Drumbeat: January 4, 2012

Violence erupts in Nigeria over petrol prices

Protesters furious over spiralling petrol prices started fires on a motorway and at least one person was killed in the unrest after Nigeria's government scrapped a subsidy that had kept fuel costs down for more than 20 years.

One union leader described the government's hugely unpopular move as "immoral and politically suicidal" and urged Nigerians to resist "with everything they have". But yesterday's protest showed that, once unleashed, the pent-up anger of the masses could be hard to curtail.

'Searing anger' as Nigerians protest fuel price increase

(CNN) -- Car tires were set on fire and gas stations blockaded as hundreds of Nigerians took to the streets to protest the removal of fuel subsidies that saw the price of petrol more than double virtually overnight.

Angry Nigerians chanted anti-government slogans and brandished placards in a largely peaceful protest Tuesday against the removal of government subsidies.

Crude Oil Falls From Near Eight-Month High on European Economic Concerns

Oil fell from its highest settlement in almost eight months on signs that Europe’s debt crisis may drag the region into a recession, curbing fuel consumption.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures reversed gains as the euro dropped from near a one-week high against the dollar after European reports showed services and manufacturing output contracted and inflation slowed. German 10-year bonds stayed lower after the country sold additional securities. Oil rallied 4.2 percent yesterday as the head of Iran’s army warned the U.S. against sending an aircraft carrier back to the Persian Gulf.

OPEC oil output hits 3-year high

OPEC oil output rose in December to the highest since October 2008, mainly due to a further recovery in Libya's production, a Reuters survey found on Wednesday.

Supply from all 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries averaged 30.74 million barrels per day last month, up from a revised 30.62 million bpd in November, the survey of sources at oil companies, OPEC officials and analysts found.

UK spot gas rises due to undersupplied system

LONDON (Reuters) - British prompt gas prices rose on Wednesday because supplies were short but gains were capped by stable Norwegian and North Sea production, while topped up inventories and warm weather flattened prices along the forward curve.

Raw Materials Seen Rebounding as Global Economy Skirts Slump: Commodities

Commodities may rebound from their first retreat in three years as developing economies shore up global growth, driving demand higher at a time when raw-material producers are already struggling to keep up.

Precious metals will advance 27 percent or more, industrial metals at least 17 percent and grains 5 percent, according to the median estimates in a Bloomberg survey of 143 analysts, traders and investors. Nine of the 15 commodities covered by a similar survey a year earlier reached their predicted highs in 2011, with another five no more than 4 percent away.

U.S. to Iran: Warships to remain in Persian Gulf

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration on Tuesday brushed aside Iran's warning to keep U.S. aircraft carriers out of the Gulf, dismissing its threats as a consequence of hard-hitting American sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Provoking a hostile start to what could prove a pivotal year for Iran, the country's army chief said American vessels were unwelcome in the Gulf, the strategic waterway that carries to market much of the oil pumped in the Middle East.

Iran oil standoff could mean higher gas prices

The standoff between Iran and the West in the Strait of Hormuz has more to do with your daily commute than you might realize. If investors are spooked by the angry rhetoric coming out of the Persian Gulf, it could drive up the price of a barrel of oil, which means pain at the pump for American drivers.

Iran’s Nuclear Fuel Rod Isn’t a Military Threat, U.S. Energy Analysts Say

Iran’s development of a nuclear fuel rod for medical research isn’t a milestone in a quest for atomic weapons, according to energy analysts in the U.S.

Turkey to seek U.S. waiver on Iran oil - energy official

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey will seek a waiver from the United States to exempt its biggest refiner Tupras from new U.S. sanctions on institutions that deal with Iran's central bank, a Turkish energy ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

South Korea Increases Oil Deal with Iran

South Korea has made an agreement to increase its oil business dealings with Iran and helping to sabotage U.S. economic sanctions against the Iranian Republic.

Kuwait protests at Iran step to develop gas field

DUBAI: Kuwait protested on Tuesday against Iran's intention to unilaterally develop a disputed offshore gas field in the Gulf unless an agreement is reached, Kuwait's state news agency KUNA reported.

Iran said on Sunday it would launch full-scale unilateral development of the field if Kuwait does not respond to its offer of joint development.

Greece speeds up oil and gas exploration

Debt-stricken Greece, which currently has the least exploration for hydrocarbons in the region, is vowing to exploit its oil and gas reserves.

Enterprise Products, Genesis Energy To Build Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil Pipeline

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES - Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (EPD) and Genesis Energy L.P. (GEL) plan to build a crude oil gathering pipeline in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico for a consortium of six producers.

Kazakh state of emergency extended

Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has extended a state of emergency in the western oil city of Zhanaozen until the end of January.

Deepwater oil rig work takes a certain attitude

No one has issues with the money — but the long hours, isolation and danger? Sometimes.

Shell trying to plug second Nigeria leak

ABUJA (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell's operation in Nigeria is working to plug a leak caused by sabotage that shut its 70,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Nembe Creek pipeline, the company said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Wednesday.

The pipeline in the swampy creeks of the Niger Delta was shut down on December 24 but went unreported, eclipsed by a much bigger leak at Shell's offshore Bongo facility.

Appeals court in Ecuador upholds $18 billion decision against Chevron

QUITO, Ecuador — An appeals court in Ecuador upheld an $18 billion ruling against Chevron Corp. on Tuesday for oil pollution in the Amazon rain forest more than two decades ago.

The ruling confirmed a February judgment in the case. The Ecuadorean plaintiffs said in a statement that the decision is based on scientific evidence presented at trial proving that waste had poisoned the water supply.

Deepwater liabilities make momma look small

BP and Halliburton are engaged in a war of words via filings to a New Orleans court. This resembles tit-for-tat schoolyard trash talking of the “Yo momma’s so fat” variety, though with more legal verbiage and higher financial stakes. The latest sally, from the energy major on Monday, reasserted its optimistic conviction that the oil services group could be liable for all the costs of the horrendous 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. These have been estimated at between $40bn and $60bn.

Shale gas turns energy tables

CARACAS - Countries that have always depended on imported oil and gas, like Chile, Paraguay, Poland or Ukraine, and especially heavy consumers such as the United States and China, could become self-sufficient in natural gas in the near future and even start exporting it.

Energy Giants Undeterred by Quakes Seek Shale Growth Runway

Asian and European energy producers are spending billions of dollars to amass stakes in oil and natural-gas discoveries from Ohio to British Columbia even as earthquakes and tainted water threaten to stall the biggest drilling boom in at least two decades.

China approves shale gas as independent resource

(Reuters) - China has approved shale gas as an independent mining resource, a legal status that may allow smaller Chinese energy firms to develop the unconventional energy source, state media reported on Wednesday.

The world's top energy user could hold shale gas reserves exceeding those of the United States, where a revolution in production techniques is overturning the country's dependence on imported gas.

Quakes could cause shift in support for fracking

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In Ohio, geographically and politically positioned to become a leading importer of wastewater from gas drilling, environmentalists and lawmakers opposed to the technique known as fracking are seizing on a series of small earthquakes as a signal to proceed with caution.

Proceed with caution in Alaska

The Arctic Ocean is much shallower than the Gulf of Mexico. Shell would drill in 160 feet of water or less, compared with the mile-deep water where BP was drilling in the Gulf. And well pressures off Alaska are just a third to a half what they are where BP drilled. If something did go horribly wrong, Shell would benefit from BP's experience.

Say no to Arctic drilling

As long as the Obama administration allows Royal Dutch Shell to push forward with plans to drill in the Arctic's Chukchi and Beaufort seas, the closer America's Arctic comes to a disaster that could eclipse the tragedy in the Gulf.

2011 Winning Strategies Still Look Good For 2012

Peak oil theory is still valid, even if energy companies manage to transition advanced natural gas drilling techniques to oil production. After all, peak oil does not hold that we are running out of oil, only that production becomes increasingly difficult and less productive as we tap the planet's reserves. Fracking oil shale or drilling miles into the ocean off the shores of Brazil is definitely much more resource-intensive than drilling in Saudi Arabia 50 years ago. Green energy remains insufficient to replace carbon fuels and Japan's nuclear incident may have set back that industry world-wide. A decade into the 21st century, 20th century energy is still the primary fuel of the global economy, thus peak oil remains an actionable investment thesis.

Breaking U.S. Dependence On Foreign Oil

We’ve heard the beating of the drum time and time again: “We must reduce our dependence on foreign oil.” It forces us into poor economic, political, diplomatic, and military choices. But, what are we really doing about it?

University of Alaska Fairbanks professor predicts spike in oil prices

FAIRBANKS — Gasoline prices in the $4-per-gallon range may be uncomfortably high for many Fairbanks residents, but Doug Reynolds believes prices in the years ahead could make these seem like the good old days.

Reynolds, a professor of oil and energy economics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said he sees oil prices soaring in the next five to 10 years, “easily” reaching $200 per barrel or more.

Jeff Rubin: What do triple-digit oil prices mean for growth?

The real story behind triple-digit oil prices is not the threat of supply shocks, but the sheer, unrelenting rise in world oil demand. Already closing in on 90 million barrels a day, the quick rebound in world oil consumption to new record highs demonstrates the global economy can’t grow without burning greater amounts of oil.

No matter how many rabbits the oil industry can pull out of its hat, be it tar sands from Alberta or shale oil from the Bakkens, supply just can’t seem to keep pace - at least not at the prices most consumers can afford to pay. That is the message that triple digit prices keeps telling us.

Correcting the Growth of Human History

Today, there is hardly a stock, bond, municipal plan, government budget, student loan, retirement program, housing development, business plan, political campaign, health care program or insurance company that doesn’t rely on growth. Everybody expects growth to resume…after we have put this crisis behind us.

Growth is normal, they believe.

But what if it isn’t normal? What if it was a once-in-a-centi-millenium event, made possible by cheap energy?

Turn off your TVs

We are now extracting the hardest to reach oil reserves and have hit or exceeded peak oil. Sorry folks, the North American dream of capitalism and consumerism is over. We can choose to continue supporting these destructive systems and support another dead end industry, or we can choose to start supporting each other in our communities.

The Road to Resilience

In practice, sustainability is a moving target because it has to be tied to things like demand. What is sustainable at one level may not be at a higher level. It often does not engage a new paradigm. It simply extends an older and frequently decrepit one. But resilience puts us on a new track with an unlimited future, and that's where I prefer to be. All this has a practical business and CRM side.

Oil dependence

If you run a business today or sit at the executive decision-making table, have you run this analysis? Do you know how reliant on oil and fossil fuels your business is across the board (transportation, packaging, formulation, etc.)? Have you projected your costs and profitability for when oil does reach $250?

What non-scientist Paul Krugman doesn’t understand about debt

Granted, the notion that America’s growth going forward is going to be limited by declining supplies of net energy — i.e. peak oil — isn’t yet a popular one. But as the work of economists like James Hamilton suggests, the price of oil has a powerful effect on our economy, and the explanatory power of energy supplies is indisputable for people with scientific — specifically biological — training.

Crisis of Leadership, Not Crisis of Capitalism

According to what I read, we face not just the worst recession since the 1930s, but a challenge to the West’s entire economic order. The Great Recession exposes the poverty of orthodox economics. It constitutes an ideological crisis. It shows that capitalism itself is “fundamentally” flawed. If all this were true, I’d be a lot more worried about the coming year than I am -- which is saying something.

A new year’s corrective is in order. Reports of the death of capitalism are greatly exaggerated.

Report: Green economy to be determined by corporate control

As global corporations ready themselves for a post-petroleum world, a green economy will be centered on exploiting biomass (food and fiber crops, plant oils, algae, grasses, forest residues, etc.). Supporters of the post-petroleum future involve many of the world’s largest, and most powerful corporations and governments, all touting new technologies - including genomics, nanotechnology and synthetic biology - for transforming biomass into high-value products.

Honda sued over mileage in small claims court

TORRANCE, Calif. — A woman who expected her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid to be her dream car wants Honda to pay for not delivering the high mileage it promised. But rather than joining other owners in a class-action lawsuit, she is going solo in small claims court, an unusual move that could offer a bigger payout if it doesn't backfire.

So far, battery cars coming up short

Add them all up, hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, and they accounted for little more than 2% of the U.S. automotive market last year. Remove conventional gas-electric models, such as the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion Hybrid, from the equation and more advanced battery vehicles generated barely 20,000 sales.

“I’d say they failed,” proclaims Joe Phillippi, chief analyst with AutoTrends Consulting.

Subsidies on fuel slow biodiesel adoption, says Neutral Group

Biofuel and energy-efficient cars are making inroads in the Emirates but fuel subsidies are undermining the appeal of the "green drive".

Storehouses for Solar Energy Can Step In When the Sun Goes Down

If solar energy is eventually going to matter — that is, generate a significant portion of the nation’s electricity — the industry must overcome a major stumbling block, experts say: finding a way to store it for use when the sun isn’t shining.

That challenge seems to be creating an opening for a different form of power, solar thermal, which makes electricity by using the sun’s heat to boil water. The water can be used to heat salt that stores the energy until later, when the sun dips and households power up their appliances and air-conditioning at peak demand hours in the summer.

The Convoluted Economics of Storing Energy

The economics of a plant that can store bulk amounts of energy are a bit arcane. At the simplest level, the idea is to gather the sun’s heat when it is available and save it until prices for electricity reach a peak. At the moment, though, prices peak when the sun is high in the sky, because that is when the demand for power, mostly for air-conditioning, is highest. Some experts think it will be years before the power system is so saturated with solar photovoltaics that thermal storage becomes worthwhile.

Geothermal Working Group- Final Report unveiled by the County of Hawai‘i

The report was sponsored by the County of Hawai‘i to evaluate geothermal energy as the primary source of baseload power for electricity on the Island of Hawai‘i. The report includes an analysis of technical data and expert testimony providing convincing rationale to develop local renewable energy plants and transition away from the county’s dependence on petroleum-fueled generators for baseload electricity. The report, which is currently being circulated within Hawai`i’s State Legislation, was developed as research to help support Hawai`i’s Clean Energy Initiative goals.

After 40-Year Battle, Train May Roll for Oahu

KAPOLEI, Hawaii — From the farmlands here on the western side of Oahu, the hotels of Honolulu and the bluffs of Diamond Head can be seen rising 20 miles in the distance. This is rural Hawaii: waves and coastline on one side, lush mountains on the other and barely a building or vehicle in sight.

But sometime this spring, a $5.3 billion project is scheduled to rise from the Kapolei farmlands that offers powerful evidence of how much this island, a symbol of Pacific tranquillity, is changing. A 40-year battle to build a mass transit line appears to be nearing its end. Barring a court intervention, construction is to begin in March on a 20-mile rail line that will be elevated 40 feet in the air, barreling over farmland, commercial districts and parts of downtown Honolulu, and stretching from here to Waikiki.

EDF Reactor Extensions May Cost $65 Billion on Safety Review

Electricite de France SA (EDF) said the cost of extending nuclear reactor lives to 60 years could reach 50 billion euros ($65 billion) as safety measures ordered by regulators force the utility to accelerate investment.

Habitat goes green and saves new residents some green

NASHVILLE – Antonio and Christie Miller of Nashville can smile when they talk about their utility bills. So can Casey Greer.

That's because they're residents of new Habitat for Humanity homes that were built to meet top energy-efficiency standards.

Is Southern California Finally Getting Serious About Its Water Crisis?

To quench the thirst of Southern California's some 20 million people, water must be imported from hundreds of miles away, across a daunting array of deserts, valleys and mountains. For decades, Angelenos have muttered a doomsday refrain: our water supply isn't sustainable, and we are going to have to get smarter about managing it — at some point. The obviousness of the problem, however, instilled a kind of panicked lassitude. The discussion became predictable: alarm would set in during times of drought, as authorities talked of restrictions and plans to boost local water sources. Then rainy years would follow, and L.A. and its surrounding cities would move on to other, supposedly more pressing issues. Through it all, the mentality remained the same: sprinklers outside city buildings and private homes continued to feed large lawns even while it was raining, using water brought from far away.

Now authorities are once again saying the time has come for a change. They say they're going to follow through. Should we believe them?

Climate change means regional opportunity

Take a little Rorschach test for me: What do the words, climate change, peak oil and energy conservation mean to you?

If you think like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the alarm bells of regulation, taxation and invading greenies go off in your head. But, if you are like the leading businesses in Europe, it's visions of Pounds, Kroner and Euros dancing in your mind. What many here see as a threat to America's economic future is an economic as well as environmental imperative in Europe.

Will Fossil Fuel Companies Face Liability for Climate Change?

It is one thing to do your own research, but it is another to deliberately deceive people, contributing to widespread harm primarily to retain profits.

20 inches to disaster: U.S. coasts unprepared for higher seas

Let's say the rise in sea level that climate change will bring us -- from melting ice caps and expanding seas -- won't be "all that bad" by, oh, the year 2080. Maybe ... just half a meter (a little under 20 inches). We can deal with half a meter, right?

Well, yeah -- if we're ready to "deal with" almost 50 percent more affected people and 73 percent more property losses from a typical Category 3 hurricane -- all because of the higher storm surge that'll come from that additional 20 inches of sea level. ("Storm surge," in case you don't know, describes the ocean water that a storm's winds bring ashore, in addition to what's usually there with normal tides.)

Saudis use more oil; exporter status threatened

"Saudi Arabia's energy consumption pattern is unsustainable," said the report. "Demand for its own oil and gas is growing at around 7% a year. At this rate of growth, national consumption will have doubled in a decade."

According to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative, which publishes official oil production figures from participating countries, Saudi Arabia produced 9.4 million barrels a day of oil in October and consumed 2.0 million barrels a day...

"In 2007, Saudi Arabia's energy intensity [per unit of gross domestic product] was nearly double that of Malaysia, which is of a comparable population size and level of development," it said. The price of a liter of Malyasian diesel fuel was more than eight times higher than Saudi Arabia, it said.

Saudi is in a pickle. They need to keep electricity, water and gasoline prices very low to appease their public and keep from catching the "Arab Spring" flu. But doing so they are using more and more of their own oil.

Most of their water and electricity is produced by burning oil because they are short of natural gas though they are now trying desperately to bring more natural gas on line to help with the problem.

Ron P.

brevity is the soul of wit

You can sum up a news story like no other.

SA is planning a significant nuclear power program. I assume the intent of such a nuclear build is to reduce the internal demand for oil + gas to allow more product to be exported. Source:

Saudi Arabia will spend more than $100bn to build 16 nuclear energy plants over the next few years, a senior official has told a Saudi-US business forum in Atlanta.

So they are basically saying they will build 16 1 GW reactors over the next three years, with specs by March and first tender by end of 2012. If SA achieves this level of build out in five years' time, it would be a remarkable achievement. For a country with virtually no nuclear experience indigenously, I would say:

Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

If it does happen, SA consumers will still get first call on the oil that's freed up. IMHO, it is not realistic to expect nuclear power to make a substantial difference in SA net exports. But we shall see. They have put a timeline out that we can check against.

Let's hope those are Gen-IV MSR reactors that can burn waste from nations with mostly obsolete reactors like the U.S., France, Russia or Japan. If they can pull that off, the Saudis may have a winning long term strategy. If not, then as Ron says, ELM, rapid population growth and Arab Spring will probably bring about an end to the current regime --not a bad thing IMO.

They are not KEPCO is quoting for "Korean Standardized Nuclear Plant (KSNP) Gen 2 equipment. Areava was underbid on price for their EPR Gen 3+ unsuprisingly


"The KSNP NSSS is a two-loop design and is a scaled down and updated version of the Combustion Engineering (CE) System 80 pressurized-water reactor design, which is based on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission-approved CE Standardized Safety Analysis Report (CESSAR-F). There are three nuclear power units in operation in the United States with System 80 nuclear steam supply systems (i.e., Palo Verde Units 1, 2 and 3). However, the thermal power for the KSNP was reduced and additional design improvements provided to obtain additional thermal margin for safety. Thus, each unit is rated at 1000 MWe rather than the 1300 MWe of the original System 80 design."

Kind of like buying a 1970's car design with modern fuel injection and airbags. Fine until you have a crash !

Yeah, Combustion Engineering was bought by ABB some 20 or so years ago.

IMHO, it is not realistic to expect nuclear power to make a substantial difference in SA net exports.

