The Beginning Of The End
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14 Facts About The Absolutely Crazy Internet Stock Bubble That Could Crash And Burn In 2014

TwitterShouldn’t Internet companies actually “make a profit” at some point before being considered worth billions of dollars?  A lot of investors laugh when they look back at the foolishness of the “Dotcom bubble” of the late 1990s, but the tech bubble that is inflating right in front of our eyes today is actually far worse.  For example, what would you say if I told you that a seven-year-old company that has a long history of not being profitable and that actually lost 64 million dollars last quarter is worth more than 13 billion dollars?  You would probably say that I was insane, but the company that I have just described is Twitter and Wall Street is going crazy for it right now.  Please don’t get me wrong – I actually love Twitter.  On my Twitter account I have sent out thousands of “tweets”.  Twitter is a lot of fun, and it has had a huge impact on the entire planet.  But is it worth 13 billion dollars?  Of course not.

When it comes to the Internet, what is hot today will probably not be hot tomorrow.

Do you remember MySpace?

At one time, MySpace was considered to be the undisputed king of social media.  But then something better came along (Facebook) and killed it.

It is important to keep in mind that Facebook did not even exist ten years ago.  Yes, almost everybody is using it today, but will everybody still be using it a decade from now?

Maybe.

But the way that the financial markets are valuing these firms can only be justified if they are going to make absolutely massive profits for many decades to come.

Will Twitter eventually make a little bit of money?

Probably, as long as they get their act together.

In fact, Twitter should be making significant amounts of money right now if it was being run correctly.

But will Twitter ever make 13 billion dollars?

No, that simply is not going to happen.  But that is what Wall Street says that Twitter is worth.

The utter foolishness that we are witnessing on Wall Street right now is so similar to what we saw back in the late 1990s.  It is almost as if we have learned nothing from our past mistakes.

These days I keep having flashbacks of the Pets.com sock puppet.  For those too young to remember, the following is a brief summary from Investopedia about what happened to Pets.com…

It’s impossible to think of the first Internet era without thinking of the Pets.com sock puppet. He was everywhere and was nearly as well-known as the Geico gecko is today.

That familiarity, in part, persuaded many investors to lay down money in the company’s February 2000 IPO (which was backed by Amazon.com). Pets.com raised $82.5 million – but nine months later it folded, due to major recurring losses. Part of the reason for that was aggressive advertising, but the company also lost money on virtually every item it sold. In the third quarter of 2000, Pets.com reported negative gross margins of $277,000. (The second quarter had seen a $1.7 million margin loss.) That same quarter (its last full quarter as an operating entity), the company lost $21.7 million on $9.4 million in revenue.

As for the puppet, he went on to shill for BarNone, which helps people with bad credit histories get car loans. He’s still there today, front and center on that website.

Everyone loves to laugh at the poor little sock puppet, but the truth is that the tech bubble that is inflating right now is far worse than the Dotcom bubble of the late 1990s.  The following are 14 facts about the current tech bubble that will blow your mind…

#1 In just a few days, the Twitter IPO is expected to raise close to 2 billion dollars even though Twitter actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter and has a long history of not being profitable.

#2 It is being projected that after the IPO Twitter could have a market valuation of more than 13 billion dollars.

#3 Twitter is not expected to make a profit until 2015 at the earliest.

#4 According to CNBC, Pinterest is currently valued at 3.8 billion dollars even though it has never earned a profit.

#5 Yahoo paid more than a billion dollars for Tumblr even though Tumblr’s revenues are so small that Yahoo is not even required to report them on financial statements.

#6 Snapchat, an Internet service that allows people to send out messages that “self-destruct”, is supposedly worth 4 billion dollars.  But it actually has zero revenue coming in, and many believe that it is essentially worthless as a money making enterprise.  For one extensive analysis by a tech blogger, please see this article.

#7 The stock of Rocket Fuel, an online advertising company, is trading at about 60 dollars a share and it has a market valuation of about 2 billion dollars even though it has never made a profit.

#8 The stock of local business review website Yelp is up 241 percent this year even though it has never earned a quarterly profit.

