Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Rupert Murdoch seems to have released his inner cynic. The NY Post has many readers who are Democrats. The owner of the paper is ready to give them his considered opinion.

But he's also the owner of the Wall Street Journal and I doubt he thinks Journal readers should jump on to the Obama band wagon. He's not out to create the Obama-nation.

He's out to defeat Hillary, which means he's setting the stage for November, when Hillary will fact the Republican candidate, who is likely to be John McCain.

By the way, is there a potential vice presidential candidate to run with Hillary? That person -- undoubtedly a man -- will suffer as no previous candidate has suffered. His symbolic dismemberment will induce cringes during the race and whenever anyone recalls it.


January 30, 2008 -- Democrats in 22 states across America go to the polls next Tuesday to pick between two presidential prospects: Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

We urge them to choose Obama - an untried candidate, to be sure, but preferable to the junior senator from New York.

Obama represents a fresh start.

His opponent, and her husband, stand for déjà vu all over again - a return to the opportunistic, scandal-scarred, morally muddled years of the almost infinitely self-indulgent Clinton co-presidency.

Does America really want to go through all that once again?

It will - if Sen. Clinton becomes president. That much has become painfully apparent.

Bill Clinton's thuggishly self-centered campaign antics conjure so many bad, sad memories that it's hard to know where to begin.

Suffice it to say that his Peck's-Bad-Boy smirk - the Clinton trademark - wore thin a very long time ago.

Far more to the point, Sen. Clinton could have reined him in at any time. But she chose not to - which tells the nation all it needs to know about what a Clinton II presidency would be like. Now, Obama is not without flaws.

For all his charisma and his eloquence, the rookie senator sorely lacks seasoning: Regarding national security, his worldview is beyond naive; America must defend itself against those sworn to destroy the nation.

His all-things-to-all-people approach to complicated domestic issues also arouses scant confidence. "Change!" for the sake of change does not a credible campaign platform make. But he remains a highly intelligent man, with a strong record as a conciliator.

And, again, he is not Team Clinton.

That counts for a very great deal.

A return to Sen. Clinton's cattle-futures deal, Travelgate, Whitewater, Filegate, the Lincoln Bedroom Fire Sale, Pardongate - and the inevitable replay of the Monica Mess?

No, thank you.

And don't forget the Clintons' trademark political cynicism. How else to explain Sen. Clinton's oft-contradictory policy stands: She voted for the war in Iraq, but now says it was a bad idea. She'd end it yesterday - but refuses to say how.

It's called "triangulation" - the Clintonian tactic by which the ends are played against the middle.
Once, it was effective - almost brilliant. Today, it is tired and tattered - and it reeks of cynicism and opportunism.

Finally, Sen. Clinton stands philosophically far to the left of her husband, and is much more disciplined in pursuit of her agenda.

At least Obama has the ability to inspire.

Again, we don't agree much with Obama on substantive issues.
But many Democrats will.

He should be their choice on Tuesday.

Fed Cuts Rate Again

The Federal Reserve cut its lending rate again, knocking it down another 50 basis points. The latest move added to its recent 75 basis-point reduction should enable many people to refinance their mortgages. Homeowners who were facing problems may see their borrowing difficulties disappear as the effect of lower short-term rates permits an increase in mortgage refinancings.

The scammers will have no luck, however. But lower rates will help new buyers acquire properties that were relinquished by people who defrauded lenders. That's a bit of good news in the middle of a bad situation.

Here's an idea for venturesome investors: Buy Washington Mutual stock. The symbol is WM.

Fed cuts key interest rate by half point
Wednesday January 30, 2:22 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve cut a key interest rate by a half-percentage point on Wednesday as part of an aggressive effort to halt a sharp slowdown in an economy hit by a housing slump and a credit crunch.

The Fed's action takes the bellwether federal funds rate target to 3 percent, the lowest since June 2005, and comes just eight days after it slashed rates by a bold three-quarters of a point. Wednesday's follow-up reduction was in line with the expectations of many financial market participants.