Various sources suggest that Saudi generating capacity is about 30 GW faceplate, and that about 65% of that is oil-fired. If one GWh equals 564 barrels of oil, and you assume 35% thermal efficiency, then you get a maximum of about 750,000 bbl/day. Which would be about a third of their current consumption, eyeballing the chart at Mazama Science. Given growth in domestic demand outside of the electric sector, time to bring alternative electric generation online, and probable declines in production, then you're almost certainly right: no substantial difference in net exports.

In my opinion, the whole region should go nuclear, as long as no Fukushima-ish or Chernobyl-ish disasters are possible.

I also think the whole region should aggressively pursue as many other non FF solutions as will work in that part of the world.

OK, clashing definitions of 'few years' are at play here:


Saudi Arabia, which plans to build 16 nuclear reactors by 2030, will begin the tendering process to construct the first station by the end of next year, according to the King Abdullah Center of Atomic and Renewable Energy.

I'd believe they could get it done by 2030 with a lot of discipline, focus, and of course capital. It still won't influence the net export picture much...

Good luck to them Steve,

Ron's (Darwinian) at the beginning of this thread gave me all the reasons I want to know why they wont. Let me add a few more there educational system is not going to supply the qualified workforce needed to complete such a task when 90% of Phd's awarded at there Universities are in religious studies, a religion by the way that frowns on any form of science, especially Darwin's theory of Evolution. When that most revered of Islamic scientists Big Mo said that mountains are set like teeth into the earth, we are all made from a clot of blood, and that the sun sinks into a muddy pool when it sets, then there goose is cooked. In Islam there are no shades of grey only black and white. They will need more than 20 years just to get over that sort of mental inertia. There population is predominantly young and sexually frustrated. The Hippies of the seventies could at least could go back too there squat and have a screw to release the tension, highly recommended . This lot are doomed for ever too gaze in rapture at women dressed in black bin liner bags and argue if she has sexy eyebrows or not.

Lets just for the fun of it run through a few more reasons why they will not succeed. There is a certain country in the Middle east who by the tenets of the Koran are doomed for extinction. Now I wouldn't put money on it that they are in complete agreement with this view.Pre-emptive strikes are there speciality, when they didn't or couldn't do it as in 1948 and 1973 they came very near to annihilation. A few well aimed cruise missiles that can enter the anal orifice of a jumping kangaroo at 2,000 miles, would to put it mildly put a crimp in any ones desires and needs for peaceful atomic energy.This could and would put back any building program for years.

Money the Saudi's have in plenty, but will they have it in 20 years time. I wont run through any anti Saudi scenarios, I will just give an historical example. Great Britain the country of my birth ran through its patrimony the result of 200 years of colonial exploitation in the space of a couple of years in the early 1940s Without that Platinum credit card, lend lease, thank you Uncle Sam, we would have been toast.

Now I ask a simple question, who will give the Saudi's credit when there sovereign funds are exhausted after a couple of years because some clowns in dresses and silly hats on the opposite side of the Gulf think wouldn't it be fun if we closed the Straits of Humuz fired a few rockets at there oil installations and started a campaign of blowing up oil pipe lines, because God told us to do it. No income no credit. I am certain the answer would be no one, especially if it took several years to get the oil back on line, during which time you had to feed and cloth 25 million people who hated your guts, while your economy was gutted and your own people starving because of the lack of oil. Triage would be the order of the day and the devil or Shaitan can take the hindmost.

Oh, by the way, before I forget, Happy New Year everyone


Yorkshire Miner

I can't make a lot of sense out of your post, but I did run across this article a few days ago(haven't seen it posted):

U.S. to sell F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia

The deal would provide the Arab country with the new fighter jets as well as upgrades for 70 others. The cost for the package was estimated to be $29.4 billion last year, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.


A month or two of oil revenue.

Ron's (Darwinian) at the beginning of this thread gave me all the reasons I want to know why they wont. Let me add a few more there educational system is not going to supply the qualified workforce needed to complete such a task when 90% of Phd's awarded at there Universities are in religious studies, a religion by the way that frowns on any form of science, especially Darwin's theory of Evolution. When that most revered of Islamic scientists Big Mo said that mountains are set like teeth into the earth, we are all made from a clot of blood, and that the sun sinks into a muddy pool when it sets, then there goose is cooked. In Islam there are no shades of grey only black and white. They will need more than 20 years just to get over that sort of mental inertia.

And just before 1492 Europe was a backwater and the Middle East was more advanced...

Warning to the U.S., beware of the rise of fundamentalism....

"Fundamentalists are no fun and they are mental"

Okay guys, you all seem to misunderstand what is needed to build nuclear power plant. All you need is money and Saudi has plenty of money.

I went to Saudi Arabia in 1980 to help build and commission what was then their largest gas/oil fired power plant. It was built by Dravo Utilities out of Pittsburgh with American engineers and almost all expat labor. Americans did the engineering and supplied the skilled labor. The grunt work was done by Filipinos, Pakistanis, Indians, and several other countries.

If they build a nuclear power plant it will be built by American engineers. No problem there.

Ron P.

All you need is money and Saudi has plenty of money.

I read in 2010 that a problem is the shortage of factories that can built special reinforced concrete that is needed for nuclear power plants. Maybe that has changed now.

I think you meant "cement" You don't get concrete from a factory;;;

The pressure vessel is surrounded by a thick concrete wall. This is a sealed steel containment structure, which itself is inside a steel-reinforced concrete dome four feet thick.

I can't find the article that talks about the shortage of factories that make that. That is: shortage if the demand for nuclear power plants rises sharply as planned before the disaster in Japan.
So now the world is even more in dire straits. Lately show up articles that shale gas will be a game changer. Time will tell, but I recall some comments from ROCKMAN that cast doubt on that.

So, who can tell me: why is it okay for KSA to build a nuclear power plant, but not Iran?

I mean, the Wahabis are as bad as the Mullahs. Both are fundamentalist loonies who hate each other at least as much as they hate everyone else, and if you let both have them, at some time they will nuke each other!

But then, the Paks already seem prepared for that, so...

Let the games begin?


So, who can tell me: why is it okay for KSA to build a nuclear power plant, but not Iran?

This is too easy. Because the Saudis are *our* fundamentalist loonies, silly! (at least they are as long as they keep selling us all the black stuff we need at a price we can afford)

If Iran just wanted to build a nuclear power plant no one would care. It is the bomb they are worried about. We have people in Saudi Arabia. In fact, as I said, we would be the one building the nuclear power plant. Of course they could opt to have France build it. Anyway neither we or France would build them a bomb.

I mean, the Wahabis are as bad as the Mullahs.

A Mullah is just an Islamic religious leader, like a priest or preacher. Though it is primarily a Shia term, it is sometimes used by the Sunni as well. I heard the term used very often when I was in Saudi Arabia. Of course I was in the Eastern Province which is mostly Shia. But even in the Eastern province everything was run by the Sunni. The Sunni have far more Wasta than the Shia anywhere in Saudi Arabia.

Ron P.

I estimate that 2011 Saudi net oil exports will be between 1.0 and 1.6 mbpd below their 2005 annual net export rate of 9.1 mbpd (total petroleum liquids, BP).

Using the lower estimate of 2011 net exports, 7.5 mbpd, Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports in about 16 years, around 2027. Using the higher estimate of 2011 net exports, 8.1 mbpd, Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports in about 19 years, around 2030 (in both cases extrapolating the 2005 to estimated 2011 rate of increase in the ratio (C/P) of Saudi consumption to production of total petroleum liquids). At the 2005 to 2010 rate of change in the C/P ratio, Saudi Arabia would have approached zero net oil exports by the end of 2024. So, the slope of the projected Saudi net export decline has changed slightly.

A rough rule of thumb* suggests that the Saudis will have shipped half of their post-2005 Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) by the end of 2012, based on the 2010 estimate, and they will have shipped half of their post-2005 CNE by the end of 2014, based on the most optimistic 2011 estimate.

*Half of post-peak CNE tend to be shipped about one third of the way into a net export decline. In other words, relatively high initial post-peak net export volumes are disguising a very high post-peak depletion rate, the depletion rate being the rate at which post-2005 CNE are being shipped. Based on the most optimistic 2011 estimate for Saudi net exports, I estimate that the 2005 to 2011 post-2005 CNE depletion rate for Saudi Arabia is about 8%/year.
Some CNE comparisons: http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i475/westexas/Slide1-8.jpg

Nominations for the 2012 Bloggies are open: Best Science or Technology Weblog. TOD definitely deserves some noms.

Yeah Anthony Watts' site, http://wattsupwiththat.com/ has a couple of bloggies in this category. That's just not right!

Re: Deepwater liabilities make momma look small, up top:

Detailed visual analysis:


Very interesting. Thanks for posting.

Not being in the industry (and not an engineer) I don't know how significant it was, but I found it interesting that part of the problem was loss of power, considering that that was also an issue with Fukushima disaster. If power had not been lost on the rig would it have made a difference?

It is pretty amazing to see how many backup rams, sheers, etc. were not able to contain the pressure. This reminds of the frequent discussions y'all were having at the time about how much harder it is drill as we move into deeper and deeper water.

I always appreciate my TOD education.

don't - If I understand the BOP that BP was using correctly it should function even if it lost rig power and even if it were separated completely from the rig. Of course, that's in theory. Just like in theory a parachute will open when you pull the cord. Unfortunately that's not always the case. BOP's are required to be functioned tested and certified by independent third parties every two weeks. Then again, I recall a report from Norway that someone posted back in the Macondo disaster days. I think they analyzed 16 cases of lost well control and found the BOP had malfunctioned, to some degree, 40% of the time. Didn't always lead to a blowout, pollution or death. But also didn't perform as well as theory predicted.

More importantly, the vast majority of drilling accidents I've seen firsthand were not caused simply by equipment failure but human error. There is only one guaranteed way to prevent another Macondo from happening: don't drill offshore. The new regs may reduce the possibility to a very small statistical chance but it's impossible to reduce it to zero. So the public/govt has to make a choice: stop drilling or accept at least a small part of the responsibility of any future accidents. No operator can truthfully promise they'll never have a blowout.


You are correct the all BOPs maintain enough stored energy to function once the electric power is lost. Hydraulic fluid is stored under pressure in accumulator bottles. The big finding in the BOP once it was analyzed, was the the fact of the drill pipe bending within the BOP and resting against the bore of the BOP. Shear rams are designed to self centre pipe in the well to a degree, but this pipe was hard up against the wall and it was pinched between the corners of the two closing rams, and therefore not cutting and sealing as per design. I am sure Cameron is doing some intensive R&D on this "little" design flaw as we speak.

While we are on this subject, it is interesting how little changes have undesired consequences.
1/ In the GOM it was illegal to discharge a product from the pits directly to the sea, but drilling fluids that did not produce a sheen, could be discharged. Therefore when the crew needed to dispose of the Loss Circulating material (LCM) they pumped it down hole, and due to insufficient pressure on the annular during a test the LCM blocked the kill line which stopped correct measurements being indicated on the drill floor.

2/ The diverter line, which is an emergency redirection of flow in the case of shallow formation gas, or in this case evacuation of the riser due to gas above the BOP, has always been a pre-selected option of port or starboard, depending on wind direction with a one button hit. But once again due to environmental concerns an extra option had been included on this rig which allowed the flow to be directed to the Mud Gas Separator (MGS). The MSG is designed to separate the mud and gas from a controlled well kill operation, and the degasser has a mud seal which can only hold 15 psi. In a controlled kill this is not usually a problem but it can be managed if you run close to the limits.
Now on the night the diverter was pre-selected to the MSG, in the panic the button was operated in this mode, instead of overboard. The gas flow over whelmed the MSG, blew the burst disc, which dumped onto the main deck, and was finally ingested by the engines.

Now I am all for not polluting the environment, but we also have to be very careful about unintended consequences as we change procedures, especially when it effects last line of defense safety equipment/procedures.

Pusher - Great details. As you say about unintended consequences: many here might not like to hear it but, IMHO, I doubt most of the new reg changes will reduce risks to any great degree and some might even make matters worse. You know how to drill a well as safely as possible...most experienced hands do. Whether they do or not is it is another question. I'm sure you've been overridden a number of times by management who "knew better" than you.

A small but long standing gripe about two nations divided by a common language

petrol gas
gas natural gas
crude oil petroleum

(belated) happy new year.


(sorry for the bad formatting - just got distracted by the company boss who could find the on-button on her desktop pc)

Crisis of Leadership, Not Crisis of Capitalism

"Reports of the death of capitalism are greatly exaggerated."

I don't think it is dead or that anyone is seriously reporting on its death.

The problem is that nearly unregulated global capitalism does not require a "middle" class. That's why folks smell blood in the water, and it's their own blood.

Edit: Unless he's talking about end of growth, but even then, capitalist will make money off that. Just watch 'em.

"Reports of the death of capitalism are greatly exaggerated."

One can get into all kinds of philosophical straightjackets, but capitalism is a fixture - it goes hand in hand with private property and will be around for as long as people can gain from labour and trade.

What's different in the past thirty years is the preponderance of the financial sector.

From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent.

Similarly, Paul Krugman cites the growth of the financial sector as a percentage of GDP: in the 1960s, finance and insurance accounted for only 4% of GDP, whereas in 2007 finance and insurance accounted for 8% of GDP.

The banking sector, in particular, has soared to heights historically unknown. Usury is considered a grievous sin in all the major world religions and for a reason: it's highly manipulative and exploitative. Debt is a form of slavery. As John Ralston Saul so eloquently put it: "Bankers - pillars of society who are going to hell if there is a God and He has been accurately quoted."

The genius of the current crop of wizards at the top was that they convinced people at the bottom vice is virtue. Credit is liberating. Greed is good. Rich bonuses are a reward for services rendered.

The sham is up. Usury turned out to be the bogey-man it really is. The faithful have at least one consolation: the bankers are first in line for hell. The bigger question is whether justice can be brought to bear on this side of life's divide. If it can't, we're stuck with the consequences.

"The faithful have at least one consolation: the bankers are first in line for hell. The bigger question is whether justice can be brought to bear on this side of life's divide."

As a humble but persistent student of Collapsonomics (a term I prefer to 'doomerism") I am convinced that these hyper-capitalists, most anyway, will suffer justice in the near future. They exist in a highly specialized environment, one that is becoming inviable as a support system for their exploits.

It seems to me Ghung that the Hyper-capitalists as you call them are getting to look a lot like the French Aristocracy before the French revolution. Money has no power, if it doesn't and can't circulate,if the financial system suffers from a complete heart attack, instead of the partial heart attack of 2008 then they could easily end up resembling French toast.

They have more to lose. So they will lose more.

I wish that were true, but the way it's been throughout most of history is that those who have the least to lose, lose the most, while the oligarchs just tiptoe through the minefield unscathed (or rather are carried through on sedan chair by their unfortunate servants). The French and Russian Revolutions are notable precisely *because* they were so atypical.

The rich still lose a *lot* in a collapse, but they can afford parachutes for a soft landing so a greater percentage of them land on their feet.

Usury is considered a grievous sin in all the major world religions and for a reason: it's highly manipulative and exploitative. Debt is a form of slavery.

Not sure if this is still true, but when I took business law the most an individual could charge another person, i.e. not a bank loan but a person to person loan, was 7%. It was called the usury law. However, banks can charge as much interest as they think they can get away with on credit cards.

I never could understand how the law would designate a certain max. % on a loan person to person, but not set a limit with the banks. Guess that's captitalism and how many people reach a point of becoming slaves to their debt.

But what about loans on homes in which the mortgage is now underwater? Again, slaves to the system. Walk away? In some cases the bank sues the person and because of new bankruptcy laws the person cannot get away from the courts decision and they become slaves to paying it off.

There are many ways to becoming a slave that just are not as obvious as they once were.

If I remember correctly, I read about a court case brought by a small lender charged with violating usury laws that resulted in the court throwing out the personal loan usury statue, this probably some twenty years or more ago.

The lender's attorney simply entered the as evidence the interest rates currently charged at that time on major credit cards, and asked the judge if all those banks should be charged too.The lender's rate was actually less than most of the cards.The lender was acqiuted, and allowed tp proceed with collection.

I am no lawyer, but I can say this for sure-I don't believe it is an accident that I cannot remember hearing usury mentioned in a newspaper or on the radio or in a business magazine for many years.

I guess it would embarrass to many bankers to mention the subject.

Actually that is wrong. The result was correct, but the reason was because of the Federal Due Process clause. The Court held that the state must honor the law of the Bank's home state (South Dakota, I think). Since then, banks have all added collection divisions incorporated in the states with the highest usury law.

Sometimes the law is an Ass.


Capitalism is not private property, nor is it gaining from labor. It is what exists when a society permits and encourages profit-making by business investors to serve as the society's top priority.

Meanwhile, that phenomenon cannot long exist without economic growth, which is needed to compensate for capitalism's strong tendency to automate and offshore the labor process.

If capitalism still exists in the year 2100, it will be a miracle. The planet cannot stand endless economic growth.

Capitalism is many things and can get twisted in points of semantics. Capitalism is about capital. As far as encouraging profit-making, I haven't heard of any system of labour and trade that hasn't had that built into it somewhere, somehow.

Michael, I agree with you. The growth model is not sustainable. Globalization built on consumers in the west and producers in the east is not sustainable. Real time deliveries are not sustainable.

Cheap transportation relies on cheap energy.

Cheap credit relies on cheap energy.

Any system built on cheap transportation and cheap credit is a disaster waiting to happen. Hence 2008. Particularly if it counts on growth as a magic fix. Hence 2012.

Over time, everything will change, including how we arrange capital.

Capitalism is not private property, nor is it gaining from labor. It is what exists when a society permits and encourages profit-making by business investors to serve as the society's top priority.

Top priority? Why then do we have high corporate taxes and lots of regulation?

Meanwhile, that phenomenon cannot long exist without economic growth, which is needed to compensate for capitalism's strong tendency to automate and offshore the labor process.

How long is "not long"? Capitalism has often survived with no problem without growth. For instance, Japans "lost decade". And as long as we can save labour by the techniques you mention, we can have growth by just letting the freed labour work.

..."we can have growth by just letting the freed labour work."

Work doing what?? Giving shopping carts at Walmart to grocery clerks from the Piggly Wiggly? Matters not. Your capitalist god is going down. It has overshot its resource base and fouled its nest. It's been chasing its tail for decades and is now eating it.

Did you catch the gaffe during the election final speeches, where Santorum said that WalMart did not outsource, and we needed more companies like WalMart? What a joke! Walmart started the outsourcing by purchasing foreign processed merchandise. The can't very well outsource thier clerks, or they would. They do pay them minimum wage, and they destroy all of the local businesses when they move in, thus destroying the retail tax base that was the link-pin of most small cities' revenues. Plus they drove down wages, eliminted jobs, and were the instigator of our race to the bottom!

Wonderful, Rick! We need more like that!


C'mon now. Rick has his fans. Google "santorum" and see what you get first:

Santorum 1. The frothy mix of lube ....

...well, I'll let you try it ;-)

BTW: The Walmart in the next town just added 3 more isles of robo checkouts. One of them asked for my ID after I scanned a jar of Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard...

"One of them asked for my ID after I scanned a jar of Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard..."

You DID know, didn't you, that when mixed with Hellmans's Real Mayonnaise it produces a very powerful explosive? Hate to say it, but you are now on the no-fly list.

Does it have to be Mayo? Won't Miracle Whip work?


"Does it have to be Mayo? "

Yes. I can't tell you all the details - I'm in enough trouble as it is.

Google "santorum" and see what you get

Warning TODers, don't do it! You may be left with an undesirable image that you can't get rid of. Especially if they keep talking about the "Santorum Surge" and coming from behind.

I know you probably can't help yourself, but don't say you weren't warned.

A little background for those faint o fheart. Moral of the story: Be careful who you piss off. One wonders how long before Rick gets outed.

Very interesting, thanks. I had more sympathy for him when I thought it was an unfortunate coincidence.

But thanks for the info. After a bunch of Republicans voluntarily calling themselves "Tea-baggers", it's hard to know if something is a gaffe, a lie, a spin, mis-direction, an attack or pablum.

It may work in his favor, though, since whoever beats him will have headlines reading "XXXX licks Santorum!"

