Just Keep Cashing Out, Forever! :.

As they happily watch their houses swell in value, Americans are changing their attitudes toward mortgage debt. Increasingly, a home is no longer a nest egg whose equity should never be touched, but a seemingly magical ATM enabling the owner to live it up or just live.

Homeowners took $59 billion cash out of their houses in the second quarter, double the amount in the 2004 quarter and 16 times the average rate of the mid-1990s, according to data released this month by mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

If mortgage rates rise sharply or home prices fall, many homeowners could be in financial turmoil. They may be unable to service their loans, or even could find that their homes are worth less than their mortgages.


Greenspan: U.S. Heading for House Price Crash :.

WALL STREET shuddered yesterday after Alan Greenspan, the United States' central banker, warned American homebuyers that they risk a crash if they continue to drive property prices higher.

He said that the US house-price spiral had become an economic imbalance, threatening stability like the country's trade gap or its budget deficit.


Cryptogon Reader Contributes $10

Thanks KL!

Killing the Dollar in Iran :.

Weaned off the almighty commodity, the US dollar can have a deeper impact on the US economy than a direct nuclear attack by Iran. The permanent demand for dollar-denominated paper stems substantially from the fact that until now almost all resources of the world are quoted in it. While this led to the eurodollar (US dollar-denominated deposits at foreign banks or foreign branches of American banks) market in the 1970s, the new terms of trade could ring in the demise of the dollar as the premier reserve currency.

Rolling Blackouts Cut Power in California :.

Sweltering late-summer heat and the loss of key transmission lines Thursday forced power officials in Southern California to impose rolling blackouts, leaving as many as half a million people without power for an hour at a time, officials said.

Illegal Immigrants Down Helicopter by Throwing Rocks :.

The Machine is actually quite fragile, when you get right down to it:

Illegal immigrants threw rocks at a Border Patrol helicopter, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing when one of the rocks damaged the rotor, the agency said.

Neither the pilot nor the Border Patrol observer was injured.


Ahh, another free market triumph!

I thought we had until 2007 before the death rattle set in. Maybe not:

Hawaii has become the first state in the nation to set limits on gasoline prices.

Oh yeah, I saw a PHB in full costume (suit, tie, briefcase) riding a bike along the path today.

1,500 Paratroopers Deploying to Iraq :.

This is interesting. Why send 1,500 jumpers into Iraq? Why not send regular infantry? Paras are not usually tasked for counter-insurgency or stabalization operations. Hmmm.

Possible answer: This provides the Pentagon with an offensive air assault capability in the event that a rapid deployment into Iran or Saudi Arabia becomes necessary:

More troops are headed to Iraq, this time 1,500 paratroopers to temporarily boost military strength during the fall election, the Pentagon has announced.

Two battalions of the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy in mid-September from their home base of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The deployment will include the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment (AIR) and the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR).

GM, Ford Motor Debt Ratings Cut to Junk :.

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., the two biggest U.S. automakers, were lowered to junk by Moody's Investors Service following two quarters of losses at both companies' North American auto operations.


OIL: $67.40 $68 Afterhours Trading

I knew that scooter was going to be a cunning tactical investment.


Lockheed Martin to Saturate New Subway with Surveillance Systems :.

Officials unveiled the high-tech future of transit security in New York City today: an ambitious plan to saturate the subways with 1,000 video cameras and 3,000 motion sensors and to enable cellphone service in 277 underground stations - but not in moving cars - for the first time.

Pat Robertson: The Monster Behind the Jesus Mask :.

America, in case you haven't noticed, has become a place of strange perversity. A place in which Robertson can fantasize aloud, before an impressionable audience of millions, about smuggling a nuclear device into the US Department of State, without fear of disappearing into the gulag from which Jose Padilla may never emerge. (And what was it he did, again?)

Disaffected Goths telling each other vampire stories - that's not Satanism. And Satanists, worshipping without doing injury to innocents or the world - that's not True Evil, however delicious it is to them to pretend otherwise.

