Ron Paul #1 on New York Times Best Seller List

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s newest book, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”, is number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list for May 18th, 2008. The ranking is yet another of the many successes Dr. Paul has had during his presidential candidacy spreading his message of personal freedom and constitutional government.

Upon its official release on April 30th, “The Revolution: A Manifesto” was the number one bestseller on Amazon.com and remains the number one bestseller in political books.

Source: Ron Paul 2008

Corporate Spies Killing The CIA

The CIA is having a growing problem with their analysts and spies being recruited away by corporations.

One unpleasant, for government intelligence agencies, development of the last few decades has been the growing popularity of “competitive intelligence” (corporate espionage.) It’s a really big business, with most large (over a billion dollars of annual sales) corporations having separate intelligence operations. Spending on corporate intel work is over $5 billion a year, and is expected to more than double in the next four years.

The corporate recruiters have a pretty easy time of it, as they can offer higher pay, better working conditions and bonuses. The U.S. government is fighting back, at least on the bonus front. The big innovation is an old corporate one, “performance-based compensation.” Government employee unions usually fight this sort of thing, because it makes too many union members look bad. But there is no union at the CIA, and most other intel agencies. So the Director of National Intelligence is implementing a number of new personnel practices, in order to make it more difficult for corporate intelligence operations to recruit government operatives.

May 8, 2008

Source: Strategy Page

US infrastructure is falling apart

The basic infrastructure all of us depend on every day – including aviation, highway, public transit and rail – is falling apart and needs a proper flushing, if we could find a public water system that worked properly.

That pretty much sums up a depressing report issued today by the congressional watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office today on the state of the US infrastructure. Not only are the problems large, but some of the solutions, such as increased taxes, vehicle usage fees, airline passenger levies as well as adding tolls on highways are as controversial and they would be painful.

And then there are the problems. “For example, demand has outpaced the capacity of our nation’s surface transportation and aviation systems, resulting in decreased performance and reliability. Furthermore, as we recently reported, federal surface transportation programs are not effectively addressing key challenges, such as congestion, because the federal goals and roles are unclear, many programs lack links to performance or needs, and the programs often do not employ the best tools and approaches. In addition, water utilities are facing pressure to upgrade the nation’s aging and deteriorating water infrastructure to improve security, serve growing demands, and meet new regulatory requirements.

Given these types of challenges and the federal government’s fiscal outlook, it is clear that the federal government cannot continue with business as usual, ” the GAO said.

Read moreUS infrastructure is falling apart

Soaring oil price could drive ‘weaker airlines’ out of business

The soaring oil price will drive “weaker” rivals out of business, easyJet claimed this morning, despite seeing its own losses treble over the last six months.

With oil hitting a new record of $122 a barrel yesterday, and Goldman Sachs forecasting it could hit $200 a barrel this year, easyJet predicted carnage in the airline industry.

“If the oil price stays high we will see a number of weaker airlines disappear over the next 12 to 24 months,” chief executive Andrew Harrison predicted.

The budget airline reported a 15% jump in passenger numbers for the six months to March 31, with revenue growing 24% to £892.2m. But its pre-tax losses spiralled to £57.5m, triple the loss it made a year ago. The loss, which was expected following the firm’s profit warning in March, was primarily caused by dearer jet fuel, which costs 80% more than a year ago.

Every $10 increase in the cost of a barrel of oil cuts around £2.5m off easyJet’s profits. Harrison claims the company’s relatively young fleet – its 157 planes are three years old on average – give it an edge.

“A quarter of Europe’s short-haul aircraft are at least 15 years old, so they burn 20% more fuel than our planes,” he said.

Rival airline Aer Lingus yesterday blamed fuel costs for an increase in its baggage charges. From tomorrow, it will cost £12 to check in a bag at the airport.

Read moreSoaring oil price could drive ‘weaker airlines’ out of business

Oil nears $123 on $200 oil prediction, supply concerns

Oil prices rise to record near $123 a barrel on prediction of $200 oil, supply concerns

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil futures blasted to a new record near $123 a barrel Tuesday, gaining momentum as investors bought on a forecast of much higher prices and on any news hinting at supply shortages. Retail gas prices edged lower, but appear poised to rise to new records of their own in coming weeks.

A new Goldman Sachs prediction that oil prices could rise to $150 to $200 within two years seemed to motivate much of Tuesday’s buying, although a falling dollar and increasing concerns about declining crude production in Mexico and Russia contributed, analysts say.

Read moreOil nears $123 on $200 oil prediction, supply concerns

Fannie Mae Reports $2 Billion Loss

“Fannie Mae said it expects “severe weakness” in the housing market in 2008, bringing increased mortgage defaults and foreclosures.”

(This sounds a “little bit” different to what Mr. Alan Greenspan told the public recently. – The Infinite Unknown)

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Fannie Mae reported losses of $2.2 billion in the first quarter and the nation’s largest buyer of home loans said Tuesday it would cut its dividend and raise $6 billion in new capital, with expectations that the housing slump will persist into next year.

