Drumbeat: April 2, 2009

The Peak Oil Crisis: Seize the Moment

Earlier this week the Obama administration, now the effective owner of the U.S. automobile industry, put Detroit on notice that it has 30-60 days to come up with a believable plan to "restructure" itself or it goes into bankruptcy.

This action makes it a good time to step back and ponder just where America's industrial base is going. With $2 gasoline and some incentives, recession-wracked American consumers seem willing and able to absorb another 8 or 9 million new gasoline and diesel powered cars and trucks this year --- but does this make any sense? The "restructuring" plan seems to be one of trimming overhead, shutting some factories, abrogating labor agreements, and stiffing shareholders, bondholders and debtors to the point where the manufacturers might be able to limp along with a minimal infusion of taxpayer dollars.

This plan might be fine except for one glaring fallacy. In the next few years, oil prices are going up so high that ownership and use of the automobiles and trucks in their present form will be a totally uneconomic proposition. How many of the current flavor of cars and trucks is Detroit going to sell with gasoline at $10 a gallon or higher?

‘Peak Oil Crisis’ Is Alive & Well

This month marks the fourth anniversary of now-globally famous commentator Tom Whipple's "Peak Oil Crisis" column that originated with and has been published weekly exclusively in the Falls Church News-Press, the Washington D.C. area's most progressive newspaper.

U.S. Waters May Have Up to 115 Billion Barrels of Oil

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. may have as many as 115 billion barrels of “technically recoverable” oil in federal waters off its coast, a report today from the Interior Department found.

The report, prepared by Interior’s Minerals Management Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, also said the Outer Continental Shelf contains as much as 565 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and that the Pacific and Atlantic coasts hold more than 1,900 gigawatts of potential wind energy.

The assessment is part of a U.S. effort to reduce dependence on imported energy and respond to climate change brought on carbon emissions. The Obama administration is working to get an increasing share of electricity from coastal renewable resources, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today.

“We will in this administration and this time finally get around to tackling the energy issue that faces America, that faces this world,” Salazar said in a speech in Crystal City, Virginia.

"Green" America may slash oil demand

Forget the myth of Chinese demand driving world oil consumption and pay closer attention to "green"policies in the U. S., the biggest oil consumer in the world, energy policy expert Amy Myers Jaffe said.

Major oil producer Saudi Arabia certainly is, said the director of the James A.Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

China's 26 million cars represents only 10 per cent of all the vehicles hitting the roads in the United States, Jaffe said in Calgary Wednesday.

And new energy-saving policies being considered by President Barack Obama could shave 20 per cent off U. S. oil demand, she pointed out.

"The chances of there being some turnaround that will somehow reverse itself into an increase in U. S. oil demand is pretty unlikely," Jaffe said at the CFA Investing in Energy Conference.

Oil jumps above $52 as stock market surges

NEW YORK – Oil prices surged nearly 9 percent Thursday as investors focused on a weaker dollar, rising stock markets and the hope that the U.S. economy has finally bottomed out.

Natural gas prices also rose even though a government report said U.S. inventories remain well above historical levels.

Price changes in both commodities directly affect the American economy. A jump in crude prices can influence everything from how much it costs to fill up at the gas pump to the cost of making golf balls, shampoo and thousands of other petroleum-based products.

Energy Department Will Step Up Pace on Renewable-Power Loans

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Energy Department will issue loan guarantees for renewable energy projects at a quicker pace in the coming months, a senior adviser at the agency said.

“If we did one during March, we’ll probably do one during April, two during May and then start moving at a faster rate,” Matt Rogers, the senior adviser charged with distributing loans and guarantees, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “The machine is picking up momentum as we work through this.”

TVA agrees to pursue renewable energy purchases

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – In the face of looming legislative pressures for cleaner energy, the nation's largest public utility agreed Thursday to buy more than a nuclear reactor's worth of electricity from renewable energy sources.

Nigeria offers delta rebels amnesty

Nigeria's president has said he is prepared to grant amnesty to armed groups in the oil-rich Niger delta who agree to give up their weapons.

Attacks on oil facilities and abductions of their staff have reduced Nigeria's crude output by 25 per cent over the last three years.

"We will grant amnesty to all those who are ready to lay down their arms. It will also include rehabilitating and integrating them into the system," Umaru YarAdua said at a meeting of leaders of his People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja on Thursday.

James Howard Kunstler: Investing In Infrastructure For An Age Of Scarcity

A few years ago, author James Howard Kunstler famously convinced petro-billionaire and Bush crony Richard Rainwater to build an off-the-grid rural compound because the fabric of American society would soon be threatened by oil shortages and skyrocketing energy prices. The Long Emergency, Kunstler’s pungent and highly influential book on the subject of peak oil, won a lot of other smart money converts as well. When a barrel of crude hit $147 last summer, he was looking more and more like a prophet. At the present $47, let’s just say the jury is still out.

But it’s hard not to have the sense that Kunstler’s ideas are worth careful consideration, even if one believes that future oil supplies might be a bit more abundant than he suggests. For instance, his 1994 book The Geography of Nowhere was a decade or more ahead of the cultural curve in describing the structural miscalculations of America’s sprawling suburbs. Now, even with OPEC cutting production, Kunstler still predicts oil supply shortages dead ahead. Will we feel the bite this year? Next? The year after? “Soon enough,” he says.

OPEC can live with $50 oil for 2009

PARIS - OPEC may be able to live with oil prices around $50 a barrel in 2009, its Secretary General said on Thursday, another sign the group has limited its price aspirations for now because of the weak global economy.

The comments are the first indication from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries of how long it can withstand oil at $50, below the $70-$75 many in OPEC and the oil industry say is needed to encourage investment in new supply.

“We cannot really invest at current oil prices. Maybe we can live with it this year,” Abdullah al-Badri told a conference in Paris. “The cost of adding new capacity is still high.”

Badri added: “2009 is the most difficult year for the world to live.”

South Africa says still facing major energy crisis

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's energy minister said on Thursday the country was still in the grip of a major power crisis despite being able to keep the lights on since a series of blackouts early last year.

Voluntary energy savings had failed to meet the required levels, and the country was risking new power cuts, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Buyelwa Sonjica said in a statement.

Mexico trims oil output forecast

Mexico's finance ministry cut its estimate for average crude oil production this year by 30,000 barrels per day and said output could fall further in 2010, according to a report sent to Congress.

The finance ministry now sees this year’s oil production averaging 2.72 million bpd.

Russian economy shrinks 7 percent in 1st quarter

MOSCOW - A senior government minister said Russia's economy shrank by 7 percent in the first quarter, a news agency reported Thursday, marking a staggering downturn after eight years of oil-fueled growth.

"These figures are worse than we expected," Deputy Economic Minister Andrei Klepach was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass during a conference in Kiev, Ukraine. He was citing preliminary figures.

Iran dangles oil carrot to win support

CAIRO - Saddled with slumping oil prices, U.S. sanctions and economic troubles, Iran appears to be pushing to entice foreign investment in its energy sector in a bid to woo allies abroad and secure political support at home as its hardline president faces an upcoming re-election battle.

China buys more of oil sands

The purchase of an additional 10% interest in the proposed Northern Lights oil sands project Wednesday by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) points to a renewal of interest by the Chinese in Canada's oil, said a University of Alberta expert.

Report: Kuwait shouldn't have cut expenditure

KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait's cut in public spending will do little to help it weather the global financial crisis, a leading investment firm in the tiny oil-rich Gulf Arab nation warned Thursday.

Hurricane Threat to Gulf of Mexico May Ease, Forecaster Says

(Bloomberg) -- The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season will produce as many as 13 named storms, fewer than last year, while colder water in the Gulf of Mexico may ease the threat to that oil-rich region, WeatherBug predicted today.

WeatherBug, a private forecaster providing mobile and desktop applications, said the June 1-Nov. 30 season may produce six to eight hurricanes. Last year, there were 16 named storms, eight of them hurricanes.

Relocation, relocation, relocation

As sea levels rise in the wake of climate change and semi-arid regions turn to desert, people living in those parts of the world are likely to be displaced. A mathematical approach to planned relocation reported in the International Journal of Mathematics and Operational Research.

Decision scientist Sajjad Zahir at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, and colleagues Ruhul Sarker of the University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia and Ziaul Al-Mahmud of Lethbridge Community Network, have devised a mathematical algorithm to address the problem of population relocation.

The team's multi-objective optimization approach will help governments decide what fraction of a population would need to be relocated and how many people could stay behind for effective adaptation to climate change.

Despite Furor, Most N.Y. Power Operators Seem at Peace With Greenhouse-Gas Limits

After meeting with officials from some of the companies, the governor angered environmentalists in early March when he said he would consider increasing the number of allowances that the state would give away.

But market analysts and state officials say a vast majority of the 95 electricity producers affected by RGGI — which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent by 2018 — appear to have no problem with the initiative.

Humans may be losers if technological nature replaces the real thing

..."The larger concern is that technological nature will shift the baseline of what people perceive as the full human experience of nature, and that it will contribute to what we call environmental generational amnesia."

This concept of amnesia proposes that people believe the natural environment they encounter during childhood is the norm, against which they measure environmental degradation later in their life. The problem with this is that each generation takes that degraded condition as a non-degraded baseline and is generally oblivious of changes and damages inflicted by previous generations.

BP, Eni Struggle to Replace Reserves, Bernstein Says

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc and Eni SpA are among global oil companies having difficulty replacing reserves through exploration, preferring instead to buy competitors, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said.

In the past six years, none of the major explorers has managed to replace output by extending fields or discovering new deposits, Bernstein analysts Neil McMahon and Ben Dell said today in a report. Producers have relied on improving recovery rates and making acquisitions to maintain reserves, they said.

“Majors have still managed to miss the key entry points into big new plays such as the Brazilian Santos sub-salt play, or offshore Ghana, instead leaving this for the smaller exploration” companies, they said. “This situation will likely resolve itself with the wave of merger and acquisition activity,” possibly this year, they added.

IEA may trim demand forecast

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is likely to lower its global oil demand forecasts significantly as more bleak economic data emerges, executive director Nobuo Tanaka said.

OPEC says oil not to blame for climate change

PARIS (Reuters) - OPEC said oil was not to blame for climate change and consuming countries should pay to fight the threat, while the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell said drivers could help by not buying Hummer sports utility vehicles.

"Oil is not responsible," the producer group's Secretary General, Abdullah al-Badri, told reporters on Thursday on the sidelines of the International Oil Summit in Paris.

"It is the industrialised countries which are making all this pollution in the world".

Russia's Gazprom looks to Asia, US after EU rebuff: report

(MOSCOW) - Russian state-run gas giant Gazprom, angered at being left out of a transit deal between Ukraine and the EU, has threatened to turn to US and Asian markets, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said "dangerous" agreements bypassing Russia would lead Moscow to boost production of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which can be shipped overseas, the Kommersant daily said.

Petrobras Profit Estimate Raised at Morgan Stanley on Oil

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, had its profit estimates boosted at Morgan Stanley on the prospect of higher oil prices.

Conoco sees Q1 hurt by natgas, marketing margins

NEW YORK (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips said on Thursday its first-quarter earnings would be hurt by weakness in North American natural gas prices, and its worldwide marketing margins would be significantly lower.

But overall oil and gas output, excluding its partnership in Russia, is expected to rise about 30,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent (BOE) from the fourth quarter, and its earnings from its chemicals operations will also rise.

Exxon's Investment Plans May Be Trimmed by Its Partners

Despite the economic crisis, Exxon Mobil Corp. is flush with cash and plans to invest at record levels this year -- but its partners may have other ideas.

Unlike other major producers like ConocoPhillips, the Irving, Texas, company has not cut capital investment or sought to delay projects as it seeks to increase oil and gas production, which declined 6% in 2008. But Exxon's hallmark disciplined approach, which it has said will help the company achieve a 2%-3% annual production growth over the next five years, is being challenged by some of its partners' short-term priorities: saving money and sustaining local economies.

India IOC buys 2 mln barrels Nigerian crude -trade

LONDON, April 2 (Reuters) - India's largest state run refiner, Indian Oil Corp (IOC), has bought at least one very large crude carrier of Nigerian crude oil via its first tender for June loading sweet crude, traders said on Thursday.

IOC has bought two million barrels of light, sweet Nigerian Qua Iboe BFO-QUA crude from oil trader Vitol for around dated Brent plus 50-60 cents, traders said.

Differentials for light, sweet Nigerian grades have weakened significantly in the last month due to an oversupply of crude in floating storage, poor refining margins and waining demand in the wake of the global economic crisis.

Repsol says cost cut drive making projects cheaper

PARIS (Reuters) - Repsol YPF's plan to cut costs and put pressure on suppliers to do the same was leading to savings of around 5 percent on existing projects and savings of 10 percent on new projects, Chief Operating Officer Miguel Martinez told the International Oil Summit on Thursday.