The cumulative 1.25 percentage point reduction in the benchmark overnight rate in less than two weeks ranks among the most abrupt rate-cutting sprees in the modern history of the U.S. central bank.

Obama is the Next to Quit

Hillary is closing in on the nomination. There are simply too few black voters to give Obama the number of needed delegates. However, as a New Yorker, and a registered Democrat, I will vote for Obama in Tuesday's primary. Just doing my part to help John McCain, the most likely candidate to receive the Republican nomination.

NEWS ALERT from The Wall Street Journal
Jan. 30, 2008

John Edwards is ending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Associated Press reported that the former North Carolina senator plans to announce he is dropping out at an afternoon event in New Orleans.

The decision came after Edwards lost the four states to hold nominating contests so far to rivals who stole the spotlight from the beginning -- Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

Give Gaza to Egypt

says Daniel Pipes Jerusalem Post January 30, 2008

He's right. Let the Gazans reunite with Egypt. Let Egypt point these Gazan fools in the right direction. Wouldn't it have been something if Gaza had become like Singapore, as some people once hoped. But that was a foolish thought. Egypt has many serious problems of its own, but it can absorb the Gazans and turn them away from their totally self-destructive pastimes.

Startling developments in Gaza highlight the need for a change in Western policy toward this troubled territory of 1.3 million persons.

Gaza's contemporary history began in 1948, when Egyptian forces overran the British-controlled area and Cairo sponsored the nominal "All-Palestine Government" while de facto ruling the territory as a protectorate. That arrangement ended in 1967, when the Israeli leadership defensively took control of Gaza, reluctantly inheriting a densely populated, poor, and hostile territory.

Nonetheless, for twenty years Gazans largely acquiesced to Israeli rule. Only with the intifada beginning in 1987 did Gazans assert themselves; its violence and political costs convinced Israelis to open a diplomatic process that culminated with the Oslo accords of 1993. The Gaza-Jericho Agreement of 1994 then off-loaded the territory to Yasir Arafat's Fatah.

Those agreements were supposed to bring stability and prosperity to Gaza. Returning businessmen would jump-start the economy. The Palestinian Authority would repress Islamists and suppress terrorists. Yasir Arafat proclaimed he would "build a Singapore" there, actually an apt comparison, for independent Singapore began inauspiciously in 1965, poor and ethnically conflict-ridden.

Gazans crossing into Egyptian territory on January 23 through a breach in the 13-meter tall fence.Of course, Arafat was no Lee Kuan Yew. Gazan conditions deteriorated and Islamists, far from being shut out, rose to power: Hamas won the 2006 elections and in 2007 seized full control of Gaza. The economy shrunk. Rather than stop terrorism, Fatah joined in. Gazans began launching rockets over the border in 2002, increasing their frequency, range, and deadliness with time, eventually rendering the Israeli town of Sderot nearly uninhabitable.

Faced with a lethal Gaza, the Israeli government of Ehud Olmert decided to isolate it, hoping that economic hardship would cause Gazans to blame Hamas and turn against it. To an extent, the squeeze worked, for Hamas' popularity did fall. The Israelis also conducted raids against terrorists to stop the rocket attacks. Still, the assaults continued; so, on January 17, the Israelis escalated by cutting fuel deliveries and closing the borders. "As far as I'm concerned," Olmert announced, "Gaza residents will walk, without gas for their cars, because they have a murderous, terrorist regime that doesn't let people in southern Israel live in peace."

That sounded reasonable but the press reported heart-rending stories about Gazans suffering and dying due to the cutoffs, and these immediately swamped the Israeli position. Appeals and denunciations from around the world demanded that Israelis ease up.

Then, on January 23, Hamas took matters into its own hands with a clever surprise tactic: after months of preparation, it pulled down large segments of the 12-km long, 13-meter high border wall separating Gaza from Egypt, simultaneously winning goodwill from Gazans and dragging Cairo into the picture. Politically, Egyptian authorities had no choice but uneasily to absorb 38 wounded border guards and permit hundreds of thousands of persons temporarily to enter the far northeast of their country.

