Saturday Sept. 10, 2005 10:00 A PDT
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How to Live on
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Mardi Gras to Continue
Say what you will about the unruly people who stayed behind - some with the intent of looting, but most just too poor to get out of harm's way - the folks of New Orleans have spunk - and as evidence of that, we note that the French Quarter will reopen on a limited basis in time for what may be a scaled down Mardi Gras this year.
The Brown Boot
We don't believe in kicking someone when they are down, but we notice that Michael Brown has been bounced from running things in NOLA to return to Washington. The allegations are that he seriously stretched his credentials to land the fat job. Now that he's been found out, we expect the web bot's "20 days of secrets reveals" for the Bushita entity ion computer model-space has started, which means we should expect to see some additional revelations about Bush administration people/issues as more 'secrets revealed" leak out between now and the end of the month.
I can't count the number of alarmist emails I have received from readers who are concerned about the arrival of a convoy of material from Mexico in the Katrina impact area. Not only are we raising an eyebrow, but so are overseas press outlets. We think it's dandy that Mexico sent aid - but the fact that they were armed is a concern - and if they're not gone in 15 days or so, then I would have to view this as the neoCONs using it as a conditioning exercise - to get us used to something we don't want to think about and which would cause us to put in another order at www.cheaperthandirt.com - if you see what I mean.
Katrina's Lost Tracks
At a personal level (and besides, it's Saturday), I got a note from my daughter Friday advising that virtually all of the music she put together with her friends in a band called Treatus (short Windows Media sample) was destroyed by Katrina except for 10-tunes on her computer system up in the Seattle area. I wouldn't normally pimp you on indy movies, but when Hot Rod Girls Save the World comes out, I will have to buy it for my daughter's track "Devine Equation" - one of the other "lost tracks" from Treatus. If you (or your company) ever need custom built music, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and has a ProTools Mbox rig...
In what sounds a lot like a replay of how Florida vote counting worked (or didn't, as the case may be) we notice that people in Egypt are caught up in the microdrama of election returns. I wonder who wrote the code if they used voting machines?
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has cleared the way for the construction of a huge nuclear waste dump in Utah. While we are sympathetic tro local concerns, like having the nuke waste stored under the approach path for Hill Air Force base, the reality is that while being under an ap-proach path is statistically more dangerous, we note that the approach path of jumbo jets into LAX puts thousands at risk every day and I don't see a big demand in CONgress that LAX be moved. The problem, as we see it, is that 300 years from now someone will still have super-hot nuke crap to look after. That's a different kettle of fish, indeed, because it'll be a "gift" to the world which may or may not be manageable as technology evolves.
Markets: Top In?
When I get around to posting Inside Report over at the www.peoplenomics.com site tomorrow afternoon, one of the things I will get into is the size of the bounce from the all time highs in the market in 2000. Meantime, of resident fractalist offers this to gnaw on between now and Monday's opening ding:
This weekend, we take on the modest task of building an expert system for survival planning. Not a fancy big government model, just something you can sit yourself, your spouse, your kids, or relatives down in front of and ask important questions and get reasonable answers. Subscription info. Not only will we talk about the model itself, but also how the approach (exper6t systems modeling) can be used to make "adaptive" PowerPoint's and such - a 'business tools" angle.
This week's report was "Fight or Flight Revisited" - a particularly poignant question in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. There are about 200 back issues of our weekly in depth reports available for subscribers willing to part with the modest $30 a year for access.
We have a number of interesting books at our bookstore. Top seller at the moment is "How to live on $10,000 a year - or less..." We will be adding the book on Alzheimer's prevention tomorrow. But you can get titles like the "For Sales by Owner Coach" right now.
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Market on Drugs?
If there was ever a dandy time to see market manipulation in action it would be this morning. Not only did my friend, the gold trader here in L.A. call me to report that the markets were showing closed briefly, but that they would reopen at 8 AM local time - but out comes the horrible - and I mean horrible like the puke scenes in the movies horrible - consumer confidence number. 61.5 is a light year from year ago levels around 103.