ANALYSIS - Non-OPEC oil supply to fall further, faster

NEW YORK/LONDON, April 1 - A plunge in oilfield spending means non-OPEC oil output could soon fall, raising prices and potentially derailing any global economic recovery.

A growing number of forecasts predicting a fall reflect a major drop in oil drilling because of lower crude prices and tighter credit, and defy an earlier market consensus that non-OPEC output would rise through the economic downturn.

China, the U.S. Dollar and Crude Oil Prices

Crude oil futures through last Friday had climbed 17% since the end of 2008. From the 2008 low on December 23 of $30.28 a barrel, crude oil futures are up an amazing 73%. In spite of that dramatic rise, it was less than 120 days ago that crude oil was trading in the mid $50 range. That speaks to the speed of the collapse of global oil prices and how explosive the recent recovery in prices has been. The improved oil price has come in the face of weak oil demand worldwide and growing oil and refined product inventories. If global economic activity has, to quote legendary investor Warren Buffett, "fallen off the cliff," one has to wonder why oil prices have climbed from the basement.

Saudi Arabia projects continuity of oil production

Saudi Arabia said that proven reserves alone are conservatively estimated to continue for approximately 80 years, especially in light of evolving exploration and production technologies.

Saudi Arabia stressed that non-renewables would remain the world's energy work-horse for many decades to come, and that while the days of easy oil may be over, its days as a primary fuel source are far from over.

"Thicker Than Oil: America's Uneasy Partnership With Saudi Arabia"

In her breakthrough 2006 book, Thicker Than Oil, Rachel Bronson, peers through a historical timeline of concessions, negotiations and correspondence with an expert lens. Every bend and crook is laid out in such a vigorously researched way that allows the reader to appreciate the multi-layered complexities of this political partnership.

The passim outlined in this book indicates that the strong bond between these two formidable powers extends beyond securing access to oil deposits. The other two pillars, geopolitical strategies and shared ideology to counterbalance the domino effect of "godless communism," supported the cyclical epochs of mutual respect and exploitation that defined US-Saudi diplomatic relations.

In Europe, ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Drives Sales

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The economy here may be in free fall, but anxiety about the future did not stop Vilo Hrivnak from driving his 12-year-old green hatchback to the junkyard a few days ago and promptly buying his first new car, a cappuccino-colored Skoda.

Like hundreds of thousands of car owners across Europe, Mr. Hrivnak was spurred to act by new government subsidies for drivers who junk their old jalopies — in his case 2,000 euros, or $2,655 — and trade up to a new model.

A Stimulus for Working Fewer Hours

More than 12 million workers in the United States are currently unemployed, with the number rising rapidly. The problem with the economy is that we can produce more goods and services than is being demanded. The way we generally deal with lack of demand is to lay people off, leaving a relatively small segment of the work force (the unemployed) to bear the pain of our economic problems.

An alternative would be to have everyone share in the adjustment to excess supply by reducing work hours. Fewer work hours would mean roughly proportionate reductions in pay, but there would be the offsetting benefit of more leisure time. Workers would have more time to spend with their families or in nonwork activities. This would bring us more in line with the rest of the world, where the standard workweek and year is considerably shorter.

In the Exurbs, the American Dream Is Up for Rent

What is happening on the urban fringe is similar to the urban decay that plagued cities after World War II, says Christopher B. Leinberger, a real-estate developer and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Single-family homes and townhouses in cities were broken into rental units. Now, we're seeing that phenomenon move out to the fringe."

The Greening of Pittsburgh

Though the southwestern Pennsylvania metropolitan area is only the 22nd largest in the United States in terms of population, the city employed energy-efficient construction well ahead of larger cities. In 2005, Pittsburgh claimed more LEED-certified square footage — meaning it had met Leadership in Energy and Design standards for energy-saving designs and building techniques — than anywhere else in the United States. As other cities have caught up, Pittsburgh now ranks seventh nationally in the number of buildings with such certification, according to the local Green Building Alliance.

Greer: Facing Decline, Facing Ourselves

Thus it’s vital to realize, when somebody insists that technological progress will inevitably lead our species to immortality among the stars, or when somebody else insists that contemporary civilization has become the ultimate incarnation of everything evil and will shortly be destroyed so that the righteous remnant can inhabit a perfect world, that what they’re saying has very little to do with the facts on the ground. Rather, these are statements of religious belief that coat mythic themes millennia old in a single coat of secular spraypaint. If, dear reader, one or the other of these is your religion, that’s fine – you have as much right to your faith as I have to mine – but please, for the love of Darwin, could you at least admit that it’s a religious belief, an act of faith in a particular constellation of numinous experience, rather than a self-evident truth that any sane and moral person must automatically accept?

Plan like Pickens' much preferable to no plan at all

A lot of people have claimed the Pickens Plan will never work or is the wrong solution. But they would be wiser to do as the town hall attendees did -- play devil's advocate rather than shoot the plan down, and emphasize areas that could be changed for the better.

Say what you will about the plan, it's a more comprehensive solution than most, and it strikes a middle ground between no action and some of the more radical plans that might be better in the long run but won't be able to garner the support necessary for them to move forward. It's something, and it's easier to start from something than nothing.

Blue Gold: Have the Next Resource Wars Begun?

It has often been said that water is "blue gold" and the next resource wars will be fought, not over oil, but over water. Maude Barlow, senior advisor to the United Nations on water issues, wrote that the way in which we view water "will in large part determine whether our future is peaceful or perilous."

The British nonprofit International Alert released a report identifying forty-six countries where water and climate stresses could ignite violent conflict by 2025, prompting the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to affirm, "The consequences for humanity are grave. Water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and conflict."

India is stealing water of life, says Pakistan

Crucial, coveted and increasingly scarce, water has become the latest issue to stoke tensions between India and Pakistan, with farmers in Pakistan's breadbasket accusing Delhi of reducing one of the subcontinent's most important rivers to little more than a trickle.

State view: Wet America faces growing demand from Dry America

Many climate scientists believe that one of the early effects of global warming will be a drier American Southwest, placing the future of cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles in jeopardy. Lake Mead’s level has dropped from 1,229 feet to 1,112 today. Below 1,000 feet, both water channels to Las Vegas are dry. As James Lawrence Powell of the University of Southern California put it in his recent study of the Colorado’s flow rates: “We can save either Lake Powell or Lake Mead, but not both.”

The thirsty cities of the West are even starting to look north at the Columbia River, and to the east at the Great Lakes and the Mississippi for water.

An enduring Minnesota nightmare is the vision of a great pipeline that begins in Lake Superior. Like a giant flexible straw, it snakes its way west to irrigate Kansas and Oklahoma, finally ending with branches at parched Arizona golf courses and thousands of Los Angeles swimming pools. Although the pipeline is not practical, the bad dream persists, concluding with Lake Superior as a huge replica of those empty mine pits on the Iron Range.

Survival Seed Kit to Combat World Food Supply Shortage Offered by Survival Seed Bank

It’s no secret that the world’s food supply is rapidly diminishing and as a result consumers are staring at ever higher prices at the market. With the ever expanding global population and the expansion of the bio-fuel industry the world’s food supply is quickly disappearing and for those who are not prepared to feed themselves the end result could be costly.

For those responsible individuals who have recognized the dangers associated with a world food shortage the solution is obvious, ensure you’re capable of becoming self-sufficient when it comes to feeding your family. This may sound simple enough but the truth is it takes more than just a handful of seeds to grow your own food. What it really takes is the right kind of seeds, more specifically heirloom seeds and open-pollinated seeds that are capable of producing crops that leave behind seeds that can be planted again.

U.S. climate change bill could side-swipe oilsands

The legislation would also impose low-carbon standards for gasoline and other transportation fuels, rules that could make it more difficult for U.S. refineries to sell fuel produced from Alberta’s carbon-­intensive oilsands.

“This is not a ban on tarsands oil. But it is definitely a disincentive, because it has higher emissions,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Canadian program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Russia’s March Oil Output Rises as OPEC Asks Non-Members to Cut

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s oil output rose last month, snapping declines, even as OPEC urged countries outside the cartel to curb production.

March output advanced 0.4 percent a day in comparison with both the previous year and month to 9.8 million barrels a day, the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit said in an e-mailed statement today. It was the first increase on year-on-year production since 2007.

Russia’s Gazprom gas output down 18.5% on year in Jan-Mar

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) - Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom produced 123.404 billion cubic meters of gas in January-March, down 18.5% on the year, TsDU-TEK, which provides data and analysis to the Energy Ministry, said in a report Thursday the economic news agency Prime-Tass said.

Venezuela ups US oil sales despite OPEC, US says

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela increased oil shipments to the United States in January, despite President Hugo Chavez's anti-U.S. rhetoric and a promise to OPEC to cut output, the U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday.

Crude shipments from Venezuela to the U.S. rose to an average 1.2 million barrels a day in January, up 14 percent from December, according to data from the department. Venezuela had promised to cut exports to the U.S. by 16 percent starting Jan. 1 to comply with OPEC cuts.

But January's figures suggest the country, the world's 11th biggest oil producer, is still sending about half its crude to the U.S.

China's January, February crude oil import down 13 percent

Operation monitoring data issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on March 30 shows that in January and February, China's domestic output of crude oil was 30.27 million tons, down 1.7 percent year-on-year. Imports of crude oil were 24.55 million tons, down 13 percent year-on-year. In the same period last year, imports had increased by 9.5 percent year-on-year.

Report: Qatar delays Shaheen refinery

CAIRO - Qatar has delayed several projects, including the planned Al-Shaheen refinery, for about one year to take advantage of lower prices, the OPEC member state's oil minister said, as the global financial meltdown brings down construction costs.

China secures Myanmar energy route

BANGALORE - China and Myanmar have signed an agreement for the construction of fuel pipelines that will transport Middle East and African crude oil from Myanmar's Arakan coast to China's southwestern Yunnan province - short-circuiting the long sea voyage past Singapore - while also drawing from Myanmar's own gas reserves.

Iran gas investment "not attractive"-Total

PARIS, April 2 (Reuters) - French oil major Total (TOTF.PA) sees the investment terms offered by Iran for developing gas fields as "not attractive enough", the group's Chief Executive told a conference on Thursday.

"It is very important to reduce the costs of energy projects, we will see if we can get acceptable terms, but frankly today the terms offered today (in Iran) are not attractive enough," Christophe de Margerie told delegates.

"Because of the unsatisfactory conditions, Total was never able to strike a real deal for the South Pars project," de Margerie said.

Sir Tom McKillop heads off the storm by resigning from BP

Sir Tom McKillop, the former chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), yesterday quit the board of BP, the oil giant.

Sir Tom, who chaired RBS in the three years leading up to its collapse, told BP that he wanted to retire and would not stand for re-election. He served on BP's remuneration committee, earning £95,000 last year.

Reliance starts gas production off east coast

MUMBAI (AFP) – Indian energy giant Reliance Industries said Thursday it had begun producing gas from the deep-sea Krishna Godavari Basin off India's east coast in what it called a boost for national energy security.

At peak production of oil and gas, the KG-D6 facility is expected to produce over 550,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the company said in a statement.

Like a Russian doll, one incoherent and unfounded myth contains another...

Very large investments are needed if OPEC and non-OPEC suppliers are to maintain export capacity. Based on estimates from various sources, going to extreme colorful highs of Matt Simmons, that the world needs $100,000 billion of investment spending in the oil and gas industry in only the next 10-15 years, to hold back depletion effects, we are moving to a time when other strategies are needed. This features Energy Transition, combing a planned and programmed decline of oil intensity in the OECD countries, needing economic restructuring, and a worldwide effort to develop the alternate and renewable energy sources. This effort will be impossible without close and honest cooperation between the oil exporter, and oil importer countries.

March auto sales plunge

Sales fall more than 35% from a year ago at all major automakers, but executives say a pick up from February suggests the industry may have hit bottom.

GM asks U.S. gov't for $2.6 bln to build hybrids

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp has asked for $2.6 billion of low interest government loans to support the development of three new hybrid vehicles, according to a business plan update released on Wednesday.

GM's loan request, which would help develop two spinoffs from its all-electric Chevrolet Volt, raises to $10.3 billion the aid it is seeking under a U.S. Energy Department program designed to support development of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Missouri has last, clear chance to avert mass transit collapse

Starting Monday, St. Louis’ mass transit system will reduce service radically. The service area for this multibillion-dollar regional asset will shrink by two thirds, literally overnight.

The Metro transit agency faces an operating deficit of $45 million this year, which is expected to reach $50 million next year. Nearly one in every four of its 2,300 employees will be laid off in the coming weeks. Many highly skilled and productive employees already are being poached by transit systems in other regions.

