Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spain faces 'total emergency' as fear grips markets

Spain is facing the gravest danger since the end of the Franco dictatorship as the country is frozen out of global capital markets and slides towards an epic showdown with Europe. 
A screen displays the IBEX 35 at Madrid's stock exchange on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard 

“We’re in a situation of total emergency, the worst crisis we have ever lived through” said ex-premier Felipe Gonzalez, the country’s elder statesman.  The warning came as the yields on Spanish 10-year bonds spiked to 6.7pc, pushing the “risk premium” over German Bunds to a post-euro high of 540 basis points. The IBEX index of stocks in Madrid fell 2.6pc, the lowest since the dotcom bust in 2003.
Chaos over the €23.5bn rescue of crippled lender Bankia has led to the abrupt resignation of central bank governor Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, who testified to the senate that he had been muzzled to avoid enflaming events as confidence in the country drains away.

Markets are on tenterhooks as Spanish yields test levels that forced the European Central Bank to respond last November with its €1 trillion liquidity blitz. “Nobody is short Spanish debt right now because they are expecting ECB intervention,” said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS. “If it doesn’t come -- if we take out 6.8pc -- we’re going to see a hyberbolic sell-off,” he said.
Read the full article here

Spreading wealth

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Going for gold - Europe’s debtors must pawn their gold for Eurobond Redemption

This demand could enflame opinion in Italy and Portugal. Both states have kept their bullion, resisting the rush to sell by Britain and others. Italy has 2,451 tonnes of gold, valued at €98bn in March.


The German scheme -- known as the European Redemption Pact -- offers a form of "Eurobonds Lite" that can be squared with the German constitution and breaks the political logjam. It is a highly creative way out of the debt crisis, but is not a soft option for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and other states in trouble.

The plan is drafted by the German Council of Economic Experts and inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s Sinking Fund in the United States -- created in 1790 to clean up the morass of debts left by the Revolutionary War. Flourishing Virginia was comparable to Germany today.

Chancellor Angela Merkel shot down the proposals last November as "completely impossible", but Europe’s crisis has since festered, and her Christian Democrat party has since suffered crushing defeats in regional elections.

The Social Democrat opposition supports the idea. The Greens say they will block ratification of the EU Fiscal Compact in the German Bundesrat -- or upper house -- unless Mrs Merkel relents.

"The Redemption Pact cleverly combines the advantages of lower interest rates through joint European borrowing with a reduction of debt," says Green leader Jürgen Trittin. "Joint liability would be limited in both time and scale."
Read whole article here

Local Flamenco guitarist Micah Turchet performs at the Caroline Seniors Drop In Centre

Micah Turchet at the Seniors' Drop In

Photo and story by Helge Nome

West country seniors were treated to a Flamenco guitar performance that they will likely not forget at the Caroline Seniors' Drop in Centre on May 21. The distinct sound of the flamenco performance has its roots in southern Spain and local Grade 12 student Micah Turchet has invested a lot of time and energy into attaining a fully professional level to a point where he is now performing on stage at local folk festivals. To enjoy an example of Micah's work go here

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Europe's Maquina Infernal has crippled Spain

In Spain, unemployment has reached 24.4pc, or 32pc in Extremadura. More than 1.5m households have no earner at all Photo: EFE

Spain is spiralling into the vortex of debt-deflation. This has nothing to do with Greece. It is not the result of fiscal extravagance over the past decade, or other such Wagnerian myths. 



The country’s collapse is the mathematically certain - and widely predicted - result of ferocious monetary and fiscal contraction on an economy struggling to deal with a housing bust.

Monetary tightening by the European Central Bank caused Spanish real M1 deposits to fall at an 8pc rate in mid-to-late 2011, guaranteeing the crash into double-dip recession that we now see.
Indeed, the ECB even let the broader M3 money supply contract for the whole eurozone late last year, badly breaching its own 4.5pc growth target. This was not purist hard-money discipline. Let us not dress it up with the bunting of ideology, or false authority. It was incompetence, on a par with the errors of 1931.

