Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Natural Gas Prices in the US

by Chris Kulczycki Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 05:37:51 PM EST

Now I know that projections for natural gas costs in the US seem outside the scope of ET. But the cost of gas could have a profound influence on the US economy, and so the world economy. I am a subscriber to and fan of the Morningstar investment service. They seem a levelheaded bunch and not prone to speculative or rash analysis. So when their article about the future of natural gas costs appeared in my in box this afternoon, I thought I'd share it with the many folks here who closely follow energy issues.

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Deadeye Dick and the U.S. gun culture

by Chris Kulczycki Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 11:12:07 AM EST

It comes as no great surprise to me that vice president Dick "Deadeye" Cheney shot a man. It may have shocked you wimpy Europeans. But we Americans are made of tougher stuff. That's why I thought I'd explain our gun culture to you.

Why just in the past month a couple of folks were shot within a few miles of my house. One was a cabdriver. I couldn't be bothered to read the story about the other shooting. I suppose I should since it happened just across the street from our usual wine shop.  But like most Americans, I'm accustomed to shootings. Nothing to see here; move along.

Now I'm not making this up, another person was shot near here today. My wife told me as I was writing this. It makes three this month. And we live in the best neighborhood in a wealthy small city.

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Albert Einstein on Socialism

by Chris Kulczycki Wed Feb 15th, 2006 at 04:37:02 AM EST

I recently came across this essay that was first published in Monthly Review, New York, May, 1949 (I think copyright has expired). I thought it might be of interest given some of the discussions about corporatism and capitalism we've had here recently.

Why Socialism?

By Albert Einstein

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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"It's capitalism or a habitable planet - you can't have both"

by Chris Kulczycki Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 03:13:35 PM EST

Writing in the Guardian last week, Robert Newman argues that capitalism, as we know it, is unsustainable in a world threatened with peak oil and massive climate change.

Capitalism is not sustainable by its very nature. It is predicated on infinitely expanding markets, faster consumption and bigger production in a finite planet. And yet this ideological model remains the central organising principle of our lives, and as long as it continues to be so it will automatically undo (with its invisible hand) every single green initiative anybody cares to come up with.

In other words the self-interest and greed of corporations must work against those solutions that can mitigate the effects of climate change and peak oil. This is proven, so far as it goes, by the actions of Bushco and his corporate cronies.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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"America will always rely on foreign oil"

by Chris Kulczycki Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 01:11:52 PM EST

Please excuse the American slant, but I think this affects us all.

"America will always rely on foreign oil." So says Exxon Mobil Senior Vice President Stuart McGill at a recent Houston energy conference. This is one of several belated responses to Bush's weak call for American energy independence, or at least less reliance on Middle Eastern oil.

Here's more from Reuters news:

"Realistically, it is simply not feasible in any time period relevant to our discussion today," Exxon Mobil Senior Vice President Stuart McGill said, referring to what he called the "misperception" that the United States can achieve energy independence. -snip-

"Americans depend upon imports to fill the gap," McGill said. "No combination of conservation measures, alternative energy sources and technological advances could realistically and economically provide a way to completely replace those imports in the short or medium term."

Instead of trying to achieve energy independence, importing nations like the U.S. should be promoting energy interdependence, McGill said.

"Because we are all contributing to and drawing from the same pool of oil, all nations -- exporting and importing -- are inextricably bound to one another in the energy marketplace," he said.


Promoted by Colman

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Third Places

by Chris Kulczycki Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:06:09 AM EST

I've long been fascinated by the concept and literature of place. Leafing through Ray Oldenberg's "The Great Good Place" I was struck by the notion of blogging communities as the new third places. The lack of third places is one of the causes of the decline of American community and the continuing growth of European civilization.

Third places are neither home nor workplace; they are those public spaces where we spend time and build community. They may be cafés, pubs, bookstores, boule courts, piazzas, biergartens, coffeehouses, or even hair salons. They are places that many Americans lack and Europeans have in abundance. But do they matter?

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Cars Cause Libertarianism

by Chris Kulczycki Thu Jan 5th, 2006 at 06:28:37 PM EST

from the front page --Jérôme

George Monbiot, one of my favorite Guardian columnists and author of several best-selling books, equates car use with neo-conservatism. Furthermore, he says that unfettered motoring actually causes neo-conservatism (or neo-liberalism) .

Anybody can see that the red areas on the American political map are, for the most part, rural and suburban, places, or non-places, as J.H. Kunstler would say. They are where extensive motoring is mandatory. We also know that our progressive political base is largely in cities and towns where alternative transport most likely exists. But is it a stretch to infer a cause and effect relationship between driving and libertarianism, toryism, or even republicanism?

