Daily Archives: October 26, 2011

It’s Happening: TSA on the Streets of America

It seems like Tennessee is openly creating more ways to arrest people and put them in the blood sucking machine known as the legal system.

TSA deploys on Tennessee highways

tgdaily.com | Oct 21, 2011

by David Gomez

The TSA is hitting the Tennessee interstate highways to search for terrorists under the auspices of the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program.

According to Nashville NewsChannel5, the TSA personnel will be divided into “viper” teams. Personally, I think it’s a rather fitting name.

Also – and this is just conjecture – I think it’s easier to convince the prototypical goon to actively violate people’s Constitutional rights when the team they’re on sounds cool.

“Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane – more likely on the interstate,” claimed Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.

On Tuesday, Tennessee was more than happy to deploy VIPR at five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state. Hell, they’re even asking truck drivers to keep an eye out for terrorists or strange behavior by joining the First Observer Highway Security Program. Because why not, right?


The whole operation is geared toward getting drivers to call the authorities if they see something “suspicious.”

“Somebody sees something somewhere and we want them to be responsible citizens, report that and let us work it through our processes to abet the concern that they had when they saw something suspicious,” said Paul Armes, TSA Federal Security Director for Nashville International Airport.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol looked at trucks using drug and bomb sniffing dogs during random inspections. Because apparently keeping the Volunteer State safe from terrorists also means making sure that random non-terrorist people don’t have any drugs on them.

Keep in mind these are random inspections that people aren’t allowed to decline. Not without making things worse for themselves and probably being thrown in jail and beaten up for good measure.

I’m not really sure what’s going in Tennessee, but it’s safe to say that the 16th state is now a police state. Tennessee has criminalized sharing Netflix logins recently, and they’ve banned posting images online that “cause emotional distress.”

I have no idea why anyone would want to live in Tennessee anymore. I mean you can only bury your head in the sand for so long, right?

Maybe the state government is so broke that they can’t pay for anything anymore.

The only way any government has to pay for itself is to use its citizen’s money, but this goes way beyond paying for fire trucks and trash pickup. It seems like Tennessee is openly creating more ways to arrest people and put them in the blood sucking machine known as the legal system.

I used to think that there was a certain rebelliousness about the South that was admirable. But now I’m not so sure. Is Tennessee really that afraid of terrorists?

I think most Tennessee mountain people would win in a fight against any of the terrorists we’ve seen on TV. These random shakedowns and harsh laws don’t seem necessary to me.

Gun Smuggling Charges for 8 NYPD Officers

F.B.I. agents escorted Ali Oklu, one of eight officers in a gun-trafficking case, to a Manhattan federal building Tuesday. Robert Stolarik

New York Times | Oct 25, 2011


Eight current and former New York police officers were arrested on Tuesday and charged in federal court with accepting thousands of dollars in cash to drive a caravan of firearms into the state, an act of corruption that brazenly defied the city’s strenuous efforts to get illegal guns off the streets.

The officers — five are still on the force, and three are retired — and four other men were accused of transporting M-16 rifles and handguns, as well as what they believed to be stolen merchandise across state lines, according to a complaint filed in the case in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The current and retired officers, most of whom at one time or another worked in the same Brooklyn station house, were arrested at their homes before sunrise by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigators from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, officials said. Also arrested were a New Jersey correction officer, a former New York City Sanitation Department police officer and two men identified in the complaint as his associates.

The gun-trafficking accusations strike at the heart of one of the Police Department’s most hard-fought and robust initiatives, and one that has been a central theme of the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg: getting guns off the city’s streets. Mr. Bloomberg is the head of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of 600 municipal chief executives from around the nation.

And the arrests come at a difficult time for a department, the largest municipal police force in the nation, already besieged by corruption accusations. In recent weeks, testimony at the trial of a narcotics detective has featured accusations that he and his colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens planted drugs or lied under oath to meet arrest quotas and earn overtime, leading to the arrests of eight officers, the dismissal of hundreds of drug cases because of their destroyed credibility and the payout of more than $1 million in taxpayer money to settle false arrest lawsuits.

