Drumbeat: September 12, 2012

Spain urges oil firms to cap pump prices, fight inflation

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's energy minister said he would urge oil companies on Wednesday to cap petrol prices at the pump to help efforts to control inflation in the country.

Jose Manuel Soria said he would make his appeal during a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with executives from Spanish oil firms Repsol and Cepsa and Britain's BP - which together represent about 80 percent of the country's gasoline market.

"This is no small matter," Soria told Onda Cero Radio in an interview.

"We're going to put forward the idea that in times of adjustments like these everyone has to pull their weight and that's what the government is asking of the sector," he added.

Oil prices rise ahead of Federal Reserve meeting

The price of oil rose nearer to $98 a barrel Wednesday after a German court ruling favored a bailout fund for deeply indebted eurozone countries and traders awaited a key Federal Reserve meeting expected to end with the announcement of a stimulus plan for the U.S. economy.

Brent-WTI Oil Gap Sliding as North Sea Output Rebounds

The difference between the world’s two most-traded grades of oil is narrowing as North Sea production rebounds from the lowest level in five years.

Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London cost about $18.50 a barrel more than West Texas Intermediate in electronic trading today on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s down from $21.92 on Aug. 15, the widest in almost 10 months. Daily exports of the four crude grades comprising the Dated Brent benchmark will rise 24 percent in October, the biggest monthly increase in two years, as offshore maintenance work ends, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

US EIA revises up working natgas storage capacity to 4.239 tcf

(Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday said it upwardly revised peak U.S. working natural gas storage capacity by about 3.3 percent from last year's estimate.

U.S. Envoy to Libya Killed as Protests Flare in North Africa

The U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi amid protests in the north African country and neighboring Egypt over a film about the Prophet Muhammad viewed as blasphemous by Muslims.

Egyptians angry at film scale U.S. embassy walls

(Reuters) - Egyptian protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy on Tuesday, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over what they said was a film being produced in the United States that insulted Prophet Mohammad.

Obama Discusses Iran Threat With Netanyahu Amid Tensions

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Iran’s suspected atomic weapons program amid a rift between the two nations over how to confront the issue.

Kazakhstan: Five Suspected Terrorists Killed in Western Shootout

Five suspected terrorists have been shot dead in a security operation in Kazakhstan’s oil-rich west, following a blast in the city of Atyrau last week in which one man died.

The shootout with police took place in the town of Kulsary, 230 kilometers from the energy hub of Atyrau, Tengri News reports. Another suspect and one police officer were injured.

Russia sets gas price ultimatum for tiny Moldova

(MOSCOW) - Russia warned Moldova on Wednesday it would only offer natural gas at a rebate if the impoverished ex-Soviet state cut its energy links with the European Union and tied its future to Gazprom.

The flat ultimatum was issued amid a series of pointed barbs from Moscow at 27-nation bloc's anti-trust suit against Russia's largest firm.

Chesapeake to Sell $6.9 Billion of Assets

Chesapeake Energy Corp. agreed to sell portions of oil and natural-gas fields in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico and other assets in a series of transactions for $6.9 billion, narrowing a cash-flow shortfall that threatened to crimp the Oklahoma City-based company’s drilling and production goals.

Kuwait, Netherlands to strengthen cooperation in oil sector

ROTTERDAM (KUNA) -- Kuwait and the Netherlands have underined their desire to intensify and expand bilateral cooperation in the oil sector after a two-day visit by an 8-member delegation of board members of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) to the Netherlands.

Oil industry supplier dumps China

One of the Stavanger Region’s biggest oil industry supply companies, Aarbakke, is dropping plans for own production in China.

Norway Agency to Investigate Barents Sea Oil Rig Incident

Norway's oil safety agency opened an investigation Wednesday into last week's scare in the Barents Sea involving an Eni SpA (E) drilling rig, saying the incident was likely caused by the wrong use of equipment.

The Scarabeo 8 rig heeled 5.7 degrees after sea water entered a ballast tank on Sept. 4, forcing the crew of 140 to prepare for evacuation, the company has said.

BP Spill Victims Claim Gulf Hurricane Undermines Accord

BP Plc’s proposed $7.8 billion partial settlement of 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil-spill claims shouldn’t be approved because last month’s hurricane shows how the extent of the spill’s damage still isn’t known, a victim’s lawyer said.

Large amounts of weathered oil and tar were washed up after Hurricane Isaac struck land in the Gulf of Mexico, showing that the spill hasn’t been contained and is still affecting the region, Stuart Smith, a lawyer for hundreds of Gulf Coast property owners and fishing and tourism businesses, said in a letter to the U.S. magistrate judge overseeing litigation over the 2010 spill.

Angry Michigan Residents Fight Uneven Battle Against Pipeline Project on Their Land

The notice that arrived at Debbie and David Hense's home last September didn't seem especially alarming. Enbridge Inc. was going to replace Line 6B, the oil pipeline that leaked more than a million gallons of heavy crude into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010. Since 6B runs through the Henses' 22-acre property near Fenton, Mich., some of the construction would be done there.

What the Henses didn't know, however, was that Enbridge intended to take an additional swath of their land for the pipeline—and there was little they or any of the other landowners who lived along the 210-mile route could do to stop it.

French Drillers Call for Shale Experiments to Calm Debate

France should carry out experimental drilling for shale oil and natural gas, which the country’s anti-fracking law would allow even though the government has so far resisted, an energy lobby said.

“We’re hoping this tiny little door won’t be closed,” Jean-Louis Schilansky, head of Paris-based Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres or UFIP, said in a telephone interview. “This could help get past the terrible controversy that has developed on shale in France.”

Gazprom shielded from EU probe by Russia, FT says

A decree signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin seeks to protect “strategic” companies, like Gazprom, operating abroad by demanding that foreign organizations requesting information, assets or changes to contracts from those Russian companies must ask permission from Russia's government, according to Financial Times.

French carmaker Peugeot Citroën in deep trouble

After a fall of 7 per cent in new car registrations in July, a sharper year-on-year decrease of 11.4 per cent was recorded last month.

Industry spokesmen point out August is always a quiet month, with many dealers closed.

The fall was severe for the Citroën brand, 19 per cent, less so for Peugeot cars (3.4 per cent). Another French car-making giant, Renault, fared even worse, except for its buoyant trade in low-cost models.

In the harsh market conditions created by Europe's economic woes, the whole sector is suffering to a greater or lesser extent.

A German firm of consultants said last week between five and 10 car plants in western Europe could be shut down in the coming years, throwing up to 80,000 people out of work.

What After Peak Oil: Oil, Lithium Batteries, Fuel Cells, Or All Of Them?

In a blog published more than four-and-a-half years ago, I argued that global oil production may have already peaked (or will do so in a couple of years). I then contended that peak oil, together with global warming, will force most countries to reduce both their demand for oil in response to an ever-diminishing supply and their carbon dioxide emissions to avoid climate change. This will only be possible - I said - through a major transformation in the global automotive industry: the transition to electric propulsion.

Research Shows Peak Lithium Concerns Overhyped and Unfounded

In order to combat high fuel prices and high pollution levels, much of the global auto industry is now following a government-incentivized path toward increased production of electric vehicles (EVs). Japanese and Korean auto makers are currently leading the way, with their North American counterparts playing catch-up.

This push toward clean, green, driving machines is what has propelled the lithium market forward over the past five years, and many in the space are confident that demand for EVs is on the verge of taking off and bringing lithium companies along for the ride.

Heavy-duty hybrid trucks deliver on fuel economy

A performance evaluation of Class 8 hybrid electric tractor trailers compared with similar conventional vehicles by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows significant improvements in fuel economy.

"During our 13-month study, the hybrid tractors demonstrated 13.7 percent higher fuel economy than the conventional tractors, resulting in a 12 percent reduction in fuel costs for the hybrids," NREL Senior Project Leader Michael Lammert said.

Nissan chief pitches electric taxis to Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) -- Nissan President Carlos Ghosn met Wednesday with Hong Kong's leader to pitch a proposal for the Japanese car maker to supply electric taxis to the southern Chinese city.

Ghosn's visit with Leung Chun-ying is part of an effort to sell Nissan's electric taxi technology to cities around the world looking to upgrade their taxi fleets to more environmentally friendly models.

Studies Show Wind Power's Massive Potential

Adding wind turbines of any kind slows winds, and Marvel and her colleagues found that adding more than a certain amount of turbines would no longer generate more electricity. Still, their simulations suggest that at least 400 terawatts -- or 400 trillion watts of power -- could be generated from surface winds, and more than 1,800 terawatts could be extracted from winds throughout the atmosphere. In comparison, people globally currently use about 18 terawatts of power.

Simulating a century's worth of amped-up wind-energy production suggests that harvesting maximum power from these winds would have dramatic long-term effects on the climate, triggering major shifts in atmospheric circulation.

"However, it's important to understand that these amounts are far, far bigger than current or projected global energy demand," Marvel said.

In Quest for River’s Power, an Underwater Test Spin

Could cars in New York City someday run on electricity generated at the bottom of the East River?

Trey Taylor thinks so, but first he and his associates have to build a better turbine — specifically, one that can withstand the river’s strong and shifting currents. On Tuesday afternoon they moved one step closer to their goal, as a crane hoisted what looked like a giant, hand-held electric fan from the riverbed east of Roosevelt Island.

The Growing Might of Solar Power

From California to New Jersey, the summer sun was hot this year — and so was the solar industry. While the business of solar energy is still small enough and young enough to record firsts at the fearsome pace of a toddler, the milestones are getting more substantial.

Chain Stores Said to Lead Firms in Use of Sun Power

Walgreens, which has installed 134 solar systems across the country and has plans for many more, says its solar program stems from the brand’s connection to healthful living and a bottom-line desire to stabilize energy costs.

But it has plenty of company from other big-box retailers. Large chain stores, more than any other type of business, rely on rooftop solar power to help meet their energy needs, according to a report to be released Wednesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Vote Solar Initiative, an advocacy group.

Plasma Gasification Raises Hopes of Clean Energy From Garbage

David Robau tours the country promoting a system that sounds too good to be true: It devours municipal garbage, recycles metals, blasts toxic contaminants and produces electricity and usable byproducts — all with drastic reductions in emissions.