In a world gone upside-down and inside-out, we're all dancing on the ceiling now. Don't be taken in by the surface of things. You want to see True Evil? Chip away at the paint darkening the windows of America's Hosanna Churches. You want to see a Wicked Man? Look at the desolate eyes peering out from behind his Halloween mask of Jesus.

It was Sinclair Lewis, in It Can't Happen Here, who predicted "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." Luciferianism, ritual abuse, child sacrifice - Hell came in a similar fashion.

PSYOP: Pentagon Slogans On U.S. Military Gravestones :.

Unf*cking believable:

Unlike earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts.

Housing Slowdown :.

U.S. previously owned home sales slowed in July and the number of houses for sale rose to a 17-year high, suggesting the real estate market is beginning to cool.

Second Officer Says 9/11 Leader Was Named Before Attacks :.

An active-duty Navy captain has become the second military officer to come forward publicly to say that a secret intelligence program tagged the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a possible terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The officer, Scott J. Phillpott, said in a statement on Monday that he could not discuss details of the military program, which was called Able Danger, but confirmed that its analysts had identified the Sept. 11 ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by name by early 2000. "My story is consistent," said Captain Phillpott, who managed the program for the Pentagon's Special Operations Command. "Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000."

His comments came on the same day that the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, told reporters that the Defense Department had been unable to validate the assertions made by an Army intelligence veteran, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and now backed up by Captain Phillpott, about the early identification of Mr. Atta.

Pentagon in Denial Over Able Danger Op :.

A Pentagon review has so far found no evidence that a secret intelligence operation identified Mohammad Atta as a member of a US-based Al-Qaeda cell before the September 11, 2001 attacks, a spokesman said.

Representative Curt Weldon and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer have charged that Atta and three other September 11 hijackers were identified as early as mid-2000 through a data-mining program codenamed "Able Danger."

But Lawrence DiRita, a Pentagon spokesman, said a review of materials related to Able Danger has so far turned up no evidence that it identified Atta, the reputed leader of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Pat Robertson Calls for Assassination of Hugo Chavez :.

Who let the crackpot twit on the air without his medication?

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson called on Monday for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him a "terrific danger" to the United States.

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, said on "The 700 Club" it was the United States' duty to stop Chavez from making Venezuela a "launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."


My Other Car Is a Bladez XTR Street II Electric Power Board :.

With gas kissing three bucks in my area, I took the plunge on a factory refurbished Bladez XTR Street II electric scooter. It cost me $259. Thanks, July and August Cryptogon contributors. You guys just took my car off the road for the morning and afternoon office commutes.

Obviously, "corn jettas and fart scooters" aren't viable, long term solutions to the world's energy crisis. (HA! Far from it.) But having this scooter will allow me to put more money into the farm and less money into my car's gas tank.

I live about five miles from work. I didn't opt for a bike because I sweat like a pig with relatively little effort. I didn't feel like sitting, cube ridden, in my own stench all day at work. The scooter is fun to ride and seems like a great solution. It will make even more sense as gas prices continue to rise.

If you're interested in ditching your car for short commutes, and a bike doesn't fit your needs, here are the best EV options:

Good: Bladez PTVs

Better: Goped ESR

Best: eGo Cycle 2

If Peak Oil becomes a die-off scale event, survivors' long term transportation plans should probably include the shoe leather express and/or horses. Bikes with LOTS of spare parts (tires, chains, cables, etc.) could be useful. Lots of people are planning on running tractors on biofuels. Fine. Stock up on tires, hoses, gaskets, etc. Your community will want to post a 24 hour armed guard around those goods, but that's another matter entirely.

Sun Launches DRM Initiative :.


Sun Microsystems has launched a digital rights management (DRM) initiative called Open Media Commons and designed to develop a royalty-free DRM standard.

Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz unveiled the initiative Sunday at a conference in Aspen, Colo., sponsored by the Progress & Freedom Foundation, a think tank based here.

Schwartz said the initiative will seek to foster open standards, reference architectures and implementations. It also stresses compensation for content creators and copyright holders, respect for users' privacy and adoption of laws and technology that foster innovation.


