France Rejects 75% Tax on Millionaires (Socialism fails again)

Once again, the rich like their money.  Once again, Socialism doesn’t work because growing an economy is the way out of a deficit rather than taxing your way out.  So Hollande’s premise during his campaign, like in the US is a facade.

As Frank Zappa said: Communism doesn’t work because people like to own stuff.

Margaret Thatcher noted that socialism doesn’t work because sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.

Read the whole article here:

France’s Constitutional Council on Saturday rejected a 75 percent upper income tax rate to be introduced in 2013 in a setback to Socialist President Francois Hollande’s push to make the rich contribute more to cutting the public deficit.

The Council ruled that the planned 75 percent tax on annual income above 1 million euros ($1.32 million) – a flagship measure of Hollande’s election campaign – was unfair in the way it would be applied to different households.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the government would redraft the upper tax rate proposal to answer the Council’s concerns and resubmit it in a new budget law, meaning Saturday’s decision could only amount to a temporary political blow.

While the tax plan was largely symbolic and would only have affected a few thousand people, it has infuriated high earners in France, prompting some such as actor Gerard Depardieu to flee abroad. The message it sent also shocked entrepreneurs and foreign investors, who accuse Hollande of being anti-business.

Fiscal Cliff Put Into Perspective of a Household Income

Lesson #1:
U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000
Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget using the
Same numbers:
* Annual family income: $21,700
* Money the family spent: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts so far: $385.00
Easier to understand ??…….OK now,
Lesson #2:
Here’s another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:
Let’s say, You come home from work and find
There has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood….
And your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.
What do you think you should do ……
Raise the ceilings, or remove the sewage?

Citizens With Guns and Concealed Carry Statistics

  • Mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, and dropped in the 2000s. Mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929. (According to Grant Duwe, criminologist with the MinnesotaDepartment of Corrections.)

  • “States that allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns enjoy a 60 percent decrease in multiple-victim public shootings and a 78 percent decrease in victims per attack.” John Lott, Jr. and Bill Landes, “More Guns, Less Crime.”

  • “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”– John Lott, Jr. Co-author with Bill Landes of “More Guns, Less Crime.”

  • “Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.” [John Fund, NRO. “The Facts About Mass Shootings.”]

  • Total violent crime from 1973 to 2009 decreased 65%, or is about one-third as high. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)

  • The U.S. murder rate decreased 8.1% between 2008 and 2009, and has fallen every year since 2006. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, based on FBI data).

  • The United States ranks 24th in the world in terms of its murder rate. It also has the most highly armed civilian population.

  • “International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. There is a compound assertion that (a) guns are uniquely available in the United States compared with other modern developed nations, which is why (b) the United States has by far the highest murder rate. Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated, statement (b) is, in fact, false and statement (a) is substantially so.” (Kates & Mauser, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 30, No. 2)

  • “The political causation is that nations which have violence problems tend to adopt severe gun controls, but these do not reduce violence, which is determined by basic sociocultural and economic factors.” [Then why does Luxemburg have nine times the murder rate of Germany?] (Kates & Mauser,Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 30, No. 2)

  • “The Middle Ages were a time of notoriously brutal and endemic warfare. They also experienced rates of ordinary murder almost double the highest recorded U.S. murder rate. But Middle Age homicide “cannot be explained in terms of the availability of firearms, which had not yet been invented.” (Kates & Mauser, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 30, No. 2)

  • The odds of being in a victim of a mass shooting are far less than that of being struck by lightning.

History and Egypt

Here’s how you know a country has been around for a while. When BBC.com’s “Timeline” starts with “Settlement of Nile Valley.”

• For the next 9,000 years, it’s mostly downhill from there:

669 BC – Assyrians from Mesopotamia conquer and rule Egypt.

525 BC – Persian conquest.

332 BC – Alexander the Great conquers Egypt.

31 BC – Egypt comes under Roman rule.

642 AD – Arab conquest of Egypt.

1517 – Egypt absorbed into the Turkish Ottoman empire.

1798 – Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces invade but are repelled by the British and the Turks in 1801.

1882 – British troops take control of Egypt.

1922 – Fuad I becomes King of Egypt and Egypt gains its independence.

1953 – [Military] Coup leader Muhammad Najib becomes president as Egypt is declared a republic.

1956 July – Gamal Abdul Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal.

1956 October – Tripartite Invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel due to the nationalization of the Suez Canal.

1967 June – Six-Day War in which Israel defeats forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel takes control of Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

1973 October – Egypt and Syria go to war with Israel during Israel’s celebration of Yom Kippur to reclaim the land they lost in 1967.

1978 September – Camp David Accords for peace with Israel are signed.

2011 February – President Mubarak steps down and hands power to the army council.

• And, like that.

• Egypt’s major mistake was being located along the Nile (which flows north to the Mediterranean, but you knew that) and the Red Sea. If it weren’t for that no one would have ever bothered with it.

• Except, maybe for that whole Cleopatra-Julius Caesar-Marc Antony thing.