Ithaca receives grant to assess podcar possibility

ITHACA - Ithaca could be moving one step closer to bringing a cutting edge transportation system to the city.

Connect Ithaca, in conjunction with engineering firm C&S Companies, received a $75,000 grant from the New York state Department of Transportation that will be the first step in assessing the feasibility of a personal rapid transit system, or podcar.

High-speed trains slow to develop in America

President Barack Obama, intent on harnessing new technology to rebuild the devastated economy, made a last-minute allocation of $8 billion for high-speed rail in his mammoth stimulus plan.

It sounds good, but that amount isn’t enough to build a single system, or to dramatically increase existing train speeds, transportation experts say.

Feds OK new license for NJ nuclear power plant

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. – Federal regulators agreed Wednesday to extend the license of the nation's oldest nuclear power plant to 2029.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 3-1 to deny an appeal from environmental groups opposing a new license for the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township, N.J.

What Happens After the Crash? America Faces a Future of Discontinuity.

Richard Florida, the urban theorist and author of the seminal book, The Rise of the Creative Class, is talking about a fundamental “reset” in the North American economy as a consequence of the crash. The new winners and losers aren’t necessarily who you might expect. For example, the urban Southwest may be at the end of its easy growth of the past half-century. Florida also argues that the “spatial fix” for the economy to come won’t be found in sprawling American suburbia.

Florida is bringing into the mainstream one of the ideas that has been long consigned to “the doomers”: that the next 30 years won’t be a replay of the past three decades. But how much do American policymakers get it — and how much can the American people conceive of a future that contains so much discontinuity?

Local Community Economics for Security in an Unstable World

Globalisation has brought many benefits in terms of price & availability of goods & services, foreign exchange etc.. It has also brought costs in terms of lengthened supply chains, job offshoring, compromised food security, exposure to global economic turmoil etc.. A certain amount of re-localisation can act as a buffer to protect a community from the adverse effects of globalisation while still enabling them to reap the benefits from it. Depending on how the re-localisation is done, the community can become more resilient, self-sufficient, sustainable and paradoxically better able to attract external trade and investment due to the increase in local social and knowledge capital.

Resilience Economics

If the Industrial-Era economic system is, in fact, on its last legs, it would be useful to think through some of the possible post-capitalism models that might emerge.

I don't think we have enough early indicators to create a solid vision, so anything we talk about will have to be something of a thought experiment. What kinds of constraints would we face? What kinds of demands? Consider the following, then, at best a scenario sketch.

The Green Scene

Perhaps you can’t quite picture a farmers’ market hosted by the local hospital, but to Molly Nicholie, it’s a perfectly green combination.

Such a partnership is just one possibility raised by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Farm to Hospital program. The pilot project seeks to play matchmaker, linking local farmers looking to build their customer base with hospitals emphasizing health initiatives. “We’re working with [hospital staff] to integrate local foods into their programs,” explains Nicholie, the program coordinator.

Simple Ways to Make Any Car Run More Efficiently

(ARA) - Oil prices may have declined from this summer's record-breaking highs for now, but automotive fuel efficiency is still on the minds of families across America.

Iraq blames neighbors for water shortage

BAGHDAD – An Iraqi minister blamed Iran and Turkey as well as a dry winter for the country's growing water shortage and urged its neighbors on Wednesday to share more water with Baghdad.

Water Resources Minister Abdul-Latif Jamal Rasheed said both countries had built a large number of dams and reservoirs on the tributaries of Iraq's two main rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates.

Airlines fear failure of global climate talks

GENEVA (AFP) – Major airlines warned on Wednesday that failure to agree on a global approach to emissions trading in climate change talks could hurt their industry by leading to increased taxes and regulation.

Solution to the carbon problem could be under the ground

Carbon dioxide captured from the chimneys of power stations could be safely buried underground for thousands of years without the risk of the greenhouse gas seeping into the atmosphere, a study has found.

The findings will lend weight to the idea of carbon capture and sequestration (CSS) – when carbon dioxide is trapped and then buried – which is being seriously touted as a viable way of reducing man-made emissions of carbon dioxide while still continuing to burn fossil fuels such as oil and coal in power stations.

Indonesia should drop forest carbon credit plan: Greenpeace

JAKARTA (AFP) – Environmental group Greenpeace called on Indonesia Wednesday to drop plans to tackle global climate change with credits for preserving forests, saying the measure could destroy carbon markets.

The Southeast Asian nation, a key backer of "avoided deforestation" measures that would award tradeable carbon credits for conservation, should abandon the plan in favour of funds to preserve forests, campaigner Bustar Maitar said.

Poor nations must set own emissions targets: Mexico

LONDON (Reuters) - Developing nations must adopt targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and they need to do their share to reduce global warming, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said on Wednesday.

Developing countries -- so far exempt from meeting emissions targets -- need to help solve the world's most pressing problem, global warming, and stop blaming rich nations for causing it, he said in a speech at the British Council.

Europe will suffer despite climate measures: EU

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Europe must prepare both for more floods and drought caused by climate change, regardless of the measures taken to combat it, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas warned Wednesday.

"Even if we have zero emissions it is simply impossible to reverse climate change overnight," Dimas warned, as he unveiled a new report on what Europe should do to deal with its effects.

"Urgent action is therefore necessary to make our people... resilient to the inevitable impact of climate change," he added.

Scientists worldwide admit global warming is a hoax

In an unprecedented move Wednesday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee rescinded the Peace Prize it awarded in 2007 to former US vice president Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, amid overwhelming evidence that global warming is an elaborate hoax cooked up by Mr. Gore.

Unemployment "unexpectedly" rose to 5.73M as weekly job losses were "unexpectedly" high at 669K.

  • http://finance.yahoo.com/news/New-jobless-claims-jump-apf-14826943.html?...
  • Lets be clear here:

    The tally of laid-off workers claiming benefits for more than a week rose 161,000 to 5.73 million, setting a record for the 10th straight week. That also was above analysts' expectations and indicates that unemployed workers are having difficulty finding new jobs.

    Those 5.73 million are people that are collecting unemployment insurance. The real number of U.S. unemployed/underemployed is far larger than that. Around here, the latest official data on the unemployment rate is said to have been 13.5%. It's likely that the real rate is nearly twice that...

    E. Swanson

    But hey, the stock market is nicely up because the G20 meeting will fix everything!

    Let's not forget the vast numbers of people who have had hours or wages cut, or who have taken a much lower-paying job as well. The downward pressure in the economy is extreme and so far unrelenting. The stock market isn't a very good indicator of main street....and it's obvious that wall street gets all the attention.

    A sarcastic version:

    But hey, the stock market is nicely up because the brokers need to make their trading commissions while there's still money left in the markets to make the trades.

    [Just joking.]

    Insufficiently sarcastic/realistic

    The stock market is nicely up because the brokers realise the G20 haven't promised to do anything that will really effect the greed driven trading in the market or the likelihood of them being held to account. Since the candy shop is still open, they are happy to continue pilfering the sweeties.

    [not joking really]

    The Invasion of Iraq was good for 3 years.

    As the Housing market began crashing in 2006.

    This FASB ruling will make it to August.

    10 million US jobs will be gne this time next year.

    Either GM goes bankrupt or AIG. U Pick Em.

    And Stranded Wind is exactly right:

    The Oil Drum is the center of the universe for serious discussion regarding peak oil, Real Climate aggregates peer reviewed climate change science, and I trust The Automatic Earth as the root for any exploration of global financial issues. As I read them I'm not seeing recession, and I'm not seeing depression; we face epochal change."


    Then there are all the people who operate in the underground economy, trading in cash or barter, paying no taxes. My son, for instance, will pull wire & set up a LAN for a firm for half what a licensed & bonded contractor will charge, if he's paid in cash. So far he's had a large furniture retailer & a law firm take him up on it. It's almost as if it's a person's civic duty to subvert the 'official' economy by earning a living under the table, if at all possible. The underground economy doesn't contribute to the murder of Iraqi or Afganis, in the form of taxes, nor does it contribute to the maintenance of a nuclear arsenal.

    1st you post about trying to figure out how to damage wind machines with bullets while proclaiming that people should stop wind by whatever means is necessary, now you are advocating tax evasion and claim your son is doing exactly that.

    What's next? Admitting you grow schedule I, II and III drugs?

    I advocate non-payment of Income tax. And most every tax in general. I suggest you read up on the founding of this country. The wasted tax burden, forced upon us, is nothing more than another form of slavery. Pop up a current listing of slavery in the world today, there are more slaves counted than in the years leading up to the civil war. (which was NOT about slavery). Debt burden is right at the top of the list.

    And yes, it is everyman's right to grow/make, any type of drug he sees fit. If I make Morphine in my basement, trust me, in a number of years people will be dying for it.

    With all due respect, your attitude will not survive the coming storms, nor will anyone that follows it.

    Living in a country which provides free universal health care which recently saved the sight of my left eye, and pays my wife's
    $13,000 a year meds bill, I advocate putting people who evade pay their taxes into forced labour camps.

    Or I would, if anybody paid any attention to me.
    Your welcome to grow dope, if you want, as long as you don't expect the state to pay for your mental rehabilitation when you get schizophrenia.
    I had morphine recently. I might have been in considerable post-operative pain, but I really didn't care.

    I have always paid my taxes, and I don't expect to personally break even on the deal, because our state does a lot of good (as well as waste a whole heap of money).

    You don't seem to understand the issue here. Your choice to be a peon is not under your control. Those that feed from the trough, always want to continue to keep it full. Just look to your elected officials for this. I oppose "most" other taxes. Some are needed, 99% are not.

    I would suggest, in a "legal" manner, you use all the "free" healthcare you can get, because it will not be there soon. Mostly, YOU should be storing up ALL the "free" meds you get for the coming shortages.

    You feed from the "free" system, but deny others the same? Do you or anyone you know smoke? Is that med care "free" where you live? Eat meat? Are you over weight?

    Nothing's free in this world, Ralphy boy.

    Please tone it down. If you can't be civil to your fellow posters, this is not the web site for you.

    Please explain the uncivil? Many more violent/racist remarks are made daily by regular posters.

    Being a man of color myself, I have every right to an opinion regarding slavery, in every form. We are all energy slaves to the corporate elite and those that are supported by the profits from oil.

    I do not feed from the trough, as so many here do, I was forced to build it. Do you understand what a peon is?

    "The words peon and peonage are derived from the Spanish peón (pe'on). It has a range of meanings but its primary usage is to describe labourers with little control over their employment conditions."

    Accusing someone of "feeding from the trough" and calling him "Ralphy Boy" is rude and disrespectful.

    'A man of color' has no more right to an opinion regarding slavery than anyone else, but no less. But in what sense were you forced to build the trough? IMO if you withhold (or even begrudge) taxes you have no moral right to any state infrastructure, whether it's healthcare, roads, refuse disposal, even (it could be argued) clean air and water.

    I'm under no illusion that my wife's meds will remain freely available (and nor is she). Fortunately medical progress is bringing the price down over the years, but there is no guarantee that the meds will be available at any price.

    Our system does treat smokers and the obese (although some doctors do put them lower down the queue). I have friends who smoke dope, one has been sent quietly batty to no-ones particular harm, the other triggered schizophrenia, leading to major problems with his family (including his 5 year old daughter).

    I'm not pretending that all our tax money is put to good use, and of course all government is corrupt to a greater or lesser extent, but I can avoid income tax, simply by refusing to work. I consider my job to be far more restricting to my life than my government, when it is gone I will be free in time and from most taxes.

    Sorry Leanon for poking this one with a stick.

    I a fit, healthy vegetarian non-smoker.

    For the most part drugs don't have to be that expensive most are readily created by a variety of routes.
    You have a sort of triage situation where a difficult to make drug that benefits few may not be produced because of constraints but in general if you ignore patents most drugs are cheap.

    Thats of course existing drugs. Medical research could also be made a lot cheaper if it was performed using public money for no profit. So assuming technology exists you could probably do better than we have with a for profit medical establishment.

    A serious dose of common sense is needed but its doable. And last but not least and this is a hard one we may need to except some diseases as part of life and learn to live with them. I hope that this is limited but its realistic. Even here a lot of the most intractable diseases are the result of genetic problems so advanced genetic screening if done correctly in a enlightened society could well be the best solution to a wide variety of medical problems.

    I know this open not one but many cans of worms but there is no intrinsic reason why humans cannot selectively breed ourselves. Its a cultural issue and fraught with social implications but not a technical problem.

    I have friends who smoke dope, one has been sent quietly batty to no-ones particular harm, the other triggered schizophrenia, leading to major problems with his family (including his 5 year old daughter).

    The use of marijuana is not implicated in schizophrenia. Where, exactly, did you get this information? Drugs that do affect dopamine may enhance susceptibility, but the primary factor is genetic. If your friends are schizophrenic, they were already wired to be. If they smoked marijuana, it is unlikely to be a contributing factor given stress of various sorts is the other major factor - especially since marijuana does not increase dopamine levels.