I guess you can twist it (not you Santorum), since Walmart doesn't manufacture anything, but simply retails, its hard t offshore those retail jobs. -At least until we purchase checkout clerk Avatar's that can be run over the internet from Mumbai.

If you were worried about inflation, than Walmart was a bigtime hero, they put extreme price pressure on all their suppliers (which has of course led to a lot of outsourcing). So its a case of helping on the one hand (by pushing economic efficiency of its suppliers), and hurting us with the other "losing jobs to China". [Btw its been a few years since I've been in one]

After years of local resistance, we're finally getting a WalMart shoved down our throat. That's how it feels to me anyway. The only good news is they will be moving into a big empty place in The Mall, so at least nothing will get paved that isn't already paved, and it's not outside of town.

I've always called it MallWart. Did I call this to me?

Hey Water Weasal,

Are You In Eureka? That's what is going down here.

" In 1999 Eureka residents voted down Walmart’s bid to rezone an area of the waterfront for retail. By using the space left by Gottschalks, which is already zoned for retail, Walmart (or whoever) bypasses any zoning issues - which means the Eureka City Council and Eureka voters are also cut out of any further decision making."


Exactly. Well, Arcata, actually.

But I work walking distane from the mall, and sometimes get food at the Food Court for lunch.

Nice end run they did around the zoning laws.

"You underestimate my sneakiness!"

How are they doing an "end run around the zoning laws" by opening a retail store in area already zoned for retail in which apparently the previous tenant went out of business and left an unoccupied building? No offense, but the extent to which some people take their anti-Walmartism is amazing.

Its just a store... if you don't like the company, feel free to shop somewhere else. I have yet to visit a town/area where Walmart is the ONLY retailer and no other retail businesses exist, in fact, in most places I been, there are a cluster of other businesses of different types around the Walmart, or Target, or Costco, etc.

I called it an end run because they have tried to come here before, but because they were proposing a big new building, the community was able to say no. Now that they have found an unoccupied space, they can just move on in, no questions asked.

I have no personal experience with WallMart, having never been in one, but they have a bad reputation for draining the life force from small, local businesses. I guess we'll find out.

"...the community was able to say no..."

Oh, I get it, the end run wasn't around the zoning laws - the end run was around a small handful of loudmouthed crackpot busybodies (the so-called "community") with nothing better to do than order other people about capriciously and arbitrarily, in this case with respect to where they are or are not to shop.

Actually the Walmarts around where I live are slightly unpleasant to be in. Then again there are plenty of other places to shop, some (not all) of which charge reasonable prices - so what's the point in fussing?

Yes, I suppose we should just bow down to our Corporate Overlords. I'm sure they have our best interest at heart.

If you don't feel they give you a good deal, then don't shop there, and they will have less power. Market share is actually one of these things that the grass-roots decide by everyday action. This is, arguably, more democratic than voting about it - no need to oppress a minority and no need to wait for a vote.

This is true when genuine competition is still allowed --something that is becoming less and less common in many cartel and monopoly-dominated industries: healthcare (BlueCross/BlueShield is now a virtual monopoly in many Southern states), banking (BofA, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase), retail (WalMart towns where locally owned shops have been decimated), cable (legal monopolies), wireless (AT&T, Verizon), etc. The trend of the last 30 years has been towards *more* concentration of power among fewer firms, not more competition or small businesses.

This seems to be a common critique among American liberals: "Yeah, yeah, a free market would be all well and good, but we don't have one and therefore we don't lose anything by destroying it." It's a bit like "Yeah, yeah, one should eat healthy food, but every once in a while, something unhealthy will slip by, so I could just eat whatever, whenever.

No, it's more like "Yeah, yeah, one should eat healthy food, but the only place that sells food near me is the gas station."

"Free market" is an extremely loaded and personal ideology sensitive term that means different things to different people.

To a working class libertarian it usually means "no regulations on most businesses, a weak central government", while to the privileged 1% it means "privatized profits, socialized losses, fat government no-bid contracts, and regulations that protect our monopolies & cartels from competition, and no economic safety net for most citizens".
To a liberal it might mean "regulations that serve to protect consumers from unecessary harm, fraud and deception, the environment from "the tragedy of the commons", and small businesses from Mafia-style cartels who don't want competition".

I strongly suspect my ideal concept of "free market" does not = yours.

I agree there is no universal definition, but I think the reasonable domain is much smaller than you portray it. Some of what you suggest, especially the 1% variation (that I don't agree the 1% want) is decidedly anti-free market. The definitions used by economic freedom indices are typically quite good.

IIRC youre is Sweden. I suspect if your local area has the balance off in one direction (in your case too much regulation), and you can't change it, then "less is always better" sounds attractive. OTOH, in the land of libertarians with insufficient regulation, the opposite state of affairs holds. It seems the political mind cannot comprehend the concept of just enough, but is attracted to the extremes, none or total.

I don't agree at all. Sweden is actually very free. We beat the US in 7 of 10 areas in the Heritage index. What draws us down to a somewhat worse average score are particularly bad stats in the remaining areas, i.e. taxes, government spending and labor law. Business regulation, trade regulation, property rights, monetary policies and so on are top notch, OTOH. They would be even freer if it were not for the EU membership.

I see our "extreme" libertarian policies as good, and your "extreme" libertarian policies as good. (They're not really extreme, but anyway.) I also compare with other countries - our neighbor Denmark, for instance, has high labour freedom with better results than Sweden.

Sure, some regulation may be good, but then it is "little and smart". Added volume and complexity is obviously bad, all else being equal. To my mind, Sweden does that better than the US. Our system and our mindset allows for more technocratic expert solutions than does yours, and also, unfortunately, for a bigger government. And we don't really do "pork-barrels".

Walmart makes a profit by literally engaging in wage theft. As in getting workers to put in work off the clock.

It's not just a matter of "don't shop there." Of course I don't. But honest retailers should not have to compete with a thief like Walmart.

That doesn't sound like theft to me. It's for workers to decide whether they think Walmart is the best option for them, all things considered. Unpaid time is quite common even in my own Sweden and the well paid R&D engineering line of work.

If your employer values the extra time you put in, then they will pay you for that time. If your employer does not pay you for your time, then they are sending you a message that they value your time as being worth nothing. This is basic economics, yes? A price signal? "We value your overtime but we aren't going to pay you" is a signal that actually they do not value your extra input at all.

If they DO secretly value it, but aren't prepraed to pay, then yes it is theft.

The employee gets a certain salary from the employer. The employee works a certain amount of time (including the "unpaid" overtime). The employee's time seems to be valued, by both parties, at the salary given divided by the total time put in.

There may be good reasons the employee and the employer understate the amount of hours worked, for example if they want to collude on ignoring minimum wage laws, or if wages are high and "sticky" for some other reason and unemployment has risen and the market wage has fallen. Or if the employee isn't as efficient as thought when the wage was set and thus needs to work a bit more to produce what's expected of him.

But your examples are still price signals. The "employee who isn't as efficient as thought," for instance; by squeezing more hours out of that employee for a given wage, then that's a signal that that employee's time is valued less than other employees, and that if s/he only works the set number of hours then they are being overpaid.

If you agree informally to give extra unpaid hours to your employer then you are admitting you are overpaid; if you disagree with that, then you should be selling your time/skills at the market value. Because otherwise it is theft. If it is common in Sweden, then it is a common form of theft, but that does not stop it from being theft. The only thing which stops it from being theft is if you give your consent to the idea that you are overpaid. Conversely, if you disagree that you are being overpaid, but you contribute unpaid hours anyway, then your time is being stolen.

In my workplace when I do extra hours I submit an overtime claim form. I get time and a half for it, ie 50% more pay. That's because any extra time is usually in high-value personal time, like evenings or weekends. I value that time more than normal 9-5 time, and therefore I ask for more money. My price signal is that I value my time, and I price it accordignly. Perhaps in Sweden evenings and weekends are low-value time? That's why you sell it for a price of zero? :-) Anyway my employer clearly values my time too, and values the projects I work on, because they cough up the extra money. So there's a price signal there too.

Salary-setting is an interesting part of price signal theory.

All of this thread ignores completely the reality that the employee has NO say. At one time unions were prevelent in the US and they helped quite a bit in establishing a strong middle class. Today they have been emasculated (beginning in 1981/2 with Reagan's destruction of PATCO, and continuing with anti union measures in Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere).

Which is why the 1 % want high unemployment (so long as it isn't their children or friends, eh?). that sets up the circumstances in which exploitation is possible and endemic.

How else would clothing manufacturers in US territories be able to hold young women in virtual slavery, requiring abortions if they become pregnant, etc.?

I agree that it is about price signals, but not about theft. But let's agree to disagree, as it seems Leanan is fed up with me. I disagree with the latest comments of Zaphod42 and r4ndom too, but I'll leave it at that.

You are making the assumption that the employee has a realistic choice.

In most cases for workers at the bottom the choice is "take what you are given or go hungry".

The one community I was in that was opposed, was in a very perifferal Rural environment. WallMart was attracted by the low land values. It would have generated a lot of traffic to/from the big city, and the local roads wouldn't have been up for the volume. At least respecting new bigbox locations there can be legitimate reasons other than protecting local merchants.

Walmart does a lot of store brand manufacturing using sweatshop labor outside the corporate umbrella. They are also famous for using front companies to purchase land and get permits without disclosing who they are. In one case, after several years working with them to provide utility power on one project, I was asked by a different company to provide info on another site. I asked them, and the people I was working with on the first project, and Walmart corporate (via a high-level channel) and they all lied and said it wasn't their project (even though I had good reason to need to know, and would happily have signed non-disclosure). The idiots had sent me documents which were word-for-word identical for the first project as part of the second project, so I knew they were lying, I just wanted to see if they'd tell me. Took them over a year to fess-up. When working with Wal-mart if you don't get it in writing it never happened. Companies have cultures and theirs is "screw everybody."

Yeah zaphod, but what you have to remember is the family that owns Walmart is getting super wealthier by the minute, which is what is most important to the Republican party. Remember, think in terms of the top 1/10th of 1% and eureka, you're there! The joy, the sheer beauty of returning to an era of serfs and land barons is just a few elections away. Go super pacs! snark

The can't very well outsource thier clerks, or they would. They do pay them minimum wage, and they destroy all of the local businesses when they move in, thus destroying the retail tax base that was the link-pin of most small cities' revenues. Plus they drove down wages, eliminted jobs, and were the instigator of our race to the bottom!

On the contrary, Walmart typically helps neighborhoods attract more businesses. They provide jobs, both in construction and as clerks, they provide tax revenues, competition, helps stabilize rough neighborhoods and, most importantly, provides greater purchasing power for those who need it the most. The positive externalities of such improved competition and efficiency far outweighs any negative externalities. (I won't mention that it helps the real poor, i.e. Chinese and others in countries where Walmart goods is being produced, since I guess you don't care.)

I know from my training in Economics that trade between two countries is mutually beneficial. That's the premise behind globalization. However, I have come to realize that the benefits of globalization are not evenly distributed. It certainly has not been beneficial to the tens of millions of people who lost their manufacturing jobs, or who have had their salaries reduced due to competition from Asian countries. Globalization is one of the factors that has led to a greater concentration of wealth at the top. We need a more even distribution of wealth and that will require doing more manufacturing in the developed nations and importing less from developing nations. It will mean a lower standard for those of us, including myself, who currently have relatively well paid jobs plus the benefit of being able to buy inexpensive imported goods.

However, I have come to realize that the benefits of globalization are not evenly distributed. It certainly has not been beneficial to the tens of millions of people who lost their manufacturing jobs, or who have had their salaries reduced due to competition from Asian countries.

Are you sure? These people might have been made redundant by automation instead, if not for off-shoring, and they have typically found other jobs with not-that-much lower pay. In all, I think the improved purchasing power more than compensates most would-be low-tier manufacturing workers.

Globalization is one of the factors that has led to a greater concentration of wealth at the top.

In individual countries, yes. However, globalization has also led to a between-country convergence, leading to a drop in global GINI. This is extremely beneficial, and is already leading to re-shoring, where jobs are moving back to the West due to rising Chinese labour costs.

We need a more even distribution of wealth and that will require doing more manufacturing in the developed nations and importing less from developing nations.

Why do we need a more even wealth distribution, and how could increased domestic manufacturing fix this? I would think manufacturing jobs brought back prematurely would not be that well paid. Burger flippers and others in the service sector will become even poorer, making the income distribution worse.

It will mean a lower standard for those of us, including myself, who currently have relatively well paid jobs plus the benefit of being able to buy inexpensive imported goods.

Most of all, it will mean a lower standard for those of you, not including yourself, who currently are unemployed or have low paying jobs, and who will lose the benefit of buying inexpensive imported goods.

It is a fact that inflation has been higher for rich people, something which isn't reflected in ordinary statistics on income and wealth distributions. The rich typically buy more expensive stuff, more often made in the West, sold with higher margins. What you suggest would be worse for low-paid workers, raising their inflation rate more than it would yours.

There would be fewer unemployed workers and higher wages if manufacturing returned to the US. This would offset higher prices. Your basic point about trade being beneficial to both countries is partially correct. In order for there to be optimal outcomes both labor and capital must be able to move freely between countries, this is much more the case for capital than labor.

There would be fewer unemployed workers and higher wages if manufacturing returned to the US.

Both these claims are incorrect. NAIRU doesn't improve by tariffs or other trade barriers. The statistics are clear on this. Wages absolutely gets worse by the increased prices, even if other nations don't retaliate with tariffs of their own.

The US has had the additional problem of running large trade deficits -- essentially the cost of importing goods has been subsidized by a net inflow of capital (borrowing). Economic theory focuses more on a balanced trade situation where each country produces goods they have a relative advantage at producing.

What we've lost in giving up manufacturing are jobs that were reasonably well paid but did not require a high level of education or skill. It's nice that more people are able to get a university education and a well paid professional career. Unfortunately, not everyone has the aptitude for doing that. As it happens, my son is one of those people. He currently has a manufacturing job assembling equipment. It's a great job for him as he works with his hands and doesn't get bored with the repetition. Unfortunately the company is most likely going to move their manufacturing to China later this year and he isn't likely to find similar work elsewhere. He definitely isn't university material. He'd like to learn a trade at community college, but even here many of the trades have bumped up their academic requirements (especially in regards to math).

It's debatable whether people at the bottom end of the salary scale benefit from being able to purchase cheaper manufactured goods. If someone lost a good manufacturing job and is now making minimum wage they are unquestionably worse off -- most of their income will go towards things like shelter, transportation and food, none of which have been made cheaper as a result of globalization. Being able to purchase inexpensive manufactured goods won't compensate for their loss of income. The other problem relates to the quality of goods. If you have a low income you want to buy items that are going to last a long time. Unfortunately, we've become a throw-away society so much of the manufactured goods on the market are not designed to last. You can certainly find expensive items that will last but it has become hard to find reasonably priced items that will last.

Globalization has given us more wealth on average, but there are a significant number of people in our society who have been hurt rather than helped by it.

The US has had the additional problem of running large trade deficits

There is a problem with sending green printed paper abroad and getting manufactured goods back?

It's debatable whether people at the bottom end of the salary scale benefit from being able to purchase cheaper manufactured goods.

Not really. They most definitely are. Everybody has clothes, TVs, phones, toys, most have cars and so on. Cheaper steel, rare earth metals and so on is stuff that, when used as inputs for other manufacturing, lowers the price of the end products. This affects the price of food by making agri equipment cheaper. For instance. Also, don't forget the Chinese are importing more and more, and that domestic R&D gets a push by increased global markets.

If someone lost a good manufacturing job and is now making minimum wage they are unquestionably worse off

Sure, but someone who works in transportation or retail who once had minimum wage and now has a good job thanks to Chinese goods are better off. You're looking at a specific, transient case. Again, trade doesn't affect the number of jobs, and you'd be hard pressed to establish that it affects wage inequality very much either. Sure, if you're a blue collar worker that just lost a job, it's understandable that you'd be bitter, but overall, trade is unquestionably beneficial. It creates more pluses than minuses.

You can certainly find expensive items that will last but it has become hard to find reasonably priced items that will last.

I don't really agree.

Globalization has given us more wealth on average, but there are a significant number of people in our society who have been hurt rather than helped by it.

There are many more people helped than are hurt. The economy and its jobs are in constant motion, so there is always a bit of hurt in there. But overall, trade is good. The problem is merely that the transient and concentrated drawbacks are much more visible (and more easily attributable) than the more spread-out and long-run benefits.

There are many more people helped than are hurt. The economy and its jobs are in constant motion, so there is always a bit of hurt in there. But overall, trade is good. The problem is merely that the transient and concentrated drawbacks are much more visible (and more easily attributable) than the more spread-out and long-run benefits.

I used to agree 100% with that. Now, I'm not so sure. In fact I think I'm more on the hurts more side now. But, I don't know how to reform things to get the best of both.

De-industrialization of the US has gone too far. The problem is that with consistently negative trade balances, we are getting by by selling off the ownership of the little productive caapcity we still have. I think we almost all sense the non-sustainability of the current situation. If we were specialized in say software, and they did manufacturing so the trade roughly balanced out, that would work. But we are selling our corps to foreign investors. That means the profits go overseas, and at best we become labour for their capital.

As I mentioned elsewhere, there is some signs of an re-shoring trend going on, as Chinese labour is getting ever-more expensive. Also, it's somewhat of a myth that the US has deindustrialised. Sure, the gap widened a little bit in the end of the 90-ies, but it's not that dramatic:

Unfortunately, not everyone has the aptitude for doing that.

If they did we'd have a big problem that the economy only needs so many. I'd bet that so many is probably no more than a third of the jobs.

I college at work, had his son take electric lineman school. Only a few months of schooling. I don't know how he's doing, the job offer he had was rescinded because he had some traffic tickets on his record. I hope they don't all break that way (i.e. use the same disqualification criteria). Nevertheless there do exist semi-skilled jobs (electrician comes to mind), that require some training, but not needing years worth.

Electrician is NOT a SEMI-skilled job; most of the trades aren't and particularly not that one. Also, the ability to string Romex, twist wirenuts, and make-up receps does not make an electrician, anymore than the ability to solve algebraic equations makes a mathmetician. Making journeyman electrician typically requires about 3 years for the bright and technically inclined. One advantage is that typically the training is paid work. The intellectual demands of electrical work are greater than most degreed positions. I say that as a professional electrical engineer who worked as an electrician while going to university.

<< It is a fact that inflation has been higher for rich people, something which isn't reflected in ordinary statistics on income and wealth distributions. >>

Facts that are reflected in statistics are certainly not above suspicion.

However, I'm sure you will forgive me for being even more suspicious of facts that are not reflected in statistics.

I earn no money at my job, and have little disposable income. What are these inexpensive foreign goods that I am supposedly benefiting from? I would rather have health insurance that cost less than $800 per month.

I think my experience is pretty typical in the U.S.

This is not a fact. It is just random personal observation.

However, I'm sure you will forgive me for being even more suspicious of facts that are not reflected in statistics.

They are reflected in statistics, just not the ordinary inflation statistics you'll see.

I earn no money at my job, and have little disposable income. What are these inexpensive foreign goods that I am supposedly benefiting from?

I can't think of any physical goods that are not cheaper b/c of foreign competition.

I would rather have health insurance that cost less than $800 per month.

I think some people are gonna react violently to this, but anyway: Insurance is losing money, on average, if you don't have access to information the insurance company doesn't. Better to save the money and pay out of pocket. If you have your government deregulate the health industry, it'll be cheaper too. Alternatively, of course, you could go the European way and try to force others to pay for you. However you cut it, however, limiting foreign trade will make you worse off in this regard as well. Less GDP will mean less resources for medicine and thus worse quality.

(I won't mention that it helps the real poor, i.e. Chinese and others in countries where Walmart goods is being produced, since I guess you don't care.)

jeppen: You really hit the nail on the head with that last sentence. The reality is that, for the past 30 plus years, international corporations have been getting rich on wage arbitrage. I predicted what is happening back in the 70's. Anyone who saw that the Chinese, Indonesians, Indians, etc., were living on less than $700 a year could see that there must be an international leveling of wages. This is now taking place, with gut wrenching consequences in the U S of A. Not pleasant, and I don't know how to avoid it. As the poor in the third world rise, the middle class in America and Europe sink. More in American so far, but I think we will see that change soon.