Israelis had brought themselves to this completely avoidable predicament through incompetence – signing bad agreements, turning Gaza over to the thug Arafat, expelling their own citizens, permitting premature elections, acquiescing to the Hamas conquest, and abandoning control of Gaza's western border.

What might Western states now do? The border breaching, ironically, offers an opportunity to clean up a mess.

"Egyptians and Palestinians are one people, not two peoples," says a sign held by a Palestinian on Jan. 29, 2008.Washington and other capitals should declare the experiment in Gazan self-rule a failure and press President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to help, perhaps providing Gaza with additional land or even annexing it as a province. This would revert to the situation of 1948-67, except this time Cairo would not keep Gaza at arm's length but take responsibility for it.
Culturally, this connection is a natural: Gazans speak a colloquial Arabic identical to the Egyptians of Sinai, have more family ties to Egypt than to the West Bank, and are economically more tied to Egypt (recall the many smugglers' tunnels). Further, Hamas derives from an Egyptian organization, the Muslim Brethren. As David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen notes, calling Gazans "Palestinians" is less accurate than politically correct.

Why not formalize the Egyptian connection? Among other benefits, this would (1) end the rocket fire against Israel, (2) expose the superficiality of Palestinian nationalism, an ideology under a century old, and perhaps (3) break the Arab-Israeli logjam.

It's hard to divine what benefit American taxpayers have received for the US$65 billion they have lavished on Egypt since 1948; but Egypt's absorbing Gaza might justify their continuing to shell out $1.8 billion a year.

Mortgage Fraud -- The Borrowers are the Bad Guys

Who's at fault in the mortgage default and foreclosure scandal? Who's defrauding whom? In the days of easy credit, it is the borrowers who have cooked up schemes to get money they don't deserve. It is borrowers who have found creative ways to abscond with funds.

First, borrowers misrepresent themselves and their capacity to repay. Common stuff. That's how many people obtain homes. Fudge a little information here, fudge a little there, and then you get a mortgage which hopefully remains affordable for the borrower.

Second, borrowers set out to steal money from lenders. In other words, “fraud for profit”.

Deceptive borrowers obtain multiple loans based on “elaborate schemes perpetrated to gain illicit proceeds from property sales”, the FBI report said.

Deceptive borrowers engage in “gross misrepresentations concerning appraisals and loan documents”. Mortgage fraud.

The most common form of mortgage fraud is “illegal property flipping”, which involves false appraisals and other fraudulent loan documents.

The critics of the subprime lending industry should wake up to the fact that it is impossible to earn a profit by giving money to borrowers who have no plans to repay it. That's the road to bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, subprime loans have enabled millions of borrowers with weak credit to own homes. Where's the problem with that? Ten years ago politicians were ranting about lenders who were unwilling to lend money with the same zeal as credit-card companies handing out the plastic. Now the same politicians -- like Chuck Schumer -- are blasting lenders for giving out money too freely!

I suppose that means Schumer and other like-minded politician really believe some people are bad for business. Wow!

FBI in subprime crackdown

By Jeremy Grant in Washington
Published: January 29 2008

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating 14 companies for possible accounting fraud and insider trading offences related to subprime mortgages.

The development, another sign of fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis, comes as light regulation of the industry – in particular mortgage brokers – has been blamed for mis-selling and abuse of mortgage products.

The Securities and Exchange Commission already has about three dozen different investigations into a range of subprime-related issues.

Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman, said the agency had been working “very closely” with the SEC, with some of the latest investigations moving “in parallel”. He declined to name the companies involved.

The number of mortgage fraud cases opened by the FBI jumped to 1,210 in fiscal 2007 from 436 in fiscal 2003, the agency said.

“We’ve been raising this issue since 2004,” Mr Carter said. “We view mortgage fraud as a significant and growing crime problem and an area of concern. Combating this is a priority given the housing market’s impact on the wider economy.”

In a report out last year, the FBI classified mortgage fraud into two broad areas. The first is fraud for property, involving “minor misrepresentations” by a mortgage applicant for the purpose of buying a property as a primary residence.

