It’s Tuesday, March 27th, 2012….and before we begin, a few brief comments on the Trayvon Martin “case”.  First, the law which had nothing to do with Trayvon’s death:

Second, the same, tired, divisive tripe from a President elected to serve and protect ALL Americans, not just citizens of one, particular….

….color.

The Obamao knows as much about this investigation as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Father Pfleger, you and we do….which is not one helluva lot.  The demonstrations and protestations of the professionally sensitive aside, the Sanford police department conducted an investigation and concluded Zimmerman’s actions were within the law.

We for one are willing to wait for the wheels of justice to finish turning before presuming anything; for all we know, Zimmerman may have been a disturbed individual looking for someone to shoot.  But from what we’ve heard of the testimony of the only eyewitness to the incident, reasonable doubt exists as to the criminality of Trayvon’s shooting.  And one thing’s for certain: a Florida gun law did NOT shoot Trayvon Martin.

Unfortunately, the facts don’t fit with the timing and political aspirations of those who would turn this into a racially-inspired act of hatred.  Funny the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the Urban League, ACLU, Ray Lewis and Santonio Holmes were too busy to appear on behalf of the WHITE Kansas City high school student was set on fire by two BLACK teens….

Note the reporter didn’t see fit to mention what the Black teens ACTUALLY said: “You get what you deserve, WHITE BOY!”  Which is only in keeping with Kansas City authorities refusal to classify the attack as a hate crime.

After all, being White, the kid was just getting what he deserved!

Now, here’s The Gouge!

First up, Round 1 of ObamaScare On Trial; so far, so good:

ObamaCare Opening Day

‘I would not argue that this statute is a perfect model of clarity.’

 

The Supreme Court’s epic oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act began Monday with a kind of tease. The 90-minute exchange explored a technical side issue about taxes, but even so it suggested that the Justices will rule on the merits and are skeptical of some of the Obama Administration’s claims.

The issue involves the Anti-Injunction Act, an 1867 law that says taxpayers can’t challenge a tax until it’s collected. ObamaCare’s individual mandate says everyone must buy health insurance or pay a penalty, but it doesn’t kick in until 2014, so the Court could use this law to defer a final decision on the mandate’s constitutionality.

The Obama Administration argued that the mandate is not a tax under the Anti-Injunction Act, because like the 26 state plaintiffs it wants the Court to rule on the merits. The irony is that Tuesday the Administration will turn around and claim the mandate is a legal exercise of Congress’s taxing power. Monday’s proceedings indicate the government may have some trouble making that case, even among the High Court’s liberals.

“Now, here, Congress has nowhere used the word ‘tax,'” noted Justice Stephen Breyer. And so why is this a tax?” he asked the Court-appointed attorney Robert Long. The Justice later added that “they called it a penalty and not a tax for a reason. They wanted it to fall outside that.” Justice Breyer may be referring to ObamaCare’s statutory language, though he could also cite the drafters’ many public professions that the individual mandate is not a tax. The Obama Democrats structured the mandate under the Commerce Clause in a bid to escape political accountability for raising taxes.

Justice Elena Kagan asked Mr. Long, “aren’t you trying to rewrite the statute, in a way? . . . Congress, it must be supposed, you know, made a decision that that shouldn’t be the way the statute reads, that it should instead be a regulatory command and a penalty attached to that command.” Mr. Long deadpanned, in the understatement of the decade, “Well, I would not argue that this statute is a perfect model of clarity.” (After all, who could expect clarity in a 2,200-page piece of legislative sleight-of-hand?!?)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also doubted that the mandate is a tax, which is particularly notable because most everyone on the legal left thinks the law is more than vindicated by the taxing power, open and shut. Well, not so fast. We’ll learn more when the Court tackles the individual mandate today.

Stay tuned for Round 2; this one ain’t gonna be over ’til it’s over!

Speaking of the policies of a man devoted to the destruction of the nation and Constitution he’s sworn to protect and defend….

During missile defense talk, Obama tells Medvedev he’ll have ‘more flexibility’ after election

 

Just give me ’til after November….then no one will be able to prevent my surrendering America’s missile secrets!

President Obama assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Monday that he’d have “more flexibility” after the November election, during a conversation that appeared to focus on the touchy issue of missile defense. Obama, during a sit-down with Medvedev in Seoul, urged Moscow to give him “space” until after November. The conversation was relayed by a TV pool producer who listened to the recording from a Russian journalist.