Of course we know that the industrial age is wrapping up, and that this is not sustainable in any event. What is truly sad is that WalMart and the others have not paid even the poor in Chindia the value of their labor. They have instead exploited them, just as they no doubt will exploit the newly poor in America when transportation of foreign made goods becomes less affordable.

And, lest we forget, WalMart is simply following the tradition begun by K Mart years earlier, using the same model but doing a better job of it. And K Mart followed Sears Roebuck, who were notorious for their predatory practices years before that.

Where was it written, "There is nothing new under the Sun?"

(And, I do care. As much about the abject poverty that continues in those poor countries as for the harm being done here. Do you?)


The reality is that, for the past 30 plus years, international corporations have been getting rich on wage arbitrage.

Increased profits from outsourcing are quite short transients. The reason is that the competition follows, and price competition push profits toward the same equilibrium as always. Thus, the benefit is mainly transferred to consumers.

Anyone who saw that the Chinese, Indonesians, Indians, etc., were living on less than $700 a year could see that there must be an international leveling of wages. This is now taking place, with gut wrenching consequences in the U S of A. Not pleasant, and I don't know how to avoid it. As the poor in the third world rise, the middle class in America and Europe sink.

Yes, there is some leveling, and that's fantastic. I don't think it's very gut wrenching either, and the middle classes don't sink, but rise, albeit at a somewhat slower rate. However, this is setting us up for a real golden age, some of which we're seeing already. Think of this: We're at 6 billion mobile subscriptions around the world. Nigeria alone has some 150 million. Just the effect of everybody being able to communicate, and increasingly, having wikipedia at their fingertips, cannot be overstated. That US mobile subscriptions are as cheap as they are, and that 4G/LTE is already here, depends in large part on the fact that the markets of China, India and Africa enables equipment manufacturers to spread costs of development and achieve economies of scale. And China and India are catching up fast, and for every year with per-capita GDP growth close to double digits in these countries, their low-wage "advantages" are diminishing.

What is truly sad is that WalMart and the others have not paid even the poor in Chindia the value of their labor. They have instead exploited them, just as they no doubt will exploit the newly poor in America when transportation of foreign made goods becomes less affordable.

What does this mean? What is the value of their labor? What is exploitation? Is this anything more than rhethoric and arbitrary "good" levels of compensation and standards? I think the correct wage is the market wage. The Chinese have lifted hundreds of millions from absolute poverty this way (foreign direct investment), and large middle classes are growing from it. India is much more socialist and have held back, and they are lagging behind China because of this. They suffer from too little capitalism and economic freedom.

And, I do care. As much about the abject poverty that continues in those poor countries as for the harm being done here. Do you?

Yes, but rationally. And that's why I'm stressing that trade and globalization is good.

I think this is enough on this topic. You're not in the US, you probably haven't experienced how this political stuff has sucked all the air out of the room in so many Internet forums here.

There's plenty of other places where the same-old, same-old left vs. right stuff can be discussed. We'd like to cut down on the political rants here.

I would like to think of myself as anti-ranting, as I try to provide a science-based, constructive world-view to counter the typical rants of how badly everything is set up. But I'll shut up, no prob.

Leanan – None of Jeppen’s posts seemed the least bit like a rant to me. He is presenting a calm and methodical series of counterpoints to the frequently-expressed (and seldom moderated) attacks on free trade & capitalism that have become so commonplace on TOD. And he’s doing an impressive job of it, BTW. If readers dislike this differing viewpoint, they’re free to skip over his posts.

Jeppen, we don't have high corporate taxes and lots of regulation. The fact that so many people think we do is a sign of the power of corporate capital. Regulation, for that matter, is often an alternative to public, not-for-profit enterprise. Witness the recent "reform" of the medical-industrial complex. When it's more than that, it's often gutted (OSHA and FDA with 1/100th of the needed inspectors) or simply not enforced (Sherman Anti-trust Act; offshore drilling rules). It certainly is not any kind of serious constraint on doing business in the USA.

Meanwhile, corporate capitalism -- capitalism in which investors are permitted to form and maintain enterprises large enough to restrict price competition -- absolutely requires big government and, therefore, substantial taxation. Left to its own devices, the system is way too effective at its main goal -- sending the proceeds of economic and productivity growth to investors -- to be self-sustaining, without huge and increasing use of the state to counter the basic trend. That's the real secret to why no Republican is ever truly serious about shrinking government. Doing so means permanent Depression, which people won't long stand for.

"That's the real secret to why no Republican is ever truly serious about shrinking government. Doing so means permanent Depression, which people won't long stand for.

Government cutbacks spurred a fresh round of layoffs in August as the public sector shed workers for the 10th-straight month.

Governments cut a total of 17,000 employees last month after slashing 71,000 workers the prior month, the Labor Department said Friday.

The Labor Department’s revisions have consistently shown a weaker public sector than its initial estimates. The number of government layoffs has been revised up for each of the past three months. In July, for example, the Labor Department originally reported governments cut a milder 37,000 slots.

States and localities are struggling to maintain balanced budgets amid weak tax revenues and waning federal stimulus money. That’s led to a surge of public-sector layoffs.

State governments added 5,000 jobs last month, a small rise even though 22,000 workers returned from the government shutdown in Minnesota. Local governments cut 20,000 workers in August. Localities have shed 550,000 jobs since employment peaked in September 2008.

... The Republicans may not want the blame, but it may feel like 'permanent depression' for many. Limits...

So, the top priority of republicans is to maximize corporate profits, and they employ big government and high taxes, somewhat counterintuitively, to keep the profit level as high and as stable as possible? And smaller government and less regulation, despite all evidence to the contrary, would mean permanent depression? That's quite some conspiracy theory you've got there.

jeppen, the top priority of republicans is the same as Democrats: to acquire maximum power and wealth for themselves, which translates into protecting the interests of the 1%, who hold all the wealth and power, and are therefore the only "constituency" that matters. Everything else is a divide-and-conquer Culture War puppet show to distract the disenfranchised majority. No "conspiracy theories" necessary, just plain old fashioned realpolitik --follow the money.

First, their votes come from the 99%, so they're the only constituency that matters. I don't think you give common people enough credit when you imply that the masses are gullible and can be "distracted" and tricked with commercials. Btw, didn't Gringich lose the primary due to his stance on immigration? Wouldn't the 1% rather have it his way?

Then there's the issue of how many issues the 1% care about (the rest is definitely open for other views), and how many issues where the 1% and the 99% have differing interests (others doesn't matter). I think the differing stuff is not very much. I suspect we disagree about this.

(Full disclosure: I'm a libertarian Swede who haven't even visited the US.)

Its not pure a dichotomy. The 99% matters a bit. But, the ability of slick bought and paid more PR, paid for by the 1% (mostly .1%) to skew results is remarkably strong. So while theoretically the 99% should be in control, in reality not so much. Then it turns out that so much of the decisions that matter, are off the public radar screen. Various commitees setting arcane sounding rules. These are happy hunting grounds for big budget lobbyists. These are almost always so eyeball-glazingly boring to think about, that only a lawyer, or someone with a lot of skin in the game, would be able to read through the paperwork without passing out from boredom. But, collectively they tilt the playing field in favor of capital.

you imply that the masses are gullible and can be "distracted" and tricked with commercials

I'm not implying it, I'm stating it as well established fact. If it weren't true, then $billions would not be pouring into (largely fear and character assassination based) advertising and PACs every election cycle, nor would counsel from high priced PR firms be so in demand. One of the quotes that routinely pops up in the upper right corner of this site is this:
“So one may almost say that the theory of universal suffrage assumes that the Average Citizen is an active, instructed, intelligent ruler of his country. The facts contradict this assumption.”
—James Bryce (1909, 35)

It's every bit as true today as it was a century ago, and perhaps a little more so.

I would hazard that very limited political choices presented, combined with an unhealthy degree of cynicism/hopelessness, has much to do with observed political behavior.

and perhaps a little more so.

Probably much much more so. I think it comes because the science of marketting (ideas and ideologies, as well as products), has advanced tremendously. But the general knowledge of the population regarding how to resist the programming hasn't advanced at all. We gladly plug into brainwashing disquised as entertainment, and misinformation parading as infotainment.

We gladly plug into brainwashing disguised as entertainment, and misinformation parading as infotainment.

Yes, and especially when it reinforces one's pre-existing world view, aka confirmation bias. No one's immune to that, not even us rational stalwart TODers.

What does TODers mean?
essay about healthy life

TODers are "The Oil Drummers", ie., those of us on this forum, including you!


you imply that the masses are gullible and can be "distracted" and tricked with commercials

Anyone who doesn't think the 'masses' can be brainwashed by commercials has not been keeping up with the pre-Christmas news reports about the stampedes of eager shoppers literally trampling over other bodies to get the latest 'Play Station' or whatever the current craze is. Then, more recently, the stampedes of people trying to buy the latest $180 per pair of Nike 'Air Jordans'.

Advertisement brainwashing is very, very successful. It is not much of a stretch to realize the same brainwashing works in electing someone to public office, or leading a country into war, or....

The most cursory review of the growing discrepancy between exit polls and election results in the US since the 2004 election strongly suggests that the votes may not, in fact, come from the 99%.

I realize that you do not live here and may not be familiar with the experience of U.S. voters.

It's actually gotten much harder to vote here. I know a lot of people who were provided incorrect information on polling places, mysteriously found themselves not on the list of registered voters, or had similar problems in 2004, and most of them lived in neighborhoods that usually voted for democrats.

Personally, I find it impossible to believe that votes are counted accurately. To me, it seems like a leap of faith similar to believing in price-to-earnings ratios, or the valuation of collateralized real-estate debt.

Sure, I don't live there, so I may be off. But I generally reject conspiracy theories that require a lot of people to do something dishonest and keep it a secret. Information wants to be free. Also, you do have a democratic president and in the beginning of his term, I think the congress was overwhelmingly democratic as well.

I've heard that polling districts have been remade and voter registration rules have been altered, and so on. That I believe, and it may certainly have an impact. But, as I said, I won't believe in conspiracy theories.

To me, it seems like a leap of faith

It feels that way to all us lemmings

But heck, only cowards cut and run.
The brave, the few (in brain cells) "stay the course".

Well bankers are obviously not first in line for poverty here on Earth. The American federal government, the same one which taxes you to death and keeps a large military functioning to keep both you and pesky Arabs in line, makes sure of that. They hand free money to the bankers.

But here's the thing: an economy run by the banks, for the benefit of the banks, is absurd and won't work. This is the fatal conceit of modern, fiat money capitalism, a problem that even the great productive corporations of our time like GM and Exxon Mobil and Wal-Mart and Microsoft don't have an answer to.

If the banks create too much fiat money, they will destroy the economy through stagflation (which is really just inflation) ensuring that they never find capital projects to invest in. If they create too little fiat money, they will destroy the economy through deflation, ensuring whatever real assets they buy go to zero.

"Deregulating" finance is akin to deregulating government itself...it's nothing less than anarchy.

The banks create nothing! And because they create nothing, they cannot create prosperity, which, as everybody here knows, can only come through humans finding creative ways to use the scarce resources and energy on the planet.

Soon enough, the corporate drones of all these non financial businesses will know what it is to be working class. Believe me, it's coming. The OWS crowd need not worry. In the future it's everybody vs. the banks.

Watch the currency. That's the absolute key. It's the one thing uniting all of us, and the one thing that the banks think they can control. As they screw it up, they bring the world down with them.

But what is already the worst recession in seven decades hasn’t destroyed or even much disturbed popular support for actually existing capitalism -- by which I mean mixed-economy capitalism, based on markets, profit-seeking and competition plus a good strong dose of state intervention.

It seems to me that we are simply seeing people WANTING things to continue as they have been; they are easliy manipulated by fear, as well as greed, and capitalists have minions of spinmeisters cooking up new ways to convince the masses that this is all good, and can be maintained.

So, the sheeple support capitalism, not from any personal experience of the goodness contained therein, but rather by a fear, generated by watching Faux News and listening to Rush Limbaugh, that the evil Democrats have caused the Great Recession and will cause the impending Depression (that all are aware lurks somewhere just beyond next payday).

And, most sheep want to keep driving their but SUVs, staying in their suburban McMansions, and flying to Las Vegas, Orlando (or wherever) for their next vacation. They know deep inside that they cannot. And, they know deep inside that the Republicans/capitalists are wrong. And they still listen and they still fear and they are still manipulated by the right wing media/advertising/spin meisters.

Will the Republicans succeed? I don't know. And I agree (with, was it Lincoln or Clemens (?) who said)that the people in a democracy get the government that they deserve.

No bets on 2012's election. I will bet, though, that the earth will survive whatever Mayan appocolypse is perdicted for Dec. 21.



I am a life long Republican and a capitalist but:

I think that a lot of people in the financial industry ought to be in prison. Since the housing fraud (boom) burst, I have seen very few criminal charges even though we have had a Democrat Administration for most of the time since the bust. Let’s face the facts, both the Republicans and Democrats are bought and paid for by the Financial cartels.

There will always be capitalism. It is no accident that we have always had serfs, slaves, peons, vassals, etc.

I lectured continuously to young engineers and other professionals prior to 2007 not to buy a house. Their response; “Crazy Old Man”. Today all are either deeply underwater or in foreclosure or have been foreclosed.

I have never paid a nickel of interest on a credit card but:

In the early 1950’s I picked up rocks for 75 cents an hour and my USMC pay for me and my wife was $154 per month. We lived on that amount and saved $300 to buy a used car when I got out of the Marine Corps.

In the 1960’s I worked a standard 56 hour week for The Boeing Co. and taught Boolean Algebra for the Seattle School District in the evenings. Never bought a house unless I had 20% down and never more than three times my then current income. Never paid more than $13,000 for a car and usually got over 200k miles. At 78 years old I am still bustin my butt bucking hay, raising beef cattle and growing most of my family's food.

My point is that people will always be exploited by 'capitalist' because they want some thing for nothing, get rich quick, keep up with the …

Like GWB said "This suckers going down” So rather than expecting either Democrats or Republicans or some other ism to save the day, we need to personally figure out how to keep food on the table and a roof over that table with no income, no pension, no insurance and no government hand outs.

The place to start is development of community. That can be (any or all) extended family, church, rural community, apartment complex, cul-de-sac, etc.

"Like GWB said "This suckers going down” So rather than expecting either Democrats or Republicans or some other ism to save the day, we need to personally figure out how to keep food on the table and a roof over that table with no income, no pension, no insurance and no government hand outs.
The place to start is development of community. That can be (any or all) extended family, church, rural community, apartment complex, cul-de-sac, etc."

In a nutshell.

The saying "Lead, follow, or stand clear" applies, though the current culture makes leadership nigh impossible, there are few worth following,,, so what's left? Go local and try to get out of the way; not what most folks want to hear.


the saying is " lead follow or get the hell out of the way"

"Lead, follow, or stand clear" is an old Navy term attributed to John Paul Jones, and has been the motto for numerous ships.

Well said.

Family, friends, and community. I have shared your attitude; 20+ years younger, but also taught by parents not to expect anything that was not earned. Family was a bedrock foundation. My first house also had a 20% down payment made and was 2X income. Crappy house but a start. Stepping stones. I never like GW, thinking he was owned by oil industry, but I would rather have him for a neighbour than wonder hope.


Thing is, Obama is *not* a genuine "liberal/progressive". He's a plutocrat, just like GWB and most every other politician. If he were a true liberal/progressive --much less a socialist-- he'd be in favor of:

1. Single-payer universal healthcare (like the rest of the civilized world).
2. Regulating the banksters and taxing the $hit out of the rent-seeking plutocrats (like the rest of the civilized world).
3. Import tariffs/VAT to protect domestic manufacturing jobs (like the rest of the civilized world).
4. Stopping the endless wars over resources/empire.
5. Closing Guantanamo Bay, ending rendition/torture, and restoring Habeas Corpus.
6. Election reform, especially publically financed elections and a complete ban on PAC money.
7. A Constitutional Amendment to revoke SCOTUS's corporate "personhood" status.
8. Fully funding alternative/renewable energy Manhattan project style.
9. Fully funding a jobs program to put unemployed Americans back to work and putting money into the hands of people who actually spend it in the real economy.

He's in favor of none of the above, which makes him very un-liberal.

Says here you've been around 4 + years on TOD. You are dead on correct, my friend. You need to post more comments.

My lament is that we have had, so far, 31 years (getting near to 32) of uninterrupted right wing rule, with true conservatism ignored and neglected in favor of economic elitism. On July 9, 1896, William Jennings Bryan gave the "Cross of Gold" speech. At one point he stated:

There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.

And for that, I will forgive his prosecution of John Thomas Scopes.

So... who would you turn to amongst the Democrats available for office today? Is there a true progressive who could be elected?

Best hopes on finding a philosopher king.


In total agreement, but it may help the non-US readers, or at least new ones, to characterize the US political spectrum a little better, especially when talking about the economy.

On a global spectrum, most of our elected leaders (maybe a few exceptions) are pretty far to the political right. I can only name a few true "leftists."

What they are, and by default what we are, at least in the last 40 years or so, are "neoliberals".

Neoliberalism is a contemporary form of economic liberalism that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets to promote globalization. Neoliberals therefore seek to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the world.

At least in my lifetime, since Mr. Nixon who I barely remember resigning, the government has been "neoliberal". (Yes even Mr. Carter)

All of the current candidates for U.S. President and Mr. Obama adhere to neoliberal policy.

Neoliberalism depends on cheap energy, will do anything to get it, and will burn it all.

"I think that a lot of people in the financial industry ought to be in prison."

TGW, my understanding as to why they are not is that they did nothing wrong. They got the laws changed to enable their actions. They sought opinions that, then, favored their actions. The rating of these packages of mortgages is an opinion. That torture is OK is an opinion. If something goes wrong, then blame must lie within the actions of the lower echelons of staff and consultants.

My understanding is that the next wave is already in the works. Something to do with the legality of taking money from accounts to cover other bets. This is why the MF Global chief can state that he ordered nobody to do anything wrong with 1.2 billion dollars found missing. I further understand that laws are being passed to cover any loose ends. Anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? I've forgotten the words for the transaction.

Commingling of funds? This is a cardinal sin of any sort of financial business. When I got my real estate license, this was one of the parts in the study program where they reminded you about the various legal penalties and how you would lose your license permanently.

It's a form of theft in a sense. You put other people's funds with your own, then who knows what funds are what? You can then very easily pocket funds intended for another use.

Anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? I've forgotten the words for the transaction.

The blackhole account enigma.

This is where money goes into an account and never comes out again.

Personally speaking, I have lost trust in the markets. Because of paranoia? No, because of actual events that are happening.

I am will pretty much stay divided between a simple bank account and precious metals. If they kill the currency, I'll still have metals. If they deflate the economy, I'll still have cash.

And if they do both, well then we're all screwed anyway.

Bernanke and the Wall Street snake oil salesmen aren't going to defeat me, as long as I still draw breath.

my understanding as to why they are not is that they did nothing wrong. They got the laws changed to enable their actions.

Slavery was once legal in the US, too.
- For the US, it took a large casualty civil war to change both society and the laws against slavery to be enforced.

Unfortunately, I don't see the analogy being able to be applied to financial reform. Why? Well, who of "the one percent" is against being a member of "the one percent"?

The Case of the Missing Gas Mileage

Automakers have made great strides in fuel efficiency in recent decades — but the mileage numbers of individual vehicles have barely increased. An MIT economist explains the conundrum.

Specifically, between 1980 and 2006, the average gas mileage of vehicles sold in the United States increased by slightly more than 15 percent — a relatively modest improvement. But during that time, Knittel has found, the average curb weight of those vehicles increased 26 percent, while their horsepower rose 107 percent. All factors being equal, fuel economy actually increased by 60 percent between 1980 and 2006, as Knittel shows in a new research paper, “Automobiles on Steroids,” just published in the American Economic Review (download PDF)

I posted this link on real 'gas' mileage up in the previous Drumbeat, but I think it is worth a repost here. The page is a useful guide to the mileage achieved by car drivers as opposed to the mileage claimed by the manufacturers. Two provisos though: these are car models sold in the UK/Europe so your typical yank tank (SUV) won't get a mention, and all those pesky figures are for Imperial gallons not US gallons. But, if you are looking across the pond to get an inport it may give you some ideas!