Now, what would you think a market would do under the weight of such obvious and undeniable bad news? Rally? Last thought on my mind - but that's what happened following the announcement. Thus, Mr. Ure's suggestion that there be mass drug testing imposed at the NYSE - because that's the only answer other than outright manipulation at the fed window that seems to make sense to me. With this kind of mass delusion in place, a large-scale terrorist attack would surely send the market to new all time highs.
Hurricane Track: Iceland?
Here's a fun, creative way to spend Friday when the Boss isn't looking: Grab your favorite graphics program (we use Corel Draw) that has an interactive transparency control. Then go to the National Hurricane Center and take all of the 3 or 5 day projections and layer them to get a good overview of what's going on in the Atlantic. While I don't have time to do an update this morning, as of last night the picture looked something like this:
See how the 'canes are going the wrong way? What happened to prevailing winds? You'll have to stretch things around a bit to get the various pictures to match up correctly...but it's a great time sink when the work today gets boring.
Even if you don't find the argument that scalar weather wars have broken out on both sides of the planet as we suggested yesterday - or that the recent X-class flares (which we just had another one of a few minutes ago) - are pumping up the energy level of the storms, there's got to be something for the history books next week if the track of Maria continues up and hits Iceland. This would be a serious matter for a secondary reason beyond the possible danger to Icelanders: It throws the whole question of hot water causing hurricanes out the window. Or, underscores that we're all screwed from global warming...there is that angle.
You can click on the NOAA National Hurricane Information Center site here and check out the latest pictures, of course. But the most startling events to watch for would be Maria hitting Iceland, or sometime over the weekend for the storms to (as Cliff puts it) go 'walkabout" and start southing. The cost of the storm is in excess of $100 billion - which in economic terms when considered with Iraq might be like fighting the Vietnam War and Korea at the same time.
Systems Engineer's Perspective
A very competent computer systems engineer - one of the experts responsible for keeping your bank's computers working, offers this perspective on Katrina:
Other Reader Reactions
We hear it from both sides - and while some people find my modest little "one man newspaper" amusing, others find it insightful:
I'm aware that some folks think the storms are steered by MASER's (where microwaves instead of light are amplified, as in Lasers) or as Jim McCanney argues, lasers are being used. Whatever the cause, we continue to be intrigued with how HAARP fits into this - if at all.
Back to the reader feedback, not everyone sees things the same way I do:
This fellow has a few points, but I'd offer that I don't live in Occam's world, which anyone who knows the theory (the simplest answer has the best chances of being the right one) knows that it doesn't apply in systems theory. Besides that, us Bayesians don't model our selves on thinking styles from the 1300's. The mid 1700's seemed to offer more insight.
A grand jury in Austin has indicted former House majority leader Tom DeLay, according to reports but remember this is an indictment, not charges.
A biggie - 7.3 on the Richter Scale today in New Guinea. You might want to bookmark the US Geological Survey site for occasional checks over the weekend and around the 21st when we go into our next window. Not that we're done with this series, mind you. The high probability among the non-scientist readers seems to be high.
Beware of 2014
As much as possible, Elaine and I like to hang out with seriously intelligent people - and dinner last night with Ehor Mazurok, who you may remember from the Mazurok-Ure Correlation work of a few years back (Part 1 and Part 2) was extraordinarily delightful. The short version of the theory says that there is a financial wall of sorts at 2014 which the world runs smack into because at some point the effects of compound interest go vertical - an ugly little secret that not many economists want to own up to in their apologies for excessive consumption capitalism. I spent a part of the conversation trying to enlist Ehor in my "Peoplenomics" book effort - which will explore ways to transition from our present excess consumption model to something less environmentally damaging. The only minor detail to be worked out is "What's the answer?"
Ehor's work shows that we could actually make it to 2014 but then that "wall" smacks us. I see a few problems along the way including economic collapse due to extraordinary costs of maintaining the present system from the growing accumulation of disasters and then there's the 2012 issue. Grist for the mill.
Is there a chance the rash of hurricanes and typhoons is an active scalar war? We are reluctant to get out ahead of the mainstream media curve too far, but there seems to be an increasing buzz around the 'net about the possibility that something beyond chance has been driving abnormal weather for the past several years. What's abnormal?
