If You’re into Global Economics, Read on

The following was sent to us by one of our partners:

if you’re into global economics, read on — thought provoking — if not, run away!!!

A note to readers. This 2000-word commentary is a longer-term view; think in terms of years, not months or days. The essay is not in conflict with the fully invested position currently held at Cumberland. The words reflect my personal thinking only. Some of my colleagues disagree. In my personal view, the future is uncertain (of course) and may be unattractive for the longer-term outlook. In my view, our American political system is failing us. In my view, we are joining the list of declining world powers. The framework to support that argument follows.

“The external menace ‘You’ll end up like Greece, if you do not do this and that’ and the internal opprobrium heaped on some categories of taxpayers are very powerful and dangerous instruments to deprive people of their own personal freedoms.” –Vincenzo Sciarretta

My friend Vincenzo is a journalist from Italy. He is a serious writer and researcher. He has covered the financial markets and economy of Italy for years. He and I co-authored a book on Europe during the optimistic period. If he and I were to write such a book now, it would probably be quite pessimistic.

Vince responded to my recent email series about the downward spiral underway in the euro zone. Readers may find those essays at www.cumber.com. Vince noted my reports from the meetings in Paris and my reference to the upcoming French elections, where the promise of the Socialist candidate is to raise the tax rate on the highest income level to 75%. I will end this commentary with a longer email from Vince, in which he quotes historian Will Durant and discusses the fall of the Roman Empire.

Now to write some thoughts that gnaw at me in the late of the night, when sleep is elusive.

Simply put: I’m worried.

When I get worried, I read and re-read in my library. I can honestly say that I have had my nose in a thousand of those books. The library holds many texts by giants. They wrote about history, economics, and finance. They took the strategic view. George Akerlof, Jared Diamond, Niall Ferguson, Carmen Reinhart & Ken Rogoff, Robert Shiller, and Nassim Taleb are among the modern writers. Milton Friedman, Martin Gilbert, Friedrich Hayek and his polar opposite John Maynard Keynes, Ludwig von Mises, R.R. Palmer, and Adam Smith are among the classics.

A favorite of mine is Paul Kennedy. Twenty-five years ago, this Yale historian concluded his monumental work The Rise and Fall of Great Powers with a profound observation:

“In the largest sense of all, therefore, the only answer to the question increasingly debated by the public of whether the United States can preserve its existing position is ‘no – for it simply has not been given to any one society to remain permanently ahead of all the others, because that would imply a freezing of the differential pattern of growth rates, technological advance, and military developments which has existed since time immemorial.”

Kennedy then argued that the United States has the ability to moderate or accelerate the pace of decline. Such is also the case for other great powers, many of which are in a state of decline from their centuries-old power peak. Among others in his treatise, Kennedy’s history lessons examine Spain, France, Rome, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I think I just covered a lot of the euro-zone geography.

In 1987, Kennedy warned us, “The task facing American statesmen over the decades, therefore, is to recognize that broad trends are under way, and that there is a need to ‘manage’ affairs so that the relative erosion of the United States’ position takes place slowly and smoothly.” He added the additional warning that it not be “accelerated by policies which bring merely short-term advantage but longer-term disadvantage.”

Unfortunately, America’s leadership has not heeded such warnings.

For decades futurists have complained about the rising use of government debt financing by the United States. They predicted calamitous outcomes, which did not arrive as expected. Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan applied monetary policy in ways that allowed inflation and, hence, interest rates to spend a quarter century in decline. The Volcker-Greenspan era opened with the highest interest rates since the Civil War. Building on this downward momentum, Ben Bernanke has taken the target short-term interest rate to near zero and held it there.

During the same three decades, the US altered its fiscal policy, first under Ronald Reagan and almost continuously since. (The Clinton administration was the exception.) Rising deficit financing has been facilitated by falling nominal interest rates. That combination leads to level, or even falling, aggregate debt service. You can owe more and more and have smaller and smaller monthly payments. That is the magic of falling interest rates. Until they hit the zero boundary.