#9 Fab.com just raised 165 million dollars from investors even though it recently laid off 44o employees.

#10 LinkedIn stock has risen in price by 136 percent since the 2011 IPO, and it is now supposedly worth more than 18 billion dollars.

#11 The head of engineering at Twitter, Chris Fry, got a 10.3 million dollar pay package when he joined Twitter last year.

#12 Facebook’s VP of engineering, Mike Schroepfer, earned 24.4 million dollars in 2011.

#13 Office rents in San Francisco (where many of these tech companies are based) are now 23 percent higher than they were at the peak of the real estate market in 2008.

#14 Facebook stock is up close to 140 percent over the past 12 months and the company is now worth more than 120 billion dollars.

And I am certainly not the only one that is concerned that we are repeating the mistakes of the late 1990s…

“When you look at valuations and look at the lack of earnings and revenue, it seems to me much like the dot-com bubble,” said Matt McCormick, a money manager at Cincinnati-based Bahl & Gaynor Inc. who helps oversee $10.2 billion. “This market looks a little frothy and Twitter is the personification of a risky trade.”

In fact, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, we have seen some of these tech stocks crash more than once during the Internet age…

“It’s fascinating to me that today’s mini-mania includes shares of Amazon, Netflix and Priceline that have previously peaked and crashed before—in some cases they’ve peaked and crashed twice before,” says Darren Pollock, portfolio manager at Cheviot Value Management. “Stocks like these have again captured the imagination of speculators. We’re skeptical that there is enough underlying intrinsic value to many of the highfliers to support today’s prices.”

So how long will it be until the current tech bubble implodes?

That is a very good question.  Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

Thousands Of Shocking Threats Of Violence By Obama Supporters On The Eve Of The Election

On social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, thousands of threats of violence were posted by supporters of Barack Obama on the evening prior to the election.  If you doubt this, just go on Twitter and do a search for keywords such as “Romney riot”, “assassinate Romney” and “if Romney wins”.  We have seen very serious threats of violence against Mitt Romney and his supporters for weeks, but little action has been taken to shut these threats of violence down, and now they are reaching a crescendo as we reach election day.  At the moment, law enforcement authorities and the mainstream media do not appear to be taking these threats of violence very seriously, but they should.  Just look at what happened when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.  Horrible rioting broke out in San Francisco and a city bus was even set on fire.  But that little bit of rioting is nothing compared to what could happen on a nationwide basis if Mitt Romney wins this election – especially if there are allegations that Romney stole the campaign.  If Romney is victorious, expect to see allegations of “voter fraud” and “election fraud” from the other side.  If there is a belief that the Republicans “cheated” (whether true or not), this would provide all of the justification that those out committing violence would need.  Many of them would actually consider themselves to be “standing up for democracy” or “fighting for their rights”.  Hopefully the scenario that I just outlined will not play out.  Hopefully Obama supporters will be calm if Romney is declared the winner.  But we would be very foolish to ignore the thousands upon thousands of threats that we have seen over the past few weeks.

This is a topic I have written about before, and I received quite a bit of criticism for writing about it.  Apparently supporters of Barack Obama should be allowed to endlessly spew out threats of physical violence against Mitt Romney and his supporters and nobody is ever supposed to say anything about it.

Yes, there are a lot of Republicans that are saying some very cruel things about Barack Obama, but people know that if you make a physical threat against Barack Obama you are likely to get a visit from the Secret Service.

Apparently the same thing does not apply to threats against Mitt Romney.  Every single hour, large numbers of physical threats directed at him and his supporters continue to pour in.  If these people mean just a small fraction of what they are saying, we are going to see American cities burn if Romney wins.

Most of the examples that I could have included below I decided not to post because of the vulgar language used.  A lot of children will end up reading this, and so I decided to try to keep it as clean as possible.

