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Not Important? Think Again - July 10th 2002

Not Important? Think Again

10 July 2002

Gearing up for renewables

An investment boom is on the way in renewable energy sources. Wind farms are back in fashion after a long hiatus. What is interesting about this article is the complete lack of focus on what is driving this investment – the impending peak in global oil production. Nevertheless, technological advances have brought wind farming to the cusp of economic viability. If Mother Jones is to be believed, the cost per kilowatt-hour of wind-generated electricity is comparable to that of hydrocarbon generated power. It is late in the game, but then better late than never.

It’s official: the dollar may well collapse

That is certainly not the message that IMF head Horst Kohler wished to convey, we expect. But that is certainly the implication. Having more than 50% from its 1995 lows, the dollar is now officially on the IMF’s list of concerns. This is presumably reflecting the views of the US Treasury, which would like the depreciation to be orderly, civilised, and not stressful for all concerned.

Perhaps they should use “benignimizers” on the currency markets

The US military conducts research into the use of “calmatives,” meaning the weaponisation of drugs for the purposes of controlling large groups of people. The sorts of situations envisioned are “hungry refugees…prison populations…hostage situations” and “agitated populations.” This last category certainly describes the foreign exchange markets on days like last Monday. Perhaps the US Treasury should broaden the remit of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to include “FX.”

Moral capital

Once spent, it is difficult to get it back. Stalin once dismissed the Pope asking, “How many divisions does he have?” Well, the Vatican is still around, but the Soviet Union is gone. The US is spending goodwill like a drunk with his wife’s credit card. John Pilger is dismissed by some out of hand, but hey should not be hasty. Pilger is iterating a point of view that matters. The moral high ground is worth having. It is worth more divisions than the Soviet Union had. That is a point well worth reflecting upon.

Is Syria the real target?

As we have said in the past, it certainly is where Ariel Sharon is concerned. A wider war is only a matter of time, whether or not the Arab states respond to Israeli provocation. One suspects that if they do not respond to provocation that they will be helped to do so.

Brave men like Shamai Leibowitz deserve to be heard. They are worth more divisions than a division of Ariel Sharons.

The US abandons multilateralism…

We reported earlier this year on the dismissal of Jose Bustani form his post as director of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons. We thought then, and still do, that Bustani lost his job because it was feared that he would do it too well, and in so doing remove the only plausible casus belli with Iraq. At about the same time that Colin Powell was giving the Taliban over $40 million dollars to eradicate the Afghani opium crop (which they in fact did), he was also praising Bustani. Like his volte face on the Taliban, Powell, that most flexible of friends, also called for Bustani’s ouster within a year of telling him what a great job he was doing. Here is your chance to hear Bustani’s point of view.

Bush keeps a straight face

Bush we can understand, but it is hard to see how his audiences can listen to him without cracking up. For Bush to call WorldCom outrageous is too funny for words. This is the guy who appointed the son of Colin Powell to be FCC commissioner. Son of Powell is on record opining, “Regulation is oppression.” Appropriating words to mean their opposite is a long political tradition. Hence the American left has been long known as “liberal.” Corporate fascism is known as “conservative.” The truth of the matter is that the official vocabulary is as void of meaning as the Gobi desert is of water. In the 80s and 90s people were told things like, “the rising tide lifts all boats,” and that prosperity would “tickle down.” George Bush senior would have done well to quit when he called all this voodoo economics. Now his son, graduate of Harken Energy, is an apostle of corporate reform. Well, here are some numbers, to show first of all whose boat the rising tide lifts, and second, some history about how Mr. Bush learned about the need for reform.,4273,4457517,00.html

And finally, some shopping to take the edge off…

The increasingly dysfunctional American economy shows its spots in many ways. Auctions of seized property have long since become a mainstay of urban police budgets. An architecture of forfeiture law feeds this cash machine. Like any other cash flow management activity, there is an understandable pressure for regularity and dependability. This may account for the fact that under US forfeiture law, seized property may be liquidated before the accused ever sees the inside of a court room.

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