What happens when the music stops and the chairs are full? Are we reaching that point in the United States? It appears we have done so in Europe, certainly in Greece, the eldest of the declining great powers. We are also getting there in Japan and the UK. All four confront similar financial straits: zero-bound interest rates coupled with expanding national government debt.

About 85% of the capital markets of the world trade by means of the dollar, yen, pound, and euro. The G-4 central banks have collectively expanded their holdings of government securities and loans from $3.5 trillion to $9 trillion in just four years. At the prevailing very low interest rates, the functioning of monetary policy and the role of fiscal policy merge. Is there any difference between a million-dollar suitcase of one hundred dollar bills and a million-dollar, zero-interest treasury bill? You need an armed guard to protect the first one. With the second one, you need to clear an electronic trade in a safe financial institution, not an unsupervised (no more Fed surveillance) Federal Reserve primary dealer like MF Global. Your earnings on either the cash or the T-bill are the same: you earn zero. You can use the treasury bill to secure a repo transaction at a near-zero interest rate. You can use the cash to conduct many types of black-market or gray-market trades. Is it any wonder that the hundred-dollar bill is so popular? Isn’t it understandable that roughly two-thirds of US currency circulates outside the United States?

Is this a healthy situation? How long can it persist? What happens next? When interest rates eventually rise, what will be the result of this blend of monetary/fiscal policy as its unwinding turns malignant?

Moreover, who then will be the politicians that inherit this mess? Who will occupy the central banker’s chair?

I worry because there is no rationally explained strategic-exit plan in the G4. Not in the US. Not in Japan. Not in the euro zone. Not in the United Kingdom.

I also worry because the direction of taxation is up, if certain politicians continue to have their way. I worry because US business tax rates are now the highest in the entire world. In addition, I worry because of the increasing power that national governments wield in the mature economies of the world.

Applied power eventually leads to serfdom.

Increasing taxation is a characteristic of a declining great power.

Governments are failing to heed Paul Kennedy’s warnings. They are worsening the longer-term outlook. The Western world’s leaders ignored Kennedy when he wrote “… accelerated by policies which bring merely short-term advantage but longer-term disadvantage.”

Zero-bound interest rates are a short-term advantage. We enjoy them. We profit from them. We expect them to continue for a while. They are like the oxygen administered to a very ill patient. If the patient dies, the oxygen has eased the pain in the terminal phase. If the patient lives, the lungs have been scarred and need many years of healing and repair. Today, the patient is receiving oxygen in the G4. Death is being delayed (Greece) or, perhaps, thwarted (elsewhere in the euro zone, Japan, US, and UK).

We do not know how this will play out. History only warns us that many of the likely outcomes may be unpleasant. The authors I cited have articulated their differing and diverse views. Their conclusions have tended to be in the form of warnings.

Paul Kennedy favors candor. In his second, exquisite work, Preparing for the Twenty-First Century, he wrote: “Many earlier attempts to peer into the future concluded either in a tone of unrestrained optimism, or in gloomy forebodings, or (as in Toynbee’s case) in appeals for spiritual revival. Perhaps this work should also finish on such a note. Yet the fact remains that simply because we do not know the future, it is impossible to say with certainty whether global trends will lead to terrible disasters or be diverted by astonishing advances in human adaption.”

Of course, we hope for the latter and worry about the former. History gives us little comfort.

For the time being we shall remain on the sanguine side with regard to this global experiment with increasing debt, zero-bound interest rates, and a monetary/fiscal policy compromise that obfuscates the difference between them.

As long as this persists, it means financial markets do well, stocks rise, risk assets regain favor, bonds with hedges yield results, and cash continues to earn zero return.

That is now. It may change tomorrow, next week, next month, next year or not for quite some time. There is no way to know.

