Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Easter Islanders Weren't So Dumb After All

Jenna Orkin

I've always been suspicious of the assertion that the Easter Islanders chopped down the last tree. It seemed more likely that they chopped down a number of trees while leaving others to germinate, if that's what trees do, but that by the time the tree population had gotten less robust, some blight came along and did away with the remaining ones.

A few nights ago, I talked to a woman who recently returned from Easter Island. She said the blight theory wasn't so far off. What actually did in the trees were rats from ships, possibly from Polynesia, who ate the trees' roots.

So the Easter Islanders weren't so dumb after all. But we still are.

Dept. Homeland Security Wants Cell Phones to Detect Chemicals, Radiation
Dropping Gulf Dollar Peg Would Ease Inflation: Greenspan
Pros Fear New Towers at WTC Site Have Security Gaps
Cuban Crude, Canada and the US Michael Kane
Laughing Gas Causes Food, Global Warming Dilemma
Constraints on Vaccines and Anti-Virals
Guinea-Bissau: One Step From Becoming First African Narco-State

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Problems with The Front Runners
"I'm shocked that there's gambling in this casino!"

Tony Blair To Join JPMorgan
How the U.S. Secretly Helped Pakistan Build its Nuclear Arsenal
Largest U.S. Solar Array at Nellis AFB, Nevada
Film Debut at Sundance
Government's Fiscal Exposures Approximately $75 Trillion

“About $895 billion, or 57 percent, of the federal government’s reported total assets as of September 30, 2007, and approximately $740 billion, or 25 percent, of the federal government’s reported net cost for fiscal year 2007…were disclaimed on or not audited...” Think about that statement for a minute. Some $740 billion is being spent each year without any audit or independent third-party review. Why?

As the Comptroller General explains: “The federal government did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting (including safeguarding assets) and compliance with significant laws and regulations as of September 30, 2007.” He then goes on to highlight a particular problem; there exists “serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense”....

“Considering this projected gap in social insurance, in addition to reported liabilities (e.g., debt held by the public and federal employee and veterans benefits payable) and other implicit commitments and contingencies that the federal government has pledged to support, the federal government’s fiscal exposures [i.e., its aggregate direct and indirect debt obligations] totaled approximately $53 trillion as of September 30, 2007, up more than $2 trillion from September 30, 2006, and an increase of more than $32 trillion from about $20 trillion as of September 30, 2000. This translates into a current burden of about $175,000 per American or approximately $455,000 per American household.”

Philip Agee Dead at 72

I encourage all who are interested in Agee's legacy to find back copies of Covert Action Quarterly ( CAQ, in its heyday, was THE CIA whistleblowing publication before the Bush apparatus shut it down. In its more recent incarnations, it has been watered down considerably, and was co-opted by new (asset-infested) contributors, and split apart. Louis Wolf, one of the original editors, is still at it.

Larry Chin, Online Journal

Next Time, Evacuees Subject to Criminal Checks
Perfecting the M.O.
$2500 Cars = $200 Oil?

From Slate Magazine:
A good resource on the energy conflicts in Africa is the book:John Ghazvinian, "Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil," Harcourt (2007)four excerpts were published by Slate magazine:Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oilfrom: John GhazvinianPosted Tuesday, April 3, 2007, at 1:35 PM ETThe United States now imports more of its oil from Africa than it does from Saudi Arabia. How is oil and the money it brings to the continent's treasuries transforming Africa? For his new book, Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil, John Ghazvinian traveled from the parched dust bowls of Chad and Sudan to the swamps and jungles of Nigeria and the Congo, and from the corridors of Washington to the gleaming offices of "Big Oil." Does oil-producing Africa live up to the hype? Why is it impossible to buy bananas in Gabon, when they grow in profusion in the nation's virgin rainforest? Can an underdeveloped country like Sao Tome and Principe learn from other nations' mistakes and avoid the "curse of oil"? What effect does the establishment of an oil-company compound in the middle of Chad have on the neighboring land and people? This week, we are publishing four excerpts from Untapped that answer these questions.

Does it Measure up to the Hype?
Will Oil Change Sao Tome and Principe?
When Exxon Mobil Came to Chad
Yes, We Have No Bananas

Sharia Banking's Attack on Western Finances