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30 thoughts on “Open Thread

  • November 21, 2007 at 10:57 am
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    Some thoughts on Wal-Mart screwing a former shelf stocker over money they clearly don’t need and thoughts on the Military asking for their bonuses back. Bonus! Feel free to check out my blog at http://chrisritchie.blogspot.com
  • November 21, 2007 at 1:32 pm
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    I learned first-hand today that WalMart actually won a recent Federal court case (Americans with Disabilities Act suit) by arguing that since “thinking” is not a requisite (necessary) for living, therefore mental retardation and/or other mental ‘problems’ are not “disabilities” and therefore do not qualify for consideration under the ADA law.

    Go figure. Makes me “want to see blood and gore and veins in my teeth …” I’d luv to see a “million wheelchair roll (march)” on WallyWorld HQ and/or at every China-Mart in Amerikkka – not that any justice would ever be administrated. This makes me want to do the technicolor yawn. Society?, ‘civilization’? Justice? Equality? Freedom What fucking … ???????????????????

  • November 21, 2007 at 1:37 pm
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    Hi All

    I’ve enjoyed this site for awhile now and thought I’d contribute my own thoughts. Without going into detail, I agree with just about everything that I’ve read here; in particular, the direction in which The West is headed.

    However, I do not believe we have to submit to our fate. The PTB have been pretty accurately identified, I believe, as has their motivation; to enrich themselves. So, while we prepare for the worst with a plan to survive the collapse, why don’t we stick it to them NOW!

    The most effective way to do this is to STOP SPENDING MONEY! Starve the bastards out! Our society has been built on consumerism for too long. It, and we as individuals, have become addicted to it.

    So, we have to fight it. The following are a few ideas that come to mind:

    1) Turn off the TV. At least stop paying for the privilege of getting your commercials via Cable or Satellite!

    2) Buy only high quality, durable goods, that will be of use and value post-collapse (and no less valuable and useful now, I might add). Here I am thinking of things like axes (hard to find a good axe these days!), buck saws, froes, triple blocks and tackle, shovels, hoes, cultivating claws, wheel barrows, hammers, wood chisels, planes, drawknives, spokeshaves, pressure canners, canning bottles, lids and rings, etc.

    3) Become self-sufficient for food, water, medicine and energy. That means homesteading NOW. That also means learning to plant, grow, harvest and preserve your own food. Gardening, beekeeping, butchering and preserving will all be necessary skills in the future and are skills you can develop NOW to save you money and deny it to THE MAN. Please don’t think you NEED to live out in the country to do this. If you live in the city and can’t get out, look at rooftop gardening or guerilla gardening on land otherwise not being used. However, self sufficiency requires both land and relative isolation (so the “locusts” don’t get it all)

    4) Learn to barter services and goods with neighbours. If they aren’t interested in this kind of economy you need new neighbours! The goal should be to spend ZERO dollars. You can not be taxed (at this time, anyways) for barter.

    5) Think about what you are doing with your money. Take a look at where your money goes now. You will be shocked, I’m sure. Reduce spending to necessities. If you aren’t sure its a necessity, try going a year without it. If you manage it isn’t necessary!

    6) Think about what you are doing with your left over money. Chances are you are making money for THE MAN wherever you invest it. You’ve learned to live so well without it, why do you need to invest it? Just keep it away from THE MAN. No banks, no stocks, no bonds, no investment certificates. If you MUST invest it, do it by informal loaning WHATEVER YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE to others who believe as you do and need the capital to become self-sufficient themselves.

    7) Finally, spread the word! Teach others how to live without spending money. Word-of-mouth is still the best way of advertising. Remember the old Clairol shampoo commercials? “I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on…..”

    If we truly want to effect change; whether it is environmental, political or societal, hitting THE MAN where he lives by depriving him of money is the best way to do it. The bonus is you will be preparing yourself and others for what must follow in the process.

    Best Regards

    AllMightyDollar

  • November 21, 2007 at 3:43 pm
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    Just a quick comment on guerilla gardening in cities: The soil in those areas is generally very toxic. Lead is in high levels in all the soils, for example.

