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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kansas City, Kansas getting the Google Gigabit

E-mail from Ben Willis of the Woogle Initiative, which was the consultant team that worked together to put together the Request For Information, in Hickory and Lenoir's effort to "Woo Google" to bring Gigabit High Speed Broadband to the area:

Kim Hudson just passed this info on to me. It looks like Google is
getting ready to do a press conference about the Gigabit project in
Kansas City. They may offer it to other cities but I thought the info
was worth passing along to the group. Regardless, we still have a ton
of useful information that both cities can use to encourage the
development of a similar type of infrastructure. I hope we all
continue to move forward and work to initiate such a project.

Thanks guys,

Ben Willis
The Link above is from PC World magazine and an article entitled - Google Gigabit Network Going to Kansas City - By Nancy Gohring, IDG News - March 30, 2011

Kansas City is the lucky winner of a 1Gbit-per-second broadband network that Google plans to build.

The search giant, which last year said it would choose a city in which to build such an ultra-high-speed network, hopes to start offering the service in 2012.

Google chose Kansas City for a number of reasons, it said. "In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations. We've found this in Kansas City," Milo Medin, vice president, Access Services for Google, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

The plan must still be approved by the city's Board of Commissioners, he said.

Google has said the network would serve 50,000 to 500,000 people with connectivity offered at what it called a competitive price. It initially planned to make a choice by the end of last year and said it might choose a number of locations.

Almost 1,100 cities responded to Google. The interest was so great that one city, Topeka, Kansas, changed its name to Google for one month.

Google has said that its goal in building the network is to experiment with next generation applications, new deployment techniques and open access.

The search giant has a press conference scheduled in Kansas City shortly.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is

Here are other News sources in regards to Google's initiative:

New York Times - Google Picks Kansas City, Kan., for Its Fast Network - March 30, 2011 - KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — After seeing Facebook pleas and flash mobs, and even cities temporarily renaming themselves “Google,” the search engine giant said on Wednesday that it had chosen Kansas City, Kan., as the first place that will get its ultra-fast broadband network...

Los Angeles Times
- Google picks Kansas City, Kan., to debut its super fast Internet service - Nathan Olivarez-Giles - March 30, 2011 - Google Inc. picked Kansas City, Kan., for its super high-speed Internet service, which when deployed promises to be 100 times faster than what is available for many users today... More than 1,100 cities entered Google's contest, which the company launched with much fanfare early last year. Google said it would build and pay for a fiber-optic network capable of 1 gigabit speeds in the winning community. Most U.S. homes paying for high-speed Internet connections receivedata at less than 10 megabits a second.

National Business Review - Google to build experimental ultra-fast broadband network in Kansas - Alex Walls - March 31, 2011 - Google has announced that it will build its trial ultra-fast broadband network in Kansas City, Kansas, an experiment the company said followed on from urging the Federal Communication Commission to look at new and creative ways of providing universal, ultra high-speed Internet access through its National Broadband Plan... (Hint: watch the video to hear the Google CFO describe low speed access as "sucky")...

Wired News - Google Chooses Kansas City, Kansas, as Broadband Mecca - By Ryan Singel - March 30, 2011 - There’s no place like home — especially if you live Kansas City, Kansas, where houses will soon be connected to the net via fiber optic cables that Google promises will deliver 1 gigabit per second internet connections — roughly a hundred times faster than a typical 10 Mbps cable connection... With that fast a connection, it becomes possible to download a full-length feature film from iTunes in seconds... More than 1,100 cities and town across the country applied to be the testbed, highlighting the dismal state of broadband connections around the country. The Tuesday announcement came after more than a year of deliberations and a change of leadership in the project.

Google News feed about the Google Gigabit

Google's Official Press Release

The Hound wants to say that it was always a longshot that we would land this deal. On the positive side it was great to see the communities of Lenoir and Hickory work together in a positive unified effort to land something that would have moved the community forward in a wonderful way and in a manner that most of our citizens cannot presently comprehend. I think there was a lot of hard work put forward by the people associated with this effort. The only criticism I had involving the effort was the backwoods hillbillyish colloquialism "Google Holler." Such a term is not endearing and does not and never would have, in my estimation, looked good to people associated with High Tech Industry. People in decision making positions need to understand that cutesy never works in high stakes, dead serious business, especially when it isn't very cute.

I hope that the efforts, energies, and synergies put behind this project can be put to use towards other efforts in the future and hopefully through perseverance those efforts will be fruitful. Thank You everyone for trying.

Innovation, Information, and Technology - Moving the Greater Hickory Metro Forward

The following is a video presentation of The "Innovation 2010" conference that was held on November 10, 2010. It is hoped that this conference will be the first of many annual innovation events over the years to come. It is believed that the introduction of these new ideas to our local culture will help lay a foundation for the development of entrepreneurial opportunities in the future.

In the upcoming year, the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce will introduce an entrepreneurial competition called "The Edison Project," in which the winner will receive a cash prize along with pro bono assistance with business guidance, legal, and financial administrative needs to help move their efforts forward. This will not only help the contest winner. It will also help those who participate in the contest by helping them promote their personal ideas and objectives. This can help those people gain attention and help network with experienced individuals who can assist them in turning these innovative processes into fruitful endeavors.

The idea of this Innovation conference was first discussed in meetings of the Future Economy Council of Catawba County and was a thought that I broached here on the Hickory Hound back in September 2009 - (HoundVision: A frank discussion about Jobs, Ingenuity, and Blight).

With the help and guidance of leaders such as Dr. Jane Everson of the Appalachian State University - Greater Hickory Partnership, Dr. Sid Connor of the North Carolina Center for Engineering Technology, and Bill Parrish of The Small Business and Technology Development Center, we were able to see an idea of the Future Economy Council Think Tank brought to fruition in a manner that exceeded our expectations. It is an honor and a privilege to be associated with these people, who are working hard to truly make a difference in our community.

The Keynote Speaker for this event was Dr. Andrew Hargadon; who is a Professor of Management, Director of the Technology Management Programs, and a Faculty Director at the University of California at Davis Center for Entrepreneurship. I wrote about his presentation at this conference in an article entitled - Innovation 2010 - Andrew Hargadon - Creating a Network of Innovation.

If you want to get excited about something positive and tangible happening in our area, then please watch this video:

And I would like to give a kudos to the Hickory Daily Record for their article about the work and adaptation of technological capacities by our Catawba County Government. I will link to the article detailing how the Chief Information Officer of Catawba County Terry Bledsoe is utilizing Social media and other Internet Assets to help residence and others associated with Catawba County stay in tune with the happenings of our local county government: Technology rapidly changing the way citizens access public information

Terry Bledsoe is the Chairman of the Future Economy Council of Catawba County and his blog is linked at the bottom right corner of this page. Catawba County Technology Department

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hal Row discusses the Happiness Survey on his First Talk program - WHKY - March 28, 2011

I was awoken at 8:45am this morning by a call from someone who stated that Hal Row was addressing the article on this blog entitled WOW!!! - Greater Hickory Rated as the 6th Saddest Metro Area in the United States. I only was able to listen to the last few minutes of the show, so I didn't have a full understanding of the context of the discussion and I wasn't going to race in to the last few minutes of the show to explain what the article was about, what my mission is about, the trends of our area, and what needs to be done to address the challenges that we face.

I won't be picking apart what people said, but I will address the context of this morning's discussion. I do believe that Hal is a cheerleader for the area and I have no problem with that. People need to understand his job is more than just to be a presenter or entertainer on his radio program. He has to sell advertising for the spots that run on his program and other WHKY programs. So Hal is a salesman and from what I have heard he is a very good salesman. Salesmen are inherently optimistic. That comes with the job.

Most people look to me as being a concerned citizen. I am definitely not just complaining. There are things that can be done to move the area forward and I want to address those issues. Some are being done and some aren't being done. We don't need to focus on the positives. We need to focus on what needs to be done and do it!

I disagree with Hal on the point that what I am doing is not Journalism. It is what Journalism used to be. It is what Gerald Celente calls Journalism 2.0. Old School Journalism is not working, because of the marriage of these resources with the Government and those conflicts of interest. The media now acts as partners with the Government, instead of asking critical questions that need to be asked, investigating what needs to be investigated, and researching what needs to be researched. I am one person. I don't have multiple departments to cover this and that. I have to do it all myself, but I am asking and addressing tough questions that need to be asked.

