Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bush: 'Alpha Male on the Cruise Ship'
By Robert Parry
May 18, 2006

When future historians scratch their heads and wonder how George W. Bush came to lead the world’s most powerful nation at the start of the Twenty-First Century, it might help them to know that many Americans found his type familiar – and thus reassuring. Bush was the alpha male on the cruise ship.

He was like the wise-cracking guy leading a pack of vacationers out of the elevator toward the all-you-can-eat buffet bar, while poking fun at Charlie for getting too much sun on his bald head or at Mildred for putting on a few extra pounds. The others in the group titter with nervous amusement, fearing their ribbing will come next.

Like that dominant male on the cruise ship, Bush exhibits a freedom to mock the appearance of almost anyone, holding up both American citizens and foreign leaders to public ridicule for how they look.

At a joint White House press conference May 16 with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, as the two men stood side by side, Bush slipped in a couple of zingers about Howard’s bald head and supposed homeliness.

Bush joshed, “Somebody said, ‘You and John Howard appear to be so close, don’t you have any differences?’ And I said, ‘yes, he doesn’t have any hair.’”

Getting a round of laughs from reporters, Bush moved on to his next joke: “That’s what I like about John Howard,” Bush said. “He may not be the prettiest person on the block, but when he tells you something you can take it to the bank.”

Howard played the role of gracious guest, smiling and saying nothing in response to the disparaging comments about his physical appearance.

Though many men are very sensitive about losing their hair, Bush seems to find their baldness a source of humor, a way to put them in their place.

At a press conference on Aug. 24, 2001, Bush called on a Texas reporter who had covered Bush as Texas governor. Bush said the young reporter was “a fine lad, fine lad,” drawing laughter from the national press corps.

The Texas reporter then began to ask his question, “You talked about the need to maintain technological …” But Bush interrupted the reporter to deliver his punch line:

“A little short on hair, but a fine lad. Yeah.”

As Bush joined in the snickering, the young reporter paused and acknowledged meekly, “I am losing some hair.”

Bush exhibits other physical alpha-male tendencies, such as when he greets another man by cupping his hand behind the man’s neck, a sign of both affection and control.

Bush also demonstrates who’s boss by assigning goofy nicknames, often tied to a person’s appearance. Bush called two different tall, male reporters “Stretch” before eventually dubbing the taller one “Super Stretch.”

Tart Tongue

Over the years, Bush has regularly poked fun at the looks of both close friends and casual acquaintances. While Texas governor, Bush lined up for one photo and fingered the man next to him. “He’s the ugly one!” Bush laughed. [NYT, Aug. 22, 1999]

Other times, Bush goes beyond playful banter and just tongue-lashes people who have gotten on his wrong side.

In 1986, for instance, Bush spotted Wall Street Journal political writer Al Hunt and his wife Judy Woodruff having dinner at a Dallas restaurant with their four-year-old son. Bush was steaming over Hunt’s prediction that Jack Kemp – not then-Vice President George H.W. Bush – would win the Republican presidential nomination in 1988.

Bush stormed up to the table and cursed Hunt out. “You [expletive] son of a bitch,” Bush yelled. “I saw what you wrote. We’re not going to forget this.” [Washington Post, July 25, 1999]

In one of Campaign 2000’s most memorable moments, Bush uttered an aside to his running mate Dick Cheney about New York Times reporter Adam Clymer. “There's Adam Clymer – major league asshole – from the New York Times,” Bush said as he was waving to a campaign crowd from a stage in Naperville, Ill.

“Yeah, big time,” responded Cheney. Their voices were picked up on an open microphone.

Bush even seems to take pleasure from holding power over a person’s life or death.

In an interview with conservative commentator Tucker Carlson at the start of Campaign 2000, Bush joked about how condemned murderer Carla Faye Tucker pleaded for her life with him as Texas governor. “Please don’t kill me,” Bush whimpered through pursed lips in an imitation of the woman whom Bush put to death.

Later, during a presidential debate, Bush again made light of people facing the death penalty in Texas. While arguing against the need for hate-crimes laws, Bush said the three men convicted of the racially motivated murder of James Byrd were already facing the death penalty.

“It’s going to be hard to punish them any worse after they’re put to death,” Bush said, with an out-of-place smile across his face. Beyond the inaccuracy of his statement – one of the three killers had received life imprisonment – there was that smirk again when discussing people on Death Row.

Quick Temper

Over the years, Bush has gained a reputation, too, for dressing down subordinates.

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum painted a generally flattering portrait of Bush in the 2003 book, The Right Man, but Frum acknowledged Bush’s autocratic behavior and harsh humor.

Bush is “impatient and quick to anger; sometimes glib, even dogmatic; often uncurious and as a result ill informed,” Frum wrote. When referring to environmentalists, Bush would call them “green-green lima beans,” according to Frum.

Bush’s hot temper also has complicated U.S. foreign policy, including the tense relations with North Korea. During a lectern-pounding tirade before Republican leaders in May 2002, Bush insulted North Korea’s diminutive dictator Kim Jong Il by calling him a “pygmy,” Newsweek reported. The slur quickly circulated around the globe.

While many Bush backers find his acid tongue and biting humor refreshing – the sign of a “politically incorrect” politician – some critics contend that Bush’s off-handed insults fit with a dynastic sense of entitlement toward the presidency and toward those he rules.

Some observers of the Bush Family say George W. inherited this imperious style from his mother, Barbara, more than from his father, George H.W. Bush. Mrs. Bush is known for flashes of prickly humor, such as describing Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 as a word that “rhymes with rich.”

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Mrs. Bush demonstrated a stunning lack of empathy for the disaster’s victims, many of whom had lost homes and family members. While visiting New Orleans evacuees at the Houston Astrodome, she noted how poor they were before the flood and then quipped, “this is working very well for them.”

By contrast, George H.W. Bush is generally gracious in social settings, though he has been known to hurl insults at his campaign opponents, such as calling Al Gore “Ozone-Man” in 1992 or dismissing Gore and Bill Clinton as “bozos.”

While always ready to deliver insults, the Bush family is famously thin-skinned about receiving them. For instance, George H.W. Bush restricted Newsweek’s coverage of his 1988 presidential campaign after the magazine published a cover photo of Bush with the headline, “Fighting the Wimp Factor.”

His eldest son, George W. Bush, doesn’t even want to take chances with unfriendly audiences. He routinely has his advance teams and Secret Service details weed out people from his speeches who might be inclined to heckle him or ask hostile questions.

Indeed, between his pre-screened crowds and his layers of protectors, Bush has gone through five-plus-years as President with barely a single note-worthy incident of anyone challenging him to his face.

Unlike alpha males in the wild, Bush has managed to mark out his territory knowing that virtually nobody – not another head of state nor a private citizen – is in any position to contest his supremacy.


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
Published on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 by the Independent / UK
Why It's Over For America
by Noam Chomsky

An inability to protect its citizens. The belief that it is above the law. A lack of democracy. Three defining characteristics of the 'failed state'. And that, says Noam Chomsky, is exactly what the US is becoming. In an exclusive extract from his devastating new book,"Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy," America's leading thinker explains how his country lost its way.

The selection of issues that should rank high on the agenda of concern for human welfare and rights is, naturally, a subjective matter. But there are a few choices that seem unavoidable, because they bear so directly on the prospects for decent survival. Among them are at least these three: nuclear war, environmental disaster, and the fact that the government of the world's leading power is acting in ways that increase the likelihood of these catastrophes. It is important to stress the government, because the population, not surprisingly, does not agree.
That brings up a fourth issue that should deeply concern Americans, and the world: the sharp divide between public opinion and public policy, one of the reasons for the fear, which cannot casually be put aside, that, as Gar Alperowitz puts it in America Beyond Capitalism, "the American 'system' as a whole is in real trouble - that it is heading in a direction that spells the end of its historic values [of] equality, liberty, and meaningful democracy."

The "system" is coming to have some of the features of failed states, to adopt a currently fashionable notion that is conventionally applied to states regarded as potential threats to our security (like Iraq) or as needing our intervention to rescue the population from severe internal threats (like Haiti). Though the concept is recognized to be, according to the journal Foreign Affairs, "frustratingly imprecise," some of the primary characteristics of failed states can be identified. One is their inability or unwillingness to protect their citizens from violence and perhaps even destruction. Another is their tendency to regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, and hence free to carry out aggression and violence. And if they have democratic forms, they suffer from a serious "democratic deficit" that deprives their formal democratic institutions of real substance.

Among the hardest tasks that anyone can undertake, and one of the most important, is to look honestly in the mirror. If we allow ourselves to do so, we should have little difficulty in finding the characteristics of "failed states" right at home.

No one familiar with history should be surprised that the growing democratic deficit in the United States is accompanied by declaration of messianic missions to bring democracy to a suffering world. Declarations of noble intent by systems of power are rarely complete fabrication, and the same is true in this case. Under some conditions, forms of democracy are indeed acceptable. Abroad, as the leading scholar-advocate of "democracy promotion" concludes, we find a "strong line of continuity": democracy is acceptable if and only if it is consistent with strategic and economic interests (Thomas Carothers). In modified form, the doctrine holds at home as well.

The basic dilemma facing policymakers is sometimes candidly recognized at the dovish liberal extreme of the spectrum, for example, by Robert Pastor, President Carter's national security adviser for Latin America. He explained why the administration had to support the murderous and corrupt Somoza regime in Nicaragua, and, when that proved impossible, to try at least to maintain the US-trained National Guard even as it was massacring the population "with a brutality a nation usually reserves for its enemy," killing some 40,000 people. The reason was the familiar one: "The United States did not want to control Nicaragua or the other nations of the region, but it also did not want developments to get out of control. It wanted Nicaraguans to act independently, except when doing so would affect US interests adversely."

Similar dilemmas faced Bush administration planners after their invasion of Iraq. They want Iraqis "to act independently, except when doing so would affect US interests adversely." Iraq must therefore be sovereign and democratic, but within limits. It must somehow be constructed as an obedient client state, much in the manner of the traditional order in Central America. At a general level, the pattern is familiar, reaching to the opposite extreme of institutional structures. The Kremlin was able to maintain satellites that were run by domestic political and military forces, with the iron fist poised. Germany was able to do much the same in occupied Europe even while it was at war, as did fascist Japan in Man-churia (its Manchukuo). Fascist Italy achieved similar results in North Africa while carrying out virtual genocide that in no way harmed its favorable image in the West and possibly inspired Hitler. Traditional imperial and neocolonial systems illustrate many variations on similar themes.

To achieve the traditional goals in Iraq has proven to be surprisingly difficult, despite unusually favorable circumstances. The dilemma of combining a measure of independence with firm control arose in a stark form not long after the invasion, as mass non-violent resistance compelled the invaders to accept far more Iraqi initiative than they had anticipated. The outcome even evoked the nightmarish prospect of a more or less democratic and sovereign Iraq taking its place in a loose Shiite alliance comprising Iran, Shiite Iraq, and possibly the nearby Shiite-dominated regions of Saudi Arabia, controlling most of the world's oil and independent of Washington.

The situation could get worse. Iran might give up on hopes that Europe could become independent of the United States, and turn eastward. Highly relevant background is discussed by Selig Harrison, a leading specialist on these topics. "The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union were based on a bargain that the EU, held back by the US, has failed to honor," Harrison observes.

"The bargain was that Iran would suspend uranium enrichment, and the EU would undertake security guarantees. The language of the joint declaration was "unambiguous. 'A mutually acceptable agreement,' it said, would not only provide 'objective guarantees' that Iran's nuclear program is 'exclusively for peaceful purposes' but would 'equally provide firm commitments on security issues.'"

The phrase "security issues" is a thinly veiled reference to the threats by the United States and Israel to bomb Iran, and preparations to do so. The model regularly adduced is Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981, which appears to have initiated Saddam's nuclear weapons programs, another demonstration that violence tends to elicit violence. Any attempt to execute similar plans against Iran could lead to immediate violence, as is surely understood in Washington. During a visit to Tehran, the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned that his militia would defend Iran in the case of any attack, "one of the strongest signs yet," the Washington Post reported, "that Iraq could become a battleground in any Western conflict with Iran, raising the spectre of Iraqi Shiite militias - or perhaps even the US-trained Shiite-dominated military - taking on American troops here in sympathy with Iran." The Sadrist bloc, which registered substantial gains in the December 2005 elections, may soon become the most powerful single political force in Iraq. It is consciously pursuing the model of other successful Islamist groups, such as Hamas in Palestine, combining strong resistance to military occupation with grassroots social organizing and service to the poor.

Washington's unwillingness to allow regional security issues to be considered is nothing new. It has also arisen repeatedly in the confrontation with Iraq. In the background is the matter of Israeli nuclear weapons, a topic that Washington bars from international consideration. Beyond that lurks what Harrison rightly describes as "the central problem facing the global non-proliferation regime": the failure of the nuclear states to live up to their nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligation "to phase out their own nuclear weapons" - and, in Washington's case, formal rejection of the obligation.

Unlike Europe, China refuses to be intimidated by Washington, a primary reason for the growing fear of China on the part of US planners. Much of Iran's oil already goes to China, and China is providing Iran with weapons, presumably considered a deterrent to US threats. Still more uncomfortable for Washington is the fact that, according to the Financial Times, "the Sino-Saudi relationship has developed dramatically," including Chinese military aid to Saudi Arabia and gas exploration rights for China. By 2005, Saudi Arabia provided about 17 per cent of China's oil imports. Chinese and Saudi oil companies have signed deals for drilling and construction of a huge refinery (with Exxon Mobil as a partner). A January 2006 visit by Saudi king Abdullah to Beijing was expected to lead to a Sino-Saudi memorandum of understanding calling for "increased cooperation and investment between the two countries in oil, natural gas, and minerals."

Indian analyst Aijaz Ahmad observes that Iran could "emerge as the virtual linchpin in the making, over the next decade or so, of what China and Russia have come to regard as an absolutely indispensable Asian Energy Security Grid, for breaking Western control of the world's energy supplies and securing the great industrial revolution of Asia." South Korea and southeast Asian countries are likely to join, possibly Japan as well. A crucial question is how India will react. It rejected US pressures to withdraw from an oil pipeline deal with Iran. On the other hand, India joined the United States and the EU in voting for an anti-Iranian resolution at the IAEA, joining also in their hypocrisy, since India rejects the NPT regime to which Iran, so far, appears to be largely conforming. Ahmad reports that India may have secretly reversed its stand under Iranian threats to terminate a $20bn gas deal. Washington later warned India that its "nuclear deal with the US could be ditched" if India did not go along with US demands, eliciting a sharp rejoinder from the Indian foreign ministry and an evasive tempering of the warning by the US embassy.

The prospect that Europe and Asia might move toward greater independence has seriously troubled US planners since World War II, and concerns have significantly increased as the tripolar order has continued to evolve, along with new south-south interactions and rapidly growing EU engagement with China.

US intelligence has projected that the United States, while controlling Middle East oil for the traditional reasons, will itself rely mainly on more stable Atlantic Basin resources (West Africa, western hemisphere). Control of Middle East oil is now far from a sure thing, and these expectations are also threatened by developments in the western hemisphere, accelerated by Bush administration policies that have left the United States remarkably isolated in the global arena. The Bush administration has even succeeded in alienating Canada, an impressive feat.

Canada's minister of natural resources said that within a few years one quarter of the oil that Canada now sends to the United States may go to China instead. In a further blow to Washington's energy policies, the leading oil exporter in the hemisphere, Venezuela, has forged probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American country, and is planning to sell increasing amounts of oil to China as part of its effort to reduce dependence on the openly hostile US government. Latin America as a whole is increasing trade and other relations with China, with some setbacks, but likely expansion, in particular for raw materials exporters like Brazil and Chile.

Meanwhile, Cuba-Venezuela relations are becoming very close, each relying on its comparative advantage. Venezuela is providing low-cost oil while in return Cuba organizes literacy and health programs, sending thousands of highly skilled professionals, teachers, and doctors, who work in the poorest and most neglected areas, as they do elsewhere in the Third World. Cuba-Venezuela projects are extending to the Caribbean countries, where Cuban doctors are providing healthcare to thousands of people with Venezuelan funding. Operation Miracle, as it is called, is described by Jamaica's ambassador to Cuba as "an example of integration and south-south cooperation", and is generating great enthusiasm among the poor majority. Cuban medical assistance is also being welcomed elsewhere. One of the most horrendous tragedies of recent years was the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. In addition to the huge toll, unknown numbers of survivors have to face brutal winter weather with little shelter, food, or medical assistance. One has to turn to the South Asian press to read that "Cuba has provided the largest contingent of doctors and paramedics to Pakistan," paying all the costs (perhaps with Venezuelan funding), and that President Musharraf expressed his "deep gratitude" for the "spirit and compassion" of the Cuban medical teams.

