Monday, June 16, 2008

SAR #8168

We can deny reality a lot longer than is good for us.

Has Beens: Following 9/11 the government launched a "war on terror." Terrorists, however, have not been defined beyond Bush's circular claim that a terrorist is whomever he defines as a terrorist. It takes no evidence, no due process, no judicial review. The Bush administration is a greater threat to Americans than any handful of terrorists.

Stormy Weather: Another sharp spike in food costs is expected because of the floods in Iowa; be ready for more 'non-inflationary' increases in food prices. More hunger and starvation, too.

Father's Day Massacre? "We have confidence in the firm, in the leadership," Blackstone President Robert Kapito, 50, said of Lehman Brothers, which just fired two of its top executives. Meanwhile Lehman's remaining executives spent Father's Day hiding out in the board room. Speculation suggests the firm may be sold to a larger bank, soon.

In Tents Slum: Tent cities are springing up around major cities in California like the shanty-towns around major Third World cities. Go take a look.

Too Little, Too Late: Newly discovered oil fields will save us! So we're told. Brazil, for example, has found 87 gazillion barrels of oil in the deep ocean. But... Here's the but: But the Tupi field will not be operational until 2015. By 2020 it will have an output over over half a million barrels of oil a day. Great. in 12 years we will be saved by the addition of one half of one percent of a day's supply. The first 11 wells will cost $1 billion. Do the math.

Trend-setter: Schwarzenegger's $4.8 billion in education cuts has been translated into 20,000 teacher terminations in California. The creationists are pleased, for if there are no teachers, they won't be teaching evolution. Or math or citizenship. And it won't be just California either.

Quoted: "Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear - kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor - with the cry of grave national emergency." Douglas MacArthur

Banking 201: Learning about 'high finance' is like gawking at car wrecks, fascinating but scary. For some developers a bank will loan construction money and then, each month, "loan" the interest payment by adding it to the loan. Just like those Option ARMs. No one knows whether or not the developer is ever going to pay back the loan, or if he's even still in town.

All Balled Up: Thomas Friedman's flat earth is curving in on itself as the increase in oil prices balls up the brief era of cheap transportation that made globalization work. Globalization depended on cheap energy that will not be seen again. Think locally.

Come Fly With Us: Jeff Rubin, chief economist for CIBC, predicts that airline bankruptcies will lead to airports like Heathrow and Gatwick to be half-empty as oil prices over $225 a barrel force airlines to raise prices so much that customers cease flying, which will make airlines charge even more.

Rainy Days: Credit card debt is up 8% from a year ago. People are buying 'life settlements' (don't ask: I'll pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today). In 2007, 18% of US workers took a loan against their retirement plans, a 50% increase over 2006. Planning for retirement takes second place to pretending to be middle class.

Here's My Plan: Iran promises that if the Bush Administration - or the US client state of Israel - attacks Iran can and will shut down the Strait of Hormuz and its oil facilities with a swarm of Silkworm missiles. This used to be called Mutually Assured Destruction.

Porn O'Graph: A model for the world's oil production.

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