    There's an excellent chart of genetic factors in this article if you scroll down.


    Links to psychosis
    The onset and course of schizophrenia are most likely the result of an interaction between genetic and environmental influences.

    Family, twin, and adoption studies support the role of genetic influences in schizophrenia. Immediate biological relatives of people with schizophrenia have about 10 times greater risk than that of the general population. Given prevalence estimates, this translates into a 5 to 10 percent lifetime risk for first-degree relatives (including children and siblings) and suggests a substantial genetic component to schizophrenia. What also bolsters a genetic role are findings that the identical twin of a person with schizophrenia is at greater risk than a sibling or fraternal twin, and that adoptive relatives do not share the increased risk of biological relatives (see Figure 4-3). However, in about 40 percent of identical twins in which one is diagnosed with schizophrenia, the other never meets the diagnostic criteria. The discordance among identical twins clearly indicates that environmental factors likely also play a role (DSM-IV).

    Current research proposes that schizophrenia is caused by a genetic vulnerability coupled with environmental and psychosocial stressors, the so-called diathesis-stress model. Family studies suggest that people have varying levels of inherited genetic vulnerability, from very low to very high, to schizophrenia. Whether or not the person develops schizophrenia is partly determined by this vulnerability. At the same time, the development of schizophrenia also depends on the amount and types of stresses the person experiences over time...

    Excessive levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine have long been implicated in schizophrenia, although it is unclear whether the excess is a primary cause of schizophrenia or a result of a more fundamental dysfunction. More recent evidence implicates much greater complexity in the dysregulation of dopamine and other neurotransmitter systems . Some of this research ties schizophrenia to certain variations in dopamine receptors, while other research focuses on the serotonin system . However, it must be emphasized that in many cases it is possible that perturbations in neurotransmitter systems may result from complications of schizophrenia, or its treatment, rather than from its causes.

    The �stressors� investigated in schizophrenia research include a wide range of biological, environmental, psychological, and social factors. There is consistent evidence that prenatal stressors are associated with increased risk of the child developing schizophrenia in adulthood, although the mechanisms for these associations are unexplained. Some interesting preliminary research suggests risk factors include maternal prenatal poverty and depression. Other stressors are exposure to influenza outbreaks , war zone exposure , and Rh-factor incompatibility . Their variety suggests other stressors might also be risk factors, under the general rubric of �maternal stress.�


    Abnormally high dopamine action has also been strongly linked to psychosis and schizophrenia,[41] Dopamine neurons in the mesolimbic pathway are particularly associated with these conditions. Evidence comes partly from the discovery of a class of drugs called the phenothiazines (which block D2 dopamine receptors) that can reduce psychotic symptoms, and partly from the finding that drugs such as amphetamine and cocaine (which are known to greatly increase dopamine levels) can cause psychosis.[42] Because of this, most modern antipsychotic medications, for example, Risperidone, are designed to block dopamine function to varying degrees.

    NOTE: I do not now and have never used drugs of any sort other than alcohol.


    Not quite true. Frome the same website: "Although most young people use cannabis without harm, a vulnerable minority experience harmful outcomes. A tenth of the cannabis users by age 15 in our sample developed schizophreniform disorder by age 26 compared with 3 per cent of the remaining cohort. Our findings suggest that cannabis use among psychologically vulnerable adolescents should be strongly discouraged by parents, teachers, and health practitioners. Policy makers and lawmakers should concentrate on delaying onset of cannabis use."

    Schizophreniform is a precursor to schizophrenia. While schizophrenia may be primarily genetic, psychotic episodes can be triggered by a number of stressors including marijuana use.

    Rob Berger
    Licensed Psychologist
    Rob Berger


    Thanks. I don't know why I didn't catch that. Is schizophreniform disorder due to lowered dopamine? I thought cannabis had the hypo, not hyper, effect.

    The point I hope the original poster takes home, regardless, is that the drug use is not a primary cause. In fact, and perhaps you could speak to this, I'd say the underlying genetic risks and social stresses are likely to increase the likelihood of drug use. Vicious circle, that.

    Thanks again,


    Living in a country which provides free universal health care....I advocate putting people who evade pay their taxes into forced labour camps.

    Didn't you just contradict yourself right there. Universal health care is far from "free" and yes, taxes do support the services you receive. For someone to receive those services while evading the taxes that support it, yes, I'm all for strict punishment. That said, everytime I purchase something at my local retail shops I pay a sales tax for a new baseball stadium that I will probably never step foot inside (when complete). Please tell me why I should not try to avoid paying that tax? There are countless other similar examples.

    It was a wind up. I wish emoticons were used more on TOD. No taxation without representation is reasonable. If you don't like the taxes, elect somebody who will spend them (or not) in a way you do like.

    (and no I don't believe it either)

    Why do so many people think that money paid for taxes is lost?

    In addition to social security (which as a matter of fact dampens any recession, because jobless doesn't equate to homeless and pennyless), it pays for public services (jobs), infrastructure (jobs), and education (future jobs), and so on.

    In most cases government spending is much more under scrutiny than company spending (bank profits).

    Because once I hand it over I don't have it anymore?

    Tax evasion is a crime. I hope your son understands that. I also hope he does the right thing and refuses all government services and any service that is either directly or indirectly funded by the government. We don't get to pick and choose which services we pay for.

    Tax minimization is a civic duty, IMHO. Evasion is evasion only if it's proven, and the rules are may sloppy on purpose, and we can iron that out in the audit. Q: How many waitresses do you know who report their full tip share?

    Please don't complain about the little guys "cheating" while we see how Obama's staff goes about it. If you want to talk crime, take care of those at the top first, please.

    IMHO, we should get to pick and choose what services we pay for. That's "capitalism" and "free enterprise". If I want it, I pay for it. If I don't want it, I don't. No gov't program means no scams on the "service" side and no evasion on the "tax" side. It's not perfect, obviously, but it's 100% "fair", which no federal program can claim.

    I'll compromise though -- you pick how much I'll pay in taxes but I get to pick which programs I fund, or you pick which programs and I'll pick how much I pay. Having you pick both seems "unfair" somehow. Any kid knows if you cut the halves I get first picks.

    Judging by a few of these comments there appears to be considerable support for internment camps in the USA-Blackwater should be pleased.

    Well we do have these Obamavilles springing up everywhere:
    City's homeless form nomadic tent cities along the Ohio River

    I think you mean Bushcamps.

    I thought those were Shruburbs?

    These seem more like Bankervilles. I'd heard of the Global Village before, and I guess this is what it looks like?

    I think they need to camp out on the 10,000 block of Daria Place in Dallas...

    A Look at President Bush's Likely New Home
    (Dated 12/4/2008)

    The White House announced Thursday that President Bush and the first lady had purchased a home in Dallas' Preston Hollow neighborhood, and though they declined to offer up the couple's new address, local speculation placed the future Bush residence at 10141 Daria Place.

    The four-bedroom property, appraised at about $2 million, was purchased in October by the president's Texas accountant, Robert A. McCleskey, as a trust.

    McCleskey wouldn't comment on whether the president had bought the 8,501-square-foot brick home, built in 1959....

    The 1.13-acre property at 10141 Daria Place has been recently renovated by developer Dan Boeckman, Evans said. It features 4 1/2 bathrooms, a cabana and detached servants quarters.

    "The best possible thing is that it backs up to these two enormous properties that are very, very unique to have in the city," she said, referring to the more-than-24-acre Thomas Hicks estate and the 14.26-acre estate of Gene and Roxanne Phillips, which she says, has a trout-filled lake.

    Also appealing, Evans said, was the option of gating off the cul de sac, provided the neighbors agree.

    Dude, you better gate it. Quick.

    Barackburgs? Husseintowns?

    Nice try at spin Keithster100!

    Perhaps you should re-brand as a political consultant for the GOP. I understand it is a tough market to crack right now, but a lot of the "old hands" have been discredited, so there may be a niche or two available. Good Luck!

    No doubt Obama will have his share of blame in this disaster, but I think it is a little early yet to be renaming all the Bushvilles. Eight years of incompetence, ineptitude, malfeasance and corruption will take a while to "work out".

    Yeah, I know what you mean. They are down to only their most influential one now, and he had to get off his prescription meds adiction before he was accepted as their leader.

    That is not the way it works in a representative democracy. You are bound, ethically, morally and legally, by the decisions of the majority.

    Tax evasion ahs NO moral standing, and tax minimization certainly has no moral and ethical superiority.

    I pay the maximum New Orleans sales taxes that I can. The city did not have enough money to continue the search for dead bodies post-Katrina, from Christmas to our first post-K Mardi Gras. The sales taxes collected from that Mardi Gras allowed teh search to continue.


    That is not the way it works in a representative democracy. You are bound, ethically, morally and legally, by the decisions of the majority.

    This is false but for the third. The moral imperative is always set by the morality of the individual, not the majority. How can that which is morally wrong be morally binding? What an absurd thing to say, Alan.

    What is true is that the individual may well find him/herself bound by the morality of the majority, but that is not the same thing.

    To take your absurd comment to its full conclusion: If the rest of the nation said all residents of NO must evacuate because it is "immoral" and "unethical" for you to live in a location that is certain to need the rest of the nation to rescue at some point in the future, would you consider yourself morally bound to do so?

    All the same goes for ethics. You cannot legislate morality nor ethics. The best (worst?) you can do is impose the ethics and morality of the majority.

    Perhaps this is what you meant, but misstated?


    Good points !

    One has the right and usually the ability to reject the dominant culture, including the political process. However, if one does not reject that, and participates in it (saluting the flag, singing the national anthem, voting, writing letters/blogs, serving in the armed forces, etc.), then one is bound by it's decisions. If one accepts citizenship, then there are privileges and duties that go with that. A package deal.

    Socrates drinking hemlock would be an extreme example.

    The underlying concept is if one does not reject the fabric of society, one should not evade the results if they go against your wishes, or select what laws to obey fully (and wish others to obey fully) and which to evade. No "Heads I win, Tails I don't want to play this game".


    Using the game analogy, I look at it more like this: Committing intentional fouls in basketball is a perfectly sound strategy.

    I tell my kids that in my opinion you SHOULD get at least a couple of fouls per game. Of course you get fouls for doing things that are "against the rules", but winning rewards those who are aggressive, and the only tool for determining that optimum point of play is foul calls.

    In baseball I also encourage my catcher to frame pitches. It might have been a ball, but if you can get your pitcher a strike call on a questionable pitch you should. It's part of the game.

    So, yes, there are cases where civil disobedience is appropriate, but there are also cases where taking advantage of deductions, loopholes, and poorly written statutes is possible. I'm all for a simpler tax code, but as long as it is what it is, I'll play this game aggressively as well. Or rather, my CPA does. He seems to enjoy it.

    If it is truly a crime, I suggest you march to Washington and pull a citizens arrest on LiL' Timmy Geithner, and most of the elected polititions that parade around there......otherwise....

    And yes, we do, get to pick and choose which services we pay for. It is those who easily bow down to power, that think there is no choice. Stand up. Please.

    Seems to me, anyone that questions the status quo here, is quickly denigrated for a honest view of reality. Too many rich white guys?

    Another totally absurd comment. As if I think it was ok for Geithner to evade his taxes.

    How much money does he make, how much taxes does he pay?

    Thankfully I am merely a comfortably-off man with pale skin that goes beige in the sun, so am able to denigrate idiots of whatever physical appearance without fear of it being wilfully perceived as racial politics. From one H. sapiens to another, Juglans you're mad.

    "I'm mad as Hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!!"

    You guys need to yell out your window a little more.


    Then how come big corporations with smart accountants pay far less tax then "ordinary people".

    Oh yeah that's right. The smart accountant makes that legal.

    At some point, if the system gets too skewed against the ordinary people, these ordinary people will start breaking the law and feel morally justified in doing so.

    The technical term for this POLITICAL option of eluding a citizen's obligations, in particular paying tax, is poujadisme (look it up in Wikipedia). It is, of course, fascism that doesn't have the bravery to call itself that.

    In France, Poujadisme is often used pejoratively to characterize any kind of ideology that declares itself anti-establishment or criticizes strongly the current French political system or political class.

    In Spain poujadisme is forbidden by the laws.

    I don't get it, again!

    So, most of our economy runs on consumer spending, and to be a good little consumer you will need a job. It is obvious from this, that if jobs are down, spending will be down, etc.

    So the stock market doesn't really care about these fundamentals anymore because the fed-guv is the elephant in the room now? What exactly are they hoping for from the G-20 meetings? Are the markets so short sighted that they would play-up the temporary gains from the government cash infusions without concern for the demise of the country in a year?

    maybe the money is coming back out of the matresses and into the stock market.