The following are just a few examples of some of the “cleaner” threats of physical violence and rioting that have been posted on Twitter just tonight…

If obama doesn not win im gonna go burn down every house who has mitt romney signs outside their house! (Link)

If mitt Romney win tomorrow, point blank, we might just start a riot ! # Team Obama tho, so I got faith in our president. (Link)

If Romney wins, we gona start a riot (Link)

if Obama wins i will burn every romney sign in breezewood! (Link)

I always wanted to be in a Riot , and if Romney wins my dream might come true. (Link)

If Mitt Romney wins; I might go around blowing heads off (Link)

RT @Ska_Supernova: If romney win imma start a riot! (Link)

Lol but if you go for Mitt Romney i’m not going to burn you alive because that’s whatever you believe in. I’m #teamobama tho (Link)

Romney better start digging his grave cuz if he become president somebody might assassinate him..ALL BLACKS AND MIDDLE CLASS GONE TURN UP!!! (Link)

I would personally assassinate Mitt Romney if he wins… but I think Al Qaeda will beat me too it! (Link)

If Romney gets elected I’m going to burn down the White House so he doesn’t have a home (Link)

Trust me, it gets a lot worse than what you just read.  You can see more threats against Romney and his supporters from recent days in this article right here.  But please be warned, some of the language used is quite shocking.

Of course many in the mainstream media insist that we don’t even have to worry about what might happen if Romney wins because Obama “has it all locked up”.

For example, as I am writing this Nate Silver of the New York Times is projecting that Barack Obama has a 92.2% chance of winning the election.

Other publications are expressing similar sentiments.  An article on Business Insider today had the following headline: “Either The Polls Are All Wrong, Or Mitt Romney Doesn’t Really Have A Viable Path To Win The Election“.

I honestly don’t know how people get paid to write that kind of stuff.  This election is super close and it has been for months.  According to the latest Gallup tracking poll, Mitt Romney has a one point lead over Barack Obama with likely voters.  A lot of people on both sides are proclaiming that it will be a landslide for their guy, but I simply do not see it that way.

This is going to be close.  In fact, we may not have a winner on Tuesday night.  In fact, if it goes into the courts we may not have a winner for weeks.

We could very easily end up with another Bush v. Gore scenario.  Only this time it might tear the entire nation apart.  Obama and Romney both have hordes of lawyers ready to roll, and neither of them would hesitate to contest the results of the election if there is still a realistic chance of winning.

The funny thing is that it really does not matter that much which candidate wins anyway.  Our nation has been going downhill for decades no matter who has been in the White House, and it will continue to go downhill under either Obama or Romney.  When you take a very close look at their policy positions, they actually agree far more than they disagree, and no matter who wins this race the next four years are going to be worse for America than the last four years have been.

But like so many millions of other Americans, I find election night to be absolutely fascinating.  So I will be glued to my television just like so many other Americans will be.

And I think that a number of states will end up being much closer than most people originally thought that they would be.

For example, I believe that Romney has a very real shot of winning Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  I am not predicting that he definitely will win those states, but he does have a legitimate chance.

Romney might even make things interesting in Minnesota, although that is more of a long shot.

It should be very interesting to see how it all plays out.

Many Americans are happy that this election season will soon be over, but unfortunately this election should not really be viewed as the end of something.  Rather, I believe that it will be the beginning of a disturbing new chapter in American history.

A whole host of polls and surveys have shown that the American people are angrier today than just about at any other point since World War II.  In recent months, this anger and frustration have been bottled up as people have waited for election day.  Right now, true believers on both the red team and the blue team are optimistic about the future because they are totally convinced that they are going to win this election.

But when a winner is finally announced, close to half the country is immediately going to be bitterly disappointed.  And then when things continue to get worse in this country despite “their guy” winning, the winning side is not going to be so pleased either.

This election could end up being the “release point” for a lot of the anger and frustration that have been building up in this country for a very long time.  You can almost feel the tension in the air.  All it is going to take is just the right “spark” to set it off.

If you have any political signs in your yard or any political bumper stickers on your car, you might want to start taking them down – especially if you live in a densely populated area.  Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, but I wouldn’t count on it.  There is just so much hate and anger out there right now.

So pray for peace, but also watch your back.