The "Grand Unified Theory" proposed by one reader goes something like this: Suppose for a moment that there really is some advanced technology that has evolved from the earlier works of Nicolas Tesla? Is there just an outside chance that hurricanes are scalar in nature, as TV Weatherman Scott Stevens suggested on this site back in October of 2004? Stevens has continued to update his work at www.weatherwars.info.
If your mind is open enough to ask the rhetorical question "What if?..." Then the first thing we would need would be some kind of gigantic transmitter which could serve the purpose of being an ionosphere heater. But to work, such a device would have to be able to delivering the equivalent of millions of watts of energy to almost any place on earth. Where would we find such a device?
There's a good chance that HAARP - the government's High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program - located in Alaska would fill the bill neatly. We note that in 1995 Dr. Nick Begich was writing (with Jeane Manning) in Nexus Magazine) that HAARP was nothing more than vandalism in the sky.
Objectively, we need to ask "Why does the government fund a multi-megawatt natural gas fired power station in Alaska with more power than 20 regional FM stations operating all at once just to find out about the "aurora" - supposedly over Alaska? It's the technological equivalent of building a Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer to study a cup of coffee - the tool's too big for the stated purpose.
One could postulate that even with a million or 10 watts of effective radiated power in Alaska, how would it be possible to focus the energy in ways necessary to get all that energy focused on something as small (from a radio antenna aperture perspective) into a region so that some energy could be directed in a manner that would advance (or retard) the formation and eventual direction of tropical storms - perhaps slightly modifying their paths in such a way that they would either be deflected - or damage magnified by adversaries of America?
Here we would have to plug in Chemtrails. If you haven't followed this issue, the leading proponents of investigation into this part of "science" have been reporting for several years that the government is deliberately spraying large layers of material composed of boron, aluminum and barium (plus other "stuff") into the atmosphere, especially in the Pacific Northwest.
Why there? Because if you draw out a great circle heading from Alaska to the coast off of Florida where Ophelia has been sitting (a damn strange behavior for a hurricane) gathering strength, you'll find that given the jet stream and other winds aloft, you could "seed clouds" to become huge passive radio wave reflectors, which could send scalar/radio waves off in the direction of Florida.
Naturally, we don't expect for anyone to come out and name names, but the body of literature on the topic is growing. The leading voice of theory has been Tom Bearden, who has also observed the possible relationship between HAARP and a Russian signal called the "Woodpecker" which was explained away to ham operators like me as crude over the horizon radar when we asked about it in the 1960's through the end of the Cold War.
Bearden names the Japanese Yakuza (and others) as being behind the current bout of "scalar warfare". Some call Bearden's work "disinformation." Whether it's real depends on how far you want to step away from the comfort zone of mainstream media.
We present this "grand Unified Theory" only for your consideration because it pulls together a lot of disparate pieces into a single overview. It may not be "true" yet - but we must remember two things in considering the "truth" of a matter. First, what is "true" is a matter of social convention. We recall that "The world is flat" was accepted as truth during a huge span of Western European history. Until a nutjob came along named Columbus.
Then we apply the admonition of Sherlock Holmes who escaped from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's pen to warn us:
I ready to trash this morning's report completely and start over - yet the pieces somehow all continue to fit with this most improbable solution.
Oh yeah, one more thing, if there was anything to this "seeding the jet stream to bring a big passive reflector into place, we might see chemtrail dispersal over Alberta today.
Coincidentally, have you been watching the typhoons (Nabi and Talim for example) in the Western Pacific? A modest extension of the theory might suggest that scalar war making could interfere with the normal processes of the sun which let off with a huge (and extraordinarily rare) X class flare yesterday - the effects of which are arriving about now.
One last data point that fits: Legislation in Washington to legalize government weather modification:
Reality is just too 'effing strange for us to make it up. Check the patent here for a starting point.
Houston Labor Issues
Yesterday, we gave you the backgrounder on the potential for disruptions as newly arrived displaced New Orleans residents started to complete with illegal immigrants in Houston's day labor market. Today, the story has gone mainstream with reports of arrests on Wednesday. Only one day early on this one, but wait till we get to the quakes later on - you'll see us ahead by months on that stuff.