Iberdrola to Keep Dividend as Galan Resists Atomic Tax

Iberdrola SA, the worst performer among European utility stocks in 2012, will maintain its dividend by cutting costs and increasing foreign profit as it begins to reduce debt as much as 20 percent, the chairman said.

To avoid new expenses, Spain’s largest utility will fight a government plan for a so-called windfall profit tax on nuclear energy, Ignacio Galan said in an interview yesterday. The moves help ensure it pays the 33.7 euro-cent dividend next year, which currently gives a 9.5 percent yield, he said.

Addressing a Gap in Nuclear Regulation

For almost 40 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s mantra has been that public health and safety are adequately protected by the agency’s regulatory standards. But the triple meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant 18 months ago suggests that the commission needs to go beyond direct health impacts in adopting safeguards, commission staff members and outside experts argued at a three-hour hearing on Tuesday.

Utah Senate leader rages at lax nuke waste oversight

A Senate leader Tuesday raised the possibility of disbanding the Department of Environmental Quality and firing Utah’s top radiation-control official after auditors raised numerous concerns about the state’s oversight of low-level radioactive waste.

Lake Is Blamed for Stench Blown Across Southern California

LOS ANGELES — Across Southern California, as far afield as Ventura County to the north of here, Orange County to the south and San Bernardino to the east, residents awoke this week to an olfactory insult: a sulfurous smell, like rotten eggs, wafting across hundreds of miles, source unknown.

Some people checked the eggs in their refrigerator; officials tested the air at landfills. In some places, the odor was so strong that people wondered if a sewer line had ruptured.

“O.K., why does it smell like rotten eggs? I smelled it in Sylmar, San Fernando & Porter Ranch,” Jennifer Guzman wrote on Twitter before ending with a frustrated expletive.

But by late Monday, the culprit had been identified: the Salton Sea, that shrinking saline accident of irrigation 150 miles southeast of here in the Colorado Desert.

Uzbekistan Leader Warns of Water Wars in Central Asia

President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan has upped his rhetoric against neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, warning that their efforts to build hydroelectric power stations on rivers upstream could spark war.

A presidential race low on energy

IN THE PAST two weeks, both President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney claimed to possess farsighted plans for powering America’s economy. At their parties’ nominating conventions, the candidates and their surrogates described a future in which the country is more energy-independent, nearly everyone in the energy business succeeds and the energy-dependent economy hums along.

In fact, the visions articulated of late are far from farsighted. Neither adequately described the real and massive energy and environmental challenge America faces, let alone offered a credible strategy to face it.

UN climate talks should stick with 2 degree goal-EU negotiator

LONDON (Reuters) - United Nations' climate talks should continue pushing for more ambitious action to ensure global warming is kept under 2 degrees, an EU climate negotiator said on Tuesday, a month after the United States was accused of backtracking on the goal.

UN panel warns of climate credit market collapse

BERLIN (AP) -- A U.N.-appointed expert panel says international efforts to encourage investment in green technologies could collapse if countries don't boost the market for 'climate credits.'

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says governments need to restore investors' faith in so-called carbon markets, including the U.N.'s Clean Development Mechanism.

Top firms "fearing climate change"

LONDON (KUNA) -- Major companies are increasingly concerned that they are at risk from climate change in the face of recent extreme weather events such as drought and floods, according to a report here Wednesday.

More than a third (37 percent) see the physical risks of a changing climate such as extreme weather, rising sea levels and water scarcity as a real and present danger, up from just 10 percent two years ago, says the latest Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) survey of top global companies.

New York Is Lagging as Seas and Risks Rise, Critics Warn

With a 520-mile-long coast lined largely by teeming roads and fragile infrastructure, New York City is gingerly facing up to the intertwined threats posed by rising seas and ever-more-severe storm flooding.

So far, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has commissioned exhaustive research on the challenge of climate change. His administration is expanding wetlands to accommodate surging tides, installing green roofs to absorb rainwater and prodding property owners to move boilers out of flood-prone basements.

But even as city officials earn high marks for environmental awareness, critics say New York is moving too slowly to address the potential for flooding that could paralyze transportation, cripple the low-lying financial district and temporarily drive hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

An Ounce of Prevention in New York City

“There’s no federal requirement, there’s no law that’s compelling anyone to do this, much less pay for it,” she said. “No one would say we’ve got it covered.”

Yet last fall, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission took a controversial step toward self-defense, requiring developers of all new projects to incorporate flood risks into their construction plans.

County plans for rising seas — and the flooding that will follow

By 2060, residents of the posh Las Olas Boulevard community in Fort Lauderdale could find seawater lapping at their doors. Parts of Hollywood, Hallandale Beach and Dania Beach also could be wading in water at high tide, county officials warn.

Agreeing that Broward County is at risk of flooding, sewer failure and contamination of drinking water because of climate change and an accompanying rise in sea level, commissioners moved Tuesday in a new direction for this coastal county — with climate change planning.

Sovereignty issues loom as Arctic sea ice shrinks

As Arctic ice disappears — a factor that is also at play in this summer's search for the lost ships of Sir John Franklin's 1845 mission — the world focus on the region's resources intensifies, and the question of who owns the Arctic becomes much more than an academic discussion.

Twenty more "Niles" needed to feed growing population - leaders

OSLO (Reuters) - The world needs to find the equivalent of the flow of 20 Nile rivers by 2025 to grow enough food to feed a rising population and help avoid conflicts over water scarcity, a group of former leaders said on Monday.

Factors such as climate change would strain freshwater supplies and nations including China and India were likely to face shortages within two decades, they said, calling on the U.N. Security Council to get more involved.

"The future political impact of water scarcity may be devastating," former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said of a study issued by a group of 40 former leaders he co-chairs including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela.

Study: Food crisis imminent within next decade if no change to climate policy

Research released today shows that within the next 10 years large parts of Asia can expect increased risk of more severe droughts, which will impact regional and possibly even global food security.

The report, led by the University of Leeds and published by the UK-based Centre for Low Carbon Futures, highlights China, Pakistan and Turkey as the most seriously affected major producers of wheat and maize and urges policymakers to focus attention on climate change adaptation to avert an imminent food crisis.

From today's NYT: Taxes Show One Way to Save Fuel

The author rightly points out that auto mileage mandates won't, by themselves, cause people to actually buy more fuel efficient cars and trucks. As I've described previously, taxes aren't necessarily the answer either, since any increase in the price at the pump will filter thru the economy, forcing prices to rise. Wages would likely be expected to increase as well, though less rapidly. Thus, the tax would need to continually increase at a rate faster than inflation, if it's impact on the public is to be maintained. Worse, after Peak Oil, we are likely to see further increases in the cost of oil production, further adding to the market price to the consumer.

Trouble is, these days any hint of a tax hike would be shouted down by the anti-tax Tea Baggers and their allies, the R's. That's why I think a direct rationing system will be the only alternative, once it becomes obvious that there is a hard limit to oil production and that GHG emissions muse be reduced...

E. Swanson

The final paragraph in the article states:

"Hint: in Britain, where gas and diesel are taxed at $3.95 a gallon, the American automaker Ford sells a compact Fiesta model that will go nearly 86 miles on a gallon. In the United States, where gas taxes average 49 cents, Ford’s Fiestas will carry you only 33 miles on a gallon of gas."

I have not checked the numbers (I suspect a journalistic mix of US mpg vs UK mpg in the final sentence) but they do support the view that fuel tax is an effective way to develop the uptake of a more fuel efficient car fleet. However, adding tax in constrained times (i.e now) is more difficult. In the UK we have been used to fuel taxes increasing above inflation for many years, and also used to regular announcements of impending fuel tax hikes. All of which influence car purchasing decisions. Current UK governments have exercised the 'choice' to withhold tax increases going forwards, and a few hikes have been delayed over the last 3 or 4 years, to suit short term political goals. However, good luck to the US politician who suggests you slap another 3$ tax or more on your current petrol(gas) prices! Hence, mandated mileage would appear to be your only government option if you want to speed up adoption of more fuel efficient cars.

In the end, the cost of fuel will drive the mpg averages higher, regardless of government tax or mandates.

The UK figure is certainly a UK gallon, and for a diesel engined car, and using the less realistic European standard fuel economy test. The US model will be heavier, with more safety equipment and more powerful air conditioning, etc., etc. and more stringent emissions regulations (excluding CO2). That said, I got my car computer on my similarly sized car up to 97.4 mpg recently on a 128 mile leasurely drive. Even on a short round trip of ten miles to the local dump, I got 92.5 mpg yesterday by carefully selecting route and time of travel to enable me to employ hypermiling techniques without pissing off too many other road users.

The UK figure is certainly a UK gallon, and for a diesel engined car, and using the less realistic European standard fuel economy test. The US model will be heavier, with more safety equipment and more powerful air conditioning, etc., etc. and more stringent emissions regulations (excluding CO2).

Using figures from the two Ford websites (U.S. and U.K.) and doing accurate conversions of units, I come up with this:

Country Miles/U.S. gallon Weight(lb)
U.S. 40 2628
U.K. 74 2420

The figures given are the highway or extra-urban fuel economy of the most economical version sold in the respective markets, and the unloaded weight of the heaviest version sold in the respective markets.

The U.S. Fiesta is 8.6% heavier, and uses 85% more fuel. Apparently the weight the American version can carry is a trade secret, but the English version can carry 979 pounds, which is more than competitive with the claimed carrying capacity of similar sized vehicles available in the U.S. which do release load capacities.

The extra weight plus the air conditioning might burn 20% more fuel, and there might be another 20% in the different fuel economy standards, but the big difference is diesel. The most efficient gasoline engine in the U.K. Fiesta uses 72% more fuel than the most efficient diesel engine in the same vehicle. And the diesel engine is 50% more powerful.

I suspect a journalistic mix of US mpg vs UK mpg in the final sentence

The US, Europe, and Japan all have different methods for estimating mileage ratings. Even if all the differences in units is properly accounted for, identical vehicles will get substantially different mileage ratings under the three different methods of measurement/calculation. Note also that the 86 mpg Ford Fiesta sold in Europe has a diesel engine -- which by itself gives a significant increase in mpg.

Diesel may give an increase in miles per gallon, but barely an increase in miles per pound. A gallon of diesel weighs about 7% more than a gallon of gas and the more molecular mass you have to combine with oxygen the more energy you release.

