Drumbeat: September 5, 2010

Wall St. firm behind slow solar pace on federal lands? - Goldman Sachs subsidiary bought lots of leases — but hasn't used them

ROACH DRY LAKE, Nev. — Not a light bulb's worth of solar electricity has been produced on the millions of acres of public desert set aside for it. Not one project to build glimmering solar farms has even broken ground.

Instead, five years after federal land managers opened up stretches of the Southwest to developers, vast tracts still sit idle.

An Associated Press examination of U.S. Bureau of Land Management records and interviews with agency officials shows that the BLM operated a first-come, first-served leasing system that quickly overwhelmed its small staff and enabled companies, regardless of solar industry experience, to squat on land without any real plans to develop it.

Kurt Cobb: Fossil Fuels vs. The Public Interest

The fossil fuel industry often pretends to have the public's best interests in mind. The operative word is "pretends."

Fossil fuel executives get out of bed in the morning thinking about two things: 1) Making sure they can sell all their current in-ground inventory of fossil fuels at a profitable price and 2) finding more fossil fuels to replace those they've already taken out of the ground.

BP Installs New Blowout Valves on Well, Removing Threat to Gulf, U.S. Says

A new valve-stack system installed last night to replace the one that failed BP Plc’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico has removed the threat of oil flowing into the water, the U.S. government said.

BP used the Development Driller II to install the blowout preventer, National Incident Commander Thad Allen said in a conference call. The failed blowout preventer is near the surface of the Gulf and will be taken to a facility in New Orleans for testing, a U.S. federal judge ruled yesterday.

“The well doesn’t constitute a threat to the Gulf of Mexico at this point,” Allen said, in declaring a near end to the effort to kill the well.

A Voice From the Next Offshore Oil Frontier

On Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had a meeting with the only people outside the gulf region whose waters had been opened to offshore oil exploration. He was in Barrow, Alaska, the capital of the North Slope Borough, where people have the same conflicted feelings about the oil industry as residents of the gulf states do. The energy industry centered in Prudhoe Bay is the economic engine of the North Slope, helping preserve the Inupiat culture, but it also presents a potential threat to that culture.

Petrol pump dealers threaten strike over sale commission

NEW DELHI: Petrol pump dealers have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from September 20, if the commission they earn on sale of petrol and diesel is not increased.

The Federation of All India Petroleum Traders (FAIPT), which claims to represent all of the 38,700 petrol pumps in the country, said it has been, for the past two years, seeking a rise in dealers commission as the cost of maintaining retail stations has increased.

Shell in Exclusive Talks to Sell Finnish, Swedish Refining Units to St1

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil producer, is in exclusive talks to sell its refining units in Sweden and Finland to St1, a Finnish energy company, as part of a plan to streamline operations.

Yemen to Offer 15 Hydrocarbon Blocks for Exploration Contracts in October

Yemen plans to offer next month the rights to develop 15 offshore hydrocarbon blocks as the smallest producer on the Arabian Peninsula seeks to boost production, Oil Minister Amir al-Aidarous said.

“Expanding explorations is one of the priorities of the government,” al-Aidarous said in an interview in Sana’a on Sept. 1. Yemen will offer the blocks to international companies during a two-day conference in Sana’a in October, he said.

A world in collapse?

Take a look at any measure of the fundamental health of the planetary ecosystem on which we are dependent: topsoil loss, chemical contamination of soil and water, species extinction and reduction in biodiversity, the state of the world’s oceans, unmanageable toxic waste problems, and climate change. Take a look at the data, and the news is bad on every front.

And all of this is in the context of the dramatic decline coming in the highly concentrated energy available from oil and natural gas, and the increased climate disruption that will come if we keep burning the still-abundant coal reserves. There are no replacement fuels on the horizon that will allow a smooth transition. These ecological realities will play out in a world structured by a system of nation-states rooted in the grotesque inequality resulting from imperialism and capitalism, all of which is eroding what is left of our collective humanity. “Collapsing” seems like a reasonable description of the world.

That doesn’t mean there’s a cataclysmic end point coming soon, but this is an apocalyptic moment. The word “apocalypse” does not mean “end.” It comes from a Greek word that means “uncovering” or “lifting the veil.” This is an apocalyptic moment because we need to lift the veil and have the courage to look at the world honestly.

What makes the Kochs and the neocons nervous enough to spend so much money

I don't ever write about Peak Oil, because, among my many odd jobs, (some odder than others), for over ten years I have been doing news aggregation for a major Spanish energy futures portal and have had to read hundreds and hundreds of articles about oil during those years. I also have friends who are real industry experts on the subject (I just know what I read in the papers) and up till now "received" opinion is that Peak Oil is tinfoil-hatsville, and so I stay away from it. But, these two articles in publications that I respect have made me realize that the subject is now being discussed at (gasp) the highest levels.

Peak Oil: Comic Book Minds

But this first wave prognosticated like they had comic book minds - or for a more up-to-date insult, like they had TV hourlong drama minds. Reading Peak Oil columns, and Kunstler's novel, World Made By Hand, one had the impression that the industrialized world was going to fall apart rather quickly - and homogenously - in a massive shock of oil depletion and unaffordable energy. But it hasn't. Not a one of them predicted that a global recession would reduce the demand for oil and keep the prices under $100/barrel.

Review: "Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World"

Ok, I'm a serious guy trying to evaluate serious topics. I find the documentary medium to be just about useless.

They are all the same:

(a) A guy making broad-brushed, scary, unsubstantiated claims with no real, checkable evidence to back it up.

(b) Backed up by tingly, scary music.

(c) Whenever any evidence (numerical or graphical) is presented, the camera pans in and out without giving the viewer a chance to determine what the units are on the axes of the graph much less have enough time to consider its sources or what the graph is saying.

Economy: “Ten Shetland pounds please…”

Was there ever a more appropriate time to discuss the opportunities for a local currency and for supporting the local economy? The discussion surrounding the arrival and expansion of Tesco in Shetland has been well documented recently; then there’s the national economy, still reeling after the “work” of greedy bankers; central government funding cuts; the threat of climate change; increasing fuel prices as we move towards peak oil. All are high on the agenda.

US firm’s landmark solar deal with China loses steam

BEIJING — With great fanfare, an Arizona-based energy company signed a preliminary agreement with China last fall to build the world’s largest solar power plant in the Mongolian desert.

The deal was hailed as the first major example of the United States and China cooperating on a big-ticket energy project, and the largest move made by an American company into Asia’s fast-growing alternative energy market.

The agreement became a centerpiece achievement of President Obama’s visit to China last November.

But nearly a year later, the deal has not been completed and there is growing skepticism as to whether it will happen.

Its founder gone, Ocean Energy searches for direction

Nearly a month after the death of Matthew Simmons, board members and advocates of the Ocean Energy Institute are trying to figure out how to carry forward its founder's bold ambitions.

Simmons' death was a personal tragedy for those who knew him. In a wider sense, it was a loss for Maine and those who share Simmons' goal of making the state a global center of ocean energy research and development.