The second category – of most concern to the FBI and the mortgage industry – is “fraud for profit”. This often involves multiple loans and “elaborate schemes perpetrated to gain illicit proceeds from property sales”, the FBI report said.

It said such schemes usually involved “gross misrepresentations concerning appraisals and loan documents”.

The most common form of mortgage fraud is “illegal property flipping”, which involves false appraisals and other fraudulent loan documents.

Some of the SEC’s investigations are related to potential insider-trading, focusing on wider-than-expected writedowns unveiled recently by some large Wall Street banks. The way credit rating agencies rated the securities into which mortgages were repackaged is part of the effort.
John Nester, SEC spokesman, said: “We’ve drawn no conclusions in terms of whether securities laws were violated.”

Attorneys general in New York and Connecticut are also conducting similar investigations.
On Tuesday, Democratic congressman Barney Frank said much of the money that made mortgage securitisation possible came from places other than depository institutions, which are regulated.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Obama-Farrakhan Link, He's Finished

Is there a philosophical difference between the Nation of Islam and the Islam of Osama bin Laden? Are there significant philosophical differences between Louis Farrakhan and Osama bin Laden? No. Has Barack Hussein Obama denounced Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam? No.

"Message to the Black Man", by Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (NOI) is instructive. The only more important book to the NOI is the Koran. The depressing beliefs and goals of the NOI are presented in this text. Though the Nation of Islam shares much with Osama bin Laden and his form of the religion, Barack Hussein Obama has nothing to say about the NOI and its openly bigoted leader, Louis Farrakhan. In other words, Obama believes when a person or group is devoid of all niceness, it's best to say nothing.

Obama Silent on Farrakhan Support

Thursday, January 17, 2008 9:37 AMBy: Ronald Kessler

Barack’s Obama’s silence on his longtime minister and mentor’s support of Louis Farrakhan speaks volumes.

Obama’s minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., was quoted in the November/December issue of his church’s magazine, Trumpet, heaping praise on Farrakhan.

“When Minister Farrakhan speaks, Black America listens,” Wright said in the article. “His depth on analysis [sic] when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye-opening. He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest.”

Wright’s comments ran in a video, which was played when Trumpet bestowed the "Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer award" on Farrakhan.

But in a statement issued this week, supposedly to address the issue, Obama ignored the point that his minister and friend had spoken adoringly of Farrakhan and that Wright’s church was behind the award to the Nation of Islam leader.

Instead, Obama adroitly said, “I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.”

In his comment, Obama not only side-stepped the main point of the controversy, he disingenuously claimed he thought the magazine bestowed the award on Farrakhan for his efforts to rehabilitate ex-prisoners and that the decision was the magazine’s and had nothing to do with Wright and his church. Not only is Trumpet owned and produced by Wright’s church out of the church’s offices, Wright’s daughters serve as publisher and executive editor of the magazine.

Neither Wright’s encomiums about Farrakhan nor the Trumpet article mentions ex-prisoners. Instead, they refer to Farrakhan as an “icon” who “truly epitomize[s] greatness.”

Wright’s comments and the award to Farrakhan were first reported in a Jan. 14 Newsmax article, “Obama Minister Honored Farrakhan.” The following day, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post took Obama to task over his connection to Wright.

Hailing his “integrity and honesty,” Wright lauded Farrakhan in the Trumpet article as one of the giants of the African-American religious experience in the 20th and 21st century.

“His love for Africa and African-American people has made him an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change, and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose,” Wright said.
Is it fair to connect Obama with his minister’s comments and actions? Absolutely.

If your minister, priest, or rabbi spoke glowingly of Farrakhan and gave him an award, would you continue to attend that house of worship or have anything to do with its leader?

Not only is Wright Obama’s minister, Wright is Obama's self-described friend and sounding board. Obama has said he found religion through Wright in the 1980s and consulted him before deciding to run for president. The title of Obama’s best-seller “The Audacity of Hope” comes from one of Wright’s sermons. Wright is one of the first people Obama thanked after his election to the Senate in 2004.