Are You Better Off? 40 Statistics That Will Absolutely Shock You

Are you better off today than you were four years ago?  This is a question that comes up nearly every election.  This year the Romney campaign has even created a Twitter hashtag for it: #AreYouBetterOff.  The Democrats are making lots of speeches claiming that we are better off, and the Republicans are making lots of speeches claiming that we are not.  So are most Americans actually better off than they were four years ago?  Of course not.  One recent poll found that only 20 percent of Americans believe that they are better off financially than they were four years ago.  But the same thing was true four years ago as well.  Our economy has been in decline and the middle class has been shrinking for a very long time.  The Democrats want to put all of the blame on the Republicans for this, and the Republicans want to put all of the blame on the Democrats for this.  A recent CNN headline defiantly declared the following: “Decline of middle class not Obama’s fault“, and this is the kind of thing we are going to hear day after day until the election in November.  But obviously something has gone fundamentally wrong with our economy.  So who should we blame?

Sadly, you hear very little on the mainstream news networks or the talk radio shows about the institution that has the most power over our economy.  The Federal Reserve has far more power over our financial system than anyone else does, but the media and both political parties tell us that the Federal Reserve is “above politics” and that their “independence” must never be questioned.

Unfortunately, most Americans have gone along with that.

But the truth is that the debt-based financial system that the Federal Reserve is at the core of is absolutely central to our economic problems.  If you do not understand this, please see this article: “10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve“.

The Federal Reserve has done more to mess up our economy than anyone else has.

So shouldn’t they be held accountable?

That is a very good question.

Have you ever wondered why financial markets move so dramatically whenever Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gives a speech?

The same thing does not happen when Barack Obama gives a speech.

That is because the financial markets know who holds the real power in our financial system.

But during this election season the American people are told to put all of their attention on the “red team” and the “blue team”.  We are told that the two major political parties are philosophical opposites and that they want to take the United States is two completely different directions.

The “true believers” on the blue team are completely and totally convinced that Barack Obama will be able to rescue the economy and save America.

The “true believers” on the red team are completely and totally convinced that Mitt Romney will be able to rescue the economy and save America.

Once upon a time I was one of those political activists.  I was fully convinced that America could be turned around if we could just get enough Republicans into office.

But then I noticed that nothing really seemed to change no matter who was in power.  I became disillusioned as I realized that Republicans were doing things pretty much the exact same way that Democrats were doing them when they got into power.

Yes, there are some minor differences between the two parties on taxes and regulations.

If we elect one guy over the other our economy might decline at a slightly different pace.

But in the end both political parties are taking us to the exact same place.

Down the toilet.

I wish that wasn’t true.

But we need to be honest with ourselves….

-Both parties fully support the Federal Reserve.

-Both parties supported the nomination of Ben Bernanke to a second term as the head of the Federal Reserve.

-Both parties endlessly push the job-killing “free trade” agenda of the global elite.

-Both parties see nothing wrong with running absolutely enormous trade deficits with the rest of the world.

-Both parties supported TARP.

-Both parties supported the “economic stimulus” packages.

-Both parties supported the auto industry bailouts.

-Both parties have run up massive amounts of federal debt when in power.

-Both parties have greatly expanded the size of the federal government when in power.

-Both parties are full of control freaks and both parties have added more layers of ridiculous regulations to our already overburdened society when in power.

-Neither party supports getting rid of the income tax or the IRS.

-Neither party has any intention of doing anything to prevent the coming derivatives crisis that could bring down the entire global financial system.

-Both parties are absolutely showered with cash from the big Wall Street banks.

-Both parties think that the TSA is doing a great job.

-Both parties supported the NDAA and the renewal of the Patriot Act.

-Both parties have greatly expanded the unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens by government agencies.

-Both parties are extremely soft on illegal immigration.

-Both parties have treated military veterans horribly.

-Both parties are absolutely packed with corrupt politicians that are living the high life at your expense.

-Neither party plans to balance the federal budget in 2013 if their candidate wins the election.

-Neither party has a plan that will fix our deeply broken health care system.

-Neither party has any plans to shut down the Federal Reserve.  In fact, both parties see absolutely nothing wrong with our current system.

Of course this list could go on indefinitely, but hopefully you get the point.