His Corporate Strategy: The Scientific Method

THE scientific rebel J. Craig Venter created headlines — and drew comparisons to Dr. Frankenstein — when he announced in May that his team had created what, with a bit of stretching, could be called the first synthetic living creature.

Two months later, only a smattering of reporters and local dignitaries bothered to show up at a news conference to hear Dr. Venter talk about a new greenhouse that his company, Synthetic Genomics, had built outside its headquarters here to conduct research.

The contrast in the fanfare reflects the enormous gap between Dr. Venter’s stunning scientific achievements and his business aspirations.

Copper thieves hit Hydro-Québec plant

Police in Repentigny, Que., a suburb northeast of Montreal, are investigating a robbery at a Hydro-Québec transmission plant.

The thieves cut through a fence surrounding the plant and stole 150 meters of copper-coated electric wires.

Habitat for Humanity builds $90,000 green Miss. gem

"It is more expensive, but it does help in long-term affordability," says Wendy McDonald, executive director of Habitat's Bay-Waveland Area, named a "2009 Affiliate of the Year" by Habitat for Humanity International.

"You don't want people to choose between the utility bill and the mortgage," she says, noting the affiliate sells homes to people who cannot qualify for regular mortgages. She says the average mortgage and insurance for one of her Habitat homes is $550 a month.

Jersey Shore: Dead Fish Wash Ashore In Thousands For Second Time This Week On East Coast

N.J. Department of Environmental Protection officials say initial tests show no signs of toxic phytoplankton, like red tide, in the water, and they are still examining oxygen levels. Fisheries in Massachusetts alleged low oxygen from warm waters was the cause of the mass kill in Fairhaven, according to CNN.

China Sustains Blunt ‘You First’ Message on CO2

Yu Qingtai, China’s lead negotiator in climate talks from 2007 through the tumultuous conference in Copenhagen last December, recently gave a blunt speech at the Bejing University School of International Studies on climate, diplomacy and the balance of national and global interests in limiting global warming.

Yu, who is now China’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, presented a tough — and appropriate — challenge to the world’s industrialized nations, which have largely built their wealth on a couple of centuries of burning fossil fuels.

In sum, he said that China’s national interests will always come first and, in any move toward binding steps for reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases, rich countries must go first.

Recession is the proven cure to cutting carbon output. Who's in?

As we head into the next round of interminable UN global negotiations to draft a successor to Kyoto in Cancun this November, let’s understand what’s really being debated.

Specifically, how much more are we willing to lower our standard of living — how much poorer are we prepared to make ourselves — to cut emissions?

California's Prop. 23, backed by oil giants with a lot to lose, needs to go down in flames

I don't mean to disturb your holiday weekend just when you're trying to scrub that grease off the barbecue grill. But I thought now was a good time to remind you that in two months, you'll have an important choice to make about the air you breathe.

In November, you'll be asked whether California should continue on the path to becoming one of the world's environmental leaders. Or give up the good fight and pray that the global warming deniers are right.

Coal a 'driving factor' in U.S. Senate race

The landscapes of Eastern and Western Kentucky have little in common, but the areas share at least two things: an abundance of coal and a pivotal role in the U.S. Senate race.

That means coal policies, such as the controversial "cap and trade" approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, are a key issue in the contest between Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway.

George F. Will: The environmental movement in retreat

The collapsing crusade for legislation to combat climate change raises a question: Has ever a political movement made so little of so many advantages? Its implosion has continued since "the Cluster of Copenhagen, when world leaders assembled for the single most unproductive and chaotic global gathering ever held." So says Walter Russell Mead, who has an explanation: Bambi became Godzilla.

That is, a small band of skeptics became the dogmatic establishment. In his Via Meadia blog, Mead, a professor of politics at Bard College and Yale, notes that "the greenest president in American history had the largest congressional majority of any president since Lyndon Johnson," but the environmentalists' legislation foundered because they got "on the wrong side of doubt."

Scientist Watches Glacier Melt Beneath His Feet

Earlier this summer, a group of scientists spent two weeks in Indonesia atop a glacier called Puncak Jaya, one of the few remaining tropical glaciers in the world. They were taking samples of ice cores to study the impacts of climate change on the glacier.

Lonnie Thompson, a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, led the team and what he witnessed shocked him: The glacier was literally melting under their feet.

Indian Ocean rising faster than others

Newly detected rising sea levels in parts of the Indian Ocean have led Indian scientists to conclude that the Indian Ocean is rising faster than other oceans.

Dr Satheesh C. Shenoi, director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Infor-mation Services, speaking at a workshop on “Coasts, Coastal Populations and their Concerns” organised by the Centre for Science and Environment, warned that sea surface measurements and satellite observations confirm that an anthropogenic climate warming is amplifying regional sea rise changes in the Indian Ocean.

This would have far-reaching impacts on the climate of vulnerable nations, including the coastlines on the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka and parts of Indonesia as a result of human-induced increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Arctic Battle Between Scotland and Russia

IT COULD be viewed as the opening exchanges of a new Cold War – this one taking place off the coast of Scotland – as Russia battles the West for control of the Arctic and the vast, untapped natural resources that lie underneath the melting ice caps.

The revelation last week that a Russian attack submarine had attempted to track one of the Trident nuclear fleet out of Faslane naval base on the Clyde signalled a worrying return to an era that many thought had been confined to history.

There was some hope at the beginning of Obama's term that, finally, something would be done to address global warming. As pointed out above, he had the biggest majority since Lyndon Johnson. I had my doubts from a comment he made during the presidential campaign. When asked what he had personally done to cut his carbon emissions, he said that his family was "working on" changing light bulbs to CFLs. That's it. That's all he could come up with. You don't "work" on changing light bulbs. You just do it. I replaced all mine 12 years ago. It wasn't that difficult. It took a couple of hours at most. You work on an automobile engine; you don't work on light bulbs.

And what else did he do to his mansion in Illinois? Apparently nothing. And has even he even reinstalled solar in the White House. Don't think so despite McKibben's entreaties. http://www.earthtechling.com/2010/09/call-for-white-house-solar-panels-g...

Health care, as important as it is, is not more important than global warming, the future of the planet. It is especially not more important when one considers how compromised the health care bill is. I don't think Obama and his advisors ever got that. I think they just saw it as another campaign issue to be gotten around to in time after we fixed the "important" things. Well, they've really fixed nothing and now the last chance to do anything about CC has been blown.

After the next election, the deniers will be fully in charge.

Even a year or two ago when Boone Pickens was putting money on the line for his Wind Farm plans, he later was forced to basically abandon them when the Powers That Be would not meet his new Wind Farm with a matching power grid infrastructure. And they wonder at folks who bring up CT's...

As pointed out above, he had the biggest majority since Lyndon Johnson.

From the perspective of practical politics, not in the Senate. George Will has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the Senate Republicans' position of filibustering every piece of Dem-sponsored legislation that makes significant policy changes. Under the current rules, that defines "majority" to mean 60 votes. Prior to the election of Brown from Massachusetts, the Dems had a hair-thin majority: if even one Dem defected, they couldn't break the filibuster. Since Brown's election, the Dems are one short of a majority. Note that if Obama actually had Johnson's majority -- 68 seats -- the last two years would probably have seen a very different set of legislation passed.