Obama prayed privately with Wright before announcing his candidacy last year.
Wright has long been a supporter of Farrakhan, whom he helped organize the Million Man March in Washington in 1995. Farrakhan has repeatedly targeted Jews, whites, America, and homosexuals with hate-filled statements.

He has called whites “blue-eyed devils” and the “anti-Christ.” He has described Jews as “bloodsuckers” who control the government, the media and some black organizations.
As noted in the Jan. 14 Newsmax article, in sermons and interviews, Dr. Wright has equated Zionism with racism and has compared Israel with South Africa under its previous policy of apartheid. On the Sunday following 9/11, Wright characterized the terrorist attacks as a consequence of violent American policies.

Four years later, Wright suggested that the attacks were retribution for America’s racism.
“In the 21st century, white America got a wake-up call after 9/11/01,” Wright wrote in Trumpet. “White America and the western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”

In one of his sermons, Wright said to thumping applause, “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run! . . . We [in the U.S.] believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”

As for Israel, “The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now,” Wright has said. “Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community and wake up Americans concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

Instead of remaining silent, Obama should be denouncing Wright for supporting and honoring Farrakhan. Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, suggested as much when he told the Jewish Week that Obama should confront Wright, whom he described as someone who “embraces, awards, and celebrates a black racist.” If Obama is unable to change Wright’s stand, he should leave the church, Foxman said.

Obama’s failure to do so and his close relationship with Wright for more than two decades suggest that he not only condones much of what Wright says, he agrees with it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Oil Fields Offsetting Drop in Old

What's happening in Oil Land? Russian production has risen by more than half since 2000. China now produces half as much oil and the US. Canadian production is booming. But, the nation that has decided the state is a better manager of the oil business than oil experts has seen a stunning drop in production. Chavez has led the Venezuelan oil industry on a one-way trip down. His latest spree of nationalizing will push production lower. That's what happens when incompetents and bureaucrats run businesses. Too bad for everyone.

Output from the world's existing oil fields is declining at a rate of about 4.5% annually, a new study concludes, depriving the world of the same amount of oil that No. 4 producer Iran supplies in a year.

Yet the study's authors, Boston-based Cambridge Energy Research Associates, argue that their assessment supports a generally rosy view of the industry's future, given that new projects in the works will make up for the decline.


• What's New: A study says the world's oil fields have a depletion rate of about 4.5%, equaling a loss of nearly four million barrels a day this year.

• The Positive: But the study's authors argue that new projects will offset the losses.

• The Question: Depletion rates are a key issue in the debate over whether the world is nearing peak oil production.

Set for release today, the study, based on data from 811 fields around the world, takes aim at a growing school of thought that the world's oil production may soon hit its peak just as demand is surging in Asia and the Middle East.

"This study supports a view that there is no impending short-term peak in global oil production," the paper concludes. CERA, led by oil historian Daniel Yergin, is a prominent adviser to oil companies.

Oil-field depletion rates are a key barometer of the health of the world's oil market, and thus are hotly debated among factions feuding over the relative stability of future supply. That debate is made all the more intense because analysts have limited access to reliable data on field-by-field production rates from key suppliers such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela and Russia.

The CERA study, however, asserts that fewer than half of the fields scrutinized were in decline. The study also argues that decline rates overall aren't accelerating, as some in the industry insist.

Mr. Yergin said that the huge number of projects under way in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, West Africa, the Caspian Sea and the Gulf of Mexico will more than make up for natural declines from fields now in production.

"This is a daily, hourly and minute-by-minute challenge for the world's oil industry," he said. "But for every Iran you are losing, you are gaining almost two Irans in return."
Long-term concern over supplies has contributed to a surge in oil prices in the past four years. In New York yesterday, crude futures fell $1.06 a barrel, or 1.2%, to $90.84, but are up 74% in the past 52 weeks.