All the vehicles we use are getting at least double the mileage we got with the vehicles we owned in 1980, with the exception of the big truck.The ones we have now are nineties vintage, and some what downsized but excepting the compact truck cab being cramped on a long rise, they are just as comfortable, more dependable, and longer lasting.

Fuel economy in bigger trucks is probably up by about a third or maybe a half due
to better gasoline engines and overall design.

The improvement in diesel economy has not been as good, but diesel trucks were always built with fuel economy in mind.

"but the mileage numbers of individual vehicles have barely increased."

I noticed that too. The ex's 1990 Subaru station wagon gets 32 MPG real-world commuting. My 2006 Aveo hatchback gets 32 MPG real-world commuting. So what did they do with the intervening 16 years?

Both cars have manual transmissions, no AC, no power windows or door locks, etc. Basic transportation.

So what did they do with the intervening 16 years?

They increased power and vehicle weight (safety and comfort) at the expense of mileage. The current engines are actually more fuel efficient than engines producing the same power in the past.

A number of years ago, I listened to an engineer from GM talk about the in-line 6-cylinder engine that they were producing for their small SUV/truck products. The talk was all about lost-foam aluminum casting techniques, but the engineer explained that a lot of time had been spent designing the engine so that cylinders could be added or removed as necessary. The engine that they were currently producing had 6 cylinders, but they could remove cylinders from the casting to improve the fuel efficiency if "the market" ever began to value fuel mileage over power. He showed cast engine blocks with 3 through 6 cylinders all produced on the same prototype manufacturing line.

The car companies know how to reduce fuel consumption, but the indicators that they're getting "from the market" (which is, of course, influenced by their own marketing) is telling them to concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

Your mistake is that you bought an Aveo, GM's products are not as good on fuel economy as those from other brands as a general rule. Their newest products are competitive, but your pre-bailout car is probably worst in class compared to others of that era. The Aveo in particular was known to be sub-par.

Wind turbine maker's shares plunge 19%

Vestas, the world leader in the wind turbine industry, saw its share price plummet around 19 percent at the opening Wednesday, a day after issuing a profit warning

A shortage of "bankable projects" as Greer discussed a few weeks ago? Projects that otherwise might make sense cannot proceed because they do not meet the investment return criteria of the existing financial system.

[Chinese] Diesel Shortage Fuels Discontent

... "I have to wait for two hours and even longer at the gas station to get refueled. And you are only allowed to buy 50 yuan worth of diesel. So I have to come back for another two hours in the afternoon," he said. "In the worst scenario, I tried 10 filling stations and couldn't get a single drop of diesel and was afraid of running out of fuel."

The shortages are nothing new to Changsha nor confined to Hunan province. They first occurred in the winter of 2003 in the Yangtze River Delta and became widespread in the past few years in central, eastern, southern and southwestern China during the peak season for diesel.

In-depth discussion starting pg 3

Interesting outdoor sculpture in NYC:

David Brooks: Desert Rooftops

"....As housing communities devour more and more land and resources each year the outcome is equivalent to the very process of desertification. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification defines desertification as: land degradation into arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including human activities and climatic variations derived from over-development, over-grazing and an overworked land. The result is often a depleted landscape inhospitable to other life..."


And time lapse video:


I do not doubt climate change theory in general, or warming in particular but I have always thought that the impact of development is probably underestimated in climate models, thereby perhaps overestimating the effects of greenhouse gases.

Of course the models are far more sophisticated than my intuitive seat of the pants reasoning, but never the less , one has to wonder, if he has spent a lot of days in asphalt jungles, hay fields, and forests all in the same general area.

The forest is generally ten degrees or so cooler when the leaves are on and there is no noticeable wind on a sunny day, which must be attributed mostly to the regular and heavy transpiration of water by the trees.

It's not ten degrees cooler in thick shade under a few isolated large trees out in a pasture.It can be fairly pleasant in a hayfield ten miles out of town on a day you can hardly breathe in an asphalt jungle.

When you think about all the millions of acres of pavement, flat roofs, plowed fields, and all the water that just runs off, rather than evaporating ......

Desertification has probably resulted in as much more land being bare as development, considering the condition of the today Middle East compared to ancient accounts..

Well climate change and desertification no doubt have a force their own.

But still, I find it a poignant image. I heard someone descibe it as a sinking suburb -- think SE suburbs dissolving into the desert.
Or one of Bob Fiske's ME suburbs that might fare better with solar panels on the roofs.

And even more prosaically, sinking home values

Well, it does force one to remember that not all deserts are simply 'places barren of life' .. Urban Deserts are probably better described as Monocultures.. where only Humans and a few human-driven pets and table-scrappers form the biota.

The night Nicole Foss spoke up here, I sat next to an Architect friend of mine, and she bemoaned not having chosen a house with a good yard for growing.. I suggested that there must be a way for all these New England Peaked rooftops to be reworked into '3rd Floor Greenhouses' .. It would be quite a makeover, and Moisture Control and Movable Insulation would have to be well-orchestrated and engineered.. but at that point, an improving design would at least also become reproducible, and should leave one with a house that has much more control of water, heat and food.. plus a nice place to have Coffee in the Morning!


Likewise, it would be great if street strolling New Yorkers looked on this exhibit and considered a broader use of their rooftops.

Some New Yorkers are taking up the call at least..


From: What non-scientist Paul Krugman doesn’t understand about debt, up top.

Here’s what he has to say about Krugman’s assertions that debt, in essence, doesn’t matter:

This statement is simply not true. Krugman says not such thing. What he says is that deficits do not matter now. He has ample evidence to back him up. Interest rates are at record low levels. Inflation is subdued. The bond vigilanties are nowhere in sight.

At the moment the problem is lack of demand, not lack of supply, even in oil.

Krugman makes more sense than the idea the economy is currently limited by an oil shortage. It may be at some future point, but the jury is still out. Lately we have been exporting record levels of refined petroleum product as well as ethanol.

What evidence do Krugman's critics have? None.

The current reason debt is a problem is lack of demand in the economy resulting in inadequate income for government, business and most of all individuals.

I read Krugman nearly everyday and also Pragmatic Capitalism home of MMTer Cullen Roche.

The author should try understanding his thesis, rather than attack him for positions he does not take.

Krugman has been mostly right lately and his critics mostly wrong. Be careful when attacking those who have been correct. Krugman is fully capable of putting critics in their place.

What evidence do Krugman's critics have? None.

The current reason debt is a problem is lack of demand in the economy resulting in inadequate income for government, business and most of all individuals.

I like Krugman and certainly prefer him to his typical opponents (neo-conservatives, Chicago freshwater cornucopians and right-wingers of all stripes), but he has a blind spot a mile wide when it comes to Peak Oil and Limits to Growth. He's been (mostly) right in the short-term by proposing the typical Keynsian remedy for demand destruction: more government investment, jobs and putting money in the hands of regular consumers. Unfortunately, he does not seem to be able to wrap his head around the fact that we are facing a major paradigm shift and that the old remedies are becoming less and less effective by the day. He would be wise to drop in on TOD once in a while and consider the following:

--The planet is already massively overpopulated and consuming renewable resources (much less the non renewable ones) far too rapidly for nature to replace them.
--The planet is already massively overpolluted, deforested and is becoming more so by the day. More growth will only exacerbate the situation.
--Consumers (and governments) are facing a solvency (debt) problem, not a liquidity problem. You can provide banks all the zero-interest rate "free" money you want, but if banks are not willing to lend and consumers are unwilling to borrow (because they are already saturated with debt they cannot repay), it will not result in greater demand. This is the classic "pushing on a string" zero-bound scenario.

Your last point is simply what Krugman calls the zero lower bound for interest rates and it is the reason that monetary policy is ineffective at present. The answer is deficit financing of government expenditures aka fiscal policy. His thesis is that if we get people employed by the government spending significant amounts of money, then this makes sense when current interest rates are so low. Money could be spent on HVDC transmission, public transit, railroads, energy research particularly advanced nuclear and wind, solar, and geothermal. Homes can be refitted with better insulation and sealing. Much can be done to help with the coming energy crunch while getting people back to work. I do agree that Krugman seems to have a blind spot with regard to resource limits.

His thesis is that if we get people employed by the government spending significant amounts of money, then this makes sense when current interest rates are so low. Money could be spent on HVDC transmission, public transit, railroads, energy research particularly advanced nuclear and wind, solar, and geothermal. Homes can be refitted with better insulation and sealing.

I agree with all this. However, based on the government's track record, I'm not convinced the money would actually end up being spent on sensible projects like conservation, renewable/next-gen energy R&D, transit, etc. Without publicly financed elections and far, far better informed citizens, I fear most of the money would end up in the pockets of the usual gang of crooks: banksters, MID contractors, oil & gas, political payola, roads/bridges to nowhere and BAU.

Even with publicly financed elections, a semi-informed electorate, and other modest but nevertheless genuine electoral advances (such as here in good old democratic Australia), it does not inoculate a country from outrageously stupid and politically infected decision-making - when it comes to doling out great gobs of "stimulus" largesse.

Presumably they a sit around a big room with a whiteboard, and cut up the cash according to three criteria: (1) who do we owe favours to, (2) who do we want to get obligated to us, and (3) what electorates are marginal, and we need to spend the cash to shore up the votes?

Oh, there is also political return on capital invested, so high-profile and sexy "shovel-ready" projects are preferred - level of boondoggle and graft involved doesn't matter - just so long as it shines through to the next election!

I'm not cynical ... just experienced.

I don't think he's totally blind. Back when I used to read and coment on his blog, I constantly pounded on limits to growth. I think at some level he gets it, but still resorts to the "lets get back to the exponential growth trend". Obviously that means such policies have a use-by date.

The stuff you advocate is the same as the stuff I advocate. But that runs counter to major power centers in the country, so it just aint gonna happen. So as the limits begin biting harder, we won't have done our homework. Likely we will blame the problems on scapecoats, rather than lack of preparation driven by greed.

Krugman ... has a blind spot a mile wide when it comes to Peak Oil and Limits to Growth.

Maybe, maybe not. He has certainly said recently that it looks like we are running out of cheap resources. (That was a few weeks after Jeremy Grantham's big scare piece.) Back in 1999 Krugman wrote that he thought the 21st century would belong to the owners of resources.

Back in 1973, when he was a grad student, he worked on a paper published under William Nordhaus's name which looked at the future of energy in the USA. (It's available on the web in the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity series.)

That paper used the concept of a "backstop technology" - an energy source that we fall back on when everything else has gone. In this kind of analysis the price of energy can't rise any higher than the cost to produce from the backstop technology.

In the paper the backstop technology was fast breeder nuclear reactors. IIRC the timeline was that domestic oil disappeared in the 1990s, foreign oil by 2020. Transport switched first to coal-to-liquids and then to electricity (from nuclear). Turning coal into electricity got too expensive by about 2100. (This was before desulfurization and so on.)

IMHO there's still not a lot wrong with this way of looking at things. These days we would say the backstop technology is maybe a combination of solar and fast-breeder nuclear. So we'll suffer a few decades of economic pain if and when we change to an electric economy. But after the transition things should be OK.

(Of course, being a purely economic analysis, it made no allowance for the craziness of politicians, the vested interests of the fossil fuel lobby and the military contracting lobby, or the selfishness of NIMBYs. Put those together and you end up attacking Iraq rather than manufacturing solar cells.)

Anyway, Krugman has looked at peak oil/coal/gas, a long time ago, and concluded that it's survivable with BAU, and maybe it will even lead to a cleaner, healthier country.

These days, we have to add to that, "... provided the political class retains some slight contact with reality and a desire to avoid apocalyse." Those don't seem very certain any more.

On the Limits to Growth, Krugman readily acknowledges that we can't go on producing and consuming more and more stuff. He does think that growth can continue through making things of higher and higher quality - he talks about automated kitchens that can automatically produce gourmet meals, and things of that sort.

I'm a lot more sceptical here. But once the world has got to the point where it's looking to things of that sort to continue growth, i.e. everyone has the basics of enough food, good basic shelter, healthcare, and education, and we need to make everything more fancy in order to keep growth going ... well, then we won't need any more growth.

"He does think that growth can continue through making things of higher and higher quality - he talks about automated kitchens that can automatically produce gourmet meals, and things of that sort."

I read that same post. His point was that he was willing to do whatever accounting tricks it took to make GDP continue up regardless of resource limits. After I thought about it for awhile, I came to the conclusion that he was admitting his favored economic system could not survive without perpetual growth.

As for the bond vigilantes he can't find, they are in Europe.

Those countries are being crucified on a cross of euros.

William Jennings Bryan (1896) reference for those who didn't get it. Gold did to the whole world in the Great Depression what the euro is doing to much of the euro area (ex-Germany) right now.

"What he says is that deficits do not matter now."

That alone is enough reason to ignore Krugman.

Economists like him, as well as "historians" like Niall Ferguson are near-sighted and ecologically illiterate. They are willing to churn through resources to maintain highly questionable economic activity now, but are oblivious to the costs Then.

Krugmans are like mind-numbing parasites that infect the herd with the "growth-at-all-costs (to the future)" memes resulting in zombie psychopath economies (h/t Seraph).

My understanding of Krugman's position wrt 'now' is that 'now' the economy is in danger of sinking further and gov't spending will keep people at the bottom from starving. But he is smart enough to realize that his adversaries actually WANT people to starve and thereby leave the economy. We are dealing with real 'evil doers' here and Krugman is not one of them.

As to any argument about cost to the future, I believe current debt burden will never be paid off or rolled over because limits to growth will prevail. Krugman may be in denial on this. But, since the current debt burden will only go away by some form of debt write-off, not repayment, I think it is OK to keep real people from starving while waiting for whatever with trigger the write-off. As we all know, all arguments in macro-econ. are highly colored by political thinking, i.e. use arguments that confuse your opposition. Krugman is operating in political mode, under cover of stupid use of Keynesian economics, IMHO.

"I think it is OK to keep real people from starving"

Krugman wants to waste resources trying to maintain industrial BAU. That is a far cry from "starving." He wants to feed the Financial-Military-Industrial Complex now, hoping the Parasite can grow and pay back its "debt" in plastic baubles and stone-head highways-to-nowhere later

"Real People" will pay either way (my kids are real people... at least most of the time ;).

We have A Longage of Expectations. It is Time to Grow Up.

Krugman makes more sense than the idea the economy is currently limited by an oil shortage

I would argue that there is currently an oil shortage in the world. Why else would the price of oil be as high as it's been over the last few years? You can argue that there's only a shortage of cheap oil, but that's essentially the same thing as a shortage of oil.


Monday, January 02, 2012

A Dismal Public Affair

This morning I was honored to participate in a panel discussion on what the near future holds with an illustrious panel: Richard Heinberg, Nicole Foss, James Howard Kunstler and Noam Chomsky. And it turned out really dismal, if you ask me! The overall message seems to have been that it doesn't matter what any of us say, because so few people are able to take in such bad news without becoming despondent, so we might as well just let Chomsky ramble on like he always does, as a sort of case in point. And of course the moderator just had get up Kunstler's nose with the usual "so this is all doom and gloom, isn't it?" sort of comment. The one funny bit is around 51:26 where Chomsky calls Daniel Yergin "a very serious analyst" right after Kunstler calls him "the oil industry's chief public relations prostitute." Perhaps this will make Yergin an even better prostitute. And Chomsky is a very serious linguist. Think positive!

That was one outstanding round table (warning - first ~8 minutes is a generic news cast).

I think they did a great job. I'm glad chompsky was on, even though he got a bit distracted (and got a bit distracting).

Was this played only on NPR Milwaukee ???

Yeah, Noam's getting a bit long in the tooth it seems ("..peak oil is being deferred for a long time, which is a disaster for the country".)

Too bad Orlov had to leave early.

Good grief, Chomsky's a soporific! "Behind the curve" is an understatement. Yergin: "a serious analyst"!!??
Hardly going to fire up the Pleb's with that level of pomposity.

The guy's what, 83 now? Give him a break. He's gotten a hell of a lot right over the years that most have gotten dead wrong. So he hasn't followed TOD closely enough to know about "The Yergin"--he has followed a lot else of greater import over the years.

Actually Orlov's mp3 link is to WORT in Madison. They'd be more than a little surprised to discover that they had become NPR in Milwaukee...

Exclusive: EU agrees to embargo on Iranian crude

European governments have agreed in principle to ban imports of Iranian oil, EU diplomats said Wednesday, dealing a blow to Tehran that crowns new Western sanctions months before an Iranian election.

Diplomats said EU envoys held talks on Iran in the last days of December, and that any objections to an oil embargo had been dropped - notably from crisis-hit Greece which gets a third of its oil from Iran, relying on Tehran's lenient financing. Spain and Italy are also big buyers.

Iran's Real Weapon Of Mass Destruction Is Oil Prices

... As my friend and economist Ed Hirs pointed out in a paper in 2010, the loss of 10 million barrels a day of Middle East production could drive short-run oil prices to $413 a barrel, given the inability of consumers to rapidly shift to other fuels. And that kind of shock is enough to blast the U.S. economy back into recession. Economist Kevin Kliesen with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said that a sudden and sustained increase in oil prices would increase the odds of recession by 50% in the first year after it occurred, and 90% after three years.

EU agrees in principle to destroy itself economically, is how the headline ought to read. Of far greater interest is this Atimes.com report that highlights the results of the recent Collective Security Treaty Organization meeting that "took a momentous decision that for the setting up of foreign military bases on CSTO territory, there had to be approval by all member states of the Moscow-led alliance that also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan President Nurusultan Nazarbayev announced with a straight face:

'The most important outcome of our meeting was an agreement on the coordination of military infrastructure deployment by non-members of CSTO on the territory of CSTO member states. Now, in order to deploy a military base of a third country on the territory of a CSTO member state, it will be necessary to obtain official approval of all CSTO member states. I think this is a clear sign of the organization's unity and its members' utmost loyalty to allied relations.'

"The last sentence was dripping with irony since the Obama administration had just recently taken a decision to provide military assistance to Uzbekistan in a policy turnaround with the intent to hijack the key Central Asian country to undermine the CSTO. To Washington's dismay, Uzbek President Islam Karimov not only attended the CSTO summit in Moscow, but went on to voice his support of the alliance's decision." http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/NA04Df01.html

And there is even more interesting info within that article. Combined with recent moves by the SCO to make Pakistan (promoted by Russia) and Iran (promoted by China) permanent members in 2012, the moves by the CSTO come close to checkmating the US Empire's Afghan gambit. Since most of what's presented on Drumbeat is generated by the Propaganda System, it becomes a must to read sources that provide us info the System blacksout, as with the CSTO meeting's results, and the recent article (do spend the time to read the articles he cites) and interview with Pepe Escobar do just that, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/ML22Ag02.html and http://consortiumnews.com/2011/12/27/shifting-ground-for-vital-resources/

I came across this paper

A Crude Threat The Limits of an Iranian Missile Campaign against Saudi Arabian Oil
Joshua R. Itzkowitz
Shifrinson and Miranda Priebe


It is quite interesting, they analyse the ability of Iran to damage Saudi oil exports with ballistic missiles, it is very academic. The interesting part is they conclude Iran really couldn't do very much damage.

I suspect their peer review process is much less rigorous than the review it would get here. I question their conclusions , they base the damage done to oil installations strictly on the over pressure of the blasts on the main towers completely neglecting shrapnel, fire and damage to auxiliary equipment etc.

I'm no expert, I wonder if anyone with experience at oil installations could comment? I believe that hundreds of bombs landing around a refinery would pretty much destroy the place even if they didn't score a direct hit.

" I believe that hundreds of bombs landing around a refinery would pretty much destroy the place even if they didn't score a direct hit."

German industrial production held up to strategic bombing much better than the Allies expected in WWII.

The German blockade of England and the US blockade of Japan (once the torpedos were fixed) did put major crimps in production.

The bombs weren't as well aimed as our side expected;nearly all of them missed by considerable margins ranging from a hundred yards to a mile or more. And say what you will about Nazis, they were very efficient managers of their war machine and incredibly good at fixing things in a hurry.

If they had had Hitler, who was a political genius but a military nonentity, as their political head only, instead of as the functional supreme commander, they probably would have won the war.They would have for instance started the war with enough submarines to have easily choked the life out of the Brits-which they could easily have built and crewed early on.

