Thoughts as I Watched the Revolution in Egypt…(Update 1X)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

UPDATE  4/27/11

Well, Egypt  isn’t turning out so great…It’s all so predictable, isn’t it?  Any whiff of hope anywhere gets squelched real fast. 
And we’re now involved with Libya.  Meanwhile, the powers in Syria seem to be emulating the Libyan approach to dealing with protesters.

It’s like watching one disheartening train wreck after another.

Some personal train wrecks have taken me away from this blog…but, a rest still is in order.  It takes a lot of energy to fight the world these days!

One real positive is that our photovoltaic solar system is now up and running and yes, the meter is running backwards!  Have lots of pics and details which I hope to post one of these days!

*****

Nothing profound here to say, only an urge to write about my feelings as I’ve been sitting glued to Al Jazeera for days on end.

Today, I was clapping and cheering for the people of Egypt. A rush of feelings and memories flashed by.  I remembered 2000 as our elections were completely corrupted. (Some satisfaction as George W.  Bush is unable to go to Switzerland…war criminal that he is!)  I was thinking of the lies that led to the Iraq War and thought about the report I heard this morning on NPR about how there are fears that something may coalesce as the heat arrives and the electricity remains on only 2 hours a day. Protests percolating already around Iraq, and I say, go for it!

I’m finding myself coming back over and over again to about how the U.S. is perhaps going to get its ass kicked and deservedly so. They utter hypocrisy of the “democracy talk” as we sit here supporting repressive regimes all over the world.  We are a fraud when it comes to democracy.

My mind dwells on the right wing religious freaks and the Republican Party that has become their home who continue to attempt to screw women out of their rights and their independence as human beings, who basically are out to screw anything that helps people. And I’m supposed to worry about the Muslim Brotherhood while I live in a country that has it’s own brand of the Taliban roaming the halls of Congress??

I think of John Lennon. A site has “Revolution” up but I’m thinking of “Power to the People.” Is that the right title? I don’t know, but I can hear John singing it. Who really killed John Lennon? I’ve seen enough and read enough to figure it wasn’t just another “lone gunman.”

I’m sitting here, having celebrated my 60th birthday a few days ago….reflecting on the marches for women’s rights, the power of the movement, and how every time a fucking Republican comes along…with fake Democrats who assist…how every time we go BACKWARDS! And how backwards we have gone!  I think about the type of  “leadership” we have in this country…there are no real thinkers leading these days.  Between the servants of the bankers,  the increasingly shrill Republicans and passive Democrats…Jeebus, am I supposed to look at the Palins, Gingriches, Romneys and that Jeb Bush lurking in the corner and feel optimistic??  When I see how skillfully a Chris Christie can take a state like New Jersey and divide people into camps and blame all ills on teachers  and the people who do the day to day work to keep the place running?….disgusting!  Lying thuggery personified…and just the tip of the iceberg, I’m afraid. And Obama pontificating on democracy after Mubarak’s demise…what a load of crap.

I think about how we were supposed to get some “community radio” but all I hear is right wing shit talk radio all over the dial. People getting very little true news follow these propagandists for the right as they go about their highly-paid work to divide and conquer and sow the seed of intolerance and hate.

Yeah, I’m watching Egypt and cheering them on….but knowing full well that the arm of the IMF will probably soon reach in and grab them by the throat. Hell, we fund it and guess what? The IMF is talking about the dollar no longer being the reserve currency for the world. I’m just surprise all this is happening so quickly…Between the IMF and the Fed, Americans do not know how the world is getting screwed and how it’s going to come back to bite them.

Fat and unaware Americans will soon wake up to find that they are being ground down to a pulp.  Your dollars will be worthless soon.

We wrote a lot in the past about the impending disaster that was going to befall lthis nation.  There are many wonderful sites out there trying to wake people up. I read them every day…and spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to save my own financial neck.

Start stocking up on food, go to ChrisMartenson.com to start to try to prepare yourself (in right sidebar links).