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Evo Morales WINS, The Bird Shit War & Bush's Nightmare

by Chris Kulczycki Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 04:55:28 AM EST

from the front page. --Jérôme

[Update] With 99.8% counted, Morales is at 53.7% - so it's now definite that Morales won already in the first round. Second-placed rightist Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga only got 28.6%. Participation was an amazing 84.5%.

Hence bumped again. (Also: whataboutbob's thread incorporated in the comments!)

To find out what this has to do with bird shit, Bush, and war please go below the fold.

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Bush cuts deal with Iraqi insurgents.

by Chris Kulczycki Wed Dec 21st, 2005 at 06:25:37 PM EST

Did I miss something, or is Bush now making deals with Iraqi terrorists?

From the Washington Times:


WORLD BRIEFINGS
By Paul Martin
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
December 21, 2005 BAGHDAD

    American diplomats called it "mission impossible" -- to bend the rules on contact with powerful anti-American Sunni forces in Iraq and negotiate a cease-fire -- all before last week's elections.

    Their orders came from U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. The effort took months and culminated in a day of voting in which Sunni Arabs came out in droves after having boycotted the first parliamentary election a year ago.

    The cease-fire period started Dec. 13 and ended Sunday, spanning Thursday's elections. The period passed with no major attacks on Iraqi civilians.

    The effort by U.S. diplomats and military officials also redefined U.S. policy in Iraq -- a potentially seismic shift that President Bush spelled out this month in four major policy speeches that referred to three types of insurgents: "rejectionists," "Saddamists" and terrorists.



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The Bolivians are watching us

by Chris Kulczycki Wed Dec 21st, 2005 at 03:37:44 PM EST

There's a terrific little site called Watching America that offer translations of foreign press articles about the US. Many of the articles come from influential papers that have no English edition. Since we've been writing about Bolivia I thought I'd share a couple of snippets from the Bolivian Press, and one from the Colombian Press.


The cartoon is not Bolivian, but I liked it.

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Polish Intelligence Official Confirms CIA Use of Polish Facility

by Chris Kulczycki Mon Dec 19th, 2005 at 06:05:02 PM EST

The following is from STERN (as translated by Watching America)

While regular employees have no access to the Polish Intelligence Services building, the CIA definitely does. In the Kiejkuty area, Americans  interrogating al-Qaeda detainees.

The CIA is apparently using a training center run by Polish intelligence in order to question al-Qaeda prisoners. As Stern has learned, there are now more indications that that this intelligence camp near Kiejkuty is used as a base by the Americans.

According to statements by a high-ranking Polish intelligence officer from Kiejkuty, Americans have lived on the premises for months on end during the past five or six years. At the time, a 50x100 yard interior area, where the perimeter was protected by barbed wire and a 10-foot-high wall, was also erected within the one-by-two mile facility.

Regular Polish intelligence employees had no access to this inner area, but the Americans apparently did. Furthermore, there were small cars with tinted windows parked at the camp site. The same kind of cars that employees at Szymany Airport told Stern were always driven to CIA airplanes, which were waiting with engines running at the end of the runway.

The intelligence service camp Kiejkuty is located some 5 miles from Szymany Airport in northeastern Poland. In 1968, the Soviet Military there planned the suppression of the Prague Spring revolution.

I apologize if this has already been posted; I've been busy and have not read all posts these past few days.

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Castro, Chavez, Bush, and a Christmas Miracle

by Chris Kulczycki Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 10:43:10 AM EST

This post is about a Christmas miracle in Cuba. But this miracle comes neither from God nor Santa Claus. It is a gift from president Castro of Cuba and President Chavez of Venezuela. It is the gift of sight to six million poor and previously blind Latin Americans.

Operation Miracle has brought daily planeloads of the poor from across Latin America and the Caribbean to Havana for surgery. Most of them arrive nearly blind; but all will be able to see perfectly before they leave. Cuban doctors provide the free eye surgery, Venezuela the dollars that make it possible. The surgery treats cataracts and other eye conditions.

More below:

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Wall Street Journal Slams Hybrid Cars, Again

by Chris Kulczycki Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 11:18:51 AM EST

from the diaries. -- Jérôme

Sometimes the absurdity of a columnist leaves me speechless. Take this column from today's WSJ by Holman W. Jenkins Jr. All I can do is shake my head in wonder.

First he writes a fake letter from Toyota (please see my post on his past column); today he comes out with this:

But doesn't saving oil have benefits beyond the dollars saved -- for instance, postponing the doom of civilization?

No: If Prius owners consume less, there's less demand, prices will be lower and somebody else will step up to consume more than they would at the otherwise higher price. That's the price mechanism at work. Oil is a fantastically useful commodity. Humans can be relied upon to consume all the oil they'd be willing to consume at a given price.