But I can understand those that are deeply frustrated with Barack Obama and that desperately want to avoid another four years of his policies.

I also believe that Barack Obama has been the worst president in U.S. history and that he and his entire cabinet should immediately resign in disgrace.

However, the Republican party foolishly chose to nominate the Republican candidate that was most like Barack Obama to run against him.

That was an enormous mistake.

No matter what the talk radio shows are telling you, the truth is that this country will continue on pretty much the same path no matter who wins the election.

I know that statement is going to make a lot of people angry.  But it is the sad reality of what we are facing.

Even if you focus on just the economy, the truth is that Mitt Romney’s “five point plan” is almost exactly the same thing that Barack Obama has been saying.

Many Americans believe that since Mitt Romney made lots of money on Wall Street conducting leveraged buyouts of vulnerable corporations that he understands how to fix our economy.

Sadly, that is not the truth.

I have listened to many Romney speeches about the economy and I keep waiting for some pearls of wisdom, but I have found that he is just as clueless about the economy as our other recent presidents have been.

Look, I know that there are a lot of people out there that have good hearts that want to have someone that they can believe in.

They want to believe that things can get better.

They want to have hope.

And I don’t blame them for that.

I just think that it is time to pull our heads out of the sand and realize that things are not going to be getting any better.

A political savior on a white horse is not going to come riding in to save the day.

So by this point in the article a whole lot of Democrats and a whole lot of Republicans are very upset with me.

But I am not against you.  There is way too much hate in our society today.  Even if we disagree with someone else we can still love them.

I just think that it is very important that we understand that there is not going to be a solution to our problems on the national level and that our economy is headed for collapse no matter who gets elected.

The total amount of debt in the United States has risen from less than 2 trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars over the past 40 years, and there is nothing that Barack Obama or Mitt Romney can do to prevent the “correction” that is coming.

So are Americans better off than they were four years ago?

Of course not.

But things will soon get a whole lot worse no matter how the election turns out.

The following are 40 statistics that will absolutely shock you….

#1 During the time Barack Obama has been in the White House, median household income has fallen by 7.3 percent.

#2 Back in 2007, 19.2 percent of all American families had a net worth of zero or less than zero.  By 2010, that figure had soared to 32.5 percent.

#3 According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of American families dropped “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.

#4 According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.

#5 Back in 1970, middle income Americans brought home 62 percent of all income in the United States.  In 2010, middle income Americans only brought home 45 percent of all income.

#6 The unemployment rate in the United States has been above 8 percent for 42 straight months.

#7 The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been below 59 percent for 35 months in a row.

#8 In June, the number of Americans added to the food stamp rolls was nearly three times larger than the number of jobs added to the U.S. economy.

#9 Approximately 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.

#10 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the number of long-term unemployed Americans has risen from 2.7 million to 5.2 million.

#11 Today, the average duration of unemployment in the United States is about three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

#12 According to a report that has just been released by the National Employment Law Project, 58 percent of the jobs that have been created since the end of the recession have been low paying jobs.

#13 According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, only 24.6 percent of all of the jobs in the United States are “good jobs”.

#14 In 2010, the number of jobs created at new businesses in the United States was less than half of what it was back in the year 2000.

#15 The average pay for self-employed Americans fell by $3,721 between 2006 and 2010.

#16 According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, America has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities a day over the last 10 years.  During 2010 it got even worse.  That year, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day shut down in the United States.

#17 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#18 While Barack Obama has been president the velocity of money has plunged to a post-World War II low.

#19 According to one recent survey, 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today compared with 10 years ago.

#20 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

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

#22 Over the past decade, health insurance premiums have risen three times faster than wages have in the United States.

#23 Health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent since Barack Obama became president.

#24 As I wrote about yesterday, back in 1980 less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP was spent on health care but now about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.

#25 In a previous article, I noted that 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

#26 Family budgets in America are being stretched to the breaking point.  Today, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

#27 While Barack Obama has been president, U.S. home values have fallen by another 11 percent.

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

#29 The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita.  Today we have slipped to #11.

#30 Since Barack Obama became president, the number of Americans living in poverty has risen by 6.4 million.