I was born and raised here. I know this area very well. I don't know or understand every perspective of every individual in the area. I associate with many people who have a completely different perspective than Hal. They are positive complainers. They aren't stewing in their mess. They are addressing it.

I had lunch with a very prominent person in our area, the other day, who stated to me that when they moved here a decade ago that they cried every day the first year that they were here. They said that they decided one day that it was time to stop being depressed and make the best of the situation and move forward. This person stated that even if they wanted to move (locate out of the area), that with the real estate depression we are in, that it would be nearly impossible to sell their house and they couldn't afford to take a bath on it. This person stated that their spouse and themself would have difficulty if they lost their job and they would not be able to make close to the kind of income that they were presently making. This person stated that they come home a lot of days and speak with their spouse and are like, "Whew, I've still got a job as of today -- hahaha..."

I know people from every demographic of this community. I have had long conversations and deep dialogue with people that work for the City of Hickory, Catawba County, people that have worked in Washington and Raleigh, Elected Officials, people from Downtown, people from every quadrant of Hickory, people from Ridgeview, people from other parts of the area who are movers and shakers and people who are just your Average Joe (or Jill). I believe I represent most everyone. Not when I express an opinion, but when I address the issues facing our area.

One lady called in to Hal's show and spoke about God and Family vs Money and Prestige. I completely understand what she is saying and is that not what I talk about on this Blog, is it not? I am certainly not talking about attainment of materialistic needs. I am talking about the quality of people's lives. We can get the most bang for the buck by investing in areas that might not be fruitful today, but they will yield benefits tomorrow. That is what I see when it comes to the aquatic recreation issue or building an amphitheater or revitalizing the economic deadzones in our city. There is no magic bullet to solve these issues. It will take a lot of hard work. There will be a lot of losses to go along with wins, but not doing anything or waiting for some easy solution is not going to solve the problems and will guarantee failure. And the longer we don't address these issues, the worse the problems will be, and the harder it will be to solve them.

We have good things going on in this area. I have never said that we didn't. Look at the increased educational attainment options with L-R growing, the Appalachian State University Partnership, and Catawba Valley Community College. Look at the economic opportunities involving the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Conover Station. Anyone can see that there are some good things happening in our area, but we need to see a lot more of this and we need our local elected officials to be proactive about making things happen.

What people need to get in their noggin is that our community's health depends upon the welfare of all of its citizens. Marketplaces are about people. It is all about people. Economics depend upon the marketplace and the marketplace is about people. When people are doing well, then you have a positive, dynamic marketplace and when they aren't doing well, then you have a lackluster, ineffective marketplace. Attitude is but a small part of market forces and there are way too many people trying to push the notion that all we need is a good attitude and the marketplace will correct itself.

No, what we need are people who are intellectually proactive and critical thinkers who can help to create an environment in our area that is more resilient to economic cycles. That means that when times get bad, we don't fall off the cliff like we have in the last decade. There are people putting efforts forward that are making a difference here, but there are also people just resting on their laurels and standing in the way of progress, because they are shortsighted and they can only see how issues will effect their personal finances today. We have to look at trends and think about how we fit into the future in order to keep from being blindsided.

Hal did not address the dynamics of the survey and you really need to in order to understand the big picture of what this survey is detailing. This survey was not my opinion and the other surveys that have ranked us so poorly have not been my opinion. And can somebody tell me why they think that these surveys would be picking on poor ole Hickory. Does that even make sense?

I had nothing to do with the statistical input of all of these surveys. As far as the dynamics of the "Happiness Survey," Life Evaluation is based upon how you feel about your life today and where you see yourself being 5 years from now. Physical health deals with such factors as whether they had any health issues that prevented them from doing any age-appropriate stuff. Healthy Behavior deals with smoking, drinking, working out properly, and eating right. Emotional Questions included such factors as "Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?" Work questions include, "Are you satisfied/dissatisfied with your job?" Basic Access includes Medical-related questions such as had you been to a dentist in the past year, do you have a personal doctor, and/or have health insurance. It also included questions about the general satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the region.

When it comes down to discussing the relevant issues and the status of the general welfare of this community, I know that there are a lot of fine individuals associated with the City of Hickory. I have had several that have personally expressed to me an appreciation for what I do. You might think wow or that is a load of bull, but I have had several people tell me that they could not get their message out, if it weren't for the Hickory Hound. People have expressly told me that my newsletters about the City Council are so thorough that it is the only way that they can keep up with what is going on in the City of Hickory. They don't always agree with my analysis, but they appreciate the point of view. I do understand that this is not true of everyone though. There are some people who literally hate this blog and constantly try to diminish its relevance.

The people who are angry about the existence of this blog try and limit the participation of those that they have control over. I can assure you that if the workers speak out in a manner that their bosses disagree with, then they will lose their job. And I am not talking about anyone going maverick. I am talking about a employees taking a different viewpoint that does not toe the company line. I have been expressly told this by some people; that they agree with what I am presenting, but they fear reprisal, if they publicly support the Hound's viewpoint. Couple that with how much income some of these people earn and you can see where the silence come from. They have a lot to lose!

When it comes to my life, my glass is completely full of everything except income and material possessions and although I would like to be financially secure, it is not my top priority at the moment. I want to have a better Economic and Quality of Life Environment in my community. My glass is running over with things to do. That is the reason why I was asleep this AM. I was up late last night dealing with tasks. I know that one of my top priorities is getting the message out about the goings on in this area. Occasionally that means that I must say things that I really don't want to say about the leaders of this community, but it is necessary to address these critical issues and to get this community moving forward again.

To summarize, Hal basically stated that the community has a lot to offer, but outside forces are playing a dominant role in these negative feelings that people have in the area. What about the ambivalence of the overwhelming majority of the people in our area? The people who only care about the ball game on their big screen... the comfort of their recliner... the cheapness, availability, and speed of service of their fast food... and the case of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the fridge. When those things aren't available is when they will be ready to revolt. Then they will lose it and we will all be living in Holy Hell, because they will be ready to aim and fire.

Why did only 2,300 people vote in that last City Council election? If the people were happy with those members of City Council and the Mayor, then why didn't they stand up and roundly and robustly reaffirm their support? 8.5% of the people in Hickory voted. In my book that is not
much support for what the City of Hickory is doing.

What will it take to wake people up and get them to participate in their governance? I have tried to use Hal's show as a platform before to wake people up. In general, if we look at the demographic of Hal's audience, it is mostly people that are older and settled. I bet most of them are seniors. Most of them have money in the bank, a pension coming in, a small part time job, and a Social Security check. They aren't hurting like the people who are in the middle of life, but they are probably having to help subsidize the income of their kids and/or their grandkids. They understand that the economy is bad, but they have a cushion to fall back on and that gives them a different perspective.

You know, this is the kind of compartmentalizing that I address. These people are making ends meet, so they don't have much to complain about, but what about the future? Think 5, 10, 20 years... Like most of us in the middle of life and younger are looking at. What is this going to mean to us and what do the trends show? It does not look good and that is what this survey is addressing.

Will the people, who listen to Hal's show that seem to be content, continue to make ends meet if inflation continues to surge? Their kids are going to continue to need money, because they aren't going to be able to have gainful long term employment under current economic conditions and realities. Times will continue to get worse if we don't assess the reality of the challenges we face and address those issues head on.

I am here to try to wake people up before the freight train hits, so that we don't have to deal with the chaos of the aftermath. We keep getting punched over and over and over again. We need to start punching back. We have to endure and I think that we have done that, but we also have to take productive, proactive measures to move forward. Yes, their are some of us doing that, but there are others standing in the way of this needed progress.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Manufacturing Solutions Center manufactures Jobs

Dan St. Louis is a member of the Future Economy Council of Catawba County and the head of the Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC). He, along with Donald Duncan, Conover's City Manager, gave a presentation about the relocation of the MSC to the Conover station Development on February 17, 2011 to the Future Economy Council.

Both of these developments in the past here on this blog, but this is a thorough presentation, in which Dan and Donald describe what the mission of the MSC is and what future goals of the MSC will be. The MSC is a public-private partnership that enables business and government to come together and share costs of expensive testing, which reduces costs to do business and allows these businesses to put out a better product at a lower cost. This will help create jobs for our region.