The locals in the Middle East aren't going to fix things nearly as well nor as fast, as a huge proportion of the skilled workers are expatriates, and most of the ones who can leave in the event of a war are likely to haul axx.

Furthermore, this time the bombs are going to hit most of the time. Modern Yankee bombs would seldom ever miss a target as big as a large oil refinery.

From Chatham House: Burning Oil to Keep Cool: The Hidden Energy Crisis in Saudi Arabia

•Domestic energy demand growth in Saudi Arabia is cause for international concern. If it continues at the current rate, it could jeopardize the country's ability to stabilize world oil markets.

•Given Saudi Arabia's level of dependence on oil revenues, excessive consumption will cause economic and social pressures long before oil exports end – within a decade if nothing changes.

•Current policies are not enough. Planned additions of renewable power supply would help maintain the fiscal balance for an additional two to three years; given the lead times nuclear power would have little or no impact.

Full Report

... and they didn't even give Westexas credit for his Export Land Model (ELM)

Yeah right.
I like the way that graph shows Saudi production peaking at 14mbd in 2022. Like that's almost going to happen.
It would be nice if people would just for one minute put down the crack pipe.

Jabberwock, wasn't 14 mbd also the figure thrown around for Iraq to get up to? No more crack smoking for those people! Thanks for the laugh.

They should have read the export land thesis more carefully:

Phase I: Falling oil exports lead to rising income as prices outrun shortage. Total exports are down a few percent over 2005 but prices are up 300%. Oil prices are inelastic. OPEC: Bring on the falling exports!

Phase II: Rising oil prices can't make up for falling exports. The world will be down about 2/3rds of exports by that point. How will Saudi Arabia cope? Export plastic instead of crude oil. 2x to 3x the value per pound.


I suspect that they may have seen Sam Foucher's modeling for Saudi production, consumption and net exports (total petroleum liquids, BP):


Can I suggest dropping the Chatham House author a note, making it clear you've been working on this for a while, a credit would be nice, his production numbers ignore KSA statements etc.

There is a possibility of a speaking opportunity out of it; this thinktank is very well connected in the UK and networking with them gives an in to governments, one-on-one meetings, etc.

It's entirely possible that they reached their own conclusions completely independently, and several people, e.g. Matt Simmons, looked at net exports before us. But I'll send them a link to our updated paper (in progress).

As noted at the top of the thread, a key aspect that I suspect almost everyone is still overlooking is the high initial depletion rate in post-2005 Cumulative Net Exports (CNE). Some CNE depletion case histories, along with the ELM numbers:


I think these exponential ELM projections are worthless, at least for heavily oil income dependent nations. They'll want to keep their oil incomes high, so they'll curb domestic consumption as necessary. If KSA match today's extreme US per-capita oil consumption in 2050 at the projected KSA capita level (60m) they'll be at 4 mbpd.

j- Re:

...If KSA match today's extreme US per-capita oil consumption in 2050 at the projected KSA capita level (60m) they'll be at 4 mbpd.

From the Report up-tread.

[pg 5 (14 of49)] ... Saudi Arabia’s total primary energy consumption [TPEC] amounted to around four million barrels of oil equivalent per day (201 million tonnes of oil equivalent per year (mtoe/y)) in 2010.11 This is similar to consumption in the United Kingdom, which has well over double the population. Per capita, Saudi Arabia consumes a little more than the United States and around twice as much as Japan (see Figure 4).

Gas currently fuels around 35% of power generation, with the remainder coming from a mix of diesel, heavy fuel oil and crude oil.

Yes, they consume a lot. But it would require suicidal tendencies or stupidity from KSA rulers to not safeguard their country's export incomes by slowly abolishing gas subsidies and finding other sources for electricity. Their rule depend on these incomes.

Just because it requires suicidal tendencies or stupidity to continue on their current course doesn't mean they are not going to do it. Suicidal tendencies and stupidity are common in the national politics of many countries (waving my hands in the general direction of the US as well as the PIIGS).

Sure, you never know, but I wouldn't count on a monarchy being stupid about its power base.

Given an ongoing production decline in an oil exporting county, unless they cut their consumption at the same rate as the production decline, or at a rate faster than the production decline, the net export decline rate will exceed the production deline rate and the net export deline rate will accelerate with time.

Acme News Flash:

Al-Naimi accounces 20% cuts in OPEC output to help combat global warming

The ensuing chaos is rather amusing but i'll let you all think up scenarios.

This one is even better:

China starts scaled shutdown of coal fired plants, warns of increased prices of all exports

Whats the point in the above statements? Simple. It proves emphatically that carbon emissions will NEVER
be reduced top down. They will need to be demand led. i.e. us, humanity.

Now given that 80% of the planets population
is actually striving to increase their consumption of goods and standards of living, well thats not happing
anytime soon either.

Happy new year everyone.


Got a link to the Al-Naimi story? I'd be very interested.

No, it's a scenario!!! And not likely either! Thats why I put the 'Acme news flash'.

"Acme" is a popular culture reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wile_E._Coyote_and_Road_Runner#Acme_Corpora...

The company name was likely chosen for its irony (acme means the highest point, as of achievement or development)

That's it!

We can rebrand as 'The ACME of Oil!!' Yay!! WooHoo!! (just don't look down..)

I agree Marco. It's a positive feedback system in which consumer demand drives corporate profits with CO2 as the undesirable byproduct. The consumer always wants more and the corporation always wants to sell more. The only way to reduce FF is to rely to a greater extent on other energy sources. But even that strategy has its limits, as anything else must compete with the low cost of FF, like coal usage in China which is 3x that of the US. I never hear of attempts to make clean coal plants in China, because the cost of energy from coal would go up. Again money determines course, not concern for the planet or our future. And I'm not picking on China, its just a good example.

CO2 emissions with increasing CO2 levels are an experiment on a global scale. We are apparently committed to it, so I guess we'll just watch and burn more FF while we wait and see where it goes.

On a side note, we are not getting much rain here in No. California. Santa Rosa area about 40% of normal. I'm watering the outdoor plants in Dec-jan for the first time since we moved here 14 years ago. Seems eerily warm, sunny and breezeless. The birds on the lake down below us are loving it.

never hear of attempts to make clean coal plants in China,

Most of the on the ground investment in such is in China. In true "capitalist" contries like the US, the cost always becomes a veto point. Of course at the rate they are building plants, a handful of experimental CCS ones won't make a meaningful difference. But at least they are putting some Yuan where there mouth is.

Yes to Cali. I've probably had the best ratio of actual to climatological precip this year (I'm normally on the rainshadow of Mt Diablo, but the few whimy storms we did have had wind directions that put me on the rainy side. Even so I'm probably around 50%. I normally do some winter watering, whenever we get a week or more of dry weather. Now its once or twice a week. It was in the sixties today. This is the season of green hills, but green flecks are very few and far between this year. Not much fog, as the ground is dry as a bone.....

Virtually every airline in India is bankrupt. Some are no longer safe and will be shutdown: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/transportation...

According to my source in the state of Punjab, the load shedding and blackouts have become worse in the past few weeks. If Chindian oil imports slow down, that might give other countries a temporary break.

Hate to get labelled a eugenicist or racist, but I wonder how India might fare with only 200 million or so vs. the 1200 million they now have? I wonder, could their average standard of living rise to the level of a European or North American? Could the depletion of their aquifers, rampant desertification, pollution, extinction of flora and fauna, and all sorts of other environmental devastation be halted or reversed? Gee, I wonder what might happen all over the world if *quality* of life mattered as much as *quantity* of life.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

Nothing racist about it. I have often wished that India had only 300 million people. When I was younger I used to fantasize that some day some one will invent a colorless, odorless liquid that will sterilize people without harming them. Then all you have to do is mix it with the water supply and you have your population control....

50 years from now India probably will have 300m people.

Modern industrial India will be a fading memory. For 200m of the 300m people who survive, life will continue in grinding poverty just as it has down, these past 3000 years or more.

100 years from now, India will be much the same as it was 500 years ago, if climate change does not get them.

I wonder what happens with their weapons of mass destruction between now and then? Sane question about Pakistan.

50 years from now India probably will have 300m people.

I'd guess 1700m.

Culture is standing in the way of 300m and holding the door open to 1700m

From Aljazeera ... Mother India

Despite its growing population, India's infertility business is on the rise.

Jhuma and Niladri are a couple from Burdwan in the state of West Bengal. They have been married for eight years and have no children. This is a major problem, especially in India where a childless married woman is considered impure. A few years ago, Niladri would probably have abandoned Jhuma, and her life would have become a misery, her presence taken to be an inauspicious sign at social events or religious ceremonies.

For 200m of the 300m people who survive, life will continue in grinding poverty just as it has down, these past 3000 years or more.

I disagree. India was a very prosperous place prior to the industrial revolution. It has the second largest amount of land under cultivation (after US), a good climate and abundant rainfall and water resources. The soil is very fertile and you can grow food throughout the year.

Prior to the industrial revolution, India accounted for 25% of the global trade. In ancient times it had the worlds finest Universities in Taxila (now Pakistan) and Nalanda. It also had the worlds greatest mathematicians (invented the decimal system, "Arabic" numerals & many other things), astronomers, philosophers, doctors and metallurgists. The famous "Damascus steel" used by the crusaders for their swords came from India. It traded with Rome and other empires. As a matter of fact ancient Rome had a trade deficit with India.

If India's population ever drops to 300 million, it will be a very nice place to live (assuming climate does not change). 300 million is sustainable for India (again, assuming climate change does not mess up the monsoons).

Bengal had a standard of living about equal too Europe just before the Battle of Plessey 1757 which gave the British East India Company political control. This allowed it to exploit it for all it was worth under the name of free trade well, that is not quiet right, there is no free trade. The political control meant that Bengal could not put up trade barriers or import duties to help stem the tide of British textiles which were cheaper because they were being produced in factories and using water power. The poor Indian hand weaver was wiped out.The wealth that they would have produced then left India it went into the Coffers of the East India with every boat load of cheap cotton goods that they imported. The same is happening too the west today at the hands of China

As an aside Bengal had a population about equal to
France at that time about 21,000,000 and with a standard of living about the same there was a hell of lot of wealth to extract. No wonder the East India Company had at one time a GDP larger than the British Isles.

I spent 2 years travelling around India in the late 70s on an Indian built Royal Enfield bullet, some of the happiest times of my live, loved the place. Heaven and Hell in a nutshell, if you know what I mean.

yorkie - Very interesting. "Heaven and Hell in a nutshell, if you know what I mean." Caught my eye...caused similar mixed emotions about certain areas in SE Asia. Seems like we "civilized" folk sometimes just can't stop from messing up a good thing.

Nice one Yorkie.
England in 1750 had a population about 6M (Britain reached 20M in the 1840s).
No real edge at the time, even in military stuff?
(More down to treachery and a few smart 'lucky' moves.)

Clive's British troops consisted of 800 European, 2000 Indian and 200 Artillery men. Whereas Anwar was leading a 50,000 strong army with 53 canons. On the other hand Clive had only six pounder and two howitzer class canons. ...


(A recent footnote in our present global scene is the story of Mr F. Singh, Bengal farmer (retd.) lives now with family in London, having moved aged 89 when his wife and son died. Took up long distance running; did a marathon in under 5 hours when 94, and last year completed Ottawa marathon in 8.5 hours at the age of 100. Great guy. He has cheered me up no end! I only do half-marathons even though 30 years younger, but I had a much less favorable life-style until I was 50.)

Militarily India's problem has always been it's paralyzing diversity, foreigners have conquered one tribe and used it against the second, conquered the third and used it against the fourth.

It's probably worthy to note that this issue was resolved in China by the 3rd century BC when most of Southern China had been conquered by the Han Chinese establishing them as the dominant tribe in the country.

Any idea how much of the airline's financial problems is due to the recent high price of oil and the products derived from it? A while back, there was speculation on TOD that when oil hit $100 a barrel, US airlines would no longer be profitable. Just recently, American Airlines filed for bankruptcy.

AMR was the last of the major legacy airline companies in the United States to file for Chapter 11.
As part of an effort to cut long-term costs, American earlier this year announced a $38 billion order for 460 new single-aisle planes from Airbus and Boeing, part of a major overhaul of its aging fleet of more than 600 planes that — with an average vintage of 15 years — remains one of the oldest and least fuel-efficient among the six major United States carriers.

American expects eventually to shave 15 to 35 percent from its fuel bill with the introduction of the new planes — Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s — which will replace older McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and Boeing 757s and 767s.

The Indian carrier, Kingfisher, is already flying A-320's. How much of the recent high tech boom in the Indian economy was aided by the air transport system? If these airlines do go out of business, as suggested, what will this do to the rest of the Indian economy?

E. Swanson

Just an artifact of not having sector-wide collective bargaining in the U.S. and allowing competitors to previously unload pension, healthcare, and wage obligations via "bankruptcy."

I don't think the high tech boom in India had much to do with sir transportation. It was aided by cheap labor and inexpensive bandwidth.

If Chindian oil imports slow down, that might give other countries a temporary break.

And it will topple a few governments, bankrupt the rest and give rise to a couple more insurgencies.

Amid drought, water desalination gets attractive

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is visiting El Paso's desalination plant on Wednesday to showcase the technology as a way to help alleviate the region's chronic water woes and to support a statewide water supply increasingly stressed by drought and population growth.

Salazar will join U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, an El Paso Democrat, at the $87 million Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant, which began operation in August 2007. The plant, which takes in salty water from an underground aquifer and makes it drinkable, is the largest inland facility of its kind in the world.

Arroyo said desalination is the only option Texas has for bringing "new water" to the state's supply as the readily available fresh water in aquifers and reservoirs is used up.

What is the cost in energy and money to produce drinking water through desalination vs water from the tap say in N.Y. where there is no water shortage? Per gallon, barrel, whatever? Thanks Joe B.


The cost of water from the $91M KBH desal plant was estimated at $535/acre-ft* in 2008, including $49/ac-ft for deep-well disposal of the concentrated brine rejected from the RO plant. This is about 4-5X as much as CAP water costs Phoenix and about 10X as much as it costs AZ farmers. It is less than the MWD charges SoCal. Energy use is less than 2kwh per 1000/gal (and may be reduced), or about 1/3rd by volume of the energy needed to pump Colorado River water to Phoenix. It depends on the feed water, the technology and the operating parameters. The subject desal plant uses brackish groundwater with 2-3000 mg/L TDS. Sea water TDS is about 10X higher. In addition to increasing the area water supply by about 25% (and groundwater reserves by about 600%), the project reduces infiltration of brackish water into the sweetwater aquifer.

Note that El Paso water use has been declining for years, the additional supply is not a direct result of demand growth.

*acre-foot is 43,560 cubic feet or ~7.5X that in gallons.

Thanks, Joe B.

B - good numbers but people may not fully understand the implication of brackish water being 1/10th salinity of seawater - this makes it much easier to desalinate.

Basically, the saltier the feed water, the less fresh water you get out of the same plant and same energy usage, though the actual cost is not linear.

Numbers I had seen for the proposed Poseidon desal plant north of Sand Diego were $1000/ac.ft, and energy use is a bit more (about 10%) than Colorado Aqueduct water .

The reason why the water utilities love desal is that, as long as you have the electricity to run it, it is a completely controllable, reliable and non-depleting water source. And since water is about the highest priority public utility there is, it will always have electricity supplied first.

Of course, water efficiency projects are even better value, but they are not sexy and don't make for good photo ops...

JASON on Producing Tritium for Fusion Reactors

If nuclear fusion were ever to become a practical method of generating electrical energy, there would be a continuing requirement to produce significant quantities of tritium for fusion reactor fuel. The JASON scientific advisory panel was asked by the Department of Energy to assess the feasibility of large scale tritium production. Its findings were presented in a new report obtained by Secrecy News. See “Tritium,” November 2011.

Oh yeah, did anyone notice the announcement by China and Japan that they will now use each other's currency instead of the dollar for conducting their trade relations? Or that "China and Japan have reportedly set up a working group to work out the details so that Japanese and Chinese companies can convert currencies directly. [And] Japan also agreed to include China’s yuan currency in its portfolio of foreign reserves." Or that "Tokyo is 'acknowledging implicitly that there will be a single dominant Asian currency in the future and it won’t be the yen'"? The NY Times article this blog entry is based upon is liked within it, http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2011/12/30/japan-china-view-post-a...

Dollar Hegemony is dying, and rather quickly.


"Dollar Hegemony is dying, and rather quickly."

Good. It has provided a smug free ride for far too long. It's about time the playing field was leveled. With all tansactions by computer, no problem letting currencies float and adjust with continual reciprocal purchases. Maybe countries will be forced to barter when the currency is dodgy....you know, like F-15s and parts for oil?


"Dollar Hegemony is dying, and rather quickly."

US dollar hegemony and US military hegemony are linked. As goes one, so goes the other.

The only reason why a country with 5% of the world's population with 25% of its purchasing power can afford to spend 43% of the world's military budget is b/c the almighty dollar is the world's fiat currency. Take that away, you can kiss superpower status good-bye. The 300 plus American bases around the world will become ghost towns. The US will be one chick among many at the international hen house.

The world's biggest arsenal buys a lot of clout. The world's biggest market buys a lot of status. There was a time when it was in everybody's interest to play by the rules. That meant getting hard currency to facilitate trade. That meant paying the muscle guy to keep the peace.

The US is already being outmaneuvered on the pipeline front in central Asia by a cagey Putin and a thirsty China. A savvy Chinese business class is outmaneuvering American salesmen in the purchase of resource contracts. The major players are already starting to show contempt for Uncle Sam's rules. Iran is thumbing its nose at the Carter doctrine. Even friendly Canada is exploring the Asian option for its oil sands. If China and Japan begin to exchange goods and services without US dollars, then that's another chunk of change no longer flowing towards the US treasury. Ever perceptibly, as the months pass, the US seems to be losing clout and status. The day may arrive when it no longer pays to buy and sell on the international marketplace in US dollars. If that happens, then it will simply stop, and all the punditry and politicians and spin doctors on the Beltway will be helpless to do anything about it.

The current status quo is contingent on international cooperation. How much time is left on the clock for that cooperation? That's anybody's guess. Time indeed may be running out.

Re: Deepwater oil rig work takes a certain attitude, up top:

Evolution of off shore oil rigs and the construction of Perdido:


Perdido is Spanish for "lost":


I think we're missing something from the talk about net global exports falling. I think we need to take into consideration the number of oil producers which have fixed or semi fixed prices vs those whom have floating prices. As a major milk exporter for instance New Zealanders still pay the same price as international buyers and the same demand destruction from high prices can happen here so why shouldn't the same apply to oil producers? I would say there is a difference between Norwegian oil producers and KSA producers in respect to the oil export/availability equations. With the former the oil is only sold locally because it is convenient and the same price is paid internationally, with the latter the demand is sheltered by heavy subsidies.

For an example of subsidies, the report from Chatham House Burning Oil to Keep Cool: The Hidden Energy Crisis in Saudi Arabia posted upthread has this global subsidy comparison map (pg 20 of 49)

Canada's Defense Minister has just married an Iranian refugee, political activist, and beauty contest winner.

Peter MacKay weds rights activist, former beauty queen

Defence Minister Peter MacKay and his activist girlfriend have tied the knot.

Friends told The Globe and Mail on Wednesday that Mr. MacKay, known for a series of highly publicized romances, and Nazanin Afshin-Jam, were married in Mexico.

Ms. Afshin-Jam, who was born in Iran but fled with her family during the Iranian revolution of the 1970s, met Mr. MacKay about seven years ago when she spoke in Ottawa about human rights abuses.

The holder of a degrees in international relations and political science, she is the co-founder and president of Stop Child Executions, a human rights group that tries to focus world attention on young people who are on death row in Iran.

In 2003 she was crowned Miss World Canada – a performance she followed by being named the first runner up in the Miss World contest.

Now, this is just a guess, but there is a real possibility that Canadian government policy toward Iran might become somewhat more hawkish in the near future, possibly involving fighter aircraft and warships. (It's not as if Canada needs their oil at all).