• More recently Egypt has been the focal point of the “Arab Spring” that began two years ago on December 18, 2010 in Tunisia. Since that time there has been unrest ranging from demonstrations, to riots, to revolutions to at least one civil war in (according to Wikipedia’s count):

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara and, of course Syria.

• We know from recent events how stable Libya is and, according to the Washington Post, some 64,700 Syrians have died since the demonstrations began in November 2011.

The Mayan Calendar – Not The End of the World

Res Ipsa Loquitor

The world ends for 153,781 people every day. That’s  who they were talking about.

ht_doomsday_mayan_end_wy_121220_wblog

So the world didn’t end on 12/12/12, but there is another shot at it on 12/21/12 just in case.

Let me remind everyone why it is not going to happen:

 

New International Version (©1984)
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

After Being Dissapointed by Lenovo One To Many Times, What PC Did I Buy Instead?

I’ve had PC’s since before the IBM PC in 1981.  I’ve built hundreds of computers over different phases of the PC life cycle (for myself, others and at computer stores I worked at for years).  I’ve personally owned many ThinkPads since they were introduced…likely between 40-50 including my multiple work PC’s. The same is true with Microsoft. I’ve worked with DOS and Windows, Windows for Workgroups, (built and wired my first network in 1994), NT, 95, 2000, XP and you name it.  I first put up webpages since 1993 and every version of DOS or Windows made starting with 1.0 for both.   I’ve finally had it with the declination of the quality, service, especially customer service and workmanship of IBM/Lenovo and Microsoft products.

I began to desire a different machine when the smartest guys at IBM (IBM Fellow’s) and the smartest (and of course some of my favorite) IT analysts starting using Mac’s.  It told me times were a changin’.

WHEN THEY WERE GOOD

It used to be that when you went to a frequent flyer lounge at an airport, it would be a ThinkPad convention because they were so tough, now everyone is switching to an iPad which I now also love and  have.

Further, when I retired, I bought what I thought would be the ThinkPad which would last me for at least 5 years (pictured below).  It was the worst PC experience to date, see the beginning below.

In reverse order, after 1.5 years, one of the USB ports failed, the screen is falling apart (for the second time…the first in only months), the battery died in the first 6 months (they fixed that under warranty after 1 month of calls and forcing a manager intervention because customer service blamed me) other hardware and software problems which eventually got fixed over hours of calls (the final fix was always simple and could have been easily accomplished from the start).

I called the Lenovo help desk and not only did they refuse to fix most of my problems (all within the warranty period), but they were with the exception of one person, unhelpful to me and not proficient in English 95+% of the time (some were rude, but tech support is a thankless job).  Note: I like the people from other countries and think that they are hard working so I have no problems with the people, rather the policies they are forced to adhere to put them into positions they shouldn’t be forced into.  I’m clearly calling out the company, not the people here. It’s just in this case we couldn’t understand each other and they mostly were not trained or who couldn’t fix problems and just couldn’t help fix issues Lenovo created.

Here’s what my screen looks like now with use that is less than normal due to my retirement status:

pc pic

SHIPPING DISASTER

This was compounded by the fact that they originally shipped me a computer which was in for repair as I found it had someone else’s  password on it.  Tech support recognized the serial number as someone else’s machine and I had to ship back a PC so that they could ship me what I ordered which  was supposed to be new.  They at first required me to pay for the return shipping for the machine which they wrongly shipped me in the first place.  It took them 5 weeks to get me this wrong machine once I ordered it in the first place, so needless to say, this added to a dissatisfied experience.  Let me summarize it: The 1st machine I received was in for repair which they shipped to me as my new machine.  They finally agreed to pay for the shipping back to them after weeks, but I was in dis-belief by now as I had to get upper management approval 3 levels above my call to tech support to get shipping approved and the machine I ordered sent to me.  This was a 6 week timeframe that I put up with to get a ThinkPad that looks like the one above.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COMPANY PURCHASED FROM IBM?

So, what happened when Lenovo bought the PC Division from IBM?  Quality and customer service have apparently suffered, at least for me.   It is fair to note that Lenovo is the PC leader even though PC’s are a dying breed and are now a commodity item, but that the lead is mostly due to HP executive incompetence and Dell lack of innovation.

WORKING FOR IBM PC DIVISION, MORE THINKPAD BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE THAN MOST HAVE

I worked with ThinkPads at companies before IBM.  I then did communications for the IBM-PC (PSG) division back in the early 2000’s.  IBM-PCs were a rock solid product that introduced many technologies from the floppy disk, HDD on PC’s, open system motherboard, the start of an incredibly successful industry, creation of millions of jobs, Bluetooth and WiFi to the industry.  It was well accepted by industry leaders as the standard to compare against and I was proud of representing the machines.  By then, we had slipped to about 4th place, but IBM had other priorities by then.  Analysts always recognized that the IBM ThinkPad was the industry leader, albeit most of the time the expensive option.  I never had a problem educating them that it was the industry leader to be compared against.  I also learned from IDC, Gartner, Forrester and others that Dell and HP were sub-standard compared to the ThinkPad.