The mission of the Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC) is to help US manufacturers increase sales, improve quality and improve efficiency to create or retain jobs.

This is accomplished by:

* Enhancing and improving products through research and development
* Assisting in creating prototypes for new, innovative offerings
* Analyzing new materials to enhance structure and programs
* Testing products for reliable content and quality
* Training personnel for lean manufacturing processes and supply chain efficiencies
* Providing a forum for rollout of new 21st century technologies
* Providing hands-on guidance for international marketing, sales and military procurement
* Providing photo-realistic renderings and visualizations
* Creating 3-Dimensional rapid prototypes in a variety of materials
* Industry advocacy

Bringing manufacturing into the NEW ERA of changing technologies, global marketing and production innovations.

The following is Dan's presentation in a slide show format:

Links to other articles related to this development:
Fixing Hickory - CVCC’s New Manufacturing Solutions Center
A Conversation about Conover Station and Economic Development

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rick Barnes: NC State and Hickory need you to come home

Will it be Rick Barnes this time around? - State Fan's Nation - March 19, 2011

There are many people that know that I am a North Carolina State sports fan. I didn't go to school at State. I went to UNC-Wilmington. But when I was a kid I pulled for State. David Thompson, Tommy Burleson, Monte Towe, Tim Stoddard, Mo Rivers, and Phil Spence won the National Championship in 1974 and in 1973 they were undefeated. State also had Lou Holtz in football and this was followed by players like Ted Brown, Roland Hooks, Mike Quick, and Jim Ritcher who all were all-stars and played key roles on NFL teams and other players like Bill Cowher who were standouts in college and role players in the NFL.

NC State basketball was a top tiered program with a rich history, winning nine straight Southern Conference/ACC Titles and taking NC State to the Final 4 in 1950 under Everett Case. State then had success under Norm Sloan, a former player under Everett Case, who led the team to a 57-1 mark over two years (72-73 and 73-74). Sloan had some success in the years that followed, but chose to leave and go back to coaching at Florida where he had coached before arriving at NC State. One of the notable items of interest that I don't think most young people recognize is that until 1975 only the ACC Tournament Champion went to the NCAA Tournament and following this only 2 teams went from the ACC until a few years later. Norm Sloan won 3 ACC championships in his 14 years at State.

Next came Jim Valvano. Ten days ago Jimmy V would have celebrated his 65th birthday and there was a pictorial article on that celebrated his life in pictures entitled Rare photos of Jim Valvano. Jimmy V was the underdog's coach. NC State was always the team supported by working class people and he continued to carry this banner during his tenure at State. His teams weren't the most talented, but Valvano willed them to always be in games until the end and more times than not he figured out a way to win. The months of late February, March, and early April 1983 will always hold a special place in my heart, because the Wolfpack taught me that if you believe that impossible dreams can come true -- as Wally Ausley, the Wolfpack announcer called out after Lorenzo Charles dunk, "The Glass Slipper Fits."

I crossed my toes, held my breath, lived dizzying heights of euphoria, and should have had a heart attack as the Wolfpack pulled off the greatest upset run in the history of college basketball by beating the numbers 1, 2, and 3 teams in the nation, at various times, to win the national Championship. Jimmy V wasn't perfect, who is?, but he sure was someone you could get behind and believe in, because he gave life his all.

Valvano's and NC State's mistakes led to his downfall. Their mistakes included giving Chris Washburn too many chances and letting Charles Shackleford and others not take school seriously, but that was life at a university and the rules of college basketball in the 1980s. I still have vitriolic feelings about the way that the best coach and one of the best people that I have ever admired was treated and dismissed by the people of this State. Yes, he made some mistakes, but there have been many far worse and egregious and he did not deserve to be treated the way that he was treated and one day it will come back on those who alienated him and caused the fissure that resulted from his tawdry dismissal.

Over the several years of my young life, I was able to see NC State play in person on several occasions. I remember watching them play at Lenoir-Rhyne's Shuford Gymnasium, as defending National Champions, in their Red-White scrimmage game in the Fall of 1974. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters come to town. At that time, players weren't allowed to dunk in college basketball, but David Thompson and Kenny Carr did a few dunks before the game started. It was so cool to watch them play. I thought this was normal for these guys to be around having watched them at the Big 4 tournament in Greensboro and the North-South doubleheader in Charlotte, but the latter years of my life have given me a thorough understanding about how special all of this was.

After Jimmy V was dismissed, NC State basketball fell apart and later regained a level of mediocrity, but it has never been the same. NC State's supporters have been labeled as delusional miscreants and the lunatic fringe for expecting better than what they have seen. The program is rated amongst the top 15 in terms of revenues and profits even with such little success and they play in one of the finest basketball arenas in America. Is it really so hard to understand why NC State supporters desire a better product than they have seen over the last several years?

There are many basketball coaches in America who would desire to be a part of such a top-tier program. The ingredients are there to be successful, even if there are challenges that lie ahead with two of the top programs staring you in the face just miles away. State used to compete with those programs and others successfully in the past and really there is no reason that they can't get it done in the future. NC State is one of the finest universities in the country. Have you ever been there or to the Centennial Campus? The school lacks for nothing and has laid a solid foundation to incur further success for years to come.

Now I will get to my point. NC State is looking for a new men's basketball coach after an unsuccessful tenure under Sidney Lowe. Everyone who supports NC State loves Sid and hopes that he will always be a part of the university, because he has meant so much to it. But, the results as a coach just did not meet the expectations that were desired. Honestly, it was best to move on.

There are many fantastic coaches out there that are available, but Rick Barnes would be my choice to take NC State's basketball program back to where it belongs. He is a native of Hickory and played basketball at Lenoir-Rhyne from 1974 to 1977. He has roots here and comes back here from time to time for charitable reasons and I am sure to visit family and friends.

Now I don't personally know Rick, but I certainly like what I have heard and seen from him. And I really think it would be uplifting if he would come back home and bring his successful style to North Carolina State. There have been opportunities for this to occur before and it has never worked out because of timing, but this time seems different. It seemed like it could happen five years ago, but it seems like it should happen now.

I will tell you that it would be a boost to our community. Remember that NC State Red-White scrimmage game that I mentioned that I attended in the Fall of 1974. That was a really big deal. NC State was the defending National Champion, why would they come to Hickory? They came to Hickory because we were a textile and industrial giant in those days and many of NC State's alumni associated with industry lived right here in what we now call the Hickory Metro. We were a smaller community then, but we had more power.

I remember when Coach Barnes took Texas to the Final Four in 2003. On CBS, they mentioned Hickory and Lenoir-Rhyne several times during those national broadcasts. That certainly helps to get our name back on the map. At the University of Texas, and in Austin, I doubt they really mention these associations; but if the Coach were to come back home to North Carolina, you know that this would be mentioned and promoted frequently. I think it would be a win-win-win for all involved.

It would be a win for NC State, because Rick is from North Carolina and he has been very successful wherever he has been and I truly believe he would carry that success to Raleigh. It would be a win for our community, because we need the attention and the association of a successful winner who truly has ties and cares about this community. I also think it would be a win for Coach Barnes, because he can come back home to his final destination as a coach and be a hero for taking a downtrodden basketball program with a rich history back up to the top-notch stature where it belongs.

If it is ever going to happen, the time is now. The timing is right. The opportunity is here. It is time for a new shoe to fit. I am sure that your job at the University of Texas is great, but there you will always play second fiddle to Football. No one expects miracles, but together with NC State success at the top of your profession is achievable. A legacy that takes you to basketball immortality is achievable. A legacy that makes you a legend in our state and in your hometown is achievable. I know that such lofty expectations correlate with pressures that someone such as myself might not understand, but I do understand that those types of lofty endeavors, when achieved, are the type that end up in a man's persona becoming the essence of legend. Rick, I hope you are listening and I hope you know that we want you to come home.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

WOW!!! - Greater Hickory Rated as the 6th Saddest Metro Area in the United States

(Prologue) - In a study released this week by Gallup, Hickory is rated as having the 6th Saddest Population in the United States. This was reported by CBS MoneyWatch in an article authored by Carla Fried. We are defined as being ranked amongst the least contented populaces, in a poll that ranks communities based upon Life Evaluation, Physical Health, Healthy Behavior, Emotions, Work, and Basic Access.