#31 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from about 17 million in the year 2000 to 31.9 million when Barack Obama entered the White House to 46.7 million today.

#32 Approximately one-fourth of all U.S. children are enrolled in the food stamp program at this point.

#33 It is being projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.

#34 It is estimated that child homelessness in the United States has risen by 33 percent since 2007.

#35 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#36 As I wrote about the other day, it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#37 It is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

#38 The number of Americans receiving federal housing assistance increased by a whopping 42 percent between 2006 and 2010.

#39 At this point, well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.

#40 Amazingly, more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government.

So are you better off than you used to be or worse off?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

America On Fire: Why Is The Number Of Wildfires In The United States Increasing?

As America watches large sections of Colorado literally burn to the ground, many are wondering why all of this is happening.  There have always been wildfires, but what we are experiencing now seems very unusual.  So is the number of wildfires in the United States increasing?  As you will see later in this article, the answer is yes.  2011 was a record setting year for wildfires and this wildfire season is off to a very frightening start.  Right now the eyes of the nation are focused on the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado.  It doubled in size overnight and it has consumed more than 300 homes so far.  It is threatening the city of Colorado Springs, and at this point more than 35,000 people have been forced to evacuate – including the U.S. Air Force Academy.  On Twitter and Facebook residents are describing what they are seeing as “the apocalypse” and as “the end of the world”.  But this is just the beginning of the wildfire season.  We haven’t even gotten to July and August yet.

The Waldo Canyon fire is rapidly becoming one of the most expensive and destructive wildfires in Colorado history.  The historic Flying W Ranch has already been burned totally to the ground by this fire.  Local authorities are struggling to find the words to describe how nightmarish this fire is.  The following are a couple of quotes from a CNN article….

Richard Brown, the Colorado Springs fire chief, described it as a “firestorm of epic proportions.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper surveyed the Waldo Canyon Fire, telling reporters it was a difficult sight to see.

“There were people’s homes burned to the ground. It was surreal,” he said late Tuesday night. “There’s no question, it’s serious. It’s as serious as it gets.”

But this is not the only wildfire that is raging in Colorado.  Right now there are 10 wildfires burning in the state.  Overall, there are 33 large wildfires currently burning in twelve U.S. states.

If you will remember, New Mexico just experienced one of the worst wildfires that it has ever seen.  Conditions throughout most of the western United States are ideal for wildfires right now.  As USA Today reports, much of the western half of the country is under a “red flag warning” right now….

Throughout the interior West, firefighters have toiled for days in searing, record-setting heat against fires fueled by prolonged drought. Most, if not all, of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana were under red flag warnings, meaning extreme fire danger.

But wait, didn’t this kind of thing happen last year too?

Yes it did.

In fact, 2011 was one of the worst years ever for wildfires in America.  The following is a short excerpt from an EarthSky article….

Thousands of wildfires raged across the United States last year, 2011, burning a record amount of land, especially in the southern U.S. In fact, 2011 the third-most-active fire season since 1960 (when this record-keeping began) with respect to acres burned, according to preliminary data released from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in late December 2011. The NIFC will be releasing an official summary report detailing the 2011 wildfire season later in 2012, but for now you can read some of the details in the State of the Climate Wildfires 2011 report from NOAA.

During 2011, a total of 73,484 wildfires burned an estimated 8,706,852 acres (35,235 square kilometers) of land across the United States. Wildfire activity during 2011 was exceptionally high and was only exceeded in the historical record by wildfire activity during the years 2006 and 2007.

We have seen highly unusual wildfire activity throughout America in recent years.  In the article quoted above you can find a chart which shows that wildfire activity in the United States has been far above normal during the past decade.

Wildfire records have only been kept since 1960.  The 6 worst years on record for wildfires in the U.S. have all happened since the year 2000.  The following is from an Earth Island Journal article that I found….