THE IBM TO LENOVO EMPLOYEE TRANSITION

The co-workers who went to Lenovo were mixed.  The developers were good, with the chief designer being one of if not the best, but he obviously had nothing to do with my 410S.  The Press communications team however was a joke.   Much of the management that I had worked with were handcuffed by the new ownership.   However, with the non-inventor taking over control, changes in leadership including many Dell executives,  it has appeared to make it less than the leader of rugged laptops, a position it once enjoyed.

MY LATEST PURCHASE

Since my ThinkPad failed and the screen basically fell off (I am retired and don’t travel anymore so it didn’t have the wear and tear to justify its condition), the keyboard keeps sticking, ports not working and the other problems I’ve described have forced me to buy a new PC.

Side note: I worked with Microsoft since 1981 in one form or another, as a partner, but mostly as a competitor as Microsoft was very belligerent and went out of their way to be anti-IBM  (see my joint announcement wrap up).  I’ve worked with their products since DOS 1.0 which I still have installed on an original PC at home.  They loved Lenovo when the purchase was made and the difference was an overnight sea change in their attitude of helpfulness and pricing.

So the combination of Lenovo’s product being poor, their customer service being unhelpful led me to buying a MacBook Pro (but I got much more computing power and a brand new experience in helpfulness).

But, both Lenovo and Microsoft lost me as a customer and I can’t be alone.

Here is my new computer, a 13 inch Macbook Pro:

macbook pro

It sync’s with my phone and iPad seamlessly.  I don’t have weekly Microsoft security updates or blue screen of death experiences.  It is powerful, I can read Windows files and have converted them, multimedia is a snap, graphics are beautiful and most of all it works without gyrations to make drivers, port configurations and software incompatibilities work.  I have never before been an Apple fan except when I ran an advertising department for a few years and understood artists needs for them.

When managing a store at a computer chain, my store was recognized as the retailer that lead the nation in Apple sales so I do have experience with them.  My store also was a leading promoter of the first Macintosh during the famous 1984 ad time.  In other words, I know them well, but I’ve used Wintel computers most if not all of my life until now.

Further, I called their tech support and went to an Apple store and guess what, they were friendly and helpful, and it just works.  I paid less for the software than the PC version (I just built a multimedia PC for my TV viewing so I am fully aware of company configured, or self built PC’s vs. Mac machines hardware and software.

THE TREND OF PC’S

Mobile devices are killing standard laptops at a rate far faster than laptops replacing desktops, but there is still a need for machines that do more than a tablet until they increase in input efficiency, storage capacity and business application conversion (there are tons of legacy apps still out there as the average person still interacts with COBOL 13 times a day).  This hasn’t caused me any issues with my new laptop though, it just works.

The company that is easy to work with, keeps up with the trends and produces quality equipment will be the one who has market leadership.  I have voted with my money.

Happy Chanukah, The Story

I am not Jewish except through the grafting of the family of Japheth into Shem (Gen 9:18  And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
Gen 9:19  These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.)

I still believe that the Jews are God’s chosen people to deliver the Messiah, so any anti-Semitic comments will not be allowed on this post.

This is the story of Chanukah anyway, so i looked it up on a Jewish website and here is what I found:  There is more at the link if you wish to explore for yourself.  If you wish to add more meaning or correct any accuracies, I gladly will accept them.

Chanukah, which begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev and lasts eight days, is known mainly for the ritual of lighting the Menorah, an eight branched candelabra. Before we discuss this and other rituals and observances associated with Chanukah, a little historical background about Chanukah is in order.

Chanukah, unlike the other Rabbinically ordained observances (Purim, the Four Fasts), is not mentioned explicitly at all in Scripture. Even in the Talmud, there is little discussion about Chanukah. The Gemora in the tractate of Shabbos (21b) writes: “What is (the reason for) Chanukah? For our Rabbis have taught ‘On the 25th of Kislev, the days of Chanukah, which are eight (start), on which eulogies and fasting are not permitted.’ – For when the Greeks entered the sanctuary of the Temple, they made all of the oil there ritually impure (and therefore unfit for use in the Temple). When the Hashmonean dynasty gained the upper hand and defeated them, they searched and found only one flask of oil on which the seal of the High Priest remained (which indicated it was not defiled). There was only enough in this flask to light (the Menorah in the Temple) for one day. A miracle occurred and they were able to light (the Menorah) with it for eight days. The next year, they established and made (these days) a holiday, with Hallel (praises of G-d) and expressions of thanks (to G-d).”

There are many commentators who elaborate on the Gemora. One of these is the Aruch HaShulchan. His words, which follow, add to the very general description that the Gemora offers. There are more detailed historical works which deal with the background of Chanukah. However, the general description of the Aruch HaShulchan is a good starting place for the discussion of Chanukah which will follow in later issues.