As far as the dynamics of the survey, Life Evaluation is based upon how you feel about your life today and where you see yourself being 5 years from now. Physical health deals with such factors as whether they had any health issues that prevented them from doing any age-appropriate stuff. Healthy Behavior deals with smoking, drinking, working out properly, and eating right. Emotional Questions included such factors as "Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?" Work questions include, "Are you satisfied/dissatisfied with your job?" Basic Access includes Medical-related questions such as had you been to a dentist in the past year, do you have a personal doctor, and/or have health insurance. It also included questions about the general satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the region.

In my opinion, it is easy to see why we are tailor made to rank low in this survey and it goes hand in hand with other surveys that have ranked us low. There are many people here that are living on the edge. How can you be satisfied with your circumstance if you are unemployed or worried about losing your job or if you are worried about losing your business; and how would you feel about your future prospects?

You can look around the community and see all of the people who are overweight and how many people are still practicing bad health habits. You also have to factor in the aging populace of our area and realize that the aged are going to have more than their fair share of health related issues. The Emotion issue ties in directly with the stress level and as I stated their are a lot of people in this community living on the edge. Worried about their job... Worried about losing their house... Worried about the escalating cost of living... People realizing that help isn't coming soon and lowering their expectations to survival mode.

Basic Access is something that many people don't have in this community. It is a function of opportunity. As I have stated time and time again, look at the income levels in this area. Yes our cost of living is lower in comparison to some larger areas, but that is a direct correlation of the cost of labor function, which is the number one cost of most businesses and which has been suppressed in our area for generations. There are also issues of accessibility related to connectivity. And lets be frank, we haven't done very well in making connections and working well with other fellow communities in our region.

We can change all of this by shunning those who will not work well with others. Everyone has the ability to contribute, but you can lead a horse to the recognition that they have a role to play, but you can't force them to play that role. These people will be offered their opportunity to participate, but we are out of time when it comes to begging people to join this process and help turn this community around. You are either in or you are out and those that are in are going to move forward and those that are out Bye-Bye!!!

The 10 Happiest (and Saddest) Cities in the U.S. - By Carla Fried - Mar 17, 2011

Bigger isn’t necessarily best when it comes to quality of life. In a Gallup survey released this week of the U.S. cities rated highest for overall well-being, New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago all failed to crack the top 50. By contrast, nine of the top 10 spots in the survey went to mid-size cities, with the Boulder, Colorado metro area grabbing the top overall spot. The only big city that cracked the top 10 was the Washington, D.C. area.

Where to get your happy on:
The 10 Happiest Cities (Overall Ranking)
1. Boulder, CO
2. Lincoln, NE
3. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
4. Provo-Orem, UT
5. Honolulu, HI
6. Madison, WI
7. Cedar Rapids, IA
8. Gainesville, FL
9. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

At the other end of the spectrum, among the 188 metropolitan areas Gallup focused on, these regions turned up the least-contented residents:
The 10 Saddest Cities in America
179. Utica-Rome, NY
180. Prescott, AZ
181. Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ
182. Spartanburg, SC
183. Hickory-Lenoir- Morganton, NC
184. Fort Smith, AR-OK
185. Redding, CA
186. Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX
187. Youngstown-Warren- Boardman, OH-PA
188. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of March 15, 2011

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

You will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 3/15/2011 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

Invocation by Rev. Robert Shoffner, Retired from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

Consent Agenda:
A. Call for Public Hearing to Consider Entering Into a Economic Development Incentive Agreement With Fairmont Designs for Approximately $25,000 With the Creation of 200 Jobs (Authorize Public Hearing for April 5, 2011)

B. Transfer of Cemetery Lots in Oakwood Cemetery From John J. Reinhardt to Harold D. Setzer and wife, Phyllis M. Setzer (Document Prepared by Attorney John G. Fuller)

C. Transfer of Cemetery Lot in Oakwood Cemetery From Kathy Lawson Pool, f/k/a Kathy Lawson Whitener and husband Gary Pool to Stephen Riley Lawson (Document Prepared by Attorney Martin E. Steele)

D. Transfer of Cemetery Lot in Oakwood Cemetery From Kathy Lawson Pool, f/k/a Kathy Lawson Whitener and husband Gary Pool to Kathy Lawson Pool (Document Prepared by Attorney Martin E. Steele)

E. Approval of Property Tax Refund as Recommended by Catawba County Tax Office to First Citizens Bank in the Amount of $920 - First Citizens Bank listed and paid for leased equipment located at their Hickory office; 243 Performance Dr., SE which is used exclusively for recycling or resource recovery and is exempt. Therefore, a refund is being requested for taxes paid for 2010 to Catawba County. This information has been verified by the Catawba County Tax Office.

F. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs –

Charlton Seaver of 836 7th Avenue, SW is being recommended to subordinate the City’s second mortgage to State Employee’s Credit Union due to refinancing of the first mortgage. His original loan was for $12,999 at 3% interest rate with a balance due of $11,505.30. Mr. Seaver is currently up to date on his payments.

Applicant Richard and Elena Gould are being recommended for approval for assistance under the City’s First-Time Homebuyer’s Assistance Program to purchase a home located at 3231 Blue Sky Court. The applicants have requested $7,500 for assistance with down payment and closing costs.

Funds are budgeted for the above items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2009 and/or program income received through the City’s Community Development Block Grant Program. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of the above.

The Hound has a problem with what I have seen related to conflicts of interest associated with these low interest loans. I don't believe that these loans should go to close relatives of Council Members or to Reporters of our local newspaper or with any decision maker associated with the City of Hickory. Does one not see that this is improper. I have seen this become business as usual over the years, where these loans have gone to people closely connected to the City's government.

These loans are supposed to be arranged for people who are truly in need. Let's look at Council Member's family members getting these loans. These loans are not widely publicized. The average citizen does not know that they are available. In my opinion, Council members are compensated fairly. I think if their family member needs help with some money to buy a home that they can help that family member out. This is not meant to be a slush fund!

City Officials and Decision Makers should not be using the City's Common Good funds to support their relatives. Second, a reporter for the local paper, who is supposed to be reporting on city issues, should not be taking one of these loans. If a critical and/or controversial question needed to be asked related to a city official or action taken by the city, will the question be asked or will the situation be investigated or even given attention? Will relevant issues be swept under the carpet or never addressed by the local media in exchange for favors or access to the club?

G. Approve Change Order No. 2 to Pizzagalli Construction for the NEWWTP Upgrade Project in the Amount of $50,301 (Exhibit VI.G.) - The Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant (NEWWTP) Upgrade Project is a $21,569,383 project necessary due to its age, replacement components no longer being available and environmental regulation changes. City Council previously approved Change Order No. 1 in the amount of $23,608 and due to unforeseen conditions; Change Order No. 2 in the amount of $50,301 requires Council approval. Change Order No. 2 consists of replacement slide gates on the sludge storage tanks, building permit revisions, influent pump supplier change, grout and mortar testing and grading revisions of laboratory building totaling $75,523 with a deduction of $25,222 due to the use of the base bid influent pumps points operating more efficiently; reducing Change Order No. 2 to $50,301. Staff recommends approval.

H. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 17
1. To budget a $8,856 insurance claim check from Trident Insurance Company in the Police Departments Maintenance and Repair of Vehicle line item. This payment is for damage sustained to a police vehicle on 02-06-11.
2. To budget a $1,500 donation from the Elks Lodge in the Parks and Recreation Department Supply line item. This donation will be used to conduct the annual Easter Egg Hunt which is coordinated by the City of Hickory’s Park and Recreation Department.
3. To budget a total of $1,750 of International Council donations in the International Council expenditure line item. These donations will be used to conduct the annual 2011 International Springfest event.
4. To decrease General Fund Balance Appropriated by $576 and increase the transfer from the Gang of One grant project by $576. This amendment is necessary to close the Gang of One grant project and return $576 of unspent monies to the original funding source General Fund Balance Appropriated.
5. To decrease General Fund Balance Appropriated by $1,203 and increase the transfer from the Traffic Unit grant project by $1,203. This amendment is necessary to close the Traffic Unit grant project and return $1,203 of unspent monies to the original funding source General Fund Balance Appropriated.
6. To appropriate $40,548 of Water and Sewer Fund Balance and transfer to the Cripple Creek Sewer grant project. This amendment is necessary to fund uncovered expenditures within the project and close the Cripple Creek Sewer project.