    "maybe the money is coming back out of the matresses and into the stock market."

    At best it's March 2003 where the Invasion was known
    by the markets two weeks before it happened.

    And what we know today:

    " In fact, our investigation suggests that by the time AIG had entered the CDS fray in a serious way more than five years ago, the firm was already doomed. No longer able to prop up its earnings using reinsurance because of growing scrutiny from state insurance regulators and federal law enforcement agencies, AIG’s foray into CDS was really the grand finale. AIG was a Ponzi scheme plain and simple, yet the Obama Administration still thinks of AIG as a real company that simply took excessive risks. No, to us what the fraud Bernard Madoff is to individual investors, AIG is to the global financial community."


    The FASB just eliminated Mark to Market Rules.

    So the Banks can say they're worth whatever they can get away with

    And I can say my farm's worth $20 billion.

    Maybe bullish short term, definitely bearish long term. We are propping up losers and thus disadvantaging potential winners, loading up the economy with a flood of debt and debased money, and papering over fraudulent accounting and financial transactions instead of clearing them out. There is no possible way that this builds a solid foundation for long-term growth - even if the energy and other resources were there to support further growth, which they are not.

    Nope, anything you see in the way of upward movement on the exchanges will only be a flash in the pan, and soon gone.

    I read the story about the mark to market rules earlier this morning and immediately understood what the "woosh" sound was that's I'd heard - it was the sound of the busted bubble being refilled with air - or at least the attempt.

    I guess this just goes to show that the only way that our current economic system can function is to cheat.

    I suspect that it is no coincidence that this story about the MTM rule change came out on the same day as the G20 - heavy news day, burried.

    Those of us who are attentive, though, now know that the balance sheets of every financial institution in the US can now be assumed to be fraudulent until proven otherwise. So much for "restoring confidence".

    You are probably right. A lot of folks won't understand how important a rule change is to profitability and net worth. Unfortunately, it doesn't really help cash flow or funds available for investment, except indirectly, in two ways:

    1. To the extent that a business can get a bank to believe its new pumped up statement, a bank may lend it more money.

    2. The bank may also have more money to lend, because it is now viewed as adequately capitalized, where previously it was not.

    It seems like it will not take very many quarters of increased defaults on loans before businesses (including banks) will look inadequately capitalized, even on the new basis.

    probably can't discount the m (michelle) factor. cnn is painting her as jacki reincarnated.

    You can't be serious. Her babe factor can't be driving this market. Frankly, I think Jackie was a bimbo compared to Michelle.

    driving the market ? i dont think i said that. can you deny that the mood of the public is positive ? and doesn't that have an effect on the markets > thus the mfactor?

    or alternately, what is your explaination ?

    I look at some of that Jackie footage showign off the WH in the early 60s - I was around 10 at the time - and I shudder.

    I suppose feminism - whatever you want to call it - was in its very early incarnation then if at all. "Wrong" though it was - IMHO - that was the demurring role of women at the time - I guess.

    My wife taught me real well - and she is more like Michelle than Jackie - thank goodness.


    So now people can borrow against the "future value" of their home?
    Hmmm -- where did i see that before?

    So the Banks can say they're worth whatever they can get away with

    And I can say my farm's worth $20 billion.

    Better be careful! Your local property tax people hear that you think your farm is worth $20 billion and they will start adjusting your property tax accordingly?

    No, my farm is still only worth $1.95 - but that vintage 1974 AMC Gremlin out in the driveway is worth a few $mil, at least!

    vintage 1974 AMC Gremlin

    Gremlin? Too bad! Now the '74 Pacer! That was a beauty! Best solar cooker ever built!

    maybe the money is coming back out of the matresses and into the stock market.

    Nah, it's just the printing presses again...

    G-20 pumps $1 trillion into beating recession

    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown heralded the emergence of a "new world order" Thursday as the G-20 issued details of an "unprecedented" package of measures to tackle the global economic crisis...

    The six-point plan includes reform of the international banking system and the injection of more than $1 trillion into the world financial system to restore credit, growth and jobs, as well as measures clamping down on tax havens and a commitment to build a green and sustainable economy...

    The six-point consensus consisted of measures to:
    -restore confidence, growth, and jobs
    -repair the financial system to restore lending
    -strengthen financial regulation to rebuild trust
    -fund and reform our international financial institutions to overcome this crisis and prevent future ones
    -promote global trade and investment and reject protectionism, to underpin prosperity
    -build an inclusive, green, and sustainable recovery.

    "We will implement new rules on pay and bonuses at a global level that reflect actual performance with no more rewards for failure," Brown said. "We want to encourage corporate responsibility in every part of the world."

    I hear those presses in the background: Ka-chung, Ka-chung, Ka-chung... These are mostly good promises, PM Brown, but we'll go bankrupt in the process.

    Gold is way down. Stocks are way up. It's money out of the mattresses already (well, if hedge funds had mattresses).

    Obama's oratory is in rare form today: "I'll now randomly answer questions"......not "I'll now answer random questions".

    Methinks we should have Obama's speech writer running the country instead, since that's really who we elected.

    "I'll now randomly answer questions"......not "I'll now answer random questions".

    Perhaps he really meant what he said and not what you thought he meant?

    I mean, random answers would prevent him from having to actually have substance, and that is key for any politician, even the prez.

    Obama's oratory is in rare form today: "I'll now randomly answer questions"

    Got any links to that one?

    Unfortunately, no. Wife was listening on the radio at work and called when she heard it.

    It'll show up I'm sure. :)

    Put this up against his predecessor's flubs, and it comes in pretty thin.

    But it is funny.. I'll admit that.

    Its like 'is our chil;der learning' or 'fool me 2x - won't get fooled again' or ....

    I'd still like to see/hear a copy of it.

    Does the talk about the IMF selling off a lot of their gold have a lot to do about the lower gold prices? If so this might be a good buying opportunity, because they don't have that much, and when it is gone, it is gone.

    It's a matter of timescale.

    Over the long run, you are right.

    In the short run the government is printing money to reinflate prices, providing tax incentives to purchase cars, etc. Similarly FASB is relaxing accounting standards to reinflate asset values so banks don't go under and can continue collecting revenue. The Fed is either purchasing or facilitating the purchase of all kinds of assets to reinflate prices.

    There is a lot of trading money to be made in the short run. But not by you and I.

    But the bigger shock was when Treasury released its application to become a fund manager, a main rule of which is that only firms that already have a minimum of $10 billion in toxic securities under management can apply. Few hedge funds, private equity players or sovereign wealth funds come near this number. The hurdle would bar many who specialize in the very distressed assets that the Obama Administration is trying to offload from banks."

    (I am not holding out hope that this editorial in the WSJ is an April Fools' joke, however much I wish it was. It appears much to my dismay that the Pretty Pathetic Investment Program (PPIP) is a complete and utter joke. It would seem as if it is nothing more than a bankster laundromat, as I've previously suggested ... wash, rinse and repeat.


    Denningers got it right ....


    You just need to add Orlov's plus or minus six months. I suspect they still have a few more rabbit filled hats to go through before everything fails.

    I'm bumping up my opinion of Stoneleigh even higher. What rational entity would expect a rally this big with zero underlying substance? Herd-think is amazingly powerful.


    "Herd-think is amazingly powerful"

    I'm thinking of the herd of zebras now.

    While there's safety in the middle of it, all the grass
    has been eaten or trampled.

    Outside, on the edges, where there is grass, the lions
    and hyenas wait.

    Decisions, decisions. 8D

    If you can now legally cook the books, it seems like it is worth a fairly big rally.

    it's not zero underlying substance.

    it's many individuals thinking they can anticipate where the herd goes. isn't this what the stock market is all about? if you thing x will be in demand, buy now and sell it later. anticipating that people will buy your x stock for more money is enough.

    reminds me of the "stock x is cheap, buy it now" email scams. people know that there will be other speculators buying that stock, they just hope they will move faster than the others in buying and dumping.

    Exactly! I know which number the little ball will fall into when the wheel stops spinning.

    This is a link to the analysis by Institutional Risk Analysis (dated April 2), talking about AIG and its side-letters on reinsurance. IRA believes that AIG also had side letters on the CDS. They think the government should have looked for these side letters (likely side e-mails) rather than just paid out the amounts.

    Interesting article-the depth and breadth of the government tolerated fraud is literally staggering. In no objective way is AIG less a scam than ENRON yet all the government's efforts are focused on keeping this realization from the public.

    I suggest a new mantra. Instead of "too big to fail" it should be "too big to be tolerated."

    What is interesting is that GWB was considered to be a clueless idiot, while Obama is considered to be intelligent and informed. However, when it comes to all this rampant financial fraud then conveniently he morphs into Mr. Magoo and is far too swamped or unable to handle "complicated" subjects such as AIG or Citi.

    Didn't he say during the election that he wasn't the details guy, the micro-manager? That he saw himself as the leader, the big picture guy, someone who surrounds himself with good people and takes their best info to form decisions?

    I think that's what he's done/is doing. And if you want the true measure of the man, take him at his word, look at the folks with whom he surrounded himself.

    Who was it who said we get the kind of government we deserve?

    Disclaimer: I did not vote for Mr. Obama or any other major party candidate. In fact, I've voted every presidential election since 1980 and never once voted Dem or Rep.

    I am waiting the day for some media to ask the Secretary of Treasury --
    "Isn't a lot of US financials a Ponzi scheme?"

    "Testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Thursday, Greenberg said his team had "nothing to do" with failures that so far have cost more than $182 billion. But he said the government's actions since taking over the company have left taxpayers with a nearly 80 percent stake "in a steadily diminishing asset" and no good exit strategy.

    Greenberg, 83, said he never would have made the disastrous decision to sell hundreds of billions of dollars in guarantees for corporate and consumer debt."


    Notice who his lawyer is .....

    Great MEMES...

    When I was a storm chaser (Yes, yes, it is true. Click HERE for some of my tornado videos.), those of us in the storm-chasing community were always intrigued by statistical formulae that created probablistic models for storm initiation, propogation, etc. There are all manner of such formulae and models out the in the meteorological ether, and many are consulted regularly by both amateur and professional alike. Well, I'm in the process of developing a statistical modeling program that predicts the likelihood of total financial and social collapse. I should have most of my calculations and variablizations completed by tomorrow. The model is called: Weintraub's Extrapolative Realtime Economic Forecast Utilizing Correlative Knowledge & Entropic Dynamics.

    Acronym: WE'RE FUCKED

    p.s.- I'm serious. The model will be done tomorrow.


    I have empathy for Dan W. now. The Vortex fills my
    thoughts. The problem at the Top of the Vortex,
    the Solution is the inner most part of the Vortex taking you to the Bottom at the Bottom.

    The Bottom is also the TimeWall. You can float around the
    edge of the Vortex if you have enough foresight. The closer you get to the Solution the more effort it will take to have
    a non violent solution.

    I look forward to seeing Dan W,'s model. ;}

    Here it is:


    (Total Debt to GDP ratio)(U3 unemployment %)(% market is down)(Decades since last Depression or Panic)
    (Speculation coefficient)(corruption variable)(legislative impact multiplier)(Natural disaster or climatological metric)(Public preparedness qualifier)

    So, how does it work you ask?

    Multiply the top numbers (quantifiers), and divide by the product of the variables.... (The details are at the link above. Removed here for brevity.)

    Final Results:

    Today's Catastrophic Collapse Number = 76,775
    The Great Depression's Catastrophic Collapse Number = 24,568


    In the week ending March 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 669,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 657,000. The 4-week moving average was 656,750, an increase of 6,500 from the previous week's revised average of 650,250.

    The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 21 was 5,728,000, an increase of 161,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 5,567,000. The 4-week moving average was 5,496,500, an increase of 163,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 5,333,000.


    I hear that even healthcare is cutting back, with a few local hospital docs being cut and nurse attrition not being back-filled. Apparently people are forgoing hospital stays due to the slower economy.

    Two hospitals in my area stopped large construction projects that were over 1/2 complete. Really strange to see these stranded hospital additions, I was thinking that health care would continue BAU for a while -- that's what thinking gets you.

    Wouldn't that count as a "shovel ready" project? Why didn't the state take some of the new fed money and push it that way? Or, maybe that is the game. If you show the public that you are broke and you are going to leave an eyesore in the middle of town, they will give them the money.

    As an aside re: stimulus money for education, my wife tells me that said money for Florida is at risk because, in order to qualify, a atate must meet some sort of pre-existing funding level/metric and Florida falls short.

    Supposedly Gov Crist is trying to work around this.

    I have not found a link for this - yet.

    I guess my point is one of wondering if a lot of this stimulus money has some high-bar pre-reqs before it can be gotten and used.


    I believe the rule is they have to be spending as much in 2009-2010 as they spent in 2006. Per student, I would imagine.