To make matters worse, some of the Dem Senators are from major coal-producing states that stand to lose lots of jobs and revenue. Wind farm construction on the Great Plains, or solar farm construction in the desert Southwest, are not going to provide jobs for unemployed coal miners (and all of the derivative jobs such as producing electricity for export) from West Virginia.

Meaningful climate-change legislation is DOA in the Senate for the foreseeable future.

I don't understand why filibustering is not outlawed in the standing orders of Congress.Surely it is not a provision of the constitution?

I believe that in most democracies this tactic was done away with years ago and for good reason.If a party has a majority then legislation is passed after a reasonable amount of debate.The process is called "applying the gag".Of course,there is always a question mark over what is a reasonable amount of time for a debate.

I don't understand why filibustering is not outlawed in the standing orders of Congress.Surely it is not a provision of the constitution?

The Constitution says that both the House and the Senate may establish their own rules of operation. The Senate has a rule that says it requires 60 votes to approve a motion to close debate. Another rule says that it takes a two-thirds majority of those present to change the rules. There are other ways that the rule could be set aside (the so-called "nuclear option"), but both sides are too scared to invoke that because it would establish a precedent that rules could be set aside by a simple majority any time that they wished to do so.

The fact is that the US Senate has become much more polarized than the American voters. As a result, the two sides are terrified of what the other would vote for if they controlled all of the House, Senate, and Presidency. The Senate filibuster is really the last defense against a party with a narrow majority from making radical policy changes. From my perspective, the Senate filibuster kept the Bush administration and the Republican majority in Congress from doing even worse things; I have friends who feel just as strongly about Obama and the current Democratic majorities.

The filibuster is an advantage to the party whose main interest is in doing nothing about anything. The executive branch,however, can do a great deal or refuse to do a great deal without the consent of congress. Given the way things are going, however, it is probably fortunate that the Democrats chose not to tinker with or abolish the filibuster. Meanwhile, the big, planet changing problems of the day do not get addressed and will not be addressed ever. During the last administration, some things like medicare prescriptions, tax cuts, and war got done with the help of democrats. I did not agree with any of these actions but at least there was some attempt on the part of the Dems to be somewhat bipartisan. Bipartisan efforts are completely dead with the republicans in the minority. They have probably set a precedent as the favor will be returned when the Dems go into minority status.

The executive branch,however, can do a great deal or refuse to do a great deal without the consent of congress.

Interesting, as I take the opposite position: the executive branch can do little without the consent of Congress. The system was set up that way. The structure of the Constitution makes it clear that the role of the executive branch is to execute policies established by the Congress. As part of the checks and balances thing, the President can block a policy change (although that's not an absolute power); but the President can't initiate or fund new policy.

Recently the FCC said it had authority, under statutory language, to do net neutrality in a certain way. The SCOTUS, arbiter in such matters, said no. The EPA said that it didn't have to regulate carbon dioxide. The SCOTUS said no, the statutory language required the EPA to regulate pollutants and carbon dioxide was one. Not the FCC's choice; Congress's. Not the EPA's choice; Congress's.

Granted, Congress is largely tied up in knots these days, and is unlikely to make major changes in authority. Still, it's up to Congress to grant new authority or withdraw old; the executive can't make such changes.

If Peak Oil resulted in the more extreme forms of economic disruption envisoned here, the President could declare a National Emergency and exercise broad powers, including issuing Executive Orders.

With the exception of two cases enumerated in the Fifth Amendment, both of which are quite limited, the President's authority to declare national emergencies (and there are several such already ongoing) is provided by Congress, eg, the Insurrection Act and the National Emergency Powers Act.

Such acts exist because Congress (and the Presidents) understood that, absent specific statutory authority, the President does not have broad emergency powers. This situation was recognized early on; the Insurrection Act dates to 1807. So Congress delegated a certain amount of its authority to the executive under limited circumstances. But the authority remains Congress's, as they can take it back if they so choose.

At least he got new carpet into the oval orifice.

Mission Accomplished.

One less worry for the next Fraud-In-Chief

Link up top: BP Installs New Blowout Valves on Well, Removing Threat to Gulf, U.S. Says

Can anyone explain why a new blowout preventer was placed on a well bore filled with cement?

Ron P.

Ron -- It's estimated only the bottom 3,000' or so of the 13,000' of csg is filled with cmt. The regs require shallow cmt plugs to be set to P&A the well as per the law. That will require going in hole with drill pipe to set the plugs. Regs don't allow doing that without a functioning BOP on the well.

Also, the well may be cmtd on the bottom and not flowing. But that's what they thought before the blow out.

After Bargains of Recession, Air Fares Soar

Passengers are paying the price. For leisure travelers, domestic fares have increased by more than 20 percent in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, according to data compiled by the travel Web site Orbitz. On international routes in that period, the climb was even steeper, with fares rising 30 percent. For business travelers, ticket prices increased by 12 percent in the first half of the year.
The price of round-trip coach tickets for a flight between Chicago and Atlanta, for instance, was about $250 this summer, a $50 increase over last year. A round-trip ticket from New York to Paris, which sold for less than $700 last year, cost more than $1,000 this summer.

George F. Will: The environmental movement in retreat

Here's a reply to Will's commentary:

In his 4 September commentary, George Will claims that the environmental “movement” is in retreat. He points to the arguments of Friedrich Hayek, whose philosophical writings have been adopted by neocons, such as Reagan and Thatcher, based on his analysis of economics as contained in books such as “The Road to Serfdom (1944)” and “the Constitution of Liberty (1960)”. On reading these books, one finds that Hayek considered himself to be a “NeoLiberal”, a philosophical view more closely related to present day Libertarianism. Perhaps Mr. Will has not had the time to read “The Constitution of Liberty”, which includes a postscript entitled “Why I am Not a Conservative”, (available online). Hayek considered himself to be a progressive, and acknowledged that there were important functions for government, while pointing out the problems of both a socialistic and democratic forms. Hayek also was deeply involved with the sciences of his day, interacting with men such as Karl Popper, who was very influential in formulating the philosophy of science. Hayek also pointed out that the most socialistic institution in government is the military and he wrote during a time when Europe was ruled by totalitarian dictatorships thru military control.

Science is a two edged sword, with both benefits to mankind and knowledge of the detrimental effects of man’s applications of those benefits. The environmental movement grew out of an awareness that man’s activities were producing serious negative impacts, the most obvious ones being air and water pollution. After WW II, the rapid deployment of automobiles in the US and elsewhere resulted in pollution which directly threatened the health of humans nearby. At the same time, new chemicals were formulated and begun to be used with subtle effects, both on people and on the rest of nature. Improvements in medical science led to reduced mortality and thus more rapid growth of populations in the developed world. As these effects only became apparent after the insults were spread widely thru the economy, the conservatives who had profited from these applications of science objected to any effort to correct the problems.