This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility,” Obama told Medvedev.

Obama appeared to be asking Medvedev to relay this point to Vladimir Putin, who recently won election to return to the Russian presidency. “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense … this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama said.

Medvedev told the president he understood the “message about space. Space for you …” After Obama noted he’d have more flexibility in the future, Medvedev told him: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

It’s a Marxist thing….you wouldn’t understand!  Bottomline: even The Obamao, at least for the time being, requires Senate consent to any missile treaty with the Russians.  Which is why we believe what Tick-Tock’s talking about has nothing to do with treaties, but rather his pulling a page from the old Clinton playbook and giving the Russians highly-classified missile technology.  The Clintons committed treason for mere pottage, i.e., campaign contributions; but The Obamao, like Neville Chamberlain before him, sees selling out his country as the price for….

….”peace” in his time.

Next up, in a forward from Speed Mach, Mark Steyn, writing in National Review Online, forecasts America’s imminent fall:

The Sun Also Sets

 

I was in Australia earlier this month and there, as elsewhere on my recent travels, the consensus among the politicians I met (at least in private) was that Washington lacked the will for meaningful course correction, and that, therefore, the trick was to ensure that, when the behemoth goes over the cliff, you’re not dragged down with it. It is faintly surreal to be sitting in paneled offices lined by formal portraits listening to eminent persons who assume the collapse of the dominant global power is a fait accompli. “I don’t feel America is quite a First World country anymore,” a robustly pro-American Aussie told me, with a sigh of regret.

Well, what does some rinky-dink ’roo-infested didgeridoo mill on the other side of the planet know about anything? Fair enough. But Australia was the only major Western nation not to go into recession after 2008. And in the last decade the U.S. dollar has fallen by half against the Oz buck: That’s to say, in 2002, one greenback bought you a buck-ninety Down Under; now it buys you 95 cents. More of that a bit later.

I have now returned from Oz to the Emerald City, where everything is built with borrowed green. President Obama has run up more debt in three years than President Bush did in eight, and he plans to run up more still — from ten trillion in 2008 to fifteen and a half trillion now to 20 trillion and beyond. Onward and upward! The president doesn’t see this as a problem, nor do his party, and nor do at least forty-something percent of the American people. The Democrats’ plan is to have no plan, and their budget is not to budget at all. “We don’t need to bring a budget,” said Harry Reid. Why tie yourself down? “We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution,” the treasury secretary told House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan.What we do know is we don’t like yours.”

Nor do some of Ryan’s fellow conservatives. Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, for whom I have a high regard, was among those representatives who appeared at the Heritage Foundation to express misgivings regarding the Ryan plan’s timidity. They’re not wrong on that: The alleged terrorizer of widows and orphans does not propose to balance the budget of the government of the United States until the year 2040. That would be 27 years after Congressman Ryan’s current term of office expires. Who knows what could throw a wrench in those numbers? Suppose Beijing decides to seize Taiwan. The U.S. is obligated to defend it militarily. But U.S. taxpayers would be funding both sides of the war — the home team, via the Pentagon budget, and the Chinese military, through the interest payments on the debt. (We’ll be bankrolling the entire People’s Liberation Army by some point this decade.) A Beijing–Taipei conflict would be, in budget terms, a U.S. civil war relocated to the Straits of Taiwan. Which is why plans for mid-century are of limited value. When the most notorious extreme callous budget-slasher of the age cannot foresee the government living within its means within the next three decades, you begin to appreciate why foreign observers doubt whether there’ll be a 2040, not for anything recognizable as “the United States.”

Yet it’s widely agreed that Ryan’s plan is about as far as you can push it while retaining minimal political viability. (Pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered!) A second-term Obama would roar full throttle to the cliff edge, while a President Romney would be unlikely to do much more than ease off to third gear. At this point, it’s traditional for pundits to warn that if we don’t change course we’re going to wind up like Greece. Presumably they mean that, right now, our national debt, which crossed the Rubicon of 100 percent of GDP just before Christmas, is not as bad as that of Athens, although it’s worse than Britain, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, and every other European nation except Portugal, Ireland, and Italy. Or perhaps they mean that America’s current deficit-to-GDP ratio is not quite as bad as Greece’s, although it’s worse than that of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and every other European nation except Ireland.