Spain’s Bankia fiasco has merely brought matters to head, though the details are shocking enough. A €4bn bail-out in mid-May. A €23bn bail-out two weeks later. You couldn’t make it up.
Investors have noticed that Deloitte exposed the rot, not the regulators. Bankia is the creation of the ruling Partido Popular, thrown together from regional cajas under its control. It was a sink for €30bn of bad debts from property developers, an instrument to "extend and pretend", to cover up the systemic awfulness of the housing crash.
Read informative article here

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This is what we protect in Afghanistan

Caroline Seniors Drop In pot luck supper

May birthday people - Front: Vivien Miller, Maria Vos, Evelyn Bertagnolli, Gay Steves. Back: Wendy Jendrasheska, Jean Folis, Norman Rose, Frank Foesier, Stuart Scot, Jim Pearson.

Photo and story by Helge Nome

The Caroline Seniors' Drop In Centre hosted their monthly pot luck supper on Monday, May 21. The folks at the combined meeting and social  discussed future events and their funding, enjoyed the meal, and marveled at the skills of guest solo flamenco guitarist Micah Turchet. The next social will a BBQ at the Legion Hall on June 18

Friday, May 25, 2012

The secret of American prosperity

Red Deer Royals perform in Caroline

By Helge Nome

Following the parade on Main Street in Caroline on May 19, the Red Deer Royals presented their show "Scheherazade" at the grounds behind Caroline School. This is an annual event where the youngsters get to practice their show which is taken to other venues over the summer. For more photos, go to Alberta West Photos here

The Red Deer Royals presented their show "Scheherazade"

Cool May weather at Caroline's annual parade

Cool dude at the Caroline May Long Weekend Parade

Photos and story by Helge Nome

As always, there were many colorful entries in Caroline's annual parade down Main Street on May 19. The parade is set to coincide with the Victoria Day holiday weekend when thousands of people from the big cities descend on the west country with their recreational vehicles, tents, boats and quads, etc., to get a taste of spring in the great outdoors. The cooler weather seemed to bring fewer people out than last year, but the enthusiasm was certainly up to par.

An impromptu clown entertained in the middle of main street prior to the actual parade, eliciting laughs and applause from the spectators. Two marching bands participated inn the parade: The Red Deer Royals (see separate report) and a group of pipers as well. And the horses and riders always make up a very thematic tail end of the parade, which. as it happens, takes place on Alberta's officially designated "Cowboy Trail".

Power and beauty

For more snapshots of the action, go here

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Call on your MP to stand against costly online spying

Red Deer Dance Magic presents "Just Dance - 2012"

Enjoying themselves on stage - some prima ballerinas

Photos and story by Helge Nome

Red Deer's Dance Magic presented its 2012 show "Just Dance" on May 14 and 15 at the Red Deer Memorial Centre. Dance Magic is, by far, the largest dance group in the area and both the stage and auditorium were pretty well filled to capacity for the performances. The program included Jazz, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, Tap and Ballet, as well as Hip Hop and Boys Funk. Both audience and performers enjoyed themselves with some sentimental tears at the end from those that were about to move on to new challenges in the future. For a photo collage of the show, go to the Dance Magic photo gallery here
Finale - see you next year!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rising US recession risk poses the real threat to Europe

The US economy has slowed to stall speed. A few lonely forecasters fear that America has already fallen back into recession, replicating the terrible double-dip of 1937.

A few lonely forecasters fear America has already fallen back into recession.


The Philly Fed’s manufacturing index dropped suddenly to minus 5.8 in May. The US Conference Board’s index of leading indicators fell in April. Job creation has slipped from 250,000 a month to nearer 130,000 in March and April. The Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) says post-War personal income growth in the US has never been this weak for three months in a row without triggering a recession. It has happened ten out of ten times. 

It is this fresh menace - combined with China’s failure to calibrate its heralded soft-landing - that poses the real danger to southern Europe’s arc of depression over the next year. Greece is just a poignant detail. America’s official data has not picked up any inflection point yet. We may be repeating the summer of 2008 when Washington mistakenly reported brisk growth and Fed rhetoric turned hawkish, setting off the Fannie/Freddie, Lehman, AIG disasters. We now know that the figures were wildly wrong. The economy was already in slump.

