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Friday, January 21, 2011

Motivation?? How about Antony Robbins on the economy!!!

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D.C. expanding public surveillance camera net

Big Brother may already be watching you in the District, and he will soon have a lot more eyes trained in your direction.
The city's homeland security agency is planning to add thousands of security cameras from private businesses around the nation's capital and the Metro system to the thousands of electronic eyes that authorities are already monitoring 24/7.
D.C.'s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency has already centralized the feeds from more than 4,500 cameras operated by the District's department of transportation and school system. Those feeds are watched around the clock by officials from those departments who sit together in homeland security's Joint All-Hazards Operation Center.

Cameras from private businesses and Metro will soon be added to the network of more than 4,500 electronic eyes that the District's homeland security agency already monitors.-Photos.com
By bringing feeds from thousands more cameras to the central watching room through links to cameras at businesses such as banks, corner stores and gas stations, the District is joining other big cities like London, New York and Baltimore that in recent years have turned to cameras to fight crime and terrorism. But critics worry the District's government might be going too far.
"The D.C. effort to link public and private watching capabilities might be viewed as excessive," said Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University who studies the balance between security and civil liberties. "It would make it hard to find a place in the city where people aren't being watched by cameras."
"It sounds like Big Brother to me," Maryland resident James Dewitt said Wednesday on the streets of downtown Washington, referencing George Orwell's novel foreseeing a society oppressed by a government that tracks everyone. "We're heading to '1984.' It's 2011, but we're heading to 1984."

Robyn Johnson, a spokeswoman from HSEMA, told
The Washington Examiner that "the program has not expanded to include private businesses." But, "We continue to explore this in a deliberative way."
A plan for 2011 submitted to the city administrator by HSEMA says the agency plans to centralize cameras at private businesses and those run by Metro and the D.C. Housing Authority. The plan doesn't have a timeline, and Johnson said there isn't one.
Homeland security says the centralized camera system is designed to be used to raise "situational awareness" during "developing significant events" like the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009 or the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
When it was started in spring 2008, the program immediately met resistance from the D.C. Council. Some council members worried that the closed-circuit television system was put together too quickly and without consideration of how effective it would be in reducing crime or preventing terrorism.
At-large Councilman Phil Mendelson, who oversees the homeland security agency, still has those concerns.
"My concern about these cameras has always been that there's no evidence they reduce crime," Mendelson said. "If HSEMA intends to put more staff on to monitor these cameras, it would not be a good use of resources."
Mendelson added that "although one doesn't have much of a right of privacy on a Metro platform ... it could change when you're inside a bank, and if HSEMA were looking at a bank statement."
Johnson said the agency is developing regulations to protect civil liberties.
Homeland security currently operates under the same series of regulations the D.C. Council adopted for the cameras used by the police department, which are run separately from HSEMA's cameras.
Those regulations make it illegal for a camera to be focused on literature being carried by someone in a protest. They also prevent footage from being stored for more than 10 days, unless it captured a crime being committed or questionable police action.

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Financial Armageddon Coming Soon (2011)

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What happens if China dumps its U.S. debt?

U.S. President Barack Obama listens as Chinese President Hu Jintao speaks during a joint news conference at the White House in Washington January 19, 2011.NEW YORK - When borrowing money it's always good to have a Plan B in case a big creditor pulls the plug. That should be true whether the sum is a few thousand dollars or about a trillion, the size of the United States government's debt to China.
With Chinese President Hu Jintao due to arrive in Washington on Tuesday, it is worth asking about U.S. officials' Plan B just in case one day relations take a surprise turn for the worse and Beijing dumps its holdings of U.S. treasuries.
China is officially the United States' biggest foreign creditor, with roughly $900 billion in Treasury holdings a or over US$1-trillion with Hong Kong's holdings included.
That means it could do severe damage to U.S. debt markets if it suddenly started selling large amounts.
Most experts say if there were signs of this happening, the U.S. government would go for a combination of persuading Americans to buy more U.S. debt, the same way they did in World War II, and finding friendly foreign governments to make additional purchases.
Banks could be called on to increase their holdings of treasuries, and as a last resort, the Federal Reserve could also be called on to fill the gap, though this could risk turning any dollar weakness into a slump.
"The U.S. government should have and maybe still could call on the people of the U.S. to invest in U.S. debt," said David Walker, a former U.S. comptroller general who heads an advocacy group calling on the government to curb the U.S. budget deficit and borrowings.
To be sure, the idea that China would suddenly sell its U.S. debt holdings is almost unimaginable to some.
After all, any weakening in the U.S. debt markets and the resulting global markets turmoil, including likely weakness in the dollar, would bounce back on China and could hurt its economy badly, especially as the United States is such a huge Chinese export market.
It likely would take something like a massive rise in tensions over an issue like Taiwan or oil exploration in disputed areas of the South China Sea, including possible military confrontation between the two nations. Such a confrontation would also make it easier for Washington to appeal to the American public to buy its debt for patriotic reasons.
But Beijing could also justify pulling back sharply from U.S. Treasuries if the dollar were to plunge, perhaps because of Washington's failure to curb its budget deficit and debt.
"I worry that we could be at a tipping point," said Eswar Prasad, a Brookings Institution economist and former International Monetary Fund official with responsibility for China.
"If the Chinese say 'We're not buying any more Treasuries,' this could act as a trigger around which nervous market sentiment coalesces," he said. "People could start wondering how the U.S. is going to finance its deficit."
Thomson Reuters 2011

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