- EUROPE, IRAN, NORTH KOREA & ANTI-SEMITISM -
The United States of Europe (USE or EU) is expected
to promote Italian PM Berlusconi to the position of President in the
next few weeks. The post is rotated biannually until determination
of the draft constitution, hopefully in 2004, which is expected to make
European President an elected position.
The draft constitution of USE makes provision for
citizen initiation of legislation, but appears to allow politicians to
veto the proposed legislation, (unlike similar citizen powers in about
half of the states of the USA, where the politicians have no veto).
The wealthiest states (Norway & Switzerland) do
not seem particularly interested in joining. The UK has
reservations about majority voting on foreign & taxation policy.
The world has entered a new and very dangerous
phase. The new generation of world leaders has not
experienced the horrors of total war.
The French have taken Iranian refugees prisoner, in
an apparent show of support for the Mullahs. It was the French who
gave sanctuary to the revolutionary Khomeni when the Shah ruled
The Iranians are opening an Uranium enrichment
plant. Enrichment capability is a prerequisite to independent
production of nuclear weapons.
The USA has warned Iran that it will not tolerate development
of nuclear weapons.
If I was an alien & didn't know better, I would think that
the emerging state of US of Europe (Less Eastern Soviet States) was at
war with the USA. (or at least the French & maybe the German part of
Due to it's burgeoning beaurocracy, the USE has a stagnant or
shrinking economy, (depending on definitions) and in such an
economic climate the propensity to have children would be small.
The economic conditions for the rapidly growing number of retirees will
worsen, and the USE's citizenry will soon be thinking revolutionary
thoughts. I suppose having a foreign culprit to blame is the
traditional government method of forestalling citizens' mind from
contemplation of bureaucratic excess.
The Japanese have advised that 'Washington
has told Tokyo that the number of nuclear warheads that North Korea has
is "not just one or two,"' (SMH 20/6/03)
The USA has warned North Korea that it will not permit export of WMD technology, or drugs, or other similar money-making schemes. North Korea has warned of "serious consequences" if the USA attempts to interdict it's trade.
Let us hope that the USA can deploy an ABM defense shield quickly. My assessment is that there is a 20% likelihood that North Korea would attack with nuclear weapons when Bush interdicts their drugs/WMD exports, and I would expect (if the ABM does not work properly) that a substantial part of North Korea would shortly thereafter become a radioactive ruin.
- AUSTRALIA'S STRENGTHENING DOLLAR -
Once again Australia's currency is strengthening. AU$1.00 now purchases around US$0.67c, up from around US$0.56c a few months ago. As before, the reason is that the Australian Dollar is a gold backed currency.
As the price of gold goes up, our gold miners could
forward sell. Except they don't get the chance, because someone
with deep pockets, realizing that the gold miners could forward sell,
has pre-empted their futures trading by purchasing our (AU$) currency
and driving our dollar higher as their own form of "futures trade".
Next Wednesday 25th June Greenspan
is widely expected to cut rates by 1/4% or 1/2%. Australia's journalists report that the Reserve Bank
(Australia's equivalent to the US Federal Reserve) is reportedly set to
mindlessly track US rates. But perhaps Reserve's financial
advisers are not quite as mindless as Australian journalists, and
hopefully our rates might stay where they are, or even rise.
If our interest rates fall, we can expect the
property market to climb to ever greater heights as the economy
boils. With the example of the Japanese catastrophe before
us, we should bear the pain (of slowing productivity & unreduced
unemployment) that might result from raising rates, and (to coin another
platitude) bite the bullet.
Increasing interest rates could provide a major
brake on our farming industry, which although it only accounts for 3% of
GDP, simultaneously produces 25% of Australia's export income.
Perhaps a solution can be found in the much criticized US concept of
paying farmers to not grow crops (i.e. let the land lie fallow to
recover it's fertility). This is a solution which, with proper
spin, might please greenies and provide relief to cash strapped farmers
& graziers who are ravaged by drought.
- SARS(6) -
On perusal of the SARS data from WHO, I am struck by
the fact of the disparate fatality rates.
Why do China, USA and Vietnam have such low fatality rates?
Vietnam's low fatality rate has been explained as a result of
the age of the victims. Most Vietnamese victims were young
hospital staff, and it is known that fatality rate is a direct function
The USA is a puzzle, but might result from a too enthusiastic
application of the diagnostic criteria by CDC. (Basically, if you
have the flu, and have been to a SARS region, then what you have is
I do not know why China has a fatality rate of 7% and everyone
else (except Vietnam & the USA) has fatality rates of 15% -
17.5%. Perhaps, like the USA, the Chinese have been
overenthusiastic in their diagnosis.
I know that the disparity is a matter that concerns me.
So is the latest WHO bulletin, that warns that the world must bo on high
alert for at least 12 months after SARS is putatively eradicated.
Perha[s the two are connected.