Fed chair Ben Bernanke is vigilant this time. Last week’s Fed minutes hinted at fresh stimulus if “the economic recovery lost momentum”. The Fed noted “sizeable risks” as $1 trillion (£633bn) of fiscal cuts kick in automatically at the end of the year.
Read full article here

Friday, May 18, 2012

Writer in residence at Dickson

 Be a part of the Country Drive Showcase Weekend - June 2 & 3rd with a stop at the Danish Canadian National Museum & Gardens!
Saturday, June 2nd come and meet our brand new Writer-in Residence, Vivian Hansen. Her introductory reading will include her work "Leylines of My Flesh", which chronicles the Danish immigration experience to Western Canada. Vivian will also be available from May - September to do one-on-one manuscript critique sessions and workshops. You may contact Vivian at

Vivian's bio:
 Vivian Hansen is a poet and freelance writer. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and journals with work that has encountered women's issues, the western landscape, work and immigration.

She is the co-founder of the Calgary Women's Writing Project where she served as VP Publishing and Editor of Forum Magazine (a journal of the Calgary Women's Writing Project).

Vivian taught poetry and life writing workshops with the Alexandra Writers' Centre in Calgary and facilitated workshops in poetry and life writing. She served as a judge and contest coordinator for the former Calgary Writers Association and has judged for the Hamilton Region Arts Council.

Vivian is a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta and served as a Member-at-Large 2002-2003, President 2003-2004, Past-President 2004-2005 and Chair, 2006 Alberta Book Awards Committee and is also a full member of the League of Canadian Poets, Calgary. 1999-2000 she was President of the Society of Poets, Bards and Storytellers. She was Associate Editor, A.S.H. (Arts, Science & Humanities Journal) Turtle Island Press, 1996-1997.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

World edges closer to deflationary slump as money contracts in China

All key indicators of China's money supply are flashing warning signs. The broader measures have slumped to stagnation levels not seen since the late 1990s. 


Narrow M1 data for April is the weakest since modern records began. Real M1 deposits – a leading indicator of economic growth six months or so ahead – have contracted since November.
They are shrinking faster that at any time during the 2008-2009 crisis, and faster than in Spain right now, according to Simon Ward at Henderson Global Investors.
If China were a normal country, it would be hurtling into a brick wall. A "hard-landing" later this year would already be baked into the pie.
Whether this hybrid system of market Leninism – with banks run by Party bosses – conforms to Western monetary theory is a hotly contested point. The issue will be settled one way or the other soon.
Read article here

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The deeper you go, the bigger they get

For an understanding of this strange critter, go here

B.C. Mountie sues force for harassment - WARNING: this story contains graphic details

Caroline Legion salutes women in the military

Photos and story by Helge Nome

The Caroline Legion Branch 177 honoured local women who have served in Canada's armed forces in years past at it's weekly pot-luck supper on May 11. Terry McGuire gave a history of women in the military and Darlene Houlton introduced the invited guests, some of whom have served in Canada's armed forces and others representing family members who served in the past. JoAnne Pope gave a snapshot of military life.
For full story and more photos, go to Second Page here

Guests of Honour: Elise Labbe', Barb Hirtle, Teresa McLean, Rita Stewart, Debbie Howe, Nadine Powell,  Val Brown, Debbie Nelson, JoAnne Pope, Karen Wilson.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hospitals fundraiser at Caroline ATB Financial

Caroline ATB Financial staff that financed and put together this playhouse as their contribution to the children's hospitals fundraiser: Robin Watt, Donna Kanten, Karen Foesier, Saritta Mulligan, Merna Cermak, Jenna Ross, Teresa McLean. 

Buy a two dollar ticket on this bear

Photos and story by Helge Nome

Staff at the Caroline branch of ATB Financial are currently conducting a silent auction of donated items and raffling off bears and a playhouse to raise funds for the children's hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton. Called the "Teddy for Toonie" campaign, this is an annual event that runs until May 30 and is well supported by the local community.