    Crist does expect a waiver, which explains why he was such a cheerleader for the stimulus money, even appearing with Obama in Ft. Myers.

    "I was thinking that health care would continue BAU for a while"

    In most cases they can't afford the co-pay.
    Even with my co.s most generous health care plan, the out of pocket costs are staggering and keep filling my mailbox months after the service was performed.

    I would imagine that is a local phenomenon. If the hospital was located near a population that just walked away from their houses, well...

    Boulder Community Hospital is reporting 8% fewer admissions but they think it's the elective surgeries that account for it. The ER is reporting fewer patients, but sicker patients. BTW, Boulder is not a high foreclosure place - the housing market has been reasonable recently.

    This week's European gas storage figures are out. Here they are presented in the form used by the EIA

    Week 13 (30-March)
    Working gas in storage was 387 Bcf (11047 mcm) as of Monday, March 30, 2009, according to estimates. This represents a net decline of 56 Bcf (1607 mcm) from the previous week. Stocks were 341 Bcf (9731 mcm) lower than last year at this time.

    Total EU storage now 22%, (last year 42%)

    France/Italy 15/12% peg (32%/34% last year)

    Storage in one area, the UK, increased by 68 mcm - this appears to be due to an increased rate of LNG imports and warm weather

    Storage should be bottoming out for the year about now. There are no signs of this occuring this year yet.

    If Russian gas exports do not pick up, does Europe have enough LNG import facilities to supply the shortfall and refill storage this summer (assuming the LNG is available for purchase)?

    Fortunately for the EU, massive new LNG exports are coming on-line. I suspect that there is adequate import capacity, since the EU already imports a fair amount of LNG and the UK has/had significant excess LNG importing capacity.

    Add less LNG for industrial & electricity generation due to recession. And in a recession, people heat their homes less in the winter.


    Unfortunately I don't believe that's the case. The UK has enough capacity and should be ok assuming LNG cargoes are available.

    However the "reverse flow" capability of the EU network appears to be insufficient. Gas Transmission Europe is currently looking at ways to improve "reverse flow" capability and reports in June.

    Hopefully Russian exports will pick up in the summer.

    France and Italy's storage percentages of 15% and 12% are getting downright scary. Presumably they should start up-ticking about now.

    I guess this hasn't helped much either.

    French gas strike ends, gas flows to restart

    PARIS, April 2 (Reuters) - A seven-day strike on France's gas network has ended with an agreement and gas flows at entry points will be restored on Thursday, transmission network operator GRTgaz said.

    "At midday there was an agreement between unions and management to end the dispute," said a spokesman for GRTgaz.

    "The situation should gradually return to normal by the end of the day," he added.

    Workers had been occupying compressor and metering stations which had disrupted the arrival of gas into France but consumers had not been affected as GDF Suez (GSZ.PA) reverted to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and storage.

    The workers had been angered by stock options payments to managers.

    Strikers also blockaded France's LNG import terminals for a time.

    Wonder what the storage MOL is?

    Edit: After a bit more googling, the striking union stated on Monday that industrial customers could start to experience disruption to gas supply "within two or three days."

    So it looks like the strike has been called off at the very last possible moment if that statement was accurate.

    Here's a story from the NYT about China's push toward electric vehicles.

    China Vies to Be World’s Leader in Electric Cars

    Will GM be able to compete?

    E. Swanson

    Will GM exist?

    No, GM will not exist in it's present form.

    This Dinosaur needs to die, and be done with it. As do many others. The Meteor has hit the ground, now the fireball is rolling in. Hopefully it will consume what needs to be gone.

    All the money continues to be pissed away with no end in sight. It has become a sad, sad joke on the U.S. taxpayer. (ME)

    I fear, only by force of arms, will real change come to this country.

    Are you as emotional about this as Glenn Beck? I hope not.

    Not emotional at all, but as a black man myself, I would put him in the White house over the Momma's boy we have now. At least he is no armchair quarterback.


    You're right-no unconventional opinions should be tolerated on the blog-they won't be tolerated in the camps.

    C'mon, he just suggested that Glenn Beck would make a good president and that Beck is not an armchair quarterback. It's not unconventional opinions that worry me, it's the batshit crazy baseless, irrational, and illogical ones that do. We need opinions that have some base in reality, here on Earth, that are rational in some sense (really, any sense), and that are follow a clear logic.

    I don't know if I'd say Glenn Beck would make a good president but do remember that the majority of this country did not vote for Obama, including all those armchair quarterbacks that didn't vote at all.

    I don't at all think it's at all irrational or illogical for one to wish we had a different person in the White House right now. What is a batshit crazy opinion is belief that Obama is something other than a corrupt and pandering politician. He might be a "change" from GWB, but never forget that he too is a politician.

    Again, logic. You say...

    I don't know if I'd say Glenn Beck would make a good president but...

    Really, you don't know? Because if you do know, the logical thing to do is state so.

    ..do remember that the majority of this country did not vote for Obama, including all those armchair quarterbacks that didn't vote at all.

    So, following your logic, there has not been a legitimate leader of the U.S. in, how long? Decades?

    All I am asking for is logic, rationality, and a connection to reality. Is that too much?

    So, following your logic, there has not been a legitimate leader of the U.S. in, how long? Decades?

    Well, since we live in a representative republic and NOT a democracy I would say all of our presidents have been legitimate leaders, even GWB after the 2000 debacle. One does not need a majority vote to be considered legitimate in our system.

    That said, we do have the right to be critical of our elected leaders. Why is it not logical for one to support someone with different views than your own? I don't know Glenn Beck, but everyone is entitled to their opinions. Beck is a pubic figure and seems to me like a quite rational choice for someone to support in the political arena. Minnesota has likely elected Al Franken to the Senate. How is he any different than a figure like Beck, outside of political ideology?

    Was it "logical" for Obama supporters to rally around soundbytes like Change and Hope? Did most voters use logic and vote for the future of this country, or did they vote against something else? You tell me? I think we just experienced one of the most asinine election cycles in our nations history and ended up with BAU on the other end.

    Unconventional Opinions are being tolerated BrianT.. that doesn't mean they get to go unchallenged.

    "WTF!" isn't a challenge at all-it implies that the premise-Glen Beck being better qualified to be leader than this guy-is so absurd as to be beyond disagreeing with rationally. Firstly, celebrity of any kind is a huge advantage for an aspiring politician in the USA. A star WWE wrestler from the 80s was elected Governor, along with another roidhead from the bodybuilding and Hollywood arenas. Anyone that would have predicted that years ago would have been greeted with "WTF!" from conventional thinkers.

    You're right. Glen Beck is absurd.

    Implying that someone's premise is absurd - that's a challenge.

    Kind of blunt and unproductive.. but at least it's short.

    Hey, there are people who still sing praises of a certain B-Movie actor that they think did great things for this country.. and the TLA of WTF still fully applies to that bizarre piece of our history.

    Intolerance is getting told to leave, getting banned, getting abused. That was incredulity.

    Even musicians have to be good looking to be successful anymore, it seems. How much talent is passed by due to superficial expectations?

    Glenn Beck is going to serve an important role to get members of the right who would instantly discount global warming and energy issues as being lefty-wacko conspiracies to pay attention to the financial crash, energy crash, and enviro crash underway. He has a dark streak in his psyche that resonates well with current issues, and he's a story teller that will make that resonate with others.

    You many not agree with them, but they're people too, and we're all gonna be stuck in this together.

    Just because one is amazed that someone else has a certain opinion has nothing to do with tolerance or intolerance. What freaking camps are you talking about? Disagreement, even if expressed in the form of incredulity does not imply that anyone is talking about sending someone to a camp.

    Sure seems like that sometimes and more and more lately. I agree with some of your earlier posts that some form of shock is needed to the government by not paying taxes etc.
    I have always believed the government should have no role in this ridiculous drug war we have always been in. I also have always thought that at some point they would not have the resources to conduct such stupidity.

    Will GM exist?

    Only if they step on their workers and debtors, apparently...

    GM says UAW contract changes could save $1.1 bln

    Changes to General Motors Corp's contract with the United Auto Workers union could save the automaker $1.1 billion or more in hourly labor costs, GM said in a report to the U.S. Treasury released on Wednesday...

    The automaker said that the UAW contract changes would take its total hourly employment costs on an annual basis to $6.5 billion in 2009 from $7.6 billion in 2008...

    GM has been operating since the start of the year with $13.4 billion in emergency loans approved in late December by the Bush administration.

    Terms of those loans had set a target for GM to cut its hourly compensation in order to make it competitive with the U.S. factory costs of Japanese automakers led by Toyota Motor Corp.

    GM's negotiations with the UAW center on proposals to reduce some $20 billion owed to a union-affiliated trust fund for retirees by $10 billion by swapping preferred stock or other forms of equity for cash.

    GM bond owners, who hold about $28 billion of the automaker's debt, are being asked to write off more than two-thirds of the amount they are owed.

    And here's their new ad about the bailout...

    Only for people with strong stomachs.

    Zimbabwe Prison horrors revealed

    The footage shows emaciated inmates succumbing to starvation and disease in the overcrowded prisons...

    In other scenes, emaciated prisoners, wasting away because of vitamin deficiencies, are shown lying on mats in cells furnished with just blankets and thin mattresses.

    Mr Nare said prison menus have been reduced to daily bowls of corn porridge, which the inmates are shown eating slowly, as if they barely have the energy to bring the food to their mouths.

    Meanwhile, Mugabe looks forward to his next meal...

    The last entry in drumbeat "Scientists admit GW is a hoax" ........ April fool!


    RealClimate: Farewell to our Readers

    We would like to apologize to our loyal readers who have provided us so much support since we first went online in December 2004. However, after listening to the compelling arguments of the distinguished speakers who participated in the Heartland Institute's recent global warming contrarian conference, we have decided that the science is settled — in favor of the contrarians. Indeed, even IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri has now admitted that anthropogenic climate change was a massive hoax after all. Accordingly, RealClimate no longer has a reason for existence.

    Re: Venezuela ups US oil sales despite OPEC, US says (linked uptop)

    Some historical perspective would have been helpful, something like annual oil imports (total annual volume) into the US from Venezuela (showing about a one-third drop since 1997--note the big drop in 2008):

    This is consistent with the long term decline in total net oil exports from Venezuela (mbpd, through 2007):

    Venezuela has lots of potential unconventional recoverable reserves, but only actual production can be exported. If, for the sake of argument, we extrapolate the 1997 to 2007 net export decline, Venezuela would be approaching zero net oil exports around 2023, and under this scenario, I estimate that they have, through 2007, shipped about 45% of their post-1997 cumulative net oil exports.

    Regarding the short term monthly increase, I suspect that they are trying to maximize cash flow by shipping their oil to the closest large cash buyer (which doesn't necessarily mean that their total net oil exports have increased), but the question remains as to what would reverse their long term--and so far accelerating--decline in annual net oil exports (1998 net export decline rate, about -4%/year; estimated 2008 net export decline rate, about -14%/year).

    And this is a question that the writer of the article completely ignored.

    "Production dropped to 2.685 million barrels a day, from 2.957 million barrels a year earlier, Pemex, as the Mexico City- based company is known, said today in a statement. Pemex extracted 772,000 barrels a day from Cantarell, the world’s third-largest field, a decline of 38 percent from a year earlier.

    “If the question is, what is Pemex going to do in the short-term to prevent the falling production?” George Baker, a Houston-based energy consultant who publishes the newsletter Mexico Energy Intelligence, said in an interview. “I’m afraid the answer is nothing.”


    That last chart is what our stock market should be looking like now. Moving to 1982-85 level of 2500.

    Like WebHubbleTelescope on April 1, 2009 - 8:58am's post-


    his non linear sharkfin, that's what we're going to get
    with our markets this year.

    Watching the CLK09.NYM shoot up it looks like Memmel can drive the market.

    Starting Monday, St. Louis’ mass transit system will reduce service radically. The service area for this multibillion-dollar regional asset will shrink by two thirds, literally overnight.

    This is what collapse will look like in my opinion. Governments unable (or unwilling) to take the steps necessary to survive in a post oil world. Cutting mass transit is like burning the lifeboats on the deck of the Titanic because the passengers are feeling chill.

    NG storage report:

    Working gas in storage was 1,654 Bcf as of Friday, March 27, 2009, according to EIA estimates. This represents no change from the previous week. Stocks were 402 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 303 Bcf above the 5-year average of 1,351 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 12 Bcf above the 5-year average following net withdrawals of 23 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 211 Bcf above the 5-year average of 520 Bcf after a net injection of 22 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 80 Bcf above the 5-year average after a net addition of 1 Bcf. At 1,654 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.