Body Bags and the Net
We are quietly using the sad occasion of body bag reports to help us gauge how correct the "rumors" on the internet are. You may remember that within a few days of hitting landfall, there were reports on the 'net that "50,000 body bags" had been ordered for New Orleans. That count was poo poo'ed by officials. Yet, this morning the body bag count is up to 25,000 and it looks like the "rumor mills" on the net will be at least half right.
Thge hurricane aftermath continues grim on the energy front - although the market is expected to open down a bit in the next few minutes, the big question is why the big rally since Katrina?
Longage of Humans Watch
I think it was Jay Hanson (who was deeply involved in www.dieoff.org ) who wisely described the zone of a planet being past its human carrying potential as being not a 'shortage" of material things so much as a "longage" of humans. A very important perception, to our view because it places into context some of the life and death issues that are facing the planet at a macro level. For example, a new UN report warns of millions of deaths in the near future if more money isn't poured into development. I hate human suffering as much as they next guy, but there's an ugly oproblem wrapped up in such proposals - stated best by the old weekly version of the Wall Street Journal - the National Observer in its coverage of the "green Revolution" in the 60's or 70's. The problem, the Observer concluded, is that if you feed people now (or help them fight disease and such) then they tend to breed and make more humans. So in a sense, by solving the problem today, you make a bigger problem tomorrow. It's a moral conundrum at best - one of those 'choices from hell" kinds of things. Long term, it's an economy altering decision.
We read this morning that the free - and no equipment required - web telephone service www.skype.com (which we use and share with our www.peoplenomics.com readers) may be purchased by eBay. Once again, we spot a winner in advance.
Good report on Microsoft going after the CRM market. We wonder how long it will be until MS figures out the next frontier is in ERP systems and makes a complete platform which would integrate things like Quicken online accounting with ACT! or GoldMine sales automation features and perhaps a UPS/FedEx for shipping into a single "total management solution." A while, I guess - it'd be too cool and would take money from consultants like me, I guess.
The situation in New Orleans continues pretty much as it has been - a slowly evolving story of bad planning, worse execution, and miserable fallout. Specifically, there are growing concerns about the toxicity of the water coming out of the city, worries about the one million people without power, and issues getting petroleum resources online again. Still, after what is arguably the worst civil disaster in American history, what were you expecting? Of course the Mayor has ordered "Everybody out!"
Still, there are continuing reports that FEMA has set up camps in places like Oklahoma to house refugees. The problem is, however, that such "camps" have a distinctly Germany in 1943 feel about them if your read the reports at sites like Above Top Secret.
After the big run up in the markets yesterday, we expect there will be a decline today, at least intraday while some profits are booked. Globally, we are watching the oil picture because over time, one of the biggest drivers of the economy is cheap energy. If you take that away, and the resultant international trade, and what you have left is a country which can't really fed for itself. So, when we read about Indian starting to explore for oil in waters off Cuba, we take it in the context of asking the question "If Peak Oil were a real phenomena, is this how a particular news story about evolve?" The answer is usually "Yes." (India is buying a bunch of airplanes and will need fuel for them.)
Another way to look at the storm is to consider that more violent weather may be the result of global warming. Not that it's all caused by humans: there's a good case that changes on the sun (out of human control) are a much larger factor that ever considered. And, we are seeing anomalous weather worldwide, not just in the U.S. Take, for instance, the typhoon which slammed Japan overnight. Meantime, we read about how Pacific Northwest forecasters are worried about an extreme wild fire year. Then we even notice that year-to-date precipitation at our ranch which should be running 28" or so is at 19 ˝ inches this year.
Labor Competition Post Katrina
We are extremely sensitive to people of all colors and faiths - and we view the world's economy as something which is a battle between the "elites" and the "people" although not in the Marxian view. With this in mind - consider this report from our Houston Bureau:
As usual this morning, our Houston bureau is prescient The government admits that the 400,000 officially unemployed from the storm will add to the national joblessness picture. But what most don't see is that in a city like Houston, you can quickly pencil out a huge increase compared eith cities which haven't been so open-armed about relief and relocation.
Based on 2-million working, Houston might have 100,000 unemployed in regular times. But with 30,000 more unemployed showing up, the local rate would go up 30% and elevate Houston unemployment to a theoretical 6.5% unemployment rate if the base is 5%.
So the contest for jobs will get really tight and in short order. See how Peoplenomics works?