There are two distinctly different factions in Iran; arab & persian. Tell a persian from Iran they are Iranian, and they will tell you no, I'm persian. I guarantee if she won a beauty contest she's persian. Amenijad or however it's spelled is an arab. She therefore would prefer he was out of power and replaced by a persian. I know its confusing, but thought I'd throw this info. out there because most people are under the misguided idea all Iranians are simply Iranians. In the famous 1979 coup, persian rule was replaced by arab rule.

Perk, with all due respect, you keep flogging the same dead horse with no links. Where is there a shred of evidence the Iranian revolution was an Arab take over of Persia?

Iran is a multi-racial conglomeration with a preponderance of ethnic Persians. Arabs, at best, only form 3% of the population. See Ethnic minorities in Iran.

According to the CIA World Factbook and other Western sources, ethnicity/race in Iran breaks down as follows: Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%. However, these statistics are largely discredited and viewed as flawed by Iranians themselves,because the Western data ignores considerable intermarriage rates over centuries between these groups, and the fact that almost all of these groups speak Persian as well as their ethnic language, and identify with their sub-identity only secondarily.

The 1979 overthrow of the Shah and the coming to power of the mullahs was the end result of a popular uprising. Look at any film footage from 1979. There were big crowds in the streets. The battle for control over the revolution was waged between secular leftists and Islamic radicals. Iran subsequently became an Islamic Republic where political discourse came to be defined by the Shi'ite leadership.

Of the 100 top factors at play in Iranian politics, I would put ethnicity/race at about 101.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may very well have an Arab name. So what? He is only one player among many in the complex world of Iranian statecraft. What's more, the supreme leader in Iran is not the president. That distinction goes to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. What defines him is not his ethnic background but his religious affiliation. He is where he is because of his spiritual role.

My wife and I are very good friends with a number of persians, so we know the information first hand from some very interesting conversations. Not everything is in a link. Get out and meet some people and you'll find out it isn't all on the internet.

In fact, the article in your post states her and her family fled Iran during the Iranian revolution. That means she's persian. Many fled to the SF bay area where we live. Nothing like in person information. Gotta love it.

Her page on Wikipedea states Pesian.


A lot of Armenian Iranians (most of them) also fled Eran when the Ayatollah took over. The Shah, BTW, was actually at least partly Azeri. I've heard the "I'm Persian" line from almost every Persian Iranian ex-pat I've ever talked to. My perspective is that for the most part this was a line taken as a result of the strong unpopularity of Iran in the U.S. in the period when most of them fled the country (Iranian hostage crisis).

Hello there.

Our conversation about median drivers got cut off on that other post. Want to resume here?

...that Mr. MacKay, known for a series of highly publicized romances...

Including rumours when MacKay was Foreign Minister that he and Condoleezza Rice were cementing Canadian American relations on all new level of diplomacy.

Condoleezza Rice Says Peter MacKay is Just a Friend

“When I got home, I called Peter. ‘A girl can’t be seen with you without some scandal,’ I joked. Peter was kind of embarrassed. He is a good friend.”

Khaddaffi too?

Peter MacKay was considered by many women to be the most attractive bachelor in Canadian government power circles and has a track record of going out with rich, influential, and powerful women. If you want to see who his other girl friends were, here's a summary from the otherwise stiff and conservative National Post:

Before Nazanin Afshin-Jam, who were the other women in Peter MacKay’s love life?

As the news hits that Peter MacKay has secretly married Iranian-Canadian pilot/model/beauty queen/singer/human-rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam, we take a look back at the surprisingly public love life of the MP formerly known as Parliament’s most eligible bachelor.

Although MacKay rose to prominence as the last leader of the PC Party before it finally and definitively merged with Stephen Harper’s Canadian Alliance to form the modern Conservative Party of Canada in 2003, it’s often his love life that has captured the attention of the public in recent years.

After being named “Canada’s Sexiest Male MP,” for several years by The Hill Times, MacKay’s first, and arguably most prominent public relationship was with then-Conservative MP Belinda Stronach after she made her debut in Parliament in 2004.

Sadly, his relationship with Belinda, daughter of auto parts billionaire Frank Stronach, came to an end when she crossed the floor of the Parliament to the Liberal side (with hopes of getting the leadership of the party). He was crushed and held a press conference to announce their break-up. He even borrowed a dog for the occasion to illustrate what true faithfulness was all about.

Peter MacKay in Parliament in 2005 with then-girlfriend Belinda Stronach framed in the background.

Iran is the ‘world’s most serious threat to international peace’: Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a scathing rebuke of Iran on Thursday as tensions build in the Middle East, saying the regime in Tehran is the greatest threat to global security and may be looking to use a nuclear weapon.

Harper said Iran’s musings in the last week to close the Strait of Hormuz — one of the busiest oil shipping routes in the world — reinforces how serious a threat the country is to peace and security on the planet.

When Canada's defense minister married an Iranian refugee, political activist, and beauty queen a few days ago, you could see where things were going. New bride: "Honey, those mean people who kicked my family out of Iran are really mean, could you do something about them." New husband: "No problem, sweetie-pie, I'll have the guys in the department put together a few nuclear missiles, and then we'll deal with them."

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

With the coming of the new year, predictions of what’s in store during the next twelve months are showing up here and there in the peak oil blogosphere: a feature of the season, really, as reliable as the icicles that hang from the roof’s edge outside the window of my study. Like the icicles, they’re enticing to look at; like the icicles, equally, a great many of them are guaranteed to drop to the ground and shatter at some point in the months to come.

That’s all the more remarkable in that, by and large, the peak oil community has been pretty much spot on when it comes to the general shape of the future. Five or ten years ago, it bears remembering, nobody else was predicting the sustained oil prices on the far side of $100 a barrel and the global economic gridlock that have become fixtures of the contemporary scene; the peak oil scene had that one nailed.

Discussions About Energy And Our Future....

Sharing John Michael Greer's concern about the shale oil 'boom':

Bonanzas Don't End Well

As a general rule, I fade 'bonanzas.' Shale Gas is the mother of them all. Leverage, Hope, and Commodity Prices.


More Energy Independence Blather from the API in an Election Year

North America could be self-sufficient in gasoline and diesel fuel in 15 years if only the government would get out of the way, the president of the American Petroleum Institute said on Wednesday in a “state of American energy” address intended to raise the industry’s profile in the presidential election.

Just get those pesky environmental regulations and EPA off our backs and let us build that pipeline! - API

Judge pegs Alaska pipeline life at 50 more years

Oil could flow through the trans-Alaska oil pipeline much longer than state policy leaders have assumed even under very low levels of production from North Slope fields, according to evidence presented in a court case over how to value the pipeline for property tax purposes.

Until about 2004, BP considered 300,000 barrels a day to be the lower limit. Then it hired a company called JTG Technology Consortium to revisit the issue. The consultant in a 2005 report put the lower limit at 135,000 barrels a day, which it said could be achieved with heaters, booster pumps, new piping and valves, and....pigs... BP used the 135,000 figure in reporting its reserves to the SEC.....

In 2010..another...expert...to see whether the pipeline could operate at even lower levels....concluded that, with heaters installed along it, the pipeline could operate at 70,000 to 100,000 barrels a day. BP again used that information in calculating reserves.

Alyeska Low-Flow Study Report

The LoFIS identified water dropout and corrosion, ice formation, wax deposition, geotechnical concerns, and other issues that pose operational risks to the TAPS at throughputs ranging from 600,000 barrels per day (BPD) to 300,000 BPD (note that all references to throughput volumes represent volumes at Pump Station [PS01] unless otherwise indicated). However, the TAPS can continue to be operated safely and with reasonably high operational confidence down to throughputs of about 350,000 BPD if the following important issues are addressed to maintain normal flowing operation at these low throughputs: ...

from PPT TAPS Low Flow Status Draft Public Information Package

Part of the problem is that there is strong push by the oil companies to convince the Alaska legislature to reduce the state's tax take. This would mean modifying "ACES", which was pushed through by a former Alaska governor whose name I will not mention (but her initials are S.P.)

Therefore there is reason to believe that the conclusions in the Alyeska report are in large part politically driven. To quote from a recent article in the Fairbanks paper:

The Alyeska low-flow study of the trans-Alaska pipeline released in June looks more and more like a political document designed to help bolster the attempt to get the Legislature to lower oil taxes, as proposed by Gov. Sean Parnell.

I have asked the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. why the report did not mention that one of the owner companies, BP, has been using far lower throughput numbers in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission than those contained in the low-flow study. As soon as I get an answer, I'll publish it here.

I am not going to argue that an exceptionally low flow rate in the trans-Alaska pipeline is good for Alaska. It's not.

But claiming that a pipeline shutdown is just around the corner appears to be an unwarranted scare tactic, according to internal oil company documents that predict Alaska oil will be profitable for a long time to come.

Major oil producers throw support behind Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline

On the eve of public hearings into the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, five major oilsands producers have signalled their support for the controversial $5.5-billion line from the Alberta oilsands to the B.C. coast.

Cenovus Energy Inc., MEG Energy Corp., Nexen Inc., Suncor Energy Inc. and Total E&P Canada all filed statements with the National Energy Board that supported the proposal from another Calgary-based company Enbridge Inc.

The five producers each signed “precedent agreements” which are described at the first step toward the companies committing actual volumes of oil that will flow on the 1,172-kilometre line which will carry up to 525,000 barrels a day.

In the documents, Cenovus, Nexen and MEG revealed that they are also funding participants in the pipeline. The Chinese state-owned oil company Sinopec had previously been identified as one of Enbridge’s funding participants.

Appeals court in Ecuador upholds $18 billion decision against Chevron


"Chevron, discharged billions of gallons of toxic waste into an area affecting over 1,500 square miles of what has become known as the "Amazon Chernobyl"."

“[Chevron/Texaco] chose to use pumping technology that was not as advanced as the drilling technology they use in the states, which pumps excess crude back into the ground, to save two to three dollars a barrel...There is free standing oil in this pristine rainforest. It's hot and it just boils in the sun. You can touch it, you can smell it,”

"People Do"

I'm glad you noted in your title that this was in Ecuador, and not some place important that would directly affect me personally... I almost clicked on your links and started reading!


As long as we personally are 2 or 3 degrees removed from the disaster... "insulated" from the true costs... no need to get hysterical or anything.

I feel that Chevron has got a raw deal. They didn't make the mess, they acquired the project via acquisition. So their blunder was more of the nature of missed due diligence (they didn't realize they were purchasing such a huge stinkin liability). I don't know if the former owners committed fraud in hiding this fact. Its kind of like if you bought a house, that you didn't know was located on a toxic dump, and suddenly you find you are liable for millions in cleanup costs.

You need to understand what kind of country Ecuador is. The Congressional Research Service report for Congress on Ecuador says:

President Correa is seeking to increase state control over the energy sector. In October 2007, he issued a decree that increased the Ecuadorian state’s share of windfall oil revenues from 50% to 99%, unless companies were willing to switch from production sharing agreements to new service contracts controlled by Petroecuador. Five foreign oil companies entered into negotiations with the Ecuadorian government and were about to agree to switch to service contracts within a two-year period when President Correa shortened the proposed transition period to just six months. Most companies have yet to respond to the revised position of the Ecuadorian government.8 Private companies have long experienced problems investing in the Ecuadorian oil industry, stemming from the country’s chronic instability and tendency for conflicts with private producers. President Correa supports the prior government’ s 2006 termination of its contract with the U.S. firm Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) over an alleged breach of contract, a controversial move that is currently in dispute settlement. In November 2007, the Ecuadorian government initiated new legal proceedings against Occidental and City Oriente, another U.S.-owned oil company, for allegedly failing to pay their windfall oil taxes.

Ecuador needs money. It is like Venezuela in trying to take over oil companies. It also would like to extort money from oil companies. The level of corruption in its courts is incredible. A decision by the Ecuadorian courts means practically nothing, because it is part of the corrupt system. The question is what courts elsewhere say. Chevron would have settled long ago, if they thought that Ecuador actually had a case against them.

The story fit in with other news I have heard over the years of reckless oil fouling of South American lands. There are two other stories in the current world news: Brazil and Nigeria.

Texaco, later purchased by Chevron, was granted immunity by Ecuador:
"In 1995, amid litigation, Texaco agreed to clean a number of waste pits in proportion to its interest in the consortium, at a cost of $40 million. In exchange, the Ecuadorian government released Texaco from further liability. Chevron has used this agreement as its primary defense against the ongoing legal claims, although numerous sources show the remediation efforts to have been largely cosmetic."

There is no particular need on my part to pick on Chevron. I did, however, always find their "People Do" public relations commercials... vile.


Iraq 2011 oil exports +12.7% on year at 2.165 MBPD according to SOMO


Iraq certainly has the existing reserves to more than double its current production. Whether or not it could theoretically achieve 10mmb/day I'll leave to others to debate. However what is glaringly obvious is that any incremetal increase is only grudgingly achieved in the face of many challenges be they political, bureaucratic, terrorism, corruption, or good old fashioned technical.

It is sobering to reflect on the continuing absence of a common petroleum law for the country, nearly nine years after the last regime change. Unless you are a super major, it is difficult to commit to the region knowng that any agreement you sign may be overturned in the continual internal strife. The region of Kurdistan is still no nearer to agreement with Baghdad over a common petroleum law and profit sharing today, than they were at the start of this process, all those years ago.

The region of Kurdistan is still no nearer to agreement with Baghdad over a common petroleum law

I have the impression that if you do a deal with Kurdistan, that Baghdad will shun you. So you may have to decide which of the rivals you will do business with.

Here is what the BP data base shows for recent annual net exports from Iraq (total petroleum liquids):

2007: 1.6 mbpd
2008: 1.8
2009: 1.8
2010: 1.7

Their domestic consumption is currently increasing at about 8%/year (2006 to 2010). At this rate of increase, their consumption would increase by almost one mbpd between 2010 and 2020. So, at the current rate of increase in consumption, their annual production would have to increase at 3.4%/year (from 2.5 mbpd in 2010 to 3.5 mbpd in 2020), in order to maintain constant net oil exports out to 2020.

Fair point. However, having helped to compile data on Iraqi reserves some years ago I do not doubt the country's potential to increase its production; but I do have doubts as to whether they will be able to stablise and deliver the predicted/desired increases in the light of the other obstacles.

Iraq suicide attack kills 30
Bomber targets Shia pilgrims in southern Iraq hours after Baghdad blasts killed 30, adding to concerns over sectarian violence

Yes. And all those extra Molotov cocktails will be eating up a lot of new production too, by the look of it.....


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 30, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 14.8 million barrels per day during the week ending December 30, 171 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 85.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.8 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.0 million barrels per day last week, up by 34 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged about 8.5 million barrels per day, 56 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 734 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 229 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 2.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 329.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.5 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 3.2 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 3.4 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged just under 18.6 million barrels per day, down by 7.2 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.8 million barrels per day, down by 4.9 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.9 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 0.9 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.9 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Demand for "Other Oils" are down 878,000 b/d YoY.

Four-Week Averages

12/30/11  12/31/10
2,519     3,397

Other Oil Product Supplied = Total Product Supplied less the product supplied of Finished Motor Gasoline, Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel, Distillate Fuel Oil, Residual Fuel Oil, and

US Gasoline Demand in Steep Fall during Holiday Shortened Week while OPEC Exports Flat Line

After gradually declining in the range of 1% to 2% throughout most of 2011, seemingly because of higher retail prices, gasoline demand tailed off abruptly near year end. Although part of the decline may be due to the holidays and year-end vacations, even when comparing the month of December 2011 vs. December 2010 we are still left with a nearly 5% annual rate of decline.

Surprisingly, demand has fallen even while the general trend in retail prices was notably lower than the level that prevailed from late Spring through late Summer. Therefore the change in demand is more likely due to changing economic conditions, and possibly also, restructuring of household spending - in other words, allocating more to other (non-transportation) household expenses.

Meanwhile on the supply side, gasoline output from refiners and gasoline imports are also falling fast. This is due to multiple reasons - most notably the virtual if not actual ongoing shutdown of Northeast US refining capacity. The imports of the type of high quality oil most Northeast refiners can handle most efficiently - western and northern African crude, especially from Nigeria - has been greatly curtailed over the last year. Refiners have a choice between making a major new investment to process different types of lower-grade crudes - or shut down. They have decided to shut down.

Adding to supply problems, the evolving crisis at the important Europe based refiner Petroplus will also lead to a direct reduction of gasoline imports into the US - most of which go to the Northeast region.

Therefore as 2012 begins, both gasoline demand and supply are in a downhill race - and it is not yet clear which will be falling the fastest.

Moving away from gasoline, demand for 'other oils' has also fallen substantially. Other oils include, for example, asphalt. There are various news reports that local and state governments are cutting back on road repairs for two reasons - a much higher price for asphalt now than had been prevailing and government budget makers looking for an easy way to reduce spending by deferring repairs.

For the time being, when combined with a generally warmer than normal winter weather, US oil demand has temporarily fallen faster than the persistent decline in net overall oil and product imports. To determine net imports, we add net oil imports and net oil product imports. Due to high demand for US diesel, especially from Latin America and Northwest Europe, the US is in the relatively unusual position of exporting more oil products (like diesel) than importing oil products (like gasoline). Keep in mind however, that exporting more products may increase the use of crude oil by refiners. The policy of increasing oil product exports is then at odds of the frequently stated goal of reducing US crude oil imports.

Meanwhile, according to oil tanker tracker 'Oil Movements', total OPEC oil exports have been maintained at nearly the same level for four weeks in a row. Such steadiness in exports is a bit unusual at any time of the year. Despite glowing media reports of some improvements in OPEC 'output' that 'makes up' for lost supplies from sanction constrained Iran, OPEC exports remarkably have hardly budged since OPEC held its last meeting in December.

Media reports as to the death of OPEC cooperation appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

U.S. Gasoline Use Sinks 14% to Seven-Year Low, MasterCard Says
January 05, 2012, 5:27 AM EST

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. gasoline demand sank 14 percent from the prior week to the lowest level in more than seven years of records, according to MasterCard Inc..


Heating Oil Gains on Speculation Europe Diesel Imports to Rise
January 04, 2012, 11:29 PM EST

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Heating oil jumped to a seven-week high on speculation that Europe will import more diesel from the U.S. after three regional refineries close this month and on the prospect of a European ban on Iranian oil.

Futures rose as Petroplus Holdings AG, Europe’s largest independent refiner by capacity, will temporarily shut three of its five plants. Heating oil increased gains when Brent crude surged on reports that European governments will ban imports of Iranian oil.


OPEC to Bolster Shipments on Winter Demand, Oil Movements Says
By Grant Smith - Jan 5, 2012 11:30 AM ET

OPEC will ship (OPCRTOTL) 23.64 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Jan. 21, up 0.3 percent from the 23.58 million barrels loaded daily in the month to Dec. 24, the Halifax, England-based researcher said today in an e-mailed report. The figures exclude Angola and Ecuador.


Stop abusing insecticides in rice

To prevent devastating insect pest outbreaks in rice that cause millions of dollars of damage, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has called for a ban on certain insecticides in rice production as part of its new Action plan to reduce planthopper damage to rice crops in Asia.

At a conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, IRRI brought together leaders in the rice industry to advance towards a "greener game plan" to manage brown planthoppers, which, without exaggeration, are one of a rice farmer's worst fears.

"Planthopper outbreaks occur when there is a breakdown in 'ecological resilience' of a rice farm," explains Dr. K.L. Heong, an insect ecologist at IRRI.

Researchers successfully treat previously lethal doses of radiation

Multiple scenarios exist where warfighters may be exposed to high levels of radiation. Countermeasures against possible high doses of radiation are an ongoing high priority for Department of Defense research and development organizations.

Good news for property values in Fukushima? /sarc

Interesting article. Totally unrelated to Fukushima, however.

By the way, what is the death toll so far from the second worst nuclear powerplant disaster ever?

I suppose we can ignore the 2 'floaters' in the turbine room; along with the control room operator with the 'fatal heart attack'; and the Operation Manager still has a good six months to a year before the esophogeal cancer snuffs him. As for the 2-3000 sub-contract "day workers' with inoperable dosimeter ... Well we'll never really know - will we?

The "floaters", as you so crassly put it, were victims of the same event that caused this whole problem to begin with along with thousands of their countrymen up and down that portion of the coast.

So no, you don't get to count them.

