Updated: Saturday, June 19, 2004
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Urban Survival Shops
Special Saturday Edition
A Senseless Beheading
As we feared, American Paul Johnson Jr. was beheaded on Friday by the whacko thugs who had taken him hostage earlier in the week in Saudi Arabia. The details (without gory pictures) are available at: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040619/D839QT100.html The Saudi's came through with catching and gunning down one of the al Qaida leaders, though in our book, the Saudis should have held gunfire and instead provided a slow, public, and extraordinarily painful week or longer exit that such scum really deserve. Eye for eye works for us. A gunshot is just too quick for such fecal humanoids. Anyway, capture details at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3821153.stm
Comets, Meteoroids, and Paranoia
We've been covering the odd coincidence of huge numbers of naval ships being at sea, the increasing number of meteors being reported, including one Friday morning over Missouri that was "loud enough to shake the house" http://www.news-leader.com/today/0619-Itwasloude-115160.html. In part there are some ready explanations for the increase in meteors, including the supposition that the now dozen or so sighted in the past week are part of a "surprise" meteor shower called the Bootids - which you can study up on over at MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5241392/ And if you are collecting oddities, here's a report of a military exercise at Ft. Bragg going on presently which is called Operation Orbit Comet! http://www.wral.com/fayettevillenews/3417516/detail.html. Our normal inclination to be a little suspicious of things was not put to rest when George Bush and John McCain traveled out West at week's end - talking to soldiers at Ft. Lewis - before going on to be in Reno Nevada today. Why would this make us worry? Well, the elevation of Reno is 4,498 feet or so, and if there were going to be impacts from anything, I can't think of a better place to be, except maybe Denver...or better still, Pegosa Springs, Colorado up at 7,095 feet. On the other hand, my diesel generator is not here yet, and I plan on working on house rebuilding projects all day, so no, this would not be a convenient day for the world to end, thanks. The rumor mill has it scheduled for tomorrow, anyway.
Scientists this week report that they have been able to successfully teleport atoms. Report at http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/latest/story/0,4390,256966,00.html is worth reading, but here's more to think about: One of the foundations of physics has been that nothing can go faster than light. But, in quantum physics, a land where things get weird in a hurry, quantum states seem to transfer without any speed limits. So, if states can be transferred without speed limits, then time travel ought to be possible. All of which makes that alleged time traveler John Titor's predictions all the more interesting: http://www.johntitor.com/
We noticed the price of gold jumped $6+ yesterday, and with that, you'll pay $417'ish for gold Maples most places. Not unexpected. .9999 Maples are $392.40 on the sell side.
Weather Underground's server looking for weather data for Palestine Texas says today "City Not Found". Our advice: keep looking, because it's really here.
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Weak Week Revisited
Barring a major rally in the markets today, things will work out just about exactly as forecast again. The Dow closed last Friday at 10,410.1 and if the pre-opening trend holds through the day (which it may not because of options expirations) the week would close about 10,350, +/- a hamburger. What's more interesting to us is that some of the gold-carry trade seems to be unwinding. We mentioned to subscribers last weekend that the difference between gold sold and gold purchased was way out of whack. In other words, gold was being purchased from sellers of coins about $2 under spot and people buying gold were paying more than a $20 premium. For example in the pre-open today, Kitco is buying a 1 oz gold Maple for 389.80 (prices will no doubt change as you read this, but click over to https://online.kitco.com/selling/ for their current rates) while a silver 1 oz Maple was going for $5.81 with spot at $5.98. Now if you look at the price you will pay if you want to buy a gold Maple it's $414.72 and a silver Maple is $8.23. https://online.kitco.com/sellprice/selling.html. This should tell you something, right? Look at the spreads.
If you BUY gold, you'll pay $21.62 over spot
If you SELL gold, you'll get $3.30 less than spot.
There's important information in the spread!
Same with silver. If you BUY you will pay $2.25 over spot.
If you SELL you will get a dime less than spot.
