Ruh-roh. The Financial Times reports Bernanke predicts bank failures. “Some small US banks are likely to fail as a result of the housing crisis, Ben Bernanke said yesterday, warning that his country faced a more difficult situation than in the aftermath of the dotcom bust in 2001. ‘There will probably be some bank failures,’ the Fed chairman told the Senate banking committee in his second day of biannual testimony to Congress. He said the banks at risk were ‘small and in many cases de novo [new] banks that are heavily invested in real estate in localities where prices have fallen’.”
And seven years of conservative economic policies and governance has left the United States in a “weaker position to respond to the negative growth shock today than it was in 2001.” The U.S. had one war in Afghanistan in 2001, it has two today. The dollar was strong in 2001, it is weak today. The price of oil was $20 a barrel in 2001, it is is over $100 a barrel today. George W. Bush, the Republicans, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan have destroyed the U.S. ecnonomy. Don’t worry about them though, they’re making out like bandits. Oh, and when those small banks fail, guess who will be doing the bailout? Yup, poor and middle class taxpayers.
Another result of conservative military policy under George W. Bush. The Guardian reports that the Afghanistan mission is close to failing.
After six years of US-led military support and billions of [dollars] in aid, security in Afghanistan is ‘deteriorating’ and President Hamid Karzai’s government controls less than a third of the country, America’s top intelligence official has admitted.
Mike McConnell testified in Washington that Karzai controls about 30% of Afghanistan and the Taliban 10%, and the remainder is under tribal control…
A big injection of foreign troops has failed to bring stability. The US has almost 50,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and – twice as many as in 2004 – while the UK has 7,700, mostly in Helmand. Another 2,200 US marines are due to arrive next month to combat an expected Taliban surge.
Nato commanders paint the suicide bombs and ambushes as signs of a disheartened enemy… But analysts believe the Taliban is successfully adapting the brutal guerrilla tactics that have served Iraqi insurgents so well.
Earlier in the week Sen. Joe Biden warned of failure in Afghanistan. Biden called on NATO to bail out the Bush administration’s failed policy in Afghanistan. “NATO must be ‘fully in the fight’ in Afghanistan – nothing less than the future of the alliance is at stake, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told a luncheon crowd at the Council on Foreign Relations. ‘Many of our NATO allies thought they were signing up for a peacekeeping mission, not counter-insurgency operations,’ said Biden, D-Del. ‘Many are fighting with incredible bravery in the south. But the so-called ‘national caveats’ are making a mockery of NATO – and the notion of a unified mission.'” If Bush didn’t have the military distracted in Iraq, things would have gone differently in Afghanistan.
The New York Times reports Turkey withdraws troops from Northern Iraq. “Turkey’s military announced it had withdrawn all of its troops from northern Iraq by Friday morning, bringing an eight-day ground offensive against Kurdish guerrillas to a close… Reports differed on the extent of the withdrawal, with an American military official in Iraq and a representative for the Kurdish fighters saying some troops were still in the country. The Turkish military… said that the ground campaign in which 24 Turkish soldiers and as many as 243 Kurdish fighters were killed had simply run its course as its goals had been met.”
There are bonus stories about space soot and Maya blue beneath the fold.
The Discovery of space soot casts doubt on dark energy theory, reports The Guardian. “Researchers revealed yesterday that limitless stretches of space are strewn with interstellar soot, making it harder to see very distant objects such as exploding stars or supernovae.
“The finding, reported in the US journal Science, is more than a matter of cosmic cleanliness. Proof of the existence of space soot raises serious questions about the mysterious ‘dark energy’ that is thought to drive the expansion of the universe… The latest study suggests that space soot might be to blame, at least in part, for making distant stars appear more faint than expected.”
“We’re not saying this explains dark energy, but we’re saying this stuff is out there and like dust in front of a lens, it might make these objects appear dimmer than they are,” said Andrew Steele at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC.
The New York Times reports on The grim story of Maya blue.
Here is a swatch of Maya blue: ■
The vibrant sky color can be seen on pottery, murals and other artifacts produced by the Maya people of Central America centuries ago and the unusual, durable pigment remains vibrant today long after other colors have faded away.
It was also the color of Chaak, the rain god, and of human sacrifice…
The composition of Maya blue, first used around 300 A.D. and which is almost impervious to age, acid, weather and even modern solvents, remained a mystery until 1960s when chemists deciphered its chemical components: the dye indigo and a clay mineral known as palygorskite, which can be melded together by heat to produce the pigment.
What remained unknown was where and when the Maya made Maya blue…
An answer comes from a bowl that has been sitting in the Field Museum in Chicago for decades, Dr. Arnold and colleagues from the Field Museum and Northwestern University, report in the journal Antiquity.