Peak Oil: The Breaking Point :.

I don't know. I see things like the "sustainable" WalMart and the FedEx hub covered with solar panels and I have to wonder if this Peak Oil thing is actually going to be the kill shot that we think it's going to be. (Oh yeah, did you hear the one about the 500 megawatt solar power plant in California?) Maybe They have a much better grip on this thing than we know. Maybe They're ramping up alternatives at a pace that is congruent (or somewhat congruent) with the fall-off of conventional energy sources.

Those of us who despise the present global political and economic order look to Peak Oil with a sense of hope! Yes... Hope. Something tells me, however, we're not going to be that lucky.

Peak Oil probably won't take this thing down, simply because it seems so obvious that it will.

Peak Oil looks real to me and I've made life altering decisions based on my belief that the end of cheap hydrocarbon energy is going to collapse this system. All I'm saying is that if Peak Oil turns out to be a non event, I will not be surprised in the least.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

In the past several years, the gap between demand and supply, once considerable, has steadily narrowed, and today is almost negligible. The consequences of an actual shortfall of supply would be immense. If consumption begins to exceed production by even a small amount, the price of a barrel of oil could soar to triple-digit levels. This, in turn, could bring on a global recession, a result of exorbitant prices for transport fuels and for products that rely on petrochemicals -- which is to say, almost every product on the market. The impact on the American way of life would be profound: cars cannot be propelled by roof-borne windmills. The suburban and exurban lifestyles, hinged to two-car families and constant trips to work, school and Wal-Mart, might become unaffordable or, if gas rationing is imposed, impossible.

Research Credit: AB


:. Reading

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture by Andrew Kimbrell Readers will come to see that industrial food production is indeed a "fatal harvest" - fatal to consumers, as pesticide residues and new disease vectors such as E. coli and "mad cow disease" find their way into our food supply; fatal to our landscapes, as chemical runoff from factory farms poison our rivers and groundwater; fatal to genetic diversity, as farmers rely increasingly on high-yield monocultures and genetically engineered crops; and fatal to our farm communities, which are wiped out by huge corporate farms.

Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America by Bertram Myron Gross This is a relatively short but extremely cogent and well-argued treatise on the rise of a form of fascistic thought and social politics in late 20th century America. Author Bertram Gross' thesis is quite straightforward; the power elite that comprises the corporate, governmental and military superstructure of the country is increasingly inclined to employ every element in their formidable arsenal of 'friendly persuasion' to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans through what Gross refers to as friendly fascism.

The Good Life
by Scott and Helen Nearing
Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash...Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings' challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills.

Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth by David Bollierd In Silent Theft, David Bollier argues that a great untold story of our time is the staggering privatization and abuse of our common wealth. Corporations are engaged in a relentless plunder of dozens of resources that we collectively own—publicly funded medical breakthroughs, software innovation, the airwaves, the public domain of creative works, and even the DNA of plants, animals and humans. Too often, however, our government turns a blind eye—or sometimes helps give away our assets. Amazingly, the silent theft of our shared wealth has gone largely unnoticed because we have lost our ability to see the commons.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-To-Basics Guide by John Seymour The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It is the only book that teaches all the skills needed to live independently in harmony with the land harnessing natural forms of energy, raising crops and keeping livestock, preserving foodstuffs, making beer and wine, basketry, carpentry, weaving, and much more.

When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten When Corporations Rule the World explains how economic globalization has concentrated the power to govern in global corporations and financial markets and detached them from accountability to the human interest. It documents the devastating human and environmental consequences of the successful efforts of these corporations to reconstruct values and institutions everywhere on the planet to serve their own narrow ends.

The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener This expansion of a now-classic guide originally published in 1989 is intended for the serious gardener or small-scale market farmer. It describes practical and sustainable ways of growing superb organic vegetables, with detailed coverage of scale and capital, marketing, livestock, the winter garden, soil fertility, weeds, and many other topics.