    One thing that can be done is: Grow spinach, harvest it and dispose of it as hazardous waste….do this for 3-4 years and you may reduce the level of lead in the soil to tolerable amts.

    As far as throwing quick gardens in city soils? Forget about it. Container gardening…soil removal and replacement, site selection far away from buildings and their drainages and not adjacent to high traffic areas, rooftop gardens….or lead abatement using plants, etc.

  • November 21, 2007 at 4:38 pm
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    Don’t forget you’ll have to lug your water in through the teeming mobs from the nearest mud puddle 12 miles away.

    City living is already deadly enough, don’t know how it will be with no power, no food, no water and no usable soils in the future.

  • November 21, 2007 at 6:23 pm
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    And best ‘read’ of the day: Giving Thanks For Oil and OPEC

    Why should we give thanks that the future holds no cheap oil? There are several reasons, but the first is that cheap oil has fueled a 50-year-long party in the industrialized West that has left us with an unsustainable economy that is wrecking the planet. 

  • November 21, 2007 at 6:29 pm
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    It’s possible that one day, Deek will be killed, his death made to look like an ‘accident’. Perhaps a traffic stop with an overzealous cop. Or a home raid at the ‘wrong address’. Or maybe some sort of exotic poison, they seem to like doing that over there.

    He’s better then Alex Jones and puts his material right out there in sound bytes anybody should be able to understand.

    Enjoy it while it lasts. Just got a phone call — if what this guy says is true ($4 trillion dollar loss), we’re down to just a few more months of relative comfort.

  • November 21, 2007 at 6:54 pm
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    Agreed .. but this was forseen as the ARM ‘reset’. (Funny how it is now called the ‘Sub-prime’ lending meltdown.) So we appear to be only at the half-way point.
  • November 21, 2007 at 7:24 pm
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    Here it is, and it’s much worse then the ARM reset:

    Major Financial Disruption
    http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org

    Message from John L. Petersen / The Arlington Institute:
    It appears that the world in general and the United States in particular are on the edge of a major disruption in the global financial system. Hereâ’s the summary as we see it.
    11/14/2007
    Author: Ken Dabkowski

    At a recent Board meeting of The Arlington Institute, Dr. David Martin, CEO of M∙CAM and one of the members of the Board was asked for his assessment of the global financial situation in the coming months.

    Here are my notes from his response:

    I stand by my commentary in July of â’06.

    The next shoe to fall is consumer credit
    Currently as reports came in on the 3rd quarter, foreclosures were up 470% this quarter alone. They will be up over 500% this coming quarter (4th). A foreclosure in our terms is when the bank has officially declared an account insolvent and tries to regain the asset (if it exists). The person who is foreclosed upon can no longer secure any traditional consumer credit. This in turn goes straight to the banks as no one will be able to get the store issued charge cards.

    A minority of people pay off their consumer debt every month. When one considers the combination of consumer credit card debt and the compounded debt of “home equity” financing, we estimate that less than 20% of people actually carry no consumer credit from one month to the next. Many of the ones who donâ’t pay off their carried consumer debt have at least one credit card at its limit and therefore lack credit capacity. Most have their paycheck directly covering bills and servicing the minimum balance due.

    Therefore people who are foreclosed upon will not be able to obtain credit and since their paychecks will be maxed out, there will not be extra cash left over from the paycheck to service a new debt.

    Next, everybody buys things at Christmas. As much as 40% of retail sales are done in the 4th quarter of the year – i.e. the retail miracle. The purchase decline in retail goods this fourth quarter will occur because many credit-only consumers will lack the credit capacity mentioned above. Frequently, people overcharge their limit and the banks (albeit a profit center for subprime credit users) levy a penalty by increasing interest rates and charging additional fees. In the 4th quarter of 2007, the amount of people overcharging their limits will be too many for the banks to handle. We do not have a system in place to deal with overcharge on that scale. A substantial number of this Decemberâ’s purchases will go into an overdraft on credit limits.

    CDO – Collateral Debt Obligation – Consumer Credit

    Consumer credit pooled debt investment instruments (a form of CDO) are originated and rated based on underlying historical credit behavior and a complex series of predictive models for repayment dynamics. CDOs have “strips” which are a combination of similar profile tranches within a larger investment product. Based on the marketâ’s appetite for risk, investment performance guarantees (or credit enhancements) are packaged with the credits. These credit guarantees are issued by insurance companies, reinsurance companies, and other specialty finance companies – many operating with extra-territorial jurisdiction rendering fiscal oversight more complicated.