Veteran Houston-based energy banker Matthew Simmons says that few in the industry believe that the global oil-decline rate is below 5% a year, but the lack of clear data is a problem that haunts the industry.

"If we can get field-by-field data for the last five years for the top 250 oil fields, we could answer this once and for all," says Mr. Simmons, who has argued the world faces a decline in oil production. "But the big producers in OPEC and Russia are not about to give those up."

CERA has drawn fire among skeptics for being one of the most optimistic forecasters in the industry. The company predicted in June that world oil production, now at just above 85 million barrels a day, could hit 112 million barrels a day by 2017.

The task of reaching that mark appears daunting. According to CERA's own rate of decline, the world's existing fields by 2017 will be producing about 33 million fewer barrels a day than they are now. So hitting a production level of 112 million barrels a day within a decade would require adding 59 million barrels a day in new capacity -- or more than six times today's daily output from Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter.

On top of making up for natural productivity declines, the International Energy Agency yesterday predicted that global demand for energy will jump 2.3% this year, to 87.8 million barrels a day. Asia alone, the IEA says, will require a million barrels a day more by the end of the year than it did in December 2007.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Electric Cars -- The Latest Flying Carpets

Four gallons of gasoline -- about 20 pounds of fuel -- will move an average car farther than a quarter-ton -- 500 pounds -- of fully charged batteries. The Fisker, pictured here, looks great. For $80,000 you can own it, charge the batteries, drive it around the block a few times, and recharge it. But it doesn't solve the basic problem of all electric vehicles.

The problem boils down to batteries. But the chemistry of batteries is well known and not about to change. Meanwhile, most of our electricity generation depends on oil, natural gas and coal. One way or another, until nuclear power replaces power generated from hydrocarbons, we will depend on the same old combustion process to meet our rapidly growing demand for electricity.

DETROIT -- The race to develop an electric car is heating up and drawing increasing interest from the same venture-capital investors who helped build Silicon Valley.

The latest entrant is expected to be announced today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit when Fisker Automotive Inc. unveils an $80,000 battery-powered luxury car it aims to begin delivering in late 2009. The Fisker Karma, a so-called plug-in hybrid, can go 50 miles on electricity before a small gasoline engine kicks in to generate electricity to charge a lithium-ion battery pack on board. The company has backing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, perhaps Silicon Valley's best-known venture-capital firm.

The Fisker Karma is a plug-in hybrid sports sedan set to begin delivery in late 2009.
The luxury-electric-car deal, finalized last week in Irvine, Calif., where Fisker Automotive is based, is one of the first deals in which former Vice President Al Gore provided advice for Kleiner, which Mr. Gore joined in November as a partner. The precise size of the investment in Fisker wasn't disclosed, but Mr. Lane said it was more than $10 million and "one of our bigger investments." Mr. Lane, the former No. 2 executive at software company Oracle Corp., will join Fisker's board.

Mr. Fisker's vision is to sell 15,000 electric cars a year. Mr. Fisker said the Karma is environmentally responsible and capable of going 125 miles per hour, consistently. It can hit a speed of 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, equivalent to the performance of a gasoline-powered V8 sports sedan, he said.

Silicon Valley money is backing an array of green-car projects that include little-known upstart companies such as Aptera Motors Inc. and Phoenix Motorcars Inc., both southern California companies. Tesla Motors Inc., the high-profile company that is close to shipping a $98,000 electric sports car, has raised $105 million from investors, including VantagePoint Venture Partners, Technology Partners, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Former tech executive Shai Agassi, formerly the products chief at German software behemoth SAP AG, announced last year that he was turning his energies toward electric cars. Mr. Agassi, who runs Project Better Place, a start-up based in Silicon Valley, has raised $200 million for a venture that would sell electric cars designed by auto makers such as France's Renault SA and set up a network of stations where drivers could charge or replace batteries.

The Karma, Mr. Fisker said, will use lithium-ion batteries, the most-promising next-generation energy-storage technology for automotive use so far. Some of those batteries, however, have been found to overheat. In 2006 and 2007, reports surfaced that lithium-ion batteries for laptops and cellphones were catching fire, leading to several recalls.

