William Shatner: Searching for Major Tom

WilliamShatner.com has announced that “Searching for Major Tom” album is due out in 2011 on the Cleopatra Records.

His recent discs are Transformed Man (2004), Has Been (2007), What Kind Of Fool Am I (2009). We can assume the songs on the new album are going to be the same delightfully spoken-sung as the prior albums. I have to give Shatner credit for being on board with the absurd, tongue-in-cheek campy and self-deprecating this outing is.

Track listing:

Space Trucking originally by Deep Purple – Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice has performed the drum part. Johnny Winter is on guest guitar.

She Blinded Me With Science originally by Thomas Dolby – Bootsy Collins is on as the guest bassist. Patrick Moraz (ex Yes and Moody Blues) is guesting on keyboards/synth.

In a Little While originally by U2 – Manuel Gottsching from Ash Ra Tempel has added guitar.

Empty Glass originally by The Tea Party – Michael Schenker (UFO/Scorpions) has added guest guitar.

Lost in the Stars as done by Frank Sinatra – Jazz legend Ernie Watts is on guest saxophone.

Twilight Zone originally by Golden Earring – Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule/Allman Brothers) is on guest guitar.

Space Cowboy originally by Steve Miller – Country artist Brad Paisley has added guitar and vocals.

Rocket Man originally by Elton John – Guitarist Steve Hillage (ex Gong member and current member of techno rock duo System 7) has added guest guitar

Space Oddity originally by David Bowie – Ritchie Blackmore (ex-Deep Purple) has added guest guitar. Alan Parsons is adding guest keyboards.

Spirit in the Sky originally by Norman Greenbaum – Peter Frampton has played guitar on this track.

Bohemian Rhapsody originally by Queen – John Wetton from Asia has played bass and done a vocal.

Silver Machine originally by Hawkwind – Wayne Kramer from the MC5 is adding guitar and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge/Rod Stewart) is adding a guest drum part.

Major Tom originally by Peter Shilling – Nick Valensi, the guitarist from the Strokes has added guest guitar to this this track. Also Zakk Wylde (ozzy osbourn, black label society) and Mike Inez (Alice In Chains)have contributed to this track.

Learning to Fly originally by Pink Floyd – Edgar Froese from Tangerine Dream has played guitar and keyboards on this track.

Mr. Spaceman originally by The Byrds – Dave Davies from the Kinks has added guest guitar on this track.

Iron Man originally by Black Sabbath – Zakk Wylde (ex Ozzy guitarist) played guitar and did a vocal on this track.

Planet Earth originally by Duran Duran – Steve Howe, guitarist with Yes, played guitar on this track.

Walking on the Moon originally by The Police – Toots of Toots & the Maytals has added a guest vocal.

Mrs. Major Tom – female singer to add a track -To be announced

Category: Music, Weekend

Succinct Summation of Week’s Events (4.15.11)

Succinct summation of week’s events Positives: 1) Retail Sales in March were good, notwithstanding rising gasoline and food prices 2) NY mfr’g survey in April rises to 1 yr high but with rising prices paid and received 3) Apr UoM confidence bounces 2 pts from lowest level since Nov ’09 with still elevated 1 yr…Read More

Category: Markets

What If Congress Looked Like America?

Interesting concept from the people at Good: What would the House of Representatives look like if it, well, represented? > Click for ginormous chart

Category: Digital Media, Politics

“Trust us. We can regulate ourselves.”

Category: Bailouts, Video

AfroBeatles: Taxman Vs. Upside Down

April 15th special:

Category: Music, Weekend

STRATFOR’s 2011 Q2 Global Forecast

I always look forward the beginning of a new quarter, because it gives me a chance to read STRATFOR’s update of their annual forecast, which I shared with you in January. Their quarterly forecast explores developing geopolitical trends in each region of the world.  In recent months and quarters I’ve noticed a much wider recognition in published discussions of “geopolitical risk” as it relates to investments.  Of course geopolitical risk is nothing new to my long-time readers who’ve been plugged into STRATFOR for years.

This Q2 forecast is a long read, but it addresses everything from China’s battle with inflation, to Russia’s economic opportunity, to the stalemate in Libya’s civil war. They do a fantastic, and usually spot-on, job of telling you what to look out for.  (And when they aren’t spot-on, they’re up-front about what they missed and why).

I hope you enjoy the forecast below, and take advantage of STRATFOR’s current special offer – a free copy of my book, Endgame, to any of my readers who <<subscribe to their intelligence service here>> at a steeply discounted price. I suggest you check it out.

<<Click here to view their special offer.>>

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box


STRATFOR’s 2011 Second Quarter Forecast

In our 2011 annual forecast, we highlighted three predominant issues for the year: complications with Iran surrounding the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the struggle of the Chinese leadership to maintain stability amid economic troubles, and a shift in Russian behavior to appear more conciliatory, or to match assertiveness with conciliation. While we see these trends remaining significant and in play, we did not anticipate the unrest that spread across North Africa to the Persian Gulf region.

In the first quarter of 2011, we saw what appeared to be a series of dominoes falling, triggered by social unrest in Tunisia. In some sense, there have been common threads to many of the uprisings: high youth unemployment, rising commodity prices, high levels of crony capitalism, illegitimate succession planning, overdrawn emergency laws, the lack of political and media freedoms and so on. But despite the surface similarities, each has also had its own unique and individual characteristics, and in the Persian Gulf region, a competition between regional powers is playing out.

