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Archive for June 19th, 2004

What Is Putin Up To?

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I noted this story in the LAT yesterday morning but ignored it. It smelled like a barrel of week-old cod to me. I was pretty sure it was bogus and I couldn’t figure out why Putin would be doing it; he’s already got Junior wrapped around his little finger, he doesn’t need to curry favor or buy influence, and Baku is a done deal. So why? The article claims that in ‘Russian political circles’ it’s believed that Putin is trying to help Junior’s re-election; if that’s true then the question is, ‘What does Putin want from Bush that he doesn’t think he’ll get from Kerry?’

I still haven’t figured out the answer to that, but I was right that it was bogus. Reuters is reporting that the State Department doesn’t know what the hell Putin is on about.

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (Reuters) – Russia warned the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein planned to hit targets on U.S. soil, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.Putin’s remarks looked certain to help President Bush, but officials at the State Department expressed surprise, saying they knew of no such information from Russia.


“This information was passed on to our American colleagues,” he said. He added, however, that Russian intelligence had no proof that Saddam’s agents had been involved in any particular attack.State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters he did not know anything about the information that Putin said Russia passed on. No such information was communicated from Russia through the State Department, he said.

“Everybody’s scratching their heads,” said one State Department official, who asked not to be named

So is everybody else. That even the new Russia would share asset intelligence of such questionable provenance and ambiguity is hard to believe; people keep forgetting but Putin is ex-KGB and the KGB makes Dick Cheney look like a blabbermouth gossip. They would share intelligence with us only if they got something that meant a great deal more to them in return. Unless, of course, they knew the information was useless, outdated, or untrue. But if they got what they wanted then, why is Putin doing this now? Why go out of his way to back Junior’s insistence that there was a connection when the 9/11 Commisiion says there’s wasn’t, or at least not much of one?

The only answer I can come up with–and I’m not satisfied with it; it’s too simple–is what I said at the top: Putin’s got Junior wrapped around his little finger. No inconvenient speeches against the brutal suppression of independence in Chechnya, no opposition to the destruction of Russia’s new free press, no blocking of loan guarantees on the basis of his extensive human rights violations, and so on and so on, none of which rolling-over-and-showing-his-belly he can expect from Kerry.

As for the claim itself, Steve Soto at Left Coaster quickly pulls it apart.

Putin is now saying that he and his intelligence services knew that Saddam was planning terrorist attacks against US targets here and abroad back in the Fall of 2002. Yet he had his ex-military people assisting Saddam in early 2003. Then why is Bush even dealing with Putin now? Wasn’t our new policy as outlined by Bush, Cheney, Rice, et. al., to not only go after terrorists but also those states and leaders who aid terrorists and their organizations?Or does oil change everything?

Steve, I think you just answered your own question there.

Written by Mick

June 19, 2004 at 2:57 am

FITE: The Looming Energy Crisis

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Newsletter #29

A tiny fraction of 1% of Americans are the super rich – the ones who earn $50,000 to $100,000 per hour, even when they aren’t really working. Like the rest of us, they don’t like to pay taxes – but they can use their power and influence to see to it that they pay a fraction of the taxes they should pay.

Publicly they tell us it’s OK because they use their money to create jobs. The more taxes they pay, they claim, the less jobs they create. High unemployment rates? Not to worry, they say. It would be worse if they had to pay higher taxes.

The tradeoff seems reasonable to a lot of people – they’ll make more wise investments in the free market if we tax them less.

Nowhere is it more obvious than in the energy business that this country has been at the short end of this tradeoff. They have been telling us for years they know how to manage the energy sector. They assured us we will always have enough oil, gas, and coal to fuel the economy. And in trade, “our” government gave them tax write-offs so they would presumably invest in producing even more energy.

But they have made a terrible mistake and are incapable of admitting it. They were so busy looking at their hefty quarterly profits – boosted by hefty tax write-offs – that they failed to take notice over the last 20 years that there were ample signs that it was getting harder every year to find enough oil to fuel our economy.

There were more and more dry wells, no more gushers, ever shorter life spans for new wells, and, now, declining production for the last of the huge fields in the Middle East. And this happened despite unprecedented advances in discovery and recovery technology.

Common sense could or should have told them affordable oil wouldn’t be around forever. But they were mesmerized by some of the heftiest profits among the multinationals.

They continue to resist any effort to transition away from fossil fuels and insist that global warming is a scare tactic even when the mainstream media has been making it clear since January that there is a looming energy crisis. [URL’s to articles, Paul Robert’s book – perhaps annotated reference at the end]

A constant stream of articles in the mainstream press since January has made it clear that world oil production is winding down. The yearly oil production in all but one major field, Russia, is in decline. But the oil multinationals are still in denial. Worse, they use their considerable power and influence to discredit any efforts to either transition or even to think about it. Meanwhile, the entire energy industry continues to get hefty tax breaks.

Their only “solution” is military force that we all pay for. It’s expensive to have bases in all of the locations where major oil fields reside, and it’s very expensive to wage war and occupy another country. As we pointed out in a previous newsletter, including the hidden costs of oil at the gas pump would bring it up to at least $6/gallon. But, as long as these costs don’t show up on the price at the pump, people don’t think about it. including the hidden costs of oil at the gas pump would bring it up to at least $6/gallon.

Clearly, the super rich in the energy sector have failed miserably at managing the energy sector of our economy. All the trillions in tax breaks they got with their power and influence bought us and our country little in return. They only enriched themselves.

This brewing crisis will have consequences so terrible they are hard to imagine. Unless, that is, solutions are found. That’s why FITE will from now on make it a major focus of this newsletter.

For further reading on the end of oil, we recommend:

If you want to know about all aspects of the looming energy crisis, “The End of Oil” by Paul Roberts’ new book is an excellent resource. He pulls together the diplomatic, financial, political, and economic aspects of the problem.

For a shorter and more limited view, see Matt Savinar’s web site. But while Savinar is reasonably competent, he has the usual limitations of any doom-and-gloomer type in regard to solutions. In fact, he wrote to us that “The only ‘solution’ is to prepare to go back to a stone age existence.” We, on the other hand, believe there are solutions, albeit complex ones, that sufficient political will could implement.

A more complete bibliography is available on request.

Charles Palson

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Archived letters

Written by Mick

June 19, 2004 at 12:02 am

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