The growth of industrial economies based on fossil fuels and the resulting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases presents the ultimate dilemma for economics. That’s because the well known problem labeled “The Tragedy of the Commons” after a paper published by Garrett Hardin in 1968. Simply put, Hardin pointed out that what’s good for an individual (or company) may not be good for society (or for the Earth’s other living beings). The awareness that the Earth is a finite place and thus the resources upon which life depends are also limited is an alien concept to the older economic views of human society, in which thinkers claim that continued growth in consumption can continue forever. The fact that there are “Limits to Growth” is very clear in every biological system known to science, including mankind. Economists from Adam Smith on have claimed that “the invisible hand”of markets will sort out the distribution of resources, but when faced with resource limits, the market’s response is to cut off those resources to those without the money or without a political voice. Neocon economics leaves no place for the natural world, as all resources are to be exploited whenever they are available, regardless of the impact on the surroundings. Mining for coal and drilling for petroleum are classic examples, with mountains being pushed into valleys to extract coal and water supplies being polluted in an effort to recover petroleum. For thousands of years, the atmosphere is used as a free dumping place for the products of combustion and, more recently, for dumping the chemicals produced by the petrochemical industry.

It’s quite obvious that the so-called “free market” can not constrain those activities which negatively impact Nature and must be controlled. Mr. Will seems to think that such control is unnecessary. He relies on quotes from Walter Russell Mead, who is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations, an expert on U.S. foreign policy. With all due respect to Dr. Mead, he is not a scientist and likely does not understand the negative impacts of economic development. The problem of Climate Change, especially Global Warming is widely accepted by the scientific community that actively studies the atmosphere and oceans. The problem is one of the most difficult to face, since the immediate effects on humans are small and won’t be felt for decades after the dumping of the greenhouse gases. While no one can know the future with absolute certainty, what evidence we now have points to major changes on Earth, such as melting of high latitude glaciers and a rise in sea level as a result. But, the scientists can not yet point to changes in everybody’s back yard, so it’s easy for political propagandists (as Dr. Mead may be) to bury the faint evidence that is clear to the scientists but not to the scientifically illiterate general public. The failure to translate this understanding into a politically acceptable solution is the direct result of efforts by business interests to spread disinformation and outright lies to the public. Sad to say, we may have no alternative but Nature’s “invisible hand”, which will eventually slap down humanity with punishment for our insults because, as the environmentalist point out, Nature Bats Last...

E. Swanson

The environmental movement is not in retreat. It is just being slaughtered on the battlefield where it stands. McKibben's 350.0rg folks are definitely not in retreat. Bless their souls. McKibben is relentless but I don't know how much longer he can hold out. Caring deeply for the planet and its denizens can make one feel very lonely and depressed at times. Yes I know that it is hopeless but that does not make me feel much better about it.

Al Gore? Don't hear much from him lately even though I am on his tweeter feed.

Al Gore is still active, that is to say, his organization is still active. They still send me e-mail requests for money. Politics as usual. I agree that McKibben's efforts appear hopeless...

E. Swanson

Gore has been busy....Tigers Woods has been playing golf with him....and showing him around the Massage parlours.

Been burning lots of jet fuel going back and forth to the lawyer....wonder who is going to get the house? Big Al or the Tipster?

In the words of Sharon Astyk..

It's already too late boys and girls.

Getting people to stop emitting CO2 is like getting cows to stop emitting CH4. It is never going to happen.

1 breath at a time.


Florida is fast-tracking foreclosures, just because they're so backlogged.

No one disputes that foreclosures dominate Florida’s dockets and that something needs to be done to streamline a complex and emotionally wrenching process. But lawyers representing troubled borrowers contend that many of the retired judges called in from the sidelines to oversee these matters are so focused on cutting the caseload that they are unfairly favoring financial institutions at the expense of homeowners.

Lawyers say judges are simply ignoring problematic or contradictory evidence and awarding the right to foreclose to institutions that have yet to prove they own the properties in question.

This despite the fact that shenanigans are going on:

Florida’s foreclosure mess is made murkier by what analysts and lawyers involved in the process say are questionable practices by some law firms that are representing banks. Such tactics, these people say, have drawn out the process significantly, making it extremely lucrative for the lawyers and more draining for troubled homeowners.

Doctored or dubious records presented in court as proof of a bank’s ownership have become such a problem that Bill McCollum, the Florida attorney general, announced last month that his office was investigating the state’s three largest foreclosure law firms representing lenders.

Years ago, before the housing bubble burst, we often discussed here what would happen to housing. Many thought that the problem would be so widespread that people would be allowed to stay in their homes, even if they couldn't pay the mortgage.

Not in Florida, it would seem.

And the number one best way to not get forclosed on is... SURPRISE... to keep paying your mortgage on-time. I love it how you call shenanigans on the bank lawyers "questionable practices", but not on the forclosee's delay tactics of demanding the original of every scrap of paper anywhere associated with the home.

Lawyers say judges are simply ignoring problematic or contradictory evidence and awarding the right to foreclose to institutions that have yet to prove they own the properties in question.

Would that be the contradictory evidence that showed that the homeowner was actually making the monthly payments? Ahh, didn't think so.

I love it how you call shenanigans on the bank lawyers "questionable practices", but not on the forclosee's delay tactics of demanding the original of every scrap of paper anywhere associated with the home.

It's not "every scrap." Many states have specific statutory requirements which lenders must meet in order to file for foreclosure. In short, these laws say that it is not enough to show up in court and assert that you hold the lien; you have to be able to produce the statutorily-required paper trail that proves you hold the lien. In the various cases around the country where foreclosures have been blocked, no court has said that the defendant shouldn't or couldn't be foreclosed on; they have ruled that the foreclosure can proceed as soon as the plaintiff shows they have standing to request relief in court.

The state laws have been on the books for decades. Fannie and Freddie manage to securitize mortgages in ways that conform to the state laws. But the really big profits in the private MBS issues were possible only if the laws were ignored. That has a way of coming back and biting you on the butt eventually.

I love it how you call shenanigans on the bank lawyers "questionable practices", but not on the forclosee's delay tactics of demanding the original of every scrap of paper anywhere associated with the home.

How about if I'm not being foreclosed on and I suspect they lack the statutory paperwork to prove the loan?

Its OK in your book to ask then right?

You can ask anything you want on your own loan... and maybe if you are extremely "lucky", you can find a way to legally avoid paying the legitimate debt that you know deep down that you owe. That used to be known as welshing on a debt, but I guess its old-fashioned to feel obligated to pay back what you borrow.

Why is it that we are constantly celebrating the welshers in the country these days? Sure, there has been lots of tough sledding out there, and a lot of people have gotten the short end of the stick. At the same time, there are a lot more people out there who knowingly borrowed way more than they could realistically pay back, and then walked away from their legitamate debts and are forcing the taxpayers to pick up the tab. Heck, even those who are got special treatment through mortgage remodification are redefaulting on their loans!

IMO, the people we need to be looking up to and learning from are people here on the drum like Todd. Nice place up in the mountains with some land, some PV, etc.


Why waste time and space discussing those who aren't even able to make sustainable decisions right now, while times are still fairly good and resources are still abundant?