    These strips come in several categories:

    Investment grade
    Almost investment grade
    Junk and
    Why did we give them a credit card?
    All of these grades are priced on historical default rates. The credit insurance companies (AIG, MBIA, Ambac, Financial Security Assurance, Channel Re, XL, Zurich Re and other reinsurers) have, from time to time, issued credit guarantees to the securities. Banks sell debt in the form of a Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO).

    Minor shifts in default actuarial activity (+/- 25 basis points) from normative behavior is absorbed within pricing of these financial guaranty contracts. However fundamental shifts (hundreds or thousands of basis points in one quarter) are not built into the model and result in credit enhancement insolvency on a major scale. When the insurer cannot pay based on its own liquidity impairment, the bank is left with catastrophic (an insurance term for excessive loss outside of expected) exposure.

    If in a single quarter we have an increased foreclosure rate of 400% (or 4000 basis points) the insurance contracts simply cannot handle that kind of drastic shift as evidenced by the write offs in the third quarter. When we will follow the drastic third quarter with a loss of 500% in the fourth quarter, the trajectory becomes clear.

    Neither the banking nor the insurance industry has a historical experience in dealing with this type of challenge and neither has the liquidity linked to these contracts to support system wide collapse.

    Where was the announcement of this? There was no announcement.
    However Hank Greenberg is resurfacing in AIG leadership even during an SEC investigation because without him, no one else can remember where the counterparty risks are. In order to save the insurance industry, shareholders have looked past alleged SEC violations as there is no one with Mr. Greenbergâ’s awareness of the market and counterparty agreements who can hope to navigate the coming challenges. In the 4th quarter, the US will have another record foreclosure announcement. Once youâ’re over 25% (25 basis point) foreclosure, all models are broken.

    Under a consumer credit melt-down, Capital One and/or Wachovia are likely going to put a massive foreclosure liability to an insurance company and the insurance company will not have liquidity to cover the exposure.

    This is the problem we got into when we issued credit card debt on top of secondary mortgages – (inflated the value of the home) and gave out credit based on faux equity that no one really had.

    The reason why this problem is the second shoe to fall (subprime mortgage collapse was the first shoe) is because consumer credit has a different foreclosure frequency than traditional mortgage credit.

    December is when the maturity of the giant buyout of the economy moves.

    By December, youâ’ll have a second round of charge offs based on consumer credit. The real big problem – when you foreclose on consumer credit, people stop buying things. When people stop buying things, we donâ’t have a tertiary way to pump liquidity into the market. People wonâ’t have extra cash from their paychecks and wonâ’t have capacity on their cards.

    Try this case study:

    Go to the mall and stand in front of counter at Victoria Secret. Watch what happens when someone wants to pay with cash. The clerk wonâ’t know how to ring up cash. They will need a manager to come over to give change and unlock drawers. When you donâ’t have capacity on those cards, you donâ’t buy things. VISA credit cards actually denigrate using cash in their run-up-to-Christmas add campaign.

    Next, go to any savings bank data set. If you were going to spend $1000 in cash this Christmas, can you do it? For the most part, the answer would be “no” because we have had a net negative spending for the last 5 years.

    Therefore there will be depressed consumer spending this Christmas but what is spent, people will overcharge. This will take what used to be good investments in CDOs and will change the dynamic. If you used to be a person who paid their bills on time, you will now only pay half. If the credit companies are counting on the top two tranches to pay their card off in full and they donâ’t, they wonâ’t have liquidity to cover the rest. The banks cannot afford the top tranch paying half.

    The estimates are out. There will be at least $400B in the first round of charge offs in the CDO market.

    Weâ’re not going to be done with the subprime mortgage when the CDOs fall. Therefore we will have an insolvency problem with the banks that are mentioned above.