Two other officers, in unrelated federal cases, have been charged in recent weeks with criminal civil-rights violations accusing them of trumping up charges against innocent victims. In one case, on Staten Island, a white officer is accused of falsely arresting a black man and then bragging about it using a racial slur. And in the coming days, 16 officers are expected to face charges in a ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, announced the charges at a news conference with the head of the criminal division of New York’s F.B.I. office, Diego Rodriguez, and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly.

Janice K. Fedarcyk, the assistant F.B.I. director in charge of the New York office, who was out of town on business, said in a prepared statement that the investigation began in 2009. “These crimes are without question reprehensible, particularly conspiring to import untraceable guns and assault rifles into New York,” Ms. Fedarcyk said.

In an ironic twist, the new case began after an F.B.I. confidential informant sought to have a traffic ticket fixed in exchange for payment. He was introduced to one of the officers, William Masso, 47, according to the complaint. They developed a relationship, and Officer Masso began expressing interest in working with the informant to obtain and sell contraband, largely cigarettes.

It grew into a yearlong undercover operation conducted by its agents and investigators from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, with wiretaps on the phones of Officer Masso, the former Sanitation Department officer and four undercover agents, said the complaint, which was sworn out by Kenneth Hosey, an F.B.I. special agent.

The charges include conspiracy to transport firearms across state lines, conspiracy to transport defaced firearms across state lines, conspiracy to sell firearms across state lines and conspiracy to transport and receive stolen property across state lines, according to the complaint.

Most of the initial trips, in October and November 2010, involved ferrying cigarettes into New York. As months went by, the cargo would also include what the officers believed to be stolen or counterfeit goods, including slot machines, clothing and handbags, and eventually the firearms. In addition, one of the officers, along with two co-defendants, sold a shotgun to an undercover F.B.I. agent in July.

The defendants were expected to be arraigned on Tuesday in United States District Court in Manhattan. As of late Tuesday afternoon, lawyers for the men were not available for comment.

The accusations leveled against the men in the four-count complaint depict the current and former officers and their co-defendants as little more than a loose confederation of petty crooks.

One of the officers, Ali Oklu, 35, suggested at one point that there were certain things he would not do. “As long as we’re not tying anybody up, I don’t care,” he said in a conversation that the undercover agent secretly recorded after Officer Oklu was paid $15,000 for his role in helping steal 200 cases of cigarettes with several other officers in a sting the F.B.I. arranged in May. He added that he did not care “as long as there’s no drugs and guns involved..”

Full Story

Britain faces a mini ‘Ice Age’ lasting for decades

express.co.uk | Oct 10,2011

By Laura Caroe

Britain is set to suffer a mini ice age that could last for decades

BRITAIN is set to suffer a mini ice age that could last for decades and bring with it a series of bitterly cold winters.

And it could all begin within weeks as experts said last night that the mercury may soon plunge below the record -20C endured last year.

Scientists say the anticipated cold blast will be due to the return of a disruptive weather pattern called La Nina. Latest evidence shows La Nina, linked to extreme winter weather in America and with a knock-on effect on Britain, is in force and will gradually strengthen as the year ends.

The climate phenomenon, characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Pacific, was linked to our icy winter last year – one of the coldest on record.

And it coincides with research from the Met Office indicating the nation could be facing a repeat of the “little ice age” that gripped the country 300 years ago, causing decades of harsh winters.

The prediction, to be published in Nature magazine, is based on observations of a slight fall in the sun’s emissions of ultraviolet radiation, which may, over a long period, trigger Arctic conditions for many years.