Some analysts have suggested that Cuba and Venezuela might even unite, a step towards further integration of Latin America in a bloc that is more independent from the United States. Venezuela has joined Mercosur, the South American customs union, a move described by Argentine president Nestor Kirchner as "a milestone" in the development of this trading bloc, and welcomed as opening "a new chapter in our integration" by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Independent experts say that "adding Venezuela to the bloc furthers its geopolitical vision of eventually spreading Mercosur to the rest of the region."

At a meeting to mark Venezuela's entry into Mercosur, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said, "We cannot allow this to be purely an economic project, one for the elites and for the transnational companies," a not very oblique reference to the US-sponsored "Free Trade Agreement for the Americas," which has aroused strong public opposition. Venezuela also supplied Argentina with fuel oil to help stave off an energy crisis, and bought almost a third of Argentine debt issued in 2005, one element of a region-wide effort to free the countries from the control of the US-dominated IMF after two decades of disastrous effects of conformity to its rules. The IMF has "acted towards our country as a promoter and a vehicle of policies that caused poverty and pain among the Argentine people," President Kirchner said in announcing his decision to pay almost $1 trillion to rid itself of the IMF forever. Radically violating IMF rules, Argentina enjoyed a substantial recovery from the disaster left by IMF policies.

Steps toward independent regional integration advanced further with the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia in December 2005, the first president from the indigenous majority. Morales moved quickly to reach energy accords with Venezuela.

Though Central America was largely disciplined by Reaganite violence and terror, the rest of the hemisphere is falling out of control, particularly from Venezuela to Argentina, which was the poster child of the IMF and the Treasury Department until its economy collapsed under the policies they imposed. Much of the region has left-center governments. The indigenous populations have become much more active and influential, particularly in Bolivia and Ecuador, both major energy producers, where they either want oil and gas to be domestically controlled or, in some cases, oppose production altogether. Many indigenous people apparently do not see any reason why their lives, societies, and cultures should be disrupted or destroyed so that New Yorkers can sit in SUVs in traffic gridlock. Some are even calling for an "Indian nation" in South America. Meanwhile the economic integration that is under way is reversing patterns that trace back to the Spanish conquests, with Latin American elites and economies linked to the imperial powers but not to one another. Along with growing south-south interaction on a broader scale, these developments are strongly influenced by popular organizations that are coming together in the unprecedented international global justice movements, ludicrously called "anti-globalization" because they favor globalization that privileges the interests of people, not investors and financial institutions. For many reasons, the system of US global dominance is fragile, even apart from the damage inflicted by Bush planners.

One consequence is that the Bush administration's pursuit of the traditional policies of deterring democracy faces new obstacles. It is no longer as easy as before to resort to military coups and international terrorism to overthrow democratically elected governments, as Bush planners learnt ruefully in 2002 in Venezuela. The "strong line of continuity" must be pursued in other ways, for the most part. In Iraq, as we have seen, mass nonviolent resistance compelled Washington and London to permit the elections they had sought to evade. The subsequent effort to subvert the elections by providing substantial advantages to the administration's favorite candidate, and expelling the independent media, also failed. Washington faces further problems. The Iraqi labor movement is making considerable progress despite the opposition of the occupation authorities. The situation is rather like Europe and Japan after World War II, when a primary goal of the United States and United Kingdom was to undermine independent labor movements - as at home, for similar reasons: organized labor contributes in essential ways to functioning democracy with popular engagement. Many of the measures adopted at that time - withholding food, supporting fascist police - are no longer available. Nor is it possible today to rely on the labor bureaucracy of the American Institute for Free Labor Development to help undermine unions. Today, some American unions are supporting Iraqi workers, just as they do in Colombia, where more union activists are murdered than anywhere in the world. At least the unions now receive support from the United Steelworkers of America and others, while Washington continues to provide enormous funding for the government, which bears a large part of the responsibility.

The problem of elections arose in Palestine much in the way it did in Iraq. As already discussed, the Bush administration refused to permit elections until the death of Yasser Arafat, aware that the wrong man would win. After his death, the administration agreed to permit elections, expecting the victory of its favored Palestinian Authority candidates. To promote this outcome, Washington resorted to much the same modes of subversion as in Iraq, and often before. Washington used the US Agency for International Development as an "invisible conduit" in an effort to "increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority on the eve of crucial elections in which the governing party faces a serious challenge from the radical Islamic group Hamas" (Washington Post), spending almost $2m "on dozens of quick projects before elections this week to bolster the governing Fatah faction's image with voters" (New York Times). In the United States, or any Western country, even a hint of such foreign interference would destroy a candidate, but deeply rooted imperial mentality legitimates such routine measures elsewhere. However, the attempt to subvert the elections again resoundingly failed.

The US and Israeli governments now have to adjust to dealing somehow with a radical Islamic party that approaches their traditional rejectionist stance, though not entirely, at least if Hamas really does mean to agree to an indefinite truce on the international border as its leaders state. The US and Israel, in contrast, insist that Israel must take over substantial parts of the West Bank (and the forgotten Golan Heights). Hamas's refusal to accept Israel's "right to exist" mirrors the refusal of Washington and Jerusalem to accept Palestine's "right to exist" - a concept unknown in international affairs; Mexico accepts the existence of the United States but not its abstract "right to exist" on almost half of Mexico, acquired by conquest. Hamas's formal commitment to "destroy Israel" places it on a par with the United States and Israel, which vowed formally that there could be no "additional Palestinian state" (in addition to Jordan) until they relaxed their extreme rejectionist stand partially in the past few years, in the manner already reviewed. Although Hamas has not said so, it would come as no great surprise if Hamas were to agree that Jews may remain in scattered areas in the present Israel, while Palestine constructs huge settlement and infrastructure projects to take over the valuable land and resources, effectively breaking Israel up into unviable cantons, virtually separated from one another and from some small part of Jerusalem where Jews would also be allowed to remain. And they might agree to call the fragments "a state." If such proposals were made, we would - rightly - regard them as virtually a reversion to Nazism, a fact that might elicit some thoughts. If such proposals were made, Hamas's position would be essentially like that of the United States and Israel for the past five years, after they came to tolerate some impoverished form of "statehood." It is fair to describe Hamas as radical, extremist, and violent, and as a serious threat to peace and a just political settlement. But the organization is hardly alone in this stance.

Elsewhere traditional means of undermining democracy have succeeded. In Haiti, the Bush administration's favorite "democracy-building group, the International Republican Institute," worked assiduously to promote the opposition to President Aristide, helped by the withholding of desperately needed aid on grounds that were dubious at best. When it seemed that Aristide would probably win any genuine election, Washington and the opposition chose to withdraw, a standard device to discredit elections that are going to come out the wrong way: Nicaragua in 1984 and Venezuela in December 2005 are examples that should be familiar. Then followed a military coup, expulsion of the president, and a reign of terror and violence vastly exceeding anything under the elected government.

The persistence of the strong line of continuity to the present again reveals that the United States is very much like other powerful states. It pursues the strategic and economic interests of dominant sectors of the domestic population, to the accompaniment of rhetorical flourishes about its dedication to the highest values. That is practically a historical universal, and the reason why sensible people pay scant attention to declarations of noble intent by leaders, or accolades by their followers.

One commonly hears that carping critics complain about what is wrong, but do not present solutions. There is an accurate translation for that charge: "They present solutions, but I don't like them." In addition to the proposals that should be familiar about dealing with the crises that reach to the level of survival, a few simple suggestions for the United States have already been mentioned: 1) accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court; 2) sign and carry forward the Kyoto protocols; 3) let the UN take the lead in international crises; 4) rely on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones in confronting terror; 5) keep to the traditional interpretation of the UN Charter; 6) give up the Security Council veto and have "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind," as the Declaration of Independence advises, even if power centers disagree; 7) cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending. For people who believe in democracy, these are very conservative suggestions: they appear to be the opinions of the majority of the US population, in most cases the overwhelming majority. They are in radical opposition to public policy. To be sure, we cannot be very confident about the state of public opinion on such matters because of another feature of the democratic deficit: the topics scarcely enter into public discussion and the basic facts are little known. In a highly atomized society, the public is therefore largely deprived of the opportunity to form considered opinions.

Another conservative suggestion is that facts, logic, and elementary moral principles should matter. Those who take the trouble to adhere to that suggestion will soon be led to abandon a good part of familiar doctrine, though it is surely much easier to repeat self-serving mantras. Such simple truths carry us some distance toward developing more specific and detailed answers. More important, they open the way to implement them, opportunities that are readily within our grasp if we can free ourselves from the shackles of doctrine and imposed illusion.

Though it is natural for doctrinal systems to seek to induce pessimism, hopelessness, and despair, reality is different. There has been substantial progress in the unending quest for justice and freedom in recent years, leaving a legacy that can be carried forward from a higher plane than before. Opportunities for education and organizing abound. As in the past, rights are not likely to be granted by benevolent authorities, or won by intermittent actions - attending a few demonstrations or pushing a lever in the personalized quadrennial extravaganzas that are depicted as "democratic politics." As always in the past, the tasks require dedicated day-by-day engagement to create - in part recreate - the basis for a functioning democratic culture in which the public plays some role in determining policies, not only in the political arena, from which it is largely excluded, but also in the crucial economic arena, from which it is excluded in principle. There are many ways to promote democracy at home, carrying it to new dimensions. Opportunities are ample, and failure to grasp them is likely to have ominous repercussions: for the country, for the world, and for future generations.

Noam Chomsky, the eminent intellectual and author, is a professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Published on Monday, May 15, 2006 by the Boston Globe
America the Titanic
by James Carroll

The last living American survivor of the Titanic died last week. Lillian Gertrud Asplund was 5 when the luxury liner sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912. Her father and three brothers were lost. She, another brother, and her mother survived.

At death, Asplund was 99. In reading her obituary, one could not escape the feeling that her entire life was shadowed by this tragedy. Is such a thing true more broadly? Does her passing mark the end of the Titanic story? What was that story anyway?

Many ships have been ill-fated. Why did the fate of that particular one so grip the world's imagination? The Hollywood blockbuster of a few years ago brought the story to a new generation, but its pins were already deeply planted in human consciousness. Why? The Titanic, as the unsinkable vessel that sank on its maiden voyage, became an ultimate symbol of hubris, a cautionary tale warning that human inventiveness can always be trumped by nature.

But the Titanic took on mythic significance only because of what soon followed in its wake. It was in hindsight that the catastrophe of The Great War took on the implicit character of the unforeseen obstacle into which Europe crashed.

The unbridled optimism of the Enlightenment, a belief in the ''unsinkability" of progress, drove full speed into the abyss of trench warfare. A generation of European males was lost, and for what? Kaiser? King? The Archduke of Sarajevo? A dynamic set by arms merchants?

After the fact, what came to be called World War I could only be understood as an act of civilizational suicide. For year after year, Germany, Britain, France, and other nations sent their very futures ''over the top" into the maw of machine guns that refused to falter. It was as if the man at the helm of the Titanic sailed into the thick of icebergs he had been warned were certainly there. The story of the ship became one of pure foreboding.

The entry of the United States into the war was decisive, but it remained marginal to the agonies and the destructiveness, and so inherited the century. In America, it seemed possible to regard the Titanic tragedy as a morality tale meant for Europe, just as one could think of The Great War as the death rattle of the ''Old World."

That sense of relatively immune superiority was only confirmed by World War II. Though US losses were greater than before, so was the benefit when the ''New World" emerged uniquely whole, soon to become the engine of the global economy. Commanding from the bridge of ''the West," American leaders went full speed ahead into a sea of icebergs, but now the true hazards had been created by the geniuses who had built the ship. The icebergs this time were thousands upon thousands of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union joined the United States in the manufacture of an ever growing danger. The stage for a second act of civilizational suicide was set.

By sheer dumb luck the USS America navigated the Cold War without hitting one of the nuclear icebergs, but the helmsmen credited their own skill while slaphappy passengers celebrated -- again -- a claim to unsinkability. We had ''won" the Cold War, and now we were the ''indispensable nation." Not even awareness of the dangers posed by unmoored nuclear weapons -- ''loose nukes" -- made America's geniuses see the hazard as applying to them. That alone is why, against reason and law, Washington can maintain its fleet of nuclear icebergs even now. Tragedy, nuclear or otherwise, is a fate awaiting other peoples, not Americans, who remain the last Enlightenment optimists.

Oddly, the blow of 9/11 reinforced this exceptionalism. The anguish of that day was real, but it equaled neither what other nations suffered in the world wars, nor what the earth narrowly survived in the Cold War. Nor does it compare to what lies dead ahead if the captains of our ship hold course -- ''Steady as she goes."

Looming obstacles include an Islamic world enflamed by American belligerence, Russians feeling pushed into a new Cold War, China in an arms race, and a demonized Iran acting -- no surprise -- like a demon. All of these threats have their stimulus, if not their origins, in the old hubris of the New World.

What America has done over the last six years makes plain that the lesson of the Titanic, even with its last US survivor gone, has yet to be learned in Washington. It is 1912 again.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

© 2006 The Boston Globe
Published on Thursday, May 18, 2006 by the Inter Press Service
Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point
by Stephen Leahy

BROOKLIN, Canada - The world is now eating more food than farmers grow, pushing global grain stocks to their lowest level in 30 years. Rising population, water shortages, climate change, and the growing costs of fossil fuel-based fertilisers point to a calamitous shortfall in the world's grain supplies in the near future, according to Canada's National Farmers Union (NFU).

Thirty years ago, the oceans were teeming with fish, but today more people rely on farmers to produce their food than ever before, says Stewart Wells, NFU's president.

In five of the last six years, global population ate significantly more grains than farmers produced.

And with the world's farmers unable to increase food production, policymakers must address the "massive challenges to the ability of humanity to continue to feed its growing numbers", Wells said in a statement.

There isn't much land left on the planet that can be converted into new food-producing areas, notes Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based non-governmental organisation. And what is left is of generally poor quality or likely to turn into dust bowls if heavily exploited, Brown told IPS.

Unlike the Green Revolution in the 1960s, when improved strains of wheat, rice, maize and other cereals dramatically boosted global food production, there are no technological magic bullets waiting in the wings.

"Biotechnology has made little difference so far," he said.

Even if the long-promised biotech advances in drought, cold, and disease-resistance come about in the next decade, they will boost yields little more than five percent globally, Brown said.

"There's not nearly enough discussion about how people will be fed 20 years from now," he said.

Hunger is already a stark and painful reality for more than 850 million people, including 300 million children. How can the number of hungry not explode when one, two and possibly three billion more people are added to the global population?

The global food system needs fixing and fast, says Darrin Qualman, NFU's research director.

"Many Canadian and U.S. farmers are going out of business because crop prices are at their lowest in nearly 100 years," Qualman said in an interview. "Farmers are told overproduction is to blame for the low prices they've been forced to accept in recent years."

However, most North American agribusiness corporations posted record profits in 2004. With only five major companies controlling the global grain market, there is a massive imbalance of power, he said.

"The food production system is designed to generate profits, not produce food or nutrition for people," Qualman told IPS.

He says there are enormous amounts of food stored in central Canada's farming heartland, but thousands of people there, including some farm families, are forced to rely on food banks.

"It's a system that's perfectly happy to leave hundreds of millions of people unfed," he said.

Inequity and poverty are at the heart of the hunger problem, according to experts, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Economic inequity is becoming more widespread, with hunger and malnutrition a chronic problem for the poor in both the South and the North, says Brown.

And the present situation is likely to worsen with climate change.

An estimated 184 million people in Africa alone could die from floods, famine, drought and conflict resulting from climate change before the end of the century, according to a new report by Christian Aid, a British-based charity.

Millions more in other parts of the world will also perish, and recent gains in reducing poverty could be thrown into reverse in coming decades, said the report, "Climate of Poverty: Facts, Fears and Hopes".

"This is a grave crisis for global society and we need global solutions," said Andrew Pendleton, climate and development analyst at Christian Aid.

In the "Hope" section of the report, the group envisions poor regions using renewable energy to power a new, and clean, era of prosperity.

Another vision is already making a difference in villages in 10 African countries. With some money to buy better seeds, fertiliser, a share in a protected water source, and a bed net to fend off malarial mosquitoes, hundreds of thousands of villagers in the Millennium Villages project are now able to grow enough food and sell the surplus.

Developed by Jeffrey Sachs and others at Columbia University's Earth Institute and the U.N. Millennium Project, each project is led by local community members using proven, practical, low-cost technologies.

Making a substantial difference in Africa's food security and poverty issues means development assistance to spread the project to the more than 100,000 villages in Africa, organisers have said.

That kind of frontal assault on poverty, along with population stabilisation and sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, top Brown's list of what needs to be done immediately.

Shifting from a global food production system to local food for local people would go a long way towards addressing inequity, Qualman believes.

"The 100-mile diet, where people obtain their food from within a 100-mile radius of their homes, makes good sense for most of the world," he said.

The whole fabric of the food production system needs to change, or hunger and malnutrition will only get much worse.

"North America's industrial-style agricultural system is a really bad idea and maybe the worst on the planet," Qualman concluded.

Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Here's a good article folks about how people sacrifice their time for big homes. It's insane. NONE of these folks are priced out of homes because for the price they paid, you can find PLENTY of condos and single family homes within 10 miles of the city. The MLS guide is full of properties for sale and now is the time to buy. These people just don't want to live near the city and that's all there is to it. If you can afford a 700K home in the burbs, you can live within 5 miles of New York City. Heck, for 700K, you can live right in the city! By the way, those train tickets to the burbs cost over $300.00 dollars per month! They're not saving anything when you take into consideration their time and increased transportation costs. Quite frankly, I don't feel sorry for any of them.

Those of us here who are car free look at this article with laughter.

Bigger Houses, Longer Commutes

Published: May 21, 2006

ON weekdays, Julie Kroloff sets the coffee maker for 5:45 a.m., then speeds through her kitchen in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., and grabs a cup to fortify herself for the long drive ahead. If Ms. Kroloff, a self-employed consultant, is on time, she backs out of the garage just before 6 and makes the trip from Dutchess County to her office in Midtown Manhattan in just under two hours. If traffic is heavy, Ms. Kroloff's 54-mile commute can take two and a half hours or more.

Alan Zale for The New York Times
Atul Ramayani heads for the 7:10 express train from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to Grand Central. Door-to-door, the commute takes him two hours.

Joan A. Pagones, the supervisor of the Town of Fishkill tours the 32 acres Toll Brothers gave to the Wappingers Central School District in exchange for being allowed to build in the town.
About the same time, in Burlington, N.J., south of Trenton, Ronny Byrd, a vault custodian for the Bank of New York, boards a bus bound for Wall Street. If the New Jersey Turnpike and the Holland Tunnel are not backed up, Mr. Byrd will reach his destination in two hours.

In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Atul Ramayani, a computer analyst, boards Metro-North's increasingly crowded 7:10 express bound for Grand Central Terminal. In all, Mr. Ramayani's commute takes close to two hours, including the 20-minute drive to the station and a 10-minute walk from Grand Central before he clocks in for the day.

Priced out of an increasingly expensive real estate market in close-in areas like Westchester, Bergen and Nassau Counties, some workers are pushing their commutes up to the two-hour mark, and even beyond.

It is the price they are willing to pay to own the home of their dreams, said Alan E. Pisarski, the author of a series of books titled "Commuting in America" (the third is being published by the National Academy of Sciences' Transportation Research Board).

"In essence, what this group of commuters is doing," Mr. Pisarski explained, "is contributing to their house payment with travel time."

Or as Mr. Byrd, who used to live in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn with his wife, Valerie, and their four children, said, "We never could have afforded a home big enough for all of us that was closer to New York." In September, the couple bought a six-bedroom house in Burlington, 75 miles south of Midtown, for $250,000.

With the cost of residential real estate rising sharply in recent years, the geographical boundaries of the New York metropolitan area are being redrawn. Bulldozers are clearing farmland once considered too far away for a commute to Manhattan, real estate agencies are opening offices in outlying areas, and elected officials in once-rural communities are being pressured to contain the encroaching sprawl.

Meanwhile, public transportation providers like Metro-North are adding service earlier in the morning and in the evening to accommodate their riders' changing needs. And many of those riders are changing their routines, optimizing the increased travel time to and from work by opening their laptops and BlackBerries en route.

"They're charging their batteries from the outlets that were meant for vacuum cleaners and our polishing equipment," said Dan Brucker, a Metro-North spokesman.

Other commuters like Ms. Kroloff who rely on their cars for the long haul to work say that the drive gives them a chance to be alone and to gather their thoughts. "I can be in my own world without anyone bothering me," she said. "Sometimes when I'm driving, I just let my mind wander. Sometimes, I listen to music. I can create my own space in the car, and that helps me prepare for the day ahead."

She and her daughter, Rita, 8, and her son, Steven, 7, moved into a new five-bedroom, five-bath house last fall. It cost around $750,000.

According to the latest statistics from the Census Bureau, the migration outward and the trend toward longer commutes to New York City intensified during the 1990's. In Dutchess County, for example, the number of people who commuted to the city rose 46 percent in that decade, to 5,798 from 3,975.

In New Jersey, the number of people commuting from Warren County, due west of Manhattan at the Pennsylvania border, was up 39 percent, rising from 539 in 1990 to 748 in 2000.

In New Haven County in Connecticut, the increase was 25 percent, from 1,797 to 2,243.

But in Suffolk County, the eastern part of Long Island, the numbers increased by only 2 percent, rising to 80,003 from 78,291 in 1990.

Nassau County to the west and Westchester County to the north are still home to the largest numbers of New York City commuters — 197,864 in Nassau and 117,839 in Westchester — although their numbers dropped, by less than 2 percent, in the decade.

The Census Bureau has not updated its 2000 figures. But real estate offices and rail and bus lines report that the residential real estate market has been in high gear north and west of Westchester, in southern New Jersey and near Philadelphia.

It is a trend that Mark S. Jaffe, the president of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, calls worrisome. "If people have to travel so far, how can they still be alert and productive on the job?" he said. "Very few people want to commute long distances, but the lack of affordable housing closer in forces them to do that."

To the NorthInterstate 84, which crosses southern Dutchess County just above the Putnam County line, used to be considered the boundary for most commuters to New York, said William J. Lavery, a regional vice president in Houlihan Lawrence's Dutchess County offices. But that is no longer the case.

Ronny Byrd leaves Burlington, N.J., for a bus ride of almost two hours to the Bank of New York.
Julie Kroloff leaves her home in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., at about 6 a.m. to begin her two-hour drive to Manhattan.
"Suddenly, the gates have opened up, and half a dozen new subdivisions are going in," he said.

Clearly, the migration to Dutchess is being fueled by the high cost of housing to the south. In Westchester at the end of 2005, the median price for a single-family house was $640,000, according to the Westchester County Board of Realtors. By comparison, it was $342,500 in Dutchess.

The areas of highest growth in Dutchess, Mr. Lavery said, include Pawling, East Fishkill, Beekman, Uniondale and LaGrange, towns in the southern part of the county.

Orange County, northwest of Westchester on the other side of the Hudson River, has also become an alternative for prospective homeowners, among them police officers and firefighters who have been priced out of markets closer to Manhattan, said Greg Rand, the managing partner in Prudential Rand Realty, which has offices in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties. "Seven years ago," Mr. Rand said, "Orange was just a rural upstate county, not a bedroom community for New York City. But then people saw what they could buy in Orange for the money, and they changed their thinking." The median price in Orange at the end of 2005 was $320,000.

Rob Parahus, a group president of Toll Brothers, the construction company active in 21 states, has six new developments in Dutchess County, including Arlington Hunt in Poughkeepsie where Mr. Ramayani has bought a house, and another development in New Paltz in Ulster County. Prices range from the high $300,000's to the mid-$700,000's. "Until fairly recently these locations wouldn't support this kind of development," Mr. Parahus said.

Mr. Parahus said zoning boards were welcoming to builders in rural areas. But Joan A. Pagones, the supervisor of the Town of Fishkill, which covers 32 square miles in southwestern Dutchess, had a somewhat different view. She said elected officials were taking a tough, although not unfriendly, stance on development.

"My first question to a developer is 'How can you make our town better?' " Ms. Pagones said. " 'Will you provide sewer and water, a fire truck, a snowplow?' "

"We're not afraid of growth," she added, "but we have to manage it smartly."

Toll Brothers recently gained approval to build in the town only after it agreed to grant 32 acres to the Wappingers Central School District.

In response to the new developments, Metro-North Railroad expanded its train service in April, adding express runs on its Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines. From Poughkeepsie, for example, a train now leaves at 4:15 a.m. and arrives at Grand Central at 5:50. And New Haven now has a train departing at 5:12 a.m., arriving in Manhattan at 6:47. Ridership on the northern part of Metro-North's Hudson Line, from Croton-on-Hudson to Poughkeepsie, increased 85 percent from 1990 to 2005, from 2.4 million a year to 4.5 million annually. On the Harlem Line between Dover Plains and Wassaic in Dutchess County, ridership was up 274 percent from 1990 to 2005, rising from 140,900 to 526,000. On the New Haven Line, the increase was 34 percent, from 9.4 million to 12.7 million.

In order to serve the increasing numbers of commuters from Orange County, which used to be considered "never-never land," Mr. Brucker, the Metro-North spokesman, said, the railroad has contracted with New York Waterways for 10-minute ferry service across the Hudson from Newburgh to Beacon, and back again in the evening. Riders now number 280 a day, up from 200 when service began in January.

Beacon, on the Harlem Line, is one of the fastest-growing stations in the Metro-North system, Mr. Brucker said, in large part reflecting the increasing numbers of people commuting from Orange. Beacon now has 1,330 customers a day, he said, 45 percent from Orange, and ridership to Manhattan is up 50 percent from five years ago. The first ferry leaves Newburgh at 5:40 on weekday mornings; in Beacon, passengers can connect with a southbound train and arrive at Grand Central at 7:17 a.m.

Commuters are not only traveling farther, but they are also getting to work earlier, Mr. Brucker said. "The worldwide economy means that people have to interact with workers in other countries at different times of day," he said. And instead of reading or sleeping, commuters are often working en route. Mr. Ramayani, for example, said he extends the workday by using his laptop on the train ride from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central and back again at night.

To the South

Reports of the growth in the number of people commuting from the outer reaches of New Jersey and from Philadelphia are mostly anecdotal — there seem to be few statistics to support what real estate agents and builders are calling a trend.

Orleans Homebuilders in Bensalem, Pa., is expanding its reach into New Jersey, in Monmouth, Middlesex, Hunterdon and Burlington Counties, said Gary Schaal, the executive vice president for sales and marketing. In Burlington County alone, he said, the company has six new residential developments. Among them are Covington Manor, where 4,200-square-foot homes with four bedrooms and three-car garages on one-acre lots are selling in the low $700,000's.

Mr. Schaal could not say how many of his buyers were commuting to New York on the buses that run to the Port Authority terminal or by train from Trenton.

Mr. Byrd is typical of some of the buyers from New York City who are acquiring older houses in Burlington, said Anna DeCristofaro, a sales associate at Coldwell Banker Elite. "We're seeing more and more of this," she said. "They buy a place and then fix it up over time as they can afford to."

But transportation companies — among them Greyhound Lines — reported that ridership has not increased enough to justify added service, said Anna Folmnsbee, a spokeswoman.

Glenn Petsch, the manager of Coldwell Banker Elite's Cherry Hill office, described the movement outward as the beginning of a ripple effect. "House prices are causing the move south and west," he said, "but it's not a huge onrush."

Michael Galdi, an agent for Century 21 Advantage Gold in Philadelphia, is feeling some of that ripple. Commuters are buying row houses and multifamily houses in the Northwood and Castor Gardens sections of the city. From there, they can take elevated trains downtown, where they can change to Amtrak trains headed for Manhattan, or they can drive to work.

But Mr. Galdi noted that as the residential real estate market slows, interest in the Philadelphia neighborhoods appears to be diminishing as well, and prices, which reached the mid-$100,000's for attached houses last year, are coming down

Friday, May 19, 2006

The great oil race:
Cheney discovers U.S. is losing out to China

Vice President Dick Cheney listens to Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev during a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Astana, Kazakhstan, on May 5. (AP Photo/Shawn Thew, Pool)

Vice President Dick Cheney has been entrusted with a task regarded as vital to bolstering the Bush administration's sagging political popularity: the search for additional crude oil in order to help stabilize U.S. gasoline prices over the next few months.

Mr. Cheney was recently sent to Central Asia and other regions to coax allies to significantly increase supplies to stabilize U.S. gasoline prices for the summer. Administration sources said Mr. Cheney has run into significant difficulties as he has found that many of the potential suppliers have become committed to China.

"We're in a race with China and so far we're losing," an administration source familiar with Mr. Cheney's trip said.

During his visit to Washington in late April, the sources said, Chinese President Hu Jintao brusquely rejected President Bush's appeal to cooperate on energy resources to ensure global market stability. Later, Mr. Hu visited Nigeria, which supplies about 17 percent of U.S. oil imports.

The sources said Mr. Cheney, who has long-time contacts in the industry, has been designated to find oil supplies both for the short- and medium-term.

They said Mr. Cheney's visit to Central Asia was based on the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Middle East oil supplies will become increasingly precarious after 2008.

The administration has determined that gasoline prices will become a major issue in congressional elections in November. A May poll taken by AP and Ipsos reported that 23 percent of respondents approve of the president's handling of gasoline prices, the lowest rate in the survey.

The sources said Mr. Cheney found his hosts in Central Asia to be distrustful of U.S. intentions, with some Muslim countries fearful of a regime change as that which took place in 2005 in Kyrgyzstan, regarded as the most pro-American country in the region.

Mr. Cheney also was informed of the contracts China has already signed with Central Asian republics. In April, Turkmenistan signed a deal to supply China with 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year from 2009 to 2039. The price has not yet been determined.

"Even if many analysts doubt Turkmenistan's ability to meet this contract, that deal evokes the contradictions inherent in China's transitional phase," the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation said in a report. "In its substance it evokes the old approach: China subsidizing dictators by paying for pipelines as well as for gas and trying to knock prices down while tying up the producer for 30 years."

A key target of Mr. Cheney's visit was Kazakhstan, regarded as the richest oil and natural gas state in the region. The vice president, in contrast to the other countries he visited, did not discuss the need for democracy in Kazakhstan, whom he described as a "key strategic partner of the United States."

"Obviously Kazakhstan is important given their considerable resources," Mr. Cheney said on May 5 on his return to Washington. "It's one of the few places where we're going to see an increase in oil production from a non-OPEC state over the next few years."

The sources said Mr. Cheney sought to exploit a rift between Russia and states in Central Asia. The vice president was highly critical of Moscow's use of energy, particularly transport rights, to intimidate its neighbors.

At the same time, the Bush administration has been pressuring Kazakhstan to export oil through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that would bypass Russia and supply Europe and the United States. The sources said the Kazakh agreement to join the trans-Caspian project could be signed in June.

Congress has been growing increasingly concerned over soaring gasoline prices. On May 9, members of the Senate Commerce Committee accused the administration of failing to employ technology designed to increase automobile fuel economy.

"The president and I are committed to improving fuel economy across the board through an open regulatory process built upon sound science and economics, but we will not accept an arbitrary statutory increase under the current passenger cars system," Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told the committee.
What to Expect When the Dollar Collapses -- Part One of Two

Just as in 1929, we now live in an economy that is living wildly beyond its means, depending on greater and greater fools to keep bidding up governments', corporations' and citizens' paper wealth. Just as in 1929, everyone is borrowing to buy, either in the hope that they can sell later for a profit (because it is the only way they can hope to increase their net worth), or because it is the only way they can buy at all. And just as in 1929, it is unsustainable, and will lead to a sudden severe reversal followed by a decade (or more, this time) of ever-worsening conditions, except for upper-income (six-figure, this time) earners.

I've just finished reading Pierre Berton's The Great Depression, the definitive history of the 1929-1939 depression. In Part Two of this article tomorrow I'm going to map the behaviours of that era onto the realities of the early 21st century, and tell a story of what life in the next Depression could well be like. Berton's depiction of the last Depression is one of spectacular political blundering and pig-headedness, and a mean-spiritedness that permeates the whole society. So today I want to explore whether (and if so, how) the attitudes of people (elected, management and grassroots) to their fellow humans are significantly different from what they were seventy years ago. The human effect of a Depression is, after all, as much a matter of how we treat each other as the economic variables that conspire to convert seeming affluence to staggering and protracted misery.

In 1929, the class-conscious society that had existed more or less for millennia was still a reality. While slavery was no longer legal, racism was still very common and overt. Notwithstanding the message of the Statue of Liberty, new immigrants were treated suspiciously and as second-class citizens, when they were allowed citizenship at all. Anti-Semitism was rampant (and had been for decades), and hatred and distrust of other religions and cultures was considered quite 'normal' by most citizens. Segregation, at least until a group was assimilated, was the accepted and preferred reality. Women in the US and Canada had only just achieved full suffrage (in Quebec they would not achieve it until 1940). Economic class distinctions were sharp, and there was a general assumption by those in power that the 'lower classes' were lazy and needed to be supervised and bullied to perform. Opposition by management to organized labour was virulent, and the government and police forces had no qualms about putting down civil strife violently. Anti-Communist sentiment was uniformly high, had been for years, and organized religions, mainstream political parties and social organizations all preached the dangers of the 'red menace'. The affluence we attribute to the 'roaring twenties' was that of a minority elite only, but then that had been the norm since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Everyone else was deeply in debt, part of the deliberate process of keeping the middle and lower classes in line. The middle classes were the ones who tried to leverage their debts into wealth through the stock market, and were especially hard hit by its collapse. Economic Disparity between rich and poor was massive, with managers earning comfortable 5-figure incomes while many workers' annual incomes (there was no minimum wage, no unemployment insurance or labour protections) were only in the high 3-figures.