But these comparisons tend to understate the insolvency of America, failing as they do to take into account state and municipal debts and public pension liabilities. When Morgan Stanley ran those numbers in 2009, the debt-to-revenue ratio in Greece was 312 percent; in the United States it was 358 percent. If Greece has been knocking back the ouzo, we’re face down in the vat. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute calculates that, if you take into account unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare versus their European equivalents, Greece owes 875 percent of GDP; the United States owes 911 percentor getting on for twice as much as the second-most-insolvent Continental: France at 549 percent.

And if you’re thinking, Wow, all these percentages are making my head hurt, forget ’em: When you’re spending on the scale Washington does, what matters is the hard dollar numbers. Greece’s total debt is a few rinky-dink billions, a rounding error in the average Obama budget. Only America is spending trillions. The 2011 budget deficit, for example, is about the size of the entire Russian economy. By 2010, the Obama administration was issuing about a hundred billion dollars of treasury bonds every month — or, to put it another way, Washington is dependent on the bond markets being willing to absorb an increase of U.S. debt equivalent to the GDP of Canada or India — every year. And those numbers don’t take into account the huge levels of personal debt run up by Americans. College-debt alone is over a trillion dollars, or the equivalent of the entire South Korean economytied up just in one small boutique niche market of debt which barely exists in most other developed nations.

“We are headed for the most predictable economic crisis in history,” says Paul Ryan. And he’s right. But precisely because it’s so predictable the political class has already discounted it. Which is why a plan for pie now and spinach later, maybe even two decades later, is the only real menu on the table. There’s a famous exchange in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Someone asks Mike Campbell, “How did you go bankrupt?” Two ways,” he replies. “Gradually, then suddenly.” We’ve been going through the gradual phase so long, we’re kinda used to it. But it’s coming to an end, and what happens next will be the second way: sudden, and very bad.

By the way, that decline in the U.S./Australian exchange isn’t the only one. Ten years ago the U.S. dollar was worth 1.6 Canadian; now it’s at par. A decade ago, the dollar was worth over ten Swedish Kroner, now 6.7; 1.8 Singapore dollars, now 1.2. I get asked with distressing frequency by Americans where I would recommend fleeing to. The reality is, given the dollar’s decline over the last decade, that most Americans can no longer afford to flee to any place worth fleeing to. What’s left is the non-flee option: taking a stand here, stopping the spendaholism, closing federal agencies, privatizing departments, block-granting to the states — not in 2040, but now. Suddenly” is about to show up.

And since we’re on the subject of this President’s inexplicable enthrallment of the insolvent and infeasible, it’s the subject of the latest from Mark Helprin in the WSJ:

Obama’s Europa Complex

Why emulate countries with high budget deficits, high unemployment, low birthrates, and weak defense?

 

Both in his re-election campaign and as the core principle of his presidency, Barack Obama asks America to cast off reliance on the free market—because, in his characterization, the free market “doesn’t work”—in favor of the European model of ever-tightening, ever-regulating, ever-expanding governance. This he does, astonishingly, at the very moment of the European model’s long-predictable crisis, collapse, bankruptcy, and devolution.

With his trademark certainty he proposes—indeed, at times commands—that we follow him over the Niagara to which his back is turned. The writer Henry James cautioned that, “It’s a complex fate, being an American, & one of the responsibilities it entails is fighting against a superstitious valuation of Europe.” Promiscuous endorsement of things European, inveterate in the president’s academic coterie, has long been characteristic of American snobs. As Harvard once dispatched missionaries to better the savages, it now sends students abroad so they might better us. To be wrong on both counts requires congenital blindness to the facts, which suggest that despite our own grievous failings Europe is hardly worthy of imitation.

As a museum of culture, it has few competitors. Europeans make better movies; their cuisine is better (except in Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Scandinavia, England, Ireland, the Low Countries, Germany and Switzerland); and they do a better job of suppressing modern architecture, for which they are to be commended.

But in suppressing and over-engineering their economies they court national bankruptcies. Just as reckless are their efforts to ameliorate economic stagnation via the all-guzzling welfare state. Shall we create more jobs by aping Europe, which since 1990 has averaged 9.16% unemployment while ours was 5.95%?