For the downside from history we return to Vincenzo’s email to me:

 

“Dear David,

 

“I invite you to read the last few sentences of the below article from The Lessons of History, by Will and Ariel Durant. It is about how the destruction of the Roman Empire through the taxation channel made people ‘slaves,’ in other words how serfdom emerged. This is my number one fear for Italy, but I guess France is making the same mistakes, just starting from a lower debt level. You can also find an online version of the book, thanks to Google.

 

“Rome had its socialist interlude under Diocletian. Faced with increasing poverty and restlessness among the masses, and with the imminent danger of barbarian invasion, he issued in A.D. 3 an edictum de pretiis, which denounced monopolists for keeping goods from the market to raise prices, and set maximum prices and wages for all important articles and services. Extensive public works were undertaken to put the unemployed to work, and food was distributed gratis, or at reduced prices, to the poor. The government – which already owned most mines, quarries, and salt deposits – brought nearly all major industries and guilds under detailed control. ‘In every large town,’ we are told, ‘the state became a powerful employer, standing head and shoulders above the private industrialists, who were in any case crushed by taxation.’ When businessmen predicted ruin, Diocletian explained that the barbarians were at the gate, and that individual liberty had to be shelved until collective liberty could be made secure. The socialism of Diocletian was a war economy, made possible by fear of foreign attack. Other factors equal, internal liberty varies inversely with external danger.

 

“The task of controlling men in economic detail proved too much for Diocletian’s expanding, expensive, and corrupt bureaucracy. To support this officialdom – the army, the courts, public works, and the dole – taxation rose to such heights that people lost the incentive to work or earn, and an erosive contest began between lawyers finding devices to evade taxes and lawyers formulating laws to prevent evasion. Thousands of Romans, to escape the tax gatherer, fled over the frontiers to seek refuge among the barbarians. Seeking to check this elusive mobility and to facilitate regulation and taxation, the government issued decrees binding the peasant to his field and the worker to his shop until all their debts and taxes had been paid. In this and other ways medieval serfdom began.”

 

Thank you, Vincenzo, for this serious response. Thank you Paul Kennedy for superbly articulating history and issuing clear warnings.

 

Thank you, dear reader, if you are still with me. I hope I have provoked some thought.

 

Now we will seek another night’s sleep and hope it is not elusive.

 

David R. Kotok, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer

TWILIGHT LANGUAGE

May 1st is traditional pagan festival of fertility, it is also traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day.

This May 1st the Occupy movement have called for Occupy Beltane.

Bloomberg News states, “Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.”

The conservative CNS News reported on April 19th: “As part of Occupy Wall Street’s call for a nationwide ‘general strike’ May 1, elements within the group are looking to shut down bridges and tunnels in both New York and San Francisco. Occupy Oakland, the most radical of all the local Occupy groups, passed a resolution April 15 that vows to shut down all travel from Marin to San Francisco.”

Some believe the movement Anonymous will also seek to be involved in the May 1st activities.

Beltane is the derived from the Celtic name for the month of May. It is also the name of the fertility god worshiped in Celtic witchcraft.

Beltane festivals are often celebrated using the May Pole- a phallic symbol, to represent fertility. Often celebrations are marked by sexual liberation, and debauchery. Fire also plays a big part in the celebrations with Beltane Fire Festivals common on April 31st.


Jim Jones’ Sinister Grip on San Francisco

How did the Peoples Temple cult leader ensnared Harvey Milk and other progressive icons?

BY Left: Former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Right: The Rev. Jim Jones, pastor of Peoples Temple in San Francisco (Credit: AP)

“Season of the Witch,” the new book by Salon founder David Talbot, tells the story of the wild and bloody birth of “San Francisco values.” The following excerpt – Part 1 in a three-part series — recounts one of the darker dramas before the ultimate triumph of those values.

Jim Jones, the strange and charismatic leader of Peoples Temple, proved a master at politically wiring San Francisco in the mid-1970s. The driven preacher had begun his climb up the political pyramid by planting roots in the Fillmore district, the city’s devastated black neighbourhood. Jones’s flock, was electrified by the preacher’s vision of a new Eden.