This tells me that demand for precious metals is healthy as the dickens, and that based on the spreads, the bias is upward despite the anti-gold and anti-silver stories that you see around the net. My expectation is that the commercial shorts are trying to cover at these prices. I like Kitco - it's where we've purchased in the past and when we deal with private dealers, we use Kitco's pricing as a good benchmark for "what's fair".
Speaking of Inflation:
Whether it's that ugly word inflation - which I happen to personally believe - or whether it's the effects of a still hot housing market, rents in rent-controlled parts of NYC are going up either 3 1/2 or 6 1/2 percent. Landlords had wanted from 6% to 9% hikes. http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/25928.htm. So if "core inflation" is only 2% annualized, why do you think rents are going up so much? Could it be that the core inflation number, like the tooth fairy, is a figment of someone's imagination? Of course! You can no more live without food and energy than I can walk through walls.
About Those Meteors
Whether the Aussie Bloke posts were real should come into focus this weekend if we get some major earth impacts. Yes, we know that the impact of a house-sized meteor this week in Australia seems to fit with the pattern of increasing impacts: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,9869458%255E421,00.html but we're hoping that it's all net hype. But even when things are still the same (and you're still on the hook for income taxes) next Monday, the day after the so-called "Snowball Net" impact date, you can still worry about Toutatis come September. If you click over to the dusty archives of Harvard University, read http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-bib_query?1998AcA....48..547S and you'll pick out phrases like: "Therefore, we are not able to predict the motion of Toutatis further than for 300 years. However, our integrations spanning 1500 years showed that the evolution of position of the descending node of Toutatis' orbit might go also in such a direction that the orbits of Toutatis and of the Earth would intersect in the future. Hence a possibility of the Toutatis-Earth collision is not excluded but it is completely unpredictable." Oh yeah, one more thing to worry about. And if that's not enough, check out the new kind of comet at http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/stardust_results_040617.html And if you're not up to what the rumors on the net are about this weekend, click over to http://freeinternetpress.com/article.pl?sid=04/06/18/046239&mode=thread for a good summary of items.
Iraq Denial Continues
Despite the findings of the 9/11 Commission, the White House is sticking by it's (now disputed) allegation that al Qaida and Iraq were somehow linked. http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040618/D839C4FG0.html for the Bush side and http://www.drudgereport.com/flash3.htm to see Vice President Oil's rap. Just what did Bush say back when? Let's see how long this link disappears: http://usinfo.state.gov/topical/pol/terror/03031906.htm Ugly, ugly, dangerous thing, this internet.
Denial is such a powerful thing, bull from the bully pulpit. but serious, go read the Capitol Hill Blue report on Bush's mental condition at http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_4704.shtml for an eye opener. Such as:
Sound's like the ideal president for global corporatists to manipulate - just give us our gas and those new SUV's - and let's cook up some new hair-brain derivatives, too...
Secret Detention Centers
No conspiracy nut job story here...this is the real deal that you won't hear much about: The New York based rights group Human Rights First says thousands of suspects are being held at two dozen "detention centers in Iraq, Cuba, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan and on two U..S. Ships: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/EF07FE60-A288-4814-8179-EC4716D740F2.htm. Not that you would expect much overage of this on U.S. spoon-fed media, but it's the kind of press the rest of the world is reading and taking seriously. I don't need to remind you that if due process can be ruined there, your rights here are in trouble as well. I won't even go into how ludicrous the announcement this morning by the puppet government in Iraq that a "period of martial law may be necessary" after the hand over of power in order to assure stability. Like martial law would change anything? Help me understand this...
Constitutional "Crisis A"
Over in Europe, the debate on the new Constitution for the EU continues. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3817489.stm. Now, the reason we call it Crisis A is because Crisis B will come in August when according to the web bots the Grand Jury looking into the Plame CIA leak may return indictments against White House office holders... that'll be Crisis B when/if it happens as predicted. Of course we're monitoring the situation closely for things like, er, unexpected suicides by prosecutors - that sort of thing.
Taxing Your Water Well?
There's a great story on http://www.rense.com/general53/wasa.htm this morning about the apparent plans afoot to start taxing water drawn from private wells. If you look at the U.S. drought monitor, as we do from time to time, you can see why government is so worried. Look at the sever drought patches on the map. These are an excuse to tax and don't think for a moment that government will miss a chance to tax you!