The Aruch HaShulchan (Orech Chayim 670) writes that: At the time of the Second Temple, during the reign of the wicked kings known as Antiochus, decrees were issued on the nation of Israel. These decrees had the effect of anulling the practice of the holy Jewish religion. The Jews were not permitted to study Torah or perform Mitzvos. The money of the Jews was confiscated, and the Jewish daughters were snatched. They went into the Temple where they performed improper acts and defiled the ritually pure. They pained the nation of Israel and pressured them immensely until the point where Hashem, the G-d of their forefathers, had mercy on them and saved them from the evil hands that were persecuting them. Hashem saved them through the hands of the holy and pure Hasmoneans, who were high priests, with Mattisyahu and his sons, who fought with Antiochus. The victory occurred in a way that went against the laws of nature, as the Hashmoneans, with their righteous troops, were very small in number, while Antiochus fell upon them with a great number of people, with many elephants, and with horsemen and chariots. However, Hashem favored His nation of Israel and therefore let the strong fall into the hands of the weak, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, the impure into the hands of the pure. Furthermore, those traitors from the nation of Israel who sided with Antiochus fell into the hands of those who studied Torah. Then, the name of G-d was elevated and sanctified in the world, and the light of Torah with its purity shined, and the name of the nation of Israel reached a level of great stature amongst the nations of the world .

This miracle came to a completion on the 25th day of Kislev. There was, however, another miracle. When the nation of Israel entered the Temple to purify it, all of the people were ritually impure because they came into contact with the dead during the course of the battles. A person who is impure because of contact with the dead can only become pure through a process which takes seven days. It was only after these seven days that people were able to obtain a supply of pure oil. Furthermore, it took 8 days to make the round-trip needed to obtain pure oil. Only one flask of pure oil, which still bore the unbroken seal of the High Priest, was found in the Temple. Hashem performed a miracle, and this flask of oil which should only have lasted for one day was able to be used to light the Menorah in the Temple for eight days, until which time no additional pure oil was available. We therefore have eight days on which we praise and give thanks to Hashem.

I wish to all my Jewish friends and those grafted in a Happy Chanukah.

 

 

 

Yamamoto’s Master Plan for Pearl Harbor Attack

Yamamoto was educated in the US and knew us well.  He also knew that we were a sleeping industrial giant.  He was well aware of the 2nd Amendment and how much we believed in it (We still do for the Islamic Jihad Terrorists).  He also knew he couldn’t attack the US, but a surprise attack would and could cripple us for a while until the industrial might of a sleeping giant was woken up.  Luck was not on his side that day as the US Carriers were out at sea and the Battleships (an aging, but vital weapon) was all that was harbored in Pearl Harbor.

Here is the take by the Pacific War.com

JAPANESE PREPARATIONS FOR THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR

Admiral Yamamoto plans the Destruction of the United States Pacific Fleet

These aircraft are superb reproductions of the Nakajima Type 97 carrier torpedo bombers (Allied code-name “Kate”) that attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. They were used in the gripping and historically accurate 20th Century Fox film Tora, Tora, Tora! (1970).

In conformity with this traditional approach to naval warfare, the Japanese Naval General Staff intended to limit naval operations in support of Japan’s military thrust into South-East Asia to offensive actions against local American, British and Dutch naval forces defending their country’s colonial possessions in South-East Asia. To the conservative admirals of the Naval General Staff, a direct confrontation in the central Pacific Ocean between their navy and the United States Navy was unthinkable.

In early 1941, Vice Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Japan’s Combined Fleet, and he immediately took issue with the cautious policy of the Japanese Naval General Staff. Yamamoto did not believe that the United States Pacific Fleet would remain idle at Pearl Harbor while Japan attacked and seized America’s Philippines, and British and Dutch colonial possessions in South-East Asia. He believed that Japan must cripple the United States Pacific Fleet at the same time as it launched its attacks on countries of South-East Asia.

With this firm conviction, Admiral Yamamoto began to consider a surprise carrier-launched air attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at its Pearl Harbor base timed to coincide with Japan’s military aggression in South-East Asia. Yamamoto instructed Rear Admiral Takijiro Onishi, Chief of Staff of the 11th Air Fleet, to assess the feasibility of an attack on Pearl Harbor by carrier-launched aircraft. Onishi enlisted the assistance of Commander Minoru Genda, a brilliant staff officer and tactician serving with Japan’s 1st Air Fleet. Genda studied the problem and came to the conclusion that an attack on Pearl Harbor could succeed if (a) the attack took the Americans completely by surprise, (b) the attack occurred early on a Sunday morning when American defence preparedness would be at a low level, (c) all six of Japan’s best aircraft carriers were used, and (d) highly skilled aircrews were used in the attack. To ensure complete surprise, Genda’s plan precluded alerting the Americans to their danger by a prior declaration of war.

Admiral Yamamoto’s plan for a surprise peacetime attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at Hawaii would involve a strike force which included Japan’s six largest and most powerful aircraft carriers. His task was made much easier by President Roosevelt’s decision to relocate the United States Pacific Fleet from California to Hawaii. As Yamamoto saw it, the destruction of the American Pacific Fleet would give Japan time to seize the Philippines, Malaya, British Borneo, Burma and the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), and gain access to the oil, minerals, rubber and other resources that Japan needed to sustain its aggressive war machine. He was hopeful that, with its Pacific Fleet destroyed or crippled, the Americans would be willing to accept a peace settlement that allowed Japan to keep its new conquests in South-East Asia.