In the United States, where some of the most accurate wildfire statistics are kept, the six worst fire seasons in the past 50 years have occurred since 2000. In Texas, nearly 4 million acres were burned in 2011, double the previous record. This included the Bastrop Fire last September that destroyed 1,600 homes and became the most destructive fire in Texas history. In Arizona more than one million acres were burned in 2011, a new record. The Wallow Fire, which destroyed nearly a half million acres, was the largest fire in Arizona history. The Pagami Creek Fire in northern Minnesota became the third largest fire in state history when it burned 100,000 acres in September 2011, most of this in an unprecedented 16-mile run on a single day.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that the number of wildfires in the United States is increasing and wildfires are becoming more powerful and doing more damage.

So what is causing all of this?

The truth is that this is happening because we are seeing exceptionally dry conditions throughout the western half of the United States.  In fact, according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. interior west is now the driest that it has been in 500 years.

The eastern half of the country also gets very hot during the summer, but they don’t have as many wildfires because they get a lot more rain.

Many areas in the western half of the country have been experiencing drought conditions for quite a few years, and there seems to be no end in sight for the drought.

If you go check out the U.S. drought monitor, you will see that almost the entire southwest United States is experiencing some level of drought right now.

So what will July and August bring?

It is kind of frightening to think about that.

Earlier this year I wrote an article that postulated that we could actually see dust bowl conditions return to the middle of the United States.  Many readers were skeptical of that article.

But as much of the western United States continues to experience bone dry conditions and continues to be ravaged by wildfires, perhaps more people will understand how bad things are really getting in the interior west.

Just because we have made great technological advances as a society does not mean that we know how to tame nature.  We can attempt to contain the massive wildfires that are popping up all over the place and we can attempt to deal with the drought, but in the end we cannot stop what is happening.

So do you live in any of the areas that are being affected by these wildfires?

Do you have an opinion about why so much of America is on fire?

Please feel free to post a comment with your opinion below….

The Federal Reserve Plans To Identify “Key Bloggers” And Monitor Billions Of Conversations About The Fed On Facebook, Twitter, Forums And Blogs

The Federal Reserve wants to know what you are saying about it.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has announced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs.  This is yet another sign that the alternative media is having a dramatic impact.  As first reported on Zero Hedge, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has issued a “Request for Proposal” to suppliers who may be interested in participating in the development of a “Sentiment Analysis And Social Media Monitoring Solution”.  In other words, the Federal Reserve wants to develop a highly sophisticated system that will gather everything that you and I say about the Federal Reserve on the Internet and that will analyze what our feelings about the Fed are.  Obviously, any “positive” feelings about the Fed would not be a problem.  What they really want to do is to gather information on everyone that views the Federal Reserve negatively.  It is unclear how they plan to use this information once they have it, but considering how many alternative media sources have been shut down lately, this is obviously a very troubling sign.

You can read this “Request for Proposal” right here.  Posted below are some of the key quotes from the document (in bold) with some of my own commentary in between the quotes….

“The intent is to establish a fair and equitable partnership with a market leader who will who gather data from various social media outlets and news sources and provide applicable reporting to FRBNY. This Request for Proposal (“RFP”) was created in an effort to support FRBNY’s Social Media Listening Platforms initiative.”

A system like this is not cheap.  Apparently the Federal Reserve Bank of New York believes that gathering all of this information is very important.  In recent years, criticism of the Federal Reserve has become very intense, and most of this criticism has been coming from the Internet.  It has gotten to the point where the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has decided that it had better listen to what is being said and find out who is saying it.

“Social media listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources.  They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria.  They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York intends to listen in on “billions of conversations” and to actually determine the “sentiment” of those that are participating in those conversations.

Of course it will be those conversations that are “negative” about the Federal Reserve that will be setting off the alarm bells.

“Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers”

Uh oh.  So they plan to “identify” key bloggers and influencers?

What exactly do they plan to do once they “identify” them?

“The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms –Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube.”

Hopefully you understand this already, but nothing posted on the Internet is ever anonymous.  Everything on the Internet is gathered by a vast host of organizations and is used for a wide variety of purposes.  Data mining has become a billion dollar industry, and it is only going to keep growing.

You may think that you are “anonymous” when you criticize organizations like the Fed, but the truth is that if you are loud enough they will see it and they will make a record of it.