When the Tunisian leadership began to fall, we were surprised at the speed with which similar unrest spread to Egypt. Once in Egypt, however, it quickly became apparent that what we were seeing was not simply a spontaneous uprising of democracy-minded youth (though there was certainly an element of that), but rather a move by the military to exploit the protests to remove Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose succession plans were causing rifts within the establishment and opening up opportunities for groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

As we noted in our annual forecast; “While the various elements that make up the state will be busy trying to reach a consensus on how best to navigate the succession issue, several political and militant forces active in Egypt will be trying to take advantage of the historic opportunity the transition presents.” In this quarter, we see the military working to consolidate its control, balance the lingering elements of the pro-democracy movement, and keep the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist forces in check. Cairo is watching Israel very carefully in this respect, as Israeli military actions against the Palestinians or against southern Lebanon could force the Egyptian leadership to reassess the peace treaty with Israel, and give the Islamist forces in Egypt a political boost.

In Bahrain, we saw Iran seeking to take advantage of the general regional discontent to challenge Saudi interests. The Saudis intervened militarily, and for now appear to have things locked down in their smaller neighbor. Tehran is looking throughout the region to see which levers it is willing or capable of pulling to keep Saudi Arabia unbalanced while not going so far as to convince the United States it should keep a large force structure in Iraq. Countering Iran is Turkey, which has become more active in the region. The balancing between these two regional powers will be a major element shaping the second quarter and beyond.

We are entering a very dynamic quarter. The Persian Gulf region is the center of gravity, and the center of a rising regional power competition. A war in or with Israel is a major wild card that could destabilize the area further. Amid this, the United States continues to seek ways to disengage while not leaving the region significantly unbalanced. Off to the side is China, more intensely focused on domestic instability and facing rising economic pressures from high oil prices and inflation. Russia, perhaps, is in the best position this quarter, as Europe and Japan look for additional sources of energy, and Moscow can pack away some cash for later days.

clip_image002

Middle East

Regional Trend: Iran’s Confrontation with the Arab World

The instability in the Middle East carrying the most strategic weight is centered on the Persian Gulf, where Bahrain has become a proxy battleground between Iran and its Sunni Arab rivals. Iran appears to have used its influence and networks to encourage or exploit rising unrest in Bahrain as part of a covert destabilization campaign in eastern Arabia, relying on a Shiite uprising in Bahrain to attempt to produce a cascade of unrest that would spill into the Shiite-heavy areas of Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia responded by sending military forces into its island neighbor.

Continued crackdowns and delays in political reforms will quietly fuel tensions between the United States and many of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states as Washington struggles between its need to complete the withdrawal from Iraq and to find a way to counterbalance Iran. The Iranians hope to exploit this dilemma by fomenting enough instability in the region to compel the United States and Saudi Arabia to come to Tehran for a settlement on Iranian terms or to fracture U.S.-Saudi ties, thereby drawing Washington into negotiations to end the unrest and thus obtain the opportunity to withdraw from Iraq. So far, that appears unlikely. Iran has successfully spread alarm throughout the GCC states, but it will face a much more difficult time in sustaining unrest in eastern Arabia in the face of intensifying GCC crackdowns.

Iran probably will have to resort to other arenas to exploit the Arab uprisings. In each of these arenas, Iran also will face considerable constraints. In Iraq, for example, Iran has a number of covert assets at its disposal to raise sectarian tensions, but in doing so, it risks upsetting the U.S. timetable for withdrawal and undermining the security of Iran’s western flank in the long term.

In the Levant, Iran could look to its militant proxy relationships with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories to provoke Israel into a military confrontation on at least one front, and possibly on two. An Israeli military intervention in the Gaza Strip would put pressure on the military-led regime in Egypt as it attempts to constrain domestic Islamist political forces. Syria, which carries influence over the actions of the principal Palestinian militant factions, can be swayed by regional players like Turkey to keep this theater contained, but calm in the Levant is not assured for the second quarter given the broader regional dynamic.

In the Arabian Peninsula, Iran can look to the Yemeni-Saudi borderland, where it can fuel an already-active al-Houthi rebellion with the intent of inciting the Ismaili Muslim communities in Saudi Arabia’s southern provinces in hopes of sparking Shiite unrest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. This represents a much more roundabout method for trying to threaten the Saudi kingdom, but the current instability in Yemen affords Iran the opportunity to meddle amid the chaos.

Read More

Category: Think Tank, War/Defense

Do Capital Gains Taxes Drive the Budget Deficit?

> Jim Bianco has an interesting thought on Cap Gains: “Since the Tax Reform Act of 1986, capital gains taxes have been highly correlated to the budget deficit. The chart below shows capital gains is a driving force of revenue into the Treasury.  Thanks to the recent financial crisis that affected stocks, bonds and real…Read More

Category: Taxes and Policy

What US Companies Have the Most Untaxed Foreign Income?

More tax day data porn: These are the 10 companies that have the most untaxed foreign income: 1. General Electric (GE) Untaxed foreign profit: $94 billion Tax Haven: US Strategy: An army of 1000 former IRS accountants keeps GE’s taxes near zero 2. Pfizer (PFE) Untaxed foreign profit: $48.2 billion Tax Havens: Global Strategy: HC…Read More

Category: Corporate Management, Taxes and Policy

Goldman Sachs: A Perfectly Designed Money Making Machine

Category: Federal Reserve, Video

US Tax Rates, 1916-2010

From Visualizing Economics, we see this spectacular depiction of the top Marginal Tax Rates in the US, from 1916-2010, for Personal Income, Corporate, and Capital Gains tax rates: > click for larger version Ginormous version here

Category: Digital Media, Taxes and Policy