One could argue that most of this is still true today, except that the economic, religious, racial and cultural animosity is mostly tacit rather than overt, and, thanks to automation and other 'productivity' technologies that are taking resources from future generations to meet the needs and wants of people today, the economic prosperity of all social classes in affluent nations, adjusted for purchasing power, is proportionally better, though the disparity is as large as ever.

Culture is all about mastery -- domination, imperialism, control, and restrictions on behaviour. It can be argued that we humans have three masters, fighting for control of us:

Micro-masters: The organisms that make up our bodies and which evolved our minds as a "feature-detection system" for their collective benefit. Stewart and Cohen argue that our brains, and our minds (the processes that our neurons, senses and motility organs carry out collectively) are their (our bodies' organisms') information-processing system, not 'ours'. By the time 'we' have started to think what to do, our micro-masters have generally already made up 'our' minds.
Meta-masters: Our culture and society is constantly attempting to make us like everyone else, to conform to and believe what others believe, for the preservation of law and order of the society. In times of low stress, we tend to obey our micro-masters; as stress increases, these impulses are over-ruled by the rules of our meta-masters, in their perceived collective interest. Edward Hall, in his studies of experiments with rats, found that in periods of high stress, conflict, coercion and social hierarchy soar, as the group sacrifices the welfare of the whole for the survival of the elite. The alphas, with the complicity of the rest, hoard for themselves, so that at least a few can survive the crisis and perpetuate the species. It could be argued that modern civilization is a constant high-stress environment, which is why our human meta-masters now exert so much influence over us, and treat us so badly.
Macro-master: Gaia, the collective organism that is all life on Earth. If you buy the Gaia theory (as most scientists now do), there is a higher level of intelligence at work on our planet, a complex, adaptive, self-managed intelligence that recognizes the inter-dependence of all life on Earth and its ecosystems and therefore the need to balance our numbers and behaviours for the collective well-being of all. We were presumably once attuned to this intelligence and accepting of its wisdom, limiting our numbers and our destruction of other life accordingly. But other than a vague sense of biophilia, judging from our behaviour our awareness of this master has long vanished from human consciousness, or at least been effectively sublimated.
The argument about where 'free will' fits into this, if indeed we have any free will at all, is best left for another day.

So what happens when an economic depression hits? Suddenly the stress level is increased by an order of magnitude, the poor begin to fear for their very survival, and there is no longer any assurance that there is 'enough to go around', so the rich and powerful begin to hoard and to repress the poor and weak to ensure they do not rise up so there is not enough for anyone. Indeed, Berton asserts that the Great Depression could equally be called the Great Repression, so great was the physical, social and cultural clampdown on the masses, and the steadfast refusal to invest tax dollars or incur deficits to relieve the human misery of the time. That refusal, Berton says, was not deliberate cruelty, but rather ideological -- the economists of the time (Keynes was not yet in vogue) believed that government intervention and government spending in economic turndowns would worsen the situation, and the political wisdom was that giving people anything for free would make them lazy and unmotivated to work and lead to communism. It was neocon ideology, and it was ubiquitous among the ruling classes (and the political parties in their thrall) at that time, except for the extraordinary administration of FDR.

In fact, there were at the time three competing ideologies, all of them idealistic, and all espoused, more and more loudly as the crisis worsened, as the solution for the society's ills, by men (women were not taken seriously in politics in those days) who were both arrogant and ambitious -- laissez-faire neoconservatism, communism, and fascism. This toxic combination of qualities -- fanatic idealism, arrogance and ambition -- produced some of the most despotic, extreme and dangerous 'leaders' the world had ever known, swept into power on populist platforms that preyed on the utter desperation and learned helplessness of the people. When moderation seems inadequate and ineffectual to deal with extreme suffering, extremism flourishes.

Could this happen today, or are we more reasoned, better equipped, more suspicious of simplistic idealism and ideology? Is it already happening? Will the collapse of the dollar, precipitated by the staggering incompetence and fanatic, dim-witted ideology of the Bush regime, inevitably bring about the Fourth Turning? Or will our 21st century ingenuity, pragmatism, connectedness, collective wisdom, resilience, lead us to a quick and radical correction of the excesses that produce the coming Depression, and hence a rapid and relatively painless end to it? And is this all complicated by the fact that this time, unlike 1929, we are facing permanent, absolute ends to the critical resources on which our society relies for its existence?

My answers to these questions in Part Two tomorrow.

What to Expect When the Dollar Collapses -- Part Two of Two

Yesterday I contrasted the attitudes of people in 1929 with their attitudes today, on the precipice of another Great Depression. I said that I believe racism, religious hatred and the distrust between economic classes was more pronounced and more overt in affluent nations in 1929 than it is today, and that while economic disparity is just as great, our use of technology and automation to gut future generations' share of resources to meet the needs of today's mass of humanity means that both rich and poor are relatively better off now than they were in 1929.

Here is the picture Pierre Berton, in his exhaustive study The Great Depression, painted of the way the Canadian people, their governments and corporate management behaved in response to the decade-long crisis seventy years ago:

"The historian of the future, when he writes about Canada and the Great Depression, will comment upon the remarkable ineptitude of public men when faced with this emergency. He will write of the obstinate refusal of governments to face realities; of their pitiful and tragic tactics of 'passing the buck'; and of their childish expectation that providence, or some external power, would come to their rescue and save them from the consequences of their refusal to look into the future, forsee events that loomed black in the sky, and take steps to mitigate the fury of the storm. The condemnation will be measured by the extent of the power that was not used and the responsibility that was denied." -- Winnipeg Free Press, 1933
The police (by brutality) and the press (by anti-communist fear-mongering) supported the corporatist establishment in suppressing any popular opposition or demonstration against the established order.
Any idea that the state had any responsibility for the welfare of citizens was anathema -- that was simply not the role of government.
Predictions of unprecedented prosperity were ubiquitous among politicians, economists and business leaders in 1929; throughout the 1930s, despite evidence to the contrary, they consistently insisted the Depression was just a minor adjustment, that it would not last, that worst was over and that the outlook for the next year was positive. The stock market collapse actually occurred in five stages over two months, in between which brokers claimed the 'adjustment' was over and encouraged people to borrow and buy more while prices were 'unnaturally low'.
The government had been spending and lowering taxes, and driving interest rates up.
Throughout the Depression, racism and anti-Semitism were rampant, while contraception and divorce were illegal. The Liberal Prime Minister (in power in 1929 and re-elected in 1935) was a big fan of Mussolini, and the Conservative Prime Minister (in power 1930-35) was a big fan of Hitler until 1939.
When the Depression hit, throwing millions into the streets, the 'problem' perceived by the politicians was not public misery and poverty but rather 'rabble' and 'rabble-rousing' -- their response was to strictly enforce vagrancy laws (which essentially made poverty a crime), villainize 'hobos and transients' jumping rail-cars to seek work, and pass laws making associations "deemed to be advocating violence" (including the Communist party) illegal. Prison populations soared, with many of the prisoners 'political'. Torture of prisoners on the rack was regularly employed to extract confessions and stifle dissent.
The Depression hit the West so hard that farmers had to walk (gas was prohibitively expensive) 20 miles to find brackish water to bring back for drinking and washing (wash-water was saved and recycled), and lived on nothing but stewed rabbit and boiled Russian thistle (the only plant still growing on the Prairies); cows were sold and horses set free due to lack of feed. Most farms had phone service cut off and many had their farms foreclosed and were evicted. Despite this, the government steadfastly refused to intervene, saying it was up to local governments.
Schools closed as money to pay teachers (and for coal for heating) ran out; the teachers tried to keep them going without wages but with no social assistance had to give up and seek other work. Many social service organizations, including the Red Cross, went bankrupt and ceased operating as private donations dried up (they received no government support) and demands on their resources soared.
Unemployment rates soared steadily from 2% in 1929 to about 36% in 1932. At the time, there was in most communities only one doctor per 16,000 people dealing with soaring malnutrition and other Depression illnesses.
As the Depression deepened, xenophobia set in and thousands of foreigners new to the country were deported at the sole discretion of officials.
In response to the rising civil unrest, the unemployed were sent to remote slave work camps run by the army, where they were paid 20 cents per day. If they tried to leave they were arrested as vagrants. Contingency plans were made to use the military to suppress riots. Surprisingly, few riots occurred and many of them were provoked by ideological government officials or overzealous police.
Marriage and birth rates both plummeted by 25%.
Fascist parties were legal and protected by the police. As early as 1933 the Swastika was seen at public events, public singing of anti-Semitic songs could be heard, and nationalist groups advocating abolition of local governments and a one-party national government were drawing large crowds.
Although socialist parties sprang up, especially in the hard-hit West, they achieved limited popularity. The people, brainwashed that socialism was just communism lite, instead preferred right-wing autocrats with populist or law and order platforms, electing governments that were essentially fascist in both Alberta and Quebec which stifled the press, effectively nationalized the banks, and seized property of 'suspected communists' (including, conveniently, many Jews).
Business executives did very well during the Depression, as costs plummeted. Labourers who were paid 50 cents an hour in 1929 were now working 80 hour weeks in sweatshops for 5 cents an hour. Complaints about hours, wages or working conditions resulted in firing and blacklisting (corporations shared lists of names of 'uncooperative' workers). Big retailers exploited the situation to squeeze manufacturers that did not employ such tactics. Meanwhile the salaries of executives did not change at all.
In rural areas, with clothing too expensive, most children wore cloth grain and flour sacks for clothing, and, if their schools were still open, often took turns going to school and sharing clothing.
The situation in cities was only marginally better. When a Windsor steno-bookkeeper's employer folded in 1934 and she went to Hamilton seeking work, she wrote to the Prime Minister: "My clothing had become very shabby. Many prospective employers just glanced at my attire and shook their heads. I cut down my food and a poor but respectable room at $1/week. First I ate three very light meals per day, then two and then one. During the past two weeks I have eaten only toast and drunk a cup of tea every second day. As a result of this deprivation I am so very nervous and through this very nervousness I was ruled out of a class [of job applicants] yesterday. Today at an examination I was told 'you are so awfully shabby I could never have you in my office'. That almost broke my heart. I know no one here and the loneliness is hard to bear, but, oh, sir, the thought of starvation is driving me mad! The stamp that carries this letter will represent the last three cents I have in the world yet before I will stoop down to dishonour my family, my character or my God, I will drown myself in the Lake." Prime Minister Bennett apparently did not bother to reply.
By 1935 the situation was so desperate that a large group of unemployed Western Canadian men decided to make the trek to the capital, Ottawa, to try to meet with Bennett personally. The picture above shows how they made the trek, helped by citizens and low-level railway workers in the towns they passed through. The railway was blockaded by government order in Regina, and a rally to decide on next action was brutally disrupted by the RCMP, using truncheons and tear gas, leading to what was called the Regina Riot.
By this time a massive migration of Western farmers North from the drought- and locust-stricken areas was underway. Farms were left unlocked to allow other farmers to use them overnight on their journey.
By 1937, when a second stock market crash occurred, a pro-fascist government had been elected in Ontario, supported by the Toronto Globe & Mail which asserted that "most communists are Jews". It failed to bring about a one-party provincial government "united against communism" (two years later the Globe would launch a fascist Leadership League, calling for the abolition of provincial governments and creation of a one-party national government -- it's growth would be interrupted by the start of WW2).
1937 was the eighth consecutive year of Western drought, and the year of the "black blizzards" when what was left of the soil was whipped up and carried away by a long cycle of gales, and much of the remaining machinery was rendered useless by sandstorms.
By 1938, the government was finally realizing that their inaction was prolonging the Depression. The slave camps had been replaced by equally repressive farm camps, leading to a sit-in in Vancouver by half-starved farm camp workers, isolated from families and all contact with women. It was brutally put down, resulting in what is now called Bloody Sunday.
Also in 1938, Toronto's largest theatre, Massey Hall, hosted a hugely-popular national convention of fascist organizations, guarded by a massive police presence.
On September 8, 1939, the Canadian government entered WW2, and immediately created millions of jobs in the war effort. The pay for soldiers was six and a half times what the same men were paid a year earlier in the farm camps. Munitions factories paid twenty times as much to labourers as nearby sweatshops. The grim irony -- that it had taken a world war to make the government realize that it could 'spend its way' out of the Depression by creating employment on public works projects (as FDR had done in the US) -- was completely lost on the governments and media of the day.
The authors of The Fourth Turning expect that the next fourth turning -- the next cycle of stark authoritarianism -- to begin between 2010 and 2020, about eighty to ninety years after the last. The economic fragility of massive US debt and trade deficits, the End of Oil, ideological wars and terrorism, threats of pandemics and the spectre of eco-collapse precipitated by global warming all add fuel to their argument that the fourth turning is imminent, as such turnings are generally sparked by a crisis. We certainly have plenty of candidates to choose from for such a crisis.

So suppose we map the behaviours and events of 1929-39 on the situation we find ourselves in at the dawn of the 21st century. How might we expect people, governments and corporate management to behave if the crash of the dollar brings about another Great Depression? Will our 21st century ingenuity, pragmatism, connectedness, collective wisdom, resilience, and more tolerant, democratic outlook lead us to a quick and radical correction of the excesses that produce the coming Depression, a rapid and relatively painless end to it, and a more humane response to the suffering it does produce? And is this all complicated by the fact that this time, unlike 1929, we are facing permanent, absolute ends to the critical resources on which our society relies for its existence? Here are my guesses on these questions:

I think Europe, and Canada if it ousts its ideological neocon minority government, will have both the will and financial room to invest heavily in public infrastructure projects, and hence keep enough money and work flowing to the vast majority of citizens to minimize the misery of the Depression. I am much less optimistic about the willingness of the US and UK to do this, and about the ability of the US to do so when it has already bankrupted its treasury, so I believe the poor and middle class in those countries are likely to suffer much more, and for longer. Canada unfortunately has allowed its economy to become utterly dependent on US and Asian purchases of our raw materials, and hence is likely to face a much more severe economic Depression than Euro-currency countries.
Middle Eastern and Asian economies that currently depend on US purchases and the strength of the US dollar will fare worst of all, as they have nothing at all to fall back on, and many of them are already living in ecological disaster zones comparable to the Dust Bowls of the West in the 1930s. I think it would be unrealistic to expect anything less than violent uprisings, equally violent repression of the masses, fascist totalitarianism and the extreme suffering that we have historically seen in struggling nations that have no mechanisms to cope with economic collapse: civil war, attacks on neighbouring states conveniently blamed for the disaster (this time with nuclear weapons), genocide, famine, and cannibalism. These will spill over into other countries taking sides with the combatants and lead to global repression, militarism, and authoritarianism, exactly as the Fourth Turning predicts.
Corporatists have already shown their stripes during the current boom: They are unlikely to do anything that will further worsen the situation of their 'shareholders' (i.e. controlling shareholders and senior management) beyond the collapse in share values, and will lay off workers and write off pension plans and other bankrupt employee benefit funds without a second thought. Just as they did in Argentina, they will liquidate and pocket what they can, chain the doors, and walk away from all responsibilities to others. People without the ability to make a living for themselves will therefore be as badly off as the 'transients' of the 1930s -- at the mercy of opportunistic employers, reduced to virtual slavery.
With stock and real estate values plummeting, and (as interest rates spike) bond markets doing almost as badly, most people, especially those with their money tied up in US dollar denominated investments, will see their net worth wiped out. Those with debts will see them called by financial institutions and will probably become bankrupt, forced to cede any assets they have. However, those who can continue to pay mortgage debts at least for the first part of the Depression will probably keep their homes, as banks realize they cannot get blood from a stone, and that it's better to have people looking after these assets even if they are not paying mortgage debts, than evicting them and leaving them to squatters. Only those who default on mortgages early in the Depression should expect to get foreclosed and evicted.
The US New Deal experiment of FDR, loathed as it is by neocons, will be the model for the next Depression in all affluent nations that can afford it (ironically, the US will not be able to afford it). It will be embraced relatively quickly (probably two years into the Depression) because of the broad global consensus that it worked last time. So I think much of the inhumanity that was exhibited even in affluent nations during the last Depression can be avoided this time around; I also believe that on the whole we have become more tolerant of others in the last 70 years.
I am very concerned that, just as phone lines for most citizens were cut off for non-payment in the last Depression, the Internet, with its social networking, sharing, open source developments and collective organizing capabilities, will be rendered largely inaccessible by its sheer unaffordability when the US currency becomes essentially worthless. The infrastructure supporting the Internet is hugely complex and expensive to maintain, and in most countries privately owned, so if no one can afford to pay for it, it will simply cease to operate. And with gasoline becoming, as in the 1930s, prohibitively expensive, the situation in the suburbs will be dire indeed, as most social activity will revert to face-to-face, enabled by bicycles, roller blades and shoe leather.
Hard-copy media will have a resurgence, and we will find ways to keep radio and television media operating. Local, community-based media that are not IP-dependent will explode in importance, and centralized national media will stumble -- as faraway governments show themselves impotent to deal with local crises (remember FEMA and New Orleans), all attention will be focused on media that communicate local relief, organization and facilitation efforts.
While it would be easy to look at the response to the New Orleans disaster and despair, the difference we will have in the Depression is that it will occur much more gradually, allowing a lot of peer-to-peer activity to occur, as we realize we cannot rely on government. I am optimistic that our learned helplessness and distrust of neighbours will gradually give way to an awareness that there is a lot we can do together to make the Depression less cruel. This collective energy was evident in the recent economic collapse in Argentina, and I think we will emulate it.
And also on a positive note, while I think entrepreneurial skills are in terribly short supply, I think we will learn how to be entrepreneurial by looking at entrepreneurs as local role models, and establish local enterprises to produce and share food, water, energy, and other essentials collectively. In the process, many of us who are currently 'helpless' because we cannot, without money from an employer, provide for ourselves, will learn essential survival skills that will put us in good stead to deal with the End of Oil, disease pandemics, and disasters precipitated by global warming.
I have no sense of what kind of economy we will build to replace the one that the coming Depression will shatter. I would like to believe it will be more local, using local currency, a Gift Economy with essentials provided at little or no cost and surpluses distributed through disintermediated networks, and highly resilient. But the existing oligopolistic quasi-market economy is so well established as the 'only economy that works' I think it is just as likely we will try to rebuild that failed model. Likewise, it is hard to say whether national governments will emerge stronger (if they have successfully invested in infrastructure for the benefit of most citizens) or weaker (if they cling to laissez-faire ideology and actually make the situation worse by bungling and/or neglect).
Another issue I am undecided upon is the degree to which the majority have a proclivity to cede authority and responsibility to 'leaders' in a time of crisis. History suggests that in crisis we are much better working collectively and locally, but it also suggests that we also tend to look for heroic leaders, grant them enormous control over our lives and expect surprisingly little in return. We don't need to look far to see that that is still the case. I mentioned yesterday the idea of culture as our meta-master, the one we turn to especially in time of great stress. Is it just human nature to defer to authority in bad times, even when it is not in our best interest to do so? Or have we just been so brainwashed by our culture that we lack the self-confidence to take matters into our own hands?
I welcome your comments on any of these questions and forecasts. We may never be ready for such crises (it is our human nature to be reactive, and not to do anything until we have no choice), but at least we can know what to expect. And our response to an economic crash may help us cope better with the additional crises that almost inevitably await our children and grandchildren as this century progresses.
© Copyright 2006 Dave Pollard.
"What are you going to do about the horrors you identify?"

