Tuesday, January 22, 2008

SAR #8023

The global south may have moral leverage
in global discussions; the north has the guns.

One If By Sea : NATO says the west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to halt the “imminent” spread of nuclear weapons. Sort of use 'em or lose 'em.

Pig Pen : The National Academy of Sciences has reports that cropland in the U.S. is being eroded 10 times faster than the time it takes for the lost soil to be replaced. “Globally, it’s pretty clear we’re running out of dirt.”

K-P Duty : Whatever concoction President Bush and the Democratic-led Congress now cook up to minister to the ailing economy is likely to have a chicken-soup effect. Many people will feel better, and things might perk up. A temporary boost, not a cure.

Dropout : Fred Thompson has withdrawn from the GOP presidential primary race. For those of you who are puzzled by this announcement, Fred was one of the rich white guys running for the GOP nomination, second from the right. The wrinkly one.

Coincidence : On the day that NATO embraces nuclear first strike as a tactic and the capital markets of the world plunge, energy-rich Russia has sent two long-range bombers to the Bay of Biscay, off the French and Spanish Atlantic coasts, to test-fire missiles.

Fish Story : Last year 6,000 Africans died in the attempt to escape their crippled economies and reach Europe, a lack of fish in the traditional grounds off Africa's coast spurring the exodus. Trawlers from Western Europe, Russia, and China are largely responsible for the over-fishing. And the deaths.

Clippers : The cost of fuel keeps going up, even for the ships that carry the fuel. To lower costs, shippers are slowing down - a 10% slower passage can save 25% of the fuel bill. Lower CO2 emissions, too. One ship is experimenting with a computer-guided kite/sail to help the engines. What'll they think of next?

Compass : Does anyone remember how we got here? Greenspan slashed interest rates to 1% and kept them there. Banks took this free money; borrowed short, lent long. Now everything's going to hell in a handbasket. The Fed's cure? Lower interest rates! Free cash to buy more stuff from China! Deja vu all over again.

Practiced : The United States has blocked scientists from releasing a report assessing the effects of oil and gas activity in the Arctic. The Interior Department is selling off part of the frozen Chukchi Sea off Alaska. Cheney agonized for several moments before choosing between polar bears and Halliburton.

Fat Lady Sings : Electricity will be missed, far more than gasoline. In much of the world, the grid shuts down for long periods each day, or is off most of the time. Electricity generated by oil and natural gas does not have a future. The world is becoming divided into countries that have electricity and those that do not. Come the day, what little electricity remains will be used to maintain a public services like the water supply and the police. Especially the police.

Waiting for Godot : Remember the good old days when the free market would solve all problems, when regulation was not needed and supervision superfluous? Me neither.

Very Reserved : As of December 31st, the Fed is reporting negative net reserves in the banking system. Seems to mean that all of the banking reserves (or maybe just over 50%) in this country are borrowed. This has never happened before. This can't be good. If you go to an ATM, it will ask you for money. $4.64 seems to be your share. Pony up.

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