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The Bravest Man Who Ever Died

by Chris Kulczycki Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 10:43:59 PM EST

Last week I wrote about Jan Karski, who tried to warn the world of the Holocaust. This article is about a man who showed that courage and dedication have no limits, a man who purposely had himself arrested and imprisoned in Auschwitz to help those already there and also to warn the world of the Holocaust. His name was Witold Pilecki and he has been called the bravest man in World War II.

Konstanty Piekarski, who survived both Auschwitz and Buchenwald, wrote this about Pilecki:

Perhaps the noblest example of heroism I observed occurred in September of 1940, when a captain in the Polish Intelligence, Witold Pilecki, allowed himself to be captured by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz in order to establish there a resistance unit among Polish army officers. It was an almost impossible task considering the extraordinary cruelty of the German kapos and the vigilant security of the Gestapo. But Pilecki was no ordinary man. His courage and determination gave myself and others the will to overcome tremendous obstacles - the constant threat of torture, execution or starvation - despite our limited means.

But that was only the beginning of Pilecki's bravery. There is more below.

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Che Guevara Smacks Bush! [update: Bachelet wins.]

by Chris Kulczycki Sun Dec 11th, 2005 at 09:09:52 AM EST

[Update] Michelle Bachelet wins Chilean Presidency. See the comments.

The US and Latin America have little in common beyond geography and the US's long history of aggression and domination. The US has sent troops to Latin America 87 times according to Instances of Use of Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2001 and other sources. We may never know how many times the US has interfered there covertly, how many assassinations we have paid for, how many governments we've toppled.

But the tide is turning. The spirit of Che Guevara, the charismatic revolutionary leader who is still a hero and an inspiration to many Latin Americans, is gaining strength. Our neighbors to the south are again rejecting US interference, telling Bush and the neo-cons to go to hell. They are turning to the left and telling the gringos "adios". Developments on several fronts show how Bush's belligerence has cost the US what little good will remained in Latin America. What happens in the next 12 months may change the continent. Presidential elections will be held in 11 Latin American countries over the next year. And in several of those countries leftist, anti-Bush, anti-Washington candidates are favored.

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Poland Links Iraq to Military Aid & Investigates CIA Prison

by Chris Kulczycki Sat Dec 10th, 2005 at 09:12:40 AM EST

Today's Washington post is reporting that Poland has requested more military aid from the US if it is to stay in Iraq.

Meanwhile AP, via the Post, reports that Poland's prime minister has ordered a probe of the CIA prison affair.

More below.

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Disposable Solar Cells and other Solar Developments

by Chris Kulczycki Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 07:26:57 AM EST

Solar is certainly the most attractive of alternative energy technology. It's clean, long lasting, has no moving parts, and it's starting to come down in cost. If only we could figure out a way to store power for a cloudy day.

I've noticed a lot of small advances in solar power in the last couple of months and I thought you might be interested. There are solar panels for the roofs of cars, solar trains (sort of), , and lots more below the fold.

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Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim

by Chris Kulczycki Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 06:12:50 AM EST

I turn on my laptop this morning and this is the lead story in the New York Times. WOW!

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.

The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

The fact that Mr. Libi recanted after the American invasion of Iraq and that intelligence based on his remarks was withdrawn by the C.I.A. in March 2004 has been public for more than a year. But American officials had not previously acknowledged either that Mr. Libi made the false statements in foreign custody or that Mr. Libi contended that his statements had been coerced.


More below

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Today's Torture News + Bolton is a Jerk

by Chris Kulczycki Thu Dec 8th, 2005 at 10:40:04 AM EST

I think the tide is finally turning. The press, the populace and even some governments are starting to say enough is enough. We will not stand for it any longer. Here is some of what's happened in the past 24 hours.

More below:

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Escape from the Gestapo

by Chris Kulczycki Tue Dec 6th, 2005 at 11:15:46 PM EST

When I was a boy of 12 or so, a tall thin man came to our house. He was a friend of my father's and a Pole, perhaps a diplomat, well bred, cultured, educated; I could tell from his refined accent and impeccably tailored suit. We still thought in those terms back then.

Like many of my father's friends he had a scarred face and that old world dignity rarely encountered on this side of the Atlantic. I had met such men before. They would kiss my mother's hand and click their heels softly, not brashly like the German officers on television, but in a way that conveyed respect and grace. But this man was different; he commanded my father's respect like no one I'd ever seen. My father had dined with Kennedy and Johnson, but he never spoke of them as he did of Jan Karski. They were mere presidents; Karski was a hero.

Jan Karski, you see, had been tortured and had escaped from the Gestapo. He had crossed German lines many times carrying microfilm and documents for the underground. He had warned Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill of the holocaust, not that Roosevelt or Churchill did anything about it. If I am to write about torture, as we have for the past few days, then I should write about Jan Karski, about how human will, courage, can triumph over extraordinary evil.

More below:

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