Book of the Month

International news and events
Donal's picture

The High-Priced Spread

I thought oil was supposed to be fungible, so I was curious as to why a barrel of Brent could be selling in the low $100s while WTI was around $85/barrel. That sixteen dollar spread is some sort of record.

Fungible refers to a commodity that is easily exchanged or substituted for other units of the same commodity - like currency. Because of cut and color, diamonds are not exactly fungible with other diamonds, but wheat is generally wheat, and I thought light sweet oil was generally light sweet oil. But it isn't.
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Michael Wolraich's picture

Will Iran Be Next?

"The conspirators are nothing but corpses."

-- Hossein Hamadani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran

As Egypt glows bright and the media buzzes sunnily about the benevolent power of online social networks, anything seems possible.

Today the world turns hopeful eyes to Iran as leaked cell-phone videos hint at massive protests in the streets of Tehran. "This may be the first spark of revolution in Iran," crowed the Jerusalem Post. [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

About the Muslim Brotherhood

The protest movement in Egypt has suddenly alerted many Westerners to the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood, a newish group who did not emerge in Egypt until almost the end of the Coolidge Administration. Furthermore, this fast-breaking development has alerted Western pundits, bloggers, and politicians to the urgent need to say something about the Muslim Brotherhood. [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Staying Allied with Democracies

There's an old chestnut that says that two democracies have never gone to war. It's not quite true, or only true if you aggressively redefine "democracy" until you've fallen into the "no-true-Scotsman" fallacy. ("No true democracy ever goes to war with another ...." ) But it is an instructive half-truth: functional democracies very rarely go to war with one another.
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William K. Wolfrum's picture

I support the Egyptian people – provided it doesn’t affect me

Having watched events unfold in Egypt this past week, I must say I am impressed by the bravery and strength of will shown by the Egyptian people. They are standing tall against a dictatorial regime, and that is to be applauded.

However, I am not quite certain yet if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should step down. Because, while I understand he runs a repressive regime with little to no care about basic human rights, this is not a black and white issue. There are many unanswered questions still, with the main one being - how does it affect me? [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

Vital Egypt information for Americans

Egypt on map

There. Now you can find it on a map.

You can find out more about the protests in Egypt and the U.S. response here, or follow the breaking news on Twitter with the #Jan25 hashtag. Or just be happy that you now know where it is.


William K. Wolfrum's picture

The Love of a Dog in Brazil

caramelo- a dog's love

A story of a dog’s dedication to its family, following their deaths last week in Brazil. Translated from

The former street-dog Caramelo helped rescue the bodies of its owners, whose were killed during last week’s rains, then did not want to leave the makeshift grave of his owner. [Read more]

Donal's picture

Foodflation, Food Insecurity and Civil Unrest

My wife and I noticed several months ago that the food we chose to buy was getting much more expensive. I was probably more inspired by Michael Pollan and she by Mehmet Oz, but years ago we agreed that we would cut out the hydrogenated stuff and the high fructose stuff and the high sodium stuff.
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Donal's picture

Monsters from the Id

"Anne Francis stars in ... Forbidden Planet" RIP

Doomer James Kunstler is telling us, Gird Your Loins for Lower Living Standards. He says something like that every year right about now, so it must be time to put the Xmas tree back in the box. Still, he is entertaining.

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Michael Maiello's picture

Assange, Irony and Secrets

I agree that hearing Julian Assange's lawyers outrage that leaked information pertaining to the rape charges against him should have never been made public is funny.  I also agree with David Seaton that politics is politics and that anything that makes Assange look like a hypocrite is bad news for him.  In the game he's playing image is important.  You can't be for the release of all secrets except for your own.  All absolutists find their petards hoisted sooner or later. [Read more]

Donal's picture

The Rich Eat First ... (updated)

... and so do their cars, according to Sharon Astyk. ASPO has posted about a dozen more of the talks from their October 2010 conference in DC, one of which was by Astyk under the conference's, "Can We Fill the Gap" series. James Schlesinger's and Bianca Jagger's are also posted, but I'm more curious to see Tom Whipple and John Michael Greer, myself. [Read more]

Donal's picture

What Do YOU Think?

One of my fondest memories was showing Fahrenheit 451 to my stepson. After Guy Montag finds the community of living books at the end (of the film), my stepson proclaimed them heroes with the sort of ardor most kids reserve for famous athletes. He's a librarian now.
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Donal's picture

Assange On the Spot + Update

Someone at Energy Bulletin finds a prefiguration of WikiLeaks in The Shockwave Rider, a 1975 scifi novel by John Brunner.

 [Read more]

Donal's picture

Feasta on Energy and Money

The Post Carbon Institute posts this series of videos of a talk by Richard Douthwaite, co-founder of Feasta, an Irish think tank concerned with sustainable economics. He was speaking by phone and video to a group in Michigan, about a month before last year's Copenhagen Summit climate talks, so it is like watching Max Headroom do a slide show. The first four videos are about the problem, the last two are Feasta's proposal for a cap and share system and debt-free currency to keep the poorer folk going. Needless to say, nothing like those ideas have happened. København seems to have been symbolic, the rich are growing richer and the poor are struggling. [Read more]

Donal's picture

Wikileaks: More Crap + Updated Crap

This evening, I was amused to see last night's Daily Show discussing Wikileaks as regards transparency vs privacy:

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Doctor Cleveland's picture

Understanding Obama via WikiLeaks

The latest Wikileaks document dump, filled mostly with low-grade diplomatic communications, does lay bare one thing that should have been painfully obvious all along: President Obama's Iran strategy.

Here's part of the New York Times write-up:

 [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

William K. Wolfrum’s Morning: World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day
Today is World AIDS Day.

Wolfrum’s Word

Part of my morning was spent at the dentist, so there won’t be as much to report today. That said, today is World AIDS Day. As much as ever before, we need to focus on this disease, that is affecting our youth more than ever.

Of late, it seems the fear of AIDS has dissipated somewhat. It shouldn’t. It remains a horrifying disease with no cure. Protect yourselves. All of you. [Read more]

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