Those Movie-going Capitalists...
...over at Forbes have ranked Mel Gibson the #1 motion picture star: Link
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Bigger Booms in Baghdad
As the turnover of Iraq to the U.S. appointed government looms closer, the size of explosions seems to be getting bigger. In the latest more than 25-people were killed overnight: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3814337.stm Terrible, but not unexpected. Meantime, word's leaking out that yes, the U.S. has held so-called ghost prisoners for 7-months or more. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/C6F02A7F-E150-45D8-B735-589B12CEC848.htm
Nukes in Iran Case
Because we see Iran's emergence as a member of the "nuclear club" as one of the keys to future Middle East developments, we found today's report that the UN overstated Iran's reluctance to turn over information quite interesting: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3815105.stm Now the International Atomic Energy Agency says yes, Iran did tell them about magnets for centrifuges, and sorry about the mistake. What we'll watch for next is pretty obvious: We expect the neocon policymakers to ignore the reported error because it fits the agenda of a U.S. dominated Middle East to sell the American public on the "danger of a nuclear Iran." Iran meantime denies the reports that it was building up troops along its border with Iraq: http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=4B909B9A-5082-4806-8BF749F3A28841D4
The chairman of Shell reportedly says without immediate work on greenhouse gases and CO2 in particular, he doesn't hold much hope for the world: http://www.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,12374,1240566,00.html You know that's not going to play well in other corporate boardrooms. We keep hearing rumors that BP might revise some of its reserve estimates, too.
Great coverage in Investor's Business Daily about one of our favorite gripes - the amount of spyware that's on the 'net. Two company found more than half a million versions of the junk. Details at http://biz.yahoo.com/ibd/040616/tech_1.html We heartily recommend Spybot Search & Destroy, a contribution-based freeware product out of Germany that does a great job of protecting our machines.
Good News for Refugees
The UN refugee group says the number of displaced people has fallen to the lowest level in 10-years - 17-million or so: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3814391.stm. That's way down from a 1995 high of more than 27-million. The U.S. is number five globally in accepting refugees.
From FEMA's national situation update Wednesday:
Our local climate is an inch or so above seasonal averages - tracking for about 42 inches of rain this year.
The Sun is Not out of Place, But...
Cliff and I have been putting some serious work into the question. There's been a lot of speculation about this around various chat boards on the net, so a little backyard science seems in order. If you're interested in the results, which initially suggested the sun it more than half a degree north of where it should be, go click over to http://urbansurvival.com/sunfix.htm and look over the experiment, the results, and make your own observations and calculations and submit them. Is this economics? Well, if something is going to end a lot of life on earth, then yes, this is economics...besides, backyard science to debunk rumors on the net is always good fun.
This morning, I will set up the measurements again because it appears my plumb line has moved and it may have overstated the initially measured displacement (e.g. things are less severely out of place than expected, if at all). Now for a couple of reader comments:
Outdoing Bush Sr.
While we admire George Bush Sr's parachute jump last weekend, we've got word today that he's being one-upped. An Australian at 101 years of aged is planning a jump now: http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-odd-oldest-parachutist,0,2172374.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines Come back in 22 years, if you want the record, George I.
Special 11:30 AM EDT Update
More Clarity on Coming Iran War
Our analysis of the pending second leg of the U.S. war for control of the Middle East gained substantially this morning when we were advised by a reader of a report in the UK page the Guardian reporting that Iran is trying to open an oil trading market for Middle East and OPEC producers: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1239644,00.html You know the big money trading house fortunes of London are not going to sit by and let this one go by.
More Sun Problems
More flaring of the sun today if you watch the images at http://solar.spacew.com/c3/. Panama and I have been out setting up a little science project to accurately measure the local angle of the sun and sidereal noon and calculate the angle of the sun. We've had untested reports that the sun in 2-4 degrees further north than it should be at this time of the year. What we have set up is a huge right-angle triangle with a height of 180.625" and at high noon we will measure out to the north some n number of inches.