There is very little that can be done:

1. Florida's environment is essentially destroyed and will not recover for millennia (after human impacts have come to an end).

2. The Native Americans who were killed or expelled from their own lands are now long gone. This is crime which is beyond the reach of atonement.

3. The cycle of ecological destruction which has reached its climax in places such as Haiti are also beyond repair within any time fram meaningful to humans. The penalty for humankind's sins in these areas will continue for many generations of relentless suffering.

4. The corporations have already stolen the natural resources from the impoverished people of the world, including among them the unfortunate people of Nigeria and Equador. The people who have committed these crimes and the people who have profited from these crimes and the people who have benefited from these crimes are not going to apologize to their victims. History is filled with injustice, injustice continues today, and in the future humans will continue to act in an unjust manner.

5. Oil's despicable historical relationship with warfare & the technology of war was mentioned in a History channel documentary today. A hundred million victims of oil-fuelled violence in the 20th century might object to all the supposed benefits of the fossil fuel lifestyle, except they will not because they are all dead. The mourning ceased a long time ago and we all can concentrate on more important things today like buying cell phones and iPods.

6. Future generations will object to the ravenous consumption that this generation committed as it sought to exhaust the Earth's resources at the fasting pace possible. But these people are not yet alive and their suffering is of no concern to the vast majority of people living today. Hell, the massive suffering which is occurring in the world today is of no concern to the average American. If present suffering doesn't move us, future suffering won't either.

7. Future generations will also object to the vandalism of the Earth which is the global-scale pollution occurring throughout the world today. I hardly imagine that the average American cares very much about pollution. A few days ago I saw one of these oblivious fools throw a styrofoam cup out of his/her window rather than go through to minimal trouble of finding a trash can.

8. Future generations might complain about the absence of millions of species of life which were driven to extinction in the present generation's insane effort to transform the Earth into some sort of shopper's paradise. They might just watch television programs or see pictures of animals in books and then curse us all for our foolish addiction to disposable inanimate possessions which compelled us to destroy almost every living thing and the environment as well. I doubt very much that humankind's habits will change as it is extremely difficult to bring an end to genocide. If we are unwilling to stop human violence against humanity it is impossible to bring an end to human violence against nature.


You see, all of these problems are hopeless. There's not even the slightest glimmer of hope that the Homo sapiens are going to solve the major problems of human nature.

For that reason, I have concluded that the Homo sapiens are accelerating directly down the path to extinction. What humans are unable to accomplish voluntarily, Nature will extinguish painfully.

What will I do, then?

What I am already doing.

I will spend as much time as possible enjoying the living world, appreciating the beauty of that little bit of Nature which remains in my immediate neighborhood.

I will live at peace with every human that I meet, and mourn for all the needless suffering which is occurring throughout the world each day.

I will beg God for mercy upon humankind but not blame God for the sorrows which must come.

I will pray for Peak Oil and the end of the present technological age. The sooner that humankind is deprived of power, the better. Nature must defang the human beast because certainly humans will not.

Posted by: David Mathews | May 17, 2006 at 07:32 PM

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Greg’s Note: A few weeks ago, our intrepid correspondent Byron King received a request from the editor of a newspaper in a major American city to write a summary of the concept of Peak Oil. Byron wrote the following article and submitted it. But then the newspaper editorial board decided not to run the article. So we will run it here. For those of you who have followed Byron’s writings on Peak Oil, much of this will be familiar. But if you are still trying to wrap your brain around the concept, this is as good a summary as you will see anywhere else. Probably better, in our opinion. The newspaper’s loss is our gain. Any comments? Send them to your oily managing editor here:

Whiskey & Gunpowder
May 15, 2006
by Byron W. King
Pittsburgh, U.S.A.

Rocks, Rock Oil and Peak Oil

ALMOST 20,000 YEARS AGO, a Stone Age tribe made camp under a sandstone overhang in a place south of Pittsburgh now called Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, in Washington County. Theirs was a world still in glacial throes, with the edge of a mile-thick sheet of ice not far to the north. On the edge of a frozen ice desert that covered half the continent, these ancients sought protection from the bitter elements. Today, visitors to Meadowcroft can enter an open excavation and view evidence of tools and campfires made by these wandering souls so long ago.


How to Catapault $5,000 into $1,000,000 in a Short Half-Decade

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Not quite a century and a half ago, in 1859, a man of the Iron Age named Edwin Drake made his own mark upon human history by driving down one of the world’s first commercial oil wells on the banks of Oil Creek, in Venango County south of Titusville. Although the Drake Oil Well produced only 25 barrels of “rock oil” on its first day of production, and that from the grand depth of 69 feet, it ushered in the Age of Petroleum. Out of Drake’s well arose most of what makes up our life as we know it now.

Of course, without oil in this world something else would be here in its place. Ours might not resemble the Pleistocene existence of Meadowcroft, but neither would it be anything remotely like what we know today. Absent abundant quantities of oil cycling through the arteries of world commerce, our motorized, mechanized, industrialized world would not be here, and neither would we, I venture to guess.

The oil wells of the world produce something over 84 million barrels of petroleum every day, or about 1,000 barrels per second, and every drop is consumed in an energy-hungry world. People move about using oil, by means of train, plane, or automobile. People wear oil, in the form of synthetic fibers. People eat oil, in the form of tractor fuel, fertilizer, transport, processing, refrigeration or preservation, and cooking.

Modern medicine is premised on the use of large amounts of petroleum-based feedstock, and other forms of disposable plastic. Much, if not most, of modern commerce is based on the extensive use of oil-based plastic and chemicals, and oil-fueled transport of goods over vast distances. And since the time of Edwin Drake, oil has been relatively cheap, which is pretty much why things evolved as they did.

This is also why it is crucial that you understand the concept of “Peak Oil,” which is a shorthand way of expressing the geological concept that mankind has reached a "peak" in its ability to produce this depleting resource from the crust of the Earth. The world’s total level of production of about 84 million barrels of conventional oil per day will not last much longer. It is on the cusp of decline.


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Peak Oil is not some sort of Internet conspiracy theory. Peak Oil is as much a geological fact as is anything that occurs on a geological scale. Oil production has peaked in almost every major oil-producing nation or region on the planet, starting with the United States in 1970. U.S. oil production peaked in that year along the lines predicted in 1949 by a brilliant and eccentric geologist named M. King Hubbert.

Hubbert noted the rather obvious point that you cannot produce what you have not discovered. So Hubbert graphed U.S. oil discoveries from the 1860s onward and predicted a peak for U.S. production in 1970, a peak that occurred on schedule, although it was only apparent in hindsight.

Even the massive oil discovery at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in 1968 barely changed the shape of the decline in the production curve that Hubbert’s theory set forth. Since 1970, U.S. oil imports have done nothing but increase, year over year, from places with surplus oil production. This is all about to change.

Ominously, during the past four decades, oil discoveries worldwide have slowed to a snail’s pace while demand for and production from earlier discoveries have soared. Similar to what occurred in America in 1970, oil production in other regions of the world has also encountered peaks.

Oil production in places as diverse as Indonesia and Mexico, Iran and the North Sea has topped out, rolled over, and is now in a state of irreversible decline. That is, oil producers in these regions have begun to encounter dramatic decreases in the volumes of oil they can find and lift from the ground, let alone sell into the world’s markets.

The list of nations in the Peak Oil Club might surprise you. Kuwait announced a peak in daily oil production in November 2005. There are good estimates that Russian oil production is peaking and will commence a decline, if not a collapse, within 3-5 years. Even Saudi Arabia is struggling to maintain its current rates of oil production.

Add to the geological nature of the decline in oil production the fact that there is a worldwide shortage of onshore and offshore drilling rigs and necessary production equipment such as tubular goods, drill bits, pumps, and valves.

And there is a severe shortage of skilled manpower in the petroleum industry, the result of the worldwide contraction of the production industry during the “cheap oil” days of the 1980s and 1990s. The bottom line is that world oil production is maxed out and will commence an irreversible long-term decline over the next few years.

With major regions of the oil-producing world entering or already in a state of irreversible decline, there is no "swing" capacity to accommodate increased oil demand. But demand for crude oil and refined product still follows its historic and increasing trend lines, particularly with the rapid economic growth in Asia in China and India. Thus, it is left to a rising price to, as the saying goes, “clear the market” for oil.

As U.S. motorists confront the long-term reality of paying $3 and more for a gallon of gasoline (and I believe that it will be much more, barring some worldwide economic collapse), they are directly experiencing an unpleasant economic and energy future in the form of Peak Oil. Hubbert predicted it many years ago, and that future is now.

The world will produce less and less conventional oil over time, and the nicest way to put it is that people will have to figure out some other way to do things besides burning oil the old-fashioned way.

Peak Oil will force people to view the world differently, to a degree almost unimaginable to those who scarcely understand the concept just now.

Mankind will reduce oil consumption because the oil will simply not be there. Being “green” and “environmentally friendly” will have next to nothing to do with it. Being “rich” might not help much either, although it probably will not hurt.

We live with the ghost of Edwin Drake, who died in 1880. Drake’s remains are interred in Titusville beneath an imposing granite memorial, and under the shadow of a handsome bronze sculpture of a muscular man pounding and dressing a drill bit with a massive hammer. It is all very neoclassical, noble, and impressive. Drake's monument reads in part:

“Col. Edwin L. Drake...Founder of the Petroleum Industry, the Friend of Man.

“Called by Circumstances to the Solution of a Great Mining Problem...He laid the Foundations of an Industry that has Enriched the State, Benefited Mankind, Stimulated the Mechanical Arts...and has Attained Worldwide Proportions.

“His highest Ambition was the Successful Accomplishment of his Task. His Noble Victory the Conquest of the Rock, Bequeathing to Posterity the Fruits of his Labor and of his Industry.”

“The Conquest of the Rock,” it claims on the tomb, with hubris similar to that of fabled Ozymandias. How fitting that Drake’s grave at Titusville is not far from the Stone Age ruins of Meadowcroft, only about 125 miles or so as the crow flies across southwest Pennsylvania.

In one ancient hollow, beneath a ledge of sandstone, people eked out their existence, burnt their charcoal, and lived whatever life they could make for themselves in the shadow of an ice sheet. In another, more modern locale, Drake conquered the rock -- for a while, perhaps -- and brought unimaginable change to the trajectory of mankind’s existence.

But in both places, Meadowcroft and Titusville, the lesson appears to be that mankind never truly conquers the rock.

Peak Oil is nature’s way of rebalancing the equation. And Peak Oil is today as much a challenge to the modern world as the Pleistocene ice sheets were to the people of Meadowcroft. Peak Oil will control your destiny. You should start learning about it, thinking about it, and planning for it.

Until we meet again…

Byron W. King

Greg’s Endnote: There’s another massive problem with the world’s oil supply -- as if the peaking of production weren’t bad enough, right? But this problem’s on the other end of the spectrum. It’s rooted in humankind - not the unassailable laws of geology. What happens when a country lies about their oil reserves? What happens when it is suddenly revealed that there’s only HALF of the oil in a certain country than we were previously told? Bad things happen, that’s what…and you’d feel pretty astounded to see how some of our key oil-producing “allies” deceive us about how much oil their lands hold…our “allies” even lied to George W. Bush! Please look here for more on the Great Oil Hoax...

Discover the biggest lie of the last 30 years. . .

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Dear Reader,

Those Saudi Arabians, you've gotta love 'em. First, fifteen out of nineteen hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis, but Saudi Arabia had NOTHING to do with it, or so we're told. They love us!

Now Saudi Arabia is about to drop another bombshell on us, and this one will make 9/11 look like small potatoes.

I never thought I'd say anything could make 9/11 look like small potatoes. But this does, at least when it comes to the economy.

9/11 shut the markets down for a few days. When the next crisis hits, you'll wish the markets would shut down so you didn't have to watch the carnage.

What Bush learned behind closed doors

If some well-informed experts are right, Saudi Arabia's oil reserves are a fraction of what they've been telling us.

Why does it matter? Because everyone has believed for decades that Saudi Arabia's oil supply is virtually unlimited. That's what the Saudis have said over and over again for more than 30 years.

If an oil shortage threatens to cause a recession or a market crash, we can count on the Saudis to come through. So people think.

But in a private briefing, one of America's top oil experts told President George Bush exactly what I'm telling you. In fact, this same man was a consultant to the secretive task force that drew up Vice President Cheney's energy plan in 2001.

In other words, the guy is a heavy hitter who knows the energy business.

He warned Bush that the Saudis don't have anything near the oil reserves they claim. They already pump less oil than most "experts" think, and here's the real kicker. . .

Saudi oil production is about to drop sharply.
And it will keep going down for good.

Other experts have analyzed the numbers and came to the same conclusions. If the charges are true - and I believe they are - we could be facing. . .

Oil at $150 per barrel and gasoline at $8 a gallon

The oil is running out. It's as simple as that.

But that's not what you hear from so-called experts. If you ask government officials, our intelligence agencies, and even powerful Wall Street financiers, they tell you the opposite.

They say the Saudis could quickly double their oil production from the current level if they wanted to. And given a few years, they think the Saudis could produce four times as much oil as they now do.

This is like the Iraqi WMDs all over again

The intelligence agencies and the conventional "experts" are dead wrong. The oil isn't there.

Why should you pay attention to what I think? Let me give you a good reason, and then you decide. My name is Justice Litle, and I'm the editor of Outstanding Investments, a monthly newsletter plus weekly email updates.

My publication had the best track record of any investment newsletter in the country during the last five years. You can check it out at CBS Newswatch and its independent rating service, the Hulbert Financial Digest.

Readers who followed Outstanding Investments were up 64.2 percent in 2005 and 62 percent the year before that. What's more, we did it all with stocks, not options, and I recommended very few trades. So it's worth your time to spend a few minutes and let me tell you. . .

Why 2006 will be a year of crisis

The oil and gas shortages we've seen lately are nothing compared to what's on the way.

When the truth comes out, it will send shock waves through the world economy. Everyone will find out too late - when gasoline soars to five or six dollars per gallon. I'm writing this to give you a heads-up.

The next few pages show you how to protect yourself and get rich off energy sources and technologies the world will scramble to buy at any price.

Don't be surprised if certain commodities and resource stocks soar three, five or even ten times over.

Here are a few things you'll discover in the next few minutes. . .

The most important fact - not an opinion, but a fact - that should guide your whole investment strategy.

A "minor" sector of the energy market is set to grow 17 times over. I give you the best ways to play it.

A "little" oil company owns reserves the size of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay. It's not even on your radar screen, yet the stock is already up a thousand percent, and readers who listened to me captured about half that gain - 496 percent. Even bigger gains are on the way.

The coal revolution is here. It's always been cheap and plentiful. Now it's going to be clean, and soon it will even be liquid. It's also going to cause a massive shift in world power. Two American companies will profit big time.