Again, Dalai Lama is all about birthing Shambala. Robin Williams lives in San Francisco again new eden called Shambala.

At Jim Jones’s People’s Temple, everybody was exalted in his services, even the lowliest recovering drunks and addicts. “He made us feel special, like something bigger than ourselves,” said one temple member. “Total equality, no rich or poor, no races,” said another. “We were alive in those services,” testified one more. “They had life, soul power.”Which is right and wrong. It borders on a commune. In fact in black africa, tribal living is a normal thing

In the USA, a real “Pioneer” spirit was the “independence” not relying on someone else, but being thrifty and using inginuity to bring security into our world.

Perhaps this is exactly what the US and French presidental elections are all about.

Jones found his identity by taking on a black persona. He saw himself following in the footsteps of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, leading “his” people out of bondage and into the promised land. Church membership was primarily black, the 37-member planning commission, as Jones called his leadership council, was dominated by white women —at least six of whom were his sexual conquests and firmly under his sway.

“When people talk about my father manipulating black people, that’s true,” said Jim Jones Jr., the preacher’s black adopted son. “It was politically advantageous for him to give me his name.” There was something exhibitionistic about the way that Jones and his wife treated their black son. “I was the chosen one,” he said. “I was more loved in my family than the other kids, even their biological son, Stephan. I remember Mom wiping charcoal off a dirty pot one day and rubbing it all over her face — to show that we were all black.”

Jones learned his control over a mixed-race army of 8,000 dedicated followers gave him major stature with San Francisco’s liberal elite. Phil Burton — quickly identified the Peoples Temple juggernaut as a potentially game-changing ally in its long battle to take over city hall. It was Burton ally Willie Brown – a rising force in California’s state capital — who first recognized that Jones’s organization could play a pivotal role in his friend George Moscone’s run for mayor. Moscone, a charming and handsome state legislator, had electrified San Francisco progressives with his campaign for city hall.

A champion of gays, women, minorities, tenants and organized labor, Moscone was locked in a tight race with a pack of opponents led by conservative realtor John Barbagelata, whose campaign evoked a nostalgia for an older San Francisco, when it was ruled by traditional Catholic values.

A meeting was set up between Jones and Moscone in the office of Don Bradley, the candidate’s veteran campaign manager. Bradley was initially cautious. “I was a little leery we were getting into something like the Moonies,” he later recalled. But after he looked into the temple’s campaign history and saw how effective it was in delivering victories, Bradley enthusiastically embraced Jones’s volunteer army. Nearly 200 temple members showed up at Moscone headquarters, fanning out to campaign in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods, and helping the candidate finish first in the November 1975 election.

In the December runoff between Moscone and Barbagelata, Peoples Temple went even further to secure victory for its candidate. On the eve of the election, Jones filled buses with temple members in Redwood Valley and Los Angeles and shuttled them to San Francisco. Security at polling places was lax on Election Day, and many nonresidents were able to cast their ballots for Moscone, some more than once.

“You could have run around to 1200 precincts and voted 1200 times,” said a bitter Barbagelata later, after losing by a whisper of a margin. But he was not the only one who claimed that the Peoples Temple stole the election for George Moscone.

Temple leaders also claimed credit.

“We loaded up all 13 of our buses with maybe 70 people on each bus, and we had those buses rolling nonstop up and down the coast into San Francisco the day before the election,” recalled Jim Jones Jr.

“We had people going from precinct to precinct to vote. So could we have been the force that tipped the election to Moscone? Absolutely! Slam dunk.

He only won by 4,000 votes.

I’m sorry, but I’ve got to give my father credit for that. I think he did the right thing. George Moscone was a good person; he wanted what was best for San Francisco.”

Jim Jones made sure that George Moscone never forgot his political debt to Peoples Temple.

The man who began his term in city hall with a ringing promise to make San Francisco a beacon of enlightenment would start off his administration with a wretched burden on his back.

The mayor could never rid himself of the stench of contagion that Jones brought with him, and as time went by, the power-hungry preacher only sunk his fangs in deeper.