Maybe we should even form teams. I'll be on Todd's team and learn everything I can (and I need to learn a ton more) about being prepared for the future and surviving in hard times. You can be on the team with 10 guys who were forclosed on, and you folks can discuss how the banks and lawyers all hosed these poor innocent homebuyers. You could learn new ways of slowing up the forclosure process and how to deflect all blame onto anyone other than the one person who actually signed the loan paperwork agreeing to pay back the loan. Sound like a good plan?

You have an awfully black and white view of the world. Isn't it possible to be in favor of due process without "celebrating welshers"? If I'm in favor of fair trials, does that mean I'm celebrating murderers?

I have no problems with fair trials. However, a fair trial is an entirely different matter than "produce every piece of paper in original form in order to prove your case".

What if we used the same standard for a homeowner with no current mortgage at all? What if that homeowner was forced to produce all the original paperwork (copies not acceptable) and proof of ownership/sale etc, back to when the property was first settled? Do you think many people or even county record departments could do that? Sure, records exist... and that what "title insurance" when you buy property is for, but do they have the actual original paperwork, and if not, is it then fair to start removing people who own their land free and clear? After all, if they can't produce the original paperwork, they can't really prove ownership right, so who is to say that the government doesn't really still own the land? Welcome to Communism 101, redistribution of land from the politically unconnected to the political elite. This is where the danger lies in, as once we have set a standard where only the original document is acceptable, we have then set a precident that 99.9999% of property owners couldn't meet to prove their own ownership. Knives can cut both ways.

So yes, I do see a lot of black and white in the world. Sure, there is some grey out there... some people definately got screwed through no fault of their own. I have sympathy for that small subset of folks who life dealt a crappy hand, who fully intended to continue to pay their fixed rate mortgage for 30 years until some unfortunate event upset their plans. If, however, if the words, flip, variable, interest only, no-doc, zero-down, cash at closing, >100% Loan to Value, etc come up... my sympathy quickly fades. The ultimate irony would be a case involving a no-doc loan where the borrower is asking in court for the original documents on the mortgage.

Going back to your example, you can be in favor of fair trials, without cheering when a known murderer gets to walk free on a legal technicality.

The section I quoted said that there were falsified documents being submitted. You don't see a problem with that?

you can find a way to legally avoid paying the legitimate debt that you know deep down that you owe. That used to be known as welshing on a debt, but I guess its old-fashioned to feel obligated to pay back what you borrow.

And in the old days, no bank could be too big to fail. And in the old days the US Constitution said for the US of A to go to War a formal Declaration of War had to be drafted. And in the old days, before Upton Sinclair's book "The Jungle" there was not regulation of the meat industry.

And long before the US of A there was some flipping over of the tables of the moneychangers at a temple, or so I've heard.

You can be on the team with 10 guys who were forclosed on, and you folks can discuss how the banks and lawyers all hosed these poor innocent homebuyers.

I'm already ON the team where I'm helping home owners get out from under their MERS held ginned up mortgages. The people who actually go ahead and challenge the mortgages have a shot at getting quiet title. Discussion without action - we've got that ALL day ALL over the Internet.

Those of you who have a mortgage might want to look into RESPA violations, TILA violations and check to see if the payment math isn't right.

http://mp3.wtprn.com/Skidmore08.html MP3s on the topic and, well, sales pitch for:

And Randy Kelton has the radio show
http://www.ruleoflawradio.com/index.html where he talks about the mechanics of kicking the fraudsters in the teeth.
I'd recommend this page
of http://remediesinrealestate.com/

Sound like a good plan?

Thanks for letting me bring up the topic. I hope that everyone who reads this post, follows the links and manages to get quiet title drops you a note about how they got their land free and clear as that will warm the cockles of your heart.

Well, it's not like it hasn't happened before.

And it looks like Bank of America will have about 500,000 reasons to regret that error... but 1 significant mistake hardly creates a pattern.

Food fight breaks out as locavores defend their turf

A new food fight has stirred up the locavore movement, that promotes eating of local products, after fresh challenges to the assumption that the practice promotes environmental sustainability.
The locavore movement, which has been gaining steam rapidly since emerging in California in 2005, is now boiling over following a commentary last month suggesting that the "math" underpinning the practice is flawed.
Author and journalist Stephen Budiansky stirred up the pot with a piece appearing in the New York Times arguing that locavores are mistaken on the notion that local food is better for energy conservation and the environment.

" locavores are mistaken on the notion that local food is better for energy conservation and the environment. "

If that is the goal of the "locavores" then the deserve what they get.

Food security is the only goal of this particular "locovore."


I doubt that I will every approach anything close to food security, especially considering my location. However, I will have a lot of fun tending my garden and greenhouse and it is clear to me that growing my own beats anything out of the super market or even the relatively local farms. Transportation costs: zero. Fuel Costs from seed to kitchen: zero. Pesticides used: zero. Preparation requires energy but it does so regardless of whether local or not local.

"locovore" - mental slip, maybe "crazy for eating" ???

To add to your list- watching that garden overflow to the point you have logistical problems getting the extra to the local food pantry ;). Next year my oldest is planting the yellow, wrinkled peas and my youngest the green, smooth... more family fun. Maybe we will get a pig and enter in next year's county fair.

I'm not too sure about food security either. If my neighbors are not secure, neither am I.

Stress of job demands, fears grow for Dallas-Fort Worth workers left behind after layoff

Kim, a single mother of two children, has seen her pay cut by 5 percent, her health benefits decrease, her 401(k) match disappear and her workload grow after her company cut workers to ride out the recession. . .

"It just feels like this weight," she said. "Everybody says, 'Just be glad that you have a job.' "

. . . This Labor Day, nearly one in 10 Americans is without a job. But the unemployed aren't the only ones struggling. Many workers such as Kim have seen workloads grow in the wake of layoffs. "Survivor workers" must juggle more responsibilities and stay motivated while worrying that their job could be cut next.

Due to two rounds of unanticipated budget cuts last spring, the Dean of our department is working "75% time" - she is working her full load for 75% pay.

Bless her heart, mind and soul.

We also now have a ream of copy paper and a roll of toilet paper with the sign "CONSERVE" sitting on top of the copy machine... and I am going to tell my students to bring in road-kill for our dissection labs... (meanwhile we continue to receive frantic pleas from textbook publishers to buy the latest edition of their text before they rearrange the figures and text again next month for next semester's new edition meant to make this semester's edition obsolete... the gravy train of the higher Ed bubble is not quite finished flowing...

(edit - someone call Krugman and tell him to focus on higher ed - there is lots more room for stimulation there...)

As a college instructor, I am utterly disgusted with the textbook scam, I mean, "industry". Sometimes all they do is rearrange material to change all the page numbers and screw up your syllabus. I make every effort in my book orders to keep the cost down for students - I will accomodate folks who are able to pick up older editions cheap. I usually have the older editions kicking around anyway, so I can usually keep everyone on the same page, so to speak.

I am going to overrule my wife and buy the text books for my classes. In ten years they may need to be updated and maybe I will buy a new set then. Or mayby I will have the students add updates in the margins as the years go by.

My students can rent the books from me at cost ($$/20 semesters) without interest, using dollars, eggs or chestnuts as payment.