European structural unemployment is supposedly tolerable in the context of less income inequality and greater social analgesia, but although income equality may be the socialist ideal, isn’t the more civilized object to provide as abundantly as possible rather than to annihilate the potential for envy? Incomes are perfectly level in the Gulag, whereas in Boston and Singapore they are not.

More to the point, giant social welfare systems cannot but strangle economies the progressive failure of which they are intended to relieve. Differences within Europe itself illustrate the route out of its troubles that it may yet take just as American progressives jump into the hole it is trying to exit. France now has in proportion to its working population 44% more public employees than Germany, and devotes 52.3% rather than Germany’s 43.7% of gross domestic product to public expenditure. Do the French, not to mention the Greeks, wonder by what magic Germany achieves its solvency?

Remarkably like the leaders of the bankrupt states of Europe, President Obama believes that the key to prosperity is to regulate, engineer, and direct the economy; to raise taxes; to augment the powers of government; to substitute collective largess for family cohesion; to spend money that does not exist; and, to paraphrase Macbeth, to borrow, to borrow, and to borrow.

In supposedly enlightened Europe, political polarization still finds expression in fascism and communism, as illustrated by the French elections of 2002, when, before the economic crisis, parties of the extreme right and left took nearly one vote in five. Should we emulate this, or the devolution of the United Kingdom, Spain and Belgium? The wars in Northern Ireland and the Balkans? The burning cities of France and Greece? Lacking the balance of our federal system, the European Union brutally overrides local preferences, and should Europe unite it will be so dirigiste and brittle a concoction it will disintegrate as surely as any empire. Shall we emulate that?

If our elites think European low birth rates, family disruption, and nihilism are hip, fine, and dandy, they should read Thomas Mann’s “Disorder and Early Sorrow” and contemplate the Weimar Republic. Having abandoned the Constitution, American universities now decide representation by race and sex, and embrace speech codes as in much of Europe, where, for example, Holocaust denial is a crime. Though it is a crime against the truth, it should not be a crime against the law, which could as easily prohibit predication of the Holocaust as it prohibits denial. Should this be our model?

Even with indispensable American aid, Europe took seven months to topple a lunatic at not quite the head of a small, corrupt, inexperienced Libyan army equipped with outdated weapons. Britain now has no fixed-wing aircraft carriers, only 25 principal surface warships (half those of South Korea), and fewer than 200 tanks and 200 combat aircraft with which barely to defend itself. That it once morally despaired of self-defense was understandable in light of the pointless carnage of the Great War. But now in light of what? Fluctuating supplies of ganja? Occasional ebbs of upper-class self-flagellation?

Save those of Russia, Germany has the most powerful land forces in Europe, but only one-sixth the tanks and artillery of Iran. No European air force except Russia’s is superior to Saudi Arabia’s. Such weakness, almost unimaginable only a short time ago, should not be our aspiration, although it has become so. Europe’s disarmament renders it virtually unable to contribute to stability abroad (once, the power of Britain alone kept the lid on the Middle East), or to deter war even on its own soil, such as in the Balkans in the 1990s. Europe is now more vulnerable than during the Cold War, and its vulnerability will only increase, stimulating the appetites of a Russia that wants above all to rebound.

If this seems far-fetched, so at one time did the world-shuddering awakenings of the Wehrmacht, the Red Army, and the forces of Imperial Japan. By abdicating its role in a stable military equilibrium, Europe is not for the first time in its long and bloody history careless of tragedy and fate, and in our own imitative disarmament we are following suit.

In short, the president and his progressives are chasing after a specter. Because the president is apparently repelled by the principles of the American Founding and lacks an alternative other than the European model, nothing else is in his quiver as he is driven by the dread of a future absent his omnipresent intervention.

For if he were no longer able to direct an endlessly augmented list of actions, to suffocate fortune and chance in the infinitely growing pillow of regulation and thus settle everything into silence, to sand down every bump, straighten every drawer, comfort every cry, iron every shirt, and protect every frog, what would America come to? We would be even less like Europe, and as anyone can see, in Europe they do everything right.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch with The Gang That Still Can’t Shoot Straight, Rick Santorum seeks to make lemonade from lemons:

Santorum: ‘Of course’ I’d consider being Romney’s running mate

 

Based on St. Santorum’s past electoral successes, that should get Romney at least 40% of the votes in the Keystone State.