We know that our latitude by the GPS is greater than 33 degrees North. We also know the Tropic of Cancer is 23.5 degrees North. Simple arithmetic says the local angle should be very close to a 9.5 degree angle - which we will calculate. If the incidental reports are accurate, and we find instead of 9.5 degrees that we get something less, say 5 or 6 degrees, then we will have to conclude that the problem with foul weather in the northern latitudes this year is not due to "global warming" but rather the earth's axis tilting more than it has in the past. Not a happy thing to contemplate, but we'll do the science first and see if further investigation is warranted. (Yes, I've done enough sailing navigation to know about things like HO error, but dip is not a significant error at high elevations like the one we're measuring. We're doing this now so we can see what happens on June 21st...when the sun should reach it's northernmost point in the sky - and when the local angle should be 9.5 degrees or so...
Bushco's Big Lie
CNN is reporting that the special Commission look at 9/11 will report that there is no credible evidence that al Qaida cooperated with Iraq in any way in the attack on the WTC: http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/06/16/911.commission/index.html This means a bunch of people you know where misled the public about going into Iraq. Let's see, no al Qaida connection, no WMD's, and in case you hadn't noticed, no oil to speak of either [more] ...
But Was 9/11 Really Terrorists?
Here's an interesting site that takes on the question: http://www.johnkaminski.com/
Expanded War Anyway?
Bigger war clouds on the horizon. There's a report in the Washington Times this morning that Iran is massing troops on the Iraq border for use if the U.S. troop withdrawal leaves a power vacuum in the region. The story at http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040615-055649-4707r.htm can be read a couple of ways, including public opinion shaping prior to an Israeli launch against Iranian nuclear facilities which we've been expecting. The report is also being carried on the well-connected Debka site as a headline: http://www.debka.com/
The US meantime says Iran is trying to "bully" the UN over it's nuclear ambitions. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3811511.stm The U.S. take on Iran is that "they have something to hide". To which Iran says it has no "moral obligation" to stop enrichment of uranium - just like the U.S. has never stopped: http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBEFR2GJVD.html
Analysis: There's no doubt that Iran is pushing like mad for its own nuclear program. But the assertion that the placement of Iranian troops along its border is in preparation for entry into Iraq may be incorrect reading of the Iranian position. The movement of four battalions along a 250-mile front might be alternately interpreted as a defensive move. The Iranians could be seen as reinforcing a border that they expect will be crossed shortly after the U.S. presidential elections by either American or Israeli forces intent on taking away Iranian nuclear capability. Israel has demonstrated in the past that it wants to limit nuclear powers in the Middle East to just two - the U.S. and Israel.
Our view is that between Iran's underground projects and probable help from China and North Korea, policymakers ought to treat Iran as already in possession of nukes. To do otherwise would risk a real Biblical "end times" nuclear exchange in 2005-2006 when oil interests, operating through proxies, are forced by economic pressures to attempt to secure cheaper oil. To believe Iran doesn't have nukes today would be to rely on intelligence services that screwed up Iraqi assessments royally, a dangerous course at best.
No question about it, al Qaida, and other groups of no-goodnicks are targeting oil supplies. Iraq's oil exports are only a fraction of what was projected for this date back when the war began: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040615/D837O7F80.html A more Arab perspective is at http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/361AE282-007E-4A0E-922E-C88443E2EAFF.htm Regardless of the pipeline story, the Arab press is reporting today that the recently much ballyhooed increase in OPEC production is a joke because there's simply no more production capacity left: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/6062160F-6F91-4F30-A6F9-765B5A46CD20.htm. If that viewpoint is correct, then oil prices ought to be heading skyward shortly. But to try and forestall that "recovery endangering outcome" OPEC's latest move, no doubt at the behest of big customers like the U.S. is to ask non-OPEC suppliers to increase output: http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBGM0NFJVD.html
Clearly, OPEC has thrown in the Western interests, a fact that has not escape the notice of militant Islamists who believe Muslim oil fields ought to be managed in a less Western dominated way. That explains the latest "hit" in the oil patch overnight: A key Iraqi oil official was gunned down: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3811539.stm
The American mainstream press is completely incapable of connecting dots, so the big story on the news for non-thinkers today is about the latest American being held for ransom. An Islamic web site says there are plans to kill 49-year old Paul Johnson of New Jersey if demands are not met: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040616/D837RHFO1.html He's an Apache helicopter worker. Our condolences to the family in advance.