And to the Egyptian people…stay strong, stay proud. I’m rooting for you…you’re starting fresh while the U.S. is rotting from the inside.  Note to the women there…get loud and don’t let them steamroller you…

China Using “Soft Power” to Lock Up Venezuela’s Oil and Assure Its Energy Security

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Add this to our growing list of “soft power” moves by China.  This time, China is getting even closer to Hugo Chavez and Venezuela, specifically, its oil reserves.  Recall that only a couple of years ago, Chavez nationalized the oil industry, including projects involving American and other foreign energy companies.  (And note that Brazil’s largest oil company has also signed a deal to supply China…)

From Bloomberg.com:

China Lends Venezuela $20 Billion, Secures Oil Supply (Update3)

April 19 (Bloomberg) — China, the world’s second-biggest consumer of oil, will lend Venezuela $20 billion and form a venture to pump crude from the Orinoco Belt, President Hugo Chavez said, vowing to meet the Asian country’s energy needs.

The financing from China is separate from a $12 billion bilateral investment fund, Chavez said, and will pay for Venezuelan development projects. Venezuela currently sends China 460,000 barrels a day of crude oil. The oil is used to repay the Asian country for $8 billion Venezuela used from the fund for infrastructure projects.

“We agreed on a huge, long-term financing plan,” Chavez said on state television on April 17. “This is a larger scope, a super heavy fund. China needs energy security and we’re here to provide them with all the oil they need.”

snip

Chavez said that the $20 billion loan is the largest that China Development Bank Corp. has extended to a country, and will go toward funding housing, railroad, energy and agriculture projects. China built and launched Venezuela’s first satellite into orbit in 2008.

China last year agreed to loan Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, as the company is known, $10 billion, and signed a long-term supply contract with the company.

“The relations between China and Venezuela extend from below the surface of the earth to outer space,” Chavez said. “We’re producing oil together and our satellite is out there in space. This is a mutating world in transition.”

And, isn’t that satellite deal interesting?

“…a mutating world in transition…”

Chavez hit that one on the head.

What We Need Are a Few Transatlantic Ocean Liners! I Remember When…

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

With the ash cloud still throwing European air travel (and beyond) into chaos over the last few days, and possibly well into the future, I had to think about how great it would be if the transatlantic ocean liners will still plying the seas.

(Editor’s Note: The Cunard Queen Mary 2 is the only transatlantic liner still in service.)

As a kid, I remember the newsreels of the Andrea Doria sinking after being hit by the Stockholm.  My grandfather had taken the trip over on the Andrea Doria but returned on another boat, thus missing the tragic voyage.  I still have the ship’s brochure. (I also have a booklet from the Leonardo DaVinci, which was built to replace the Andrea Doria.)

A few years later my grandfather’s brother returned to Italy on the S.S. United States, which is now on the verge of being scrapped. I remember going to the ship and being on the main deck…and crying uncontrollably because I was so scared and wanted to get off!  The boat seemed so HIGH above the water (I was about 9 years old at the time).

About 13 years later I was on several boats as I took the grand tour around Europe.  One passage was from Italy to Greece, a wonder trip.  Another was an overnight voyage that left from Sweden and passed by the Carlsberg beer brewery at night.  I took one look at the small cabin for four and even with a porthole, I decided to stay up on deck all night.  Couldn’t bear to be below deck!

I guess I had lots of practice being on deck from several summers of taking the New London, Connecticut ferry or the boat from Pt. Judith, Rhode Island out to Block Island, Rhode Island.  This was years before the place was discovered. A friend of my mother’s had bought an old house and was restoring it and she let us stay there.  The trips took a couple of hours which was just about right for me before I started getting antsy.  Since the cars were below deck, about the closet thing to being “enclosed” was in the seating area which also held the snack bar.

Another decade or so later, I traveled frequently to England and on one trip, I took the Hovercraft to France.  I loved the Hovercraft because the pontoons inflated like huge tires and  I felt that, in a pinch, the thing could float.  At least that thought, true or not, reassured me.   I also made my way one year to see the Mary Rose, Henry the VIII’s favorite ship which sunk in the Solent at Portsmouth.

Along the way I developed a fascination with the Titanic and saw the first traveling exhibit when it hit Atlantic City, New Jersey.  It continues to be the sort of fascination that reinforces all the scary boat stuff I seem to harbor since those days on the deck of the liner that took my “uncle” back to Italy.

On a business trip to LA back in the early 80’s I took some time and visited the Queen Mary, now in Long Beach.  Just a few weeks ago I saw a show on how they were doing a lot of restoration on this wonderful ship.

Of course, as a fan of classic movies, there are always scenes on liners and getting on and disembarking, complete with crowded piers of well wishers and streamers trailing off the side of the ships as they slowly edge away from the dock.