The pastor was a wickedly smart reader of a politician’s character, and he knew that the way to enchant Moscone was with young women, not money.

When it came to bribing politicians, the temple leader had ample supplies of both.

Jones bragged of supplying Moscone with black female members of his congregation.

Jim Jones Jr. remembered the mayor as “a party guy. He’d always be there at temple parties with a cocktail in his hand and doing some ass grabbing.”

Temple insiders talked about how Mayor Moscone was one of the politicians under the control of “Father.”

They gossiped about the night that the mayor had fallen into Jones’s hands. “Moscone was known to be a boozer; he liked to drink at parties,” recalled temple member Hue Fortson, now a pastor in Southern California.

Black Pastor, part of this commune mentality (no one should have anything more than anyone else, regardless of their skills or talent or ability to use such advantages)

“One night there was some sort of temple event that the mayor attended. The next morning I heard that Jones phoned Moscone and told him it was a pleasure to see him the night before and to see him having such a good time.

‘But I want to let you know that the young lady you went off with is underage,’ Jones told him. ‘Now don’t worry, Mayor, we’ll take care of you — because we know that you’ll take care of us.’”

Jones might have made up the stories of sexual blackmail.

The mayor initially resisted the temple’s efforts to insert its members throughout city government.

In October 1976 Moscone announced that he was naming Jones to the San Francisco Housing Authority, which oversees the operation of the city’s public housing.

The agency, the largest landlord in the city, was a notorious maze of corruption, and it provided Jones’s organization with ample opportunity for shady self-dealing. A few months later, Moscone pulled strings to promote Jones, making him chairman.

Jones swept into the normally tedious meetings of the housing commission like a banana republic despot, surrounded by an entourage of aides and grim-faced security guards. Looking stern and inscrutable behind his aviator sunglasses, Jones ran the meetings with scripted precision while sipping a frothy white drink brought to him by a hovering retainer. The audience, packed with elderly black temple worshippers, erupted into wild cheers at his most routine pronouncements. Temple enforcers roamed through the meetings, keeping a watchful vigil, and even blocking people from entering the bathroom while Jones was inside.

Jones used his position to take possession of public housing units and install temple members in them, and he put other followers on the housing authority payroll. The preacher was building his own power base within city government. “He was using his power to recruit members and to put the hammer on people,” said David Reuben, an investigator for San Francisco District Attorney Joseph Freitas, another politician under Jones’s sway. “He had a lot of authority.”

“Jim Jones helped George Moscone run this city,” said Jim Jones Jr., a chillingly matter-of-fact assessment of the temple leader’s creeping encroachment in San Francisco.

Political leaders, aware of Jones’s ability to deliver — or manufacture — votes, lined up to pay tribute to the preacher. He worked his way into the good graces of officials high and low — most of them Democrats, since that was the party in power in California and San Francisco in the mid-1970s. But Jones was also happy to exchange mutually complimentary correspondence with the offices of Ronald Reagan and statesman Henry Kissinger.

During the 1976 presidential campaign, Jones wangled a private meeting with Jimmy Carter’s wife, Rosalynn, at the elegant Stanford Court Hotel on Nob Hill, arriving with a security contingent that was larger than her Secret Service squad. Later Jones accompanied Moscone and a group of Democratic dignitaries who climbed aboard vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale’s private jet when it touched down at San Francisco International Airport.

Governor Jerry Brown sang the preacher’s praises. Congressman John Burton, Phil’s brother, lobbied the governor to appoint Jones to the high-profile board of regents, which oversaw California’s sprawling public university system. San Francisco Supervisor – now U.S. Senator — Dianne Feinstein accepted an invitation to lunch with Jones and to tour Peoples Temple.

