Saturday, January 03, 2004

Happier New Year!

My take on 2003 in a nutshell.

Two thousand four has got to be better.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Iraqi police

This article in the Guardian describes the state of the Iraqi police force that the US has been training and recently deploying in Tikrit. To the US Commander's chagrin, the police often cover their faces on patrol to avoid identification; and are both poorly equipped and trained, occasionally firing at other Iraqi policemen by mistake.

"The good thing is they can't hit anything," remarked the US officer who's in charge of their training.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

U.S. Not Worried About Dollar Drop

Whew. What a relief. Weakness is strength and Washington isn't worried. I should've guessed; the end of the major conflict wasn't the end of anything in particular, so why should weakness be weakness?

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

A kettle of fish/A walk in the park

Okay, let's see. A group of Turkomen (whoever they are) and arabs gathered yesterday in oil-rich Kirkuk (which once was a Kurdish city (whatever that is), from which Saddam some years ago drove the Kurds) to protest the Kurds' desire to include the city in an independent entity, not controlled by a central Iraqi government. The Iraqi police in Kirkuk (whoever they are) fired on the group, killing two and injuring several. The US Army wasn't directly involved apparently.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, the Kurdish representatives to the Iraqi Governing Council (whatever it governs) are plumping for an independent Kurdish entity, including Kirkuk, to be recognized right away and to be spelled out in the governing law that is to be promulgated before the constitution is drawn up and voted on in 2005. The other Iraqi representatives don't want the Kurds to become a separate entity. Neither, of course, do the Turks to the north of Iraq, because that would likely cause the Turkish Kurds (whoever they are) to want to join their southern neighbors by severing themselves from Turkey.

The US is an ally of Turkey, and so the US probably doesn't want an independent Kurdish entity in Iraq, either. (Besides, there's all that oil!) But a decision would seem to be the province of the Iraqi Governing Council under the "democracy" that the US is supposedly promoting in Iraq. So do we take sides on this issue? Do we support the Kurds who are seeking autonomy (they were our allies against Saddam, and may have been responsible for his capture, recall)? Do we keep hands off? Do we use our troops to quell disturbances, thereby becoming embroiled in what amounts to a Middle-East civil war?

Compared to the latter, a land war in Asia is a walk in the park.

Boy oh boy, is 2004 going to be fun to watch!

Forex news

I had to emerge from my dialup-driven holiday hiatus to inform loyal readers (you'll learn it on this blog first) that the dollar's slide has become free fall. A telling chart of dollar/euro price over time may be found here, and shows that after hanging at alltime lows (in the $1.24 range) for several days, the dollar tested the $1.25 area for the first time on Monday and by this morning (early, early) had already dropped into the $1.26 range. A decline of a penny less than a day of trading!
I predict that the mainstream news, as well as the experts, will now address the reality of a plummeting dollar, which will in turn weaken the dollar further, which will in short order put the skids on the "recovery" because the fed will have to increase interest rates to maintain the buyers' interest in US debt instruments, which are, as we know, the only means by which the US is able to raise the money needed to feed its imbalance between spending and income.
I don't like to be the bearer of bad economic tidings; but my pain of doing so is balanced by joy watching Bush's buddies in the capital/corporate markets finally reveal that Bush's economic recovery has been a debt-fed fraud.

DKos presents an extended message board on the subject here.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Busting Ben Franklin

The FBI says local cops should be on the lookout for people carrying almanacs. 'Cuz dey got lots uh information, ya know. Like about cities an bridges an stuff. Morons. I swear, the practical intelligence of our Homeland Security folks is inversely proportional to the current terror alert level. Which, by the way is Ernie.

My grandfather liked the World Almanac. He gave me a lot of books, and the last one was a World Almanac. If it had been dangerous, I assure you he would have warned me. He was good at that sort of thing; always reminded me to check my tires.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
--Albert Einstein

FBI urges police to watch for people carrying almanacs

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Despair Is Not an Option

A fine short essay by William Sloan Coffin, from The Nation. One of my favorite magazines.

Brutality of US Troops

Don't worry, this NY Times article is about atrocities committed by US troops in Vietnam. I'm sure nothing like this is going on now. War isn't this insane any more, so our young soldiers aren't so afraid, wouldn't be pushed to such stark regions of madness.

Report on Brutal Vietnam Campaign Stirs Memories

Warren Buffet and me

So, I'm not crazy, after all. This article summarizes my previous observations about the sliding dollar and its potential effect on inflation and the welfare of the US economy generally. If Buffet and Soros are snapping up foreign currencies, something's gonna give.

Whoa there, cowboy

SF Chronicle points out it's time for the Bush administration to stop trying to strip defendants of their constitutional rights to due process.
"Even during a national emergency, the executive branch doesn't have the right to a wholesale denial of rights."
Courts draw line on civil liberties

Defenseless Defenders

The Army deliberately decided not to equip Nat'l Guard units with defensive equipment, to save money. Your tax dollars at work, but on a break. [ News ]