The woman running our bookstore knows what needs to be done to end this stupidity but the administration is (I suspect) mostly clueless so we will float around the rim of the bowl a bit longer before being flushed down the drain by reality. (Oh, and our congress man stopped by last week - I heard them doing the pledge of allegiance to him in the foyer down the hall, just before my microbiology class - I considered having my students swab cultures from his skin but then realized we do not have the facilities for such germs here on our little campus-that-could)

The article , Peak Oil: Comic Book Minds implies that the well known leaders of the “Peak Oil Movement” think oil prices can only go up, and never drop back below $100. First of all, I don’t remember all the persons mentioned making such a blanket prediction, and I pretty much read everything they had to say.

But assuming the author is correct, it appears that the most important point made is that we don’t know what the future will specifically bring. I don’t think you will get much of an argument from the “Movement” about that, but you will get an argument about the general effects we will likely see in the Post Peak world.

There is no doubt that as the amount of energy available per person falls, the economic standard of living will fall - except to a limited extend that is offset by technological efficiencies. However beyond a certain ’tipping’ or breaking point, or series of smaller breaking points, the structure of our economic/political/food system will cause sudden increases in inefficiencies - such as not being able to buy enough food locally because truckers can’t get enough fuel or the price of fuel rises too high.

My view is that the oil supply/demand imbalance in 2008, which created our first major post peak price spike, did in fact push us over the first group of tipping points. In the US, one was the mortgage financing system - which essentially completely broke down, and only a nearly complete government takeover that kept it operating.

So we do know what will come next - a steadily declining standard of living interrupted by periods such as now when lower oil prices and marginal new efficiencies of energy use create small economic upturns. We just don’t know the exact way the bumpy path downhill will take us, but it will take us downhill economically. Predicting the price of oil from here is only a side show activity.

Charles, these people are just starting to wake up. We will have to watch them flounder with their own misconceptions for years. We will have to play with them the same games we play with our children when they try desperately to hold on to their childish fantasies. But this is not about Santa or Easter Bunnies... and these people can vote and they have guns if their voting fails them.

So, first we have to wait patiently for them to assemble dozens of silly strawmen to defend the delusion they grew up with. Strawmen like "they said prices will always go up - HA! they were wrong." Never mind the models of serial recessions and chaotic price swings (see heinberg 2004). We are all familiar with these strawmen but we will find them popping up over and over and over again...

Then we are supposed to play along and help them disassemble their strawmen. This takes years and years to do because most of these people have many channels of television to watch each day, and many facebookings to do, and texting, and xanax etc, etc. (try teaching hungry, thirsty , "I havet to go to the bathroom again" ADD children who did not get any sleep the past three nights... and you get an idea of what we are up against).

Meanwhile, our leaders pretend to lead by passing "policy choices" in congress after pulling all-nighters to assemble the "policy choice" - never mind that no one actually knew what the hell they were voting on - for the sole purpose of passing something so they can pretend they were "doing something" when campaigning 24/7 for the votes of the confused Adult-Sized Children of their particular chunk of the industrial pigstye.

Meanwhile, the Goldman Sachs of the world are busy using their Flash Quote Stuffing HFT algorithms to skim the markets of every cent they can get hoping that they can cover the true losses on their books before some adults are elected to govern and force FASB to reinstate Reality-based Accounting...

We do not make history, history makes us.

We'll just have to see what it makes of us after this stupid comedy of errors collapses.

Screw it. The main reason the peak oil meme needs to be pushed is that the vast, and I do mean vast, majority couldn't give a rats as as to what the negative effects are of petroleum use. Cutting oil use and energy use in general should be done regardless of whether peak oil is imminent or not.

That vast majority that could not give a rat's ass will fight tooth, nail, vote and gun against cutting oil use and energy use in general. And they outnumber us 1000's to one or worse.

Also, we should include in that vast majority the rest of the world that has been seduced by industrial ecology and now is delusional enough to think it too can live like this... now we are outnumbered by millions to one ????

Well put. I don't have too much hope the average person will grasp the concept of peak oil, even vaguely, in the next few years. Not when even the so called energy experts I see almost every day on financial news networks (with a few notable execptions) keep telling us that oil supplies are more than adequate - and the price of oil should really be much, much lower.

What is really unprecictable is who or what the general public will hold accountable for falling oil supplies. Already there is a strong blow back from slowing drilling in the Gulf of Mexico - while supplies remain satisfactory. Imagine what will happen when folks start pulling in their local gas stations only to be greeted with a sign saying "no gas" written in large letters on a piece of cardboard.

I am not looking forward to what history will make of us.

So far it seems the average person is very quick to join the Glenn Beck Brigade, or the Alex Jones Brigade once they start to feel the hurt, anger, desperation and confusion of their own personal collapse.

Gotta keep an eye out for, and avoid, local flash mobs morphing into "machete moshpits" (apologies TOD's toto).

Even though I'm pessimistic, I'm not convinced this is true.

Mass media and the internet gives us the impression of the importance of certain figures even though they are nothing more than clowns. Throughout history there have likely been countless such people - the Hitler "never have beens" - who have simply lived their lives and passed to oblivion, and never really started any meaningful mass movements. But now, we are on the lookout for such figures everywhere.

We really have no idea what's going to happen. My gut feeling is that Americans are too libertarian for any totalitarian movement, which of course partially explains why the Democrats did so well in 2006 and 2008, and why the Republicans will do well in 2010. Anytime Americans think "somebody is telling me what to do" they will furiously reject that person.

Moreover we are now living in a very diverse society. The majority of Americans are independents or moderates living in large metropolitan areas. The evangelical and far right fringe is a distinct minority. They still have influence, but it's waning day by day, year by year. And even if some far right group got into power, what would they do? Start rounding up atheists, blacks, and Mexicans? Do you have any idea how many people that is?

I occassionally visit far right websites (tar and feather me if you wish) just to see what is going on, to get a feel for the pulse. And you wouldn't believe how much they disagree about everything under the sun. The facade of course is that they are a monolithic group of white Christians and that thereby makes them more unified and formidable than the left wing hodgepodge...but it's just a facade. If anything the left in this country is more unified than the right.

We really have no idea what's going to happen. My gut feeling is that Americans are too libertarian for any totalitarian movement

Depends on how hungry they are and how afraid they are.

Look at the 'response' to 3 buildings of some rich guys that got knocked over.

I think it's pretty clear that "environmentalists" have been chosen as the guilty parties for upcoming oil shortages. It is already the mantra for why we import most of our oil. There is an absolutely insane e-mail story going around about the vast amounts of oil in the Bakken shale formation. I have received it from two of my no-so-environmental friends asking what I thought. The environmental movement is claimed to be the reason we do not have access to that oil.

To paraphrase Pogo: "THEY have found an enemy. It is us."