Mr. Fisker wouldn't say what kind of lithium-ion battery the Karma will use, but he said safety concerns have all been "resolved."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Prosperity Will Defeat Global Warmists

Prosperity is the enemy of those who hope to regulate human behavior on the basis of energy consumption. Education, economic advancement and the progress of civil society all lead to an increase in energy consumption. It is the best measure of an advancing society. India is on the edge of marketing cars to a vast sea of first-time buyers. China has passed that point. The Indian vehicle will probably achieve popularity in Africa.
What does it mean? It means global energy consumption will rise. The world's fleet of cars is set to increase at a rate far higher than population growth. Meanwhile, there are 6.5 billion residents of Earth. That figure is headed for 9 billion by mid-century. That's a lot of car buyers and a lot of energy users.
Bottom line: Aggregate energy use will climb.
Here's the dilemma for the Global Warmists. All social and economic advances lead to higher per-capita energy consumption. Thus, the Global Warmists are doomed to failure, unless they support drastic action. Like genocide or worldwide population control. Populaton control might include forced sterilization or forced abortion. Or maximum life spans.
However, you look at it, global control of energy use would require the most repressive and brutal totalitarian government the world has ever known. Fortunately, the Indian car about to put wheels under hundreds of millions of Indians will do its part to defeat the despotic nature of the Global Warmists.
Tata Nano, world's cheapest new car, is unveiled in India

It is a little over 10ft long bumper to bumper, can seat four passengers comfortably, has reached speeds of 65 miles per hour and is set to transform the concept of travel for the masses in India and in poorer parts of the world.

This is the People’s Car, the world’s cheapest car at a starting price of 100,000 rupees ($2,500) or the equivalent of a DVD player in a Lexus.

Citing moments in history including the first manned flight by the Wright Brothers and man’s landing on the moon, Ratan Tata, the chairman of the company, revealed a cute, compact car designed to appeal to first-time car buyers in one of the world’s fastest growing car markets.

“I hope this is a car that changes the way people travel in rural and semi rural India. We are a country of a billion people and most are denied connectivity,” he said. “This is a car that is affordable and provides all-weather transport for the family.”

The aluminium car contains a rear-loaded 33 horse-power two-cylinder petrol engine and weighs about half a tonne. It is 3.1m long, 1.5m wide and 1.6m high and has four wheels pushed out to the corners to improve its manoeuvring.

The car is the culmination of about five years of research and input from designers across the world, including Italy. But it was ultimately designed and made in India, defying scepticism that an Indian group best known for its elephantine trucks could manufacture a cutting-edge product that would catch the attention of the best in the automotive industry.

The car will be sold first in India, with an initial production run of 250,000 a year, but is expected to be made available in other emerging markets in Latin America, south-east Asia and Africa within four years. It will launch commercially in the second half of the year.

The Nano is about half the price of the cheapest car available. Both the Maruti 800 from India and China’s QQ3Y Chery sell at about $5,000. The prospect of millions of ultra-cheap cars on the roads of developing countries has sent some environmentalists into a panic.

Mr Tata has dismissed suggestions his car will add to the congestion on India’s potholed roads where motorbikes and scooters are the primary mode of transport – about eight million two wheelers will be sold this year.

Tata says the car, which does 50 miles to the gallon, will conform to all present and future emission standards in India and Europe. It has also passed a full-frontal crash test and is designed to pass further impact testing under European standards, he added.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What is Wrong with these People?

Based on the cultural acceptance of murdering women because they behave in a normal and human manner, is it any surprise the muslim world is largely a nightmare?

Jordanian Charged in Honor Killing of Dating Daughter

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

AMMAN, Jordan — A Jordanian man was charged Tuesday with premeditated murder for allegedly killing his 30-year-old daughter because she was dating, government officials said.
The man was arrested near the Israeli border after Monday's killing, and will be detained for 14 days for questioning, said an official close to the investigation. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

The suspect, whose name was not released, confessed to the crime and told authorities he had "cleansed" his family's honor, according to a police official who requested anonymity in line with police regulations.