My diesel is rated at 89g CO2/km. The best petrol engined car on the market (which is a far smaller vehicle ) is rated at 98g CO2/km. Diesels are more thermodynamically efficient because of a higher compression ratio as well.

I don't know which way the causality goes with respect to compression ratio - do diesels have a higher compression ratio because they have more energy per injection (and therefore require more oxygen to fully combust) or are the two (energy density and compression ratio) not related.
Perhaps somebody here has some relevant facts - I certainly don't....


The typical diesel engine has a compression ratio about twice that of a gasoline engine. That by itself increases the thermodynamic efficiency. But the big difference is that a diesel engine always uses that compression ratio, even at low power. A gasoline engine reduces power by reducing charge volume, which effectively reduces the compression ratio and hence the thermodynamic efficiency, and also adds losses due to turbulent flow past the throttle. All automobile engines run at a small fraction of the maximum power nearly all the time (except in hybrid vehicles, which may run the internal combustion engine at close to full power whenever it is running).

As I pointed out in a comment above, the most efficient diesel Ford Fiesta sold in the U.K. uses 72% less fuel than the most efficient gasoline (petrol) Fiesta sold in the same market, even though the diesel engine is 50% more powerful. Wikipedia summarizes the current achieved efficiencies:

In the past 3-4 years, GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) increased the efficiency of the engines equipped with this fueling system up to 35%. Currently the technology is available in a wide variety of vehicles ranging less expensive cars from Mazda, Ford and Chevrolet to more expensive cars from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, VAG.
. . .
Modern turbo-diesel engines are using electronically controlled, common-rail fuel injection, that increases the efficiency up to 50% with the help of geometrically variable turbo-charging system

The difference between the gasoline and diesel Fiesta models is broadly in agreement with this difference.

Diesel ignition is by compression, gasoline (Otto?) is by spark. If the later had too high a compression ratio, the fuel-air mixture would ignite due to compression heating, so the diesel method allows/requires a higher compression ratio. So it is both a property of the fuel and of the engine that allows a higher compression ratio. This doesn't come for free however, a high compression ratio creates greater thermal and mechanical stress of the engine parts, so diesel engines must be engineered to withstand this.

Actually because with the diesel-air mixture is hard to control exactly when it ignites (depends upon strting temp and fuel load etc.) -it is bad if it ignites before maximum compression, the fuel is sprayed in near maximum compression, when compressed air is already hotter than the ignition temperature. This makes pollution control difficult, because the fuel is not evenly mixed with the air -indeed it isn't even completely vaporized when it ignites. The gasoline engine is easier for pollution control, because there is plenty of time for the fuel and air to mix before combustion.

Diesels can have higher compression ratio, hence more efficient, because the fuel does not ignite and explode as quickly as gasoline. High compression petrol engines require high octane fuel to prevent destructive detonation. However Atkinson cycle petrol engines as used in the newer hybrids are a few per cent more efficient than the typical Otto cycle petrol engine, by way of (effectively) using an exhaust stroke that is longer than the compression stroke. This results in a substantial loss in maximum power, which can be partially compensated by using a turbocharger. Hybrid automobiles can use the electric motor for power surges, so the turbocharger is not required.

Don't know about Atkinson cycle diesels, I suspect they are on the way.

Diesel fuel is oily and doesn't evaporate. It has to be sprayed into the cylinder under very high pressure and breaks into tiny droplets which burn in the hot compressed air. The air is heated so much by compression that it ignites the oil droplets. No spark plug is needed. Sometimes a glow plug is needed for for cold starts.

The throttle of a diesel motor is wide open all the time, so there are no "pumping losses" caused by trying to suck air through a closed throttle. As a result, diesels show particular advantage over petrol engines at part throttle, which is where most engines operate most of the time. The speed and power are varied by injecting more or less diesel fuel on each stroke.

Petrol engines can't be compressed so much because petrol is volatile and evaporates in air to form a gas. At the high temperatures and pressures of a diesel engine this gas would explode, unlike the little diesel droplets which burn controllably. This phenomenon is called "knocking" and shortens the life of the engine. Ideally, you want the gas highly compressed for thermodynamic efficiency, but cool enough not to explode. It should be ignited at just the right moment by the spark plug and burn evenly.

The speed and power of a petrol engine are varied by opening and closing the throttle which allows more or less air into the cylinder.


"I think a direct rationing system will be the only alternative"

Seems reasonable.

Trouble is, these days any hint of a tax hike would be shouted down by the anti-tax Tea Baggers and their allies, the R's.

Black_Dog, I would much prefer a gradual increase in the US Federal gas tax than to have to deal with rationing.

Way back in 1980 Republican moderate (not extinct yet in those days) Independent Presidential candidate John Anderson proposed a major increase in the gas tax to decrease auto addiction after the 2nd oil crisis in 1979. Even conservatives like Charles Krauthammer,
George Will, Paul Mulshine, neoliberal Thomas Friedman have proposed increasing the gas tax.
The optimum seems to be phased increases every 6-12 months of 20 cents per gallon up to at least $1.
A similar Bill was proposed by some Democrats in New Jersey for our 3rd lowest in the US
gas taxes of 20 cent increases but never went anywhere against the Auto Addiction coalition of pavers, auto dealers, oil companies etc.
Electric personal 2 ton cars are NOT the answer and will take way too long to implement anyway. Instead as from 1942-1945 we need to quadruple Green Transit Rail, lightrail, buses, bicycling and walking. And the first step is just to run the trains and buses we already have all over the country on a frequent basis.
It was hardly a representative sample but my train stop has had as many riders as before the 2008 train massacre in which 30% of our trains, all to Hoboken, were eliminated.
There is nothing wrong with electric cars, I have a Prius myself, but they are like the little Dutch boy putting his finger in the dike. We need a major transition ASAP to
energy/ oil efficient Green Transit!

You and I might prefer it, but any politician who supported either would have that fact shouted from the rooftops by his opponent the next time he faced election. And do you really think the average voter is going to agree that tax increases or rationing is a good idea? They just want all the gas they can use cheap.

Therefore, no politician dares to support either increases in gas tax or rationing.

here in the NYC area we just had another major scheduled toll increase which had been approved some years ago. Despite some people's complaints - because it was already approved and scheduled it went through without much fanfare except some news stories around the time of the increase. This is why it is crucial to make a schedule of rolling gas tax increases at amounts around 20 cents which some other people on TOD have already calculated are optimum in terms of not killing the economy. (which is getting killed anyway with US Auto Addiction!) Then you index gas taxes to inflation for subsequent increases after you reach $1. This way politicians evade responsibility for realistic policies that pundits from both the Right and Left have admitted are necessary.

But our politicians are for the most part captive to the paving and Auto Addiction lobbies and reeking of cowardice. "Profiles in Courage" NOT!
Anyway as citizen advocates it is our job to push the public discussion towards facing what Kunstler calls the economics of Reality rather than magical thinking. The sooner we get a grip and steer away from disastrous Auto Addiction in the age of Peak Oil, the sooner we will conserve oil, greenhouse emissions, green land and auto deaths which will become a positive feedback loop. Half of our balance of payments deficit is due to imported oil...

A less painful way to increase gas taxes would be to schedule it to automatically go up 1 penny whenever gas drops 5 cents.

My preferred gas tax USER FEE increase (Minimum Pain - Maximum Gain) is a 9 month waiting period to allow quick adjustments to be made, and then a daily increase (at the wholesale level, tanker deliveries to gas stations) of $0.001 (1/10th of a cent) per gallon per day for 20 to 25 years. Quarterly inflation adjustments.

Maximum warning when buying a new car, or moving, etc. Time for cities to build oil free transportation networks before taxes USER FEES really bite.

Require a super majority to repeal (say 90%).

Best Hopes for Better Public Policies,


Net Oil imports should be around $300 billion this year, about 2/3rds of our trade deficit.

I think the fact that it's a toll, not a tax, makes a big difference.

It's become extremely difficult to raise taxes, but it's much easier to pass "users' fees." The idea being you have a choice whether you want to use it or not, and the people who use something are the ones who should pay for it.

"The author rightly points out that auto mileage mandates won't, by themselves, cause people to actually buy more fuel efficient cars and trucks."

I have made that point for years. CAFE standards force automakers to produce autos that people are not demanding. Everyone has this view that you can force automakers to produce an SUV that gets 50 MPG. People think the standards won't affect them; only car makers. If, on the other hand, fuel taxes were raised substantially, you wouldn't even need CAFE standards because the demand for high fuel economy would be there.

If, on the other hand, fuel taxes were raised substantially, you wouldn't even need CAFE standards because the demand for high fuel economy would be there.

Robert, I agree. Based on the US Federal gas tax not being raised since 1993, I guess the higher CAFE standards are better than nothing.

If, on the other hand, fuel taxes were raised substantially, you wouldn't even need CAFE standards because the demand for high fuel economy would be there.

I also agree. But politically, the only way to get there is to propose a higher gas tax as tax neutral, that is, with an accompanying cut in other payroll or income taxes, and also to include a slower fade in for those out in the hinter lands (i'm in the city). Otherwise I think a call for higher gas taxes is only seen as way to include some other agenda (increase taxes), i.e. to assume a pose.

This is my contribution to a debate within the Sierra Club on gov't mandates for
higher fuel economy vs. higher gas taxes.
Two major points that link together.

One, we subsidize cheap gas, and oil burning, with $326.99/capita ($101 billion in 2010)
in other non-transportation taxes and borrowing.

Fuel taxes should, at an absolute minimum, pay for roads and highways. They do not come
close today.

Old school conservatives believed in "User Pays". American motorists simply

My essay "A conservative Principle - User Pays".

Two, I really doubt the ability of a government mandate to overwhelm market demand.

*IF* gas prices are much higher (see Peak Oil), the market will want very economical cars
and all will be well for CAFE. The CAFE law will not be needed, but the car makers will
have the economical models that the market wants because of CAFE requirements.

However, if due to recession, fracing, etc. gas prices are not much higher, I think the
government mandates will be changed or evaded.

Earlier increases in CAFE that the market did not want sparked the SUV fad (trucks
replacing cars i.e. station wagons), which increased US gas consumption by 1 million
barrels/day. In that specific case "Higher CAFE > +1 million barrels

Government mandates can be repealed.

