Links for the Week – June 3/06

A substantial international flavour to the links this week:

Politics and Economics

Battle Fatigue Incidents Worsen Situation in Iraq and Afghanistan: With a serious shortfall of recruits and troops forced to re-up against their will, and to work even when they’ve been certified mentally unstable, it was only a matter of time before we started to see My Lai type incidents of American troops run amok in the Mideast. This week in Afghanistan, when civilians hurled rocks at an American vehicle that careened out of control into an unarmed crowd, the troops in the vehicle fired into the crowd, killing or injuring many civilians and prompting anti-Western rioting. And in Iraq, even the president had to express outrage when American troops were found to have executed a group of civilians firing-squad style.

Time Warner Group Aims to Dismantle the SBA: I have no idea how effective the Small Business Administration is in the US. What I do know is that small entrepreneurial businesses are at a tremendous competitive disadvantage relative to the big, powerful, massively-subsidized global oligopolies that have politicians in their back pockets. So if, as several recent articles published by the Time Warner empire like this one suggest, the SBA isn’t effective, isn’t the answer to expand and reform it so it helps entrepreneurs, rather than dismantling it so entrepreneurs have no one on their side at all?

US Has the Least Fair Electoral Processes of Democratic Nations: Further to my recent article on the theft of the 2004 US election, the American Prospect this week has an article by Robert Pastor, an American election observer saying that, on ten major criteria, US election system integrity ranks at the bottom of democratic nations. Thanks to Jack Yan for the link.

China’s Ecological Holocaust Worsens: Two more indications this week that the acceleration of the degradation of China’s massively overstressed environment is reaching the danger stage: Its rivers, the subject of the most massive and devastating water damming and diversion project the world has ever known, are now so fouled by sewage and chemicals that they are “cancerous” and virtually dead. The diversion is supposed to bring desperately needed water to Northern China, which is turning into a “vast desertified dust-bowl“, with sandstorms now the norm. The water table in the region is dropping by a disastrous eight feet per year.

US Dollar Versus Basket of Currencies Plunges: The US dollar index plunged to 84.0 against a bucket of foreign currencies this week, as shown in the chart above. Technical analysts say the short-term target is 76.0, but the longer-term destination, based on fundamentals, is much lower. The index is down 7.7% since the start of the year.

US Supreme Court Denies First Amendment Protection to Whistle-Blowers: Bush’s new nominees made the difference as the sharply divided supreme court said government whistle-blowers had no protection under the first amendment against reprisals from employers. The muddle-headed decision means that those aware of government fraud and corruption had best keep their mouths shut, and if they can’t manage that, they’re better off holding a public news conference to denounce the crimes than reporting it to their bosses to have it dealt with internally.

Harper’s Gaffes of the Week: Canadian minority prime minister Harper and his cronies have made several photo-op visits to Afghanistan, but they have prohibited the Governor General (nominally the head of the armed forces) from doing so because the trip is “too dangerous”. Might it instead have something to do with the fact the GG’s political views are diametrically opposed to Harper’s? And along with billions of dollars of other environmental programs, Harper’s elimination of the rebate for investment in energy-saving appliances and insulation is causing massive hardship to pensioners and the poor who had already paid for these goods when the eliminations were announced. Not only an ideological fanatic, but heartless.

Cellular Church Minister Plans Dominionist Stealth Take-Over of Rwanda, and Promotes New “Death to Non-Believers” Video Game: Rick Warren, the guy Malcolm Gladwell gushed over because of his novel grassroots ‘cellular’ approach to religion, appears to have let his fame go to his head. His Purpose-Driven Church is working with the president of Rwanda, one of the world’s most ruined states, to use that country as the testing ground for the church’s “Earthly Kingdom”, a stealth takeover of hearts and minds through religion, politics and business. It is also associated with a violent new video game that allows teenagers to convert, or, failing that, blow away non-Christians non-fundamentalist Christians of every stripe. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.


Saving the Northern Boreal Forest: Once the last of the tropical rainforests has been razed by 2050, forestry will have to rely on the temperate and sub-arctic boreal forests. Scott Weisensaul in the NYT says the time to start saving that forest is now, and why.

Children Have More Environmental Toxins in their Blood Than Adults: A new Canadian study by Environmental Defence shows that Canadian children have higher concentrations of a wide variety of environmental toxins in their bloodstream than adults. The concentrations appear to be independent of lifestyle and diet.

Just for Fun

Promo for New Aaron Sorkin Series: The series, called Studio 60, premieres on NBC this fall. I’m underwhelmed, but I guess when you’re selling a show to the mainstream media you have to pander. I’m sure the real thing will be better. [If it’s not working, it’s because NBC has ordered it down again for copyright violation. They don’t seem to getthis ‘viral marketing’ thing.]

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1 Response to Links for the Week – June 3/06

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