    This is the kiss of death of a privately held Federal Reserve. For the Federal Reserve to function, its stakeholder banks (like JP Morgan Chase) must remain viable and liquid. When one of them, or any major bank in the U.S. (like Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of New York, Washington Mutual, etc.) is impaired or ceases to exist, the architecture of the Fedâ’s capacity to respond to systemic challenges is unsustainable.

    If the banks have no money, they canâ’t pump liquidity into the market. Taking half of a trillion dollars out of market in a single distressed write down becomes problematic. The US banking system does not have the liquidity to take the hit.

    The actual solvency of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is relatively indecipherable due to the fact that their treasury management processes (and the risks of their own investment strategies) are not uniformly disclosed with sufficient transparency. The FDIC was set up for isolated problems with a few bad banks but is NOT prepared to “insure” the system in an industry-wide crisis. The actual liquidity reserve of the “insurance” that Americans view as their safety net is 1/100th the actual exposure of outstanding deposits. The actual coverage ratio for the Bank Insurance Fund (BIF) fell below 1.25% in 2002, the same year that less stable credit practices were adopted by Americaâ’s leading banks.

    The funny part is that the Federal Government will be on holiday when all of this happens. There will be no one to put freeze actions and moratoria on actions. The only way you stop the cataclysm is to put together civil actions on deposit withdrawals.

    As I discussed previously, the Chinese currency wild-card may become relevant far sooner than expected. An effort by China to convert its $1.4 trillion U.S. Treasury holdings into euros is not viable for many reasons – not the least of which is the European Central Bankâ’s inability to absorb such an event. As China continues its rush away from supporting U.S. Treasuries and as Middle Eastern investors are buying them up in more diversified holdings, a new “currency exchange” is unfolding. Realizing that they cannot liquidate their holdings, it appears that the Chinese are currently using their U.S. Treasury holdings as collateral for euro denominated purchases and long term infrastructure transactions. In other words, they may be “liquidating” their holdings as collateral and, in so doing, effectively migrating to non-dollar value without ever having to officially dump their current Treasury holdings.

    Therefore, collateralize the credit in dollars – especially if youâ’re long in dollars. The lender/financier wonâ’t call the note because you have it structured in such a way to both allow it to perform and hold illiquid collateral that no one wants. This essentially inflates euros. Although you canâ’t sell dollars, the whole purpose of collateral is that it is a second source of payment – collateral is there to down rate the risk of the loan. Secondary becomes irrelevant.

    When February comes, the Chinese are going to do something as they will have to decide what the exposure is going to be with the treasury. As I see it they have to just dump the treasury. They only keep it because they can use it – they have 43% direct/indirect of US treasuries so theyâ’ll dump them on the market.

    The US Congressional pressures to decouple the RMB will work, but not in the way we want. Our plan includes helping them hold on to the treasuries, it does not involve them not holding the dollar anymore. The US wanted the tether to be part of the float. This will cause disenfranchisement of the US electorate (during primary season). February is also when public (media) will realize we wonâ’t pull out of this.

    Side note: Mayor Bloomberg could enter the race at this point, being the savior candidate (at least economically), but has $1B dollars in non-liquid money so he may not be able to enter.

    March is when we realize that the dollar doesnâ’t come back.
    OPEC price with the whole fluctuation of oil futures presages the event. They are going to run the price of oil as high as they can get it on the dollar, while buying US treasuries from China with the money. When the dollar does collapse, theyâ’ll flip denominations. The wild card is long about March when the OPEC cuts spot oil off the dollar to the euro. One can look at the current oil price at close to $100/barrel and fail to see that, as this premium price is currently turning around and investing in a weakening dollar, the effective price (less the dollar investment hedge) is probably closer to $50/barrel than the spot price reflects.

    Currency problems will change the game – they are financially structuring themselves to take the hit.

    When we canâ’t afford to buy oil commodities on a spot market – it compounds the problem however the consumer that Saudi Arabia ships to is liquid (China). In the US it is a big problem. There is still a market for oil; it just changes. When you come out of Straits of Hormuz, turn left.

  • November 21, 2007 at 8:29 pm
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    Mmmmmm. This was my original take on the Fed rate reduction. Not only to pump liquidity into the market (though needed), but to curtail some of the defaults (ARMs are tied in to the prime).