The EU is in the midst of losing 800,000 auto making jobs as demand for new cars drops,
and Europe drops VMT. All good from an environmental POV, but not for unemployment, etc.

Suppose the US is in a recession and the market clearly does not want to pay extra for
higher fuel economy (gas is too cheap). The automakers plea to Congress that meeting CAFE
will raise sticker prices and cost sales, which means jobs. CAFE will be
"modified" (D control) or repealed (R control).

Or the automakers are clever and use the complex rules of the new CAFE law, while
delivering what the market wants (cheap, big, gas guzzling "vehicles"). Another
SUV type fad.

IMHO, the *ONLY* way to assure that the new CAFE law works as intended is with higher
pump prices for gasoline. We cannot control the world price of oil, but we can control
fuel taxes.

We have an excellent tool in saying "The User should Pay".

Stop using Pension funds, environmental clean-up funds, general funds (all signed 2
months ago by Pres. Obama) and
property taxes to pay for roads and highways. At a minimum, 100% of roads and highway
funding should come from fuel taxes & license tag fees.

Best Hopes for Better Public Policies,

Alan Drake

I have the impression the manufacturers want the current aggressive CAFE standards. I think they know that fuel is going to become a lot more pricey than the consumers expect, and they want to be ready with product that can be sold with $10 gas. They probably fear that without being forced by standards, the temptation for shortterm competitive advantage -via making cheap/big/overpowered/underengineered vehicles will prevent the industry from taking the long view. So they are enlisting the government to do what self-policing wouldn't.

Now. Admittedly I have no insider knowledge about this other than hints at research projects, but it seems to be a logical conclusion.

I bet they'd rather have these standards, rather than a tax, as the later would likely reduce demand.

I have heard the claim, that desire for better mileage is at least partially driving the recent increase in car sales.

Also, they've seen how stringent safety standards have raised the barrier to entry (to become a car manufacturer), and kept potential upstarts at bay. Adding tough CAFE standards would further toughen their armor.

Telsa has cracked that nut. The first new mass production car maker in the US market since Delorean. And several steps better than Delorean - I actually think that they are going to make it.


The CAFE Law will work just fine if the pump price creates the market demand for the high economy vehicles (not just cars) that the law requires.

*BUT* if the market is not there, car makers will be lobbying for "adjustments" or repeal of CAFE.

I consider that an almost certainty.


Fuel taxes should, at an absolute minimum, pay for roads and highways. They do not come
close today.

AlanfromBigEasy, as a bare minimum, we should raise the US Federal Gasoline tax to account for the level of inflation we have had since the tax was last raised in 1993. Then the tax could be indexed to inflation on an annual basis.

Given our dysfunctional, and fought almost totally at the gut level politics thats completely off the table. Only plans that include painfree fairydust have any chance whatsoever. Now I do think the CAFE standards will work, a lot of R&D on more efficient engines and other components is going on, I think efficiency at fixed weight/horsepower will be rising dramatically. Getting the customers to go for lower size and lower horsepower, thats a tougher nut to crack.

Once again what is best is to get people to take Green Transit which can be ramped up a lot more quickly and has a much bigger impact for both Peak Oil and Climate Change. Increasing gas taxes will help do that directly.
Periodically I attend meetings of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority and
ALL the speakers supported increasing the gas tax as the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund is already actually broke. New Jersey is simply either borrowing to pay for the Roads and Gov Christie stole a huge pot of money that was supposed to go to an additional 2 new Trans-Hudson tunnels from New Jersey to New York City.
Some new access to NYC is desperately needed as there are delays almost every day due
to increases in Green Transit ridership and the sheer volume of trains including Amtrak going through the 100 year old tunnels.
Of course promotion of increased gas taxes was from Transit professionals who have some clue even if they have a very limited bureaucratic mindset with little imagination.
Such as using the lower level of the GW bridge for trains as originally intended, restoring bar/club cars to make train riding more enjoyable, putting newspaper,food vendors in every train station that could earn rent,etc,etc,etc.

Why does the private auto owner have to pay for, “Green Transit ridership”’s, tunnels. They are already paying for all of the roads. Let the Green riders pay their own way. As a note city transit buses do not have to pay federal fuel taxes, nor state taxes in most states. They are exempt. www.tax.ny.gov/bus/gas/gasidx.htm

And motorists pay less than half the fuel taxes they should pay for roads & highways.

American motorists are sucking off the rest of the economy.



U.S. Envoy to Libya Killed as Protests Flare in North Africa

Is this blowback or the result of a stupid kid's video?

Look at the changes in Libya and it might answer the question:

... the fact that the Libyan people were cared for by their government (they shared in the revenue when their oil was sold, and it was deposited into their bank accounts; they had benefits at no cost to them such as health care, full education, zero interest loans, $50,000 upon marriage, free land use for farmers together with seeds and tools, cheap gasoline at .14 cents per liter, half of the purchase of a vehicle provided to them, and on and on) was not the reason they were invaded "in order to save them from their government".

(Oil's Well That Ends Well). After losing health care, free education, no interest loans, car payments half paid, free land to farmers, no more share of oil revenue, and the like, wouldn't that have more anger potential than a silly video?

Even if someone criticises your religion, to use lethal force instantely makes you look like a barbarian from medieval times.

The fault here is not with the 'provoker' but with the mob.
People who excuse murderers are delusional.

People who murder are always in the wrong. Always.
End of story.

It doesn't matter if your mother was insulted, your religion or your country.
Once you start to murder innocent people who had nothing at all to do with the movie in the first place(it was produced by a Coptic Christian from Egypt), you deserve what's coming to you.

Religion should never hold a special place in the public arena and be somehow off limits.
And people who are willing to murder others for disagreeing should never be excused by misguided 'liberals' who apparently have no faith in liberal values to begin with.

There are many ways to protest and insensitive movie. And in fact, if you think about, the movie itself would get far less traction if this had not happened.

Now, as a result of this monstrous attack, the movie will get far more play and the mob can only blame themselves.
And it serves them right.
Excusing them or their behaviour is disgusting.
Regardless of the fact that the directors of the movie is an idiot and the movie's premise is wrong.

Murder is murder.

I strongly suspect the mob would not have risen if their standard of living had not plummeted in the last couple of years. The single biggest source of social disorder is hunger. Hungry people do not think rationally, they lash out at whoever the rabble rousers can point them at. There is massive anti-Christian feeling accross the the Muslim world at present, normally the victims are entirely blameless locals we never hear about.

The future is going to be brutal as the poor of the world meet the limits to growth first hand.

I strongly suspect the mob would not have risen if their standard of living had not plummeted in the last couple of years

Your statement is only partly correct, I wish it was true but evidence does not back that claim. We have people in India who are much poorer than those mobs in Libya but they don't go on the rampage at the drop of a hat. Sure there is an issue with Maoist rebels around here but they don't go crazy and kill everyone in sight, neither do they start agitating at every single cartoon, they also don't blow up people in the national capital. Same with the multiple insurgencies in this country of which there are many. They only target the security forces. The Tibetans too haven't started bombing the Chinese everywhere in the world. I remember multiple incidents where Hindu gods were used as images from bathroom slippers to toilet seats, there were protests sure but no one called for a ban of goods imported from the West neither did anyone detest Westerners, the protests were targeted at the particular company which did it. And you must remember that we are pretty intolerant people when it comes to religion and gods.

I know that it's a running theme on this site that culture does not matter but it does, not everything can be attributed to resource constraints.

I think it's more complex than that. I agree that hunger in and of itself doesn't cause unrest.

But I suspect a sudden drop in living standards is likely to incite violence. It wasn't the poor who drove the Arab spring, but those who were fairly well-off. They weren't starving, but they couldn't afford as much meat as they were used to. They got educated, but couldn't get the jobs they expected.

And sure, culture plays a role, but I suspect politics plays a far bigger one. Occupation is a sure way to turn even the most peaceful culture violent.

I know that it's a running theme on this site that culture does not matter but it does, not everything can be attributed to resource constraints.

Nasty parasitic memes also have influence. Most rewire your brain for their own replication. They are like lancet flukes.

We have people in India who are much poorer than those mobs in Libya but they don't go on the rampage at the drop of a hat.

I am surprised you would say that. Riots in India can start at the drop of a hat over a perceived insult to religion or a religious or political leader. Mob violence is very common in India. A simple traffic accident or sexual harassment of a woman from one community by males from a different community can start a riot. It can even be triggered by events in foreign countries that have nothing to do with India (e.g., Muslims rioted when Israel occupied Jerusalem in 1967 or when Gen Zia-Ul-Haq hanged Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan).
Here are some easy ways a riot can start in any Indian city:
1. A few pigs are seen outside a mosque, especially after Friday prayers
2. Statue of ...insert your favorite leader, alive or dead... gets garlanded by footwear(a major insult in Indian culture)
3. A religious place is desecrated and rumors spread that it was done by members of a different religious community

Please read my reply carefully, I said that we are pretty intolerant when it comes to religion and gods. But we are also tolerant to a very large degree. It's quite a paradox actually though tolerance wins heavily IMO. Name one country in the world which has such a large diversity in terms of religion and languages, yet is so peaceful(relatively). The Yugoslavs tore themselves apart with just a handful of language ethnic groups, we have like 100 times that variety.

I think the extreme diversity of India is what prevents a large scale civil war like Yugoslavia. The society is fragmented in so many ways (caste, language, religion) that any given group is very small compared to the total size of the population and does not have the means or ambition to take over the country. In India everyone is a minority. Another difference is that periodic elections (which Yugoslavia did not have under Tito) act as a relief valve to vent frustration and anger.

Ex-Yugoslav nations are pretty heterogeneous. They have separate religions, ethnicities and long histories (read 'national pride'). They were distinctly separate countries before Yugoslavia and remain so today despite some of the member countries wishing differently. The war is still not considered a "civil" one by at least some of the parties involved, since the state fell apart so quickly, far too soon for the countries involved to lose their sense of individuality and autonomy.

I would not use Tito in your argument because he was pretty much universally liked, if not loved. Think Fidel, not Mao. Most of the bitterness floated to the surface after his death.

IMO, and I am not a historian, you need a strong feeling of separateness in the populace before a civil war. Otherwise you get mob violence, maybe a change of government.