Then there’s this survey whose results we find highly suspect:

America’s Most Corrupt States

 

Let’s see….considering 4 of the last 6 governors of the illustrious state of Illinois served or are serving time in prison, we’d think the Land of Lincoln topped the list, followed closely by those bastions of union cronyism Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and California.

But no!  Topping the list of this singularly suspect survey were Georgia, the Dakotas, South Carolina, Virginia, Wyoming and Maine….states which, though certainly less sophisticated than there far more Liberal counterparts, were deemed corrupt not because of what they’re politicians and officials have DONE, but what their statutes MIGHT possibly permit.

In other words….

Next up, in the Environmental Moment, as William Happer observes in the WSJ….

Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again

The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with predictions.

 

During a fundraiser in Atlanta earlier this month, President Obama is reported to have said: “It gets you a little nervous about what is happening to global temperatures. When it is 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March, you start thinking. On the other hand, I really have enjoyed nice weather.”

What is happening to global temperatures in reality? The answer is: almost nothing for more than 10 years. Monthly values of the global temperature anomaly of the lower atmosphere, complied at the University of Alabama from NASA satellite data, can be found at the website http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/. The latest (February 2012) monthly global temperature anomaly for the lower atmosphere was minus 0.12 degrees Celsius, slightly less than the average since the satellite record of temperatures began in 1979.

The lack of any statistically significant warming for over a decade has made it more difficult for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its supporters to demonize the atmospheric gas CO2 which is released when fossil fuels are burned. The burning of fossil fuels has been one reason for an increase of CO2 levels in the atmosphere to around 395 ppm (or parts per million), up from preindustrial levels of about 280 ppm.

CO2 is not a pollutant. Life on earth flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today. Increasing CO2 levels will be a net benefit because cultivated plants grow better and are more resistant to drought at higher CO2 levels, and because warming and other supposedly harmful effects of CO2 have been greatly exaggerated. Nations with affordable energy from fossil fuels are more prosperous and healthy than those without.

The direct warming due to doubling CO2 levels in the atmosphere can be calculated to cause a warming of about one degree Celsius. The IPCC computer models predict a much larger warming, three degrees Celsius or even more, because they assume changes in water vapor or clouds that supposedly amplify the direct warming from CO2. Many lines of observational evidence suggest that this “positive feedback” also has been greatly exaggerated.

There has indeed been some warming, perhaps about 0.8 degrees Celsius, since the end of the so-called Little Ice Age in the early 1800s. Some of that warming has probably come from increased amounts of CO2, but the timing of the warming—much of it before CO2 levels had increased appreciably—suggests that a substantial fraction of the warming is from natural causes that have nothing to do with mankind.

Frustrated by the lack of computer-predicted warming over the past decade, some IPCC supporters have been claiming that “extreme weather” has become more common because of more CO2. But there is no hard evidence this is true. After an unusually cold winter in 2011 (December 2010-February 2011) the winter of 2012 was unusually warm in the continental United States. But the winter of 2012 was bitter in Europe, Asia and Alaska.

Weather conditions similar to 2012 occurred in the winter of 1942, when the U.S. Midwest was unusually warm, and when the Wehrmacht encountered the formidable forces of “General Frost” in a Russian winter not unlike the one Russians just had.

Large fluctuations from warm to cold winters have been the rule for the U.S., as one can see from records kept by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA. For example, the winters of 1932 and 1934 were as warm as or warmer than the 2011-2012 one and the winter of 1936 was much colder.

Nightly television pictures of the tragic destruction from tornadoes over the past months might make one wonder if the frequency of tornadoes is increasing, perhaps due to the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. But as one can read at Andrew Revkin’s New York Times blog, dotearth, “There is no evidence of any trend in the number of potent tornadoes (category F2 and up) over the past 50 years in the United States, even as global temperatures have risen markedly.” (Even though they haven’t!)

Like winter temperatures, the numbers, severity and geographical locations of tornadoes fluctuate from year-to-year in ways that are correlated with the complicated fluid flow patterns of the oceans and atmosphere, the location of the jet stream, El Niño or La Niña conditions of the tropical Pacific Oceans, etc.

As long as the laws of nature exist, we will have tornadoes. But we can save many more lives by addressing the threat of tornadoes directly—for example, with improved and more widely dispersed weather radars, and with better means for warning the people of endangered areas—than by credulous support of schemes to reduce “carbon footprints,” or by funding even more computer centers to predict global warming.