So, it didn’t take very long to wonder…WHAT IF THERE WERE STILL OCEAN LINERS crossing the Atlantic these days??

I found a great site that has many pictures and stories about many of the old liners.  Here’s the introduction to  Rob Lightbody’s Website:

The Great Transatlantic Ocean Liners.


Aquitania enters New YorkThe Transatlantic Ocean liners changed the world.  Up until the 1960s they were the only way to travel to the “new world”.They were the equivalent of the 747 today – but much more exciting.  Each arrival and departure in Liverpool, Southampton or New York was an event in itself.

They were extremely elegant, fantastically fast and unbelievably huge!  The biggest man made objects that could move – and boy did they move!  They were high society at sea, and THE place to be seen.

Are you American? If so, chances are your grandparents travelled on one of the great ocean liners like the Mauretania.

Are you European?  If so, chances are a relative of yours left on one of these great ships, or one of your relatives worked to build them.

What you probably don’t know, is that these great ships helped us to win two world wars – they were the biggest troopships the world has ever known.

You can scroll down to see the many great liners that once graced the seas.

Sure it took about a week for a crossing, but travelers weren’t jammed into seats and subjected to foul air and the possibility of deep vein thrombosis.

…No problem with stretching your legs on a promenade around one of the great ocean liners! (although…those cabins below deck might still get to me…)

Related Links

More pictures of the great liners (photos)

The S.S. United States (designed as a cold war weapon disguised as a passenger ship)…info on the ship and the efforts to save her)

The Andrea Doria (overview)

The Leonardo DaVinci

The Sinking of the  Andrea Doria (with audio of the reports of the sinking)

The Mary Rose

The Queen Mary

The Hovercraft(s) across the English Channel (service stopped in 2000)


China is Iraq’s New Buddy–Writing off Iraq’s Debt and Getting Invited to Help Rebuild (And Don’t Forget–Their Oil Companies Are There, Not Ours)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

As the U.S. tries  to pull out the last of our troops in Iraq, here’s the irony of all ironies.  From Gulf News:

China could scrap Iraq’s $8.5b debt

Baghdad seeks investments from Beijing

Baghdad : China may write off all of Iraq’s $8.5 billion (Dh31.2 billion) of debt accrued under the rule of Saddam Hussain, Iraqi finance minister Baqer Al Zubaidi said yesterday.

“The Chinese government expressed readiness to write off $8.5 billion of debts owed by Iraq,” Al Zubaidi said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website yesterday.

Iraq is keen to see China play even a bigger role in the reconstruction of the war-torn country, the country’s top envoy to Beijing told the China Daily in an interview last week.

“After 2003, China has supported us very much and reduced Iraqi debts by 80 per cent, which is greatly appreciated,” Iraqi Ambassador to China, Mohammad Sabir Esmail, told the paper, referring to a $6.8-billion debt cut announced by China last month.

Esmail also invited Chinese companies to invest and operate in the country.

“I call on all Chinese companies to come and take up projects in rebuilding Iraq,” he told China Daily.

“China has many giant companies qualified to participate in rebuilding Iraq and… our country will remain a big workshop in the next 20 years,” he said.

Some Chinese firms, mainly in the energy and retail sectors, are already operating in Iraq.

These companies include oil giants such as PetroChina, Sinochem, CNOOC and Sinopec subsidiary Addax Petroleum.

MORE

Well, how about them apples?  All that killing of civilians, torture, multiple tours of duty, brain-traumatized U.S. soldiers returning home…and the Chinese are strolling into Iraq?

This comes on the heels of U.S. companies being shut out of oil contracts in December 2009:

U.S. Companies Shut Out as Iraq Auctions Its Oil Fields

By Vivienne Walt Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009

Those who claim that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to get control of the country’s giant oil reserves will be left scratching their heads by the results of last weekend’s auction of Iraqi oil contracts: Not a single U.S. company secured a deal in the auction of contracts that will shape the Iraqi oil industry for the next couple of decades. Two of the most lucrative of the multi-billion-dollar oil contracts went to two countries which bitterly opposed the U.S. invasion — Russia and China — while even Total Oil of France, which led the charge to deny international approval for the war at the U.N. Security Council in 2003, won a bigger stake than the Americans in the most recent auction

So, it looks like Iraq has a budding friendship with China which continues to grab commodities with its masterful use of “soft diplomacy” (already doing the same thing in Africa) and now has a nice firm foothold right in the center of the action in the Middle East.