But no political figures were more gushing in their praise of Jones than Willie Brown and Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s rising tribune of gay freedom. Milk, a perennial candidate for office until he finally won a supervisor’s seat in 1977, aggressively sought Jones’s political blessing. “Our paths have crossed,” Milk wrote Jones during an earlier campaign for supervisor, in a letter filled with the kind of awed reverence that the cult leader demanded from his followers. “They will stay crossed. It is a fight that I will walk with you into . . . The first time I heard you, you made a statement: ‘Take one of us, and you must take all of us.’ Please add my name.”

Jones staged a testimonial banquet in his own honor and demanded that politicians in his debt offer him public tribute on September 25, 1976, at the Peoples Temple headquarters on Geary Boulevard. Hosted by Mayor Moscone, District Attorney Freitas, and Assemblyman Willie Brown, who acted as the evening’s exuberant master of ceremonies. As he introduced the man of the hour to the overflow audience, Brown reached new heights of shameless, ass-kissing puffery. “Let me present to you,” Brown roared, “a combination of Martin King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein . . . Chairman Mao.” By the time Jones rose to tumultuous applause, he seemed likely to walk on water.

Privately, San Francisco political leaders expressed doubts about Jones and his strange church. One day a friend of Milk’s named Tory Hartmann dropped off some boxes of campaign brochures at Peoples Temple, so that Jones’s army could distribute them. Hartmann was immediately unnerved by the uptight, high-security atmosphere inside the temple, where sentries stood at attention outside each room, like the palace guards in the Wicked Witch’s castle. “This is a church?” Hartmann said to herself. Later, after she sped back to the Castro and told Milk about her bizarre experience, the naturally cheery politician turned deadly serious. “Make sure you’re always nice to the Peoples Temple,” he told her. “They’re weird and they’re dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side.”

Cleve Jones, a young Milk aide, accompanied him to Peoples Temple for a couple of Sunday services. “Harvey told me, ‘Be careful, they tape everything.’ Everyone knew Jim Jones was creepy, everyone knew he was a megalomaniac. But everybody also saw this church full of black and white people — black people from the Fillmore who had been subjected to apartheid-like policies and seemed to finally be getting some respect.”

Members of Moscone’s staff were also beginning to hear troubling reports about Peoples Temple. One day mayoral aide Dick Sklar suggested to his family maid — an African-American woman who had followed the Sklars to San Francisco from Ohio — that she attend a Sunday service at Peoples Temple. “I didn’t know anything about it,” Sklar said, “but she was a churchgoing woman, and I thought she might like it. Afterward she came back and said it was the scariest place she’d ever been. They searched her, asked her questions. I had no idea.”

Moscone himself could not ignore how peculiar his political ally was. “I was at every meeting that Jim Jones ever attended with the mayor,” said Moscone press secretary Corey Busch. “I can tell you that after every one of those meetings, the reaction was, ‘This is one weird bird.’ He always wore the dark glasses. You couldn’t predict Jonestown, but he was definitely weird. In retrospect, maybe we should have seen that, but we didn’t.”

Excerpted from “Season of the Witch” by David Talbot. Copyright 2012 by David Talbot.

Marliyn Manson Deeper than Hell Documentary CNN

Marilyn Manson grew up in a Christian family. He attended a Christian school. As a boy he went after the music his church, his parents, and his school told not to buy, music like Black Sabbath.

Now he professes to be a member of the church of satan, and his shows are fully of hate towards the church and God.

He calls it art. But the music he releases has been linked to horrific murders and acts of violence.

As the church protests at Manson, it serves only to promote him and his music. If the church gained an anointing to deal with the heavy demonic spirits controlling Manson they would be really helping their children.

TB Joshua prophesied Malawi Presidents death

TB Joshua’s main church is in Lagos Nigeria. His ministry is accompanied by significant signs and wonders, healings and deliverance.