What car will you drive in 2015? Keep reading to discover a "secret play" on the winning car technology of the future. Hint: It may run on coal. MORE: Why the Prius will be a loser. And another surprise: The car-makers are NOT the ones who will reap big profits from the super-car.

Discover the fastest -growing energy source in the world. Also the cleanest and safest. America may miss out, but you can still profit.

A natural gas company offers more income than CDs do. It will probably give you a 100 percent capital gain to boot. But you have to know about a hidden pitfall. Keep reading. . .

Three wild cards could send oil over $100 in one day. One of these events may have happened by the time you read this.

I urge you to keep reading and at least consider the steps I recommend to protect yourself. Because you need to ask. . .

The Number One Financial Newsletter in the United States As Rated by the Hulbert Financial Digest

Justice Litle is a world traveler who studied philosophy at Oxford, at Pulacki University in the Czech Republic, and at Macquarie University in Australia. He planned to settle into a comfy career on a tree-shaded campus.

Then came an experience that changed his life: a book called Investment Biker by legendary money manager Jim Rogers. Justice Litle was so hooked on the excitement and challenge of big league investing, he jumped into a new career and never looked back.

"The markets are like a three-dimensional chess game that was just too intriguing to pass up," he says.

Now he's not only a commodities expert himself, he trains commodities traders and contributes to textbooks on the subject. He also edits a newsletter for average Joes called Outstanding Investments. Its portfolio gained more in the past five years than any other newsletter tracked by the prestigious Hulbert Financial Digest.

Justice has worked with hedge funds and traded equities for a private partnership. Sophisticated investors can tell you all about his articles in Futures Magazine, and you may have seen him quoted in the Wall Street Journal, or benefited from his market wisdom in Reuters and Dow Jones newswires.

Will Americans have to read by candlelight and bike to work?

We will if the country dodges crucial energy choices - and time is running out. It may be too late to avoid a deep recession. It's definitely too late to avoid $100 oil, thanks to. . .

Saudi Secrets and Funny Math
The cupboard is bare and nobody knows it

Americans used to run Aramco, the huge oil company that manages the Saudi fields. But in 1979 the Saudis booted us out and took over.

And then a funny thing happened. . .

The Saudis started keeping everything a secret.

No one knows for sure how much oil they've got in the ground, or how much they produce each year, or how much they could produce if they wanted to push it to the max.

It's all secret. Experts try to figure out how much oil the Saudis sell by monitoring tanker traffic in and out of the world's ports. That's how little we know for sure.

But wait, it gets worse!

After the Saudis took over, an even funnier thing happened. . .

Their figures for proven reserves kept going up and up and up - even though they didn't find any major new oil fields!

In 1979, the Saudis adjusted proven reserves upward by 50 billion barrels. Then eight years after that, their proven reserves magically grew by another 100 billion barrels.

Their estimated reserves increased by 150% in nine years - to a total of 260 billion barrels. And they didn't find a single major new oil field!

And here's the funniest thing of all. . .

For the last 17 years, they've claimed they own 260 billion barrels of proven oil in the ground. The figure never goes down, even though they pumped out 46 billion barrels during that period.

Let me see. . .260 minus 46 equals 260. Saudi math!

Based on these bogus figures, the Saudis claim they can produce as much oil as the world wants for the next fifty years. As recently as 2004 they claimed their reserve estimates are actually conservative.

That's why most of the world's governments and intelligence services believe the Saudis could pump 20 million barrels of oil a day if they wanted to. Trouble is, we've got no proof except their say-so.

If it were true, we wouldn't have a thing to worry about. But it's not.

It's horse hockey

Before Aramco's American owners were shown the door in 1979 they told Congress that Saudi Arabia's had proven reserves of 110 billion barrels. There've been no major new discoveries, so 110 billion barrels was probably about right. And since then, about half of that has been used up.

So why do the Saudis insist everything is just fine and they have 260 billion barrels of reserves?

One reason is they wanted to discourage non-OPEC nations from looking for more oil or switching to alternatives.

It was a devious plan, and it worked perfectly.

But that wasn't the only reason the Saudis lied about their reserves. They did it because everyone does it! Everyone in OPEC, that is.

The Biggest Lie of All: OPEC's Imaginary Oil

In the 1980s, OPEC's claim of total reserves magically leaped from 353 to 643 billion barrels without a single major discovery. Industry experts call it the quota war.

You see, OPEC had to limit how much oil each member could sell, because prices were too low. The quotas were based on. . .each member's oil reserves!

That's right: The amount of oil OPEC would let a member pump depended on how much that member had in the ground. So it paid OPEC members to claim the biggest reserves they could. And that's what they did.

The Saudis alone jacked up their estimate by about 100 billion. Kuwait added 50 percent to its reserves in one year, 1985. Venezuela doubled its reserves in 1987. Iraq and Iran doubled their estimates, too.

What's more, OPEC members did like the Saudis and kept their reserve estimates the same year after year, as if no oil was being pumped out and sold.

Everyone claimed to have a bottomless well.

Now if you're like me you prefer to base your financial decisions on the real world, not on a fantasy.

Let's look at how much oil there really is. . .

In the 1970s, when Western managers were still in charge, they believed for a time that Saudi output could reach 20 million barrels a day. But by the time the Americans lost control in 1979, they figured the peak would be 12 million.

They also predicted that peak production would last only 15 or 20 years.

1979 plus 20 is 1999. We're past the peak, if these men were right. But we already know they were too optimistic.

The truth is that Saudi production never got to 12 million. "In all probability, output peaked in 1981 at an unsustainable level of about 10.5 million barrels per day," according to Matthew R. Simmons, a leading oil industry authority.

And yet the lies go on. . .

In 2004, Saudi officials claimed they boosted production to 9.5 million barrels and maintained that level for five months.

It's almost sure they were lying. The International Energy Agency is the group that keeps an eye on these things for the developed, oil-importing countries. The IEA could find no sign the Saudis were selling more oil.

As far as anyone can tell, they only pump around five million barrels a day and that's all they've pumped for years.

It's déjà vu all over again

In spite of being lied to at least once, the IEA, the U.S. Department of Energy and other forecasters believe the Saudi claims. ALL their projections of our energy future ALWAYS assume the Saudis could produce 15 or 20 million barrels a day.

The lies have worked. Not only do Western politicians believe them but so do many oil industry experts and investors with huge amounts of money at stake. They've been had.

You'll get the full story in a FREE Special Investment Report called Crude Awakening: How to Survive the Total Global Energy Crunch. It's just one of four free special reports with my ten best recommendations.

The three specific picks in Crude Awakening are up 496 percent, 140 percent and 430 percent as I write these words. I'm telling readers to hang on to all three of them because the profits have just begun.

We went through three recessions from 1973-1983. Care for a repeat?

Our whole economy is at risk. Your investments are at risk. Your retirement plans are at risk.

America has been so prosperous the last couple of decades, a lot of people forget what the energy crisis of the Seventies was like. Let me remind you: The price of a barrel of oil shot up 400 percent. Long lines formed at gas stations practically overnight.

Folks had to pay four times as much for a gallon of gas, and there came a week when one out of every five gas stations in the United States had no gas to sell at any price.

The U.S. had three major recessions within ten years after the first oil crisis in 1973. And those recessions were deep, with double-digit unemployment, double-digit interest rates and double-digit inflation.

Think 10 to 12 percent unemployment, or worse.

Think 15 to 18 percent mortgage rates.

Got the picture? That was the Seventies. Not fun. My take is that a similar crisis will rock the nation before we solve our problem with clean coal, liquefied natural gas, oil from tar sands, high-mileage cars and safe nuclear plants. More than likely, the politicians will quarrel for years before they do what has to be done.

My picks are already way up even though our energy problems so far are nothing compared to what's on the way. At the risk of looking kind of cynical, the worse the crisis gets, the higher my recommended stocks will climb.

So I urge you to send for the four free Special Investment Reports including Crude Awakening: How to Survive the Total Global Energy Crunch. Then buy the recommended stocks and hang on to them, because. . .

Most of the rest of your investments will tank. . .
You may lose your job. . .
Gasoline could race past $8 a gallon. . .
Houses, including yours, will lose value. It could be a paradise for bargain hunters, but not if you're broke.
Groceries and everything else you buy may cost a fortune. . .
What's more, you might need to buy a gun to protect yourself.
The ten energy investments you'll get in Crude Awakening and three other free Special Investment Reports are the best insurance I've been able to come up with. I can't guarantee you'll make money. No responsible investment analyst will do that. But my newsletter does have the best documented track in the United States for the past five years.

Take a look at my best-performing recommendation. . .

More Oil in North America Than in Saudi Arabia
A "little" oil company with reserves bigger than Alaska's Prudhoe Bay!

If I could tell you just one thing, this would be it: Oil at $50 a barrel makes a whole bunch of alternatives look cheap.

That key fact should guide your whole investment strategy.

The energy sources I recommend in your free reports are able to compete with oil as low as $30. And I don't expect to see oil that cheap ever again.

If it happens, run out and buy every oil stock you can because $30 oil will just be a blip on the way to $100. Don't wait for oil prices to return to "normal." Instead, stake your claim to. . .

The world's largest oil reserves

The oil sands in Alberta, Canada contain the biggest known reserve of oil in the world. Estimates range from 1.7 to 2 trillion barrels of oil trapped in a mixture of sand, water and clay.

This has been known for a long time. But the oil is in the form of a heavy, tar-like substance called bitumen. It costs about $15 to $20 per barrel to extract, compared to a production cost of $5 for Saudi Arabian oil.

With light, sweet crude around $20 for two decades and even dipping to $10 in 1999, no one was interested in oil sands. But now oil is around $60, and guess what. . .

Everyone's really interested in oil sands

Most of the buzz focuses on Alberta's Athabasca region, with an estimated 175 billion barrels of oil. Athabasca is probably the biggest oil field in the world, if the Saudis are lying about their reserves.

The Athabasaca oil sands are nicely profitable with oil at $30 a barrel, meaning a lot of big companies are rushing to cash in. But the problem with the big players is that the results will be hard to detect in their income statements.

For giants like Shell and Chevron, conventional oil and gas will dwarf whatever they make off oil sands. I've got a better idea. . .

A smaller player with a big upside

My choice is already up 496% since I disclosed it to paid subscribers in the pages of Outstanding Investments, my monthly newsletter plus email updates.

You're not too late; the fun has just begun. You'll discover the company in the free Special Investment Report called Crude Awakening: How to Survive the Total Global Energy Crunch.

They've been right from the start

My pick has been a key player in oil sands extraction since the pioneering days of 1967.

They own the leases on an estimated 11 to 12 billion barrels of bitumen - a find as big as Prudhoe Bay. A very, very big oil field for such a "little" oil company.

When I say "little" I just mean in comparison to Exxon or BP. I want you to know this isn't some start-up where you gamble on whether they'll bring in the wells or solve the technical problems. They already produce almost 100 million barrels of oil a year, with plans to double within six years.

I'd love to see you get started with this exciting opportunity. Send for your free copy of Crude Awakening: How to Survive the Total Global Energy Crunch. And here's a recommendation you'll find in another one of your free reports, Tailpipe Riches: The Race to Build the Car of the Future. . .

A Secret Way to Invest In the Car of the Future
The hybrid engine isn't it.
And the hydrogen car isn't either.

The race is on to design the car of the future. Every player in the industry is scrambling for the prize, and the winner will dominate the world car market for decades.

The three big contenders are the hydrogen fuel cell, the electric hybrid vehicle (like Prius), and the diesel. You're going to be surprised when I tell you the most likely winner.

What's more, I've identified a "secret play" on the winning technology, ready for your portfolio right now. Let's take a look at the three cars in this race. . .

The hydrogen fuel cell gets the most hype

Detroit put all its chips on fuel cell technology, and they've been telling us since the late 1990s that a breakthrough was just around the corner.

In 1997 German-owned DaimlerChrysler actually predicted 100,000 fuel cell engines on the road by 2005. In 2001 General Motors projected about the same timeline.

Even George Bush got into the act, declaring in his 2003 State of the Union message that "America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles."

It didn't happen and it probably won't

The short explanation for Detroit's failure is that the engineering problems were bigger than they thought. On top of that the fuel cell engine costs ten times as much as a conventional engine.

Worse yet, there's also the problem of building a national network of fuel stations where you can fill the tank with hydrogen. Hydrogen isn't found in nature in a usable form and it's very expensive to produce. A national hydrogen rollout could cost $100 billion.

There's still hope that hydrogen will come through in the end, but the National Academy of Sciences believes the "hydrogen economy" is decades away.

Meanwhile, electric hybrids roar ahead

When Toyota announced a heavy investment in electric hybrids a few years back, Detroit snickered. To them it just seemed like a halfway solution on the way to the fuel cell car.


I don't need to tell you that the electric-hybrid Prius is a sensation, and Detroit is now rushing to play catch-up. They'll come out with a number of hybrid models in the next few years, many of them using technology licensed from Toyota.

What's more, the electric hybrid is not just an under-powered small car. Toyota now offers a high-end SUV hybrid with better acceleration than the standard model!

So hybrids are where it's at, right? Wrong again.

The Prius has problems.

First off, the gas mileage on the Prius is not all it's cracked up to be. Consumers have noticed, and some aren't happy.

What happened is that the EPA tests vehicles under ideal conditions on a flat surface. In the real world, it looks like Prius's mileage is not so hot. Also, most of the hybrid's big mileage gains occur in stop-and-start city traffic. On an open road, the conventional engine actually gets better gas mileage.

When you look at the Prius's true mileage, there are plenty of conventional vehicles that do as well or better.

Add in the high extra cost of the hybrid engine, and some say you have to drive the car a hundred thousand miles to recoup the extra $9,000 or so you pay for the fancy technology.

There's a third alternative, a "sleeper" technology that's going to surprise everyone. . .

And the winner is. . .

The humble old diesel engine --the third and final competitor for Car of the Future.

How can that be? Diesels are loud, dirty and smelly. A pollution nightmare.

You can hear a diesel truck from a mile away, see the soot from halfway down the block, and smell the exhaust as it rolls by.

Except - surprise - those diesels you hear and smell are antiques. Thanks to new technology, diesels aren't so dirty anymore and the gas mileage is better than ever!

Here's what happened: Europeans have to pay heavy gasoline taxes and they worry about global warming, so they invested in the diesel engine as a stopgap, just in case the hydrogen car hit a snag.

As you know, hydrogen DID hit a snag. Now the stopgap looks like the winner in the great auto race.

You see, diesel gets about 30 percent more miles to the gallon than gasoline, and those savings are real, in any kind of driving conditions. What's more, people who worry about global warming prefer diesel because it emits up to 20 percent less carbon dioxide. But wait, it gets even better. . .

Diesels have a huge, surprise advantage

Diesels now rival traditional gasoline engines for quiet, and European refineries have removed most of the pollutants from the fuel. The engines cost more, but the gas savings almost make up the difference. I'll tell you a sleeper stock - it's not a car company - that's the best way to play the diesel revolution.

But meanwhile there's an even better way to invest than the hardware under the hood. Diesel's biggest edge is something you'd never expect. . .

You don't need crude oil to make diesel fuel

You can make it from coal, plant matter, or even cooking oil. (No kidding! A restaurant can invest in a cooking oil converter kit that lets you fry a batch of potatoes and later reuse the oil in your delivery truck.)

In a few pages, I explain how liquefied coal is one of the big technologies of the future no matter what, whether the diesel engine wins or not. But if diesel wins the auto race, coal will be the biggest thing since folks traded in their horses for cars. King Crude may be dead, once and for all.

How bad does the world need these new technologies? REAL bad. My readers have already profited, with one pick up 431 percent as this is written, and two others up 164 percent and 179 percent.

We reaped those gains because, whatever the future holds, the oil crisis right now is bad enough. . .

In India they make fuel from cow dung

Every year and indeed every month the world will grow more desperate for the alternative fuels and technologies I'm talking about.

India imports more than 75 percent of its crude oil. They're so desperate for alternatives they recently promoted cow dung as an important energy source. A new use for sacred cows!

The problem is, Asians these days are buying cars like. . .well, like Americans.

The Chinese would have to buy 650 million vehicles to reach American levels of car ownership. That's not likely. But a fraction of that figure will create an oil and pollution crisis big enough to finish us off.

In the vast markets of India and China, a vehicle that runs without crude oil will be irresistible. But there's still more to the diesel story. . .

A hybrid diesel engine is the next step

A combination of hybrid and diesel technology will take the fuel savings up a notch. Make that two notches. And it will happen soon.

An MIT study predicts the diesel hybrid could outperform a hydrogen fuel cell engine on both gasoline mileage and carbon emissions - within ten years.

In other words, the hydrogen fuel cell car may never get to market. It's dead in the cradle thanks to breakthroughs elsewhere.

Is there a catch? And how can you make money?

There is indeed a catch to all this, but the catch is where you'll find the profit opportunity.