You said it right. Here is a very interesting write up on the same that reflects some of your thoughts and highlights some very interesting points:


... a detailed book on the same topic was written by Dr.Amartya Sen titled "The Argumentative Indian"

Here are some easy ways a riot can start in any Indian city:
1. A few pigs are seen outside a mosque, especially after Friday prayers

You actually bolster the case against Islam specifically here.

I think it's becoming pretty clear that this attack was not about a 15-minute YouTube video.


"I think it's becoming pretty clear that this attack was not about a 15-minute YouTube video."

I agree.

One of the MSNBC Morning Joe crew, Willie Geist, said that as soon as he heard that allegation he checked out the video and it only had 6,000 views, mostly crank viewers in the U.S.

My guess is that the 18th century gunboat diplomacy that replaced the professional diplomacy circa 2000 is the real culprit (Ye Olde Gunboat Diplomacy Rides Again).

That professional diplomacy had the U.S. at its top popularity in history around the world, which has now reached its lowest ebb in history as a result of the gunboat diplomacy (ibid).

I agree. But the video has provided them an excuse to drum up hysteria and use that as a cover.

Its certainly starting to look that way. Without the hullabaloo caused by the video, they might not have had sufficient cover to mount a successful attack. The motivations probably have more to do with local politics and a desperate attempt by Jihadist elements to remain relevant.

Apparently the Video had been around for a few months, and received very little interest. Then the creator got the idea, that if he dubbed in an Arabic soundtrack, he might attract the attentions of Salifists, and his video would become famous (or at least infamous). Whats apparent to me, is that if a person or group has a readily known button for setting off a reaction, someone will take advantage of that fact. If you have a predictable and not too hard to press temper-tantrum button, you will become someones chesspiece, and they can manipulate you in this at will. I hope Islamist will reflect on this, Saladin was much too clever to be manipulated in this manner.

We have people in India who are much poorer than those mobs in Libya but they don't go on the rampage at the drop of a hat.

Amen to that.

Indian court convicts 32 people in deadly 2002 riots

August 29, 2012

Assam riots: Fresh violence erupts in Dhubri, shoot-at-sight order issued
PTI | Sep 10, 2012

I can't agree more. Relgion is just a lightning conductor for greater problems. When the Muslim world (centuries ago) was rich, inquisitive and confident it was also relatively religiously tolerant. Certainly more so than bigoted Europe. But that was centuries ago. Now the Islamic world is poor, overpopulated, relatively uneducated and going nowhere. They know it, but blame others, and this is the perfect breeding ground for religiosity and religiousy sanctioned violence. Their assumption is that god will provide a solution to all their ills.

We (well most of the people I know) believe that god won't do anyhting, because he doesn't exist.

However, the US has a serious god squad too, and they they are increasingly powerful. And try being a politician in America, or anywhere probaly these days, if you refuse to submit to the chimeras of myth and divine monsters.

I think that the Enlightenment is finally over.

Lightning rod analogy is interesting. I find myself trying to come up with a analogy somewhere along the lines of the 3 parts necessary for combustion or something similar. The happenings in Egypt almost pique my interest more with the rabid football fans being involved (Soccer fans). Yes, there was centuries of people agreeing to disagree in many parts of the middle east in many sites for the most of the time. Sparks will always occur, what are the elements integral to ignition? What grieves and perplexes me more is not when a Benghazi or Fallujah erupts but when somewhere as cultured as say the Olympic site Sarajevo or Cairo erupts.

And try being a politician in America, or anywhere probaly these days

Not here in the Netherlands. We just had elections and the main Christian party had less than 10% of the vote. I think the leaders of the winning parties are atheist, but really nobody bothers to ask. It just isn't an issue.

I wonder if the denomination "Christian" really means anyhting in reality? Having said that, when I consider it I discover I wouldn't vote for any party that had a religious tilt in its nomenclature.

In the US the parties are either Republican or Democrat, and when you sit and think of the inner meaning of those titles in today's context, they mean nothing. Not to me anyway. Words change context and lose their meaning.

But the Dutch are lucky, they have a well educated population which fought long and hard for independence from demonstrably Catholic European powers.

Muslim countries on the other hand are now tending to define themselves by their religion; a pity.

Well, they always talk about family values and stuff...

And a few years ago, one of their politicians wanted to debate the inclusion of intelligent design in school curriculum. Luckily, that didn't go over well with the rest of the country. Later, she became the director of an agency everyone here knows all too well.

Regarding our luck, yesterday we voted firmly for parties that want to grow our way out of the crisis. We are behind in renewable energy compared to surrounding countries, and have spent the last 10 years trying to privatize public transportation. All countries have their good and bad points, I guess.

All countries have their good and bad points, I guess.

Your incoming gov, is far better than anything we can expect. Our choice energy wise is between too slow a transition, or trying to turn back the clock as far as possible. We would have a lot of catching up to get as far as you -and the gap is likely to grow not shrink.

Forget the video. When organizing a 9/11 anti-US mob attack in that part of the world, convention dictates that the mob cites a recent provocation. Anything will do.


To be honest, I am getting a little sick of this sort of stuff. Look, people are going to hate what you belive in, ridicule you for it, etc., no matter what it is. People never really pay much attention to me when I bring up energy issues, yet I don't go around killing people for pretending that we have infinite resources on a finite planet. Religion is not any different. It is not special.

Well, human tribalism never ends, whether nationalist, religious, or whatever. Whether it's Americans bombing Iraqis over a weird mix of oil, religion, nationalism, and family bad blood (Saddam vs Bush), or these dudes killing an ambassador because some other dude made a video saying nothing particularly new, this will go around forever until we go extinct. I think I'll go listen to "Imagine" and try to erase these people from my thoughts for a while.

The situation in the Middle East is complicated.

In some parts of thew middle east, the standard of living has declined.

In other parts, the standard of living is fine due to high oil prices.

I think the standard of living is going up again in KSA due to rising oil prices.

Most middle east trouble seems to be centered around countries without a lot of oil to sell.

I think, if I remember correctly, Egypt imports about 60% of it's wheat (a staple for them) and 40% of it's food.

As the world fills up with more failed or failing states, expect more trouble.

KSA is a very conservative country, but I don't see what's happening in North Africa happening there right now.

Poverty does not necessarily lead to violence but falling living standards can.

Part of the other problem is that the middle east is radicalized over our position on the Israeli Palestinian issue.

The Palestinian territories look like Swiss Cheese.

Add tough times and anger over American foreign policy to a radicalizing population and you get North Africa.


Sometimes it is good to analyze from outside our meme complex. Here is a New Zealander's take on where we get our "understanding" of Libya:

Events in Libya have confirmed that the West is fated to inflict on humanity the demented moral hypocrisy of its peoples and the malevolent avarice of their ruling élites. North American and European corporate propaganda media have recited a relentless litany of false beliefs that have also been echoed by the great majority of what, in the Western Bloc, passes for progressive opinion. The opinions of the majority world have been disdained with what can only be interpreted as racist arrogance.

As in all effective political propaganda, the key message turns around one or two simple and endlessly mechanically reproduced motifs. In the case of Libya the first motif is that Muamar Gaddafi is an exceptionally brutal and corrupt dictator with no support among the Libyan people. A second motif has been that the rebellion in Libya was led by peaceful, noble, heroic rebels against the Gaddafi dictatorship. These two false beliefs have been sustained by a plethora of hypocritical comment, blatant moral blackmail and narcissistic pseudo-analysis.

(Scoop Independent News). It does not take much research to see that our secular religion is less humane than the greater population in the meme complexes around us:

[before "ObamaCare"] Uninsured people in USA: 50 million. Uninsured people in Britain: 0. Uninsured people in Germany: 0. Uninsured people in Canada: 0. Uninsured people in Israel: 0. Uninsured people in Italy: 0. Uninsured people in Libya: 0. Uninsured people in Iraq: 0. Uninsured people in Kuwait: 0. Uninsured people in Spain: 0. Uninsured people in France: 0. Uninsured people in Cuba: 0.

(see e.g. Wikipedia, U.Health Care). The big political debate in our secular religion as to care for fellow citizens is to vow and to vehemently swear to eradicate such coverage.

EDIT: National Defense Magazine (covers our imperial secular religion) says that health care coverage is the number one enemy of the military (Your Health Is Their Number 1 Enemy?!).


Since your description of the filmmaker did not jive with news reports I did a quick Google search. Results?


The filmmaker is Sam Bacile an Israeli based in California. He is 'self described' as an Israeli Jew. He clearly stated that he intended the film to be insulting to Islam and stated that "Islam is a cancer, period." He stated that "This is a political movie."

This man was clearly and openly trying to provoke trouble. He stated that he was trying to help Israel. Bacile stated that the film was paid for by donations from 100 Jewish donors.

A consultant who helped make the film in 2011 stated "We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,"

What happened here were political actions and the consequent reactions. One can easily speculate about the timing considering what is going on both nationally and internationally at this time.


These people are despicable.

He lit the match in the barn and dropped it into the haystack knowing full well that the barn would burn down. Now he is in hiding. Thanks a**hat for your contribution to society.

Might be more complicated than that...

The Filmmaker Who Made the Anti-Islam Video That Sparked Violent Mideast Protests Is a Ghost

"Sam Bacile" is not Israeli, not Jewish, and that's not his real name. He's likely an evangelical Christian, as you might expect given that Terry Jones is one of his biggest supporters.

Ah, the plot does thicken. Well I am a generous man and my below solution can just be extrapolated a little.

We will just fill the entire plane up with Mr. Bacile and his evangelical brethren. They are just as ugly and as useless as him.

And by mudering an American ambassador and 3 others who had nothing to do with the film, the extremists helped bolster Mr. Bacile's case.

"We're not bigoted, violent extremists --and we're gonna show you all by... killing innocent people!"

As I said...I think it's become clear that this attack had nothing to do with religion. It was scheduled for the anniversary of 9/11. Maybe they encouraged the protesters, maybe they just took advantage of a convenient distraction, but I'd bet the mortgage that this was planned all along, and had nothing to do with the YouTube video.

Maybe the Youtube video was used to incite the mob, by those planning something for a while. When the opportunity presented itself, they seized on it.

Religion is part of it.

Not all of it, but, part of it.

