Friday, April 27, 2007

 

More Maglev Madness

Japan’s maglev train, which has been in development roughly since Moses parted the Red Sea, is supposed to start commercial operation in 2025, announced Central Japan Railway. Why 2025? My guess is that it’s a nice number that’s not so far off as “next century,” which would make everyone lose hope in a glorious technological future, but far enough away so that people don’t start queuing up to buy tickets.

With energy now rising in cost on a nearly daily basis, who in their right mind believes this electricity-gobbling monster will become a reality? Like hydrogen-powered cars and other toys, this is just stringing the public along while a few companies gorge themselves at the public trough.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

 

Signs of the Times

So much to write about, so little time. A few items:
  1. Japanese automakers are still doing fairly well abroad, but sales are flagging at home (note that sales of subcompact “K-cars” are doing well domestically). So automakers are trying all sorts of enticements to get people to buy new cars. Toyota has recently decided to offer “residual-value loans” that will make monthly payments lower (this item in Japanese).
  2. Nissan has reduced profits for the first time in seven years. Totally predictable is the fact that sales are hurt by higher raw material costs and high gas prices, not to mention the enticement of discounts. Even whiz kids like Ghosn can only do so much.
  3. Russian resource nationalism: In his state-of-the-nation speech, Putin says that foreign fishers will be cut out of Russia’s fishing industry by abolishing quotas to foreign companies. And it’s not just fish. Everywhere you look, Russia is putting up fences around its resources and energy.
  4. Biogasoline program launched in Japan. Feel-good idiocy.
  5. Japan’s Foreign Minister Aso will visit the US where his schedule calls for attending the “two plus two” security meeting. Japan and the US are expected to agree on a “General Security of Military Information Agreement.” Watch this one closely.

 

Dodd Grovels at Altar of Zionism

In a revolting display of abject obsequiousness, Senator Christopher Dodd pledged fealty to the Zionist lobby and tried hard to show that he can kowtow more than other Democrats. But the competition is tough, as all contenders in the Democratic field vie to bow lower than the next guy. One has to wonder why the candidates don’t show nearly as much concern for the welfare of the Palestinians.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

 

Vote Democratic, the Terrorists Win

Rudy Giuliani’s message in a recent speech is that America will be safer with a Republican in the White House and that the [phony] “war on terror” will be won faster. That’s pretty far-fetched seeing that a Republican was in charge on September 11, 2001 when, according to the Bush administration, a band of Middle Eastern terrorists pulled off a huge job and completely foiled America’s defenses. According to their logic, this makes the Republicans an abject failure because they couldn’t stop it. And now Rudy tells us that the Republicans are the ones who can keep us safe. We shall charitably call this tortured logic.

But I don’t believe that story, anyway. In fact, I think Rudy knows who really did 9/11.

As far as the Democrats go, voting for them isn’t going to change anything.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

 

Office Spies: Tattletale Telephone

I visited Tokyo for the first time in quite a while the other day. I found that commuter trains plying the city now have videos playing in the cars featuring news items, advertisements (of course), and public service announcements. One announcement that I saw twice during a 30-minute ride was about a number you can call to secretly report on people who are making illegal photocopies! Seems innocent and public-spirited, but it sounds a lot like having citizens spy on each other. And you have to wonder what other “secret report” numbers there will be in the future.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

 

Biofuels: Can You Spell ‘Scam’?

Governments, biofuel producers, corn growers, and others who profit from the biofuel scam (including those who get the subsidies) continue to sell the pipe dream that biofuels are “sustainable” and are helping reduce our dependence on petroleum. In reality, biofuels on a large scale are unsustainable, have a negative energy balance, take food from the mouths of the poor, and actually make the situation worse by peddling the illusion that the car culture and industrial society are sustainable. Just like other scams, the rivers of money flowing through the industry keep it going.

The car-dependent public desperately wants to believe that biofuels will save the day, or we’ll have the “hydrogen economy,” or, failing that, perpetual motion or alien technology. And politicians and people who stand to make money keep encouraging these delusions.

 

The ‘War on Terror’ and Income Redistribution

Here is a fine piece which shows how the ballooning military budget, which is made possible by the phony war on terror, also serves as a mechanism to redistribute income in the US. Since George W. Bush took office, there has been a massive shift of wealth from the bottom to the top, thereby swelling the ranks of the poor and further enriching the rich (something like 37 million Americans now live below the poverty line).

And remember, this all comes back to 9/11, because it was the trigger that set these events in motion.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

 

More on the 9/11 Cash Cow

There’s just no end to the boxcars of money that started rolling with the 9/11 gravy train. Paul Craig Roberts has a nice essay on the “security-industrial complex” which outlines the gigantic “security” scam that just keeps on ballooning. It’s just another cash cow for corporations getting rich off devices whose real purpose is to control us. Happy flying!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

 

9/11 Cash Cow

As I pointed out previously, one of the purposes of 9/11 was to launch a gravy train for military contractors. And surprise surprise! One of the big passengers of this gravy train is the Bush family. Read the details here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

 

Airports Turn to Retailing for Profit

It’s getting harder and harder for airports to maintain profitability when the aviation industry is having its own problems. So how do they make ends meet? Narita International Airport near Tokyo has opened a new duty-free shop called “Narita 5th Avenue,” which boasts about 4,800 square meters of luxury goods, making it Japan’s largest. And this comes after a similar mall opened in the airport’s other terminal just last year.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

 

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

That was the title of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech at the Riverside Church in April 1967. It was exactly 40 years ago, yet Dr. King’s speech is more relevant and timely with each passing day. You can find it reprinted here. Even reading just a few paragraphs of this timeless gem is enough to see how Dr. King spoke the truth so eloquently, and appealed directly to the listener’s sense of what’s decent and right.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

 

Student Protest Against Rove

Students at American University protested a visit by Karl Rove, otherwise known as “Bush’s brain.” Two issues come to mind when reading this article.

First, the university says the students agreed to protest in a designated area, but violated it. Because the students threw things at Rove’s car and lay down in front of it so he couldn’t leave, it means they were protesting right in Rove’s face, where you would most expect it. Apparently this was not the “designated” protest site, which leaves one to wonder where it was. Is this another instance in which a “free-speech zone” is established out of eyesight and earshot of the targeted government official? Since the protest was handled peacefully and no arrests were made, what is the problem? Is it that Rove was forced to see people who disagree with his politics?

Second, the university says that some of the students might face charges under the code of conduct for protesting in the wrong place. Fine, but why doesn’t Karl Rove face any charges for being a high official in a regime that is carrying out torture, illegal war, and other mayhem around the world? Students who protest such outrageous acts could face charges, but the elite with a hand in those acts is protected by authorities and drives off in the night.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

 

Ethanol Not Eco-Friendly

Which you’ve probably already heard, but now an unpublished Canadian government study says so, too. While admitting this, notes this article, proponents still prefer to see the “big picture,” which is that ethanol is a renewable resource. Or so they would like us to believe, as ethanol production is totally dependent on copious quantities of fossil fuel and can’t even turn an energy surplus. Rake in those subsidies!

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