Informational Items:
A. Report of Mayor Wright’s Travel to Greensboro, NC From February 24 -25, 2011 to Attend the 2011 NC Metro Mayors Coalition Winter Meeting; registration - $100.00; hotel - $158.11; mileage - $97.92; per diem - $8.50
B. Report of City Manager Berry’s Travel to Greensboro, NC From February 24 – 25, 2011 to Attend the 2011 NC Metro Mayors Coalition Winter Meeting; registration - $100.00; hotel - $158.11; mileage - $96.90; per diem - $16.00

Citizen's Requesting to be Heard

Lisa Kemerait, owner of CHI of Hickory,located on Union Square addressed the council first. Her issue that she wanted to address is the relocation of the Hickory Farmer's market in front of her business location. She did not find out until recently. She is mainly worried about the parking situation and the negative impact it will have on her handicapped and older patrons and distances they will have to walk. She is a therapeutic massage therapist who specializes in injury rehabilitation. She is ver supportive of the Farmer's Market, but believes that if it is going to be located on Union Square that they need to be placed on the Paver Stones (Bricks). This will directly affect her business on Wednesday and Saturday.

Ed Cooper next addressed the Council, he is the owner of Union Square Computers, he wants better internet Downtown. He has had had talks with Charter who has told him that they have not been able to get "Right of Entry" downtown. He named companies located Downtown that desire to improve internet service Downtown. He also stated that he believes that the Farmer's Market and businesses can coexist, but it should not happen at the expense of parking spaces.

Darlene Herman, owner of Salon on the Square next addressed the Council. She stated that she has been in business at that location for 20 years. She is against the Farmer's Market taking up parking spaces and had 50 names of people in 45 minutes that signed up against this relocation. She supports downtown every way possible. She thinks there can be a better way than taking away handicapped parking and accessibility in front of her business (above the Tap Room). She has a lot of elderly and handicapped customers that come to her business by wheel chair. They already have to pull up on the bricks sometimes to get them to the business. She already has to close and go to customers houses on Octoberfest and other festivals. She has accommodated her customers the best that she can for 25 years. She would appreciate consideration to not closing the parking lot. And there is already a problem with people backing out into the streets and there are going to be more. She invited Council members to come up to her business and look out the windows and witness the traffic flow.

The Hound: This issue was thoroughly discussed at the City Council Meeting on February 15, 2011 with my opinion, which is still as relevant today as it was then. As far as the Charter Internet issue, I don't understand why they aren't allowed to compete Downtown, but as long as they are a provider in the area, they should be allowed to.

A message from Citizens for Equity in Government

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

EASY MONEY!!! and a World in Chaos

Great Animation explains the Federal Reserve and our current banking mess related to Fiat Currency!







Tokyo Shares End Day Down 11% - Wall Street Journal - March 15, 2011

We are building towards an end game and you need to prepare. I am begging you to prepare, because the bleeding in the Nikkei will have consequences on our own markets. This is not a joke to me. This is not an overreation by the "Lunatic Fringe." We don't need unprepared people turning into an uncontrollable mob. These problems that we see around the world will come to our shores and we need to be ready. The politicians and the media aren't preparing you. This will only be a Doom and Gloom scenario if so many people aren't prepared that they overwhelm a system that is already faltering. Change is a constant on this planet. That is the reality. You must prepare for the evolution of the system to come!

I prepared to send this out late last night and needed some sleep. In the meantime.
Stocks plunge as Japan nuclear crisis worsens
- AP News - March 15, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Rant -- Recognizing the Economic Tsunami we are in

Does anything that is happening in the world today make sense. We are told that everyone needs to go back to school and learn new skills, but what is being done to re-equip America and re-emerge under this new Workforce Paradigm and how many people will such a paradigm support?

We are told that we are moving towards a Service Economy. What kind of lifestyle will those jobs support. Will these jobs help grow the overall Economy of the United States?

Let's look at support of the Service sector related to the local Retail Economy. I buy very little on the local level. I would like to buy more products from local businesses and I do when I can, but really there isn't much choice on the local retail level.

As far as necessities. I don't buy a whole lot of food, because I eat at least one meal at work, the days that I work. I go out to eat very little, because I have been around restaurants so much that I am disinterested in most of what is offered on the local scene and I can fix more to eat than what is available from these places. Also, I grow my own food as far as vegetables and I only buy meat, cheese, and dairy once a month at Sam's.

As far as discretionary items, I buy most of that stuff off of the internet from online retailers like Why pay more for it at a local major retailer. It's still going to the same banksters on Wall Street. I'm just cutting out more of the middle men.

I think as we go further down the line that we are going to look to cut out the middle man more and more. The only reason why they were there to start with was because they provided service.

I'll give you an example. My grandparents used to buy their their televisions, electronics, and other household accessories from Caldwell TV. My grandfather had a relationship with them, because he sold them business forms and he became friends with the owner. They would deliver the Console TV, Dishwasher, or whatever and they would install it and make sure that it worked properly. If the TV was broken, then you called up Caldwell and they sent the TV Repairman out to fix it. You built a relationship with the people you bought merchandise from.

Now there is little to no relationship when it comes to any of these purchases and that is what the consumer has come to expect. When you go to a Best Buy or Walmart, you expect that the person who works in the department doesn't know much about what they are selling and you are lucky if they know where the item is located and sometimes you can't even find somebody to help with either or any other issues. If you buy a television or appliance, you process the warranty and if it breaks you get a replacement. If the warranty is out of date, you throw the product away. We have become a disposable society.

I always wonder why at Walmart they have 50 registers and only 5 open. Of course, you can go check yourself out at an automated register.

All of the Nattering Naybobs sit there and tell you that we are becoming a Service Economy. Well, if we are truly becoming a Service economy, then should we not be expecting more service instead of less. Everywhere I go, I'm standing in line or waiting or searching for someone to provide me service. I go to a fastfood restaurant and the tables aren't clean and I have to throw my garbage away and get my own food. How is that a Service Economy. That seems more like a Race to the Bottom / Least Common Denominator Economy.

I don't mean this to be an affront, but it has become very obvious that we have an aging demography in this area. Many days, I walk through work on the way from the kitchen to the bathroom and I look at the dining room and there are very few people who are less than 60 years old out there.

I am a soldier on the front lines of this economy. I feed the people and the people are the marketplace. I know the economy. I witness people ordering split meals, half meals, trying to cut corners on their ordering, and many times not properly tipping the servers who depend on it for their livelihood... And that is a big part of what I have seen related to older citizens that we have in this community's mindset and lifestyle. Austerity is here and you cannot grow an economy through Austerity. Austerity is about survival. Personally, my fingernails are killing me!!!

As I have stated before, we cannot become a service only economy. We must redevelop our Manufacturing Capacity and direct it towards New Technologies related to energy, transportation, and other lifestyle trends.

It is obvious that if we keep heading down this road that we are on, that there won't be much of anything left of our nation. For one, you won't be able to afford anything, because the Corporatocracy is continuing to trim the workforce and its income and individuals are demanding less and less service. That means that people will be lucky to have a job and they are going to be able to afford fewer and fewer retail goods (and services).

I think that if we continue to see the Federal Reserve devalue our currency and the Government help devalue labor by continuing to empower the International Corporatocracy, at the same time the government will be forced to raise taxes on commercial retail activity to service the bloated debt structure, this is creating negative momentum, which is leading to a "Race to the Bottom" scenario, which ultimately leads to nothing.

This imploding economy will force people into a Barter/Trade lifestyle, because you can't trust the currency. First off, you can't trust it because of inflation and second you can't hold onto it, because the government keeps trying to tax it away from you on multiple levels. For sure, the transformational age that we are living in demands that human relations move away from a materialistic and commercial form and towards a truly social, interactive, and functional form if we are to succeed.

People are going to have to interact and help one another out through these difficult times. The most important part of this process is to recognize what is happening and move away from the lies perpetuated by the forces in industry, the media, and government that are attempting to pull the wool over our eyes. In order to succeed against this Economic Tsunami, we must first understand the challenges and then have the courage to face them head on. The sooner we are willing to take action to remedy these consequences; the less the duration of the pain we must endure and the greater our chances of success coming out of this storm that we must admit we are in.


I know the choice of the word Tsunami might be considered frivolous, because of what happened in Northern Japan yesterday (3/11/2011), but I do find the word most appropriate for the circumstances that we face. My condolences to the people affected by this natural disaster and all that they have lost and must endure over the coming time period. Japan is in my prayers and it is my hope that we can all come together to help that great nation survive and move forward after such a devastating event. May God bless the people of Japan.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Reaffirmation of Independence of the United States of America

As originally posted on July 8, 2010 - Will you join me

As was stated by the original author(s) of our Nation’s founding Document declaring Independence. We, as Americans, should reaffirm and ratify our Declaration against tyranny, whether foreign or domestic.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for unsubstantial and/or temporary reasons; and accordingly all experience has shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are tolerable, than to correct themselves by abolishing the forms (of governance) to which they have become accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object exhibits a plan and willingness to reduce the people under absolute despotism, it is the peoples’ right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Such was the patient suffering of the colonies in the mid to latter 18th century, as such is now the slow drumbeat of oppression enforced upon us by a government gone awry that no longer represents the intent of the founders and the will of the people; which was government of, by, and for the people.

It has now become necessary to reaffirm and restore our rightful system of government. The history of the egregious actions of many of our elected representatives and members of the unelected bureaucracy must be enumerated. The injuries and usurpations of our rights, granted under the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, all relate directly to the establishment of an absolute tyranny over “We the People.” To prove this, let the following facts be submitted to a candid world.

Our Federal Government has been arbitrary and prejudice in its administration and enforcement of laws; not following the intent of the founders, by crossing the jurisdictions of the three branches of government and allowing influence peddling based upon the intrusive force of money and power.

Our Federal Government has overstepped its bounds by not allowing State and Local governments to regulate their own commerce or pass and enforce laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless assented to by the Federal Government itself; and the Federal Government has been passive in recognizing the needs of the Governments closest to the people.

Our Federal Government has refused to pass or enforce other laws for the protection of many of its constituents; stripping the citizenry of rights granted under the United States Constitution through the signage and administration of treaties and other International agreements, without ratification, that have not complied with the by-laws of our foundational documents.

Our Federal Government has utilized the Peoples’ legislative bodies outside of their accord, by not following precedent of procedure in the passage of new laws. This has happened in spite of the intent of the people and displayed a voluntary willingness to basically make the rules up as they go to administrate the special interests of the elite against the common good.

Our Federal Government has dissolved the authority of the States to administer and regulate themselves, by seizure through the intent of force, if any individual State defended their rights. This superjurisdictional seizure has taken place against the guidelines set forth by the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution.

Our Federal Government has allowed issues to fester through the intent of neglect by not allowing State laws and regulations to be administered at the same time they refuse to administer laws and regulations themselves. Such political gamesmanship has left States with International borders vulnerable to the influx and incursion of foreign nationals upon their rightful jurisdictional territory.

Our Federal Government has endeavored to promote illegal immigration into the States by not enforcing immigration laws and regulations and this has inherently discouraged the proper naturalization of foreigners. This has had the effect of diluting the value of the rights of the Natural Born and Naturalized Citizens of these United States.

Our Federal Government has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing to administer, and working against, laws established by Legislative bodies; and the utilization of judicial powers as a weapon against the desires of the people.

Our Federal Government has allowed the Executive Branch to utilize Extrajurisdictional powers through Presidential Executive Orders against the separation of powers intended by the United States Constitution. This has enabled the establishment of Government by Decree and thus goes against the prudence, which prevents changes in governance for unsubstantial and/or temporary reasons.

The Federal Government has erected a multitude of new offices by decree, and sent swarms of officers to harass the people of the United States; and as stated in the original declaration, “eat out their substance.”

The Federal Government nearly ten years ago created “The Department of Homeland Security,” which over time has more and more been allowed to encroach upon and inhibit the rights of the people granted under the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution. The Founders expressed in the original Declaration their angst that the English Crown kept troops amongst the people, in times of peace, without the consent of the legislative bodies. This is happening in our country today through the use of military and paramilitary troops, which has the effect of devaluing and suppressing the rights of the people.

The Federal Government has affected to render to local police agencies military powers independent of and superior to ordinary civil power. Left to its own devices, this will eventually lead to the effect of full scale Martial Law.

The Federal Government has allowed a Corporatocracy to develop, which has taken precedence over our long established system of laws and subjected us to a jurisdiction foreign to the United States Constitution.

The Federal Government has willfully taken actions that have by design, whether intended of consequence or not, destroyed our nation’s Productive Industrial Capacity. This has enriched the Corporatocracy at the expense of the people.

The Federal Government has allowed Multi-National Corporate Interests to take precedence over American Interests and the goodwill of the People of these United States.

The Federal Government has unfairly imposed many taxes upon the people without their consent.

The Federal Government has mismanaged the finances of this Nation in a multitude of ways, including the abrogation of the control of our National Currency to the interests of the Corporatocracy.

The Federal Government long ago established the Federal Reserve Banking system, which is a private corporate system. The money of the United States rightfully belongs with its people, not private corporate interests.

The Federal Government has willfully allowed the extortion of the American People’s interests through the manipulation of the currency by these private multi-national corporate interests.

The Federal Government’s Agencies were initiated to protect the interest of the American Public, but instead these agencies have been utilized as a means to protect the interests of the Corporatocracy.

For rendering State and Local Governments dysfunctional by overstepping the bounds of their jurisdiction and not recognizing or respecting the importance of local governance; which has fundamentally altered all levels of our governments.

For subverting State legislatures by not allowing them to govern in the interests of the individual State as recognized by the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; basically declaring the Federal Government invested with power to regulate legislation at all levels of the government through exploitation and illegitimate utilization of the “Commerce Clause.”

The Federal Government has abrogated responsibilities enumerated in the United States Constitution, by abandoning the protection of rightful citizens and falsely labeling many as subversives for defending their natural rights.

The Federal Government has endorsed the plunder of our natural resources, the polluting of our coasts and interior, the degradation of our local municipalities, and general destruction of the lives of many of our people through its willing support and association with the monopolistic International Corporatocracy.

Large portions of our standing military are being utilized in the role of mercenaries at the behest and for the interests of the International Corporatocracy. Many of our nation’s citizens are fearful that at a point in time in the near future that our own Military Forces accompanied by International Military Forces will be utilized to subvert the will of the people of this great nation.

The Federal Government over time has instilled a spirit of reduced expectations among the general populace, while continually expanding and protecting the superficial interests of the wealthy elite. The original paradigm upon which this nation was built was a demand for excellence and an altruistic belief in justice and equal opportunity for all.

Federal officials have voluntarily accepted an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, while some have continually and willfully subverted aspects that do not support their personal preferences. At the very least this is contempt and the argument can be made that this is treason. If the case can be properly established as to willful subversion of the Constitution, then at the very least, the remedy shall be removal from office.

The actions and consequences of this Federal Government may at a time in the future create the circumstances, whether intentional or unintentional, of domestic insurrections amongst us. Such Vigilante Justice and the reaction against it will inevitably lead to collateral damage involving the lives and property of innocent bystanders.

As we move further down this road of radicalized, divisive government, many of us grow weary to witness the chasm that has developed between Governance and the People. Under all definitions of our Republic’s founding documents, we are supposed to be a government of, by, and for the people. We humbly appeal to you to heal this divide with the people. Have we not learned from history, the consequences of Government by Decree?

The multitude of the people do not desire anarchy. We need governance, but the people deserve to be heard and their will shall not be subverted. The Federal Government’s role is understood, but it shall not be an autonomous agency of our governance. Under the Constitution that role is to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the Common Defense, promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to the people of this nation.

It is understood that this nation, in past historical circumstances, has had issues where the Federal Government has had to step in to protect minority interests in the concern of justice. This is the reason why we are a Republic and not a Democracy. Justice shall prevail in cases where natural law is suppressed in the favor of oppression and against good moral standing. This should not however allow the Federal Government to grant itself new powers not enumerated in the original Constitutional document, unless an amendment is properly ratified under Constitutional guidelines and procedures.