How Dead Economic Theories Persist

KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS. And so do economists. Mistaking beauty (expressed in elegant equations and titillating theories) for truth, some of them in recent decades have declared victory over recessions and depressions; proclaimed that unfavorable price/earnings ratios shouldn't scare stockpickers in the post-industrial digital age; and predicted that financial instruments could radically reduce—or eliminate–risks to investors.
They were wrong, of course. Nonetheless, according to John Quiggin, a professor of economics at the University of Queensland in Australia, ideas that have been discredited through facts-on-the-ground analyses of the dot-com bubble of 2000 and the global economic crisis that began in 2008 are "already reviving and clawing their way through up the soft earth."
In Zombie Economics, he tries to put a stake in the heart of several—the great moderation of the business cycle; efficient-markets hypothesis; dynamic stochastic general equilibrium; trickle-down economics and comprehensive privatization—before they do damage again.
Equally important, Quiggin reminds us that the economy is not and should not be simply a "machine for aggregating consumer preferences and allocating resources accordingly." Embedded in a complex social structure, the economy should also accommodate itself—or the collective "we" should accommodate it—to non-economic values. So let's hope, with Quiggin, that the current crisis will produce a more realistic, responsible and socially useful body of economic thought.

This may have been discussed but I can't find with a quick search. What's happened to Professor Goose (Kyle Saunders)? I see his name seems to have been removed from the site staff information. Although the account still exists there have been no posts since July.

I sent him an email. He said he is taking a break.

Still seems very strange. Plenty of TOD staff have taken a break before without being deleted from the staff list and bios. Also all mention of Goose/Saunders has been removed from the Wikipedia entry for The Oil Drum in an attempted rewrite of history by an anonymous IP (in Colorado) a month ago.

Kyle lives in Colorado, I believe. He's probably the one who did it.

Maybe he doesn't want the angry hordes of FWO's (Formerly Well Off's) blaming him as the Great Contraction continues. Almost sounds like the plot from "Atlas Shrugged," i.e., people suddenly just disappearing.

People disappear from TOD all the time. We just don't talk about them and keep eating the soylant text up.

Its all good, no? Then let us not talk of the departed.

The Bush administration, however, kept BLM's focus on oil. BLM's database of solar applications shows many languished for years while the agency approved more than 73,000 oil and gas leases in the last five years. BLM has yet to give final approval to one solar lease.

How come that doesn't surprise me? The Bush team absolutely did not want any other form of energy except FF. In fact they were willing to manufacture falsified reasons to invade a soveriegn nation to gain access to their oil and gas fields, Iraq. The corruption of the Bush team makes Nixon look like a boy scout.

Bush bashing does no good. He ain't there no more. Do you suppose that if the president told Janet Lin (Chief BLM) to get off her ass and approve some solar parks, she would say Bush made me do it?

..Sorry Lynford, but I've gotta suggest that perhaps the current prez is too busy finishing GWB's wars and the economic fallout to put adequate attention onto (the all-too-relevant) energy policy..

Bush has a bunch more blame he deserves to get saddled with.

China’s Government Worried About Unbridled Auto Industry Growth


Mind you Chen is talking about going easy on adding more capacity on top of the 31.24m units, for which planning and building is already under way. Chen is most likely more worried of competition than of a lack of demand. Using a – for Chinese tastes – moderate annual growth rate of 20 percent, China could buy more than 40m cars in 2015.

T[r]ansferring efficient energy programs is an art of its own

The agency charged with making Nova Scotia’s energy use more efficient is facing a tight deadline and major challenges.

This week, Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation and Nova Scotia Power filed a plan with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board explaining how energy conservation programs will be transferred from the utility to the new agency.


While these expenses mount up and double up, the efficiency agency faces major challenges in the coming year.

First, the cost of saving electricity will go up and the agency will have to bring the public alongside as the cost of conservation programs jumps from $22.6 million in 2010 to a projected $60.6 million in 2012.

The agency will also have to come to grips with the law of diminishing returns, which will make the job of energy efficiency harder as it goes along.

For example, the market is expected to become saturated with low-cost lighting programs, leaving less room for quick gains from relatively cheap conservation programs.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1200328.html

From my perspective, we have a long way to go before reaching market saturation. Our average cost per kW of demand reduction is hovering around the $1,000.00 mark and our work with small businesses is typically two to three times more costly per kW saved than the retrofit programmes targeting larger commercial and industrial clients.


Severn green energy project loses government funding
The Observer 5 Sept 2010
Government pulls plug on funds for 10-mile tidal barrage

The government will this month sound the death knell for the world's largest tidal energy project – to be built across the Severn estuary between Somerset and south Wales – when it rules out public funding for the controversial £20bn plan.

The announcement will please some environmentalists, who were worried about the impact on bird life in the estuary, but others say such spending cuts will make a mockery of David Cameron's pledge to be the "greenest government ever".

The private sector is unlikely to back the 10-mile tidal barrage, which would be able to provide 5% of the UK's electricity, without government money.

Good news for the birds and the crabs!

Good news for the birds and the crabs!

Move it over the the Gulf of Mexico where the birds and crabs have been killed already by British Petro.

Venter passed his promised deadline for producing oil-pooping-bacteria earlier this year, take note. Wonder if that really holds promise, or would just be a step up from the usual algal techs that don't scale well.

Also take note that his ride is a Tesla. Maybe he's not quite ready to bet the bank on those eukaryotes.

From the Archives
THE BICYCLE AND AUTOMOBILE SHOW. - New York Times - Jan 22, 1899

Experts differ as to the best power means which will in the future be employed, but at present it would seem that the gasoline motor is the favorite and the preponderance of opinion favors the gasoline motor vehicle from a wholly practical standpoint. Yet, in this, as In all other mundane things, there is a difference of opinion, and will be until the perfect thing is made. Paris has adopted it almost entirely, and it is a common thing to see the hydro-carbon delivery wagons in all the streets, mostly all of the large stores using them. The cost of the fuel is so small and it is so easily obtained and the doing away with the inconvenience of charging the electric battery, and the great expense of keeping it in repair have operated against making the electric carriage popular. Again, the advantage of the gasoline over the electric carriage is apparent when we consider that access to electrical houses Is often out of the question. It is generally the unexpected that happens, and bad as it is to be found on the road with a punctured tire on one's bicycle, still worse is it to be miles away from any power house with a disabled electric carriage. Again, the price of the motor carriages driven by gas is much less than it Is for electrical machines.

Experts believe that before the century closes a good, practical gasoline carriage will be sold for $500. and even less. If this does occur it will bring the vehicle into universal use. As far as Its cost of running is concerned it is not to be compared with a carriage drawn by a horse. By actual experiment and use of a meter, the Hertel carriage was run fifty miles at an actual cost of 10 cents. The rapid improvement made in roads all over the country will tend largely toward bringing the horseless carriage into popular favor and no doubt exists in the minds of the makers that within the next decade it will supplant the horse even as the trolley and cable cars have. Reduce the cost of equipment and running and the problem will be solved.

Must be a Holiday weekend, with all the New posts vs. a thread on one subject. Well, might as well keep up the New posts extravaganza.


'Government to Deploy Broader Mortgage Aid'

After reading that article, it doesn't sound like the situation of loans going bad can be stopped. As much as the Govt. tries to intervene, if banks won't assist in the loan modification process, then might as well forget it. In fact, it might be a symptom of post peak oil that there will be millions of foreclosures, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Just fold the tent and give up the ghost.