The father suspected his unmarried daughter was dating, because she went out frequently but told her parents that she was socializing with female friends, the police official said.
"Her father refused to allow her to step a foot outside the house," he said. "In the evening they had an argument, so he grabbed his gun and sprayed her with several bullets, killing her instantly," the official said.

The killing occurred in Shuneh, a town in western Jordan inhabited by conservative Bedouin tribes. According to local Bedouin custom, women are not permitted to speak to male strangers, and men have strict control over female relatives.

Monday's killing was the first suspected "honor killing" in Jordan this year.

The kingdom sees an average of 20 women killed by male relatives each year.

Like in other tribal-oriented societies across the Mideast and Muslim world, many Jordanians consider sex out of wedlock an indelible stain on a family's reputation.

International human rights groups have condemned such killings in Jordan and appealed to the country's ruler, King Abdullah II, to do more to quell the practice.

Subsequently, the government abolished a section in the penal code that allowed suspects convicted in honor killings to get sentences as lenient as six months. Judges often commute sentences in honor killing cases, especially if family members drop the charges.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Death of Michael Moore's Dystopia

Has the pending leadership change in Cuba been mentioned by any presidential candidates? Whether or not this topic has received fair consideration will not change the fact that Castro is out and a new era in Cuba is about to begin. Better still, the US is positioned to control every step of the transition -- if our next president chooses. The US can take steps to flood the island with prosperity, turning Cuba from a prison to an oasis. Or the US can step back and allow Cuba to remain an island prison.

If we end the embargo, we will initiate a boom in the Caribbean.

Cuba's Transition Begins

Without a hint of irony, Fidel Castro asserted twice last month in columns in Cuba's Granma newspaper, that he is not one "to cling to power." The truth is that few world leaders in modern times have ruled as long as he has. On New Year's Day he began the 50th year of his dictatorship.

But now, at the age of 81, handicapped and incapable of providing coherent leadership, the end of his historic reign is imminent. He has not been seen in public for more than 17 months after ceding authority "provisionally" to his brother Raúl, Cuba's defense minister.

So it seems all but certain that, voluntarily or not, he'll vacate the Cuban presidency early this year, though he may symbolically hold onto some new, wholly honorific title.

The transition at the top will probably set in motion cascading reassignments of civilian and military officials. Raúl Castro will call the shots, but mostly from behind the scenes. And at the age of 76, with many years of hard drinking under his belt, he is probably viewed by most in the leadership as a transitional figure, better to be courted than challenged.

Raúl's style guarantees that Cuba will be governed differently. He'll rule more collegially than his brother, consulting trusted subordinates and delegating more.

On his watch, Raúl has broken some previously sacred crockery as well. He has admitted that Cuba's many problems are systemic. In his disarmingly accurate view, it is not the American embargo or "imperialism" that are the cause of problems on the island, as his brother always insisted, but rather the regime's own mistakes and mindsets.

By acknowledging state failures, Raúl is playing with fire, and if the lid is going to be kept on, those challenging the regime have to pay a price. As to his own future, in the leadership realignments he plans, he will probably move up one rank and assume command of the Communist Party as first secretary.

In an address last July dedicated primarily to massive failures in agriculture, Raúl called for "structural and conceptual" change. Given his past sympathetic references to the laws of supply and demand, his advocacy of liberalizing economic reforms in the 1990s, and the many for-profit enterprises his military officers have been encouraged to run, he probably plans to introduce market incentives in the countryside. That might prove the first step toward adopting something akin to the Chinese or Vietnamese economic development models.

After nearly a half century of Fidel's suffocating control, the transition will be daunting. His successors are inheriting a bankrupt and broken system, a profoundly disgruntled populace, and acute economic problems. The worst of these are the dysfunctional public transportation and agricultural sectors, a housing shortage, decrepit infrastructure, unemployment and the widening gap in living standards between Cubans with access to hard currency and the more numerous poor who must subsist on worthless pesos.