The web bot project of www.halfpasthuman.com continues to hold out its vision of the future that includes three great quakes in a single day in our immediate future. This is based on extremely subtle changes in language sampled from the internet on places like public discussion boards and such - as how people reference the future seems to change subconsciously prior to big events.
So, while Elaine and I leave California at the end of this month, we continue making our daily check of the USGS 3+ domestic quake list...and we've got our walk-out kits at the ready. Which brings me to a point: If wqe do happen to get a big power-killing quake in SoCal, Cliff da bot man will post an update to this site - and we are never without our assortment of HF radio gear - as useful for gathering as sending out information. (Do I have to slap you silly for years before you will get a Morse-code free ham radio license?)
While we've got our sons and daughters off trying to get democratic processes jump-started in Iraq, little mainstream media attention seems focused on the first elections in Egypt being held. President Mubarak is expected to win, due in part to having a field of 9 to choose from.
Also of note on Middle East Oiltics: An October "trial" date has been set for Saddam Hussein. One the one hand, Iraqi sources are spreading the word that he has already "confessed" to crimes, but we keep coming back to our question about whether he will ever be allowed to speak his mind in open court - something we expect would be very dangerous for a lot of U.S. string pullers. We wouldn't hold his life insurance policy on a bet, thanks.
In Iraq, "al Qaida" has taken a town on the Syrian border - at least that's what British are being told that it "al Qaida." Although reports would have us believe that al Qaida is now an obvious military operation, as opposed to a more subtle terrorist organization, we'll be reading something other than British reports to see if there's something to this. After all, Britain is where the Downing Street Memo mess has been more or less swept under the rug.
Clash of Titans
Tired of watching Katrina fallout? Try watching the evolving conflict between Microsoft and Google. there's some good coverage of it in overseas press accounts. Todd Bishop's Seattle Post Intelligencer coverage is really good, too.
Underlying the courtroom battle are strategic personnel decisions related to the emerging Chinese computer market. Sitting back (as I do too often) this strikes me as the kind of marketing-driven battle that went on when Nixon was trying to open China trade. "If everyone in China bought just one Coke a day, think that that would do for American business!" was one of the battle cries of the day.
While Microsoft makes a dandy operating system (I've only had the "blue screen of death" twice this week on my laptop and I know what I did wrong) we think that throughout Asia and much of the evolving world outside of the US corporate umbrella, the open source initiative is going to kick butt. Which is why lately, as we redesign our www.independencejournal.com lifestyle site, we're paying particular attention to how things work in Firefox.
We see the open source movement as a proxy for what's going on in the world right now: Just as corporate colonialism was a great engine of progress when resources were unlimited, so too has capitalistic software been a boon to the planet. But what happens when software evolves to where everything is web-ready and word processing programs spit out HTML/XML and the very last possible "feature" button has been shoe horned onto the menu bars? At what point is enough truly enough? We can still only type or speak so fast, right? And with the exception of web bot Cliff's Vortex Reader technology (half way down page), we can only read so fast - and even with Vortex, I find myself only reading 800 words a minute or so.
So if you need a break from Katrina, watch how software companies are dancing around the open source wars. Even at academic pricing, because I work as a private college executive by day, the feature set in Sun's $79 Star Office is really catching up with the higher priced options.
I don't know how to respond, other than to say after having my butt handed to me in a large number of option trades that went bad due to what I perceived at the time as obvious intervention/manipulation, I made the strategic decision to move 100% of my personal financial resources out of the markets. Whether you want to call it "intervention" is a matter of choice. What I do see is that when in the market today, I am not "eye-to-eye" with other traders - the formerly Invisible Hand has become quite visible.
Ask yourself "Why would the stock market climb with a million people in the dark, gasoline production endangered, and a hugely expensive relocation program underway?" The answer is simple: A free market would have tanked (just as it did after 9/11). So I took all of my money and left that particular casino, taking a few dollars and a hell of a tax-loss carry forward with me.
Basic Skills, Rigs, Count
The horror of New Orleans continues, but we do find some comfort in a few places, such as a report that "With Modern Life Swept Away, New Orleans Residents Survive with Stone Age Skills." Indeed, there is a point at which human behavior stops being looting and becomes hunter-gatherer behavior. There are lots of great bookmarks that people have sent in, but the page about solar water purification is something everyone should read from www.solarcooking.org. Note particularly the solar water pasteurizer made from a pop bottle and a soda can.