The obvious play is to buy the big automakers like Toyota that own the leading hybrid or diesel technologies.

Obvious, but wrong. The auto industry is on its way to becoming a replay of the airline industry. The competition is already cutthroat, with razor-thin margins. Now we're going to see General Motors and Ford file for bankruptcy.

When that happens, they'll walk away from the pension and healthcare obligations that are killing them. Their plants are in political battleground states so the politicians will help them stay afloat. They're "too big to fail."

Once they're operating under Chapter Eleven, like the airlines, the auto makers will launch profit-killing price wars that may last for decades.

Emissions are the key to profits

No, the way to profit from the diesel revolution is to buy the company that's going to remove the last obstacle that stands in the way of diesel: pollutants.

You see, the Europeans still haven't been able to remove the last bit of filth from diesel exhaust. They've just put up with it for the sake of fuel economy and lower carbon emissions.

Whoever comes up with the best diesel tailpipe solution stands to make a killing. And a high-tech American company has done exactly that. They've come up with a diesel filter that's far superior to what the Europeans now have.

A very surprising angle will make you money

Diesel tailpipes will be a billion-dollar market within two years - an increase of more than 80-fold from the year 2000. As the oil shortage deepens and the world scrambles for fuel mileage, the company I'm telling you about will be on every front page in the country.

This company is a technology leader that created one of the most important inventions of the '90s telecomm boom - but I'm not talking about Microsoft or Intel or Sun or any of the obvious choices. The company I have in mind keeps a lower profile.

Now they've come up with ANOTHER breakthrough technology that few investors know about.

My crystal ball says their technology is going to wind up in 200 million vehicles. I'll tell you all about the stock in a FREE Special Investment Report called Tailpipe Riches: The Race to Build the Car of the Future. It's one of four free reports you get when you subscribe.

Subscribe now and get your free copy. You'll want to snap up this breakthrough technology before it's too late.

But meanwhile you can also make a bundle off the liquefied coal story. . .

The Great Coal Rush
It's clean, cheap, and soon it will be liquid

While the oil runs out, there's still plenty of coal. The world has enough coal to last for 300 years at current rates. Coal already accounts for more than half of our electricity.

But coal is dirty, right? And there's no way it can power cars, right?

Wrong, and wrong again. Coal can be cleaned up AND it can power your SUV. However, it's not cheap to do. It's only worthwhile when a barrel of oil costs more than $30.

Which means you're in luck if you own stock in a coal company, as my readers do, because oil is way more than $30 a barrel and it's a good bet it will stay there. Forever.

As I write this, my readers sport an 88 percent gain on my coal recommendation.

Coal is set to replace oil almost everywhere

You're now one of a handful of people who know about clean coal and you're going to make a fortune off it. I want to send you all the details in another FREE Special Investment Report called Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead. It's one of four reports I send to all new subscribers.

Let's look at how big the opportunity really is. . .

The U.S. and China both have a growing problem with the price of oil and with the unstable countries they have to buy it from. Meanwhile, the U.S. and China both have HUGE reserves of coal.

Add in Australia and Canada and you've got four countries that you could call the OPEC of coal. They own just about all the coal there is.

The U.S. alone has 254 billion tons of proven coal reserves, or about 25 percent of the world total. Compare that to Saudi Arabia, with 24 percent of the world's oil (if you believe them.)

Meanwhile, the Chinese economy is doubling every ten years and has a lion's appetite for electricity. The Chinese will have to give up that growth rate or build hundreds of new power plants, one or the other. They have no choice.

China is starved for electricity. . .
And we're not doing so well ourselves!

Electricity could be China's biggest roadblock to growth. Already, blackouts and brownouts happen every day all over the country. Factories by the thousand are forced to shut down from time to time. Many are allowed to operate only during off-peak hours. Children in some cities do their homework by candlelight.

With an economy that grows eight or nine percent every year, and electric usage soaring at the same rate, the Chinese have no choice but to build hundreds of new power plants. And most of those plants are going to run on coal.

In the United States we have a power crisis of our own. We're at the limit of our generating capacity. We have our own brownouts during peak-demand times. We, too, need to build hundreds of new power plants. Yet the public still doesn't want nuclear power.

A coal boom is inevitable

You do the math: we face a crude oil shortage. . .nuclear power gives people the willies. . .we've got plenty of coal in the ground. . .we've got a choice between more power plants or deep recession and unemployment.

Everything points to coal.

As this goes to press, my readers have gained 88 percent on my favorite coal investment. You'll get details on the company in the free Special Investment Report called Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead.

The gains have just begun. We can thank ever-increasing demand for coal and ever-higher prices. All that's left is to solve the pollution problem. And as you'll see in the next few pages, that's about to happen. I've got a way you can play the clean coal technology.

A safe, conservative way to play the Great Coal Rush

The safest way to profit is to own some coal and wait for the price to go up. It will.

I've found a great, long-term stock that just came on the market in 2004, as a spin-off from another company. Already, this new kid on the block is one of the five largest coal companies in the United States, with 13 mines in our richest coal regions, plus 100 electric power plants in 29 different states.

This outfit has a staggering 1.8 billion tons of proven and probable coal reserves. That's enough to last 28 years at current rates of production.

The top execs have an average of 26 years of experience apiece. They employ the most advanced technology and achieve some of the highest levels of efficiency of any coal producer on the market.

With an abundant, cheap replacement for oil, these guys just about can't go wrong. Their coal is going to look better and better with oil at $50, $70 and even $100 per barrel. You'll receive all the details in Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead.

But the FREE report also gives you another coal play - a company with a much higher upside. Let me tell you about it. . .

Clean Coal is Here

Two things stand in the way of coal. One of them is pollution and the other is the cost of moving the stuff.

China gets about two-thirds of its energy from coal, and it shows. Sixteen of the world's twenty most polluted cities are in China. No kidding, the place is filthy. China has just about the worst air and water quality in the world, resulting in epidemic health problems.

Here in the United States, we've spent hard dollars to keep coal dirt out of our air. Even so, political quarrels still rage over coal-fired power plants. Now people also worry about global warming. Dirty coal is a problem.

In both countries, the economic growth we enjoy is about to collide head-on with our desire for clean air.

What a great opportunity to get rich! Every breakthrough in clean coal technology could be worth billions to investors. And here's one for your portfolio. . .

Liquid coal to the rescue

The most promising technology right now is called coal liquefaction. I won't go into the engineering details, but the end result is a liquid fuel that burns clean, without sulfur and other pollutants. Any power plant that burns coal (that is, nearly all of them) can burn the liquid, too.

And the diesels of the future will burn it, too.

But China is really ramping up this new technology because of the second problem I mentioned - the cost of transporting coal. Most of China's vast coal reserves are in the north, while most of its industrial development is in the south.

China's rail and highway network is not up to the job of moving so much coal across such a vast distance. As I write this, southern China actually imports coal from abroad. It's as if Hawaii imported pineapples. But the Chinese in the south have had no choice. Until now, that is. . .

Liquefied coal can move through a pipeline, like petroleum.

Liquefied coal doesn't have to move on trains or trucks over expensive road and rail networks. It can flow through a pipe.

Add up all the advantages, and liquefied coal can solve China's biggest energy problems. It's clean, it's easy to move, and they don't have to buy it from foreigners.

The Chinese leadership doesn't have to debate everything for years the way we do in the States. They're moving aggressively into liquefied coal NOW. In fact, they aim to replace ten percent of their current oil imports with liquid coal by 2013.

That's fast! They've already started to build. . .

The world's first commercial coal-to-liquid fuel plant

What's more, they've got three more plants on the drawing boards. Big players like Royal Dutch/Shell own a piece of the project, but liquefied coal is a drop in the ocean for a big company like Shell. Shell's stock won't get much of a bounce.

Instead, let me tell you about a smaller company -- a better way to play this big Chinese "moon project." It's in your Special Investment Report, Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead.

Turning on the Juice reveals a little-known American company that holds clean coal technology the Chinese have got to have. You've still got time to buy - this is a long-term core holding that will pay for a big chunk of your retirement.

You can receive this report FREE, plus. . .

Riding the Natural Gas Boom to Triple Your Money
Tailpipe Riches: The Race to Build the Car of the Future, and
Crude Awakening: How to Survive the Total Global Energy Crunch.

In fact, subscribe for two years - with a full refund guarantee -- and you receive up to seven Special Investment Reports free. Click here if you'd like to order.

You'll discover everything you need to know in the free Special Investment Reports. You see, with the help of these special reports you can. . .

Profit from something few investors know

The Chinese are turning their country into an open-air lab to develop new energy technologies. The new technologies that come out of their efforts will be exported all over the world. Later in this letter I'll tell you about their breakthrough in nuclear technology.

The American company that's helping China liquefy coal is doing the same thing in India, another giant country with almost no oil. They've also got a stake in a big Philippine deal.

In other words, they're the technology leader in a fast-growing industry most investors don't even know about.

And if diesels powered by liquefied coal become the car of the future, there's no telling how high my coal picks can go!

While most investors wait for the price of oil to come down and for things to return to "normal," you can position yourself to profit from the new, long-term energy crisis.

Keep reading and discover. . .

The fastest-growing energy source in the world. Also the cleanest and safest. But America may be sidelined. I tell you more in a few pages, and everything you need to know in one or your free reports, Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead.
Good-bye global warming! A Chinese breakthrough may create cheap, safe, clean electric power for the whole world. I've got a safe angle to profit from China's massive investment in electric generating plants.
One of the few oil refiners that can handle low-grade, sour crude - a critical bottleneck as the world runs out of light, sweet crude. We're up 179 percent as I write this.
A "minor" sector of the energy market is set to grow 17 times over. I'll give you my best pick.
But please act now. The crisis could hit overnight. . .

Wild Cards
How Oil Could Go to $100 in 24 Hours

If you want to bury your head in the sand and pretend Saudi Arabia has plenty of oil, be my guest. But Outstanding Investments is for investors who want to face reality and be prepared.

Every shred of evidence points to no Saudi buffer for world oil markets. And that's a real problem because oil consumption soared from 52 million barrels a day to 82 million in the last 19 years, and it's expected to grow to 120 million in the next 20. . .

If the oil can be found. Very doubtful.

High-priced oil is here to stay

There are three ways oil could race past $100 a barrel: it may get there gradually. . .or on a faster pace of a year or two. . .or overnight, literally within 24 hours.

Pick any one of the three. No matter how you look at it, it's a sure thing the days of cheap oil are over. We're never going to see $30 oil again and we may never see $40 oil.

"You never really run out of oil," says a Houston energy consultant named Henry Groppe. "But many years ago we ran out of $2 a barrel oil, then we ran out of $25 oil, and now we're running out of $40 oil."

That's for sure. And that means you need to readjust your holdings. Outstanding Investments has a strategy that will profit handsomely from this inevitable trend. But our strategy could profit even more because. . .

The disaster could hit very fast

Saudi production could fall over a cliff almost overnight. There could be a deep, sharp reduction in Saudi oil production literally any day.

It's guesswork, but energy expert Matthew Simmons says, ". . .it will take energy forecasters and policy-makers by total surprise. Not a single serious energy plan devised in the past three decades has envisioned such a scenario."

He's told interviewers that Saudi output could drop 30 to 40 percent from the already low level of just five million barrels. Simmons doesn't claim to know for sure, but I believe he's right.

In the big oil crisis of 1973, oil went to $100 in current 2005 dollars.

Back then, the problem was just political. Angered by U.S. support for Israel, the Arab oil producers cut our supply. After things calmed down, there was plenty of oil. This time the problem is real and there's no quick fix.

There's a sword hanging over our heads, and most people don't even know. Just consider this. . .

Three quick disasters could send oil over $100 in 24 hours

I've spotted three trends to watch that could crash markets and cause a recession.

You already know that the 2005 hurricane season was the worst on record, and the one before that was almost as bad. In 2005 there were 27 tropical storms. Weather experts could hardly believe it, but the last one formed in December, a month after the "end" of the hurricane season.

It's not as weird as a blizzard in July. But it's close.

Worse, the storms are more powerful than ever before. It seems that a tropical storm is more likely now to become a deadly category four or category five hurricane.

Two reasons for the monster storms

The first reason is there's a normal cycle of low hurricane activity followed by a period of high hurricane activity. Each phase can last for several decades.

Clearly, we're in the high phase and it will probably go on for years. That's bad enough, but it's normal. But now you have to add. . .

The danger of climate change

Bear in mind that climate change can be caused by either human activity or natural causes. And either way, the jury is still out. Despite what you may hear from the mainstream media, the case for global warming is far from closed.

But global warming believers are already blaming the monster hurricanes on climate change.

They may be right.

The level of hurricane activity we're seeing has no precedent in the hundred years or so that scientists have been counting and categorizing storms. Meanwhile, a big chunk of our energy industry is located in the worst possible place.

Not in my back yard,
And soon, nowhere at all

Americans have largely banned oil and gas drilling and liquefied natural gas ports from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They don't like oil refineries, either. Plus it's well known that the Gulf of Mexico is energy-rich.

So America ended up with a huge part of its energy infrastructure located on the Gulf coast.

A lot of it was knocked out by Katrina and Rita. As I write this in early 2006, the Gulf coast energy industry is still not back to normal. Gasoline, fuel oil and natural gas prices remain at record levels. And Gulf oil production won't be back to normal until summer. . .

Just in time for the next hurricane season

If the 2006 hurricane season is a repeat, it could be the end of some 20 percent of America's oil and gas industry. And it could all happen in 24 hours.

It's hard to picture that oil companies are going to keep on investing in a region where they get knocked out every year. And the onshore plants can't be moved to Boston and San Francisco, where they're not wanted anyway.

We may be staring at a permanent loss of a large part of our energy industry.

Wild Card Number Two:
War and revolution at the chokepoints

World oil supplies are so tight the price could go through the roof if we lose just a couple of million barrels of daily production out of the world total of 82 million.

Production is running full tilt and consumers snap up every barrel that comes out of the ground. There's no buffer (despite what the Saudis claim).

A sudden leap to $80 a barrel, not to mention $100, could tip us over the edge into recession. The immediate cause could be war or revolution in an oil-producing country.

Toss in another bad hurricane season at the same time and it could be the end of our way of life.

Saudi Arabia itself is a prime candidate for revolution. You might think Al Qaeda's main target is the United States, but in fact the main target all along has been control of Saudi Arabia.

The World Trade Center was just a stop on the road to Riyadh, as they see it.

But my own pick for disaster is Nigeria. This African country is the world's number 12 oil producer, and a big supplier to the United States.

The Nigerian wild card

The country is seething with revolution. The government - if you want to call it a government - admits that thieves steal as much as 200,000 barrels of oil a day and sell it on the black market. Off the record, experts put the bootleg oil as high as 650,000 barrels a day.

That kind of oil generates huge sums of cash, and a lot of the money is plowed into arms for the rebels. There's no shortage of poor, hopeless young men willing to use the weapons. Three Nigerians out of five live in poverty.

Caught in the middle of all this are big oil companies like Shell and Chevron. In some parts of the country their facilities have been shut down and they've been kicked out. If you want to get punched in Nigeria, just tell a native you work for Shell.

Terrorism is Wild Card Number Three

You won't be surprised to learn terrorism is the third wild card that could create an instant crisis. In fact, a former CIA Director recently joined some former oil executives and government experts in a risk analysis exercise.

They forecast three very likely events that could bring the roof down on our heads.

One of them was civil war in Nigeria.

The other two were both terror incidents.

Intelligence agencies know the terrorists have especially targeted oil facilities and infrastructure. It's an international game of cat and mouse where the terrorists are looking for a weak point day and night, high and low, while we try to find them and stop them in time.

It's only a matter of time until they succeed. It's like a thief checking every door in the neighborhood every night. One night he'll find a door that's not locked.

Are you getting the picture? The good scenario is that the oil price will gradually climb to $100 over the next few years.

The worst scenario is that it will go there next week, or next month, or next year.

Either way, you'll can gain anywhere from 100% to 1000% on the investments I recommend. The only question is HOW MUCH MONEY YOU'LL MAKE and HOW FAST YOU'LL MAKE IT.

The investments I reveal in your four FREE Special Reports are your ticket to survival and even wealth in the midst of recession and chaos. You receive full details on all ten recommendations as soon as you subscribe to Outstanding Investments.

The Natural Gas Bottleneck -
A market set to multiply 17 times
according to government figures

When oil started getting pricey during the 1970s, America switched to natural gas in a big way. Natural gas now supplies about 24 percent of our total energy needs including a big chunk of our electricity.

The move made sense. We had plenty of natural gas, and what's more it's a clean-burning fuel that cuts down on pollution. But like any kind of fossil fuel, there's only so much of it. Now we're running out.

After the big hurricanes of 2005, everyone can see the U.S. is vulnerable. We didn't have the gas supplies we needed when we needed them. It's been a cold, expensive winter for a lot of Americans.

The gas shortage will be hard to solve

America has placed vast areas off limits to drilling. Not only millions of acres of federal lands, but also most of the offshore areas on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

These gas-rich regions are off-limits even though natural gas doesn't create spills. If there's an accident, it just escapes into the air. And drilling rigs are mostly out of sight of the resort properties on the beach.