Hedged Terror Bet
We read this morning some of the comments of Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. What stuck out like a sore thumb was the remark about how the Fed is ready to deal with terrorism by printing cash if necessary:
Greenspan's whole rap is available from the Fed web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/testimony/2004/20040615/default.htm
Housing Starts Spun
Commerce Department says the number of new homes started in May was down a bit, but still brisk. If you believe government stats, you'll love the story at http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBY4DJFJVD.html, but before breaking out the champagne we'd suggest you visit any construction sites in the Southern half of the nation and try to find someone who speaks English. Buena suerte, amigo. ¿Pregúntese siempre cómo el INS podría ser tan estúpido en esta área? Déme una rotura!
(This was translated by machine, so no warranty on how it will read. It should roughly translate to "Good luck, Friend. I wonder how INS could be so stupid in this area? Give me a break!)
The Predicted Quake?
Probably not, but the 5.2 temblor http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/recenteqs/Maps/118-33.html in the Pacific off San Diego, our old sailing grounds, was serious enough to get a lot of people remembering that a 6.2 has been predicted by very good scientists for the Riverside/San Bernardino area between now and mid-September. This one is likely a wake-up call for Angelinos who have not topped off their water and food supplies, not to mention checking the first aid kit.
Firewalls for Cell Phones
Dandy...just dandy. Here's the latest in hacks: A worm (computer virus) that targets cell phones: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99995111. I gotta believe some group at NSA is working like crazy to be able to turn on your picture phone without you knowing it, so "dangerous" people's whereabouts can be tracked by taking pictures of where they are without them knowing it. Or, just turning on cell phone microphones secretly to hear what's happening and what you might be saying privately to your friends thinking your phone is off...
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Inflation's Back: Higher CPI
The consumer price index was released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's higher than the 0.5% increase expected - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm - it's 0.6% and while that may not seem like a lot, it means the annual inflation rate is now 5.5% although the so-called core (less food and energy - like you can live without them, right?) is up a modest 0.2% and 3.3% annualized. Still, that puts tremendous pressure on the Fed to raise rates. Unless, of course, we get some conveniently timed terrorist attack to bail the Fed out of of their rock & a hard spot.
Oh yeah, the feds do admit there's trouble at the grocery store:
Nice to see booze prices went down, but a decline of 0.1% works out to 19 cents on a bottle of Bacardi Light. Gee thanks...like that's going to help when milk is up a buck.
Web Bots "Wall Around the Clan"?
SEC Limiting Bears?
Once in a while a call from a principal in a brokerage firm does a lot to explain what the "big picture" is all about. On Monday, I spent the better part of an hour on the line with one such source who put a number of things about the current market into perspective. "Any clue why gold is going down if there is really inflation?" I asked. "Oh sure. Inflation is happening like crazy in things you need, like food, but it is more than balanced by the decline in products that are in the "want to have" category." That's no doubt why the PPI hasn't been released by BLS. Politics.
OK, this also explains why gold is going down at precisely the moment it should be going up. "But you know what's really criminal?" my source continued. "Go ahead, make my day." I prompted.
"Well, compliance departments are now effectively running most brokerage firms, not guys like me with 30-years in the trade. For instance, one of the major firms has sent out letters last week from their compliance department advising those of us who occasionally put managed accounts into short positions with those so-called 'double beta" funds [leveraged short funds that gain $2 for every $1 of decline-G] that we can't do that any more under proposed rules. What's more, they are trying to convince us that not only can't we leverage short side action in managed accounts, but they also are trying to keep us from 'parking' managed accounts in money markets or bond funds...even is that's the best move in the client's interest! They're pushing us through the administrative back channel to be long the market all the time!"