The Japanese Naval General Staff initially rejected Admiral Yamamoto’s plan for an attack on Pearl Harbor as being too great a gamble. They doubted that surprise could be achieved when the strike force would be at sea for two weeks before the attack. Japan had eleven aircraft carriers, and the admirals felt that Yamamoto’s plan could put at risk their six best carriers. They also felt that diverting Japan’s six most powerful aircraft carriers to Hawaii would leave the southern attacks on the Philippines and British Malaya dangerously unprotected. In the end, Yamamoto only overcame their opposition by threatening to resign.

Although the admirals of the Naval General Staff were reluctantly persuaded by Yamamoto to abandon the policy of defensive naval war in favour of attack, the years of night warfare training and the highly accurate, long range torpedoes associated with the defensive policy would give the Japanese Imperial Navy a significant edge over Allied navies in night actions during the Pacific War.

Training for the Pearl Harbor Attack

Early in 1941, despite the fact that the Chief of the Naval General Staff, Admiral Osami Nagano, had not yet approved a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto directed that intensive planning and training for such an attack was to be undertaken.

Japanese naval aircrews had already honed their war skills flying sorties against the poorly equipped and trained Chinese air force and army. However, Pearl Harbor offered special challenges to an enemy force proposing to use air-launched torpedoes. The harbor was comparatively shallow and a large area in the centre of the harbor was occupied by Ford Island. The American battleships were moored on the eastern side of Ford Island. The water area between the battleships and the eastern shore of the harbor was narrow. Japanese torpedoes would have to be redesigned for use in shallow harbor waters, and torpedo aircrews would have to learn to drop their torpedoes with great precision so that they would land in the narrow stretch of water between the eastern shore of the harbor and the battleships. The Japanese aircrews went about this training with great enthusiasm and dedication. By November 1941, they were ready for the attack.

On 3 November 1941, the Chief of the Japanese Naval General Staff finally gave his approval to Admiral Yamamoto’s plan to attack the United States Pacific Fleet at its Pearl Harbor base.

The Japanese Carrier Strike Force departs for Hawaii

To distract the American government while it secretly positioned a powerful aircraft carrier strike force for the “sneak attack” on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese government had ordered its envoys in Washington to engage the American government in intensive diplomatic negotiations.AdmiralYamamoto’s aircraft carrier strike force, under the command of Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, left Japan on 26 November 1941.

The fast and powerful aircraft carrier Akagi was regarded as the “Queen” of the Japanese Imperial Navy. It is shown here in 1941. It was the flagship of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Preserving strict radio silence, Nagumo’s carriers steered well clear of normal shipping lanes and headed for a stand-by point about 1,000 miles (1,600km) north of Hawaii. The carrier strike force comprised Japan’s six largest fleet aircraft carriers, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku. Each of these aircraft carriers would later play a role in the major sea battles closely related to Australia’s survival in 1942. The last two would take part in the crucial Battle of the Coral Sea. The first four would take part in the pivotal Battle of Midway. The carriers were supported by battleships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines.

Japan’s Prime Minister Tojo threatens Britain and America with War

In the last week of November 1941, at a time when Admiral Nagumo’s aircraft carriers were sailing towards Pearl Harbor with hostile intent, Japan’s militarist Prime Minister, General Hideki Tojo, issued a blunt warning to Britain and the United States that Japan would “purge East Asia of US -British power with a vengeance”. General Tojo’s threat appeared on the front page of the New York Herald Tribune on Sunday, 30 November 1941, exactly seven days before the Japanese attack on America’s Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Despite the clear threat of war contained in Tojo’s warning, and despite having no knowledge of the whereabouts of Japan’s six largest fleet aircraft carriers, no steps were taken at Hawaii to bring the United States Pacific Fleet or the United States Army Air Corps to a state of war alert.

The Americans had broken the Japanese diplomatic code in September 1941, and were able to read coded messages from Tokyo to Japan’s embassies in Berlin and Washington. The United States government knew that Japan had warned its diplomats in Washington that certain unspecified events would occur after 29 November 1941. However, the Americans believed that the warning fore-shadowed possible aggressive moves by Japan against the Philippines or British or Dutch colonial possessions in South-East Asia. Although they did not believe that an attack on Pearl Harbor was planned by the Japanese, the American commanders in Hawaii took steps to guard against possible hostile action by Japanese submarines and sabotage to military aircraft or installations on the main island of Oahu. To guard against sabotage, Major General Short lined up his aircraft on the runways as if for an inspection. They would prove easy targets for Japanese aircraft when the attack came.

The Order to attack the United States Pacific Fleet

When the Japanese aircraft carrier strike force reached its stand-by point north of Hawaii, it waited to receive either final confirmation to proceed with the attack on Pearl Harbor or an order to return to Japan. On 1 December 1941, the Japanese government reached a firm decision to make war on the United States. On 2 December 1941, a radio signal containing the code words “climb Mount Niitaka” was received by Vice Admiral Nagumo aboard his flagship Akagi. The code message was an order to attack Pearl Harbor on Sunday, 7 December 1941. The Japanese were well aware that most Americans at this time observed Sunday as a holy day, and they had carefully timed the surprise attack to occur when many Americans in Hawaii would be preparing for or attending church services.