The Caroline branch staff decided to put a playhouse together this year and $5 tickets are available in many ATB Financial branch locations. ATB Financial is a unique banking system, owned by the people of Alberta with locations in most Alberta communities. The bank has assets of some $27 billion.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Comment on youth unemployment

Dave Rawlings Machine - "To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high)"

Delegation questions tax increases in Clearwater County

Clearwater County is a rural municipality in West Central Alberta.

Photo and story by Helge Nome

Clearwater County is about to prepare tax notices for the 2012 year involving the collection of some $32.5 million from taxpayers. The bulk of these taxes will come from industries operating in the county, with the balance from land owning residents. About half of the taxes collected ($15+ million) will be passed on to the Province of Alberta to pay for the education of the area's youth; the rest is applied to the county's budget providing services to local residents.

A delegation from a group calling itself "Clearwater Rural Roots" appeared before the Clearwater County Council at its regular meeting on May 8 with questions about information released to date about tax increases in the budget for 2012 mentioned here on this blog. The delegation was led by Marianne Cole who made a presentation to Council based on an actual increase in her tax payable of some 7% over last year.

The interaction between the delegation and Clearwater County Council and staff went on for approximately 1.5 hours and involved a frank exchange of views from both sides. The delegation felt that, generally,  not enough information or time had been made available by Council, to explain its position to the public, resulting in misunderstandings. Council, on the other hand, suggested that this information had been made available at recently held "open houses" conducted by councillors and staff.

At the end of the day, the figures shake out as follows: There will be an overall increase in tax money collected by the county of some $2.5 million over last year (when $30 million was collected). About $0.9 million of this increase is collected on behalf of the Province as a provincial education tax with the remaining $1.6 million augmenting the county budget. About $1.4 million of the increase comes from industrial operators within the county and the remaining $200,000 from resident taxpayers.

Annual highway cleanup underway

Anika Ahlstrom, Linda and Allan Benz from Caroline 1st. Scouting picking up garbage along Highway 54 west of Caroline
Photo and article by Helge Nome

After the melting of the snow, volunteer groups in Alberta get out to clean up the roadsides of the province's highway, earning some cash for their groups in the process. This happened on Highway 54 west of Caroline on the weekend of May 4/5 and is an ongoing process on both primary and secondary highways. A number of individuals also scour roadsides for empty bottles and cans which are taken to recycling depots for cash. It is a very effective system that makes the  roadsides ready for mechanical slashing of grass later in the summer.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Salesmanship primer on a difficult-to-sell concept - Thorium based nuclear reactors

A Documentary project in Calgary, Canada created by by Gordon McDowell

Editor: Fun and knowledge in one package. Source of video here

Rocky's 32nd Annual Trade Show

Non-profit organizations' stand at the Rocky Trade Show
Rocky Mountain House's 32nd Annual Trade Show was held in Rocky's twin Kootenay and Voyageur arenas from May 4 - 6. A total of 136 booths, plus open areas were set up on the concrete surfaces that are covered with ice for most of Canada's long winter season.

While only a fraction of the area's multitude of businesses and organizations had stalls in the show, they represented a very wide range of activities and interests. The show is put on by the Rocky Mountain House and District Chamber of Commerce to showcase what the area has to offer, to both locals and people from other places.

There is a debate going on in the Rocky district at this time about the economic future of the area as local hydrocarbon deposits are slowly and steadily depleted and shoppers migrate away from area businesses to larger centers with more big box stores. Somehow, local business people and area residents will have to find a way to deal with these structural changes in the local economy.
For more photos of stalls at the trade show, go to Alberta West Photos here

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The complexities of nature - preying on the predator

A parasite that fights the zombie-ant fungus has yielded some of its secrets to an international research team led by David Hughes of Penn State University. The research reveals, for the first time, how an entire ant colony is able to survive infestations by the zombie-ant fungus, which invades an ant's brain and causes it to march to its death at a mass grave near the ant colony, where the fungus spores erupt out of the ant's head. This photo shows a zombie ant with the brain-manipulating fungus (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis s.l.) having been castrated by an hyperparasite fungus (white with yellow material). Credit: David Hughes, Penn State University. More of this strange story here

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Economists need a new paradigm

Editor: This video gives an insight into what ails the discipline we call "economics" and its failure to predict the ongoing economic debacle we are now experiencing. These folks are new thinkers with new perspectives that take into account the complexities of human nature in the economic equation.