    It looks like we are about at the point where supply usually starts to build. (This year, we almost got to this point a little early, with the build last week.) This is what the graph looks like:

    ng monthly here:


    january dry gas production 1781 bcf, down slightly from dec '08. i think dec is an all time monthly maxima.

    net imports 252 bcf
    w/d from storage 698 bcf

    industrial consumption 578 bcf vs 659 from 1 yr ago, down 17%.

    electric power consumption 485 bcf vs 527 bcf from 1 yr ago, down 9%.

    Video: Jim Cramer declares the depression over

    It's all over CNBC this morning, a new bull market is in full force. This is happening even though the unemployment numbers, and all other numbers, are really bearish. Their explination: The market always looks forward six to nine months. In six to nine months the economy will have turned around and the equities market is just forcasting this recovery.

    Ron P.

    Light At The End Of The Tunnel ...
    Dim and distant, but a glimmer nonetheless!

    I also pointed out on CNBC that the stock market has predicted six out of the last zero economic recoveries. For the last 18 months, we've had six bear market rallies, and at the beginning of each one of these suckers' rallies the delusional perma-bulls repeated that this was the beginning of a bull market rally. And for six times these perma-bulls were totally wrong as the rally fizzled and new lows were reached. And for six times I correctly pointed out that these were bear market rallies...

    I see the latest rally as another bear market rally, as over the next few months, the news--macro news, earnings news, financial news, corporate default news, financial firms insolvency news and so on--will be worse than expected by the consensus. Look how wobbly the stock market was on Monday when the expected news that the Big Three are in Big Trouble led to a 3% to 4% market fall. Do you listen to Tim Geithner, who says that some banks need "large amounts of assistance," and who is now pushing--like Bernanke--for fast-track Congressional approval of a law that will allow the takeover of systemically important financial institutions and bank holding companies? This market recovery has still very shaky legs, and it will continue to lurch until the U.S. and global economic recovery does occur and is more robust and sustained.

    The global economic contraction is still very severe: In the Eurozone and Japan there is no evidence of "green shoots" or positive second derivatives; and in the U.S. and China such evidence is still very, very weak. So investors and markets are way ahead of actual improvements in economic data. And the idea that stock prices are forward-looking and bottom out six to nine months before the end of a recession is incorrect.

    What Roubini downplays is the scale of the borrowing from future prosperity to hold together the present. The unprecedented level of this by the US government in the last six months would be expected to produce some results, the irony is that the ultimate ending will be that much worse. Bernie Madoff deserves a monument somewhere (Mt. Rushmore?)

    Paleocon <=== thinks Mt. Rushmore idea would just be building more Big Stone Heads.

    Might as well to double down -- what you got to lose?!!!

    The market always looks forward six to nine months. In six to nine months the economy will have turned around and the equities market is just forcasting this recovery.

    D, your deadpan is greatly appreciated here!

    Another piece of evidence that belief in "The Market" is just another form of "Intelligent Design."

    Market "predictions" are like predictions about the future course of evolution.

    It ain't goal-oriented. What happens today ain't about the "future."

    I guess we no longer have to worry about the ongoing collapse in commercial real estate then.

    Yippee... the Depression is over. Cramer is on a high. The G20 cavalry has saved the day:

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown, acting as spokesman for the summit:

    Can I welcome you to this conference following our G20 Summit. This is the day the world came together to fight back against the global recession, not with words, but with a plan for global recovery and for reform and for a clear time table for its delivery. Our message today is clear and certain. We believe that in this new global age, our prosperity is indivisible. We believe global problems require global solutions. We believe that growth to be sustained must be shared and that trade, once again, must become an engine for growth. The old Washington consensus is over. Today, we have reached a new consensus: that we take global action together to deal with the problems we face, that we will do what is necessary to restore growth and jobs, that we will take essential action to rebuild confidence and trust in our financial system, and to prevent a crisis like this ever happening again.

    Please pinch me. Is this real? The sacred cow of globalization has been preserved. The sacred cow of growth has been preserved. No need to live locally. The box stores will be back, stocked with cheap goods from China.

    So much for emissions. So much for strains on commodity prices. So much for energy contraints.

    Relax, folks, go back to your American Idol and Dancing with the stars. It's BAU.

    BTW, does this mean the race to $200/barrel oil can resume?

    What's that aroma, you ask? O the sweet smell of success from the Syncrude holding ponds of the Athabaska Tar Sands.

    All you gotta do is change some accounting rule and bank profits soar 20%.

    From Bloomberg: FASB Eases Fair-Value Rules Amid Lawmaker Pressure

    ... The changes approved today to fair-value, also known as mark-to-market, allow companies to use “significant” judgment in valuing assets to reduce writedowns on certain investments, including mortgage-backed securities. Accounting analysts say the measure, which can be applied to first-quarter results, may boost banks’ net income by 20 percent or more. FASB approved the changes during a meeting in Norwalk, Connecticut.


    At what point did we exchange reality for illusion?

    About 1974, when fiat currency became the only reality.

    We are all ENRON now

    They're talking about having the IMF sell of some of its gold. . . good gold buying opportunity coming up?

    On occation posters show up and talk about how they, as rural dwellers, are well suited to survive because they are smart and skilled and hunters.


    Beasley, a 69-year-old retired truck driver who modestly refers to himself as the Coon Man, supplements his Social Security check with the sale of raccoon carcasses that go for as much $12 and can serve up to four. The pelts, too, are good for coats and hats and fetch up to $10 a hide.

    Somebody should shoot a documentary about Motown-that article reads like a pretty good screenplay outline. Slick Willy-LOL.

    Hi Eric,

    Did you see this post, by any chance?


    The keywords being "ubiquitous" and "always fatal."

    I hope someone can pass the information along to Mr. Beasley.


    There are many things in nature that can be fatal and lots of foods we eat that require proper cleaning/processing. It is believed the real reason underlying certain religious objections to pork lie in ancient times when people likely died from food poisoning a bit more often than now.

    Fear is a poor motivation to not do something. How about we just learn to clean the 'coons carefully to avoid that fecal matter? This is something one must do with any animal one hunts.

    What I like about this story is how it points out transition won't be easy. There are hundreds, even thousands, of little things that can go wrong. (I will cook my wild meats very carefully should the need ever arise.)

    We are not well-prepared.


    It is believed the real reason underlying certain religious objections to pork lie in ancient times when people likely died from food poisoning a bit more often than now.

    I don't think many people believe that any more. You're as likely to get food poisoning from beef and chicken as from pork. As for trichinosis...anthrax from cattle, sheep, and goats was a bigger threat in the Middle East.

    I think the meat restrictions found in all major religions are a reflection of resource scarcity, not fear of food poisoning. Pigs eat food people can eat, and they don't provide eggs or wool or milk or labor. Therefore it's in society's interest to discourage the raising of pigs.

    Fair enough, though I suspect you are overgeneralizing.

    In any case, six of one...


    I don't think I am. It's hard for us to fathom, because food has been so cheap for us. But historically, food scarcity has been a central problem of human societies. All major religions have some kind of meat restrictions, or at least recommendations. If it's just random, why don't all religions have some kind of restrictions on eating vegetables?

    I eat meat, and I think humans were meant to eat meat (among many other things). But meat is expensive, environmentally and resource-wise, and in a resource-constrained world, meat consumption must be limited. It might be by price, as it often is now. It might be by religious restriction, as it was in the past. It might be by allowing only certain members of society to eat it, as was the case in ancient Hawaii. Or it might be forbidden to all, as with the society described in Collapse, that decided to kill all the pigs on the island, because only the rich benefited from them, but everyone paid the cost of maintaining them.

    Who's surprised?

    Remember a week or two ago when rabid articles demanding gun control said that lax US gun laws were supplying Mexican cop-killers? As expected it was false.

    While 90 percent of the guns traced to the U.S. actually originated in the United States, the percent traced to the U.S. is only about 17 percent of the total number of guns reaching Mexico.

  • http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2009/04/02/myth-percent-guns-m...
  • Fox news is hardly a accurate source. Please come back with another one.

    Oh, come on now. WND maybe is suspect with no-name sources, but Fox? You can trust what Fox says about liberal lies just like you can trust CNN about conservative ones -- you just can't trust them to be as accurate about their own.

    This article provides data -- real numbers -- rationale, and various background points. Seems like the onus is upon you to support the original numbers in some way, or to refute this article.

    I'm sure there will be another volley in the coming days.

    Edit: Gov't source on numbers seized: 39,437

  • http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2009/vol1/116522.htm
  • As of November 12, 2008, GOM security forces had seized 39,437 illegal firearms, including the record-breaking seizure of weapons believed to belong to the Zetas of the Gulf cartel, and arrested 26,947 persons on drug-related charges – 26,571 Mexicans and 376 foreigners. According to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), 19 drug-processing laboratories were also dismantled in Mexico during 2008. DEA reports that five of these methamphetamine labs were classified as “super labs” (i.e., having a production capacity of 10 pounds or more per processing cycle).

    though CBS says only 25000 in two years:

  • http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/02/28/world/main4835694.shtml
  • and actual number traced to the US varies from 1K to 3K, but here is the gov't testimony version of that:

    In FY 2007 alone, approximately 1,112 guns which originated in Texas, Arizona and California were submitted for tracing from Mexico. For all other U.S. States in FY 2007, approximately 435 guns were submitted for tracing from Mexico.

  • http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/110/hoo020708.htm
  • Looks like the 90% is right, only the other way round. :)

    I am not against gun ownership, however I don't think the mixing of gun ownership and anti-depressant medication should be legal-citizens should have the right to choose one or the other but not both.

    My operating assumption, especially in Texas, is that most drivers have the following characteristics: (1) They just got laid off from their job; (2) Their wife just left them; (3) Their dog just died; (4) Their home is in foreclosure proceedings; (5) The bank is trying to repossess their pickup; (6) They just left a bar and (7) They have a loaded gun on the seat next to them.

    You've just got yourself the makings of a whole album full of C&W songs, there!

    Two of my "Texans and their guns stories."

    A few years ago in Fort Worth (early Nineties if memory serves), in a mall parking lot, a man witnessed another man shoot and kill a woman. The assailant proceeded to walk back to his car. Said witness went to his car, pulled out his 44 Magnum, walked up behind said assailant, who was preparing to drive away, and executed him with one shot to the head. No charges were filed.

    Years ago, in North Texas (I think in the Eighties), a father found out that his adult daughter had been beat up pretty badly by her live in boyfriend. Said enraged father grabbed his gun and went looking for boyfriend. Found him. Shot and killed him. One problem: A case of mistaken identity. He shot the wrong guy. This did go to trial, but the father was acquitted, the foreman explaining that "A father has a right to protect his daughter."

    Guns don't kill people-husbands that come home early from work kill people.

    Have you been listening to some country songs again?

    WT: It's 2009, you have to add

    (8) Undiagnosed/Untreated ADHD&PTSD.. an American Birthright.

    I have to ask, what is it like living a life in total fear of everything?

    i dunno. I'll ask a krill ....

    So, those suffering from depression should be allowed to own guns, but only if they agree not to treat their depression? Doesn't sound like a good plan to me.

    Perhaps the ban filter should also include those who listen to country music? If a T-shirt can be considered free speech than I would think a song could be considered medication?

    what % is not traceable ?


    Okay, all you (us) doomers!
    Can you stand some good news?

    U.S. approves Milwaukie MAX line
    The Federal Transit Administration has approved a new stage of development for a $1.4 billion Portland-Milwaukie light rail line, a major milestone for the project, the TriMet transit agency said today.


    Portland maps out MAX's future
    That task -- guiding the next generation of mass transit -- is the lofty aim of planners laying out the region's future. They envision scattered hubs of activity connected to other hubs. And if given a mass transit boost, some of those could blossom into vibrant destinations, where future residents live and work.
    For the next three weeks, the public will have a chance to pick favorites among 29 segments, worth up to $25 billion, that made it through an initial round of screening. To make public involvement easier, and perhaps a little fun, Metro this week began offering Web users a chance to "build your own transit system" with a site that lets any computer user compile a collection of routes -- like a mini version of the popular SimCity computer game.


    Last Spring there was so much wind in the Columbia Gorge and so much water behind the dams that the grid couldn't handle it all, and some of the electrical generation capacity had to be wasted. This MAX plan could give us a new, local sink for that capacity, which would be a welcome change from the electricity & water poachers (Las Vegas, are you listening?) that are lining up now to grab Oregon's resources.

    So SMILE, Alan!

    More fodder for the deflation/inflation debate, from the Austrians. My personal view is that Peak Oil/Peak Exports was a trigger, and now accelerant, in the whole inflation/deflation/inflation cycle--like a lit match being dropped in a dry forest full of dead underbrush, in high winds, followed by aerial tankers dropping napalm, instead of fire retardant.

