Friday, November 28, 2008

Russian analyst predicts decline and breakup of U.S.

19:31 | 24/ 11/ 2008

Print version

MOSCOW, November 24 (RIA Novosti) - A leading Russian political analyst has said the economic turmoil in the United States has confirmed his long-held view that the country is heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts.

Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily Izvestia published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."

The paper said Panarin's dire predictions for the U.S. economy, initially made at an international conference in Australia 10 years ago at a time when the economy appeared strong, have been given more credence by this year's events.

When asked when the U.S. economy would collapse, Panarin said: "It is already collapsing. Due to the financial crisis, three of the largest and oldest five banks on Wall Street have already ceased to exist, and two are barely surviving. Their losses are the biggest in history. Now what we will see is a change in the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will no longer be the world's financial regulator."

When asked who would replace the U.S. in regulating world markets, he said: "Two countries could assume this role: China, with its vast reserves, and Russia, which could play the role of a regulator in Eurasia."

Asked why he expected the U.S. to break up into separate parts, he said: "A whole range of reasons. Firstly, the financial problems in the U.S. will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal center. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles."

He also cited the "vulnerable political setup", "lack of unified national laws", and "divisions among the elite, which have become clear in these crisis conditions."

He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

He even suggested that "we could claim Alaska - it was only granted on lease, after all."

On the fate of the U.S. dollar, he said: "In 2006 a secret agreement was reached between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. on a common Amero currency as a new monetary unit. This could signal preparations to replace the dollar. The one-hundred dollar bills that have flooded the world could be simply frozen. Under the pretext, let's say, that terrorists are forging them and they need to be checked."

When asked how Russia should react to his vision of the future, Panarin said: "Develop the ruble as a regional currency. Create a fully functioning oil exchange, trading in rubles... We must break the strings tying us to the financial Titanic, which in my view will soon sink."

Panarin, 60, is a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has authored several books on information warfare.

Perhaps it's just my suspicious nature, but, the article (to me, at least) - even allowing for the current economic chaos-cum-rathole that the US is experiencing - seems to be a blend of wishful thinking from an old aparatchik and practitioner of the art upon which he has written, i.e. "Information Warfare."

There are, of course, real problems with which to deal and there are also wide gulfs of belief and experience separating various factions of the US population. Is collapse and fragmentation of the nation - politically as opposed to economically - facing us in the very short run. Well, my crystal skull, oops... I mean "crystal ball" is cloudy today - or maybe it's just the shadow of a UFO overhead.

Somehow, I don't think we have reached "critical mass" yet for the explosion which would obliterate The United States of America. I could be wrong. Maybe the treasury's coup de etat
will prove to be the straw that broke the camel's back and we will soon see the "amero" coins in circulation and a different logo on the helmets of the military patrolling our cities and towns.

It remains to be seen, of course, but for all the people betting and/or investing in the imminent demise of the USA: Get a good hedge on that bet, you'll probably need it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2900 Year Old Stele Reveals Ancient Theological Belief

Funerary monument reveals Iron Age belief that the soul lived in the stone

November 18, 2008

Discovery in Turkey Comes from Major Iron Age Site

Archaeologists in southeastern Turkey have discovered an Iron Age chiseled stone slab that provides the first written evidence in the region that people believed the soul was separate from the body.

University of Chicago researchers will describe the discovery, a testimony created by an Iron Age official that includes an incised image of the man, on Nov. 22-23 at conferences of biblical and Middle Eastern archaeological scholars in Boston.

The Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago found the 800-pound basalt stele, 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, at Zincirli (pronounced "Zin-jeer-lee"), the site of the ancient city of Sam'al. Once the capital of a prosperous kingdom, it is now one of the most important Iron Age sites under excavation.

The stele is the first of its kind to be found intact in its original location, enabling scholars to learn about funerary customs and life in the eighth century B.C. At the time, vast empires emerged in the ancient Middle East, and cultures such as the Israelites and Phoenicians became part of a vibrant mix.

The man featured on the stele was probably cremated, a practice that Jewish and other cultures shun because of a belief in the unity of body and soul. According to the inscription, the soul of the deceased resided in the stele.

"The stele is in almost pristine condition. It is unique in its combination of pictorial and textual features and thus provides an important addition to our knowledge of ancient language and culture," said David Schloen, Associate Professor at the Oriental Institute and Director of the University's Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli.

Schloen will present the Kuttamuwa stele to a scholarly audience at the meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research on Nov. 22 in Boston, the major annual conference for Middle Eastern archaeology. Dennis Pardee, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at the University of Chicago, will present his translation of the stele's 13-line inscription the following day at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, also in Boston, in a session on "Paleographical Studies in the Near East."

German archaeologists first excavated the 100-acre site in the 1890s and unearthed massive city walls, gates and palaces. A number of royal inscriptions and other finds are now on display in museums in Istanbul and Berlin. Schloen and his team from the University of Chicago have excavated Zincirli for two months annually since 2006.

"Zincirli is a remarkable site," said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute. "Because no other cities were built on top of it, we have excellent Iron Age materials right under the surface. It is rare also in having written evidence together with artistic and archaeological evidence from the Iron Age. Having all of that information helps an archaeologist study the ethnicity of the inhabitants, trade and migration, as well as the relationships of the groups who lived there."