The Times newspaper published an article on 09/04/2012 covering the prophecy Prophet TB Joshua gave regarding the death of a president. You can read the article below
How prophet with direct line to God predicted President’s death – The Times

When the President of Malawi died last week, the country rejoiced.
Violently crushing peaceful protests, throwing donors out of the country and lining up his brother to succeed him, President Bingu wa Mutharika was beginning to resemble Robert Mugabe of neighbouring Zimbabwe.
The President’s death last Thursday appeared to be a miraculous solution to their problems. But perhaps they should have seen it coming.
On February 5, Prophet T.B. Joshua predicted, live on the hit Nigerian Christian channel Emmanuel TV, that an African leader would die within 60 days.
“We should pray for one African head of state, what I say, president, against the sickness that will take life,” he told a 15,000-strong congregation and millions of viewers. He said that he was in negotiations with God and that prayer might save the president. He did not say which one.
“I’m just being used by God Almighty,” Mr Joshua told The Times. “I had to send the message … I cannot say more than that. I will not say somebody will die. I’m not God.”
Many thought that Mugabe, who is 88 and constantly quashing rumours that he is sick, was a safe bet. President Mutharika, although 78, seemed to have considerable life in him. Enough, at least, to get rid of Joyce Banda, the Vice-President, whom he threw out of his party when she refused to back his attempts to line up his brother as his successor.
After Mr Mutharika’s heart attack, clandestine negotiations in the top echelons of his party went on for two days and the Malawian people were not told whether he was dead.
Ms Banda was finally sworn in on Saturday. She is a firm devotee of Mr Joshua, whose latest prophecy is the bizarre crown on a number of “miracles” performed to her benefit.
It is well known in Malawi that when he suffered a serious stroke she took her husband to see the prophet and believes that Mr Joshua’s prayers cured him.
“In Malawi, T.B. Joshua is a person that is dearly loved,” she said before her latest prayers were answered. “I must say that I’m addicted, because every Sunday … I sit all day watching Emmanuel TV.”
Mr Mutharika’s death came hot on the heels of Mr Joshua’s repetition of his prophecy last Sunday, when he narrowed down the location of the presidential demise, eliminating West Africa: “I’m seeing a sudden death. This is as a result of sickness. Quote me. The Lord showed me the country . . . this is not even in West Africa.”
Although he is often vague and never names his subject, Mr Joshua’s reported predictions range from the deaths of Michael Jackson and Kim Jong Il to the London riots last summer.
“You remember when I said your country will be burnt and crash, you never listened!” he told The Times crossly. He does not rule out helping again, however. “You want to know what is going to happen? I will make an appointment with [God].

 

NEWS: – France’s Sarkozy hit by defections and poll plunge

France’s Sarkozy hit by defections and poll plunge

By Brian Love

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election hopes suffered a double setback four days from the first round of voting when a string of public defections compounded the impression that his tumble in opinion polls is pushing victory beyond reach.

Former town planning minister Fadela Amara joined a growing list of political figures to desert the conservative Sarkozy and announce they will vote for his arch-rival, Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande.

That followed the most devastating opinion poll for weeks, which showed Hollande has opened a five-point lead over Sarkozy in the first ballot next Sunday, and the Socialist has a yawning 16-point advantage in voting intentions for the May 6 runoff.

After a week of steady poll gains for Hollande, the CSA survey released on Thursday night gave him 29 percent of the first round vote, up two points from the institute’s previous survey, versus 24 percent for Sarkozy, down two points.

Sarkozy put on a brave face when asked during an interview on BFM TV what he thought of the latest poll showing Hollande on course to become the first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995.

“There’s not much point in commenting (on the polls) when they’re good and then commenting on the others because they’re bad,” he said.

Amara, one of the left-of-centre figures Sarkozy recruited to government in the first years after his 2007 election, joined Corinne Lepage, an ecologist former environment minister in a previous centre-right government, who said she would back Hollande because Sarkozy had lurched too far to the right.

Sarkozy’s conservative predecessor Jacques Chirac, 79, is also planning to vote for Hollande, according to the man who helped him write an autobiography after 12 years as head of state from 1995 until 2007. Sarkozy said people should leave the old man in peace and not “manipulate” him.

DEFECTORS

Others who have said they will vote Hollande despite having served in office under Sarkozy or Chirac include former high commissioner on poverty Martin Hirsch, equal opportunities junior minister Azouz Begag and former culture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon.