I strongly suspect that the video was used to draw a mob in the first place. Its not clear if the "event" planners in Benghazi intended on fatalities/injuries, supposedly the RPG was fired while police forces were trying to get control. It might have been aimed at the police -but hit hit and ignited the building.

Extreme right forces, with both Isreal, America, and Islam, all try to feed off of outrageous acts of the others, and sometimes try to deliberately provoke them. This often plays out in circles of violence, as extremists of flavor A seek to show that the extremists of flavor B are so horrible you gotta join us and fight/kill them. So provoking actions by the other side that are percieved as terribly outrageous is a common tactic. Because humans are emotional rather than rational creatures, it usually works.

The "mob" might have been part of the attack. Hard to say with so much conflicting information, but some sources are claiming there were no other protests in Libya. There were protests in Egypt, because the video, which has been up for months, was covered in the local news there, but it wasn't an issue in Libya.

More likely they were cover for it, i.e. I'd bet most members of the mob had no knowledge of the violent intent of the organizers. I'm not sure I'd call that being part of it.

The same day the American embassy was attacked in Libya, an angry mob tore down an American flag from an embassy in Egypt, and replaced it with a black flag that read, "There is no God but Allah."

I do believe politics and a decline in living standards played a role in yesterdays tragic events but, religion cannot be completely ignored.

I'd say tearing down a flag is legitimate protest, of the sort that might happen anywhere.

You may say that, however to a lot of jingoistic Americans, damaging a U.S. flag is on a par with burning a Koran.

I'd say tearing down a flag is legitimate protest, of the sort that might happen anywhere.

[Semi-snark]Anyone who did that in the US is in for a world of hurt.[/Semi-snark]

TOD isn't the place to raise the issues of all the various executive orders and various laws. But I am serious that there would be one that would put such a person in serious jeopardy of not going home that night.


To attack the flag or the property or the staff of any embassy, anywhere, is the same as an attack on the country itself. One can protest outside the embassy all day long, and people frequently do so outside many of the foreign embassies in Washington, DC. That is legitimate protest. Entering the embassy by force, to do anything, is not legitimate protest.

Entering the embassy by force, to do anything, is not legitimate protest.

True. But unless you can prove the sovereign government planned the trespass, you cannot consider it to be an act of war. Lots of governments lose control of angry crowds. Sometimes the angry crowds are organized by the government -or elements of it.
The Benghazi building was not an embassy, it was a consulate (I'm not sure what that means legally). It was not reinforced as are US embassies (i.e. it is really tough for a belligerent to break into an embassy), but this was just an average building that was being rented.

Yes I still don't understand why the Ambassador Stevens was there in the consulate instead of the embassy in Tripoli. Ambassadors likely visit consulates periodically; perhaps his movements were observed and the attack so coordinated.

There's some suspicion that a mole was involved.

Not all evangelical Christians are cut from the same cloth.

But for those aren't familiar with US Christian fundamentalism...there's one strain that supports Israel because they believe it's necessary for Jesus to return. They want a new temple built on the Temple Mount, because that will bring on the Rapture. Some are even trying to breed a red heifer, believing this is required before the temple can be built.

The Mormon scriptures required conversion of the Jews before the second Messiah, which nowadays seems to mean just the existence of a nominal Jewish state http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/25/waiting-for-apocalypse/

Not to say this has any relevance to our enlightened age :)

Christian fundamentalists are Zonists. I just wish they would stick to the New Testament, but, hey-ho, never mind.

Yes, thank god for the Enlightenment ;)

I'm betting 'Sam Bacile' is an anagram. Basic Meal? Basic Male? Base Claim? Many other possibilities.

"Blames CIA" has been suggested in a few places...

That name has bugged me from the first time I saw it this morning. I have been thinking along the lines of Sa mBacile. S. A. Imbecile? Super American Imbecile?

Yes my mind works in strange ways.

"email scab" Maybe it's a protest against Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Maybe it is just supposed to sound like 'imbecile' when you say it.

In Spanish bacile / vacile is a practical joke: una bacilada.

While I was out mowing the lawn I was thinking about this some more (not good for my blood pressure).

I am confident, from past performance, that the USG will punish the militants in Libya if they can be identified (al Qaeda most likely). So I think that end will be taken care of. Another chapter in a long war.

As to Mr. Bacile I would suggest the following. Since he does not appear to be a US citizen the USG is quite within its power to deport him as an undesirable. Since he deliberately tried to pick a fight he is equally culpable to those who attacked the consulate. A one way ticket to Riyadh would be appropriate. Since what he did is a capital offense in SA we could then send a couple of our State Dept colleagues down to "Chop, Chop" Square on Fri morning to observe the execution. Problem solved, retribution in hand.

I would not sanction the deportation of non-citizens in the US only for offensive or contentious comments, as such comments appear every day. I would condemn the film maker in this case, using the same power of the word.

In the USA don't we still have ideas about free speach? Just because they did something offensive in the form of a movie, do we really have the ability to deport him?

I watched the youtube video up to about 8 mins into it, then stopped. It was edited almost like a mini version of it's bigger self, so that you'd never have to watch the whole thing to know what it said. The it's been out in the public for 3 months.

Unless the movie makes it to video or has to have copyright or other offical documents filed, finding out who really made it is like digging in the backyard for medical files.

And since when do we send people off to death in this country for political satire??


Maybe you should have put a bigger sarcasim sticker on your comment.

If it can be proved their intent was to provoke violence, perhaps that is sufficient grounds. We don't have complete freedom of speech, you can't yell fire in a theatre without being culpable for injuries sustained in the rush to exit it. Europe has somewhat greater controls, for instance Holocast denial is a crime in many parts of Europe.

Since what he did is a capital offense in SA we could then send a couple of our State Dept colleagues down to "Chop, Chop" Square on Fri morning to observe the execution.

The Outer Limits TV series did one on this.

Mr. Bacile may indeed be an idiot, and his movie may or may not be complete rubbish. Nonetheless, this is (still) a country that respects freedom of speech. And if we go around making exceptions for every group that might take violent offense to satire or criticism, very soon we won't be able to speak out about anything or anyone. We should not all have to walk around on eggshells and refuse to allow (no matter how poorly executed) any criticism of Islam for fear of "offending" murderous intolerant extremists.

And for the record, religion --not just Islam-- *is* a cancer.

There are people around this story who are throwing out all sorts of angry invective, and some are within a religion and some are not. There are also those inside and those not part of the various faiths who are trying to restore some humanity and productive directions after these two, dehumanizing events.

What's in your tank?

If you want to be spiritual and share your positive spiritual experinces with other like minded people, then more power to you. Problem is, once organized religions coalesce, they tend to discourage dissent and enforce conformity. They tend to form rigid hierarchies and/or ideologies that claim to have a monopoly on "truth". Monotheistic religions in particular seem to be prone to actively demonizing and persecuting anyone who thinks differently, and justifying violence against the "nonbelievers". History is replete with numerous examples, which I'm sure you can easily list as well as I can.

My problem comes in when religions become dogmatic instruments of power, abuse and thought control, and purveyors of violence towards nonconformists.

I agree that religion should not get a free pass. But that means all religions. Especially the White Man's Burden, to enlighten the natives, impose our values, and enforce our laws.

Going into someone's home and giving him a dose of White Man's Burden is just one more offensive religious act. Don't you think?

I love the way the Catholic missionaries converted certain cannabalistic tribes in S America by offering them a Communion where the bread and wine literally becomes the body and blood of Christ. Always tickled me that one.

My problem is that when you say 'All religion is a cancer', then you are being as dogmatic and agressive as any of those extremists within religions who have tweaked one another to violence.

I see little difference. An eyepoke is an eyepoke, no matter how you defend it 'on principle'.

And since I see that happening both IN and OUTSIDE of religions, as well as seeing Peacemaking and Conciliation going on IN and OUT of religion, then I won't conclude that it is 'Religion' causing these problems, but a more common and broader part of human behavior.

In other words you are saying..............
MY religion is not a cancer.
As in, all terrorist groups are bad but not my particular terrorist group........or all cults are bad but not mine.
That is the "more common and broader part of human behavior" of which you speak. It's all about perspective.

It's just another example of not understanding if your income depends on it and it's more true regarding religion than anything else.


No. I didn't say anything at all about MY religion. You added that in yourself. If you've been watching for a while, you might know what mine is, but it's certainly not 'The one true faith'.

What I have said is that there are 'Cancerous' (ie, Malicious, Harmful, Destructive) people both in and out of religions, just as there are healthy ones on both sides of this boundary, so religion seems to be clearly NOT the deciding factor.

I'm not going to trust and respect a person BECAUSE they are a Christian or a Buddhist or a Jew or an Atheist, and neither will I DISTRUST them because of that factor alone. I know people active in many different faiths who are simply some of the best people I've ever met, people who are involved and informed by their religion, and I also know and know of people who have gone off the deep end with it, where religion has allowed them to justify various forms of paranoia, resentment and narrow-mindedness that makes them extremely counterproductive and sometimes dangerous. And I also know many Atheists who fit perfectly into that framework as well.

What lesson do you think I should learn from that?

For the moment, though, unless I were to know you better, I'd take the word of Jimmy Carter, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rep. Keith Ellison and the Dalai Lama over yours.

People who slam all religion are in my mind, doing the same thing Fundamentalists do.

It seems that this video is the high-tech version of shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre. Not exactly what the founding papas had in mind.

False analogy. The film does not tell Muslims to go out and kill Americans or even the reverse. No matter how inaccurate or bigoted you may think "Bacile's" views are, he is free to express them. And no one put a gun to anyone's head and forced them to watch the film, much less kill people due to feeling offended by it.

OK, HARM, he is free to express these views in the USA. But that's not what he did, is it?

I suppose it boils down to intent. My impression is the the very purpose of the film was to incite an angry response. If that's the case than it is exactly like shouting "fire". Why else would anyone make such a film except to cause problems? Certainly it wasn't to discourage any right-wing christians from converting to islam.