If those contractors start dropping off from radiation related disorders you get to count them. The operation manager I'd say is a possible. The heart attack victim is another possible, but only if they are lieing about the heart attack.

So 9 months after the second worst nuclear power incident in the history of nuclear power there are no proven and fewer possible casualties than the direct immediate fatalities on Deepwater Horizon.

So, apart from the whole bomb thing, what was the problem with nuclear power again?

So, apart from the whole bomb thing, what was the problem with nuclear power again?

Its almost like the poster hasn't been reading TOD for years.

"So 9 months after the second worst nuclear power incident in the history of nuclear power..."

After?? It's all over then. Cool.

[goes back to eating cheese doodles and watching reruns of Leave it to Beaver]

Don't be silly, of course it isn't over.

The health impacts from Deepwater Horizon aren't over, either.

But when the second worst nuclear power disaster *ever* doesn't manage the death toll of a common pipeline explosion you'll have to excuse my suspicion at claims that nuclear power is too dangerous.

That's a new pipeline explosion. Every couple of months there's a new one, with fatalities.

I was watching NHK news the other day (Love that foreign news station), they did a piece on some new equipment Hitachi is selling, claims to decontaminate (separate out 97% of the radioactive stuff). Of course they were claiming the unit could process 1.7tons of soil per day. And it looked like the better part of a shipping containers worth of expensive equipment.

I think the death rate thing will be hidden from us. Without decent data, and proper epidemiology you end up with wild guesses, which usually depend upon whether the analysys is pro or anti N.

Well the official annual preliminary figures are out and approximately 50,000 more people died in Japan in 2011 than in 2010 - and that's after subtracting the quake/tsunami deaths from the total deaths. That's 4% more deaths than in 2010 not directly caused by the tsunami.

To save r4ndom from doing it I will point out that none of these deaths are officially recorded as radiation related.

Yet an official cause of death is recorded, and there are clear causal relationships between certain causes and certain results.

If there are increased deaths from causes for which radiation exposure is a known cause I would expect you to be crowing from the rooftops about it given past history. That you only imply that some are instead of drawing direct links tells me that you have no case to make.


Nobody every expected there to be large numbers of deaths recorded as fallout related. I'll guarantee you though every one of these post-Fukushima bodies contained more Cs-137 and "friends" than they did the previous year.

Busby and others have long argued that relatively low levels of internal exposure cause an increase in deaths from all causes with increased heart attacks being one of the leading factors. I had hoped that the Japanese figures would show little or no change compared to last year (subtracting tsunami deaths) so that some of the claims for low level effects could have been ruled out. I certainly don't crow from the rooftops about any excess deaths whatever the cause.

Just general "stress" related increase or a fallout related component? I would like to see the regional breakdowns and whether there is any correlation with the fallout pattern but I don't think they've been published yet.

Of course nobody expects them to be recorded *as* fallout related, but you aren't even making a serious effort to draw a direct correlation, it's all a wink and a nod, and you know these increased fatalities *must* be from Fukushima because what else could they be?

Draw a clear correlation. Implication and innuendo is the Fox way and has no place in a serious discussion.

Of course I'm not making a "serious effort to draw a direct correlation" based on the limited data currently available. I want to see more data because I am curious - specifically the regional breakdowns. Is that a problem for you?

I find you're analysis of my intentions totally flawed.

There is certainly an implication of damage that is never actually shown, especially when you look at your own and other's common responses to my requests to show where the damage comes from all this.

If you were just posting interesting information and making an obvious effort to tie things together I wouldn't feel the need to challenge you, but there isn't a clear effort to draw linkages that I can see and the people that post supporting you are a lot more clearly drawing the conclusion that everything wrong in Japan since last March must be due to Fukushima since nothing else could possibly be responsible.

Regardless of your intent and motivations you are clearly feeding this, and if it isn't your intent to do so perhaps you should review the presentation of your postings more carefully.

Here is statistics on the number of deaths in Japans ageing population. Notably, death rate between 2009 and 2010 increased by 0.4 of 1000. 127 million * 0.4/1000 = 50,800 extra deaths...

Yet no increase was reported between 2008 and 2009 and the rate has only been increasing at an average of 0.2 per year since 2000. We've now just had two unusually large (based on recent trend) increases in a row. Interesting to see what happens next year.

Perhaps radiation can breach the space-time-continuum and retroactively kill people?

Clearly I was simply suggesting that we shouldn't really have expected the death rate to have increased by 0.8 in two years based on the preceding years but maybe it is just an accelerating trend. Too much natural yearly variation in the national data coupled with changing demographics which is why I'd like to see regional breakdowns and see what the death rates look like in say Fukushima City.

In any case we are still very early in the incident as far as possible long term health impacts go. Any cancers, for example, related to Fukushima are mainly years in the future.

One has to do the epidemiology to figure out what it means. Attribution is not an easy thing to do properly. Japan is an aging society, so there should be a secular increase in death rates. How was the trend from say 2000:2010? That could give a reasonable indicator of the contribution due to aging. Then we likely have a lot of indirect deaths due to emotional and economic stress caused by the tsunami cum nuke disaster. I'd bet many more deaths have been indirectly caused by the N-accident from depression and fear, than from the actual radiation. But, even if you can determine these, to which cause should they be attributed.

<< I'd bet many more deaths have been indirectly caused by the N-accident from depression and fear, than from the actual radiation. >>

To be charitable, I feel this is speculative.

Very, very charitable.

Deaths from radiation? At least there are some numbers we can argue about. Me, I like meta-studies and many, though not all, of the NYAS studies on Chernobyl, and considering the massive nuclear inventory at Fuku, I think there's enough data to be really concerned.

Deaths from fear of natural and industrial disasters? What metrics are you using for even estimating deaths caused by depression and fear? Even speaking speculatively, I don't think there is a starting point for that conversation. Fear is an emotion; it is frequently adaptive, and causes people to avoid dangerous situations.

By the way, what is the death toll so far from the second worst nuclear powerplant disaster ever?

How many half-lives are we into it now?

About four, even if we disregard the stuff that has half-lifes in less than a few hours. Study the Chernobyl air dose and you'll see it.

By the way, what is the death toll so far from the second worst nuclear powerplant disaster ever?

Second worst?

How does more reactors and more radiation released come second worst unless one is from the Ministry of Truth and is using doublespeak.

Give me casualty figures.

In the absence of mortality and morbidity what risk is left to be concerned about?

There is a reasonable case to connect thousands of deaths to Chernobyl, including dozens within the first few months that were clear and unambiguous.

If you want to claim that Fukushima is worse, yet lacks such a clear body count, you are using a definition of "worse" with which I am previously unaquainted.

By the way, what is the death toll so far from the second worst nuclear powerplant disaster ever?

Excellent spin, focusing on short-term deaths.

Instead, perhaps would also be interesting to focus on how people were affected in other ways, both in forced relocations, farming that is now not possible (short term, until enough half-lives, etc etc), and such?

For a previous disaster of the type, Chernobyl, are things back to pre-disaster life for those affected?

The title should be, "How I learned to live with The Bomb."

I like this part:

The fact that this treatment can be administered up to a day after radiation exposure is so important,” said Millie Donlon, DARPA’s program manager for this effort. “This is because most of the existing treatments we have require they be administered within hours of exposure to potentially lethal radiation – something that might not always be possible in the confusion that would likely follow such an exposure event.”

"Exposure events" ... I love the sterile terminology of The Machine.

"Collateral Damage," "Exposure events," and "confusion" even. As in the "confusion" that would likely follow an "exposure event."

The unthinkable becomes the possible and before you know it... commonplace?:

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, by Milton Mayer,...

“You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move.

Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow.

You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ … In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

“These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end?

On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic… the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.

That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked… But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C?”

Japan tuna is world's most expensive edible fish

A bluefin tuna has been sold for three quarters of a million dollars in Tokyo - a price almost double last year's record sale. The bluefin tuna, prized for making the finest sushi, fetched 56.49m yen ($736,000, £472,125) at Tsukiji fish market's first auction of the year.

Wonder what the 'last bluefin tuna on the planet' will fetch?

Drought shrinks China's largest freshwater lake

... After a dry spell of more than a decade, Poyang Lake in east China's Jiangxi province is drying up fast as scant rainfall has sent water levels in the Gan River -- which feeds the lake -- to record lows, the Xinhua news agency said.

The lake's area was 183 square kilometres (73 square miles) Thursday, an official at the local hydrological bureau told AFP -- nearly half the average of 344 square kilometres recorded each year on this day since 1951.

The biology of politics: Liberals roll with the good, conservatives confront the bad

“It’s been said that conservatives and liberals don’t see things in the same way,” said Mike Dodd, UNL assistant professor of psychology and the study’s lead author. “These findings make that clear – quite literally.”

By studying both physiological and cognitive aspects, the researchers established unique new insights into the growing notion that political leanings are at least partial products of our biology, UNL political scientist and study co-author Kevin Smith said

... Rather than believing those with opposite political views are uninformed or willfully obtuse, the authors said, political tolerance could be enhanced if it was widely understood that political differences are based in part on our physiological and cognitive differences.

a view from the other side of the pond http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16386176

Eos Says Zinc Battery Recipe Is Energy Game-Changer

... The company says its batteries beat out lithium ion batteries in energy storage and cost. Their trials show over 2,700 cycles with no performance physical degradation in a one third kilowatt-scale battery. Their goal is to get over 10,000 cycles at full depth of discharge. Their final product is expected to last for 30 years in grid-scale applications.

Eos plans to start manufacturing this year and to work up megawatt-scale systems for grid storage in 2013. The Eos rechargeable zinc-air battery would be sold for $1000 per kilowatt for a six-hour battery, or $160 per kilowatt-hour.

also http://www.eosenergystorage.com/technology

I'm beginning to zone out from all these sorts of claims of the next greatest thing in batteries, engines, biofuels etc.

These guys make the the claims, but their website is very short on hard data, and there is not even a single picture of their product/prototype.
The website has lots of stuff about "opportunities" and "potential", but precious little on what they actually have. I hope I am wrong, but right now it looks like a lot of vapourware to me.

When they have reached the point like A123 systems, where they actually have a physical product that you can see and buy, then I'll pay attention.

I had a couple of interesting emails with Aquion about their new battery. Hopefully we will be seeing it soon. They are working on finalising a production version and a firm specification. When I get the specification I will let folks know. I should be a straight drop in for lead acid though if you want the full depth of discharge your inverter may need modifying to handle a lower cell voltage.


Much better! Aquion's website has some real information, and a very good technology presentation - clearly there is more there than vapourware.

I like the lack of exotic materials and the water based electrolyte - this looks like something that could still be made post-peak oil.

A lead acid replacement that can go to 80-100% DoD for >2000 cycles would be a game changer indeed.

I may be going into an off grid situation next year - those batteries look ideal!

Best hopes for this technology making it into the market!

"...your inverter may need modifying to handle a lower cell voltage."

My Outbacks (24 volt) can be easily programmed down to 19.? volts. Not a problem there. Just watch your amps (I oversized all of my wiring). If you use larger single cell batteries you can just add a couple of extra cells. Worth watching...

I wonder if they're looking for real world testers.

I don't know what their low point is yet. I'll know that when the specifications are out. Currently they are sticking to generalities. Why not drop them an email and ask, you seem to have the sort of experience they may be able to use and they seem to be happy to answer queries with proper answers.


Yair...a bit of topic here but as a follow up from a previous thread.

I have been told on another site that all Canadian oil sands production is upgraded to syncrude before export to the 'States...in other words no dilbit is shipped across the border.

This seems to be at odds with comments I have seen here about Mid-Western U.S. refinerys being able to handle heavy crude...and buy it at a discount from the Canadian producers and do the upgrading themselves.

Any comments from RockyMountainGuy or others who may be in the know?

Cheers and thanks.

It's amazing how little Americans know about Canadian oil exports to the US, considering that the US imports nearly 2/3 of their crude oil, and Canada now is by far the largest source of those imports.

National Energy Board of Canada
Total Crude Oil Exports - Per Day
2011 September

Heavy Light Total Units
248 116 364 10³m³/d
1,562 732 2,294 mb/d

So, of 2.3 million barrels per day exported to the US last September, 0.7 mbpd was light oil, and 1.6 mbpd was heavy oil or bitumen (the NEB doesn't make a distinction on export statistics).

Three-quarters of Canadian crude oil exports to the US are heavy oil or bitumen. Most of this crosses the border as a blend of heavy oil and/or bitumen and/or diluent. The US refineries prefer to buy the heavy/bitumen blends because they are much cheaper than syncrude. They can upgrade themselves as part of the refining process.

Today's prices:
WTI Cash $103.22
Syncrude $102.72
WCS blend $85.82

WCS is Western Canadian Select, a benchmark blend of heavy oil, bitumen, synthetic oil and diluent. There is more WCS sold on the US market than WTI.

"It's amazing how little Americans know about Canadian oil exports..."

That's a pretty tart response to a sincere question.. but if you're going to toss pithy jabs at the Yanks, you can leave Scrub out of the fray.. he's in Australia.

I know he's Australian - that's why I tossed it out. We Canadians and Australians often sit around campfires in various remote wildernesses around the world and talk about how stupid Americans are. (Canadians being more polite than Australians, we don't usually tell the Yanks to their faces - unless we're provoked.)

As for insulting an Aussie - I don't think it can be done. They're about as sensitive as a salt water crocodile. I've tried but it just didn't work.

Yair...Thanks johkul. I really appreciate the feedback on these pages.

And RMG those salties are sensitive...particularly when you're trying to get close enough with the .243 to shoot away the ropes holding a prawn net that was tangled round his arse.


I'm sorry for the tart responses, but I was getting somewhat irritated watching some trends developing that will negatively affect Americans, and of which they and their government seem to be blissfully unaware.

The US imports most of its oil, and studies have shown that most Americans are unaware that Canada is now by far the largest source of this oil. They are also unaware that China is quietly buying up control of this oil, as exemplified by this article I posted elsewhere on this Drumbeat:

Chinese take helm of MacKay River oil sands project

The US mainstream media, in particular, is pushing the line that the US is now a "net oil exporter" and the US will become self-sufficient in the near future. Nothing could be further from the truth, but it is leading Americans into a false sense of security. By the time they wake up and demand their government "do something" about diminishing oil and fuel supplies, it will be long past the time their government can do anything about it.

It may help to think our "false sense of security" actually defines us a a nation down here in the U.S. At least that's my opinion. :-) We also have a "wrong sense of security" but that's more related to international diplomacy/war and internal security practices.

"The US mainstream media, in particular, is pushing the line that the US is now a "net oil exporter""

Among other things, this misinformation campaign veils the fact that the U.S. is exporting fuel at a time when the fuel at home is expensive enough to hurt the people AND at a time when the industry is subsidized with the people's money. This is outrageous within the local context. It has been turned into a message of nationalistic pride.

Political biology: The left rolls with the good, the right confronts the bad

Left brain/Right brain, red fish, blue fish ???

“When conservatives say that liberals are out of it and just don’t get it, from this standpoint, that’s true,” Hibbing said.

“And when liberals say ‘What are (conservatives) so frightened of? Is the world really that dangerous?’

Given what each side sees, what they pay attention to, what they physiologically experience – the answer is both sides are right.”

Chinese take helm of MacKay River oil sands project

The friendly “divorce” announced Tuesday between PetroChina and Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. puts a Chinese company in charge of a Canadian oil sands project for the first time.

Is it ready?

Yes, says Zhiming Li, president and CEO of Dover Operating Corp., the company that will operate the asset on behalf of a PetroChina subsidiary, Cretaceous Oilsands Holdings Ltd.

In an interview, Mr. Li said Dover’s strategy is to establish itself as a Canadian company staffed predominantly by Canadians.

“Some 90% of the employees are Canadian experts,” he said. “These people are well experienced with lots of knowledge in developing SAGD projects. We will use local talent to do the project execution. We expect no problem.”

For its part, PetroChina likes MacKay River’s high quality bitumen and likes doing business in Alberta, Mr. Li said.

The bigger question is whether Canadians are ready to accept increased Chinese ownership of their resources.

With so many deals already done and in the works, a lot of it now depends on how companies like PetroChina behave and perform in the Canadian environment.

Thousands of US troops deploying to Israel

Without much media attention, thousands of American troops are being deployed to Israel, and Iranian officials believe that this is the latest and most blatant warning that the US will soon be attacking Tehran.

Tensions between nations have been high in recent months and have only worsened in the weeks since early December when Iran hijacked and recovered an American drone aircraft. Many have speculated that a back-and-forth between the two countries will soon escalate Iran and the US into an all-out war, and that event might occur sooner than thought.

Under the Austere Challenge 12 drill scheduled for an undisclosed time during the next few weeks, the Israeli military will together with America host the largest-ever joint missile drill by the two countries. Following the installation of American troops near Iran’s neighboring Strait of Hormuz and the reinforcing of nearby nations with US weapons, Tehran authorities are considering this not a test but the start of something much bigger.

Obama's working on his re-election.

Funny how those mystery explosions at key Iranian facilities seem to have stopped after the US drone was captured.

Karzai Demands U.S. Hand Over Bagram Prison

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanded Thursday that the U.S. detention center at Bagram Air Base be handed over to Afghan control within a month, along with all Afghan citizens held by the coalition troops across the nation.

Meanwhile, three NATO service members were killed in an explosion in the south of the country, the coalition said. It did not provide any other details about the incident.

A presidential statement said that keeping Afghan citizens imprisoned without trial violates the country's constitution, as well as international human rights conventions.

Surely Karzai knows that international law is ignored by the US federal government as well as Afghan law. Is he renegotiating his bribe money from the US? The federal government's puppet dictators (democratic presidents) have more freedom than US citizens and more courage.

Why are we still in Afghanistan? I'm with Ron Paul on getting our troops out of Japan, Germany and South Korea. Guess that's the minority opinion though. Interesting how the wealthiest country is also the most paranoid. But that probably holds true for the super wealthy too as they have more surveillance and security for their estates, than the lower classes.

So the more one has,
the more can be lost,
the greater the need to guard it,
the greater the paranoia.

It's a kind of a paradox. The more you have, the more it cost to protect, the less you can spend on the stuff being guarded.

Which is what we see in a lack of funds allocated to repair or replace infrastructure. The apparent preferred emphasis is to maintain 10 aircraft carriers and keep 10's of thousands of troops in numerous foreign countries, etc.

Let's call it the wealth paradox.

Let's call it the wealth paradox.

Its been well known for thousands of years. I remember reading something from the Budhist scriptures about possesions, to paraphrase, "the more possesions you have, the more worried you are about losing them, possesions lead to unhappiness". Looks like it applies to countries too.

Why are we still in Afghanistan?

Because if you leave, you'd have to leave all west-colluding Afghanis to die, or take them with you, and in either case, you'd have a serious credibility problem. Would allies and friends ever expect you to keep commitments again?

I'm with Ron Paul on getting our troops out of Japan, Germany and South Korea.

I guess Japan and South Korea would test nukes within three months of the withdrawal decision. If you're fine with that, then by all means.


It is time for the U.S. to bring its troops home from Afghanistan.

We cannot stay there indefinitely.

Although we were much 'nicer' than the Ruskies when they spent their ~ 10 years occupying that country, I don;t think we have been, or will be, miracle workers.

I thank the people of Sweden for supporting the effort with their troops, as well as any financial aide, civilian advisers, diplomatic efforts, etc., but the effort must be temporally finite...the people of Afghanistan need to be relieved of our occupation, as benign as we have tried to make it...the folks living in that country need to take charge of their own lives again.


As far as the notion that Japan and.or Korea would produce nuclear weapons if the U.S. withdrew its troops, I find that assertion to be highly speculative.

The U.S. 'global reach'/'global presence'/'global power' era is slowly starting to diminish.

That is the way it will have to be.

"It is time" and "cannot stay indefinitely", is a false dichotomy.

Speculative? Well, perhaps. Perhaps Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would accept being bullied by nuclear China and North Korea without guarantees from the US.

I never understood the reason behind having so many carrier groups. Two or three are good enough to bully a country like Iran or Iraq and they are dead ducks in a conventional war against a big country. Probably a WWII hangover like the British had with their Royal Navy and battleships.


FWIW: AT 9:29 EST today, my daughter will be on the podium of the NYSE with C&J Energy group, ringing the opening bell!