So, after seven years of mayhem and the draining of our national treasury, that’s the result.

Good work, Bush, Cheney, Rummy and Condi.

Condi is now regretting that the U.S. didn’t work more closely to rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam, but states that she’d still “liberate” the Iraqis and that George W. will be vindicated for his actions in the future.

More irony: she made her comments during a talk on “The Future of Asia” at the Chinese University of Hong Kong…

Sublime…

Of Earthquakes and Other Disasters…

By InsightAnalytical-GRL

As I write this, a tsunami is bearing down on Hawaii, a consequence of the terrible earthquake in Chile.  Japan was also hit with a quake, and, of course, Haiti is still suffering terribly from the quake that hit weeks ago.

There are a few sites that track such things that I visit to keep up-to-date.

My favorite is based in Hungary and features maps and information that track both natural and man-made disasters ranging from quakes, to storms, to major traffic accidents and pandemics. The site has been updated and is fantastic!  Under the “Disaster and Emergency Alert Map” heading, click the “Global” link for a world map; there are also sections different areas on the globe.  Click on an icon on the map to get a brief description of what’s going on in a specific area.  For example, there is a threat of epidemic in Viet Nam today.  Be sure to scroll down the page under the map for a lot more details on current happenings. The amount of information is amazing!

Check it out at:

RSOE EDIS – Emergency and Disaster Information Service

For a huge database of links to information on all sorts of disasters, plus terrorism information, go to:

CBS NEWS Disaster Links

Finally, there is a site (which requires registration to use) that is dedicated strictly to terror and suspicious incidents. Find it at:

Global Incident Map Displaying Terrorist Acts, Suspicious Activity, and General Terrorism News

Surprise, Surprise: Our Goldman Sachs Buddies Are Knee Deep in the Greek Debt Crisis

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Well, here we go again!

Goldman Sachs had a role in creating the current debt crisis in Greece. Why am I not surprised?

From Spiegel Online International:

How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt

Goldman Sachs helped the Greek government to mask the true extent of its deficit with the help of a derivatives deal that legally circumvented the EU Maastricht deficit rules. At some point the so-called cross currency swaps will mature, and swell the country’s already bloated deficit.

snip

Now, though, it looks like the Greek figure jugglers have been even more brazen than was previously thought. “Around 2002 in particular, various investment banks offered complex financial products with which governments could push part of their liabilities into the future,” one insider recalled, adding that Mediterranean countries had snapped up such products.

Apparently Italy also hid its real debt, but with another U.S. bank which isn’t named in the article.

The article continues:

Greece’s debt managers agreed a huge deal with the savvy bankers of US investment bank Goldman Sachs at the start of 2002. The deal involved so-called cross-currency swaps in which government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period — to be exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date.

Fictional Exchange Rates

Such transactions are part of normal government refinancing. Europe’s governments obtain funds from investors around the world by issuing bonds in yen, dollar or Swiss francs. But they need euros to pay their daily bills. Years later the bonds are repaid in the original foreign denominations.

But in the Greek case the US bankers devised a special kind of swap with fictional exchange rates. That enabled Greece to receive a far higher sum than the actual euro market value of 10 billion dollars or yen. In that way Goldman Sachs secretly arranged additional credit of up to $1 billion for the Greeks.

This credit disguised as a swap didn’t show up in the Greek debt statistics. Eurostat’s reporting rules don’t comprehensively record transactions involving financial derivatives. “The Maastricht rules can be circumvented quite legally through swaps,” says a German derivatives dealer.

more

“Fictional exchange rates.”  Incredible.

But not surprising if you’ve followed the recent actions and attitude of Goldman Sachs. You know, the guys who talk about “morality in the marketplace”…

Sigh….

***

This Would Be the Laugh of the Day if It Weren’t So Aggravating: Pious Rationalizations About “Morality in the Marketplace” from Our Buddies at Goldman Sachs 10/21/2009

Goldman Sachs Chairman & CEO Says Company Is Part of a “Virtuous Cycle” With a “Social Purpose” Even as It Apparently Moves Markets in “Miraculous” Ways (SEC, Where Are You?) November 8, 2009

China Solar Panel Maker (Who Already Has Installed a Solar Farm On a U.S. Military Base), Now Sets Up 1st U.S. Plant

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I just watched a BBC America show about the reticent Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and over the last couple of days on NPR radio, the Stardate segments have been devoted to the anniversary of  the Apollo 12 mission when Pete Conrad (the third man to make that walk) and Alan Bean made a pinpoint landing of the lunar module to test  “precise landing techniques” that would be used in future missions.

