
When you're in the lost and found
You're a lover I'm a runner
And we go 'round 'n 'round
And I love you but I'll leave you
I don't want you but I need you
You know it's you who calls me back here, Baby

Oh I wanna see you again
But I'm stuck in colder weather
Maybe tomorrow will be better
Can I call you then
Cause I'm a ramblin' man
I ain't ever gonna change
I gotta gypsy soul to blame
And I was born for leavin' (born for leavin')

When I close my eyes I see you
No matter where I am
I can smell your perfume through these whispering pines
I'm with your ghost again
It's a shame about the weather
But I know soon we'll be together
And I can't wait till thenI can't wait till then

Sweet Baby James lyrics
There's a song that they sing when they take to the highway
A song that they sing when they take to the sea
A song that they sing of their home in the sky 
Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep 
But singing works just fine for me 
Goodnight you moonlight ladies 
Rock-a-bye sweet baby James 
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose 
Won't you let me go down in my dreams 
And rock-a-bye sweet baby James


Thom Hartmann: Democracy is hanging by a thread because of plutocrats and their paid ass-kissers

Congress says they're going to pass a budget that cuts federal education, health care, and energy assistance programs for working class Americans while doing nothing to make America's wealthy pay their fair share or sacrifice even one damn thing. Thom Hartmann speaks with Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar - Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

10 Fascinating Health Effects of Urban Living | Nursing Schools.net

April 11th, 2011
More than any other time in human history, people today typically live in major urban centers rather than their suburban or rural counterparts. While many praise city life for its comparatively more vibrant nightlife, museums and art, food and music scenes, there inevitably exists some rather terrible downsides. Crime and violence usually spring to mind first, but more than a few serious public health issues may prove just as culpable (if not more so) in causing injury, illness and death. Though not meant to deter anyone hoping to call a sprawling metropolis home, it does pay to know the potential problems that might walk hand-in-hand with urban living. Please keep in mind that none of the following statements are meant to take the place of expert medical advice.

Increased risk of outbreak: Infectious diseases such as cholera, yellow fever, the plague and myriad others spread much faster in urban environments. Unsurprisingly, this has pretty much everything to do with a condensed population living in close proximity. Europe's devastating outbreak of bubonic plague in the 14th Century, killing off 30% to 60% of the continent's population, is probably the most infamous example of this phenomenon. In more contemporary times, the World Health Organization notes the swelling risk of yellow fever in West Africa's fast-growing urban centers. Considering they increase in population at a rate of around 4% a year — the highest in the world and double than the international average — this stands as a particularly disconcerting scenario.

Stunted mental functions: Urban living comes packaged with a melange of physical, mental and emotional stimuli, and on particularly active days can get more than a smidge overwhelming. Spending enough time in such environments may result in poor impulse control, reduced memory and complete exhaustion — among other lovely things. Scientists attribute this degradation to a distinct lack of nature, as exposure to greenery and other organics holds considerable sway over mental, physical and emotional well-being. Considering more people live in cities than rural areas, such a lack of exposure to the natural world spells out some disconcerting things about humanity's future. Some metropolitan areas now employ developers and scientists with the hopes of redesigning to allow for much healthier spaces.

The "double burden" of diseases: City dwellers suffer from a heightened risk of both infectious and noninfectious chronic diseases, oftentimes referred to as the "double burden." This especially holds true in impoverished, squalid neighborhoods whose inhabitants lack adequate health care access as well as regions experiencing exceptionally quick urbanization. Asthma, for example, runs far more rampant in such areas, as many individuals and families end up forced to live in moldy housing. Even beyond diseases, deaths and injuries as a result of work or violence also increase when living in major metropolises. These frequently kill or debilitate victims long before chronic infections or conditions have a chance to take hold.