Needless to say it was one hell of a phone call, not just because it happened to come as the ^IXIC was flopping around its 50-day moving average. More important is that it put the story on Mark Faulk's web site http://www.faulkingtruth.com/article/?Investing101&1005 alleging that NBC Dateline has been sitting on a short selling scandal that could reach a trillion dollars into sudden perspective.
"So you're saying that the SEC has be deliberately setting up the American investor so that at least the discretionary managed accounts won't be on the short side of the market if we get a crash?" I asked, incredulously. "Managed accounts, not individuals at this point."
Maybe not yet, but you've heard in the past the administration trial ballooning the notion that short selling is un-American and maybe treasonous.
"That's about the size of it George. Go look at what the SEC is hounding compliance departments about and you'll find that regardless of what they claim, the net effect is that they are slowly going through a plan to make it more and more difficult to play the short side - and I think we could be starting another down leg any time now. I can't begin to tell you what a problem this is for me. I have clients coming to me who had one and a half million dollar accounts at the peak of the dotcom bubble. They come to me with half a million and want me to make it back for them before they retire. Well, if I can't park them in cash when the technical indicators I use are indecisive, or can put them into double beta short funds when that's the right move, it really reduces my potential to do the right thing which is provide the maximum returns for the client."
If you can't sleep some night, click over to http://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed.shtml and wade through the SEC regulations and see if they don't have some bias toward being long stocks. Regulations like the new short selling rules are not where the main action in this is. It's offline in meetings. In many firms there are now all-day weekly meetings involving brokerage firm presidents and their heads of compliance with SEC staff.
What has started as "in the consumer's interest" may turn into the financial equivalent of putting chains on the theater doors, knowing full well that a fire could break out inside the theater.
And remember, a fire - a market shocking exogenous event that is apparently beyond the control of government - is just exactly what may be coming. However, unlike real life theater fires, where arson and insurance investigators would doggedly get down to facts, the financial fire (when it happens) will be papered over and inappropriate blame will be placed on all short sellers. And those investigating will be able to use the occasion to gobble up more power and control in our Constructionally Endangered country. And we note there's never been full disclosure about large-scale short sellers immediately prior to 9/11, although we have lingering ideas that they weren't all foreign nationals.
Curious Timing of 9/11
Remember when Cliff & I posted the original web bot run about the major tipping point in early July 2001? Well, a story pops out today that the original "go" date for the event was in the spring, not September of that year: http://news.myway.com/top/article/id/409258|top|06-15-2004::02:46|reuters.html Curious - and it makes us wonder what else is out there waiting to pop now.
Shameless Self Promotion
Not that it's bad, but Viacom-CBS is requiring affiliates to carry to launching of Bill Clinton's new book. http://www.drudgereport.com/bc1.htm. It's being described as political, but at its core, the event is about making money - as much as possible - for Viacom shareholders.
Quiet on the Western Front?
I don't know if you realize it, but since the cease fire between the Koreas, the DMZ has been the scene of daily boom-box battles as the South and North trade propaganda blasts using huge loudspeaker set ups. Today, word comes from the BBC that the two side are going to literally tone down the rhetoric: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3807409.stm It's not exactly all quiet on that Western front, but close.
What do you do to find a new lead singer if you're the rock & roll group INXS? Why do a reality TV special, of course: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/3805467.stm
Trial or Error?
Reports on al Jazeera this morning are that Saddam Hussein will be handed over to the picked government of Iraq sometime in the next two weeks: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/9E5E0036-73B5-478D-BFB4-D7CC2C59E2E3.htm
The story at http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/E299B9CC-E53B-4CA9-8154-26A7089D8A32.htm basically system that Iran is brushing off pressure to yield to international inspection pressures on its nuclear activities. We've been predicting for a long time that the next big move in the Middle East would be either an Israeli strike against Iran or a surgical strike at Syria with tacit U.S. approval if not outright support from the neocons.