"The Surveyor 3 spacecraft sits silently in a small lunar crater, with the Apollo 12 lunar module on the crater's rim in the background. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean landed just a few hundred feet from Surveyor 3 in November 1969 to test the precise landing techniques that would be needed for future missions."--Stardate.org

We can’t do solar panels here?

***

Early last week I posted this comment by Zachary Karabell, who appeared on CNBC (See: Larry Kudlow Has a Fit as Obama the “Declinist” Opens His Mouth in Japan; Says Obama is “Not His President”):

And he said that if we want China to continue to “hitch” themselves to us more, we’re not supposed to freak out if China wants to buy businesses HERE and not have a “knee-jerk xenophobic response.”

Well, here’s a story that will not make people happy, even though it may help us ultimately less dependent on foreign oil. Of course, we may become dependent on NEW environmental technology from foreign sources, but…

From Business Week (my bolding):

China Solar Panel Maker Sets First U.S. Plant

Suntech Power aims to boost its share of the U.S. market with a solar-panel manufacturing plant to be built in Arizona

China’s Suntech Power Holdings (STP) is no newcomer to the U.S. Last May, President Barack Obama toured the U.S.’s largest solar panel installation at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. There, row upon row of shiny black Suntech panels account for about a third of the 14-megawatt solar farm.

Suntech landed that project the same way it has raced to the top of the fast-growing global solar market: by focusing on price and scale. Now the world’s largest supplier of solar panels is boosting its stake in the U.S. market.

On Nov. 16 in Beijing, the company announced its first American manufacturing plant. The facility, to be located in the Phoenix area, will begin production by next October. “The U.S. market is on the cusp of greatness,” says Steven Chan, Americas president and chief strategy officer for Suntech. With the announcement, Suntech becomes the first major Chinese cleantech player to bring factory j obs to the U.S.

MMMM...wonder how many MORE major Chinese players will be arriving? And on U.S. military bases? (Of course, wasn’t there a flap over Bill Clinton selling military technology to China way back when?)

Now, there are some in Congress that are afraid our home-grown “green manufacturing jobs” won’t get a chance to get off the ground if this sort of thing happens on a regular basis. Sure, the Chinese are manufacturing here, but the factory jobs are THEIR creation, not jobs created by  a  home-grown company.

Obama’s visit to China focusing on collaboration in green technologies. Suntech’s move may soften criticism from U.S. lawmakers worried that low-cost factories in China will snare new green manufacturing jobs before they even have a chance to take root in the U.S. “[Suntech’s] decision to bring manufacturing here to the U.S. is a great sign of the increasingly important collaboration between Chinese and American leaders in the renewable-energy industry,” said Dan Kammen, a professor in the energy and resources group at the University of California at Berkeley, in a statement provided by Suntech.

Gee…that Berkley prof can’t write his own statement??

According to the article, most of the grants the U.S. issues for “cleantech” is winding up overseas:

Suntech’s investment comes as anxieties are rising in Washington over foreign domination of the U.S. cleantech space. In late October the announcement of a Chinese-U.S. consortium planning to build a wind park in Texas using imported Chinese turbines led to calls that federal subsidies should be pulled from the project.The same month, a report from the Investigative Reporting Workshop found that in the wind sector, where foreign manufacturers dominate the market, overseas companies have received 84% of more than $1 billion in federal clean-energy grants released since Sept. 1. The study did not focus on solar energy, but the majority of solar panels are also produced by European and Asian companies.

Texas?  Well, naturally…I’d bet that the George Bushes I & II are involved somehow, what with their long-time ties to China…Between them and their heir Barack Obama, things are proceeding very nicely…

In light of my previous post about growing U.S. unemployment, pardon me if I query: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??

(Well, we’re going to build electric cars with the Chinese, for one thing…)

***

Editor’s Note: I loved the space program and now live where Pete Conrad lived…and remember when this irrepressible spirit, who shouted “Whoopee” as he hopped around the moon’s surface, died in a motorcycle crash in California 10 years ago this past July (pictures on this memoria page). (He also rode 2 Gemini missions and Skylab I.)