    So I liked the article. But again, do not pronounce the date of doomsday. These financial architects have other ‘tricks’ up their sleeves.

    BTW, the Liberty Dollar story made cable TV news and the interviewer just ripped apart von NotHaus citing (in affected incredulous tones) the similarities of the coin to US coinage (and totally skirting the solid backing with precious metals). I thought it was a shallow piece of Journalism.

  • November 21, 2007 at 9:13 pm
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    I find the need to listen to FKN episodes more than once. One must listen very carefully to catch all (each) of his creative phrasing in context. And, Deek not only posts full-frontal content online weekly (for many years) but he also literally ‘takes it to the streets’ (live street performances and other non-violent activism). Check out vydi.com for samples. Deek’s newest site (11/21/07) is newsnet7.com.
    IMO, It is virtually impossible for Deek to have slipped under the UK survelience radar. Hence, Admin’s concern. I’ve not seen anyone online in the US with the cajones of a rhinoceros. I’ve done him the insider insult of conferring premortum ‘sainthood’ – or anti-sainthood more precisely. St. Deek of Fife, Patron Saint of the New Testiclement.
  • November 22, 2007 at 12:59 pm
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    If “Collapse Science” is to be legitimized beyond that of a catchy phrase our knowledge must be ascertained through observation and experimentation. Observation will only take us so far. Theories must be formulated and tested. AllMightyDollar by applying his economic principals to affect change would qualify him as a collapse scientist. I have been experimenting with the same principals of minimalism. This Blog is a grand experiment in collapse science and should get Admin nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Documenting our efforts may serve future generations. We are in the death throws of a dieing civilization and as the enlightened ones have an obligation,to prevent this if we can,failing that ensure that some life continues. My efforts go beyond my own personal survival. I have developed fishing methods to imploy post collapse to feed as many as I can. Next year have plans to expand garden to feed others. Collecting books, seeds,and even animals will serve future generations. By all means possible we must prevent global nuclear war. This event means the extermination of all life. All efforts must be made on matter how futile.the alternative is death!
  • November 22, 2007 at 2:05 pm
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    I do not think that adopting a common sense lifestyle choice meant to counter consumerism is “collapse science”. In fact, I believe that if we in North America were to suddenly put aside a consumer lifestyle change is bound to occur. Economics is a facinating study but one that is too often used for the benefit of TPTB rather than for the common man. The same forces of supply and demand that make money for TPTB can also work to change their behaviour, but there has to be something in it for them. Take the so called “green movement” for instance. Plenty of money to be made.

    The biggest change in the last 50 years as relates to basic economics has been the advent of scientifically directed marketing/advertising (brainwashing?). The most valuable instrument for achieving this has been television. No matter how aware we are of its influence on our perception of what is necessary (ie creating demand) we still are subject to the message. Turn it off. Walk away. And DO NOT adopt the Internet as a surrogate for TV!

    Television does three things:

    1. Creates a perception that we need or want a given product through advertising;

    2. Creates a thirst for consumerism through programming that shows the “American Dream” and a generally affluent lifestyle; and

    3. Manipulates our perception of what is going on in the world or even in our own backyards and what our governments are doing about it.

    The whole “threat of violence” is a perfect example. The news reports a violent incident involving a deranged individual with a firearm. Suddenly, all firearms and firearms owners are dangerous and action must be taken to protect the citizens. The average person might believe that firearms violence is out of control and that gun control will somehow reduce it EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN THREATENED BY OR PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED VIOLENCE. Firearms have not ever threatened the vast majority of people but just the thought that they MIGHT is enough to convince most people. Of course, if television actually reported all the times firearms had been used to prevent or stop a crime from being committed a more balanced picture might be presented, but the news is not and never has been balanced.

  • November 22, 2007 at 3:45 pm
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    To AllMightyDollar: I am in total agreement with everything you have stated. You show a belief in “cause and effect” and your theory should be shared or at least studied by others. Free thinkers can seldom be defined by any catagory and meant no offense,to the contrary,I hold you as an example to be followed. So far in my own life I have been enriched by this lifestyle,but see little affect on others accept the envy expressed for all the time off I take. I will continue to look a every action I take logically and scientificly to the best of my ability. To turn the tide of distruction may well be beyond our means,but those who try can meet their fate with a clear conscience. Good luck with your efforts.
  • November 23, 2007 at 10:38 am
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    The text version of that interview is pretty fascinating. It will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next year.