Officials say between 500,000 and 1.5 million so-called underwater loans could be modified through the program, the first initiative to target homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments but are at risk of default because they have no equity in their homes.

Having no equity in your home does not make you more likely to default. Even having negative equity in your home does not necessarily make you more likely to default. Taking out a loan with payments you can't afford... or taking out an adjustable rate mortgage [or even worse, a "no" interest (ie deferred interest) loan], especially one with an initial rate that is/was below the market rate, is what makes a person more likely to default. At the end of 30 years, from the time of the initial fixed rate loan signing, every single homebuyer will own their home free and clear, as long as they kept their payments "current". This isn't rocket science. You will not be forclosed on if you make your payments every month. Period. End of story, regardless of the current state of your home equity.

Note, if a person couldn't afford a fixed rate mortgage for a particular property, then they can't afford the freaking property

Actually...being underwater and being wealthy do make you more likely to default. Rich people tend not to be sentimental about money matters, so if walking away makes sense, they'll do it. And why not? It's just business. As Mish and others have pointed out...banks would do the same, if it made financial sense.

The answer as to why not is pretty simple. Walking away screws up your credit rating. Doing so means your next mortgage, if you can even get one, will be at a much higher rate. Your credit card interest rates will skyrocket, any car loan you might want will have a much higher rate, etc. etc. Maybe a person might benefit if they never intend to borrow another dime from that point on, but that is fairly unrealistic. Its one thing to walk if you have no other option... quite another if you are just unwilling to take a loss on an investment.

So, are these rich people simply ignorant of these consequences? I doubt it.

They have simply decided that it's worth the price. As Mish pointed out, many people will save so much money that they won't need any more credit for years.

The black mark on the credit record is not forever. Even a bankruptcy goes away eventually.

Walking away screws up your credit rating

Given the TOD mantra of 'get and say outta debt' and ELP plan - what ya gonna NEED a credit rating for?

Yeah, let's ignore those who were responsible, had equity (sometimes alot of equity) and have been hammered by layoffs, drastically reduced incomes, burned through years of savings, can't sell their home because less responsible bankers, realtors, appraisers and buyers screwed the markets where these folks live. Just because these folks can now only find part time jobs for $8/hr, no benefits and have to fund 100% of their healthcare out-of-pocket and their incomes have been reduced to 25% of what it was 3 years ago. These folks don't matter much. But this is very real where I live, ongoing, and JUST PLAIN BAD FOR EVERYONE. When their mortgage payment has gone from 20% of their income to 85%, they aren't spending much in the rest of the economy. Better to put'em on the street?

Hard to see this if you're a smug SOB, huh?

The article linked was about people who were current on their mortgage, but lacked equity in their home. The person we are supposed to feel sorry for in the article is a 62 woman who took out an "interest-only" loan and is worried about what happens 5 years from now (at 67!)when her payment adjusts to what it needs to be to actually start paying off the loan. In short, she couldn't make the payments 5 years from now even if the condo she bought had doubled in value, she just would have been able to sell it for profit in that case (flip it). Forgive me for believing that maybe she should have thought of these things before she took out the loan, but I guess that makes me a smug SOB. The article had nothing to do with people who lost a job or had dramatically reduced income due to unforseen unemployment.

Same banks, same courts, same real estate market. The forclosure frenzy we are seeing has the same (or worse) effect on "frugal Joe Laid-off" as it does on "keeping up with the Jonses, I guess we bought too much house but it was fun while it lasted" folks. There should be a way of distinguishing the difference.

Interesting claim.


Grand Isle – Several gulf residents have tested positive for oil in their blood as documented by Matt Smith and Heather Rally on the Intel Hub Radio Show last Thursday.

eric - no surprising given how much we luvs our fried seafood. Where else can you buy 10 gallon cans of Louana peanut oil at the corner grocery?

I have no idea if what they are detecting is coming by air or food. I was thinking air, but yea.....oil soluble chemicals in fryer oil. Right now "we" lack conformation of the claim and no idea of the eating habits.

I wonder if the fry operations have noticed a change in the oil cooking? I would think things like Corexit in cooking oil would do bad things to the oil. Perhaps that will be the next YouTube video - Corexit in fryer oil.

CVS Mineral Oil Usp

"Mineral Oil" -- now where do you suppose that comes from?

Errr, who's frying food in mineral oil?

Mineral oil is not for cooking. USP is US Pharmaceutical grade, and it is used as a laxative. Mineral oil is more or less indigestible and lubricates the bowel. But I suppose some could get into the blood stream.

It's also used in the kitchen, to season wooden utensils. It keeps them from drying out and cracking. Cutting boards, wooden spoons, bowls, etc. Vegetable oils can go rancid, so mineral oil is preferred. I use a mix of mineral oil and beeswax.

From the articles above, 'A world in collapse?' is this paragraph of wisdom:

I worry that in a society like the United States, where so many have lived for so long with abundance and a sense of entitlement, people won’t be able to face up to the dramatic changes that are inevitable. That could lead people to accept greater levels of hierarchy and authority if political leaders promise to protect that affluence. In that case, people’s inability to deal with the emotions that arise out of awareness of collapse could usher in an era of even more unjust distribution of wealth and resources in an even more violent world.

Aren't we seeing the first shades of this with the Tea Party? Obama will probably be a one term prez and someone like Romney will replace him. I can see the campaign promises now to bring back the greatness of America, with the inference that it will be by force or at minimum, intimidation by suggestion of force if needed. When Romney ran last time he promised a trillion dollar defense budget. The angrier people get about losing their pay per view UFC or whatever they equate with the American dream, the more likely they will vote for the candidate that will promise force to get back their stuff.

Aren't we seeing the first shades of this with the Tea Party?

All depends on what your worldview is. If you are 'pro Obama' the response to the Tea Party seems to be 'racist bigots'.
Others see Core Republican Effort to keep Sarah Palin busy/spending energy elsewhere.
Some see it as a reaction to the taxing/spending. (the Libertarian-types)

The 'tea party' seems to be a whole lotta what you personally bring to your viewing the party. Like the Internet - if you look long enough you'll find your POV being supported, no matter what that POV is.

And the tea party is not a legit movement. A legit political movement can bring the spoils of government largess to their supporters. Its why The Libertarians won't ever win. (The Libertarians *COULD* have a shot if they'd show they could lead by putting together effective court watchers and work towards having a good clean justice system....a system that would have to function if they want their vision to work.)

the more likely they will vote for the candidate that will promise force to get back their stuff.

Alas, this is not an American feature. Such base nature seems to be tied to being human. America just happens to have the 50%+ budget for force projection.

Even peace activists will use force. Ex-US Marine Ken O'Keefe disarmed 2 (or 3 depends on the tale told) people on the Mavi Marmara. I'm rather sure that was not done by putting flowers in the barrels of the guns.

some on here have questioned why ksa is using "expensive" oil instead of abundant natural gas to power their electrical generation plants.

a more burning question might be why is ksa flaring more than 3 bcm per year ~ 0.3 bcfd? why so much flaring worldwide. russia is flaring nearly 5 bcfd.


The burning question of gas flares


Saudi and Kuwait make Khafji gas plans


my apology if these have already been posted.