Sarkozy’s poll standing improved in the weeks following the launch of his re-election campaign in mid-February and at one stage most surveys showed him topping the first round, but not a single poll has shown Hollande losing the runoff.

In the past week however, Hollande has recovered and Sarkozy slipped in almost all polls. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has strengthened her position in third place with 17 percent in the CSA poll, followed by hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon on 15 percent and centrist Francois Bayrou on 10.

Bayrou, who has not said whom he back if as expected he is eliminated on Sunday’s first ballot, played down the defectors to Hollande as “those who always want their hands on the lever, to be on side with the powers that be”.

“You can’t build a country with people who are here one day and there the next,” he said.

Asked whether he might announce between the two rounds his intention to appoint Bayrou prime minister if re-elected, Sarkozy said: “I’m waiting to see the first round and I tell you that it’s not impossible that I’ll do that.”

Hollande warned his supporters against complacency or prematurely carving up government posts and reaffirmed in a France Inter radio interview that he would renegotiate a European budget discipline treaty to give priority to restoring growth, without which it would be impossible to reduce debt.

(Additional reporting By Brian Love, Leigh Thomas, Emmanuel Jarry, Yann Le Guernigou and Patrick Vignal; Editing by Paul Taylor)

via NEWS: – France’s Sarkozy hit by defections and poll plunge.

OCCUPY’S PLAN TO SHUT DOWN GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE CANCELLED

goldengatebridgedarwinbell.jpg

OCCUPY’S PLAN TO SHUT DOWN GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE CANCELLED

Occupy’s Plan To Shut Down Golden Gate Bridge Cancelled

(Photo: Darwin Bell)

Er, never mind. Occupy’s plan to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge on May 1st has been cancelled. Occupy will instead focus on ferry service. Why? Well, part of it could be that the Golden Gate Bridge District just agreed to pay a reported $2 million to “380 workers represented by 14 unions who have been out of contract since July 2011 over a dispute about medical insurance costs passed on to workers,” reports Susie Cagle for SF Appeal.

“We appreciate the tremendous support we’ve received from the public, our brothers and sisters in labor, San Francisco commuters, and allies like Jobs with Justice, Pride at Work, and Occupy San Francisco,” said Alex Tonisson, Organizer and Co-Chair of the Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition, in a statement released on Friday. “Bridge, bus, and ferry workers have done everything we can at the bargaining table to reach a fair contract. As we prepare to take the next step in the fight for quality affordable healthcare for workers, families, and retirees, we ask supporters to stand with us at strike picket lines on May Day, and to keep the bridge open.”

Some occupiers aren’t thrilled about the decision to cancel Tuesday’s plan due to seemingly political reasons. Former San Francisco mayoral candidate John Rinaldi (AKA Chicken John) penned the following on the Occupy the Bridge wall after the announcement:

Well you just lost me. You will find as you gain wisdom through failure that when you adhere to something, you lose at least 50% of your audience. The idea of “Occupy” was that it was a blanket idea, that we were ALL the 99%. Now, you include politics that show the idea is compromised. Unions are a blight on our great nation, and I detest them and so do many people I know. We see them as bullying and a tool for a small percentage of people who “have theirs”. You will not be seeing me or any of us in your mayday parade. I wish you the best of luck though, and hope that we can all live in a world free from banks and unions in the future.

And with that, the plan to temporarily shutter the bridge won’t happen. Probably not. However, there is talk of “autonomous action” that might cause a ruckus at the Golden Gate Bridge on May Day. Buses will still leave from 19th and Telegraph in Oakland and San Francisco City Hall at 6 a.m. tomorrow to the picket sites.

May Day should prove an eventful one for Occupy members and supporters. Occupy SF plans to hold a street fair at Montgomery and Market streets tomorrow afternoon. And Occupy Oakland will hold rallies throughout the city, as well as a noontime rally at Oakland City Hall.

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