The regulations have left only the Gulf of Mexico a.k.a. hurricane alley for offshore drilling and natural gas production. But while we've painted ourselves into a corner. .

The rest of the world burns up natural gas to get rid of it!

If you saw your heating bills shoot up this winter, you'll be frustrated to learn there's plenty of gas worldwide. It's a byproduct of oil wells, and if an oil field isn't close to a big population center or a pipeline, the gas is just flared off.

The rest of the world burns off or "strands" as much as 2.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. That's equivalent to 1.7 billion barrels of oil totally wasted every year!

The problem is that gas, unlike oil, is hard to transport. You can't build pipelines across oceans. And big oceans separate North America from the cheap gas that's now going to waste. This energy bottleneck is your chance to multiply your money up to 17 times.

Because of the bottleneck problem, the price of natural gas is much higher in North America than in the countries that are swimming in the stuff. It's a huge opportunity, and I've prepared a free Special Investment Report to help you profit. I call it Riding the Natural Gas Boom to Triple Your Money.

Take a look at the free report's best play on natural gas. . .

An easy answer to the gas shortage,
With a 45-year safety record

There's an easy solution to our natural gas shortage and it's been around for years. It's called liquefied natural gas or LNG.

If you turn natural gas into a liquid by super-cooling it, you can transport 600 times as much gas in the same space. One LNG tanker can carry as much as 600 ships hauling natural gas in vapor form.

And despite what you may have heard, LNG is safe. With 40,000 LNG tanker voyages spanning the last 45 years and crossing 60 million miles of ocean, there hasn't been a single major accident. Not one.

No explosions, no fireballs, no gruesome casualties. Sorry, Hollywood.

You'll learn everything you need to know in Riding the Natural Gas Boom to Triple Your Money, devoted just to this topic. I'll rush you a free copy when you try my newsletter, Outstanding Investments.

A market set to multiply up to 17 times

As things stand now, the U.S. gets only one percent of its natural gas in the form of LNG, but with the energy crunch things are going to change.

The government's Energy Information Agency believes LNG will provide from 14 to 17 percent of our total gas supply by 2025. That means a 14- to 17-fold increase in LNG.

Better yet, that's going to be a higher percentage of a bigger market, too. The EIA projects total gas consumption - LNG and vapor combined -- will boom 30 percent in the next ten years. And meanwhile a fierce bidding war has broken out between Europe, Asia and the U.S. for every available ounce of LNG.

Would you to like to sprint from a one percent market share to a 17 percent market share in a growth industry? I would!

Destined to dominate

The boom was actually underway before the current energy crunch hit. LNG trade soared 55 percent in the ten years ending in 2004. This little market is growing like crazy.

Some analysts even predict LNG will surpass King Crude to dominate the world's energy markets. The CEO of Shell says within ten years gas will be a bigger part of their business than oil.

Please join me and the happy, increasingly rich readers of Outstanding Investments. As I write these words, we're up 109 percent on my best pick. . .

The Best Pure Play on Natural Gas

Finding the right investment in the booming LNG market is not as easy as it sounds. For example, ExxonMobil is so large that buying it as a play on LNG would be like buying a ranch to own a steer.

We need a pure LNG play that can grow two hundred percent, or three hundred percent or even more. And I found it! Readers have already had the chance to double their money, and I think we may see this stock double, and then double again.

Make five to ten times your money in natural gas

My top pick sports a $30 billion market cap. It's a behemoth to most of us but in the energy business it qualifies as a small, nimble player.

This company is an international powerhouse in the gas industry -- especially in the liquefied gas segment that's set to multiply seventeen-fold.

They owe their success to a soup-to-nuts strategy that takes the gas from wildcat exploration through production, transportation and distribution. They're masters in every facet of the business.

They control an energy chokepoint

The U.S. has only five ports that can handle LNG and this "little" energy company has two of them locked up. The ports have become a bottleneck - a problem for the nation but a profit windfall for you! It will be years before new ports come on line, if ever.

And unlike some natural gas companies, my favorite actually finds more gas than it sells. When you invest in a natural gas company, you have to be careful of the "replacement ratio" because a lot of companies post big profits while they deplete their reserves. They're just selling off their assets.

Not these guys. They find nearly three cubic feet of gas for every cubic foot they sell. In this business, that's phenomenal. With prices set to go up, their vast reserves are an appreciating asset that could make you rich.

Up 38 percent every year for seven years

Even if you didn't know what industry they were in, this company's numbers would make your eyes pop. Their sales grew an average of 38 percent per year every year from 1997 through 2004. That period included a near-recession in the oil business.

My selection has the kind of high-growth potential you'd expect to find in a risky tech stock, but what a difference! Their product is a natural resource we know everyone is sure to need.

You profit even if America blows it

The weak spot for LNG is the small number of ports that can handle the incoming tankers. There are only five in the United States. For a while, that didn't matter since gas was cheap and plentiful. The ports weren't even fully used.

Now the port problem has become a possible growth-killer. Of course, my recommended company has two of the ports and they're sitting pretty for now.

But what does the future hold? Some fifty new U.S. ports are under study, but environmentalists and NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) types are fighting them tooth and nail.

But you know what?
It doesn't matter to this company or to your pocketbook.

If Americans are actually dumb enough to vote down safe, clean LNG, the rest of the world will snap it up and the company I recommend will sell it to them. They've rolled out plans for new LNG terminals all over the globe.

71 percent of the LNG market is Asian already and global LNG trade is roaring ahead with or without North America. You can't lose. In fact, there's a certain way you can win very big if Americans turn down LNG.

You'll learn all about it in your free Special Investment Report, Riding the Natural Gas Boom to Triple Your Money. You receive this report and three more to boot when you subscribe to my newsletter plus weekly email. Meanwhile, here's another way to profit. . .

Earn a Six Percent Dividend
And Double Your Capital, Too!

LNG is a possible grand-slam four-run homer in natural gas. But you can also profit from North American companies that don't need to ship their gas across an ocean.

And if you're fed up with the pitiful interest rates you get on bank accounts and CDs, I've got the best news you've heard this year.

Your free copy of Riding the Natural Gas Boom to Triple Your Money recommends a Canadian gas company that pays a six percent dividend as I write these words.

The company is an energy trust, also known as a royalty or resource trust. The idea is that a group of investors pool their resources to buy a cash-generating asset that provides long-term income.

You're probably familiar with the income trust idea from REITs (real estate investment trusts). Same basic concept: A REIT receives and distributes income from a portfolio of real estate properties, while an energy trust pays income from a collection of oil or gas properties. If the assets appreciate, you can also reap a handsome capital gain.

But you have to watch out for this deadly pitfall

All of this comes with a warning: There's a difference between a real estate trust and a gas trust. Real estate doesn't get used up. Gas does.

That means it's unwise to invest in any old energy income trust. Some of them are just selling off their treasure trove of natural gas and distributing the profits. Eventually the gas will run out and your share of the deal may become worthless.

If you look into it, you'll find Canadian energy trusts that pay dividends of ten percent or even twelve percent. Sounds great, until you realize they're paying out all the cash and the business will eventually die.

Buy a gas trust that's in it for the long term

Riding the Natural Gas Boom to Triple Your Money reveals a trust that solves the problem. At about six percent, their dividend is a bit lower, but they retain cash and extend the life of the trust through acquisitions and exploration.

They pay out only about half their cash-flow. They invest the rest in finding new, long-life, high-quality gas projects. What's more, they're darn good at it.

They've been finding four dollars worth
of new gas for every dollar they invest.

That means you can enjoy the best of both worlds - income and capital appreciation. What's more, the potential for long-term gain is eye-popping.

Just with their current reserves they can keep paying out dividends for another 20 years, compared to ten years for their competitors. But given their success in finding new gas, and with prices headed up, there's a good chance the dividend will increase and the reserves will, too!

You'll be collecting the dividend AND building your assets. The more you learn, the better this company gets.

Best of all, the insiders have been consistent, long-term buyers of the stock. When directors and senior officers put their own money on the line, it's a very good sign they believe in the company.

You'll learn more about this dynamite investment in your free copy of Ride the Natural Gas Boom to Triple Your Money. Read it and reap!

Profit from a Nuclear Breakthrough

Keep reading if you'd like to discover a new technology that sounds like a miracle even though every word is true.

What's more, this breakthrough can fatten your personal bank account.

If things play out the way I expect, fossil fuel power plants will join wood-burning stoves on history's dust heap. You'll learn all the details in one of your free reports, Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead. It's the number one way to profit from. . .

The worldwide boom in nuclear power

After a couple of freak accidents several decades ago, Americans decided they wanted nothing to do with nuclear power ever, anywhere. The accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island killed nuclear power in the United States.

We're just about the only people with that attitude.

The rest of the world took a look at the safety problems, solved them, and forged ahead. France now gets 77 percent of its electric power from nuclear plants. Japan and South Korea get 39 percent - and the two of them have more than 20 new plants on the way.

Belgium, Sweden, Finland. . .they've all gone nuclear. It seems like everyone but us is building nukes. China plans to boost its nuclear power capacity by 500 percent.

In fact, for the past 40 years, nuclear has been the fastest growing power source in the world. And now it's really taking off.

What's more, all the hundreds of plants worldwide have logged thousands of reactor-years without a single accident. You see, Asians and Europeans have discovered something Americans refuse to see: nuclear power beats fossil fuels hands down.

Nuclear is safer, cheaper and cleaner.

In Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead, you'll find out how the worldwide boom in nuclear power has sent the price of uranium through the roof. Uranium doubled in the last three years, and it will probably double again in the next two.

Turning on the Juice reveals my best pick among the uranium stocks. The company has huge uranium reserves, plus ready access to China and its massive nuclear program. Best of all, this company controls a production bottleneck the U.S. nuclear industry can't do without.

But exciting as that is, it's nothing compared to my best play on the worldwide nuclear power boom. . .

Nuclear power plants will roll off an assembly line

The Chinese are charging ahead with a new type of nuclear power plant. I predict utilities will build hundreds and maybe thousands of these new plants all over the globe. Electricity will become super-cheap. And eventually we'll see an economic boom worldwide like we've never seen before.

The new plants will be walk-away safe. A meltdown is not just unlikely, it's impossible.
There's no danger of radioactivity venting into air or water.
No need for huge cooling towers or water. No billion-dollar pressure dome.
Almost no waste, and what waste there is can be stored safely on the premises.
No need to fear a terrorist attack.
You'll learn all the details in your free Special Investment Report, Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead . The technology uses an alternative way to harvest the energy of the atom - a way that Americans discovered and then rejected decades ago.

The Chinese plan to mass produce the reactors. The plants will be modular and factory-made, built to last forty years, ready to ship anywhere in the world and assembled like Legos.

A Chinese scientist boasts, "Eventually these new reactors will compete strategically and in the end they will win. When that happens, it will leave traditional nuclear power in ruins."

The man has reason to be cocky. They've already tested the prototype by turning off the coolant and letting the plant cool down by itself. That would be totally unthinkable with a conventional reactor.

The ultimate solution to global warming

These plants will get built by the hundred because the world needs cheap, clean energy. But they'll get built by the thousand if the world decides to get serious about global warming. Selected stocks will take off into the stratosphere.

I think the Chinese will pull it off, and we're going to see a new industrial revolution.

You need to move soon, because the Chinese are plunging full speed ahead. Subscribe now and get your free copy of Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead.

Get Seven Free Reports
With Your Two-Year Subscription

Every person who subscribes to my newsletter, Outstanding Investments, receives all four of the free Special Investment Reports I've described. . .

Special Investment Report #1:
Crude Awakening: How to Survive the Total Global Energy Crunch

Special Investment Report #2:
Turning on the Juice: Power Plays for the Electricity Crisis Ahead

Special Investment Report #3:
Tailpipe Riches: The Race to Build the Car of the Future

Special Investment Report #4:
Riding the Natural Gas Boom to Triple Your Money

These four reports reveal all the details on ten specific investments I recommend. You'll learn about the revolutionary nuclear plant the Chinese are developing. . .

The "little" oil company that owns a stake in Canada's oil sands - a stake with more proven oil reserves than Alaska's Prudhoe Bay! We already hold a 496% gain.
Why the car of the future will probably be a diesel hybrid - and the high-tech American leader with the breakthrough diesel filter.
The uranium company with millions of pounds of undervalued reserves - an almost sure double - even if you forget they own one of the only two reprocessing mills in America.
Why the world is running out of light, sweet crude oil. Plus, one of the few oil refiners that can handle low-grade, sour crude - a bottleneck stock if there ever was one. We're up 179%.
The American tech company that's teamed up with China to produce clean, liquefied coal. Maybe they'll dethrone King Crude once and for all!
Two natural gas plays positioned at one of America's most vulnerable energy chokepoints. The first is up 109% and the other pays a cash dividend that wallops any CD.
Plus you will discover even more opportunities if you subscribe to Outstanding Investments for two years.

Two-year subscribers save me the cost of sending them renewal notices. That's why I give them. . .


Special Investment Report #5:
Bullion and Beyond: Five Stunning Ways to Profit from the Epic Metals Boom

In these pages I've focused on energy, but Outstanding Investments actually covers the full range of resource stocks. And if you pay any attention to resource stocks, you know gold has gone through the roof.

My readers have reaped the gains in the gold bull market. And how! Open positions in my portfolio stand at PLUS 365%. . .PLUS 233%. . .PLUS 246%. . .PLUS 101%. . .

And that's not even the full list. In this free report, I reveal why I see gold going past one thousand dollars an ounce. You'll learn WHY it's just about inevitable - and why the coming energy crisis makes a leap in gold even more likely.

Better yet, gold stocks are a leveraged play on the bullion price. A double in the price of the metal can translate into a five-fold or tenfold gain for a mining company.

Don't miss out. Subscribe for two years and get this extra free report.

Special Investment Report #6:
Two if By Sea:
Shipping Stocks that'll Sail on the Oil Boom

If the price of oil is headed up, the obvious play is to buy oil stocks. Problem is, everyone knows that. I've got a better idea. Often the best way to play a boom is by investing in supporting players most people never think about.

When it comes to crude oil, tanker companies are great way to multiply your profits. While the price of a barrel doubled, the cost of shipping the oil went up nearly four times! Revenues for shippers soared a thousand percent in 2004, and all 1,500 oil tankers worldwide are booked solid.

Let me show you how to profit in Two if by Sea: Shipping Stocks that'll Sail on the Oil Boom. Yours free with a two-year subscription.

Special Investment Report #7:
The Trader's Code:
A Secret Technique for Bigger Resource Riches

The Special Investment Reports I've told you about so far are like a master's degree in resource investing. The seventh and last report will make you the equivalent of a Ph.D.

You'll be primed for it, too, after you've seen the money you can make just buying the stocks straight-up, without fancy leverage. My seventh report, The Trader's Code, takes you to whole new level:

It's a trading system that's capable of doubling your money every three months.

Doubling your money every three months is good enough to turn a $5,000 investment into as much as $2.5 million in only three years. Can you imagine?

This system gave readers 17 winning plays in a row. And I don't play games with this sort of thing. This book and everything I say is vetted by our team of attorneys. They won't let me say anything I can't prove in a court of law.

So sign up for two years. . .examine this incredible trading system for yourself.

But the most important benefit you receive is. . .

Professional Forecasting Vs. Crystal Ball Gazing

My surprising and often disturbing predictions are more than just talk. This is serious information for serious investors.

I publish this advice in my newsletter. People act on it. Real people. And when they do they make money. Real money. Dow Jones, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and others take me seriously. An independent tracking and rating service, the Hulbert Financial Digest, says Outstanding Investments was the top-performing newsletter of the last five years.

The situation with world oil supplies is so critical
you must act now to protect yourself

You can do it with my top ten energy recommendations. I send these top picks to ALL subscribers in the first four Special Investment Reports.

You're going to need them. Short-term, nothing can cushion the U.S. economy against the coming oil shock. Not the President, not the Prius. It's simply too late. . .for the nation as a whole. But not for you as an individual.

Eventually, the amazing new technologies I've described will take the place of crude oil. But meanwhile, difficult times lie dead ahead, like the iceberg in front of the Titanic. And like the Titanic, the American economy is too big to turn on a dime.

So head for the lifeboats - the ten recommendations in the four reports I send to all subscribers. And if you want, you can get more valuable investment ideas in the three extra reports for two-year subscribers.

Add up everything you get. . .

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I mean 100% of your money back. All of it. You don't have to explain anything or give any excuses. And you don't have to return any of the material I've sent you. It's all yours to keep. Even at the end of a two-year subscription.

You take absolutely no risk when you subscribe. My publisher assumes the entire risk. And we're not worried you'll cancel, because by the end of two years most of the forecasts I've made in this book will be in the mainstream news outlets. And of course they'll claim they knew all along.

But they won't have the profits from the recommendations. YOU will.

Justice Litle
Editor, Outstanding Investments