The stele was discovered last summer in a small room that had been converted into a mortuary shrine for the royal official Kuttamuwa, self-described in the inscription as a "servant" of King Panamuwa of the eighth century B.C. It was found in the outer part of the walled city in a domestic area—most likely the house of Kuttamuwa himself—far from the royal palaces, where inscriptions had previously been found.

The inscription reads in part: "I, Kuttamuwa, servant of Panamuwa, am the one who oversaw the production of this stele for myself while still living. I placed it in an eternal chamber(?) and established a feast at this chamber(?): a bull for [the storm-god] Hadad, ... a ram for [the sun-god] Shamash, ... and a ram for my soul that is in this stele. …" It was written in a script derived from the Phoenician alphabet and in a local West Semitic dialect similar to Aramaic and Hebrew. It is of keen interest to linguists as well as biblical scholars and religious historians because it comes from a kingdom contemporary with ancient Israel that shared a similar language and cultural features.

The finding sheds a striking new light on Iron Age beliefs about the afterlife. In this case, it was the belief that the enduring identity or "soul" of the deceased inhabited the monument on which his image was carved and on which his final words were recorded.

The stele was set against a stone wall in the corner of the small room, with its protruding tenon or "tab" still inserted into a slot in a flagstone platform. A handsome, bearded figure, Kuttamuwa is depicted on the stele wearing a tasseled cap and fringed cloak and raising a cup of wine in his right hand. He is seated on a chair in front of a table laden with food, symbolizing the pleasant afterlife he expected to enjoy. Beside him is his inscription, elegantly carved in raised relief, enjoining upon his descendants the regular duty of bringing food for his soul. Indeed, in front of the stele were remains of food offerings and fragments of polished stone bowls of the type depicted on Kuttamuwa's table.

According to Schloen, the stele vividly demonstrates that Iron Age Sam'al, located in the border zone between Anatolia and Syria, inherited both Semitic and Indo-European cultural traditions. Kuttamuwa and his king, Panamuwa, had non-Semitic names, reflecting the migration of Indo-European speakers into the region centuries earlier under the Hittite Empire based in central Anatolia (modern Turkey), which had conquered the region.

But by the eighth century B.C., they were speaking the local West Semitic dialect and were fully integrated into local culture. Kuttumuwa's inscription shows a fascinating mixture of non-Semitic and Semitic cultural elements, including a belief in the enduring human soul—which did not inhabit the bones of the deceased, as in traditional Semitic thought, but inhabited his stone monument, possibly because the remains of the deceased were cremated. Cremation was considered to be abhorrent in the Old Testament and in traditional West Semitic culture, but there is archaeological evidence for Indo-European-style cremation in neighboring Iron Age sites, although not yet at Zincirli itself.

In future excavation campaigns, the Zincirli team, generously supported by University trustee Joseph Neubauer and his wife Jeanette, plans to excavate large areas of the site in order to understand the social and economic organization of the city and its cultural development over the centuries. Schloen and his associate director Amir Fink hope to illuminate Iron Age culture more widely through this richly documented ancient city.

See original article and photos here.

There are some great photographs on the The University of Chicago website as well as other items of interest.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Economic stress blamed for murder/suicide...

Amanda Hernandez, Reporter
NLV Murder/Suicide a Result of Economic Stress

Updated: Nov 13, 2008 07:12 AM

Eyewitness News has learned that a couple found dead in the desert on Monday had lost their home in foreclosure.

North Las Vegas Police found the pair near Losee Road and I-215. At the time, police wouldn't say how they died. But the deaths have now been confirmed as a murder/suicide, triggered by a lost job and home foreclosure.

Pushed past the point of desperation, Jeff Lingle spent the day after his 38th birthday in the desert with the woman he loved.

A family friend says the two were common law married and had fallen on hard times. Lingle had lost his job, eventually forcing the couple to join the thousands of others who lost their home to foreclosure.

They moved in with a neighbor, but things never improved and so Jeff wrote a note saying, "We couldn't do this anymore and we swore we would die together."

He then included a map of where they could be found.

It's the ultimate cost of the faltering economy and psychologists warn when both members of a couple are drawn down by a situation, it's hard to feel like there is a way out.

"The worst thing that can happen is for two people to get into a cycle of hopelessness, where they start to reinforce each others depression and drag themselves down," said Psychologist Dr. David Gosse. "If that downward spiral goes down too far, then it can eventually lead to hopelessness and suicidal thoughts and in some cases actual suicide."

Dr. Gosse works with people dealing with depression, some of it brought on by the recent economy. He warns that when things feel hopeless is when you need to reach out the most, "When people are going through stressful life events, one of the best things they can do to shield themselves from the stress is to reach out. Unfortunately, a lot of times when people are under stress they tend to withdraw and that is one of the worse things they can do."

He recommends that when people begin to feel hopeless they reach out to family and friends, especially if their partner is also struggling. Because sometimes hope can be found with a little help.


The Clark County Coroner has identifed the second body found in the desert area of North Las Vegas on Monday.

The woman, 44-year-old Teresa Graciela Mullis, was found alongside 38-year-old Jeffrey Lingle. Police say the deaths were the result of a murder suicide.