Releasing a video that compares a set of people to donkeys and pedophiles is an insult to "free speech" and the reasons America has it. Those demanding that they shouldn't get angry about this or who wave the free speech banner need to remember that free speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

murder is murder

and hatred is hatred...

deep hatred sparks the desire to destroy

within and between families, tribes and all other human associations and interactions

we are choosing to love and forgive, understand (as best we can) or to fear, hate, attack and kill

there are those that incite hatred - whether their own kind to acts of violence or the alien other to invoke a reaction

is there really that much difference between those who incite hatred and those that act it out? Maybe. But I can only see differences of degree.

update from http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/

"I’ve been watching CNN today, and paid special attention to an interview with Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy (who was jailed and sexually assaulted by Mubarak regime authorities during last year’s Cairo uprising), who was expressing sharp criticism of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi for his failure to say anything condemning the attacks on the U.S. Embassy or the closely related attacks in Libya.

Discussing the relationship between the creators and promoters of anti-Islamic propaganda films in the U.S. and those “protesting” them in the Middle East, Eltahawy noted that an alliance of “the right-wing fringe” in both countries was creating these disturbing and destabilizing events. There’s not much question about the mutual support society that’s long operated between Muslim-haters and radical Islamists who share a vast stake in escalated hostilities."

The fault here is not with the 'provoker' but with the mob.

That is too simplistic. This particular provoker has done stuff like this before, with the predictable result that some Americans are killed in incidents like this. So some significant fault resides with the provoker as well. Clearly some elements of Islam as far too sensitive. And clearly picking out people with only superficial resemblence to the provoker as targets of revenge is horribly wrong. But egging on a pschopath to kill someone should make one eligible to be charged as an accessory to the crime.

100% agree. I can't believe how many self described "liberals" out there (Huffington Post, Slate, etc.) think the *film maker* is to blame for the deaths, and how we should automatically curtail the First Amendment because Muslims cannot seem to act like civilized human beings.

Yes, we should all walk around on eggshells and refuse to allow any criticism or satire (no matter how poorly executed) of Islam for fear of "offending" murderous intolerant animals. And let's do the same for Mexican drug lords, the Mafia, religious cults, right-wing militias, etc.

Well I am a life long conservative and a Republican who served his country for 21 years.

I say the filmmaker and his helpers ARE equally responsible and should suffer the consequences. Conservatives believe in people being responsible for their actions.

Somebody is always trying to hide behind the First Amendment. Conservatives do it, Liberals do it. Go and read the WIKI page on the First Amendment. You will be enlightened as our Founders had nothing in mind as to free speech like everyone thinks. The point is that the filmmaker is no more of a civilized human being then the militants who attacked the consulate are and deserves no more protection than them.

Americans are often woefully ignorant of the rest of the world. We all have limits as to what we will put up with someone saying to us, First Amendment or not. If certain things are said to me or people I love I am going to do you serious harm and deal with the legal consequences later. This type of standard exists everywhere in the world. In Germany, for instance, there are certain gestures and words that if you choose to use will likely trigger violence and you are held accountable. No other country that I know of has a level of free speech protection equal to that in the US. In many cultures there is NO cultural belief in free speech at all. And many countries have no such legal protections either. While what these filmmakers said might be protected here in the US there are many countries in the world where they committed a capital offense. That does not mean that they are less 'civilized' than us but rather that you are held accountable for your actions more there than here. The First Amendment was intended to protect speaking ill of the government. There always have been and always will be cultural prohibitions against free speech that crosses certain lines. You don't call a black man a "N...", you don't insult Mohammed, you don't insult a man's wife/mother/daughters, etc, etc. If you violate such 'civilized' norms you deserve to get hammered.

Wyoming, about 25 years ago I organized a chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Huntsville, Alabama. I was invited to debate atheism and evolution on several radio stations in the area. I also debated creationists in public forms. I said things in public and on the public airwaves about Christianity that I would have been shot for if I had said them in public in any Middle Eastern country about Islam. But I was not in any of those countries, I was in the USA.

That Wyoming, is the subject, not calling people inflammatory names in public, or even in private which you are using as an example of free speech that we do not have. There is a difference! We have libel laws which prevent such behavior and everyone knows the first amendment does not protect that kind of speech.

The point is that the filmmaker is no more of a civilized human being then the militants who attacked the consulate are and deserves no more protection than them.

That is an outrageous statement. The filmmaker had the same right to criticize Islam in this country just as I had every right to criticize Christianity in this country. If the filmmaker was an uncivilized human being for doing what he did then I am an uncivilized human being for doing what I did. I don't believe that about him or myself.

Ron P.

Thank you. I tried to say it, but you said it better.

Well said.
Wyoming you should be ashamed of yourself. I was outraged by what you said but kept quiet until Ron expressed what I felt so eloquently.
People should be free to criticize any religion, political party or ideology. They should also be free to criticize any religious or political figure, alive or dead. People who behave violently and kill innocents just because their feelings are hurt are savages. I hope the US hunts the rabid animals who attacked US embassies and puts them down.

I agree 100%.
Ideally, people should be free to criticize religion, political parties and or ideologies.
I didn't seen any rioting when Bill Maher's movie Reguluous came out.

BUT..., this is a western viewpoint.

Not nit picking, but its "Religulous"

Darwinian, I have admired your comments for years, but with respect, I think you have missed the point here.

You are indeed free to make statements such as these in the USA, and thank goodness for it. That freedom is worth defending against all comers, religious or secular. But this nasty piece was intended to be distributed outside the USA, where no such freedoms exist. Perhaps these freedoms should exist everywhere; but that is for the inhabitants of those places to decide.

It is arrogant to think that we may export our values and our laws. Indeed, it is a religious view, in the sense that it is impervious to fact. Another century referred to that view as the White Man's Burden, and I don't think that the smell is any better now.

Nearly everything posted on the internet or published in print or broadcast over the air or cable is automatically distributed outside the US, and is thus by definition intended to be seen outside the country. What you suggest would eliminate US free speech protections as soon as the first far away foreigner objected.

I understand that it was expressly intended to be seen in MENA. Intent makes it different from the Danish cartoons. It is the intent which makes the piece problematic.

In an important way it is an intended DogWhistle. To ordinary Americans, its only mildly irritating at worst. But, to it's target audience, it is intended to be highly provocative [Americans hate your god/religion, we invite you to kill some of us]. The beauty of dogwhistle appeals is that outside of the intended audience, the material appears moderate (or sometimes meaningless) -so they will become even more incensed when the intended audience violently reacts upon it.

I don't think anyone is trying to export their values, only implying that our values are what they are and we are free to express them here. The piece was simply posted on the internet... in English not in Arabic. But the internet, as Falstaff explained, is worldwide. Are you suggesting that there is no free speech on the internet?

Other countries have the ability to block the internet, and many do. Everyone gets their service from a local provider. The internet was down in Saudi Arabia because of hackers. People in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, and all the Eastern Province had no internet for over two weeks because hackers took it down.

What I write here and on other sites is not intended to export my values. I assume that since it is in English that few in Libya can even read it. But if some cleric translates it and distributes it to his flock then that is not my problem. The only reason a cleric would do such a thing would to stir up hatred, or in the case of the film in question, to start a riot.

But if you are for censorship of the net then that is your privilege. But I am not of that persuasion myself and choose freedom of speech and freedom of the press even though what I write may offend some people whom I never addressed it to.

But of course this was bound to happen. In America we have these freedoms and out freedoms were bound to offend people in countries who have no such freedoms and resent others who do.

Ron P.

As I explained to Falstaff, it is the intent which bothers me.

Surely you would censor the internet yourself. Do you disagree with NAS' decision to censor the construction details of deadly germs? Surely you would draw the line at STUXNET inserted into Indian Point?

I don't think it is freedom of speech which many find repugnant, I think it is the overt malice. Hiding behind freedom of speech doesn't work in a crowded theatre, and I don't think that it should work here.

For the record, I don't like violence and I don't respect those who allow themselves to be incited to it. But the inciter bears some responsibility too.

I don't think it is freedom of speech which many find repugnant, I think it is the overt malice.

Overt malice is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? If you criticize religion X or founder of religion X, the devout believers of that religion are bound to see that as overt malice.

Perhaps, suyog, but irrelevant. There is another sort of overt malice.

My understanding is that the piece was intended to provoke a violent reaction; as EOS so elegantly puts it, "a dog whistle". As an intended provocation, its authors are culpable.

The offender did not get 'hammered' here. A US ambassador and several other embassy officers did.

Yes, so do you blame the intolerant, violent extremists, or the guy who made a film portraying Muslims as (ironically) intolerant, violent extremists? Did Mr. "Bacile" force all unltraconservative Muslims to watch his Youtube video at gunpoint, then arm them and draw them a map of the local U.S. Embassy?

Both, according to the actions they took. The mob in Libya is guilty of assault and murder; Bacile (or whoever) is is guilty of being a repugnant boob.

So you think Bacile is as guilty of murder as the people who actually plotted and carried out that murder?

If I understand correctly that was his intent.

I suspect that as well. He claims he is Jewish, and that 100 Jews provided the millions of dollars it took to make the film. It appears to be not true. (Millions of dollars for that?) But it does play into the old stereotypes about rich Jewish cabals using their money for evil purposes. And claiming an Israeli Jew made the video seems calculated for maximum rage.

No I do not. That's not clear in my earlier post? The mob only is guilty of murder.

Freedom of speech does not extend to yelling 'fire' in a theater. Utterances which may be reasonably expected to provoke violent responses ('fighting words') are not protected in then U.S.

See below for why "yelling fire in a theater" is not a valid analogy.

Utterances which may be reasonably expected to provoke violent responses ('fighting words') are not protected in then U.S.

So then any group that has a proclivity to react violently when their feelings are hurt is immune from criticism?

Your link had an extra ":" at the end of the url.


Why are you assuming the mob attacked? Maybe you should denounce and censor the media for feeding you false, inciting information about the events. The Los Angeles Times reports in U.S. vows 'justice' for consulate attack in Libya that the attack was planned.

The attack... was carried out by a small group of militants who arrived late at night, unleashed a fusillade from AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, then torched and ransacked the building, according to witnesses and U.S. officials.

U.S. officials said the two-hour assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi appeared planned and "complex," rather than a spontaneous outbreak of mob violence in reaction to an online video, purportedly produced in the United States, that mocks the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

Humans are so gullible. They believe whatever they are told when it is what they want to hear.

The "mob" above being a handy metaphor whatever group kill four Americans.

Maybe you should denounce and censor the media for feeding you false, inciting information about the events.