    What are the chances that there will be Black Flag event staged to disrupt the 2008 elections, especially if Ron Paul gets any traction with the general public.

  • November 23, 2007 at 1:28 pm
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    Interesting video, but I’m not sure if she understands globalism’s role in this. My impression is that she thinks a bunch of bad guys are in power, but if only we could have a nice Democrat like, say, Hillary Clinton, all would be well. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.
  • November 25, 2007 at 5:50 am
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    Today’s Toronto Star had a column on peak oil which seems quite cognizant of the problem…

    http://www.thestar.com/columnists/article/279635

    …the one quote that stands out, to me, is the one from the US deputy energy secretary, blaming the entire thing on geopolitics (i.e. the oil is not disappearing, but bad people are stopping us from getting it).

  • November 25, 2007 at 10:46 am
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    This article really, really sucked. Mostly by contradicting itself, over and over and putting words into the mouths of everyone else.

    “The world is not running out of oil.”

    Oh yeah? The EROI effectively means we’re running out of oil even if oceans of it are still buried 400,000 feet into the ground.

    I note that many of these articles that refuse to spell out the truth say something just like this:

    “Oil, which closed last week at $98.18, is still below its all-time inflation-adjusted high of $102 per barrel set in April 1980”

    What I wonder is how people will react when it exceeds the “inflation adjusted high”. They probably won’t.

    “I don’t think we are going to see the supply going over 100 million barrels a day … Where is all that going to come from?” Mulva could have recast the question as: Where is all the money for expanded production going to come from?

    So now Mr. Olive, our disingenuous “reporter” is “recasting” the question and deflecting the real point, which was that the available oil is running out.

    But we are being led to believe that the “money” is missing (from gigabillion multinationals) for a critical, crucial, globally demanded resource. Great reporting Mr. Olive, you just recast the entire problem to suit yourself and probably your editors and his boss too.

    Who do you think will pay for it? We will, we always do.

    “But the industry needs Athabasca. They don’t “need” anything. They’re trying to retain their profits and control, but I absolutely refuse to accept the notion that they are doing us any favors at all.

    Anyhow, I’m morbidly curious, what evil people are stopping us from getting it? It is, after all, their oil. We do not have a “right” to it, but that won’t stop us from trying to buy it or steal it as long as we can get away with it.

  • November 25, 2007 at 3:54 pm
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    admin (#26), I agree that the article is not very good in absolute terms. But, I’m just amazed that this type of language is making it into Canadian mainstream press. Just a few months ago, they would not even acknowledge a problem. Within the last month or so, they’ve had a number of articles (not just from the energy columnist, but from higher-profile geopolitical columnists) talking about the position we’re in with respect to energy. They’ve had statements from investors other than Matt Simmons saying that we are running out of oil. And, this one, for example:

    http://www.thestar.com/article/275912

    As we all know, the mainstream press is way, way behind on this issue. So, I was far more impressed by the fact that they are talking about it in a “there may be no way out” sense than the content of the article itself.

  • November 25, 2007 at 7:23 pm
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    You’re probably right. I don’t have any idea what is going on in the Canadian press. If it’s like here, it’s clueless and out of touch with reality.

    It’s too bad they’re not going to deal with reality soon enough. I honestly believe that by the time that happens, it will be too late to make any difference or changes that will matter.

  • November 26, 2007 at 7:41 am
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    It was nice to read, in the Canadian press, that the Canadian PM who refused to go to Iraq, admitted that he and others felt the US was only going there for the oil.

    I think the world has become so dependent on the US economy that it is willing to turn a blind eye to military adventures meant to support the American way through securing of strategic resources like oil. Look at the international markets and how they react to the slightest hints of news, positive or negative, from the US. Until the US stops being the dominant force in world economics I can’t see why this would change.

    Note, however, that China has just announced it will be investing heavily in Japanese business. There is a lot of money going to Asia (much of it American corporate investment seeking to offset the effects of an American market/economic collapse).

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