Although a connection between La Nina and conditions in Europe is scientifically uncertain, ministers have warned transport organisations and emergency services not to take any chances. Forecasts suggest the country could be shivering in a big freeze as severe and sustained as last winter from as early as the end of this month.

La Nina, which occurs every three to five years, has a powerful effect on weather thousands of miles away by influencing an intense upper air current that helps create low pressure fronts.

Another factor that can affect Europe is the amount of ice in the Arctic and sea temperatures closer to home.

Ian Currie, of the Meterological Society, said: “All the world’s weather systems are connected. What is going on now in the Pacific can have repercussions later around the world.”

Parts of the country already saw the first snowfalls of the winter last week, dumping two inches on the Cairngorms in Scotland. And forecaster James Madden, from Exacta Weather, warned we are facing a “severely cold and snowy winter”.

Councils say they are fully prepared having stockpiled thousands of tons of extra grit. And the Local Government Association says it had more salt available at the beginning of this month than the total used last winter.

But the mountain of salt could be dug into very soon amid widespread heavy snow as early as the start of next month. Last winter, the Met Office was heavily criticised after predicting a mild winter, only to see the country grind to a halt amid hazardous driving conditions in temperatures as low as -20C.

Peter Box, the Local Government Association’s economy and transport spokesman, said: “Local authorities have been hard at work making preparations for this winter and keeping the roads open will be our number one priority.”

The National Grid will this week release its forecast for winter energy use based on long-range weather forecasts.

Such forecasting is, however, notoriously difficult, especially for the UK, which is subject to a wide range of competing climatic forces.

A Met Office spokesman said that although La Nina was recurring, the temperatures in the equatorial Pacific were so far only 1C below normal, compared with a drop of 2C at the same time last year.

Research by America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that in 2010-11 La Nina contributed to record winter snowfalls, spring flooding and drought across the world.

Jonathan Powell, of Positive Weather Solutions, said: “The end of the month and November are looking colder than average with severe frosts and the chance of snow.”

Bookmakers Issue Winter Betting Odds Following Chilly Forecasts

Ireland and UK from space on Christmas Day 2010. Image MODIS

irishweatheronline.com | Oct 10, 2011

By Mark Dunphy

Bookmakers across Ireland and the UK are offering punters reduced odds on a White Christmas following a series of chilly winter outlooks by forecasters.

Paddy Power is providing 6/5 odds of Ireland running out of grit and odds of 11/2 for Winter 2011-2012 to be the coldest on record. The bookmaker says there is a 7/2 chance of  White Christmas in Dublin and has put the chances of the River Liffey completely freezing over at 66/1.

The latter may be a good bet considering numerous rivers and lakes across Ireland were frozen during last year’s Big Freeze.

Paddy Power is also taking punts on the lowest recorded temperature of the season. Odds of 13/2 have been placed on mercury levels dipping below minus 17.1c.

Meanwhile, William Hill has placed odds of 6/1 of snow falling during Christmas Day at Dublin Airport.  The bookmaker has also provided odds for Cardiff 8/1, London (8/1) and Edinburgh (11/4)

The winter betting odds follow the coolest summer since 1986 in many parts of Ireland and since 1962 in parts of the southwest. The highest temperature recorded this summer was 25.6°C at Phoenix Park in Dublin on 26 September.

Last month, a UK-based long range weather forecaster issued his prediction of an early start to winter 2011-2012 for many regions of the United Kingdom and Ireland.  James Madden of Exacta Weather forecast heavy snowfalls in places as soon as late October and early November.

Commenting on the autumn and winter months in his updated seasonal forecast (2 September), James Madden stated that the UK and Ireland could expect a cooler than average theme to continue into autumn. He also predicted a notable increase in usual wind strengths for this time of year that would result in frequent and potentially damaging gale force winds and strong stormy features throughout autumn and winter. So far, Ireland and Britain have been lashed by the remnants of ex-hurricanes Katia and Ophelia.