It is easy to be confused about climate, because we are constantly being warned about the horrible things that will happen or are already happening as a result of mankind’s use of fossil fuels. But these ominous predictions are based on computer models. It is important to distinguish between what the climate is actually doing and what computer models predict. The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with model predictions.

We need high-quality climate science because of the importance of climate to mankind. But we should also remember the description of how science works by the late, great physicist, Richard Feynman:

In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience; compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong.

The most important component of climate science is careful, long-term observations of climate-related phenomena, from space, from land, and in the oceans. If observations do not support code predictions—like more extreme weather, or rapidly rising global temperatures—Feynman has told us what conclusions to draw about the theory.

But what does Happer know; he’s only a professor of physics at Princeton.  Al Gore got a “D” and a “C+” in his science courses….but that was at HARVARD!

On the Lighter Side….

And in News of Bizarre, courtesy today of Carl Polizzi, we learn….

Hippies head for Noah’s Ark: Queue here for rescue aboard alien spaceship

Thousands of New-Agers descend on mountain they see as haven from December’s apocalypse

 

A mountain looming over a French commune with a population of just 200 is being touted as a modern Noah’s Ark when doomsday arrives – supposedly less than nine months from now.

A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers – or esoterics, as locals call them – have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans near by and beam them off to the next age.

As the cataclysmic date – which, according to eschatological beliefs and predicted astrological alignments, concludes a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar – nears, the goings-on around the peak have become more bizarre and ritualistic.

For decades, there has been a belief that Pic de Bugarach, which, at 1,230 metres, is the highest in the Corbières mountain range, possesses an eery power. Often called the “upside-down mountain” – geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up – it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves.

Further, rumours persist that the country’s late president François Mitterrand was transported by helicopter on to the peak, while the Nazis, and, later, Israel’s Mossad, performed mysterious digs there. Now the nearby village is awash with New Agers, who have boosted the local economy, though their naked group climbs up to the peak have raised concerns as well as eyebrows. Among other oddities, some hikers have been spotted scaling the mountain carrying a ball with a golden ring, strung together by a single thread.

A grizzled man wearing a white linen smock, who calls himself Jean, set up a yurt in the forest a couple of years ago to prepare for the earth’s demise. “The apocalypse we believe in is the end of a certain world and the beginning of another,” he offers. “A new spiritual world. The year 2012 is the end of a cycle of suffering. Bugarach is one of the major chakras of the earth, a place devoted to welcoming the energies of tomorrow.” (Yeah….whatever.)

Upwards of 100,000 people are thought to be planning a trip to the mountain, 30 miles west of Perpignan, in time for 21 December, and opportunistic entrepreneurs are shamelessly cashing in on the phenomenon. While American travel agents have been offering special, one-way deals to witness the end of the world, a neighbouring village, Saint-Paul de Fenouillet, has produced a wine to celebrate the occasion.

Jean-Pierre Delord, the perplexed mayor of Bugarach, has flagged up the situation to the French authorities, requesting they scramble the army to the tiny village for fear of a mass suicide. It has also caught the attention of France’s sect watchdog, Miviludes.

Though we’re seriously concerned America as we know it may cease to exist November 6th, we’re not least bit worried about the world ending December 21st….though we wouldn’t mind aliens taking every New-Ager on the planet to a solar system or galaxy far, far away….along with any and every stray Liberal they might wish to abduct….and then subject to gang probing!

Finally, we’ll call it a day with the “Life Imitates Art” segment, courtesy of Jim Taranto and Borat:

The Associated Press has one of the funniest stories we’ve read in a long time:

Kazakhstan wants a probe of how a parody of its national anthem instead of the genuine song was played at an international sports competition.

Kazakhstan’s Maria Dmitrienko won a gold medal Thursday at the Arab Shooting Championships in Kuwait. But during the medal ceremony the public address system played the spoof anthem from the comedy movie “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” a film that offended many Kazakhs by portraying the country as backward and racist.

“It is, of course, a scandal and demands a thorough investigation, which we intend to conduct,” foreign ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Umm, hello? “Borat” was great, but it was only a movie. Apparently the guys at the AP think Kazakhstan is a real country.

Magoo