    There will be (hyper)inflation

    Mises was well aware of the final consequences of a monetary regime that rests on ever-greater increases in the money stock produced by banks' expanding circulation credit. It would, at some point, lead to bankruptcies on the grandest scale, resulting in a contraction of the credit and money supply (deflation).

    Or it would end in hyperinflation:

    "But if once public opinion is convinced that the increase in the quantity of money will continue and never come to an end, and that consequently the prices of all commodities and services will not cease to rise, everybody becomes eager to buy as much as possible and to restrict his cash holding to a minimum size. For under these circumstances the regular costs incurred by holding cash are increased by the losses caused by the progressive fall in purchasing power. The advantages of holding cash must be paid for by sacrifices which are deemed unreasonably burdensome. This phenomenon was, in the great European inflations of the 'twenties, called flight into real goods (Flucht in die Sachwerte) or crack-up boom (Katastrophenhausse)."[4]

    From Drudge:

    With 'Atlas Shrugged,' Hollywood may have its first anti-bailout movie

    Hollywood could soon be going Objectivist.

    After decades in development hell, Ayn Rand’s capitalism-minded “Atlas Shrugged” is taking new steps toward the big screen — with one of the film world’s most prominent money men potentially at its center. . .

    A number of stars have expressed serious interest in playing the lead role of (Dagny) Taggart. Angelina Jolie previously had been reported as a candidate to play the strong female character, but the list is growing and now includes Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway.

    Although it was written a half-century ago, producers say that the book’s themes of individualism resonate in the era of Obama, government bailouts and stimulus packages -- making this the perfect moment to bring the 1,100-page novel to the big screen. . . .

    Producers are looking to shoot next year, driven in part by the timeliness, as well as by a clause in the option. A high net-worth individual with whom the Baldwins have partnered controls the option, but that option would revert to the Rand estate if production doesn't begin by the end of 2010. . .

    I propose a remake of Stand Up and Cheer! (original NY Times 1934 review)

    Warner Baxter is in his element here as Lawrence Cromwell, a stage producer who is called to Washington by the President to take over the newly formed Cabinet post of Secretary of Amusements...Once in his Washington office. Cromwell proceeds to busy himself by ordering dozens of jazz bands, grosses of chorus girls, "one sixth of a dozen of masters of ceremony" and dozens of blues singers, torch singers and a quarter of a dozen boop-boop-a-doop warblers. It is a case of bringing smiles to the faces of the nation, causing them to forget the past economic depression...Even a penguin has been corralled for this film. It is funny enough to say that this stranger from the Antarctic goes waddling around a room wearing a hat and a coat. But think how ludicrous it is when the bird, talking with the familiar husky hot-cha voice, tells Stepin Fetchit that he is Jimmy Durante, shrunk and slightly changed. The penguin receives an opportunity to plunge into a tank containing a variety of fish. Stepin Fetchit also dives into the tank, seeking to pacify the bird edition of Durante who wants a halibut.

    I wish Atlas would shrug, as all these parasitic members of the elite would go away.
    The scum always rises to the top, and these "Gault" types are useless sociopaths, and need to be removed from the economic picture.

    The funny thing is if that actually happened. nothing would change, all that would happen is the people in the positions just under the people who left will be promoted de-facto and the company's along with the country would move on without as much as a hiccup.

    Yes-sometimes people talk about a "revolution" in the USA but in reality whoever seized control would, within a very short time period, be stealing just as much money as Paulson or Geithner. It is in the culture. Obama was supported by many who were disgusted by the blatant corruption of the Bush/Cheney regime-so what happens? Lots of nice speeches and then back to the same old stuff.

    --There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs. -- Kung Fu Monkey

    Rail Freight Traffic Down in March

    U.S. railroads originated 1,082,514 carloads of freight in March 2009, down 17.3 percent (226,279 carloads) from March 2008. U.S. intermodal rail traffic, which consists of trailers and containers on flat cars and is not included in carload figures, totaled 729,033 units in March 2009, down 14.9 percent (127,371 trailers and containers) compared to March 2008.

    For the first three months of 2009, total U.S. rail carloadings were down 16.3 percent (636,192 carloads) to 3,259,097 carloads, while intermodal traffic was down 15.5 percent (411,802 units) to 2,243,491 trailers and containers. Total volume was estimated as 345.8 billion ton-miles, down 15.2 percent from a year ago


    Weekly & Year to date data


    Coal is about half of the total, and it is down only 4% for the 12 week period (but 21% for the latest week). It's the everything else that is really down a lot--by 26% for the 12 week period.

    America is becoming a nation of deadbeats...

    Consumer loan delinquencies hit record high
    Payments at least 30 days late rose to 3.22%, association says.

    More U.S. consumers have fallen behind on loan payments than ever before, and the problem may worsen as millions more find themselves out of a job, a study released Thursday shows.

    According to the American Bankers Association, which represents most large U.S. banks and credit card companies, the percentage of consumer loans at least 30 days late rose to a seasonally-adjusted 3.22% in the October-to-December period from 2.9% in the prior quarter...

    The ABA said the fourth-quarter rate was the highest since it began tracking the data in 1974, with delinquencies rising in nearly every category. It said these credit trends are unlikely to improve before 2010. Many consider the deep recession the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    "Job losses have really hurt the economy and will continue to inflict pain for several months," James Chessen, the ABA's chief economist, said in an interview. "The greater the losses are, the more severe an impact it has on all credit markets."...

    ...most major card issuers face mounting credit losses. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., told shareholders this week that "we do not expect to make any money" in credit cards this year.

    I have immaculate credit, no debt (except a mortgage and student loans) and make a decent amount of money. And finally, I pay my credit card in full every month. Financially, I am as clean as a whistle.

    I called to ask the credit card company to up my credit limit- I am the safest risk that is out there- from $500 to $1000.

    They mailed me a letter saying no.

    My best guess is that they are not upping anyone's credit because they are losing their as*es hand over fist.

    To steal a qote from Alan... Best hopes on staying current.

    Perhaps it's because you are what the credit card industry defines as a "deadbeat," i.e., someone who does not carry a balance on their credit cards.

    I wonder if Orwell ever saw that one coming?

    (forget it, I'm sure he did!)


    Must be why the deluge of credit card solicitations in my mailbox has dried up. Many thanks to all those who default.

    Don't you just love them silver linings ??

    hmmm... lots of credit card defaults.... this should mean that the credit card companies will soon be eligible for Fed bailout money...sounds like cause for a stock market rally... think I'll go by some MC or VISA stock. /sarc

    On a serious note. Have you checked your credit scores lately. What you've described as your credit history would not give you a high score, even if it makes you a wise money manager.

    Was checked about 2 months ago. I just refinanced to a 4.875% fixed-rate 30 year mortgage (I'm hoping to ride out the hyperinflation that's coming). My bank apparently thinks I'm a good risk...

    I pay my bills on time.

    I've paid past loans off on time.

    My debt service to income ratio is pretty reasonable (methinks somewhere around 20% including my mortgage).

    Definitely interesting. You are clearly not using debt in the way that the financial companies want you to. It sounds like your revolving credit balances are too low and your not carrying enough balance to be truly profitable to them. In addition, you haven't dedicated nearly enough of your income to debt servicing. This makes you a very good fiscal manager and probably just what a conservative main line bank would like as a mortgage customer. But to the revolving credit companies, you are just not worth the business. All they'll get from you is the yearly fee (but I'm betting you chose a card without one) . In fact, I'm surprised they didn't pull your card ;-).

    You might have to pay a higher interest rate, but you might want to try changing cards, if you really need the higher credit limit.

    of course we know that credit card companys themselves, visa/mastercard, are service companies...they don't collect on the debt but make their bucks on the service fee of the transaction. They don't have any real liability on the debt, good or bad.

    Credit slashed for responsible borrowers more often

    As lenders close a record number of credit card accounts and slash credit lines, they're targeting an unlikely population: responsible borrowers.

    A new study by Fair Isaac, the creator of the FICO credit score, shows that 11% of U.S. consumers, about 22 million people, had their lines cut or accounts closed even though they pay their bills on time and have good credit. This is more than double the 5%, or 10 million consumers, who had blemished credit and saw their lines reduced in that same period, the six months ended last October.

    The findings are surprising because historically lenders have pulled back on credit for risky consumers, rather than those with good credit.

    Yet lenders' definition of risk is changing as the economy spirals downward, says Josh Lauer, an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire who is writing a book about credit reporting.

    Lenders appear to be targeting high-credit-score borrowers for line reductions because they tend to use cards less and carry low balances, Fair Isaac's Careen Foster says.

    This group also isn't terribly profitable for lenders because it pays few credit card fees, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for Credit.com. Though these consumers are less likely to default, lenders still must set aside reserves in case the loans go bad.

    I've had several cards canceled in the past few months, due to lack of use. I've also had offers of 0% interest, no balance transfer fees.

    In my opinion the Indonesian forest credit plan is not only blackmail but the proponents can easily get out of keeping their word. The whole notion is back to front. I suggest not
    -world pays Indo not to raze forest, but
    -Indo pays world if forest is razed.

    Preserving the forest is Indonesia's primary responsibility. If satellite images show they have destroyed large tracts of forest that is a debit against them. Even if you disagree consider several practical problems. The forest could succumb to fire, disease or drought so the money should be handed back. More likely carbon uptake could decline in a subtle way but no-one notices. If Forest A is the one dedicated to foreigners and Forest B next door is razed the whole exercise is pointless. Also the forest is holding the line on some pre-existing emissions, not covering for new emissions.

    The cheap offsets scam could be why some power companies don't fear the arrival of cap and trade.

    Why would power companies care? Any new costs will be passed on to the consumer.

    sadly, that seems to be the model employed by utilities and insurance co.s, the more $ they can cycle, the greater their profit.

    "Causes of the Oil Shock of 2007 - 2008"

    What persuaded residents outside of China to reduce petroleum consumption in the face of booming levels of income? The answer is that the price of oil had to increase. How much the price should have risen depends on the price elasticity of demand. Consider the following illustrative calculations. It seems reasonable to maintain that the economic growth in 2006 and 2007 would have resulted in at least as big a shift of the demand curve as resulted from the slightly weaker GDP growth of 2004 and 2005. Adding in the first half of 2008 (when global GDP continued to rise), consider then the consequences of a rightward shift of the demand curve of 5.5 million barrels per day. With production only increasing by 0.5 mb/d over this period, a demand elasticity of ε = 0.06 would imply that the price should have risen from $55/barrel in 2005 to $142/barrel in 2008:H1.

    more at:

    "Oil is not responsible," the producer group's Secretary General, Abdullah al-Badri, told reporters on Thursday on the sidelines of the International Oil Summit in Paris.

    "It is the industrialised countries which are making all this pollution in the world"

    And the distinction would be?

    HOLD ON TO YER HATS,BOYS AND GIRLS! being unemployed for 3 months and direct deposit of unem, i use the ATM. last week i noticed a sign in my
    bank window. 6 month CD, 2.5%! WOOOO-HOOOO! but if i use my sears
    citi gold card it cost me.....25%! wooo-hoooo! we are all "f"ed big time. the man enslaved to wealth can never be honest. my town has 30,000 residents and a 65 million dollar school budget. bottom line, my property taxes will go up $200 for that. and add another $200 for the town budget, 45 million dollars or more. is that sustainable? residents want to the town to purchase land for a sports area, not a town farm or garden, a sports area. land purchase, 2.5 million dollars. "it will increase tourism." WE ARE ALL DOOMED! there is no limit to human greed and folly.

    a sports area. land purchase, 2.5 million dollars. "it will increase tourism."

    Not when oil goes back through the roof and no one can afford to drive.

    Your city is looking to bankrupt themselves. Move out.

    From Leanan's drumbeat article above

    ANALYSIS-Non-OPEC oil supply to fall further, faster

    cutting non-OPEC supply by 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of 2010 - Sanford Bernstein

    a potential drop of 1.5 million bpd in 2010 - Barclays Capital

    a 280,000 bpd decline this year - Deutsche Bank

    In contrast the EIA STEO forecasts that non OPEC production will increase by 0.01 mbd to 49.76 mbd in 2009, followed by a further increase to 49.95 mbd in 2010.

    My updated non OPEC forecast below shows a 0.24 mbd drop from 2008 to 49.5 mbd in 2009, similar to Deutsche Bank. The drop from 2009 to 2010 is forecast to be 1.5 mbd which is the same as Barclays but less than Sanford Bernstein. The 2010 forecast of 48 mbd is 2 mbd less than peak production in 2007.

    click to enlarge

    The declining non OPEC production is due partly to large drops from Russia, Mexico, Norway and the UK. Beyond 2010, OPEC is highly unlikely to offset non OPEC decline causing world production to continue dropping.

    For more information on declining production, please refer to

    Non OPEC-12 Oil Production Peaked in 2004

    World Oil Production Peaked in 2008

    Hi Tony,

    I vote a new post for this.