Meanwhile, UK-based Positive Weather Solutions says the winter months will be colder than average everywhere and that some regions will experience significantly colder than average temperatures between December and March. The agency has also given a 36% chance of the Ireland and Britain experiencing a White Christmas.
Ireland prepares for possible severe wintry weather

The National Roads Authority (NRA) says it is prepared for any outbreak of severe weather. It has ordered an additional 80,000 tonnes of rock salt to treat the country’s national road network during winter 2011-2012.  An NRA spokesperson told iWeather Online (IWO) that the supplies are in addition to existing grit supplies totalling 70,000 tonnes.

Sean O’Neill stated that a tender had been advertised on etenders.gov.ie for the supply of a further 40,000 tonnes of rock salt to be supplied to local authorities to assist them in their efforts to treat non-national routes.

“We used approximately 115,000 tonnes of grit to treat the national network last winter, which we would consider an unusually cold season compared to average winters in Ireland. In previous years we have not been required to use more than 50-60,000 tonnes of grit”, he said. Mr. O’Neill noted that the decision to order additional rock salt supplies was made in light of an anticipated rise in demand for supplies closer to the coming winter.

Meanwhile, local authorities across the country have already started preparing for any possible repeat of last winter’s Big Freeze. Dozens of additional salt barns are being constructed throughout the country while the storage capacity of many other existing facilities is being increased.
Previous Winters

Late November and December 2010 brought prolonged periods of cold weather leading to significant disruption to traffic and travel.  Castlederg recorded a Northern Ireland record low temperature of −18.7 °C (−1.7 °F) on the morning of 23rd December 2010, while mercury levels dipped to minus 17.5c in Straide, Co Mayo on Christmas morning. December 2010 also was the coldest December across the UK since the national series began in 1910, according to the UK Met Office.

The “Big Freeze” of December 2009 and January 2010 also brought record low temperatures being broken. The Irish Insurance Federation revealed there were 22,450 claims from the public in late 2009 and early 2010, the vast majority of which involved snow or ice damage to people’s homes.

La Nina Throws Cold Water on Global Warming

There has been no warming of the earth average temperature since 1998. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased significantly in the last 14 years. In fact 25% of the increase of carbon dioxide since the birth of the industrial revolution has occurred since 1997. If carbon dioxide and its presumed strong water vapor feedback is such a powerful driver of the earth’s climate one would have expected the warming of the previous two and a half decades to have continued unabated after 1998 and into this year, but it has not. The prediction of the “permanent El Nino” has, as we say in the forecasting business, been a bust.

energytribune.com | Oct 7, 2011

By Art Horn

El Nino could become a permanent feature of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. The warm waters of this never ending hot bath in the world’s largest water body would not only warm the entire earth dramatically, it would pump vast amounts of moisture into the air. This additional humidity would act as a positive feedback mechanism that would enhance the warming already being triggered by human burning of fossil fuels and in turn cause global warming to spin out of control. The melting of glaciers would accelerate and sea levels would rise much faster than predicted. The challenges of runaway warming would not be decades away but would be here now.

In 1997 Dr Russ Schnell, a scientist doing atmospheric research at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii said “It appears that we have a very good case for suggesting that the El Ninos are going to become more frequent, and they’re going to become more intense and in a few years, or a decade or so, we’ll go into a permanent El Nino.” He went on to say “So instead of having cool water periods for a year or two, we’ll have El Nino upon El Nino, and that will become the norm. And you’ll have an El Nino, that instead of lasting 18 months, lasts 18 years,” The El Nino of 1997 was blamed for droughts in Australia and New Guinea, A delayed Monsoon in Southeast Asia leading to forest fires that brought choking smoke to human populations, Drought in South Africa and devastating storms on the west coast of South American from Chile to Mexico. Everything that went wrong with the weather was blamed on El Nino. The scary prospect of a permanent El Nino was going to greatly speed up global warming and we had better do something to stop it, now!