Therefore, it is the hope of the people of this nation that our elected representatives and those others who serve the United States of America, will understand the seriousness of these issues solemnly set forth and published in this document. The United States are still and by right ought to be free and independent states as set forth in the original Declaration.

Lest we ever forget those who toiled, labored, or paid the ultimate sacrifice for these freedoms that this generation takes for granted and seems so willing to cast away.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gadaffi's Stash - Money Laundering - U.S. MegaBanks - Business as Usual

The Hound : What a wonderful country our home has turned into; where we support Dictators for oil. I would have never thought that I would be begging to see some form of cogent justice, but it is very apparent that we are going to fully support a two-tiered society where it is legal to be a criminal, if you have control over someone else's money. We don't need more regulation, when the laws we have are brazenly usurped or altogether egregiously ignored and law enforcement is either bought off or incompetent (probably a little of both).

How Did Gaddafi Bypass US Anti-Money Laundering Rules To Bank With Goldman And JPMorgan? - Submitted by Tyler Durden - 03/02/2011
One of the most critical questions that has to be asked in light of yesterday's revelation that among the banks providing banking and asset amangement services for Libya were Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citigroup, is just how did Libya get an exemption for anti-money laundering provisions both in Europe and the US. Oddly enough, this future mainstream debate arises not in the US, where any form of critical thinking appears to be immediately curbed by SEC Rule 201 (for all those calling for a hike in the SEC's budget, we suggest the following contrarian thought experiment: let's cut its budget to zero and see how long before anyone notices) , but out of the UK, where a reader writes in to the FT (oddly enough, partially owned by the Libyan Investment Authority) with the following very simple question: "It seems to me entirely implausible that Col Gaddafi could have earned billions of dollars through legal means. And yet if the AML procedures, to which we are all subjected, have not been applied rigorously to the likes of Col Gaddafi and his family, one is forced to ask what purpose they really serve." Or what purpose any regulation serves in general when fraud results in surging stock prices, and companies that adhere to the rules are promptly wiped out in this bizarro capitalist world.

From the FT:

Sir, I read with interest the news that the UK government is freezing billions of dollars in assets belonging to Muammer Gaddafi and his family. I would also be intrigued to know whether the banks and other financial institutions handling these assets have applied the same anti-money laundering (AML) procedures to these assets as are applied to every other “normal” banking client in the UK.

I am less interested in whether Col Gaddafi and his family were able to supply passport copies and utility bills but more interested in what evidence they were able to present as to the source of the funds.

It seems to me entirely implausible that Col Gaddafi could have earned billions of dollars through legal means. And yet if the AML procedures, to which we are all subjected, have not been applied rigorously to the likes of Col Gaddafi and his family, one is forced to ask what purpose they really serve.

Charles L.M. Horner,
Bangkok, Thailand

See No Evil: Wall Street Banks and Qaddafi Cash
- Rolling Stone - By Tim Dickinson - March 2, 2011
The Obama administration's move to freeze $30 billion in Libyan assets has sent Wall Street banks scurrying to lock down Qaddafi's cash. Raising the question: How did America's biggest firms become bankers to one of the world's most corrupt men?

Anti-money-laundering statutes are supposed to bar "the movement of illicit cash or cash equivalent proceeds into, out of, or through the United States [or] ... United States financial institutions.” And when it comes to Libya, there's no such thing as licit cash: According to a WikiLeaked State Department cable: "Libya is a kleptocracy in which the regime has a direct stake in anything worth buying, selling or owning."

And yet, according to a cable from 2010, top U.S. banks were in bed with Qaddafi's Libyan Investment Authority: "Several American banks," our embassy in Tripoli reported, "are each managing USD 300-500 million of LIA's funds."

Firms reportedly playing banker to Libya's "sovereign wealth fund" include Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and several private equity firms.
Banks Financing Mexico Gangs Admitted in Wells Fargo Deal - Bloomberg - June 28, 2010
They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else.

The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.

This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers -- including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.

The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.
JPMorgan's $907 million Madoff bonanza - Posted by Colin Barr - February 28, 2011 - A new academic paper estimates the bank reaped nearly $1 billion in pretax profits over two-plus decades by servicing a checking account at the center of the giant Ponzi scheme.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Federal Reserve's Definition of Normal

(Prologue) The Federal Reserve's Definition of Normal does not include the Middle Class. As a matter of fact, the policies of the Fed are having an effect of destroying the Middle Class by debasing the dollar and rack and ruin for those on fixed incomes. I have links to previous articles below that show that we are in a Hyper-inflationary, Hockey Stick Growth Curve period when it comes to many staple commodities. Only the Presstitutes, as Gerald Celente defines them, in the main stream media are buying and selling the propaganda of The Fed and their cronies in the Federal Government.

A subscriber to the Blog "Seeking Alpha" addresses the issue of Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve's Economic Strategy, which mirrors much of what I have been stressing over the last 2+ years.

...Banana Ben would not want to be recorded in history as the single person most responsible for the demise of the US via currency debasement. History confirms that is one of the surest ways to undermine a country. I therefore concluded (wrongly) that he would not engage in reckless monetization.

We can see how that worked out. So I continued reading trying to find the motivation behind why the Fed does what they do, because it is abundantly clear that what they say has no bearing on reality.

My revised outlook on The Bernank and the Fed in general (excluding Paul Volcker is as follows):
• The Fed works for the international financiers, not the people.
• The Fed will always chose what’s best for the banks over what’s best for the people.
• The financiers maximize debt to maximize profits, be it personal, business or govt.
• The financiers want concentration of power among the megabanks.
• The financiers want control over the political process (They finance elections.)
• The financiers want control over the legislative process. (Done by planted alumni and bought politicians with threat of campaign contributions hanging over them. )
• The financiers control corporations by rewarding short term gain (beat the number = bonuses), but not long term prosperity. Result is outsourcing which weakens the people.
• The financiers pacify the people by “creative financial products” which allow consumers to borrow (enriching the bankers) in order to create the illusion of prosperity.
• The financiers control the population through media propagandists who dumb down the population by deception. Otherwise, it would overthrow the politicians.
• The financiers have no country allegiance. If they destroy the US, they just go somewhere else.
• The Criminal Reserve is just a tool in the hands of international financiers. Currency debasement is their weapon of choice.

The question is, how far will the people let politicians and the media deceive them while the Criminal Reserve destroys the currency? My hope is that something wakes them up before the destruction becomes irreversible.

The only book I have read that provides an explanation of the motivation behind the Criminal Reserve is by G Edward Griffin entitled “The Creature from Jekyll Island”. He maintains the Fed is corrupt by design and the only solution is abolishment.

Links to Hickory Hound Articles that show what is really going on:
The Impending Collapse of JP Morgan
Who's in Charge around here?
An Economy Out of Control

The Food Crisis -- February 19, 2011

Melding the Corporatocracy with a Kleptocracy

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Impending Collapse of JP Morgan

A Conspiracy With a Silver Lining - WILLIAM D. COHAN - March 2, 2011, 7:40 pm
Nonetheless, how to explain the price of silver? In the past six months, the value of the precious metal has increased nearly 80 percent, to more than $34 an ounce from around $19 an ounce. In the last month alone, its price has increased nearly 23 percent. This kind of price action in the silver market is reminiscent of the fortune-busting, roller-coaster ride enjoyed by the Hunt Brothers, Nelson Bunker and William Herbert, back in 1970s and early 1980s when they tried unsuccessfully to corner the market. When the Hunts started buying silver in 1973, the price of the metal was $1.95 an ounce. By early 1980, the brothers had driven the price up to $54 an ounce before the Federal Reserve intervened, changed the rules on speculative silver investments and the price plunged. The brothers later declared bankruptcy...

The gist goes something like this: When JPMorgan Chase bought Bear Stearns in March 2008, it inherited Bear Stearns’ large bet that the price of silver would fall. Over time, it added to that bet, and then the international bank HSBC got into the market heavily on the bear side as well. These actions “artificially depressed the price of silver dramatically downward,” according to a class-action lawsuit initiated by a Florida futures trader and filed against both banks in November in federal court in the Southern District of New York...