Home prices fell faster in the first quarter than Fannie Mae had expected, the government-sponsored company said, and it will open a $4 billion share offering immediately, with the remainder being offered in the “very near future.”

Fannie Mae’s federal regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, announced Tuesday that following the stock sale, it will cut the capital surplus cushion the company has to maintain by 5 percentage points to 15 percent. Another five-point cut will come in September, provided there is “no material adverse change” in the company’s regulatory compliance.

Read moreFannie Mae Reports $2 Billion Loss

Bernanke urges more action to stem home foreclosure crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — A rising tide of late mortgage payments and home foreclosures poses considerable dangers to the national economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned anew as he urged Congress to take additional steps to alleviate the problems.

“High rates of delinquency and foreclosure can have substantial spillover effects on the housing market, the financial markets and the broader economy,” Bernanke said Monday in a dinner speech to Columbia Business School in New York. “Therefore, doing what we can to avoid preventable foreclosures is not just in the interest of lenders and borrowers. It’s in everybody’s interest,” he said.

Some 1.5 million U.S. homes entered into the foreclosure process last year, up 53 percent from 2006, Bernanke said. The rate of new foreclosures looks likely to be even higher this year, he said.

Read moreBernanke urges more action to stem home foreclosure crisis

Gates says big changes in store for Internet in next decade

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said there will be a vast shift in Internet technology over the next decade as he met Tuesday with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.”We’re approaching the second decade of (the) digital age,” the software mogul and philanthropist told Lee at the start of their meeting at the presidential Blue House, according to a media pool report.

“The Internet has been operating now for 10 years,” Gates said. “The second 10 years will be very different.”

Read moreGates says big changes in store for Internet in next decade

Defense Industry Consolidation in the USA

The US GAO’s 2008 Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs is proving to have a longer tail than usual. Booz Allen Hamilton is a strategic/ I.T/ program assistance consultancy with strong representation in the government and defense sectors. This May Day, we refer readers to the recent Washington Post article “One-Stop Defense Shopping,” wherein Booz Allen Hamilton VPs Dov S. Zakheim and Ronald T. Kadish discuss the state of competition in the American defense industry, and some of its consequences:

“The GAO report lays bare a festering problem in our nation’s military procurement system: Competition barely exists in the defense industry and is growing weaker by the day.

It was a different story just two decades ago. In the 1980s, 20 or more prime contractors competed for most defense contracts. Today, the Pentagon relies primarily on six main contractors to build our nation’s aircraft, missiles, ships and other weapons systems. It is a system that largely forgoes competition on price, delivery and performance and replaces it with a kind of “design bureau” competition, similar to what the Soviet Union used—hardly a recipe for success….”

America is certainly not the only country facing these pressures: Britain is even farther down this road, and Europe is aggressively moving to restructure its own industry into a very few global competitors. Ultimately, the policy implications described here will be played out on a near-global basis, with the possible exception of China.

30-Apr-2008 18:27 EDT

Source: Defense Industry Daily

Making a killing from hunger

We need to overturn food policy, now!

GRAIN

For some time now the rising cost of food all over the world has taken households, governments and the media by storm. The price of wheat has gone up by 130% over the last year.[1] Rice has doubled in price in Asia in the first three months of 2008 alone,[2] and just last week it hit record highs on the Chicago futures market.[3] For most of 2007 the spiralling cost of cooking oil, fruit and vegetables, as well as of dairy and meat, led to a fall in the consumption of these items. From Haiti to Cameroon to Bangladesh, people have been taking to the streets in anger at being unable to afford the food they need. In fear of political turmoil, world leaders have been calling for more food aid, as well as for more funds and technology to boost agricultural production. Cereal exporting countries, meanwhile, are closing their borders to protect their domestic markets, while other countries have been forced into panic buying. Is this a price blip? No. A food shortage? Not that either. We are in a structural meltdown, the direct result of three decades of neoliberal globalisation.

Farmers across the world produced a record 2.3 billion tons of grain in 2007, up 4% on the previous year. Since 1961 the world’s cereal output has tripled, while the population has doubled. Stocks are at their lowest level in 30 years, it’s true,[4] but the bottom line is that there is enough food produced in the world to feed the population. The problem is that it doesn’t get to all of those who need it. Less than half of the world’s grain production is directly eaten by people. Most goes into animal feed and, increasingly, biofuels – massive inflexible industrial chains. In fact, once you look behind the cold curtain of statistics, you realise that something is fundamentally wrong with our food system. We have allowed food to be transformed from something that nourishes people and provides them with secure livelihoods into a commodity for speculation and bargaining. The perverse logic of this system has come to a head. Today it is staring us in the face that this system puts the profits of investors before the food needs of people.

Read moreMaking a killing from hunger