At least that was what we were being told in 1997. As it turned out the 1997 El Nino was immediately followed by a La Nina. The cooling of the waters in the Tropical Pacific caused by La Nina dramatically dropped the earth’s temperature in the years following the 1997 El Nino which peaked in 1998. What those who were advocating the emergence of a permanent El Nino ignored was the phase shift of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The what? The 50 to 60 year cycle of warming and cooling that regulates the number of El Nino’s and La Nina’s. The Pacific Ocean had been in the warm phase of the cycle since the mid 1970s. During that time El Nino’s were twice as prevalent as La Nina’s and were much stronger and longer lasting. The result was warming global temperature from the mid 1970’s to the late 1990’s. It was during this warming spell that global warming hysteria blossomed. Many said the warming was due to increased carbon dioxide in the air but in reality the warming was caused by the warm phase of the PDO.

At this point one might ask how do you know the warming of the mid 1970s to the late 1990’s was caused by the warmer Pacific and not increasing amounts of carbon dioxide? Just look at what the global average temperature has done since the 1997/98 Super El Nino. There has been no warming of the earth average temperature since 1998. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased significantly in the last 14 years. In fact 25% of the increase of carbon dioxide since the birth of the industrial revolution has occurred since 1997. If carbon dioxide and its presumed strong water vapor feedback is such a powerful driver of the earth’s climate one would have expected the warming of the previous two and a half decades to have continued unabated after 1998 and into this year, but it has not. The prediction of the “permanent El Nino” has, as we say in the forecasting business, been a bust.

The shift to the cooler phase of the PDO has become more pronounced since 2007. The shift to cooler water in the Pacific is measured by the Southern Oscillation Index or the SOI. Since 2007 the SOI has been primarily in the positive mode indicating the existence of La Nina’s. This is in stark contrast to the predictions from the late 1990s and is indeed opposite of what was expected.

During the cool phase of the Pacific Ocean La Nina’s are twice as prevalent as El Nino’s and the El Nino’s that do occur are weak and short lived. The result is that the chilly waters of La Nina’s cause global cooling. Winters in the United States are becoming rapidly colder and more severe. The average temperature is falling at the rate of 3.0 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 2000. Four of the snowiest months in New York City since 1869 have been since 2003. December of 2010 was the second coldest December in Central England since the temperature records began there in 1659. China had another bitter cold winter in 2011 and had the second coldest January in the last 50 years. Georgia and Florida had their coldest December in 2010 since the weather records began in 1895. The combined December and January period of 2010/11 in Florida was the coldest in 116 years of record keeping. Snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California was the 4th highest since 1879 and the greatest in some areas since the winter of 1951. With another La Nina this winter the western United States will have another near record amount of snow.

So what’s ahead for global warming? Not much if La Nina has anything to say about it. We are now in the 13th year without measured global warming. The La Nina of 2010/11 faded in the spring of this year. Many expected the return of an El Nino as happened in the years prior to 1997 after a La Nina. The difference now is that the Pacific is cooler and will be cooler for another 20 to 25 years or so. Another La Nina has developed and is forecast to be as cold or colder than the one just departed. This is just what is to be expected in this new era of colder and more frequent La Nina’s.

The consequences of this return engagement will be many and varied. One will be the continued cessation of global warming. La Nina’s typically last about a year but the effects on the atmosphere continue for another 6 to 8 months after the La Nina has departed. There will be no global warming for the remainder of 2011 and none through all of 2012. By then we will be into year 14 with no global warming and even the most ardent of “warmers” will have to start scratching their heads in wonder as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise but the temperature does not.