Remember the Falklands war?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Our brave new world

Editor: This is a very informative video, well worth watching

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Murder anniversary

By Helge Nome

It is now one year since a person claimed to be Osama Bin Laden was murdered by a swat team of American Navy SEALS that arrived at his abode in Pakistan in a stealth helicopter. The individual was shot at point blank range and the body removed to never see the light of day again. It also happened that the helicopter crashed, presumably while leaving the compound, killing several members of the SEALS team in the process.

We will likely never know who died in that action one year ago. Some prominent people believe that Bin Laden had died in 2007 and I posted a story to that effect exactly one year ago here

Great News! We have made our Goal.

Keith Wilson - Lawyer

From: Alberta Landowners Council

Through the generosity of concerned people across the province, Alberta Landowners Council has reached the goal of $60,000.00 towards the Appeal of the AUC's decision regarding the Heartland Transmission Line. 252 Albertans (couples and individuals) came forward with commitments to donate.

Keith Wilson will be taking the next steps in the appeal on Wednesday, May 02, 2012 and then seeking an injunction to stop the construction of the Heartland Power Line. This is really great news. Alberta Landowners Council would like to emphasize that this has been possible because ordinary Albertans stepped up to the plate, and donated generously. You have realized how devastating this could be for all of us, and you have taken a stand to help, when it could have been so easy for you to sit back, and just watch. We are so proud of you, the donors who phoned and emailed from across this great province, to help support this effort.

We heard you tell us, with great passion and conviction that you want to help protect what is right, and are willing to donate your hard earned money to help Keith Wilson fight this 16 billion dollar boondoggle. For this, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We must also mention that none of this would have been possible if it were not for the relentless, self sacrificing effort and conviction of Lawyer Keith Wilson. He has been the beacon that has lead the way for us, always sharing his time, his expertise, and his desire to inform everyone so that we could understand how important this was for all Albertans. We are forever indebted to him for his thousands of hours of donated time.

We can all wish him the best now, as he has much work ahead of him with the Appeal, but can move forward knowing that we, ordinary Albertans are supporting him all the way. I ask that you please send your donation as soon as possible, as we are counting on all of you to complete your pledge. I will send you a receipt in the next couple of weeks.

Please make your cheque payable to:
Alberta Landowners Council 55017,
Range Road 262 Sturgeon County,
AB T8T 1A4
Write “Heartland Appeal” on the memo line of the cheque.

Caroline 1st. Scouting walkathon to Phyllis Lake

Walkers getting close to Phyllis Lake, a cool drink, hotdogs and cake
Photo and story by Helge Nome

Members of Caroline 1st. Scouting made their annual walk from the Clearwater Store to Phyllis Lake on  April 30 in overcast spring weather.  This is an annual fundraiser for the scouts, sponsored by the Caroline Lions club and supported by parent volunteers and friends.

Phyllis Lake is believed to have been created by a massive meteor impact in the distant past as it has a fairly circular deep hole in the middle. The lake was named by early surveyors after the first baby of European origin born in the Caroline area.
For more scout and lake photos go to Alberta West Photos here

Caroline's Got Talent - Spring 2012 show

Jenna Pengelly - singing on stage at the Caroline Complex

Story and photo by Helge Nome

The Caroline Complex was filled to capacity on the evening of April 26 as young performers showed their stuff on stage to an appreciative audience. Performances ranged from a puppet show to piano and singing with dance, magic and comedy in between.  More than 20 volunters worked in the background to make the show the success it was, both for performers and audience with excellent sound and lighting provided.

The show was put on to support fine arts in the Caroline community, leadership skills in Caroline School and a clean water project in Haiti.
For candid photos of show participants, please go to Alberta West Photos here