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9:45AM ET Update
Latest couple of numbers out from the Commerce Department show what we already knew around here: American consumers want their cake and to eat it too. The balance of trade deficit has just hit a new high - while retail sales have continued to climb: http://biz.yahoo.com/rb/040614/economy_1.html What this shows is that despite all the talk about jobjacking, when push comes to shove, Americans are really not willing to vote with their wallets. More important going forward: What will happen to the BOT figures this fall when agricultural exports from the U.S. drop due to the possibility of a summer of poor weather for farming and soaring prices for commodities?
We expect to see the market open down 40-50 by the Dow this week - and the dollar seems to be losing it against the Euro this morning. We're intrigued by the web bots, which while wrong about when George Bush would make a serious verbal blunder, have not been shown wrong on if he will. We figure it's only a matter of time till the big decline of the market resumes. Whether it's two weeks of two months matters little. The bots are normally right, but the time base is always most difficult to interpret. Perhaps the elections in the EU - which are being labeled a disaster by incumbants - will have something to do with it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3804803.stm
Will Saddam Walk?
If I were to say Saddam Hussein should be released, you'd most likely write me off as a nut job. But suppose for a minute that it's not me making the suggestion, but the International Red Cross? http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1238263,00.html Apparently there's no weapons of mass destruction, few witnesses willing to testify - and judging by the present condition of the country, things really were better before the U.S. showed up...
Meantime, as we get closer and closer to turn over day, the violence in the country has continued to climb with 12 people being killed in the last day or so: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7E5727D9-C94C-4AD7-894E-C392DB4D6356.htm
We notice that Pakistan has netted some suspected "key" al Qaida folks - http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/8222AF81-07B1-4AAF-8154-7D7EE0E6E3A0.htm
Terror Police and Art
We mentioned a few issues back that a San Francisco art dealer was beaten up by Gestapo goons because the "art" didn't please the politics of some viewers. Well now, in an effort to chill protest about genetically modified foods, we read how materials about Frankenfoods bound for a Massachusetts display has been seized by the FBI under the guise of "terror threat" Link When you read the story, you'll see that the FBI says it is a matter of "public safety" of some of the materials. But if that's really the case, why they have not closed down oil refineries on the Gulf Coast on this basis is beyond us..
Rights Under Fire
Another hats off to Kim Zetter of Wired http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,63800,00.html for coverage of the Patriot Act II legislation winding its way through Washington. While it's fine not to believe in the New World Order, you should at least be intellectually honest enough to ask yourself "Why is there so much pressure on to take back our Rights guaranteed (until recently) by the Constitution? Of course it's not just the Feds behind this...
Bye-Bye Rights? The DNA Question
There's a report out of California today that bears watching - voters will have the chance to decide if DNA should be gathered from a person the moment they are arrested on suspicion of a felony. That's right - not when convicted but when arrested! http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/06/12/MNGOB7598T1.DTL&type=printable Big Brother will love this one - no conviction - just pop anyone on suspicion of something and get 'em into the national database. Next thing you know, it'll be DNA testing at traffic stops...
Environment: Milfoil's Brother?
We've been through our share of grief in North America over the spread of Eurasian milfoil. Now it appears that a similar kind of plant attack on lakes of Venezuela is going on according to the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3802977.stm. All of which wouldn't be worth mentioning except that Lake Maricaibo is important to what industry? OIL!
The national severe weather picture continues to focus on the upper Midwest where more tornados are expected today http://www.wunderground.com/severe.asp. We had a few showers here in Texas over the weekend, but nothing like the storms of three weeks back.
36 Hours of Computer Hell
When we came back to the ranch from California, I noticed that my main computer was acting quirky. So this weekend it took off for lunch and never returned, right after Inside Report was done. So I have just spent about 36 hours reformating and reinstalling everything - except Microsoft Outlook. "Why would you want to run Outlook?" my colleague Cliff over at www.halfpasthuman.com asked. "Well, it does all these really neat things..." "Oh sure, but then you can have all kinds of information delivered without your necessarily knowing about it." Good point. So I am now using Pegasus Mail. www.pmail.com if you are interested. Massively shrinks the amount of space used by other MS products. Cliff's point about most viruses being written to exploit weaknesses in Outlook is well taken.
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