Historically we know that La Nina is associated with extremes of weather around the world. Some of this extreme weather can be beneficial and some can be destructive. Another winter of heavy snows in the mountains of the Western United States will ensure plentiful water supplies for years to come in a region that has been told to expect drought from global warming. Most La Nina’s are warm and dry in the Southeastern United States and this could be helpful to Florida tourism this Winter. On the other hand the drought in the South Central States will continue through 2012 and may go beyond. Hurricanes proliferate in La Nina conditions so the hurricane season of 2012 will likely be stormy although where the storms will strike, if at all is unknown. Heavy rains can occur in the Ohio Valley during La Nina and the threat of a re-occurrence of floods next spring is a concern. Unfortunately La Nina helps to spawn strong and numerous tornadoes in the American spring and next March, April, May and June will likely see more outbreaks of deadly twisters. Australia can have floods in some parts of the country during La Nina but in many areas the water will be welcome.

Predictions of a permanent El Nino have failed as has the relationship between increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the air and global temperature. The powerful interest groups behind man made global warming will ignore what nature is doing and continue to preach rapid warming. They will pound their fists on the table of public opinion, insisting this will cause melting ice, rising seas levels, drowning polar bears and blame every severe storm, cold wave, heat wave, snowstorm, drought, flood, hurricane and tornado on climate change and our use of fossil fuels. In the real world the new era of colder water in the Pacific Ocean will generate colder and longer lasting La Nina’s and continue to throw cold water on global warming. I wonder when reality will begin to sink in for those invested in man made climate change? The answer for many will be never.

Forecasters Predict Colder U.S. Winter Will Spur Fuel Demand

CWG also predicts much of Europe will be colder than normal, with the lowest temperatures most likely in France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and central Russia. Most of China will have lower-than-normal temperatures, the forecaster said.

businessweek.com | Oct 24, 2011

By Brian K. Sullivan

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) — The coming winter will probably be colder than average in the eastern U.S., creating a greater demand for heating fuels, according to forecasts that disagree over how bitter the weather will get.

The heating season will get an early start, with November expected to be colder than normal for the East Coast, according to seasonal outlooks released today by Commodity Weather Group LLC and Weather Services International. CWG predicts the coldest winter in a decade while WSI forecasts milder weather.

“With above-normal heating demand expected, withdrawal rates from natural gas storage are likely to run above normal in the consuming East,” said Chris Kostas, senior power and gas analyst at Energy Security Analysis Inc., which works with Andover, Massachusetts-based WSI.

The outlook by the two commercial forecasters comes less than a week after the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said the northern U.S. will probably have a colder and wetter winter because of a strengthening La Nina in the Pacific Ocean.

La Nina, a cooling of the water in the central Pacific, tends to mean colder-than-normal winter temperatures in the North and milder and drier weather in the South. It also moves the storm track across the U.S. farther to the north, which can mean more snow.

Price Impact

The colder weather may mean natural gas prices will rise as more energy is needed for heating starting next month, Kostas said in a statement from his Wakefield, Massachusetts, office. About 51 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heating and power plants use about 30 percent of the nation’s gas supplies, according to Energy Department data.

November is expected to be 9.3 percent colder than last year, with December forecast to be 0.6 percent cooler, CWG President Matt Rogers said in his seasonal outlook.

The commercial forecasters diverge as to the severity and longevity of winter’s bite.

CWG, based in Bethesda, Maryland, predicts the coming winter will be the coldest since 2000-2001.

“That was a powerhouse winter,” Rogers said in an e- mailed response to questions.

He said the gas-weighted heating degree days value for the U.S. will reach 4,024 this year, compared with 3,928.2 last year and the 10-year average of 3724.4. The winter of 2000-2001 had a value of 4,167.7, according to CWG.

Degree Days

Heating degree days, calculated by subtracting the daily average temperature from a base of 65 degrees, are designed to show energy demand. Higher values mean cooler weather and more energy being used to heat homes and business.

Gas-weighted degree days give more value to areas where there are higher populations using natural gas to stay warm.

CWG also predicts much of Europe will be colder than normal, with the lowest temperatures most likely in France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and central Russia. Most of China will have lower-than-normal temperatures, the forecaster said.