In September 2008, after receiving hundreds of complaints that silver future prices were being manipulated downward by JPMorgan and HSBC, the commission’s enforcement division started an investigation. In November 2009, an informant, described in the law suit only as a former employee of Goldman Sachs and a 40-year industry veteran, approached the commission with tales of how the silver traders at JPMorgan were bragging about all the money they were making “as a result of the manipulation,” which entailed “flooding the market” with “short positions” every time the price of silver started to creep upward. The idea was that by unloading its short positions like a time-released capsule, JPMorgan’s traders were keeping the price of silver artificially low...

In any case, the class-action lawsuit contends that between March 2010 and November 2010, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC reduced their short positions in the silver market by 30 percent, causing the metal’s price to rise dramatically, but leaving them still with a large short position. Now, with the value of silver rising nearly every day, the two banks are caught in a “massive short squeeze,” according to one market participant, that appears to be costing them the billions they made originally plus billions more...

It’s getting harder and harder to continue to brush off Andrew Maguire’s claims as the rantings of a rogue trader with a nutty online following. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission should immediately release the files from its investigation into the supposed manipulation of the silver market so the public can determine whether JPMorganChase and HSBC did anything illegal, with or without the help of the Fed. In addition, the commission should start enforcing the 10 percent threshold on silver positions it has proposed to comply with Dodd-Frank law. Basically, the other commissioners must join with Bart Chilton to do the job they are required to do: Protecting the sanctity of the markets and preventing the sorts of manipulation we’ve seen all too often.
Silver Backwardation Continues - Silver Eagle Premiums Rise After US Mint Discontinues Production - Gold Seek - 3/4/2011
This may be an indication that there are strong hands in the silver pits who are buying all dips and taking on the still very large concentrated short positions of JP Morgan which continue to be investigated by the CFTC (see news below).

Physical demand for silver for both industrial and investment and store of value purposes remains very high and supply anemic at best.

The US Mint has been forced to discontinue the production of U.S. Silver Eagles as they simply cannot keep up with the demand. The US Mint says that production of the silver bullion coins are suspended “temporarily” as they cannot source enough silver bullion blanks to make the very popular coins. In just the two first months of 2011 alone, 9.633 million Silver Eagles were sold. This corresponds to about 300 tonnes of silver...

Eric Sprott of Sprott Asset Management recently said that his fund was having difficulty sourcing silver bullion bars (1000 oz) in large volumes and there were liquidity issues in the market.

He also warned that the world was running out of silver. "There's $22 billion of silver available in the world, of which the ETFs already own half, and between you guys and us we probably own the other half... Which means there's nothing left."

Record sales in the US Mint have also been seen in the Royal Canadian Mint and the Austrian Mint. The Austrian Mint sold 1.53m ounces of its silver Philharmonic coin in January, more than double the level a year earlier. The Austrian mint would boost production to 2.2m ounces in February and March.

Both the Austrian and Canadian Mints have begun rationing new silver coins to dealers, meantime, after record January sales across the retail industry.

The Royal Canadian Mint, which produces the silver and gold Maple Leaf coins, have spoken about how they are finding it difficult to source silver in volume.

David Madge, head of bullion sales at the Royal Canadian Mint, recently told King World News that “it still remains a big challenge sourcing material. We’re looking at ways of mitigating our risk regarding supply of silver.”

We are anticipating it to become even more difficult to secure supplies in the future. This is based on what we are seeing firsthand and what our suppliers are telling us. We work closely with these banks to secure silver and they tell us there is a lot of competition.”

When asked what this means for the price of silver and how long this condition is expected to persist Madge stated, “I think you are going to see the premiums go up in order to secure silver. At some point some players will be priced out of the market. I don’t think this is a short-term situation, I think there are a lot of issues going forward and this may be the new norm.”...
The Hound: The Following is a rumor, but if true it spells doom for JP Morgan, who owns all of these short silver contracts, which means that they were investing in the price to go down. Many of these contracts were bought for under $20/ounce.

Part A: Comex trading/Silver scandal goes mainstream - Harvey Organ's Gold and Silver Report - 3/3/2011
As many know there are a group of ex Morgan traders who decided to take on Blythe Masters and JPMorgan by standing for delivery but then asking for a huge fiat premium. We have now heard from one trader who also is a reader of my blog. The name given to the ex traders is "Wynter_Benton:

Here is what is posted by Louis Cypher:

"Wynter_Benton update on their recent raid
With permission, I can update the results of our raid. It was successful beyond imagination but that "success" has spawned even more questions about the price of paper silver going forward. It was reported by SGS that he heard that on Friday Blythe was offering 30-50 percent premium and that at least 4500 hundred contracts will stand for delivery. I am here to give you a more accurate update (and a first hand account of what happened on Friday Feb 25). Our group was detemined to stand for delivery going into Monday because we were not going to take a 30 percent premium on a price of $33.50. It was reported that Blythe offered 50 percent premium. That was not even close in our case. We got over 80 percent premium. That's right. Over $50 per contract on the condition that our group sell all our contracts. Our counterparty even threatened us with the ghost of Herstatt. They openly admitted that they could not deliver even 20 million ounces to us but that if we stood for delivery they would be sure that they make delivery to everyone else before they defaulted on us which would make us 'unsecured creditors'. They told us directly that they could not allow even 5000 contracts to stand for delivery because they could not deliver a mere 20 million ounces. Like Vito Corleone said, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." And indeed we did not refuse as this was our intention all along.

These sets of facts from our traders lead us to believe that the paper price of silver may have a difficult time surpassing $36 because if the counterparty at the Comex is so willing to pay north of $50 to dissuade people from standing for delivery yet the paper price of silver is still under $35, then we suspect that losses triggered by derivatives is the main reason for the price suppression of silver. We can see no reason why they would not allow the paper price to go up yet are so glad to pay off the comex contracts to show the world that so few are standing for delivery. In our mind, Comex could default with if as little as 4,000 contracts stood for delivery. We are very curious to see how high the paper price of silver actually trades during this run. - Posted by Louis Cypher"
The Hound: What this means is that currently the COMEX (Commodity Exhange), which is part of the New York Mercantile Exchange, which trades Option contracts (Derivatives) and hard physical assets to the open market does not have access to enough Physical Silver to make the market function (make deliveries to close out contracts). The Silver market is dysfunctional and it is going to take money markets with it. What is being espoused here is that JP Morgan and HSBC (The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited) have bought all of these Silver Short contracts, betting that the price of Silver will go lower. In order to do this they are supposed to have the assets on hand. What they have done is called naked shorting. It has become obvious that they do not own the physical Silver and since the price of Silver has risen so dramatically there are people who want to take delivery of the Futures Contracts that they have purchased and there are others who have had their Silver warehoused and they want to take physical delivery of their property.

As I stated earlier, many of these contracts were purchased at around $20. They were bought when Silver went to $21 in March 2008. JP Morgan inherited a lot of Silver contracts from Bear Stearns when Bear Stearns went bust in March 2008, as you can read in the William Cohan, New York Times piece above. Silver closed at $35.67 today. An 80% premium would mean that the COMEX would pay $64.20/ounce per contract at the current physical market price. That means that whoever owns those short contracts are going to lose $44.20/ounce if they bought those short positions at $20.

Estimates I have seen show JP Morgan's exposure related to Silver to be anywhere from 1 billion to 3.3 billion ounces. That means under the current situation, if Silver contracts are being bought for $64.20/ounce, then JP Morgan is at least $40 billion in the hole and could be over $130 billion in the hole. As Silver continues to climb this is only going to get worse. Last year, the Gold to Silver ratio was over 60x. Now it is barely over 40x. Historically the ratio was always around 16x, so one can see the room for growth. The sky is the limit.
As far as JP Morgan, If it (Morgan) goes, then so will all of the banks that do business with them and the Federal Reserve will go with it. More fraud has been piled higher and deeper. Numerous laws have been broken in association with this scheme to manipulate and suppress the true price of Silver.

These issues should have been dealt with long ago. It is time to end the Banks Reign of Terror. It is time to bring some sensibility back to our financial system. It is time to let the "Too Big To Fails" fail, so that the rest of us can have a chance to have a stable economic system in the future.