Surprise was considered vital to the success of the attack on the American fleet. There would be no prior declaration of war to alert the Americans to their danger.

Admiral Nagumo’s carrier strike force refuelled at sea on 5 and 6 December. Its approach to Hawaii was screened from American reconnaissance aircraft by low, dense cloud cover.

Japanese intelligence informed Nagumo on 6 December that the American battleships and a large number of smaller warships were in Pearl Harbor. However, Nagumo’s primary targets were the American aircraft carriers, and they were all absent from the harbor. The Japanese believed that the American aircraft carriers Lexington, Saratoga, Enterprise and Yorktown were all based at Pearl Harbor at this time. Their intelligence was faulty. Having undergone routine dry-docking, Saratoga was at San Diego on the American west coast. Yorktown was stationed with the newly commissioned Hornet in the Atlantic at this time. Only Lexington and Enterprise were actually based at Pearl Harbor on 6 December 1941, and fortunately for the United States and Australia, both carriers were at sea when the Japanese attack took place. Despite this setback, Nagumo was under orders to proceed with the attack.

On 6 December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt intervened personally in the cause of peace by sending a direct appeal to the Emperor of Japan. It fell on deaf ears in Tokyo. The Japanese government was determined on war and had no intention of recalling the Japanese carrier force.

Review of 20th Century Fox Pearl Harbor attack film “Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

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World’s Most Emotional Countries and Why

emotional-map2This is not my data, rather a Bloomberg study. What I can’t figure out is how the US is so emotional except for the political discord recently (the article below says they are happy).  I much more expected it from the Latin countries.

According to Bloomberg, the source of this map, here are the real reasons:

Singapore is the least emotional country in the world. ”Singaporeans recognize they have a problem,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes of the country’s “emotional deficit,” citing a culture in which schools “discourage students from thinking of themselves as individuals.” They also point to low work satisfaction, competitiveness, and the urban experience: “Staying emotionally neutral could be a way of coping with the stress of urban life in a place where 82 percent of the population lives in government-built housing.”

The Philippines is the world’s most emotional country. It’s not even close; the heavily Catholic, Southeast Asian nation, a former colony of Spain and the U.S., scores well above second-ranked El Salvador.

Post-Soviet countries are consistently among the most stoic. Other than Singapore (and, for some reason, Madagascar and Nepal), the least emotional countries in the world are all former members of the Soviet Union. They are also the greatest consumers of cigarettes and alcohol. This could be what you call and chicken-or-egg problem: if the two trends are related, which one came first? Europe appears almost like a gradient here, with emotions increasing as you move West.  (their emotions are sedated)

People in the Americas are just exuberant. Every nation on the North and South American continents ranked highly on the survey. Americans and Canadians are both among the 15 most emotional countries in the world, as well as ten Latin countries. The only non-American countries in the top 15, other than the Philippines, are the Arab nations of Oman and Bahrain, both of which rank very highly. (they have it good there)

English- and Spanish-speaking societies tend to be highly emotional and happy. Though the Anglophone nations of the world retain deep cultural links, it’s not clear if Spain’s emotional depth has anything to do with Latin America’s. According to Gallup, “Latin America leads the world when it comes to positive emotions, with Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela at the top of that list.” Yes, even Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela is apparently filled with happy people. (they have to say that or be imprisoned)

Africans are generally stoic, with some significant exceptions. The continent is among the world’s least emotional, though there is wide variation, which serves as a non-definitive but interesting reminder of Africa’s cultural diversity. Each could be its own captivating case study. It’s possible that South Africa’s high rating has to do with its cultural ties to Western Europe, for example, and Nigeria’s may have to do with the recent protest movement in the south and sectarian violence in the north.  (life is tough for them, they cope)

The Middle East is not happy. Gallup notes, “Negative emotions are highest in the Middle East and North Africa, with Iraq, Bahrain, and the Palestinian Territories leading the world in negative daily experiences.” Still, that doesn’t quite fully explain the high emotions in the Levant and on the Arabian peninsula, compared to the lower emotions in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. Perhaps this hints at how people in these countries are being affected by the still-ongoing political turmoil of the Arab Spring.  (they are rife with terrorists who brim with hate)

What am I missing? Every color-coded national boundary here tells a story. Why is Haiti so bereft of emotion compared to its neighbors? Why is Angola so heavy with feeling? Leave your thoughts in the comments or reach me on social media. (Haiti was founded on voodoo so they believe in the devil).

Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage?

This goes with my series of “How and average Joe can become a Millionaire”.

I am not the author, but this is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make (the other is tithing) The whole article can be found here:

One of my good friends, “Judge Rob,” is a local, elected judge who also owns a small family business. Judge Rob paraphrased Warren Buffett when we were discussing mortgages over a recent breakfast, saying, “If I knew where I was going to live for the next decade or so, I would buy a house with a long-term mortgage.” The idea is that a mortgage is a good hedge against inflation because you pay it off with much cheaper dollars down the road.