WSI forecasts that the northern and eastern U.S. will have lower-than-normal temperatures in December and January, with milder weather in February and March.

“There are numerous indications that the cold will not be as extreme as it was during the last two winters,” WSI’s chief meteorologist, Todd Crawford, said in a statement. “The current state of the oceans is almost identical to that observed in October 2008, which was only a moderately cold winter.”

Mexican architects design an upside down pyramid ‘earthscraper’

The Earthscraper / BNKR Arquitectura. Image: ArchDaily

When the Aztecs first came into the Valley of Mexico they built their pyramids on the lake they found there. When a new and bigger pyramid was conceived and the Aztec Empire grew in size and power, they did not search for a new site, they just built on it and around the existing one. In this manner, the pyramids are composed of different layers of historical periods.

archdaily.com | Aug 4, 2011

By Alison Furuto

Mexico – The Earthscraper, designed by BNKR Arquitectura, is the Skyscraper’s antagonist in the historic urban landscape of Mexico City where the latter is condemned and the preservation of the built environment is the paramount ambition. It preserves the iconic presence of the city square and the existing hierarchy of the buildings that surround it. More images and architects’ description after the break.

The Historic Center of Mexico City is composed of different layers of cities superimposed on top of each other. When the Aztecs first came into the Valley of Mexico they built their pyramids on the lake they found there. When a new and bigger pyramid was conceived and the Aztec Empire grew in size and power, they did not search for a new site, they just built on it and around the existing one. In this manner, the pyramids are composed of different layers of historical periods.

When the Spanish arrived in America and ultimately conquered the Aztecs, they erected their Christian temples atop their pyramids. Eventually their whole colonial city was built on top of the Aztec one. In the 20th century, many colonial buildings were demolished and modern structures raised on the existing historic foundations. So in a way, Mexico City is like a massive layered cake: a modern metropolis built on the foundations of a colonial city that was erected on top of the ancient pyramids that were constructed on the lake.

The main square of Mexico City, known as the “Zocalo”, is 57,600 m2 (240m x 240m), making it one of the largest in the world. It is bordered by the Cathedral, the National Palace and the City Government buildings. A flagpole stands at its center with an enormous Mexican flag ceremoniously raised and lowered each day. This proved as the ideal site for the Earthscraper: an inverted skyscraper that digs down through the layers of cities to uncover our roots.

The design is an inverted pyramid with a central void to allow all habitable spaces to enjoy natural lighting and ventilation. To conserve the numerous activities that take place on the city square year round (concerts, political manifestations, open-air exhibitions, cultural gatherings, military parades.), the massive hole will be covered with a glass floor that allows the life of the Earthscraper to blend with everything happening on top.

Gorbachev Says Uprisings Signal Emerging ‘New World Order’

“As we are addressing these challenges, these problems raised by these protest movements, we will gradually find our way towards a new world order.”

lafayette.edu | Oct 20, 2011

“We are reaping the consequences of a strategy that is not conducive to cooperation and partnership, to living in a new global situation,” said Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union, to a crowd of 3,600 on Oct. 19 in the Allan P. Kirby Field House and many others via a live streaming broadcast in 13 locations from coast to coast, including northern Mexico. “People are asking ‘why do our leaders want to decide everything at the expense of the people?’”

Gorbachev was referring to the series of uprisings around the world including the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations here in the United States. “The world needs goals that will bring people together,” he said. “Some people in the United States were pushing the idea of creating a global American empire, and that was a mistake from the start. Other people in America are now giving thought to the future of their country. The big banks, the big corporations, are still paying the same big bonuses to their bosses. Was there ever a crisis for them? . . . I believe America needs its own perestroika.”

Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss introduced Gorbachev, noting that his visit was a celebration of the new Oechsle Center for Global Education made possible by the support of Walter Oechsle ’57 and his wife, Christa. “I cannot think of a more fitting way in which to mark the creation of this vibrant new academic hub on our campus than with an address by the distinguished global leader who will present the center’s inaugural lecture, ‘Perspectives on Global Change.’”

Gorbachev was welcomed with a standing ovation.

“We have invited such a renowned international figure to address us tonight because what he has to say is enormously important,” continued Weiss, “…he exemplifies the type of visionary, transformative leadership which we hope the Oechsle Center will inspire – and prepare – our students to emulate as they engage with the world throughout their own lives and careers.”

In the opening of his lecture, the 80-year-old Gorbachev, who ended Communist rule in Eastern Europe and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, reflected on the years of preparation and negotiation that led finally to the end of the Cold War. “When my people asked what I thought of Reagan, I said he is a dinosaur, and when Reagan’s people asked him what he thought of me, he called me a diehard Bolshevik.”

Nevertheless, progress was made over that first three-day meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1985 and others that followed, with the final result that both countries agreed that a nuclear war cannot be won “and must never be fought,” and that “our two nations will not seek military superiority.”

Gorbachev then described the difficult situation faced in Russia at the time. “We needed changes in our own country; the people were demanding change, saying ‘we can no longer live like this, we can no longer live as before.’ This required us, the leaders of the country, to propose something bold.” He said this led to perestroika, to an effort to push forward and end the totalitarian system, “to move toward democracy and freedom…and step by step towards a new economy, toward market economics. But the most important thing was freedom and glasnost.”

With posed demeanor and steady gaze, Gorbachev pressed on with his historical reflections. The translator kept pace with the even-toned Russian voice. Gesturing occasionally with his wide hands, Gorbachev’s presence as a world statesman was unmistakable.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Gorbachev said it was disastrous economically and socially, that nearly two-thirds of the people were in poverty, and that Americans did not realize it was not a good thing. “Americans came to Russia to celebrate our hardship.” He noted that many opportunities opened up “by glasnost, by freedom, by democracy were not used properly,” and the country is still in transition and has faced a lot of problems.

“The entire world situation did not develop properly,” said Gorbachev. “We saw deterioration where there should have been positive movement. My friend the late Pope John Paul II said it best. He said, ‘We need a new world order, one that is more stable, more humane, and more just.’ Others, including myself, have spoken about a new world order, but we are still facing the problem of building such a world order…problems of the environment, of backwardness and poverty, food shortages…all because we do not have a system of global governance.”

Gorbachev said it looks like the United States needs its military-industrial sector for the economy to prosper and if that is so, then it is a sick economy. “I do not say this to rankle anyone,” he explained. “I say it to my own people as well. We need to build a society where human beings are at the center. A lot of brain power is concentrated in the military-industrial sector; we need to shift that to other goals.”

In commenting on whether the objectives of Vladimir Putin, prime minister of Russia, who has announced he will run for a third term as president in the 2012 elections, are heading in the right direction, Gorbachev said the model that should be pursued is an association of nations, a union of nations that remain sovereign and politically independent and not a subjugation of nations.

“The Gorbachev Foundation has been working on this issue…we conducted a poll on the anniversary of the breakup of the union…70 percent said they regretted the disappearance, but only 9 percent said they wanted a restoration.

“Cooperation has to be based on equality and respect for the sovereignty of independent neighbors,” he continued, adding that if Putin and others who follow him develop a policy that respects this approach, then he will get support.

He commented on the changing world: “We cannot leave things as they were before, when we are seeing that these protests are moving to even new countries, that almost all countries are now witnessing such protests, that the people want change,” he said. “As we are addressing these challenges, these problems raised by these protest movements, we will gradually find our way towards a new world order.”

Gorbachev added, “I understand that you are inaugurating a center that will result in the kind of education and knowledge needed for these situations, and I congratulate you.”

“History is not preordained,” said Gorbachev. “We can influence history if we understand the most important things.”