Short term, we're on one of those emotional upticks at the moment. The price of oil and gasoline has moderated a bit this morning, which just about ensures a positive start to the stock market for this shortened week. Longer term, our sources in the oil patch tell us that they're contributing to http://www.theoildrum.com/ where there's some good long-term perspective. And while Apache only lost 8 rigs, the real question the industry is asking this morning is how much did Chevron (#2 producer in the GOM) lose. And - not only how many but were they hub wells that are key to distribution and the undersea pipeline system. Our other sources in Houston are working on this angle - but remember, these guys just finished last month the recovery from Hurricane Ivan.
Other notes: Most of the oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is GOM heavy-sour crude and reportedly the Valero refinery is best suited to process it. So even as we read about restarting refineries this week (more on that in a sec) the real question behind the happy talk will be throughput. Also, the guys in the majors who produce oil point out that all the refiners do is produce 6-grades of gasoline and two grades of diesel - it's the distributors and retailers who have the power to gouge. They point out that the average profit on retail gas is only a nickel a gallon - where the profit on a 6-pack of beer is over a buck. (Don't get me started on selling gas and beer at the same place, then complaining about drinking driver, that's a whole other rap.)
Our best guess is the real economic impacts will be felt in about mid-October and the most problematic areas will be Georgia and Florida where barge capacity will have to be replaced with over-the-road tankering and I-10 is still being repaired. There may be a bit of gasoline in storage now, but the whole industry is running close to Just In Time (JIT) production, so a few weeks from now the real picture should come into focus - along with Chevron's confessions on rig count and hubs.
Also consider that restarting refineries is a slow process - which can take more than a week, so what is supplying much of the South and the Mississippi River basin is product which was in storage tank farms when Katrina showed up. Depending on who you listen to, it's either 4 out of 8 or 5 out of 8 that are restarting presently. Forget refinery counts - focus on throughput in two or three weeks because that's where the questions will be harder to answer.
With Fall Closing In...
This week on our subscriber side www.peoplenomics.com we go over some of the ways that "Fight or Flight" instincts worked out during the current emergency. And what's to come. What we generally foresee for the coming month or two isn't pretty on the economic front. A couple of reasons why:
A very well informed reader suggests that there may have been an underlying reason why the Bush administration was caught flatfooted by the storm:
Before you write off the possibility, it might help your consideration of the concept if I tell you that the author of the email is both an attorney and CPA and I've admired his insights for half a dozen years or so.
So it's on that note that we are entering into our last few weeks in Southern California on "pins and needles" with the possibility of earthquakes according to the web bots, which have already been too damned accurate on "losing a city to mud" and "restrictions on travel, food shortages" already. We're only at 40% of the emotional levels expected between now and Christmas - so look for post-Katrina news to develop badly as the body count soars later this month and perhaps for another shoe to drop in the form of a quake or worse. Cliff, who's the genius behind the web bots will be on Alex Merklinger's show Tuesday night at 6:30 PM Pacific. Wouldn't miss it for anything.
Speaking of quakes, we think the Obsidian Butte, California swarm has ended (or at least slowed back into the background) but there was a 5.2 up in Alaska this morning. We certainly are on "quake watch" because there are the after effects of solar coronal mass ejections hitting earth today which could cause activity to rise again. A number of serious astrologers are pointing to planetary alignments around the 10th and again on the 29th as periods to watch.
Fidel Castro is upset that the US hasn't responded to Cuba's offer of aid.
Another one the administration is having a tough time spinning is Venezuelan president Chavez offering a million more barrels of gasoline.
What Would Teresa Say?
We wonder what the
a state governor ordering seizure of an H.J. Heinz plant
would have been should John Kerry have won the White House?
Iran Off the Hook
There had been some speculation that Iran's potential development of atomic energy for something other than peaceful purposes would come up for review in the UN Security Council soon. But that has now been torpedoed by Russia which we recall has been the major contractor along with the Chinese on nuclear development in the country.
News from Elliott Wave International
Write when you get rich,
George Ure, The People's Economist
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