Loose Cannons

Issue 

Parasites' progress

"This is the richest year ever in human history. Never in history has there been such a notable advance." — Forbes magazine chief executive Steve Forbes, March 9, commenting on the latest Forbes' annual Billionaires List, the results of which were summarised thus by NBC News: "The world's 946 billionaires are worth a total of [US]$3.5 trillion, as strong equity markets, real estate, and commodity prices boosted wealth by $900 billion over the past year... Two-thirds of last year's billionaires are richer this year, with net worths up for every member of the top 50."

Meanwhile, at the other end of the pyramid...

"According to [a World Bank report], the 4 billion people at the base of the economic pyramid — all those with less than US$3000 [a year] in local purchasing power — live in relative poverty... [They] are slightly better off than the estimated 1.2 billion who live on less than US$1 a day, the World Bank's definition of abject poverty." — Associated Press, March 21.

Regime change I

"During the 20th century, oil became the fulcrum of politics in the Middle East, with countries nationalizing their oil resources and winning better oil deals. The draft [oil] law [for Iraq] 'reverses everything that has happened in the Middle East since 1901', charges Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University in New York." — March 9 Christian Science Monitor.

Regime change II

"I would equate it to the significance of developing a new constitution." — Joe Wilson, head of the US Congress's Victory in Iraq Caucus, March 27, commenting on Washington's draft oil law for Iraq.