Opposition rally in the streets of Kiyev, Ukraine
Blogosphere rattled by Sony Cease & Desist Order: Blogger Jason Kottke has been served with cease & desist orders for putting online the same information about the end of a Jeopardy game show candidate’s successful run that all the major media had posted. Since Jason is not at liberty to talk about the status of the case, and says he doesn’t need a legal defence fund yet, there’s clearly more at stake here than just a request to remove a couple of posts from a website. Three lessons here:
Thanks to the Investigative Blogging newsgroup for this link.
This is What Democracy Looks Like: Salon’s founder David Talbot interviews Ukrainian journalist Olena Prytula who has been bravely opposing the ruthless dictatorship of Kuchma, and his attempt to fraudulently subvert the recent election there. The amazing photo above is from David’s interview. Fellow Salon blogger Allen Roland compares the response of Ukrainians and Americans to election theft, and supplies the perfect 6-word caption for the photo: “This is what democracy looks like.”
Scientists Claim Breakthrough in Hydrogen Production Efficiency: Matthew Wald of the NYT reports that scientists have now developed a mechanism to manufacture hydrogen cleanly and at low cost. Two major challenges remain before a true hydrogen-based economy is possible: An economical way to transport and store it, and an economical way to manufacture fuel cells. Wald is missing a third challenge: The will to abandon the entire infrastructure of the carbon-based economy and invest the trillions needed to create a new hydrogen-based production, storage and delivery infrastructure. And there are still compelling arguments that even that won’t be enough.
The Rise of Bottomless Hot Water Heaters: Kate Murphy of the NYT reports on a more prosaic energy breakthrough: ‘Instant’ hot water heaters, which use cylindrical chambers with long lengths of pipe to heat up water as it flows through, eliminating the need for a hot water tank and the need to ‘run’ the hot water until it heats up, are becoming more efficient, powerful and economical. Long popular in Europe and Japan, this technology could save billions in wasted heat energy. And it’s getting powerful enough that it can now deliver the ‘full blast’ of hot water we wasteful North Americans are accustomed to.
Departing Health Minister Issues Dire Warnings: Tommy Thompson, who resigned yesterday as Bush’s health minister, warns that the huge risk of loss of American life if terrorists were to poison the food supply has been completely ignored by the Bush administration and health officials. He also said that mutating viruses such as those associated with the Asian avian outbreaks are a “really huge bomb” threatening the world with pandemic. Thompson was one of the few courageous and intelligent members of the Bush regime, and his statements indicate just how much more dangerous the world has become since Bush seized power. We ignore his warnings at our peril.
Chief Economist Predicts US Economic “Armageddon”: Brett Arends of the Boston Herald covers the prediction by Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, that the US economy has only a 1-in-10 chance to avoid meltdown and another great depression. I’ve been saying this for over a year. “In a nutshell, Roach’s argument is that America’s record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants. The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded. Consumer debt is equal to 85% of the entire US economy and half of new mortgage borrowings are variable-rate, leaving borrowers, already paying a record share of disposable income on interest, much more vulnerable to rate hikes”. Arends says it appears the only way to avoid collapse would be allowing the US dollar to crash and allowing inflation to soar to, say, 7% (meaning prime interest rates would hit double digits). Once again folks: Pay off your debts, get out of US dollar denominated investments, and keep spending modest.