Increased risk of depression: In addition to blunted mental functions, urbanites may also suffer from depression at a much higher rate. Poverty could especially stoke the metaphorical fires, as do poor working conditions — both of which sadly stand as major facets of city life. Many individuals with no prior history of depressive disorders develop them after further immersion low-income housing and careers. Research on the subject oftentimes turns up mixed results, of course, though few would be surprised if a definitive correlation finally emerges.

Obstructive lung disease ravages the homeless: Air pollution unsurprisingly negatively affects the respiratory systems of pretty much everyone calling an urban area home. Anyone living in or near heavily industrialized regions face a far higher risk of coming down with chronic lung and/or pulmonary issues. Car exhaust, too, isn't the greatest thing to inhale on a daily basis. But one of the world's most marginalized demographics especially suffers from the damages of respiratory ailments the most. Obstructive lung disease occurs at a 15% rate in the homeless — double the average in the United States. Bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also far more common in this population as well. Cigarette smoking, inadequate nutrition options and exposure to the elements only worsens their health.

Poor water means poor health: No matter the socioeconomic bracket, exposure to a compromised public water supply leads to a health crisis of urban proportions. Of course, poorer areas unable to afford the sanitation technology necessary to lessen the chances of serious or fatal outbreaks suffer the highest risk of a public health nightmare. Whether by natural or man-made means, any sort of contamination to a city's water supply could spell doom for a much broader population segment than the ones found in rural regions. There's a reason why officials (or, at least, the few genuinely concerned about humanity) wring their hands over the possibility of bioterrorists directly infiltrating public wells, reservoirs and other major drinking water sources. Beyond that, callous corporations treating lakes and ponds as personal dumping grounds for pollutants and waste infamously make life that much unhealthier for the populace.

Lessened risk of death or injury in a car accident: This probably sounds incredibly bizarre, but city slickers are actually far less likely to die or sustain a serious injury in a car accident than their rural counterparts. In some of the most egregious cases, particularly Wyoming, Montana and Mississippi, the rural death rate sits at double that found in urban areas. While the findings understandably pique their fair share of controversy, this phenomenon is attributed to the generally poorer condition of roads. Passing laws to help prevent such things almost always come packaged with a plethora of public outcry, making it exceptionally difficult to lower the risk across the board.

Improper design of multifamily housing is a cause for great concern: Beyond the comparatively rapid spread of communicable diseases, multifamily housing units also cause serious problems for those concerned about respiratory and pulmonary conditions both temporary and chronic. Depending on its design, some homes may actually trap outdoor air pollutants indoors, making life dangerous and miserable no matter where inhabitants roam. Formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, radon, benzene, nitrogen dioxide and more can all creep inside – assuming they don't come from within the home itself! Asbestos, lead paint and mold, while not exclusive to urban areas, also pose massive health threats. Once again, poverty-stricken neighborhoods fall victim to squalid, unhealthily-designed housing options far more than those with the money to renovate and restore.

Physical inactivity: Not all instances of obesity or being overweight are caused by physical inactivity — genetics, health and medical issues and diet can play a part in it as well. One cannot assume that all fitting the criteria necessarily incorporate little exercise or proper nutrition into their lifestyles, though sadly such stereotypes unfairly persist. However, in spite of this, the physical inactivity that stems from taking public transportation can (though not always) contribute to weight issues. As one can probably imagine, such health risks arise in developed nations far more often, as those in poorer ones must rely on biking or walking. Individuals concerned with the problems associated with an inactive lifestyle should consider supplementing it by exercising regularly or considering healthier options when going to or from work.

It may be easier to correctly diagnose elderly women in urban areas: Please keep in mind such a statement only comes from one study conducted by the University of Alberta and Simon Fraser University, so take such statements as nothing yet definitive. Elderly women on the fringes of urban society typically self-analyze as living with fair to poor health, though in rural areas they're more likely to suffer from heart disease — at least in Canada. By contrast, the social determinants used when making diagnoses on elderly women in urban zones are far more accurate.

Well researched article...   Monte