If your New Year's resolution is to know more about who's really in charge of the world, then perhaps you should turn to Melissa Rossi's...

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If your New Year’s resolution is to know more about who’s really in charge of the world, then perhaps you should turn to Melissa Rossi‘s “What Every American Should Know About Who’s Really Running the World: The People, Corporations, and Organizations That Control Our Future” (Plume, $16).

Rossi gives the lowdown on the corporations, think-tanks, religious movements, media outlets, crime syndicates and shadowy government entities that wield power in the Bush era. Much of her research left her surprised and alarmed:

• The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the man whose mass weddings were the joke of the 1980s, now controls dozens of publications worldwide, including The Washington Times and UPI wire service. His motto, as quoted in The St. Petersburg Times of Russia: “We must have an autocratic theocracy to rule the world.”

• American credit-card debt totals $750 billion (an average of $8,000 per family). Credit-card companies make over $21.5 billion a year from fees alone, and the industry is “essentially unregulated,” Rossi says. Her recommendation: “Buy stock in the credit card companies. Alas, we can’t charge it.”

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• We may want to be nicer to France and Canada. The two leading companies in the up-and-coming “water privatization” industry are French. And it’s Canada, not Saudi Arabia, that is the biggest outside supplier of oil to the U.S.

Read Rossi and … weep? Mobilize? Go on a quiz show?

Anyway, Happy New Year.

— Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic