DrumBeat: November 3, 2008

A Darker Future For Us: It's not just the financial crisis: higher taxes, energy costs and health spending also threaten growth.

A dilemma for the new president is how to reconcile the needs of the present with those of the future. The immediate need is to revive confidence—to rev up demand and spending, thereby absorbing the jobless and increasing the production of underutilized businesses. But the long-term problem is different. It is to mediate between all the competing demands on the nation's income and to expand the economy's capacity to produce the output that satisfies those demands. The closer the economy comes to stagnation, the more Americans will succumb to distributional struggles—not just between the rich and the poor, but also between the young and the old and between immigrants and natives.

Down that path lies "affluent deprivation." To use an old but apt cliché: people will fight over pieces of a fairly fixed economic pie rather than sharing ever-larger pieces of an expanding pie. The winners may be pleased, but the losers will feel short-changed—and so the conflicts may intensify, with yesterday's winners possibly becoming tomorrow's losers. Politics, which is often about rewarding some and punishing others, may become more so. Nor is this prospect merely theoretical. Already, Americans face far more claims on their incomes than can be easily met.

The U.S. Economic Crisis: Three Growth Scenarios

The third scenario's innovative growth calls for the trade deficit to shrink because the U.S. produces more innovative goods and services at home and exports them. In the 1990s, in fact, economists projected that exports of high-tech products would rise in step with the expansion of trade. The problems in recent years have come because exports fell short of forecasts, not because imports rose too high. No one anticipated that production of advanced electronics and pharmaceuticals—the crown jewels of American innovation—would be so quickly moved offshore, undercutting U.S. exports.

The innovative growth scenario benefits both the U.S. and the rest of the world, because it gives the U.S. something to sell. In order for it to happen, the enormous sums of research money already spent in areas such as biotech and nanotech have to start paying off in a big way. That means a breakthrough on the order of the semiconductor revolution—say, bioengineered bacteria that munch cellulose and efficiently turn out ethanol. In addition, at least part of the associated production has to be kept in the U.S., rather than shipped overseas.

This third scenario won't be easy to achieve. But that's the one we should be aiming for. It gives us the best chance of a happy ending.

Oil and Money 2008: The New Realities of High-Cost Oil

A variety of oil-related presentations available with free registration, including one by Matt Simmons.

Bangladesh and Burma in oil row

Bangladesh says it will send diplomats to Burma to try to resolve a territorial dispute between the two nations in the Bay of Bengal.

Naval vessels from both countries are facing one another after the Burmese side reportedly began exploring in the area for oil and gas.

EnCana crews stop leak at bomb-damaged wellhead

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Repair crews have sealed the leak at a wellhead in northeast British Columbia that was sabotaged in the third bombing of a natural gas facility in the region in less than a month, EnCana Corp said Monday.

Police are still investigating the explosions near the communities of Dawson Creek and Tomslake, which may be linked to a letter sent to the area's news media last month calling on the energy industry to leave the region.

Climate disaster a significant possibility says Nobel price winner Steven Chu

Since the IPCC report came out in 2007, new data point to even more alarming scenarios. We underestimate the risk and ignore the fact that the planet is threatened with 'sudden, unpredictable, and irreversible disaster,' says Steve Chu, one of the world's leading climate and energy experts.

Catastrophic damage to ecosystems because of global warming is 'a significant possibility.' We can expect 'disasters in orders of magnitude different from anything we've experienced thus far,' like abrupt, large-scale shifts in the climate system, collapse of ocean circulation and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and heat waves killing thousands of people. It is most likely that cities such as Tokyo, Mumbai, Buenos Aires, New York, and London must be protected behind sea walls because of rising sea levels and extreme weather.

It's relative: Contrasting hurricane theories heat up

The study explores the relationship between sea surface temperature (SST) and seasonal hurricane activity, and show how differing interpretations of the observational record can imply vastly different futures for Atlantic hurricane activity due to global warming. The two interpretations arise from assumptions of whether it is the local SST in the Atlantic in isolation, or whether it is the SST in the Atlantic 'relative' to the rest of the tropics, that drives variations in Atlantic hurricane activity.

If one assumes the former (the local SST hypothesis), then by 2100, the lower bound on Atlantic hurricane activity is comparable to that of 2005, when four major hurricanes struck the continental United States, causing more than $100 billion in damage. The upper bound exceeds 2005 levels by more than a factor of two. However, if one assumes the latter (the relative SST hypothesis), then the future is similar to the recent past, with periods of higher and lower hurricane activity relative to present-day conditions due to natural climate variability, but with little long-term trend.

New U.C. Report Finds Past and Future State Energy Policies Deliver Needed Economic Advantage

As the country's financial worries reach new highs and the stock market new lows, a University of California study released today answers the question many Californians are now asking: How will the state's pioneering effort to address global warming impact its economy and consumer pocketbooks? The report examines historical data and finds that over the past thirty-five years, innovative energy efficiency policies created 1.5 million additional fulltime jobs with a total payroll of over $45 billion. Looking forward, the report finds that if California improves energy efficiency by just 1 percent per year, proposed state climate policies will increase the Gross State Product (GSP) by approximately $76 billion, increase real household incomes by up to $48 billion and create as many as 403,000 new jobs.

Ford’s U.S. sales fell 30 percent in October

DEARBORN, Mich. - Ford said Monday its U.S. sales plunged 30 percent in October, with industry-wide results on track for 25-year low.

The world’s biggest automakers are scheduled to report their October U.S. sales Monday amid slumping demand stemming from tough economic conditions and tight credit markets.

Analysts expect sales at most of the automakers to be down significantly from last year's levels. The automotive Web site Edmunds.com is projecting a 29 percent drop in sales to their lowest level since January 1992.

Ryanair plans cheap trans-Atlantic flights

LONDON - Budget airline Ryanair is drawing up plans to offer trans-Atlantic flights as cheap as 10 euros ($12.70) before taxes to several U.S. cities from Britain and Ireland, a company official said, according to a newspaper report Sunday.

Qatar LNG train delayed to 2010 from 2009-Conoco

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The start-up of a gas export facility in Qatar will be delayed to 2010 from 2009, a ConocoPhillips executive said on Monday.

A second facility would also be delayed, although would still start up in the planned year of completion in 2010, Ryan Lance, Conoco's head of exploration and production in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East told reporters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Abu Dhabi.

1st Kazakh oil shipment goes through BTC pipeline

The first shipment of Kazakh oil has been pumped through a strategic pipeline that bypasses Russia on its way to Western markets, an Azerbaijani official said Monday.

The shipment from the massive Tengiz field is a significant step toward connecting Central Asia's gas and oil resources to Western markets. Most of Kazakhstan's oil currently is shipped via a pipeline that goes through Russia, skirting the Caspian Sea's northern shores.

BizzEnergy becomes second power supplier to collapse in two weeks

Concern about the future of independent electricity suppliers grew yesterday after BizzEnergy went into administration and its 40,000 small and medium sized business customers were "sold" for the princely sum of £87.50 each.

Oil executives, political leaders say decline in oil prices will not last

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Oil executives and political leaders told a major petroleum conference Monday that the era of cheap energy is over, and warned of another price spike if investment in oil production is curtailed.

"Prices are falling, but they're falling for the wrong reasons: because of reduced demand and a consequence of reduced economic activity, not because we have increased supply or increased energy efficiency," BP PLC Chief Executive Tony Hayward said at the at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference.

Even as demand continues to grow in booming parts of Asia, relatively low energy prices and an eventual rebound by the global economy will accelerate demand for oil again in the West, officials said.

"Increased demand will stretch the system to its limits, and this will cause another upward spike in the price," Hayward said.

Hints of Comeback for Nation’s First Superhighway

After decades of decline, commercial shipping has returned to the Erie Canal, though it is a far cry from the canal’s heyday. The number of shipments rose to 42 so far this year during the season the canal is open, from 15 during last year’s season, which lasts from May 1 to Nov. 15.

Once nearly forgotten, the relic of history has shown signs of life as higher fuel prices have made barges an attractive alternative to trucks.

“We anticipated we might have an increase in commercial traffic, but nowhere near what we’re seeing today,” said Carmella R. Mantello, director of the New York State Canal Corporation, a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority that operates the Erie and three other canals.

French power cut shows southeast vulnerable-Govt

PARIS (Reuters) - France must make power supply in its southeast more secure, the energy ministry said after a storm hit a high-voltage line between Marseille and Nice and caused a major three-hour power cut in the region on Monday.

Although the 1,500-megawatt outage was triggered by storms, it was the proof that the region suffered from a structural vulnerability, the ministry said in a press release.

Blame high oil prices for recession, CIBC says

OTTAWA — Forget blaming the global recession on dubious mortgage practices in the United States - blame high oil instead, says Jeff Rubin, chief economist at CIBC World Markets.

“The recent spike in oil prices doesn't seem to get any credit for what's happening to the world economy now,” he says in an analysis released Monday. “That's odd, because it should.”

Blaming subprime mortgages for the crisis doesn't make sense, he argues, because those loans don't have the scale to topple Japan, Europe and much of the advanced global economy.

“How do falling property values in Cleveland create a recession in Japan, and the Euroland economies, before they even create a recession in the U.S. economy?” Mr. Rubin asks. “And if Cleveland and its ilk are really the epicenter of all the world economies' ills, why is the rest of the world buying greenbacks?”

National companies in driving seat

For almost a decade, oil-rich countries have watched the power of their national energy companies increase as oil prices rose from $10 a barrel to a peak of almost $150.

As international oil companies were failing to find new big fields, the shift in power between national and international oil companies became so stark that ExxonMobil of the US was the only international oil company to make the FT's 2007 list of the world's seven most important oil companies. The rest, led by Saudi Aramco, were national oil companies.

But many national oil companies face political and technical challenges so great that they are failing to exploit their countries' vast potential. The recent collapse in oil prices means countries struggling to increase their production will be left having to accept far lower revenues.

And as oil prices fall and companies such as Rosneft, Russia's national oil company, and Gazprom, its gas monopoly, struggle under the effects of the credit crunch, the task of boosting production will become even more difficult. This has led oil executives and even the Opec oil cartel to warn that the world may well find there is again not enough supply to meet demand once it recovers from the downturn.

Don’t Put on the Black Dress The Patient Isn’t Dead

When crude oil prices hit $60 a barrel and gas prices dipped below $2, you could almost hear an audible sigh from those who never really believed the energy crisis was real and felt renewable fuel was just a fad. Here it was: proof that things would soon return to normal with cheap gas, cheap corn, and cheap food. Media, which had been skeptical of renewable energy all along, started running stories about how the American public was losing interest in renewable energy and how Wall Street investors were no longer interested in renewable energy stocks. But, before you declare the patient dead, you might want to take a closer look.

While it is natural to want to return to those “good ol’ days,” the reality is they are gone and are not coming back. For example, have you noticed that while the price of fuel and the price of corn have fallen dramatically in the past few weeks, the price of food has not? Those fuel surcharges delivery companies started putting on their bills have also not been removed. The reason is that energy has not suddenly gotten cheaper to produce nor has the supply of oil suddenly increased. What we are seeing is a dip in the market, not a new golden age.

Refiners aim for lower Saudi prices; but eyes supply

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Lifters of Saudi crude hope the top oil exporter will cut prices for all its grades for December on the back of weakening products, but OPEC cuts and falling oil prices may put a floor to the cuts and even lead to rises.

Saudi Aramco should cut the price of all its crudes based on the poor performance of refined products last month, refiners said. But some traders said a rise in differentials could be on the cards to compensate for the expected reduction in Saudi output in line with its OPEC commitments.

"People are concerned about the effect of production cuts on the upcoming OSPs but our expectations are based on our situation. Fuel oil is not rosy," a trader with a term lifter said.

Saudi tells BPCL no cut in Nov - source

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, will not cut crude supplies in November for refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd, a source at the state-run Indian firm said.

"Saudi Arabia has send us a general letter informing us about a cut in line with OPEC decision. They have applied no cut in November lifting for us but a decision on supplies for December is yet to be announced," a company official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Petrobras oil exports set new record in October

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petrobras said Monday it shipped crude oil at a record rate of 574,000 barrels per day (bpd) in October, totaling 17.8 million barrels.

Almost two thirds of the oil was shipped to the United States, followed by China which bought nearly one quarter, and Europe and Latin America which both took around 5 percent.

Sacrifice theme returns to US politics: Both McCain and Obama cite the need for selflessness and service

Previously, President Jimmy Carter hadn’t fared well either when asking for sacrifice. When the 1979 energy crisis hit, he called it a “moral equivalent of war,” famously donned a cardigan, and asked Americans to turn down their thermostats. He was not reelected.

“Sacrifice has kind of a bad name when it’s applied to the American people. We like to remember that we’ve sacrificed … – but in terms of asking people for sacrifice, that’s the sign to a lot of people of a liberal,” says Mark Leff, a historian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.“But the political discourse seems to be shifting.”

In his research, Mr. Zogby identifies what he calls “four meta-movements that separately and together are redefining the American dream.” Top on the list is living with limits (followed by embracing diversity, looking inward, and demanding authenticity).

Resolved: state of emergency exists in rural Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Energy, its production and costs, and related legislation all featured as big issues at this year’s conference of the Alaska Federation of Natives. And woven in with discussions about energy were concerns about the major shift of the Alaska Native populations from traditional villages into towns and cities across the state.

On Oct. 25, the last day of the annual conference of the Alaska Federation of Natives, the organization passed a resolution requesting that the state and federal governments declare a state of emergency for rural villages. AFN lists energy costs, lack of public safety and lack of economic opportunities among the reasons that rural Alaska is suffering. As a result, communities are losing residents at an unprecedented pace as they leave the villages for towns, and leave towns for cities.

Truckers Shut Down Nov. 3rd

"The government is going to have to realize we are doing everything we can. The government is going to have either put refiners online, negotiate some more with OPEC, or give us a tax break," Chris Rice explains.

“Our federal government is subsidizing railroads, airlines, banks and farmers,” he said. “Meanwhile, we’re being taxed to death.”

Having a rich life is still possible

Older people are on the short end of the recessionary stick. According to the Center for Retirement Research, people older than 60 own nearly half of all equities. According to AARP, seniors accounted for 28 percent of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures and nearly a quarter of bankruptcies last year. Of those 65 and older, more are working than at any time in 38 years.

Sadly, stories abound about seniors having to decide whether to cut back on food, medications or home heating. Those not in such dire straits are looking for ways to cut expenses while riding out the uncertain crisis.

S/Korea offers to bail Nigeria out of energy crisis

Nigeria’s myriad of problems in the energy sector has been offered a lifeline by the South Korean Government.

Making the offer at the just concluded Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Conference held in Seoul, South Korea, President, Korean Energy Economics Institute, Mr. Ki-Yual Bang, and President, Korean Electric Power Corporation, Mr. Jin-Sik Sim, asked Nigeria as well as other African countries to come forward with proposals and projects, where they needed assistance in a bid to fix their ailing energy industries.

Efficiency’s Mark: City Glitters a Little Less

Gone are the days when cheap electricity, primitive lighting technology and landlords’ desire to showcase their skyscrapers kept floor after floor of the city’s highest towers glowing into the night. Now, rising energy costs, conservationism, stricter building codes and sophisticated lighting systems have conspired to slowly, often imperceptibly, transform Manhattan’s venerable nightscape into one with a gentler glow.

Utilities putting new energy into geothermal sources

Not far from the blinking casinos of this gambler's paradise lies what could be called the Biggest Little Power Plant in the World.

Tucked into a few dusty acres across from a shopping mall, it uses steam heat from deep within the Earth's crust to generate electricity. Known as geothermal, the energy is clean, reliable and so abundant that this facility produces more than enough electricity to power every home in Reno, population 221,000.

Train travel gains favor with public, Congress

WASHINGTON - After half a century as more of a curiosity than a convenience, passenger trains are getting back on track in some parts of the country.

The high cost of energy, coupled with congestion on highways and at airports, is drawing travelers back to trains not only for commuting but also for travel between cities as much as 500 miles apart.

Nuclear-powered passenger aircraft 'to transport millions' says expert

Nuclear-powered aircraft may sound like a concept from Thunderbirds, but they will be transporting millions of passengers around the world later this century, the leader of a Government-funded project to reduce environmental damage from aviation believes.

The consolation of sitting a few yards from a nuclear reactor will be non-stop flights from London to Australia or New Zealand, because the aircraft will no longer need to land to refuel. The flights will also produce no carbon emissions and therefore make no contribution to global warming.

Doing well by clearing the air

Investing in carbon credits takes an appetite for risk and complexity. But this market is doing much better than most.

As temperatures rise, is there a future for movable homes?

As a prototype for a real solution to overcrowding in cities, or anti-flood measures as sea levels rise, it has a long way to go — which at 60 metres an hour might take much longer. But the Danes are not the only ones giving serious thought to housing issues in a changing climate.

The idea of floating homes that rise and fall with the sea level, or houses built on stilts, have been built in all sorts of climates for centuries. The Dutch have perfected their designs for floating homes.

‘New faces’ struggle to pay utilities

In an economy that has Americans scrambling to make ends meet, more people are putting off utility payments — usually considered a necessity. Many of those grappling to keep the lights and water working are members of the working class who’ve never had to ask for financial help before — or not to this extent.

“We’re talking about newly poor, the new faces of poverty,” said Yvonne Thomas, vice president of programs for the Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority, which dispenses federal aid for heating starting in November. The group has already seen a 40 to 50 percent increase in the number of people calling for help since this time last year.

“These are people that have never asked for assistance before,” she said, referring to a third of her callers. But with “downsizing and all that, they find themselves in a situation they thought they never would be in.”

The dawn of a disturbing new reality

In the past month, the world has witnessed one of the largest financial and economic upheavals in a generation. The fallout may have been most immediately felt on Wall Street, but the effect on energy, and perhaps even the environment, will also be profound.

Christophe de Margerie, chief executive of Total, the French oil company, who usually argues for governments to get out of the way of those trying to bring enough energy to the market to satisfy demand, this week said recent events meant lawmakers needed to consider extending a helping hand to environmentally friendly energy sources and technologies made uneconomical by falling oil prices.

(If the link is behind a paywall, try here)

Low oil price should not deter output expansion: UAE minister

ABU DHABI (AFP) – Oil-producing nations should continue their investments to boost output capacity despite a slide in crude prices, the United Arab Emirates energy minister said on Monday.

"It is very important to continue investing to maintain and increase capacity in order to be prepared for the next (price) cycle," Mohammad bin Dhaen al-Hamli told reporters.

Will Green Progress Be Stalled or Speeded by the Bad Economy?

Environmentalists can't decide whether to celebrate the recession or dread it. Conventional wisdom holds that the green movement will be one of the first casualties of the downturn. "The clean-tech industry is at risk because of a real lack of access to capital," says Paul Maeder, who runs the clean-tech fund for Highland Capital, the global venture capital firm that he co-founded. But in his next breath, Maeder explains why the current economic mess may end up being a boon to environmentalism — by forcing change. "We're in a crisis because of oil prices and climate change, and now we're in a crisis because of the capital markets," he says. "This is where innovation happens, where the existing power structure hits a crisis point. I'm really happy."

There's a fine line between optimism and denial. The WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, which tracks the stock prices of clean-tech companies, is down about 80% since the beginning of September. (By comparison, the S&P Index lost about 25% of its value over the same time period.) The cost of oil, which has driven much of the investment in alternative energy in recent years, has halved since the summer. And new industry, like wind farms and solar panel factories, are no less affected by the credit crunch than any other business.

Will cheaper gas nix energy reforms?: If prices keep dropping, the next president may find it harder to ease the US off foreign oil.

Does the low cost of flying, transporting goods, and getting to the store mean that the biggest incentive for energy reform is evaporating?

"Falling gas prices takes a lot of starch out of the political rhetoric," says Austin-based energy journalist Robert Bryce, author of "Gusher of Lies."

Peak oil production again on hold

As we have seen, the price of light oil went from $100 a barrel at the start of the year to $147 in July and is now back to around $60 at end October. Long ago, I concluded that predicting oil prices was a mug's game, and in an article published in July 2007 (Peak oil production again in the news) I said the same about predicting the peak oil date.

The leading exponents on peak oil are Colin Campbell, founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, and Jean Laherrère. They are also leading lights in The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC), a UK charity established to promote the awareness of oil depletion. At some point, they have predicted the years 2000, 2007, 2008 and 2010 for peak oil. Colin Campbell's latest prediction is now 2010 and Chris Skrebowski, also a member of ODAC and the editor of Petroleum Review, has predicted 2010 plus or minus two years. We are close to the end of 2008 and the peak will certainly not occur this year. I will not criticise these gentlemen for being wrong once, twice or even thrice since that is a risk with all predictions. However, this consistency of being wrong, and pushing the date back each time a new prediction is made, removes all confidence in their predictions

OPEC Oil Output Falls in October: Survey

OPEC oil supply fell in October for a second consecutive month as Saudi Arabia and Iran trimmed production and maintenance curbed supply in the United Arab Emirates, a Reuters survey showed on Monday.

The survey of oil firms, OPEC officials and analysts found that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, excluding Iraq, is trimming output back to official target levels, in line with a Sept. 10 deal to prop up prices.

Supply from OPEC fell to 32.23 million barrels per day in October from 32.34 million bpd in September, according to the survey.

UAE keeps OPEC pledge to cut oil supply - oil min

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates has kept its pledge to cut oil supplies in line with its OPEC commitments, Oil Minister Mohammed al-Hamli said on Monday.

He said that while the global financial crisis had a big impact on the oil industry it was important for the Middle East to continue investing in the energy sector, even as the Oman oil minister warned that the crisis would lead to project delays.

"We have fulfilled completely our cuts," Hamli told Reuters at an oil and gas conference in Abu Dhabi.

Russian October oil output highest in year

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian oil production in October rose to its highest in 2008, to 9.86 million barrels per day (bpd), data supplied by Russia's Energy Ministry showed on Monday.

Asia refiners puzzled by Saudi silence on OPEC cuts

SINGAPORE - Saudi Arabia has yet to inform its customers of any cuts in November oil supply, trade sources in Asia said on Monday, raising questions about its resolve to quickly implement OPEC curbs agreed just 10 days ago.

While Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria have all told refiners and traders to expect less oil in both November and December, state oil firm Saudi Aramco has maintained radio silence since OPEC agreed on Oct 24 to a 1.5 million barrel per day (bpd) or 5 percent cut, meant to take effect from Nov. 1.

ANALYSIS - OPEC gears up for deep output cuts

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC members might have ignored output limits in the past, but they mean business now after oil prices shed more than half their value in three months and financial turmoil has crushed demand.

BP says US oil demand down 2 mln bpd on year

ABU DHABI - Oil demand in top consumer the United States has fallen sharply from levels a year ago due to the credit crisis and slowing economy, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward said on Monday.

‘According to our preliminary data, US demand was down 2 million barrels per day on the year over the last four weeks,’ Hayward said in a speech to an energy conference in Abu Dhabi.

Shell delays restart of Pernis oil units - sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) has delayed the restart of oil units at its Pernis refinery in the Netherlands by about two weeks, trading sources said on Monday.

Shell shut about three refining units, including one crude distillation unit (CDU), in mid-September for planned maintenance.

Caltex feeling pain as falling dollar hits profits

CALTEX will suffer "short-term pain" this year, flagging second-half losses.

Unprecedented falls in the dollar and the crude oil price wiped $200 million off its full-year profit outlook.

Statoil Hydro profits cut in half

Norwegian oil company Statoil Hydro has seen quarterly profits fall by more than a half because of higher taxes triggered by the strengthening dollar.

Chavez: Obama win could spur U.S.-Venezuela talks

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is willing to talk with Barack Obama if the Democratic candidate wins Tuesday's election.

Military: Lebanese oil worker kidnapped in restive southern Nigeria

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (AP) — A military spokesman says unidentified gunmen have kidnapped a Lebanese construction worker in Nigeria's restive southern oil region.

A strike against 'Iranophobia'

On the eve of the United States presidential elections, a landmark visit to Tehran by the head of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been widely regarded in the Persian Gulf region as a major diplomatic overture toward Tehran by the US-backed oil sheikdoms.

Myanmar's farmers pay for China's oil thirst

BANGKOK - The largest island off Myanmar's west coast is emerging as another frontier for China's expanding plans to extract the rich oil and gas reserves of military-ruled Myanmar.

Initial explorations by a consortium, led by China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), has left a deep scar on Ramree Island, which is twice the size of Singapore and home to about 400,000 people. ''They have destroyed rice fields and plantations when conducting the seismic surveys and mining the island in search of oil,'' says Jockai Khaing, director of Arakan Oil Watch (AOW), an environmental group of Myanmar people living in exile.

''The local communities have been directly and indirectly affected,'' he said. ''Hundreds of people have been forced to relocate as a result of the drilling conducted near their communities. The locals hate the Chinese; their world has become crazy after the Chinese arrived.''

Many would pay higher power bills for better grid

Half of Harris County voters would be willing to pay more on their monthly electric bill for a more reliable electric grid, according to a survey conducted for the Houston Chronicle.

Electric power has been a key issue in Houston following Hurricane Ike, which left 41 percent of the poll respondents without power for more than a week after it came ashore early on Sept. 13.

Energy `independence' is easier said than done

McCain and running mate Sarah Palin encourage rally audiences to join in chanting the mantra of “Drill, baby, drill” — asserting that private companies can get us there by tapping more domestic oil and natural gas reserves locked under U.S. land and water.

Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, fire up the faithful with promises to spend billions in tax dollars to stimulate the commercialization of alternative fuels and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

But neither policy actually would wean the U.S. from foreign oil, says Lester Lave, an energy economist and professor in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Saying we’re not going to import oil is hogwash,” he says.

Australia: Get up early to ride free? Forget it

THE Early Bird ticket, hailed by Premier John Brumby as a solution to overcrowding on morning trains, is failing dismally to attract commuters.

Business blowing in

FREEPORT — The wind energy boom has blown good times into the Port of Freeport.

Even though the closest wind farms are hundreds of miles away in West Texas, the Brazoria County port is doing good business unloading ships loaded with wind turbines made in India, Brazil, Spain, China, Denmark and other countries.

The giant generators, 144-foot-long blades, tower tubes and other parts are stacked over a 60-acre area of the port. Freeport began bringing in ships loaded with turbines two years ago and expects that business to double next year.

Energy Dilemmas Call For A Breath Of Fresh Air

Many Americans have begun to consider alternative forms of energy to our traditional coal and oil-based power grid. Whether you subscribe to the theory of Peak Oil, are concerned about issues related to global warming, or worry that international politics could interrupt the supply lines that bring us 60 percent of our national fuel supply, you can take a position on the front lines in the war for energy independence.

Xcel’s cutback of solar credit draws critics

Tom Plant is unhappy about Xcel Energy Inc.’s decision to cut its financial support for residential solar systems by 22 percent.

Plant, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, said Xcel’s change will make it harder for homeowners to pay the higher upfront cost of the systems — and ultimately will make the systems more expensive.

Nukenomics No Longer Add Up - Expert

(OneWorld) - Nuclear power is a risky source of energy that comes with many hidden costs, said an environmental analyst and long-time leader in the U.S. environmental movement Tuesday.

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, said the "flawed economics" of nuclear power are placing unforeseen burdens on taxpayers: the costs related to the construction of nuclear plants, the disposal of nuclear waste, the decommissioning of old plants, and security in case of an accident all contribute to the price the world pays for nuclear power. Wind energy is a more economically sound option, said Brown.

New Algae Species Can Be Used to Produce Biodiesel

Dr Leesing is confident that the algae can be effectively farmed for industrial biodiesel production as early as next April. She was also keen to stress that a KKU-S2 facility would not require much space. Quoting statistics from the US, she estimated that up to 136,900 litres of oil per hectare could be produced from the small green algae, compared with only 172 litres from corn.

'Superenzymes' Could Streamline Biofuels Refining

Stain removers that make even the most stubborn spots on your clothes vanish in the wash may be powered by molecules known as enzymes. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at Albany, Calif., are in search of similarly strong, fast-acting enzymes. But the ones they want would be put to work not in your laundry room, but instead at biofuels refineries, where the enzymes' job would be to break down the cell walls of bioenergy crops such as switchgrass.

U.S. West's sea of oil will take time to tap

A key issue in the Rocky Mountain West this political season is how to tap Western oil reserves that could be twice as large as Saudi Arabia's - but are encased in rock.

"At a time when Americans are screaming for energy independence, no policymaker can ignore that there are between 1 and 2 trillion barrels of oil shale and 800 billion barrels of oil equivalent to be recovered," says Bob Schaffer, a Republican and former congressman who is running for Colorado's open U.S. Senate seat.

His opponent, Democratic Rep. Mark Udall, calls for a go-very-slow approach, citing environmental concerns about shale extraction. Udall and fellow Democrats voted to delay federal rules to regulate shale's development - much to the chagrin of President Bush, who said in July that oil shale is key to economic recovery.

Canada may join U.S.-led energy, environment security project

OTTAWA — Canada may join a new, U.S.-led effort to gather and share intelligence about threats to energy and environmental security, a newly released document shows.

The project, spearheaded by the U.S. Energy Department's intelligence and counterintelligence unit, is billed as a "radically different" way of understanding security matters.

The Energy and Environmental Security Ecosystem, or EESE, will include a members-only website for governments, industry and experts to swap information and make contacts. There may also be face-to-face meetings.

A bounty sprouts in the city with MyFarm enterprise

San Francisco's under-used, overgrown backyards are being turned into plots of green that will provide organically grown food.

China’s food supply at risk from climate change

By the middle of this century, climate change will be presenting major challenges for China in feeding its expanding population, says the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Carbon capture riddled with problems, report says

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Equipment to control power plant greenhouse gas emissions is "emerging technology" that is saddled with many unanswered questions about scale, safety and cost, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Fears mount as Arctic melt prompts historic methane rise

ATMOSPHERIC concentrations of methane, "a greenhouse gas more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide", have risen for the first time in eight years, prompting concern about the pace of climate change.

...CSIRO senior climate scientist Paul Fraser said the data was in line with predictions that rapid melting of Arctic ice would create natural wetlands, one of the most common methane emitters. "This is not good news for global warming," he said.

World faces growing risk of conflict: US intelligence chief

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The world faces a growing risk of conflict over the next 20 to 30 years amid an unprecedented transfer of wealth and power from West to East, the US intelligence chief has said.

Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence, predicted rising demand for scarce supplies of food and fuel, strategic competition over new technologies, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

"What I'm suggesting -- there's an increased potential for conflict," McConnell said in a speech Thursday to intelligence professionals in Nashville, Tennessee.

"During the period of this assessment, out to 2025, the probability for conflict between nations and within nation-state entities will be greater," he said.

Wondering where your $700 billion of bailout dollars will go?

Well wonder no more:

Goldman Sachs is on course to pay its top City bankers multimillion-pound bonuses - despite asking the U.S. government for an emergency bail-out.

The struggling Wall Street bank has set aside £7billion for salaries and 2008 year-end bonuses, it emerged yesterday.

Each of the firm's 443 partners is on course to pocket an average Christmas bonus of more than £3million.

The size of the pay pool comfortably dwarfs the £6.1billion lifeline which the U.S. government is throwing to Goldman as part of its £430billion bail-out.

As Washington pours money into the bank, the cash will immediately be channelled to Goldman's already well-heeled employees.


Related financial news...

Loss in confidence in banks causes huge shifts in deposits

The exodus of money from the stock market and troubled banks is reshaping the financial industry as quickly as any government bailout.

Amid unrelenting economic turmoil, investors are pulling billions of dollars out of the plunging stock market. They're also withdrawing money en masse from banks perceived as troubled and putting it into others deemed in better shape. And, in a sign of just how nervous Americans have become, some have even started to hoard cash outside of banks.

"People are panicked, and they want something as close to the mattress as they can find," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. "What we're experiencing now is something we have not seen since the Depression era."

Medvedev: U.S. to blame for global financial crisis

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's president says the United States is to blame for the global financial crisis — and presents his case in an online preview of his state-of-the-nation speech.

I heard on the radio yesterday that some banks are not putting foreclosed homes up on the market because doing so will cause property values to drop.

Well, if prices don't drop, will anyone buy at today's prices?

P.S. Drove buy an empty house yesterday. Been empty for a few months, but I don't remember ever seeing a FOR SALE sign on it. Yesterday, it had a (new) 2 foot diameter hole on the second floor.... Maybe pigeons moved in?

My guess is that it had a jacuzzi tub in the 2nd floor bath and a neighbor wanted it. Just give it a few months, neighbors will want the water heater, furnace, windows, doors, and maybe even some of the wiring, switches, light fixtures...

Spare parts... I'm being reminded of a junkyard: People will come around and take the spare parts... Maybe that's what suburbia will become. Like a junkyard containing spare parts for other homes...

Maybe that's what suburbia will become. Like a junkyard containing spare parts for other homes...

I'm counting on it! I know that some of you think I'm nuts, but I see great opportunities in "homesteading" the suburbs. Maybe not the exurbs and disconnected subdivisions, but find a nice small town cum bedroom community and there a real possibilities.

Sometimes I think Paulson, Bernanke and Cox must wake up every morning and ask themselves: "What can we do today to further destroy confidence in the banking system?"

To date they have done absolutely nothing to improve transparency.

The banks have trillions of dollars of questionable assets lurking on off-balance-sheet vehicles. Citigroup alone reported in June that it had $1.18 trillion in off-balance-sheet holdings.

From the Bloomberg story cited below: "Houston-based Enron Corp. declared bankruptcy in late 2001 when it was forced to put trusts back on its balance sheet..."

FASB Chairman Robert Herz calls these off-balance-sheet holdings "ticking time bombs."

And yet, our illustrious leaders have decided to keep the banking system in a state of suspense until November of 2009:

In July, FASB decided to keep the bowl on the table a little longer, postponing by a year the effective date of the changes (that would make the banks move their off-balance-sheet holding onto their balance sheets), to Nov. 15, 2009. The decision came after major banks, a member of Congress, Miller's securities association and other trade groups complained that the board was moving too fast and that the results would be confusing for investors.


This sure ain't no way to run a railroad. What it leads me to believe is that these off-balance-sheet entites are so bad that, if the banks were to be forced to be expose to the world just how bad they are, it would immediately bankrupt almost every major bank in the United States.

What other reason would they have for putting off execution day?

What it leads me to believe is that these off-balance-sheet entites are so bad that, if the banks were to be forced to be expose to the world just how bad they are, it would immediately bankrupt almost every major bank in the United States.

I've been thinking that, too.

What other reason would they have for putting off execution day?

Perhaps a national "liar's loan"?

From Bloomberg:

The next president may find foreign investors, the biggest creditors to the U.S., unable to absorb a growing supply of Treasury bonds as the financial crisis prompts nations to invest in their own banks and currencies. That would drive up yields just as a widening budget deficit pushes borrowing needs to a record $2 trillion, according to estimates by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Wrightson ICAP LLC.

..."The Treasury will announce its quarterly borrowing needs on Nov. 5. The U.S. may sell a net $388 billion of bills, notes and bonds this quarter, up from $178.4 billion last quarter and $33.4 billion in the same period of 2007, according to a quarterly survey by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association released Oct. 31."

Denninger says this is ten times as much as last year.

What we're seeing play out now is a process by which the debt of these banks is being moved off their balance sheets and onto the balance sheet of the U.S. government.

But as you and a growing chorus are beginning to point out, how good is the credit of the U.S. government?:

When measured as a percentage of GDP, the US national debt is expected to pass 70% next year, which, though much higher than recent years, is still short of the record 122% registered in 1946, at the end of the Second World War. Some observers point to this comparison as an argument for the sustainability of the current position.

Yet others argue that government debt must be seen in the context of, and as part of, the overall debt burden on the economy. With the US private debt to GDP ratio at levels never seen before – close to 300%, according to Steve Keen, the Australian economist – the question is surely whether the whole debt pyramid can avoid crashing down via a violent and uncontrollable chain of defaults, dragging the government bond market down with it. If this seems far-fetched, it helps to remember that the Latin root of the word credit comes from credere – to believe, but also to trust. For large sections of the private sector bond market, it is precisely that trust which has disappeared over the last year and a half. To suggest that such “credit revulsion”, to use an old term, might spread to governments’ debt obligations is surely not beyond the realms of possibility

Signs of strain in the US Treasury market are already there, despite the current low yields. Recent auctions have shown poor bid-to-cover ratios, and long tails (the difference between the average accepted yield, and highest yield), both signs of shallow demand. Delivery failures in the secondary market have also hit record levels, a sign of poor liquidity. Market observers should keep a close eye on the progress of future auctions, particularly as the issuance schedule picks up.


The failure of bond issues is likely to be a rolling process in my view, with progressively stronger economies picked off.
Austria, Spain and Belgium recently had to pull bond issues:

Since there is no chance of Germany approving Euro-wide bond issuance on the required scale, it seems likely that this will roll through the European countries, many of which have huge sums out in Eastern Europe and other developing countries.
None of them, of course including the UK, have the advantage of being the international currency that the dollar is, so they will be initially easier to pick off.
After that process has run it's course, then the US will stick out like a sore thumb, and doubts must surface.

At that stage the Renminbi is perhaps likeliest to become the international currency.

At that stage the Renminbi is perhaps likeliest to become the international currency.

I think this extremely unlikely. The Chinese economy is built upon an export model. Do you seriously believe that there is substantial enough internal spending to generate the sort of growth that China has been going through? Already the export economy is slowing.

One sample story of many;

Chinese growth is predicated on continued growth in the major consumer (read import) societies. It is a house of cards that is already starting to come down. And when you consider that their investments are being crushed just as much as everyone else's.... And the "local" Chinese stock markets preceded the west's in turning down last year.

No, the Chinese are in no position to provide any remedy or leadership in this crisis.

China has a very high savings rate, and recent experience of a command economy.
It would not be easy, but resources presently devoted to exports, producing nothing but US government bonds of dubious worth, could be put to building, for instance, even faster growth in renewable and nuclear technology than the high rates already planned, and to improvements in infrastructure.
This is the opposite of the problems in the US and Europe, who are in the unenviable position of traditionally consuming more than they produce, and switching will be far easier for the Chinese.
Being in current account surplus and having a high savings rate are two of the traditional prerequisites for becoming the main currency of international settlement.

The Japanese were able to put these two together in the 1980s and it did not get them to "main currency" status. Thinking about the last two currencies to hold that status (dollar, pound), leads me to think that a third traditional prerequisites might be military dominance.

Still, I' don't believe that the Chinese have yet reached the critical mass necessary to launch their economy without dependence on trade. That current account surplus is likely to disappear real fast in the collapse of global trade (global shipping by volume is expected to be down 8% this year -

And Chinese savings rates are a mixed bag. If they are indeed the 50% that gets floated around, that means that essentially only have of the economic output of the country is being funneled back into the consumer portion of the economy. And when one considers that a good portion of that "savings" goes into the pockets of the government, one wonders just how much good it can do.

I would have thought the biggest qualification needed to become the main trading currency was the failure of the preceding one - the US seems to be in a fair way to fulfilling that, by 2012 at the latest I would have thought, and likely much earlier.
Something will have to fill the gap, perhaps assisted by barter.

That's an interesting thought - what was the last time that there was no main trading currency? I'm afraid my finance history fails me here. The pound came to prominence with the industrial revolution, so say end of the 18th century. When did the Spanish Pieces of Eight lose its status as primary currency? Certainly the heyday was the 17th century - was their an interim?

(and of course, that was primarily a European trading currency. Chinese currency held sway through most of east and southeast asia for centuries before the dutch started to displace it.

I don't know nearly enough about the subject to give a very informed answer. However, it is clear that the only time that the main trading currency changed when we had anything remotely like current finance and trading patterns was in the changeover from Sterling to the Dollar.

In this instance it was due to systemic balance of payments weaknesses and the far greater heft of the US in the World economy.
Perhaps in a similar manner it might be argued that a currency based on the currency of a much larger fraction of the world population with a high savings rate and balance of payments surplus would be far more suitable than the Dollar.
These things take time, and the changeover from Sterling was protracted.

In previous ages AFAIK currencies were much more regional, with, for instance, Spanish currency dominating the New World, and Chinese currency and banking much of the far East, with the Dutch also having a massive influence in many areas.

Perhaps in a similar way various ad-hoc arrangements and currencies will provide some of the functions of the Dollar, if the US economy which supports it tanks as I expect.

What about the oft-rumored Gulf dinar? Things are picking up over there again with regards to a common currency amongst the Gulf nations. Someone has been buying a LOT of physical gold lately, maybe them?

I've been asking for a while -- where is the money going to come from? The current system is based on a circular flow of money. US consumers buy oil from petrostates and cheap toys, electronics, and cars from Asia. The recipients of those dollars then turn around and plough those dollars into treasuries.

If the first part of that circular flow (US consumers buying stuff) shuts down, then the second part must necessarily shut down as well. We'd have a problem with the value of the dollar and long-term interest rates, even if the US didn't increase borrowing 10x.

The Bloomberg passage goes along with something I've been thinking about. It seems as though we may have moved into the last phase of the debt crisis as national governments become the last backer of loans, guarantor of loans and source of loans. Worse, they are doing it by borrowing money! So, who backs, guarantees and sources loans when national governments can no longer raise money through new bond issues?

The U.S. Treasury can issue new bonds, notes, and bills without any practical limit, because the Federal Reserve can buy Treasuries without any limit at all--creating money out of thin air. If long Treasuries have an excessive interest rate, then the Fed can buy up most of them to get the interest rate down. Never underestimate the Fed's ability to "print" money.

Of course when the deficit equals a quarter or a third of GDP, then we'll get runaway inflation. I think that is coming over the next dozen years.

What would you guess to be the consequences if the only buyer for newly issues Treasury notes was the Federal Reserve?

Yes, the Fed can create all the money it likes, in theory. In practice?

In practice the Fed is doing everything it can to avoid a deflationary depression. Only as a last resort will the Fed alow inflation to rise into double digits--but that last resort may come next year.

I am not convinced that there is going to be debt deflation. It is a possibility that could happen, but I think it is equally likely that the Treasury will borrow multitrillion dollar amounts each year and that the Fed will finance these ever-larger deficits with "printed" money.

Thus whether we get inflation first or deflation first is a tossup. If we're going to get deflation, it should show up in the Consumer Price Index next year. If we're going to get increased inflation, that should also show up in next year's numbers.

We live in interesting times.

I have one problem with the notion of "printing money". According to Wikipedia, all money except M0 is created via credit. M0 has been flat essentially for ever, what has been growing via credit is M1-M3. Now if credit collapses (tightens) then the money supply will shrink and we will have deflation. So far the FED and the govt have been trying to counter this by taking over the banks' job; e.g. creating credit directly. Now if this does not work either, the government may try to do what you say by creating electronic money out of thin air. But isn't this supposed to become evident from FED reports? I yield to the possibility that those reports may be "cooked", but what is the possibility of the US govt being caught in that? I suspect our creditors have whole teams, whose job is watching for just that possibility. If even some shade of doubt arises that Uncle Sam is printing we might have the mother of all runs happening virtually overnight.

Not to say you are definitely wrong, I myself am up in the air re deflation vs inflation.

It is possible that the persistent rumours of offshore banks buying USA t-bills with USA taxpayer money are accurate-hard to say.

Why shouldn't offshore banks buy up T-bills? They have been a very good investment lately, with the dollar strengthening against other currencies. Almost everybody buys T-bills, and those that have not been buying them wish they had bought them. Those who bought some Treasuries wish they had purchased more.

Compared to the stock markets of the world, T-bills have been an outstanding investment over the past couple of years. T-bills have also been outperforming oil and precious metals lately, too.

So long as foreigners are glad to buy U.S. Treasury debt there is no need for the Fed to print money. If and when the time comes that the Treasury has trouble selling its new issues, then the Fed will step up and buy whatever amount is needed to make the new issue of bonds, notes, and bills a success.

All Ponzi schemes and bubbles are great until they aren't-I was just pointing out that some persons feel that not all info is being shared with the general public on this one.

In general, people and organizations who have been buying Treasuries boast about it, because Treasuries have been such a good investment over the past couple of years. What would be the motive for keeping the purchase of Treasuries secret?

Conspiracies exist, but I cannot imagine why there would be a conspiracy to conceal the fact of the purchase of U.S. Treasuries. Why would a bank conceal its wealth or its shrewd investment decisions?

What other reason would they have for putting off execution day?

Because Wednesday morning somebody new will be in charge of the whole mess?

What other reason would they have for putting off execution day?

Just a wild guess here, but I'm pondering if execution day may be only hours or weeks away.

My suspicion: every measure has been taken to sure up things until the election is over. Expect the worse after the 4th.

Allow me some room for doomerish speculation.

If Obama wins, then TPTB will let the slide begin big time. Once the Christmas bonuses are firmly in hand, courtesy of the US taxpayer, the whole banking system will implode and the blame will be leveled squarely at those lefty socialistic Democrats. As a convenient subtext: see, that's what happens when you leave someone other than a white man in charge.

Meanwhile, if McCain wins, ditto except this time blame can be assigned to the uncertainty caused by the riots that will most likely erupt. Failing that, blame can be focused on the uncertainty generated by those pesky foreigners who will be befuddled and bewildered by where and what the United States has become.

With any luck, the strain will be too much on poor Old McCain, and Ms. Palin will become God's chosen instrument to institute theocracy onto the grand panoply of messianic and apocalyptic fulfillment.

Either way, the pirates will run away with the treasure. The great ship is sinking and the crew has secured the lifeboats for themselves. As an added bonus, a new captain has been selected from among the steerage just as the last of the water tight compartments is failing so it will be his job to go down with the ship.

I like you, so Iam about to tell you a story, its fictional, which is more true that the truth. You allude in your comment, how things are "fixed" so too speak. Heres my fictional truth.

6000 years ago, someone invented a gambling game using two squares with numbers on each side of each square. These numbers were represented by dots indented into each side, 1,2,3,4,5,6 dots on each of the 6 sides. Today we call these, dice.

Archaeological excavations discovered the oldest dice known, very precise carbon dating was employed, it was certain to within a few days (give or take) how old these dice were. Very near the same archaeological dig site, yet another pair were found. Again precise carbon dating was used too determine the exact age of the artifacts. It was determined beyond doubt, that this second pair of dice, were infact, mere days younger than the first pair discovered.

Further examination also proved, the second pair had been "shaved" or "loaded" as it were. This was obviously done in an effort to win an advantage. So the archaeological team drew a conclusion from this evidence.

No sooner that a game is invented, than that game will be defeated and succumb to scamming and crookedness.

Nephilim <----Never gambles unless the pit boss is honest. An honest pitt boss is one who after being paid off....stays bought.

We even know who those dice belonged to:

They say that Cain caught Abel
rolling loaded dice,
ace of spades behind his ear
and him not thinking twice

--Robert Hunter

'Ms. Palin will become God's chosen instrument to institute theocracy onto the grand panoply of messianic and apocalyptic fulfillment.'

only a preacher[er or a priest]could put it so well!

But the people who landed us in this soup are also suffering mightily and making painful sacrifices:

A hint of schadenfreude might have been in the air when gossip-mongers delightedly spread the news that the Museum of Modern Art trustee Kathy Fuld and her husband, Richard S. Fuld Jr., the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, would be selling 16 postwar works on paper at Christie’s on Nov. 12...

Christie’s officials are so confident about the drawings, which are expected to bring $15 million to $20 million in all, that it gave Mrs. Fuld a guarantee that is said to be about $20 million.


More here on Fuld:


Are you gonna set up an election thread?


How could we differentiate a TOD election thread from one on a non-energy site?

Here's election news:

Stevens juror: I lied about dad, went to horse race

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A juror who vanished during Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial told the judge Monday she lied about her father dying and flew to California to see horse races.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered Marian Hinnant, identified as juror No. 4, to return to court to explain why she disappeared during jury deliberations... She apologized for lying, and then started a long rambling story about horses, which included references to horse breeding, the Breeders' Cup, drugs, President Ford's son Steven and her condo in Florida being bugged.

"I am thoroughly convinced you would not have been able to continue to deliberate," Sullivan interrupted.

"Can I have a case of my own?" Hinnant asked...

As a side note, I think we've found Sara Palin's birth mom...

And some of the rest of the $700 Billion...

Remember that ban on short-selling enacted to protect 19 major financial firms?

In case you missed the story: Some of these 19 firms received bailout (taxpayer) money. BAU continued, they couldn't just pocket ALL the money, so they recommenced speculating, betting short on Volkswagon. Many auto companies are expected to fail, so it seemed like a good bet. Except, Porsche was quietly buying up VW shares. When Porsche announced they had acquired a controlling interest in VW, shares went up, way up. All the short sellers were forced to buy, on the way up, and lost billions of dollars.

A better explanation can be found at TAE (TOD's red-headed stepchild...).

Is that legal?

Was the bailout legal?


Is that legal?

"I will make it legal." -Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious

(Sorry, I saw the Star Wars reference and had to go for it.)

I see your Sith and raise you the dead.

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” - M.L. King

As Washington pours money into the bank, the cash will immediately be channelled to Goldman's already well-heeled employees.

I wonder how many fools believe(d) the intent of this rape and pillage was ever anything else...


Surprisingly, a relatively small % of the American public bought into this scam, even with almost the entire MSM promoting it vigourously.

I know a very high percentage thought it was a bad idea, but what percentage literally realized it was nothing more than the government literally shoveling money into the pockets of the criminals and miscreants that made all this happen?


On a tangentially related note: I was just wondering out loud to my poor wife (who has the sorry privilege of hearing most of my wondering aloud) that a McCain win on Tuesday might, with all the fear and panic already in the air and the miserable past eight years having been so filled with lies, the rape of the Constitution, etc., might actually get some people into the streets. The illegalities would have to be enormous for McCain to win at this point. (Obama could lose Colorado, Nevada, NM, Ohio, Florida and NC and STILL win if he takes Virginia, for example.)

I would be so proud...

A McCain win would be very ambitious-they would basically be saying-we do what we want and we challenge you to do something about it.

And they're itching to do it too, but their paymasters on Wall Street have to consider what mass chaos, protest strikes and martial law would mean. Who will dare to leave their houses to shop at malls? Most of the GNP is consumption, and most shopping is during the Christmas season. Imagine a Christmas season which drops not 3%, but 20 or 40%. Entire retail corporations go down, entire banks follow, the Dow loses half its value and pulls the world into a deep depression.

In other words, it's like the last year in Pakistan if Pakistan dominated the entire planet.

What are you talking about? Nobody is going to go protesting or boycotting in this country. Everyone is up to their neck in debt and even a day out of work could cost your job and by extension everything you are paying for.

People won't hit the streets unless they have nothing left to lose... and it would take a full scale economic meltdown for this to happen. But if we get to that it won't matter who's in office, really. Otherwise - risk my job to determine which clown take the office?? No f**king way.

Hmmm...perhaps it's a good time to watch "V for Vendetta" again?

Ah yes, 'remember remember, the 5th of November'. McCain saying lately he expects to win 'very late on Election Night', which is really the 5th then.

And the theme of the movie was that nothing is a coincidence...

Anybody catch the Simpsons last night?

"I've got to report this to President McCain. This can't happen in America... maybe Ohio, but not in America!"

Homer vs. electronic voting machine...

Nobody is going to go protesting or boycotting in this country.

Boycotts go on every day. Protests are common enough for the need for 'free speech zones'. Just because YOU don't participate does not mean they do not happen.

Thank God the Goldman Sachs Golden Parachute Releif Package passed congress last month. I was really getting concerned that these folks would have to downsize to a smaller yacht, or perhaps have to get rid of their Parisian condo and be stuck with just their few mansions here in the states.

But hey, at least I'm not footing the bill... My kids are. They'll figure out how to pay for it when the baby boomers start tapping Socail Security and medicare, Peak Oil is in full swing, and global warming renders large swaths of the planet both uninhabitable and infertile for agriculture...

When Hank Paulson was on his knees, begging, surely you knew it wasn't in behalf of ordinary people like you or I?

Goldman Sachs and their 443 partners are living in an unethical dreamworld if they think they can each take £3million from the kitty in times like these for their Christmas bonuses. There should not be any bonuses this year.

Silly me, now I get it, their going to all buy us cake for Christmas!

Pile On for first a story above:

In Pennsylvania, PPL Corp. increased shutoffs by 78% in the first three quarters of the year compared with the same period a year earlier. Shutoffs at electric utilities throughout the state increased by 20% in that period. George Lewis, a spokesman for PPL, based in Allentown, Pa., said the utility had been somewhat lax in the past but decided this year to "reverse the trend and prevent people from getting further in debt" by cutting them off sooner. About 3% of the company's residential accounts have been disconnected for delinquency.


It's becoming clearer virtually every week that the issue of AGW, and specifically methane emissions, are far ahead of the scientists. That's natural enough; it takes time to conduct, write up and get published the work they do. But I'm not even talking about that. Our full comprehension of the vast network of feedbacks and underlying conditions is way behind where we need it to be. This is evidenced by the constant flow of, "Wow! We weren't expecting THAT for x years/decades/centuries!"

I wrote in the spring/summer about, first, the ice melt and, second, methane. I predicted then the problem was huge and would be getting larger. The evidence so far is exactly as stated.

I hope people will start to see that this AGW thing is not a far-off problem. It is concurrent with the economic and energy crises. Failing to realize this and act accordingly has a high probability of making any hope of managing the Perfect Storm but a fairy fart in a hurricane.

The following is as far as I've gotten so far with what I hope will be on par with key posts here at TOD:

The NSIDC October 2nd press release held no surprises if you have been paying attention to the unfolding drama in the Arctic this summer, but many certainly haven’t been – despite the intense coverage since the 2005 extreme melt. Since then we’ve had three more melts well below the long term average. The ice extent for 2007 stands as the lowest since satellites have been used, but that occurred with perfect conditions for ice melt: high temps, storms, unfavorable winds pushing ice out of the Arctic, and more than usual sunlight. This year’s melt nearly matched 2005 despite near-perfect conditions for ice retention. Alarm bells? There must be a lot of energy stored up somewhere, and that somewhere is in the water.
Not nearly as well-covered is the issue of ice mass. The numbers are not yet in, but it appears 2008 will exceed 2007 for the lowest level of total ice. This is important because it speaks to the Arctic’s ability to rebuild during winters. It also speaks volumes about our ability, as a species, to get excited about what is not important and ignore what is. I.e., ice mass is the number that tells you how much ice there actually is, but extent gets all the action. I assume it has to do with dramatic pictures. It’s hard to make ice thickness interesting, while ice extent makes an easy, and striking, model for ice melt. The changes are so obvious.
Where we stand:

1. This year was the second lowest ice extent on record, behind 2007.

2. The three lowest extents on record have occurred in the last four years.

3. The TREND is overwhelmingly downward.

4. The decreasing albedo (reflection of sunlight) is heating the water itself, leading to more melt from below the ice and at the edges.

5. The current year likely will be the lowest measured ice mass, despite the larger ice extent, reflecting the massively reduced amount of multi-year ice, and particularly very old ice over the last four years.

6. There were perfect ice conditions this summer, as opposed to perfect ice melting conditions last summer, yet the melt was very similar. This indicates strong feedbacks present in the system. This may be the most salient point.

7. At least three scientific studies this year have found methane being released from the permafrost and the Arctic seabed over a very wide area. **The most pessimistic Climate Change models did not anticipate clathrates melting significantly for another 100 years.**

8. New measurements of the Arctic permafrost indicate the amount of carbon stored there is 2x the current amount of atmospheric carbon. This is much more than previously believed.

9. Methane concentrations in the atmosphere have been rising the last two or three years after a ten year plateau.

10. The pattern of melt, peeling back from the landmasses relatively uniformly where there is more permafrost, may indicate the effects of methane/CO2 release from tundra-based and seabed-based carbon/methane clathrates.

11. The warming in the tundra extends 1,000 miles inland.

12. Due to the large extent of open ice, human activity is already rising in the Arctic and must be assumed to have a negative effect on sea ice.

13. Not mentioned in any article I’ve read thus far is the below normal ice extent in the Antarctic winter this year.

These data should have the hairs on the back of your neck standing up.

I hope to expand the above and add the following sections soon (but, then, I said that two months ago. At least I've gotten this far):

Role Of The Ice
Ice Lifecycle
Canary Atop The Ice Berg
Current Trends
What Lies Ahead
Ice And The Perfect Storm


The methane release is truly "Oh Sh*t" news. I've seen it reported here in many places. Once a positive feedback loop is engaged predictive models break down. Even Stepen Hawkings warned of passing a GW tipping point where normal restorative feedback is undone.

Anecdotally here in my part of Colorado we have had the warmest October in memory. Still no hard freeze. Halloween is usually welcomed with rain, snow and ice. Instead we had record number of streakers! And lastly, we are well into second hunting season and temperatures are still in the 70's. We usually have snow and steady cold temperatures by now. Things are way off in my local area and it sure feels ominous.

Alright for some. In England Octobers are normally mild and pleasent. This year we have had ice cold winds and frosts we don't normally get until mid November. Perhaps I should move to Colerado.

Just a quick question.

Leaving aside AGW, what is more likely?
a) The planet is in a warming/cooling phase.
b) The planet is maintaining a constant temperature.

Just listing effects of a warming phase tells us.... we are are in a warming phase.

I wish the oil drum would leave discussions of climate to the guys at realclimate.org

They do it so much better.

If humans had not intervened, then by analogy with previous interglacials, we'd expect to see a very slow cooling from the post-glacial maximim seen 6000 years ago, with full ice age conditions returing in circa 10,000 years time.

Fairly easy to see by inspection of the ice core records.

I said clearly: an unfinished work. Somebody not get their little sumthin' sumthin' this morning, or what?

As for Real Climate, which I visit often: do they do the perfect storm? No? Not tying all of it together? No? Ah, well... Oh, and they don't post here?

Now shaddup and have yer coffee, fer cryin' out loud.


PS: I won't be addressing whether or not AGW is happening/real/imminent. It's a non-issue and a waste of my time. I consider anyone who argues there is any doubt about that to be (insert insult here).

Thank you for your post ccpo

In my opinion, this is why we should be discussing climate change on TOD:

Since our burning oil is currently emitting the most carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of any fuel, climate change is inextricably linked to "discussions about energy and our future". It behooves us to understand it better, because climate scientists do not have all the answers. They may be getting all the press about what's happening right now but climate scientists only tell us what the problem is, the solution (or non-solution) will come from all types of people: not just geologists & engineers, but those who are simply "emitters", usually called "consumers". :)

Peak Oil (and by extension Peak Energy) trumps AGW since there's only so much oil, gas, coal, etc. available to burn. Therefore, the effects of humans on GW will level off when we run out of stuff to burn.

The fiscal crisis threw the first punch.
Peak oil is the knockout blow.
Climate change will kick us when we're down.

There's a reason I don't call my blog The Perfect Hurricane Followed By A Couple Perfect Tropical Storms, and they are simple:

1. Climate can shift by 7+C in as little as two years
- Given we are adding GHGs at rates so far never recorded before, this indicates the likelihood of such a fast shift might be higher than is expected.
- Given the changes we see now were largely not expected (by and large) for decades or even a century, this might indicate the instability we are causing is reaching extreme levels, thus a very fast shift could come without warning.

2. The feedback loops between the natural, financial and socio-political systems should be obvious, so let's mention the most obvious only: Financial Crisis --> funding issues --> going green delayed --> AGW beyond our control.

Etc. So I repeat: assuming you can tackle one of these three "first" because it is "now" and the others are "later" would be a monumental error, IMN-S-HO.


EDIT: As if on cue, we've got a posted story up top that essentially echos my concerns:

His conclusion is that the IPCC report understates the problem, and the rise in global average temperature is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C and will most likely fall in the range of 2-4.5°C. He adds that due to lack of preventive measures so far, current levels of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere 'puts us on track for temperature increases of more than 6.1°C by the end of the century,' an increase of catastrophic proportions.

What people REALLY need to get is this: The effects might be most noticeable later (unless there is Rapid Climate Change), but the causes are immediate and must be mitigated immediately. There is really no difference in terms of time to deal with any part of The Perfect Storm. It's an illusion. And it's an illusion that may well kill or displace a huge number of people.

i'll speak up because most of all i want to get info. ccpo & others - i don't have the time to study the issue ; so thanks.

i know lots of chemicals/compounds are being put in most of our systems without forethought!

i do consider the science of AGW to be orders of magnitude more complicated than PO. & as below these two are related & politically we are more focused on AGW when the as aangel says PO will knock us out. so i at least come here to keep up with such. fascinating, scary times.

thanks ccpo

& i'll carefully consider viewpoints.

weather is weird here in the midwest too.

I can do better.

If there's a greenhouse effect, instead of a "natural" process, then it means solar energy is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere, not that there's more energy coming in. So what would you expect? Darker areas should warm up more than well-lit areas.

Nights should warm up more than days.
Winters should warm up more than summers.
Polar areas should warm up more than tropical areas.

It's all happening.

I do have to point out that, in all fairness, we haven't been measuring methane emissions from this part of the world for long. So don't call PETM climate catastrophe yet.. (Of course, if we suddenly see atmospheric methane jump 200+% them by all means panic).

"we haven't been measuring methane emissions from this part of the world for long. So don't call PETM climate catastrophe yet"

Thank you Fluffy. How long have we been monitoring methane emmissions anywhere in the world?

We stumble upon various earthly orifices spouting greenhouse gasses and start jumping to wild, unjustified conclusions...

Someday we might understand the Climate System well enough to make reliable predictions about the future.

Unless we're all dead by then.

My laugh of the day.

You are aware people actually live in the arctic circle?



Excellent, ccpo! I will look forward to the keypost. Might I also suggest including the effect of the latent heat of fusion. It takes 160x more energy to melt a given mass of ice than it does to raise the same mass of ice by one degree C. Then it takes 80x less energy to raise that volume of water by a degree C than it does to have melted it into ice. So as the ice mass declines, the incoming solar radiation can raise the temperature of the remaining ice and water much more effectively, creating a positive feedback loop that I think is all but overlooked when considering global climate change tipping points. Could this be a significant reason why climate shifts abruptly from cold to warm phase and then back again?

Ice to ice: 0.50 cal/g-C
Ice to water: 80 cal/g
Water to water: 1.0 cal/g-C

Yeh but... Open water in the Arctic will mean more moisture in the air and more snow falling on land nearby. Which will increase reflection. Its not obvious to me which way it will go (I just asked the question in the latest RealClimate thread). Last year's winter was brutal in the Northern hemisphere. This winter might be revealing. Note that snow and ice on land can build up, unlike ice on water. There has to be some mechanism that switches us into ice age mode. If a big volcano blows just after a brutal winter then the snow won't melt in summer...

A brutal winter can mean very cold, or very snowy, or both. Here in central New Hampshire, USA last winter was not particularly cold, but it was crazy snowy - we had a cumulative total of just over 10 feet of snow over the course of the winter, with 4 or 5 feet on the ground at any time. I was shoveling the snow off my barn roof and slipped and fell, sliding down the roof... but no problem - the snow was piled right up to the roofline. Definitely the snowiest winter in the 15 years I've lived at this location. But not remarkably cold. We've had wicked cold winters with very scant snow.

I guess what I'm saying is that it seems we're still in "anecdotal" mode with regard to climate in any given area. We really have to try to avoid making judgements about climate change in any one place for any one year.

In my classes, I have long since stopped talking about Global Warming, or even Global Climate Change. I call it Global Weirding.

Being a speaker of English from the West side of the Atlantic, can someone clue me in on a phrase usage in England?

I get the impression that the terms "Billion" and "One Thousand Million" are not totally interchangable. Am I just imagining this?.. or is there a difference in usage?

One billion: 1,000,000,000

One thousand million: 1,000,000,000


The traditional English (i.e. UK not US) meaning of a billion was a million million (i.e. 1000 US Billion).

This meaning is no longer used as the US Billion (a thousand million) has taken over.


Thank you. Now things make sense.

Apparently the meaning IS still being used as I've been getting confused over it.

For the full picture see here

Thank you. Most interesting.

And to tell you a little more in german language:

1 Million = 1 000 000
1 Milliarde = 1 000 000 000
1 Billion = 1 000 000 000 000

this forces native german speakers always to think about what a billion means in english language.

I am taking a job in Chengdu China.

I can be paid in RMB (yuan), Euros or Dollars.

So I am wondering what the wise readers of the oil drum would recommend in terms of payment currency.

Do you think the yuan will appreciate against the dollar? I am hoping I might get lucky and a dollar collapse will work in my favor if I am being paid in yuan.

Any other thoughts about moving to China?




chickens, pigs, rickshaw tickets and unwanted daughters

I wouldn't count on the "unwanted daughters", as the kids are only unwanted by their parents. Because of the resulting bias against female births, there is said to be a large excess of young males in China, so much so that "bride-naping" is not unusual. As for compensation, you might look into buying Chinese electric vehicles, which you could then ship back to the U.S. There's a fellow near me that has shipped in some small electric scooters and I understand that the Chinese are beginning to build larger vehicles as well. If you bought one with what ever currency you select and drove it around a while, it could be classified as "used" and then brought in with fewer restrictions (as I recall). I would check the restrictions on vehicle imports before trying that.

E. Swanson

UPS are trialling some hydraulic hybrids claim they can get near enough double mpg from a medium size van. The hydraulic system is pressurised by a small engine running at peak efficiency, and can capture ~80% of braking energy. These systems could be easily retrofitted onto American sized vehicles. Car pooling in a hydraulic hybrid SUV would be about 100 passenger miles per gallon. You would have lots of cheap vehicles to buy to convert and a large market to sell to and there has to be lots of auto mechanics / manufacturers looking for new work. Remove the old oversize engine, convert to use in battery electric hybrid rail cars running on natural gas or diesel. Use these rail cars as you expand the railway.

Existing rail routes can be electrified, but you would only have to start be electrifying the sections of track where the train stops. The accelerating and braking can be done under grid power with cruising powered by the trains engine or batteries.

The removed engines would also have a large market for backup power supplies and / or CHP systems.

You could remove the steel panelling to recycle for rail or wind turbine towers, and replace it with a composite made from plant fibres.

The best thing I can think of doing with coal and biomass is to gasify it and put it through a solar assisted combined cycle which would be able to balance more wind in the system.

Adsorbed natural gas (stored under low pressure with activated carbon as a storage medium) has a benefit over CNG that it doesn't need to be pressurised so the tank can be made to a more conventional size / shape. Would allow easy conversions to using natural gas as a transport fuel.

unwanted daughters


Anybody see the danger of having the world's most populous nation having a sever sex ratio imbalance? (Hint: How easy would it be to raise a huge standing army in a nation where at least 20% of men are bachelors and single?)

what's america's excuse?

Late last night the Science channel was re-running the "What if: The oil runs out" show from a couple of years ago. They had a scenario from the year 2016 where oil had shot up to $150/bbl, gasoline was ~$4.50/gallon, and everyone was freaking out.

I remember when I first saw it, but after we saw these prices this summer, the show seemed almost funny. They were only off by 8 years...

This is not my area of expertise, but I'm board so...

You might need to tell us the time frame of the job. (Six months, three years, or forever?)

Remember that the dollar was losing for a long time and the only thing that seams to have reversed that trend was that if the whole world was going into recession, the US dollar was seen as a safer place. As was noted here before, this run on the dollar played a significant part in the recent low oil price. If people feel that the world is getting back to normal (say Obama wins), then oil will rise again and the dollar will fall. This is probably a one year event. If you stay longer, its anybodies guess, because the boom crash cycles will become more frequent as we ride the post peak slope. People will not know were to run.

Maybe you could ask for barrels of oil.


So I am wondering what the wise readers of the oil drum would recommend in terms of payment currency."

Good luck! Remember the many "wise readers" were predicting $200 oil not too long ago. Go back and look at all the polls starting in January of this year. Better yet look at this gem:


In more detail:


Sometimes there isn't a whole lot of wisdom in crowds.

meanwhile, india seems to be considering doublecrossing the US by signing onto the iran-pakistan-india pipeline, maybe because pakistan and iran are considering china as a partner if india backs out.

the US ace in the hole, of course, is dismantling pakistan and handing parts to US puppet afghanistan, and parts to an entirely new state of baluchistan, which would include the planned chinese port in gwadar ---the formation of baluchistan contingent upon baluchi agreement to throw the chinese out of gwadar, no doubt.

1031 x 920

Fascinating stuff, flickervertigo.

It is undeniable that:

Under recent U.S. administrations...war has become an extension, not of diplomacey, but of energy policy.


However, I think the dismal financial condition in which the U.S. currently finds itself may greatly limit its military (and realpolitik) options.

As the authors of the above cited report point out, the ultimate source of much of the liquidity that the U.S. relies upon (and at this point in history desperately needs) is Asia, and "[w]ithout their capital the fragility of the U.S. financing position would be seen in all of its precarious glory..."

So Asia is now in the enviable position of being able to make the U.S. "scream," to put it in the vernacular of Nixon, if it doesn't get the energy concessions it wants.

Or as the cited report puts it:

If one includes America's array of privately outsourced services along with a professional permanent military, the costs run around three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year. Chinese, Japanese and other central banks of East Asia via Bretton Woods II indirectly finance this cost. Since these countries also indirectly compete with the U.S. for the same energy resources, we have a paradoxical situation in which they are in effect "feeding the hand that bites it." This is inherently unstable as the foreigner eventually realizes that the provision of capital to a country engaged in war enables that country to invest more in military equipment--equipment that can ultimately be used against them.

I suspect that, if the United States wants Asia's help in bailing it out of its current financial quagmire, one of the conditions the Asian countries might want to impose is that the U.S. cease and desist in using its military to keep Asia from getting the energy resources it so badly needs and wants.

It would seem that the US's desperate need for money would greatly undermine its bargaining position.

To date US policy in the Middle East has suited the far East just fine, as the last thing that they want to see is a united, stable Middle East able to make it's dominance of the world's oil and gas supplies really count - they might want to conserve resources, instead of ship them abroad.
It also transfers the expense and inconvenience of maintaining their own military in the region, not to mention avoiding the opprobrium associated with exercising that control, as China is now doing in many parts of Africa.
The current financial position also means that they can simply pay more than the West for the oil and get supplies.

The money would only get pulled if the US tried to restrict the exports of oil to itself.
I doubt they would be adverse to a weakening of the US military though, but the trick would be to bring that about without leading to a collapse.
China has little of the power projection capabilities to hold the Middle East down whilst the rest of their oil is extracted, AFAIK, so American power is convenient.

But all in all fascinating stuff, no?

The economic morass in which the U.S. now finds itself just adds another layer of complexity upon a geopolitical situation that was already highly complex.

China has little of the power projection capabilities to hold the Middle East down whilst the rest of their oil is extracted, AFAIK, so American power is convenient.

why should china worry about "holding the middle east down", when they can buy oil faster than PNAC can steal it?

I suspect that, if the United States wants Asia's help in bailing it out of its current financial quagmire, one of the conditions the Asian countries might want to impose is that the U.S. cease and desist in using its military to keep Asia from getting the energy resources it so badly needs and wants.

looks like the US figures they can exploit that faultline between the taliban pashtun and pakistan, keep the pot boiling enough to prevent a pipeline to china being built through the area.

the whole region's duck soup for false flag operations, too... knee-jerk reactions from both pakistan and india every time a bomb goes off, and lord knows who's setting them off.

the weirdest possibility is a pakistan samson option... if the israelis can have a samson option, why cant the pakistanis? ...which ought to give the israeli american mapmakers pause before they start tearing pakistan to bits.

Everyone who studies Israeli nuclear strategy knows about the "Samson Option." This is generally thought to be a last resort strategy wherein Israel's nuclear weapons are used not for prevention of war or even for war-waging, but simply as a last spasm of vengeance against a despised enemy state that had launched massive (probably unconventional) countercity and/or counterforce attacks against Israel. Faced with the "End of the Third Temple," Israel's leaders would decide that the Jewish State could not survive, but that it would only "die" together with its pertinent enemies.

Remembering Sun-Tzu: Israel and The Art Of War israelinsider

He hath no power as he who hath nothing to lose.

The Sampson option: if it will work for Israel, it will work for anybody else.

This is always the unknown variable in any assessment of realpolitik.

The Sampson option was fine when it involved taking down a few pillars to collapse a stadium.

Todays Sampson option isnt viable as it would mean nuclear Shoah, for all peoples, everywhere.

Note;"Shoah" would be a better word than holocuast.

Note; The "shoah wouldnt go on" after a modern day Sampson option was used....is my morbid humor working tonite?

A little noted "project".

China won the rights to develop a large copper deposit in the Afghanistan panhandle. They will build a standard gauge railroad there (through Tajikistan from memory) using techniques developed in building a rail line to Lhasa Tibet.

From Afghanistan, China has stated that they have the option to extend the rail line into Pakistan.

Iran is extended a standard gauge rail line into Pakistan.

Pakistan has agreed to change rail gauges (over xx years) from Indian gauge to standard gauge. I suspect that one main line may be all that is required to be changed.

This could create a second (third ?) standard gauge rail line from China to the EU. China > Tajikistan > Afghanistan > Pakistan > Iran > Turkey > Bulgaria/EU.

The other two both go through Kazakhstan to a port on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea (rail ferries already exist on the Caspian that connect all nations on that sea). From there. one branch could go north to Russia and the Ukraine > Poland/EU. The other south through Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey > Bulgaria/EU.

Best Hopes for long term planning,


PS: Separately, Iran is extended rail into both Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan with the Afghan connection possibly continuing into Tajikistan (see Chinese rail link).

Connecting the two new rail lines in Tajikistan, (China & Iran) would be a difficult challenge, but so was the rail line to Tibet.

how many gauges are we dealing with, here? russia has extra wide, doesnt it? ...but it's shipping oil to china by rail... how does that work?

and the former soviet states, do they have russian gauge?

cant think without looking at a map... sorry.

link to map

just googled gauge at wikipedia... it's a nightmare.

Please don't post huge images. Some people are on dial-up. And they don't display fully, anyway. Post a link, or post a thumbnail (which ImageShack can make for you). Generally, try to keep graphics 500 pixels wide or less.

i wondered why everyone was posting such low res images.

I prefer to think of the array of gauges in the world as "interesting".

The old Czarist Russian Empire (see also Finland) have broad gauge. British India (Pakistan. India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) has an even broader gauge. Much of Southeast Asia is narrow gauge (they would also like to ship by rail to China and the EU). And various other parts of the world.

I have never seen a gauge change operation, and reports are slightly inconsistent. Basically, specialty rail cars slide their wheels on their axles to adapt to a new gauge.

Usually both wheels slide (to keep balance side to side). Cars are jacked up, one by one, perhaps 15 to 20 minutes/axle. A long frieght train can take a day to change gauge. A significant cost in time and labor.

New Orleans set the standard at 5'2.5" around 1834, but only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh followed (Baltimore was close). Our streetcars still operate on broad gauge, 6" wider than standard gauge.

Hope this helps,


PS: I think I am the only US commentator noting the use of new railroads for economic and foreign policy goals. And I do not think I am wrong.

I think I am the only US commentator noting the use of new railroads for economic and foreign policy goals. And I do not think I am wrong.

yes, in view of the role rail played in the history of america.

i wonder if we'll get back to coalfired steam engines... with military riding along to protect them from bands of ill-tempered post-peakers.

i wish i was young again.

meanwhile, below is a link to a google map of a really big switchyard on the border of mongolia (russian gauge) and china...


I doubt we will see steam engines outside of museums. From a thermodynamic point of view they are very inefficient, and the steam engines are fairly high maintenance.

If you really needed to use the coal, it would make far more sense to burn the coal in traditional power plants and use the electricity to drive electrified rail. But you could just as well use wind or solar to power these very same trains.

Any old engines that have been sitting in parks should stay there. I wouldn't trust the steel to hold any amount of steam pressure in the boiler.

I doubt we will see steam engines outside of museums.

Any old engines that have been sitting in parks should stay there. I wouldn't trust the steel to hold any amount of steam pressure in the boiler.

desperation counts for a lot, and if you're tired of eating oranges, and your crop is rotting, and there's people a couple hundred miles away that would give you a half a gram of gold for an orange...

it's gonna be pretty hard to maintain thousands of miles of electric rail in injun country, not to mention the expense of building it in the first place.

...but i guess if we spent the war money and the bailout money on electrifying the rail, we'd have a chance...


not to mention the fact that those farmers you see sitting in the cabs of their airconditioned tractors, listening to brahms lullabies in stereo, have the metal-working machinery, the inventiveness, the self-reliance and the sheer cussedness to accomplish really weird things when they put their minds to it.

450 watt generator, duty cycle: one hour on, half hour off.

as you can see from the chart above, welding will be a community effort.

Very nice break-of-guage facility you found there, flicker. The tracks running straight north-south just to the right of center are for transloading of shipments from cars of one guage to another. You can see how in each one a spur comes off from the north and another from the south, but they don't connect (different guages) and you can also see the travelling cranes which straddle both which move loads from cars on one track to cars on the other. If you scroll up the tracks to the northwest a bit, the long blue building appears to be a facility for changing out entire trucks (bogies) or axles under the cars from one guage to another(this is different from what Alan described, in this case the entire car is lifted and either the axles of each truck or the entire truck is replaced with one of the new guage). The black objects on the north side of the facility are the axles/bogies waiting to be used to make the switch. The technique mentioned by Alan is the most sophisticated, and I have not (yet, anyway) located a likely facility of that type at this location.

makes sense to me. thank you.

how many five-gallon buckets of WD-40 will it take to soak the old steam engine that's been sitting in the city park for 50 years?

when you're preparing your post-peak survival kit, dont forget the WD.

So, in regard to really important matters, Opus has passed from the scene. I haven't been able to access Berkeley Breathed's final message regarding Opus, but following is an excerpt from a Salon.com interview with Breathed. BTW, in a related matter, Tom Brokaw predicted that the "winner" of the presidential election will (or should) "Demand a recount."


Do you think cartooning itself is a dying form, now that there are fewer news outlets for young cartoonists to get their start? Or will it evolve into some other form? And if so ...  any clue what that is?

There'll always be great, classic cartooning. There'll also be radio. Concept rock albums. Theatrical movie dramas for intelligent adults. Little kids riding bicycles down a neighborhood street without a grown-up. Family dinner hours. Eleven-year-old girls who dress like children. Instant coffee. Buggy whips.

They'll just be much harder to find.

The very, absolute last comic strip characters destined to become true household words across America were invented 23 years ago: Calvin & Hobbes. There are and will be no more new ones.

That's a technology and cultural issue. Not a talent issue.

Your children's books seem to appeal to your gentler, Charles Schulz side. But how -- without Opus -- will you exercise your Michael Moore side?

I'll be on my couch Sunday mornings screaming at Brokaw and Stephanopoulos to call out the blathering bastards on their stupid f-----g talking points and pin the dancing, lying, spinning Tasmanian Weasels down about something, ANYTHING for Christ Bloody Sake THE COUNTRY IS GETTING STEERED INTO CHAOS AND INSOLVENCY AND WAR BY ITS UNREAD UNINFORMED DULLARD SHEEP CONSTITUENCIES AND YOU JUST LET THE CANDIDATE SAY ONE MORE TIME WITHOUT OBJECTION THAT HE'S GOING TO CUT TAXES WHILE HE CALLS FOR FREE 24 KARAT GOLD FRANKFURTERS TO BE INSERTED INTO EVERY AMERICAN'S ASS JUST BECAUSE BUTT BULLION POLLS WELL.

You see right there why I can't have Opus involved with this anymore.

Opus' final resting place:


I miss TERRY AND THE PIRATES and the TEENIE WEENIES among others. They had great art work.

Good rant. I need to remember that one..

But I don't blame the pundits. The electorate itself demands low taxes, but they don't seem to care about debt anywhere nearly as much.

Any politician telling the truth about needing to raise taxes will oftentimes get booted out, so we play this stupid game.

Behind a paywall, but you can get in free via Google News...

Supply Worries Persist in Oil Market, Just Not Now

NEW YORK -- While oil may be at its cheapest in months, prices deep in the future reveal a market with serious concerns about long-term supply.

As evidence, analysts point to charts of crude oil futures. Oil for delivery years from now costs more than oil for imminent sale, and the difference has widened. While front-month crude is down 53% from its July peak, oil contracts for later delivery dates have fallen far less.

For example, as recently as last summer, December 2008 and December 2013 crude-oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange cost the same. Now, the 2008 contract is $21.50 a barrel below 2013, an unprecedented discount.

At some point people can make money by buying and storing oil with a futures contract in their pocket. So there's a maximum spread. Do we know this number?

OK, so the world auto industry is tanking rapidly. What about the world's airplane manufacturers? There doesn't seem to be much news about their fortunes these days. Anyone have any info?

No problem. The Chinese are building them and shipping them to the US. That would be the last type of aircraft I would want to be in. But, if you are luckey, it could be the last ride, period!

I think that there's been a lot of news, particularly at Boeing where a costly strike has only recently ended. Boeing has a backlog of orders.

Yes, "tanking" is probably being nice.

General Motors Corp.'s October sales fell 45 percent. Toyota Motor Corp.'s sales fell 23 percent. Ford Motor Co.'s sales dropped 30 percent, while Honda Motor Co.'s sales fell 25 percent in October, compared with the same month a year ago, the automakers reported today.

Where's the Detroit bailout? A mere $25 billion, right? I guess that, too, is waiting for after Nov 4.

Just listened to Jim Rogers on Bloomberg tonight. He said, that the long dating OIL futures are 40$ higher than current cash futures. So Cantango seems to be extraordinary strong. Can anybody show me those futures prices?

try the nymex web site - the farthest out contract that actually traded today was Dec 2016 at 90.33

i got no idea what futures this guy was looking at, but here's enough INO charts to confuse the bejeebers out of anybody...

Barack Obama's grandmother has passed away, on the eve of her grandson possibly becoming president.

To put this in context:

Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham (October 26, 1922 - November 3, 2008) and Stanley Armour Dunham (March 23, 1918 – February 8, 1992) are the maternal grandparents of Barack Obama, the junior United States Senator from Illinois and Democratic nominee in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. They raised Obama from age 10 in their Honolulu, Hawaii apartment, where the widowed Mrs. Dunham lived until her death November 3rd, 2008.

Obama writes in his memoir, Dreams From My Father, "I’d arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents: I could live with them and they'd leave me alone so long as I kept my trouble out of sight."


Prayers with the Obama family.

Rod Dreher:

This just in: Madelyn Dunham, the woman who raised Barack Obama, has died of cancer on the eve of his election as president of the United States. How impossibly tragic. It's utterly, utterly heartbreaking. Only one more day, and she would have lived, most likely, to see her grandson make history.

This is something you wouldn't believe if Hollywood made it up.

"A big chunk of what I've achieved is because of her," Obama told CNN the other day.

God bless her soul, and be with the Obama and Dunham families in this moment of loss. There's really nothing else to say. If you seek Madelyn Dunham's monument, turn on your TV around 10 o'clock tomorrow night. He'll be speaking to the nation.

Rod Dreher: The recession hits home in Dallas

Two anecdotes, take them for what you will:

1. Talked the other day to a friend who works for a hedge fund here in town. He said that construction projects are closing down all over town. Said people may not be aware how serious this recession is, and is going to be, because it hasn't rippled through the economy yet. But it will.

2. My wife took our older son to the first of his twice-weekly appointments with his physical therapist. The office manager told me their patients are dropping out of the clinic left and right -- so many that they're having to radically change office hours. People are having to choose not to get non-essential medial treatment for their kids.

I work for a large healthcare organization. Our CEO felt the need to inform us of the economic situation. Trying to protect our identity...but here is some of what was said

We are obviously living in very challenging times. The economy is in very sad shape. Most of our members come to us from employer groups like schools, cities, and various kinds of businesses – and many employers are “downsizing.” Downsizing is polite language for a mixture of layoffs, firing, and not hiring.

It is not good for us when our employer groups downsize because we generally end up with fewer members. The (name of large city) just announced they would be “downsizing” their staff. Based on our share of the city employer groups, the odds are good that over half of those people

That definitely is not good for the members and it also isn’t good for us. We care about our members and we are concerned about their care. When possible, we will be contacting members who are “downsized” to see if they would like to enroll in one of our individual plans. The sad truth is that people who have lost their jobs are often not very well situated financially to buy health coverage (with no paycheck to pay the premium) but we expect that some will enroll. Our higher level cost sharing benefit plans are most affordable, so we will probably see some enrollment there from “downsized” members.

Here outside Tokyo things are also getting bad:

My daughter's best friend in school (they are in 4th grade) will have to move because her father lost his job. They are moving back to grandparents house and I guess both parents will try to get something there to pay for food. They are giving us their rabbit. (No space, money for a rabbit and it used to be our rabbit anyway). They didn't have a mortgage luckily, they were renting.

Nearby us:

An office selling and renting real estate suddely shut down, with a notice on the door. All papers left on the desks inside, coffee mugs, etc. The letter says "closed down". Really spooky.

A small nursery/florist shut down, all stock gone, with a letter on the door "good-bye".

Yikes. I've never seen anything like this.

Probably 10,000 similar anecdotes floating around out there WT. The best parallel I know from real life experiences was the oil bust in Houston back in the early 80's. Recent national economic downturns seem very familar to me. My fading memory recalls it took at least 12 to 18 months for the full effect to hit. Unemployment, contruction shut down, housing slump. I chuckle when the "experts" say we're close to the housing market rebounding. It took at least 10 years for the Houston market to even begin recovery.

Said people may not be aware how serious this recession is, and is going to be, because it hasn't rippled through the economy yet. But it will.

Virtually every reader of The Oil Drum knew hard times were coming, at the very least in some vague future way. Some have been downright prescient in their specific predictions. And, yet, one can come across a single bit of data that can knock you a bit off balance and remind you just how bad things already are.

Baltic Dry Index. That was my shot to the solar plexus for me. Its collapse is the one thing that makes it unarguably clear that very bad things are coming very quickly. Can it be more simple? I.e.:

If nothing's moving, then shortages must be right around the corner. If shipping doesn't recover very significantly, cascading failures are close on the heals of the initial shortages.

Only extraordinary measures will prevent severe, essentially permanent, disruptions from beginning within weeks or months, IMO.


PS. This is an excellent example of knowing when to look at the forest (peak oil) and when to look at the trees (Baltic Dry.)

Dr Fesharaki gave an interesting presentation at the Oil & Money 2008 Conference from Leanan's link

Fesharaki's presentation is here

My forecast for crude/condensate production has been superimposed on one of Fesharaki's slides, shown below. The forecast crude/condensate data points for 2013 to 2020 assume the more optimistic green line (URR=2.20 TB) from the forecast from the second chart below.

It's easy to see that there will not be enough crude feedstock for the refineries in the coming years. The expansion in Asian refinery capacity shows a good increase from 2008 to 2015. If these refineries are operating at normal utilisation rates, then other refineries in the world will have to operate at lower utilisation rates and some weak refineries will have to close.

Dr. Fesharaki, in his last slide summarises the winners and losers:


* Hydrocracking additions where possible
* Secure access to supply
* Upstream/trading/petrochemical integration


* Simple/less complex refiners
* Non-integrated companies without secure feedstock supplies

Given the current credit crisis, there will probably be few refinery closures in 2009. However, from 2010 on, plans for building some new refineries may need to be cancelled and some older simple uneconomic refineries will probably close.

Some serious questions arise. Which region in the chart below will experience the greatest refinery capacity closures? Which region is able to enter into long term contracts for secure crude feedstock supplies? How will those regions which are unable to secure crude feedstocks react?

World Refining Capacity vs Crude/Condensate Production to 2020 - click to enlarge

The source of crude/condensate production forecast is from below.

World Crude/Condensate Production to 2100 - click to enlarge

Will oil prices rebound after the US election?


Fudging, Fundamentals and the Electoral Cycle, Nov 3, 2008 by Rob Kirby

The use of manipulative derivatives has not been limited to the gold space. Just take a look at how incredibly “obedient” the oil price has been over the past two election cycles in the U.S.

Just think of it; two price collapses in Crude Oil, each of them commencing – almost to the day – the same amount of time prior to November Elections in the U.S.A.

With U.S. elections out of the way tomorrow, it seems we can all look forward to a new Administration, a jolly holiday season and the likelihood of increased heating costs to keep us warm through the upcoming winter months.

interesting analysis, ace. as you may know rr posted a story a few weeks ago about the drop in gasoline prices from '06 (and other) election cycles. and i have to agree with rr, there is not much evidence to either support or challenge the conclusion of manipulation.

it seems clear that the saudi's did what they could in '06, either by design or not. and there is a story just today that ksa output dropped by 900,000 barrels from sept to oct:


so, it may be that ksa did its part, although probably unsuccessfully, again.

and in the earlier discussion of rr's post, the dealmaking with the saudi's was discussed.

but this is just 2 election cycles and i dont believe this proves that the saudi's are trying to influence the outcome of us elections but this seems highly coincidental. i cant see how the ksa would care that much about us elections. unless they are being blackmailed somehow to do so by our own cia ???

An important aside on A Darker Future An aside on "For Us: It's not just the financial crisis: higher taxes, energy costs and health spending also threaten growth."

A set of slides (warning - this is HUGE) by Tom Peters on his blog detailing his evaluation of the US health care system:

Some Reflections On the sorry state of American “health,” circa 2008, and the sorry state of the “delivery of Healthcare,” and why the twain rarely meet; and how easy it would be to do a few things right, such as remind adults of a certain age to take their aspirin

Tom Peters/03.31.2008

Bob Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule, addressed this issue on his blog Work Matters:

Dr. Giuliano's Ten Commandments for Minimizing Medical Errors

. . . More generally, although I realize that the U.S. health care systems is a mess in many ways, after seeing these wonderful people in action, and writing the article about the IHI campaign that saved 100,000 lives in U.S. hospitals, I am getting quite optimistic that there is hope for improving the system, and more generally, hope that some of the most difficult problems that we face in this country -- and throughout the world -- can be solved by determined, open, and action-oriented people. . .

The Ergonomics of Innovation: Our McKinsey Quarterly Article on the 100,000 Lives Campaign

. . .Their goal was to stop over 100,000 preventable deaths in hospitals over a one year period. . .