Today, many pundits point to low interest rates and encourage people to borrow as much as they can while interest rates are low. While they do have a good point, deciding when to pay off my own mortgage caused a great deal of conflict between the logical and emotional parts of my brain.

In the early days of black-and-white television, much of the programming was old, silent movies. Who can forget the little old widow, confronted by the evil, rich banker, who licked his chops at the opportunity to throw her out as her mortgage payment came due? As the deadline got closer, the piano would bang louder and faster, and somehow Widow Nell would make her payment in the nick of time. Was I programmed by my generation’s version of Sesame Street?

There’s Something to Being “Old School”

I spent a good bit of my breakfast with Judge Rob in “Yes, but!” mode. Here’s why.

When I was contemplating paying off my mortgage, I spoke with a CPA who also happened to be a financial advisor recommended by a good friend. I explained that I was self-employed, so my income fluctuated, and my mortgage was my largest monthly bill. I suggested that there could be some emotional benefit to paying it off. Less stress perhaps?

He insisted that I could invest and out-earn the cost of my first mortgage. He pooh-poohed the idea of paying it off to calm my nerves, and kept repeating that I could easily invest my money and earn more after taxes than the cost of the first mortgage.

When I asked if his mortgage was paid off, he responded with, “Oh, hell yes!” I was flabbergasted. How could he advise me to do one thing when he’d done the exact opposite? He explained that his wife was from Germany – the old school where you pay your bills, don’t borrow money, and stay out of debt.

Then I asked him, “Once you paid off your mortgage, did you sleep better at night?” He pondered a bit and said, “Yeah, I guess I did. I no longer worried about it. No matter how bad things got, we would still have a roof over our heads.”

When I asked Vedran Vuk, our senior research analyst, about when to pay off a first mortgage, he made some excellent points. First, you should no longer view your house as an investment that’s going to rapidly appreciate as it did in the past. A house is a home, and you should look at it that way. Second, right now a mortgage can make sense from an investment perspective. If you can borrow money at 3.5%, invest it, and earn a guaranteed higher return on it, you’ll come out ahead.

The real question becomes: where can you find a guaranteed greater return, even with the low mortgage rates available today? The government is committed to keeping interest rates artificially low for the foreseeable future. Yields on CDs and high-quality bonds are pathetic.

I just checked my brokerage account, and the longest CD they have available is a five-year CD paying 1.15%. A 30-year Treasury bond will pay 2.8%. Neither holds any appeal for me, particularly if I were investing with borrowed money.

If you’ve found an investment that’s a lead-pipe cinch – one that’s absolutely, positively going to pay off – and a low mortgage rate, you may want to roll the dice. However, I want to add one more note of caution.

The upcoming issue of Money Forever‘s premium subscription, which we’re releasing on December 18, takes an in-depth look at reverse mortgages, one of the most controversial ways to help fund your retirement. Our team will explain reverse mortgages in easily understood terms, highlight pitfalls to avoid, and explain how a reverse mortgage is a good way for some (but not all) folks to fund their retirement and maintain their lifestyle.

Before obtaining a reverse mortgage you must go through HUD counseling. While researching our upcoming report, I came across a study of over 20,000 people who had been through HUD counseling between September 2010 and November 2010. A few statistics really jumped off the page!

In 2000, the average age of people receiving reverse mortgages was 73 years old. By November 2010, the average age had dropped to 71.5, and it’s continuing to decline. In other words, retirees are tapping into their home equity at an increasingly younger age, many because they have no other choice.

It was also interesting to learn why these folks wanted a reverse mortgage. In the 70-and-older group, 38% still had mortgage debt. Seventy-one percent owed 25% or more on the current value of their home, and 33% had a mortgage in excess of 50% of the value of their home. Many wanted a reverse mortgage because they could not service their existing debt. A reverse mortgage is based on the net equity in your home. If their homes were paid for, meaning no huge house payment, perhaps they could have put off the reverse mortgage for a few more years. The older the applicant, the higher monthly payment they receive.

I wonder how many of these folks lost money betting on their lead-pipe cinch investment because they had been nudged along by their CPA.

My point is simple. For most baby boomers and retirees, their home is their largest asset. You don’t want to live like the little old widow in a black-and-white film, worrying about getting thrown out of your home, particularly if you’re no longer working.

Nevertheless, if you had a mortgage with a 3.5% interest rate and we were still living in a world where a top-quality bond or CD would pay you 5% or more, it could make sense to take advantage of it. But that’s not the world of today.

Ideally, you would pay off your mortgage and then use the money you’d been setting aside for payments to build a nice portfolio. For many folks, home equity is like a security blanket – and a potential source of income for when they may really need it.

The Judge’s Word Isn’t Always Law

As I left our breakfast meeting, I shared a few parting comments with Judge Rob. The mortgage conundrum has both financial and emotional factors. Paying off your mortgage is a milestone; it really does change your life. I certainly sleep better, and my blood pressure probably dropped ten points. It was the point when my wife and I actually started accumulating true wealth.

Once I paid off my mortgage, I never looked back.

Economy Signs in the USA and EU that WE ARE IN DECLINE, PROTECT YOURSELVES

Two disturbing articles came my way.  I watch the economy and look for trends.  I found two that are similar because of political policies, yet would be so easy to fix if the respective governments would stop spending, handing out money to those who don’t deserve it, stop handing to themselves and stop the regulations.

We are headed into a depression and it appears that is what the governments want.  History shows they can control a distressed population more easily than a productive, self-reliant successful one…so the preponderance of evidence shows it is intentional.

You’ve been warned, get out of debt, get a strong cash position, stock up on supplies (they are much cheaper now before inflation) and do everything you can to be self reliant rather than convenient.  This is against all the pundits who want you to buy into this is just a phase, just like right about 1926.

Here they are.

THE USA

Link to the full article here:

#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.  That is not just a decline – that is a freefall.  Just check out the chart in this article.

#2 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988.  Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.

#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#4 According to the Wall Street Journal, of the 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders, half of them plan to reduce capital expenditures in coming months.

#5 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#6 America once had the greatest manufacturing cities on the face of the earth.  Now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have degenerated into festering hellholes.  For example, the city of Detroit is on the verge of financial collapse, and one state lawmaker is now saying that “dissolving Detroit” should be looked at as an option.

#7 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#9 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#10 Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#11 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#12 The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#13 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001.  During 2010, manufacturing facilities were shutting down at the rate of 23 per day.  How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?

#14 Back in early 2005, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was less than 2 dollars a gallon.  During 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been $3.63.

#15 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#16 As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.

#17 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#18 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.

#19 Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.

#20 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

#21 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

#22 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#23 According to one survey, 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.

#24 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple.  Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.

#25 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

#26 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.

#27 In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 47.1 million Americans are on food stamps.

#28 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#29 As I wrote about the other day, according to one calculation the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#30 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#31 In 2001, the U.S. national debt was less than 6 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 16 trillion dollars and it is increasing by more than 100 million dollars every single hour.

#32 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#33 According to a PBS report from earlier this year, U.S. households that make $13,000 or less per year spend 9 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets.  Could that possibly be accurate?  Are people really that foolish?

#34 As the U.S. economy has declined, the American people have been downing more antidepressants and other prescription drugs than ever before.  In fact, the American people spent 60 billion dollars more on prescription drugs in 2010 than they did in 2005.

THE EUROPEAN UNION

Link to the full article here:

The following are 11 facts that show that Europe is heading into an economic depression…

1. The economies of 17 out of the 27 countries in the EU have contracted for at least two consecutive quarters.

2. Unemployment in the eurozone has hit a brand new all-time record high of 11.7 percent.

3. The unemployment rate in Portugal is now up to 16.3 percent.  A year ago it was just 13.7 percent.

4. The unemployment rate in Greece is now up to 25.4 percent.  A year ago it was just 18.4 percent.

5. The unemployment rate in Spain has hit a brand new all-time record high of 26.2 percent.  How much higher can it possibly go?  This is already higher than the unemployment rate in the United States ever reached during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

6. Youth unemployment levels in both Greece and Spain are rapidly approaching the 60 percent level.

7. Earlier this month, Moody’s stripped France of its AAA credit rating, and wealthy individuals are leaving France in droves as the socialists implement plans to raise taxes to very high levels on the rich.

8. Industrial production is collapsing all over Europe.  Just check out these numbers…

You don’t have to be an economic genius to understand that the perpetual uncertainty over the Eurozone’s future has led to a widespread freeze on industrial investment and development. Industrial production is collapsing at an accelerating rate, falling 7% year-on-year in Spain and Greece, 4.8% in Italy, and 2.1% in France.

9. There are even trouble signs in the “stable” economies in Europe.  In Germany, factory orders in September were down 3.3 percent from the month before, and retail sales in October declined 2.8 percent from the previous month.

10. The debt of the Greek government is now projected to hit 189 percent of GDP by the end of this year.

11. The Greek economy has shrunk by more than 7 percent this year, and it is being projected that the Greek economy will contract by another 4.5 percent in 2013.

But sometimes you can’t really get a feel for how bad things really are over there just from the raw economic numbers.

Many people that are living through these depression-like conditions are totally giving in to despair.  Just check out the following example from an RT article from earlier this year…

A 61-year-old Greek pensioner has hung himself from a tree in a public park after succumbing to the pressure of crushing debt. A note in his pocket indicates he is merely the latest in a rash of economic crisis-induced suicides.

The pensioner’s lifeless body was found dangling by an attendant in a public park not far from his home in the suburb of Nikaia, Athens. The attendant also found a suicide note in the man’s pocket, The Athens news reports.

The man, identifying himself as Alexandros, said he was a man of few vices who “worked all day.”  However, he blamed himself from committing one “horrendous crime”: becoming a professional at the age of 40 and plunging himself into debt. He referred to himself as a 61-year-old idiot who had to pay, hoping his grandchildren would not be born in Greece, as the country’s prospects were so bleak.