“The solution must provide real-time monitoring of relevant conversations.  It should provide sentiment analysis (positive, negative or neutral) around key conversational topics.”

Why do they need to perform “sentiment analysis”?

If someone is identified as being overly “negative” about the Fed, what will they do about it?

“The solution should provide an alerting mechanism that automatically sends out reports or notifications based a predefined trigger.”

This sounds very much like the kind of “keyword” intelligence gathering systems that are currently in use by major governments around the globe.

Very, very creepy stuff.

Are you disturbed yet?

For those of us that write about the Federal Reserve a lot, this is very sobering news.

I wonder what the Fed will think about the following articles that I have posted on this site….

*Unelected, Unaccountable, Unrepentant: The Federal Reserve Is Using Your Money To Bail Out European Commercial Banks Once Again

*Celebrating Independence Yet Enslaved To Debt

*19 Reasons Why The Federal Reserve Is At The Heart Of Our Economic Problems

*Is Ben Bernanke A Liar, A Lunatic Or Is He Just Completely And Totally Incompetent?

*10 Things That Would Be Different If The Federal Reserve Had Never Been Created

What is their “Social Media Monitoring Solution” going to think about those articles?

Unfortunately, this is all part of a very disturbing trend.

Recently, a very creepy website known as “Attack Watch” was launched to gather information on those saying “negative” things about Barack Obama.

Suddenly, everyone seems obsessed with what you and I are saying.

This just shows how the power of the alternative media is growing.

Not only that, but it seems as though the government also wants to gather as much information on all of us as possible.

For example, a new rule is being proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services that would force health insurance companies to submit detailed health care information about all of their customers to the federal government.

Every single day our privacy is being stripped away a little bit more.

But now it is often not just enough for them to know what we are doing and saying.  Instead, the “authorities” are increasingly stepping in to silence important voices.

One of the most recent examples of this was when Activistpost was taken down by Google.  We are still awaiting word on why this was done.

Sadly, the silencing of Activistpost is far from an isolated incident.

Hordes of YouTube accounts have been shut down for their political viewpoints.

Quite a few very prominent alternative media websites have been censored or attacked because of what they stand for.

So why is this happening?  Well, it turns out that the power of the alternative media is growing.  According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press, 43 percent of Americans say that they get their news on national and international issues from the Internet.  Back in 1999, that figure was sitting at just 6 percent.

The American people are sick and tired of getting “canned news”, and they are increasingly turning to the Internet in a search for the truth.

As I have written about previously, the mainstream media in this country is overwhelmingly dominated by just 6 very powerful corporations….

Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations.  These corporate behemoths control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day.  They own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites. Sadly, most Americans don’t even stop to think about who is feeding them the endless hours of news and entertainment that they constantly ingest.  Most Americans don’t really seem to care about who owns the media.  But they should.  The truth is that each of us is deeply influenced by the messages that are constantly being pounded into our heads by the mainstream media.  The average American watches 153 hours of television a month.  In fact, most Americans begin to feel physically uncomfortable if they go too long without watching or listening to something.  Sadly, most Americans have become absolutely addicted to news and entertainment and the ownership of all that news and entertainment that we crave is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands each year.

The “news” that we get from various mainstream sources seems to always be so similar.  It is as if nearly all mainstream news organizations are reading from the same script.  The American people know that they are not getting the whole truth and they have been increasingly looking to alternative sources.

The monopoly over the news that the mainstream media once possessed has been broken.  The alternative media is now creating some huge problems for organizations that were once very closely protected by the mainstream media.

The American people are starting to wake up and they are starting to get very upset about a lot of the corruption that has been going on in our society.

But it turns out that the “authorities” don’t like it too much when Americans try to actually exercise free speech in America today.  For example, you can see recent video of female protesters in New York City being penned in by police and then brutally maced right here.

Are you sickened by that?

You should be.

What the “authorities” want is for us to shut up, sit in our homes and act as if nothing wrong is happening.

Meanwhile, they seem determined to watch us more closely than ever.

So are you going to be afraid to talk negatively about the Federal Reserve now that you know that they are going to be watching what you say on the Internet?

Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

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