A statement you make based on ... information from the media?

It wasn't a mob. That implies a disorderly crowd.

It was a militia, not a mob.

Militias are taking over a lot of what the police and army used to do in Libya.

I've seen no report of "militia" executing the attack, just a lot of "armed men".

In Libya, militias 'running the show,' analyst says

The group accused of being behind the consulate assault, the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, is said to be pro-al Qaeda.

"The problem is that the Libyan army and the Libya police forces effectively disintegrated," Wehrey said. "These groups are basically running the show" throughout much of Libya.

Yes, and in many other places in the third world. But I say again, I've seen no reports that a "militia" executed the lethal attack on the US consulate in Libya.

I've seen no reports that a "militia" executed the lethal attack on the US consulate in Libya.

I posted links to two such reports. Including one in the post you just replied to.

Yes, which state that militias exist, that militias are a concern, not that it is known so far that a militia attacked the consulate.

"The group accused of being behind the consulate assault, the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, is said to be pro-al Qaeda."

Yes, widely publicized. I'm drawing a distinction between what is likely a full time terrorist organization (hence the Blind Sheikh name) with other reported attacks to its credit, claiming AQ support suggesting foreign membership; and militias which I see described as generally created for things like neighborhood watch, i.e. by definition

a body of citizens enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies.

but reportedly are getting out of control and going rogue.

I think the distinction is important as it goes to the general level of radicalism in Libya.

A question I have not much heard asked yet: "Why were there no marines guarding the embassies in obviously restive locales?"

To me, the interesting aspect is the complete inability to maintain a secure perimeter.

Other than the flag, the Egyptian embassy seemed to have held off the mob. The Benghazi compound was just a consulate, and Americans are generally popular in Benghazi because of our role backstopping the revolt against Qaddafi. The embassy is in Tripoli. I bet its defense wouldn't be easy to breach. There seems to be a lot of confusion, with people deliberately or otherwise confusing the violence in Libya, with the protest in Egypt -perhaps so they can vilify Obama for not declaring Morsi's government to be devilspawn.

I bet a lot of people are re-evaluating our embassy/consulate security now.

Time asked it.

Apparently, Benghazi is generally very pro-American. So perhaps they felt safe.

Recalling what he told Stevens over their omelets, Baja said, “I told him, people admire the U.S. style of life, but that there were extremists, and we have to work in a cooperative way to put an end to these people,” adding that he had advocated pushing Libyan officials to crack down on armed militia. “He agreed with that. He knew this, he knew the names of the militia I told him, and their background.” Now that knowledge—some of it gone with Stevens’ disastrous death—could become key details in the grim investigation.

A statement I make based on contradictory and inconsistent information from the media. Embrace uncertainty....

First off, Wyoming, thank you for your service to our country.

I understand that the filmmakers were being deliberately inflammatory (though did not incite murder), but isn't this true of most "political" films - hence the term "agitprop"? Even so, here is the problem with this line of thinking: once we start making exceptions to free speech for certain groups, where do we stop? Where do you draw the line if worrying about how some people may react to something they don't want to hear trumps everyone else's freedom to hear it if they choose? Should we also ban South Park? How about political cartoonists and editorials? Why not make pornography and bad language illegal too?

You say that "No other country that I know of has a level of free speech protection equal to that in the US." I wouldn't agree that's 100% true, as I've been to plenty of countries that have similar levels of free speech protection: Canada, UK, New Zealand, Denmark, Netherlands, France, and even Germany (though they ban the Swastika and other Nazi imagery). Even if that were true, it would be a source of pride to me, not one of shame. I'm glad to live in a country where freedom of speech is still protected, even though it is not absolute (slander, libel, perjury, threats of violence, etc.).

Despite being crude and provocative, I seriously doubt Mr. "Bacile" or his backers actually wanted the film to be used an excuse to murder U.S. embassy officials, nor did the film encourage Muslims to go do so (which would be illegal). Nor did he translate it into Arabic and force Muslims around the world to watch it. I just don't buy the argument that the filmmaker is just as guilty as the murderers, or that exercising his right to criticize a religion he doesn't like is somehow "trying to hide behind the First Amendment". Better lock up Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, most stand up comics, political cartoonists and tons of other people while you're at it.

We cannot and should not censor ourselves and have to walk around on eggshells becuase of the actions of violent, intolerant extremists.

I wouldn't agree that's 100% true, as I've been to plenty of countries that have similar levels of free speech protection: Canada, ...

I'm not lawyer but from cases I've seen I have little doubt this film would violate Canadian law and the publisher(s) could be punished.

CHRA, Section 13(1)

It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, ... any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Religious groups are specifically identified as a protected group.

I'm no lawyer either, but I'm not so sure I would interpret that statement as meaning Bacile's film would be banned in Canada. Any Canadian lawyers out there?

As far as religious groups being "protected" from criticism or satire, horsepucky. Who do we exempt next? The Mafia? Drug cartels? Politicians?

Muslim groups would likely bring a hate crimes complaint against the film maker if he were in Canada. Whether or not they would succeed is questionable and would depend on what province they were in. Hate crimes are handled by quasi-judicial tribunals outside the judicial system and their results have been rather random.

Definitely, though, the concept of free speech is under attack in Canada and the hate crimes tribunals are the pointy end of the attack.

"Hate Crime Tribunals" in Canada now for expressing opinions? Wow. 1984 has arrived --just a few decades late, I suppose.

Not criticism or satire necessarily, in Canada it is hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. So Drug Cartels? No. Latin Drug Cartels - maybe so. Politicians? No. Catholic or Jewish or Slavic politicians maybe so.

As for Bacile's film, google shows other examples of what was labeled "hate speech" by the "hate speech prosecutors" - they're very similar in my opinion.

Not criticism or satire necessarily, in Canada it is hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. So Drug Cartels? No. Latin Drug Cartels - maybe so. Politicians? No. Catholic or Jewish or Slavic politicians maybe so.

BTW, one likely outcome of such a law is that it enables those in power, such as politicians, to silence criticism or satire directed at them, as nearly everyone is a member of some group or other that can claim the criticism is directed at them because of their group affiliation and not their actions.

Despite being crude and provocative, I seriously doubt Mr. "Bacile" or his backers actually wanted the film to be used an excuse to murder U.S. embassy officials, nor did the film encourage Muslims to go do so (which would be illegal).

I disagree. Is there really a link between Becile and Terry Jones, the man who wanted to burn Qurans?

I have read there is a link between the two. We'll see. I don't know much about this film maker but Terry Jones is well known and I can definitely see him deliberately trying to incite violence in the Middle East.

Terry Jones (and Bacile) may be a bigoted a$$holes, but guess what? As long as you don't break the law, you're free to be a bigoted a$$hole in the U.S.

As to you other point, there is no evidence that Bacile was actually "trying to incite violence". I haven't watched the entire film yet (my project for this evening), but I seriously doubt someone who hates Muslims would ask Muslims to kill Americans. Being provocative, offensive, satirical or critical is still protected free speech, even when you don't agree with it. We don't suspend the First Amendment just because certain groups can't take criticism without resorting to violence.

On the other hand, actually murdering people *is* against the law, and most would consider it immoral too.

You can't yell fire in a crowded theater. I think this film maker should be deported.

If you yell "fire" in a crowded theater you would expect people to head for the exits at the same time because self-preservation compels it. Does self-preservation compel you to murder innocent people just because your feelings are hurt? The film maker has done nothing wrong. When I don't like a film or if it offends me, I don't watch it. I don't go around killing people. If I do, it is not the fault of the film maker.

Exactly. If you go around saying "I want Muslims to kill start killing Americans!" that's one thing. But deciding to murder people you don't know because some guy made a film that offended you is a pretty lame excuse.

Personally, I am offended by the appalling way most Muslim men treat their women, and their utter lack of respect for the rights of non-Muslims. I guess that means I should go watch a political movie made by ultra-conservative Muslims. Then I would have complete justification to go out and start murdering Muslims, right?

Why can't I consider the mob to be insane, the Middle East to be radical, murdering innocent people in a consulate wrong and the maker of the movie an idiot for deliberately trying to provoke a radicalized population?

As Mudduck said...we're arguing about something that did not happen. The Benghazi attack was not caused by that "film" (which appears to be nothing more than a crudely made YouTube video). It was planned in advance to happen on the anniversary of 9/11, and was apparently retaliation for the killing of an al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan.

I can't find the film. I wonder how many of the mob rioting in the East has?

When people are frightened and insecure they act aggressively. I have watched an American(ish) Muslim cleric rationalising the violence, and certainly not condemning it. Rather, he blamed Western - all Western, in the form of America of course - manipulation and propagandizing for the filmic actions of one weirdo. This assumption of government control of everyting is indicative of a command civilisation which assumes a total lack of individual thought and assumes a top-down direction of all. Which control can paradoxically seem like Islam itself to many in the West.

Sometimes it looks like the whole Islamic world is a mob, but I have Arab friends so I know that this is not the truth.

But my friends cannot express themselves safely in their own environments, and that speaks volumes.

Oh god, I've just found the notorious video.

Nobody can have watched it to the end, surely? I've seen four minutes of it, and it is a disgrace to Western culture. It's awful, most porn films have better production values! I'm told LOL!

I feel like rioting myself now.

YouTube is apparently blocking access to the video in some countries, due to "special circumstances."

The story of how the film was made is quite bizarre. The actors were told it was a desert adventure film. The script they were given had no mention of Islam or Mohammad. The character who became Mohammed in the film was called "George" in the script. The dialogue was dubbed over in post-production. Apparently to keep the actors from knowing what they were really participating in.

The actors have grounds to sue the hell out of the film maker, because now their lives are at risk.

I noticed the dubbing, and also wondered how they could find so many dimwits to perform. Now I know.

Certainly it was intended as in incitement to hatred, and I can easily understand Muslims being very angry. I am too.

I just wish the film was more aggressively condemned by our own establishment.

To yell fire in a theater is to cause the intended recipients of your message to fear for their lives and thereby incite panic. That did not happen here.

People who murder are always in the wrong. Always.


End of story.

No, not end of story. Just because the murderers were wrong does not preclude the ones making the video being wrong as well. Certainly their offense is a lesser one than murder, but that doesn't prove them innocent.

There may be more to the story than an angry mob. From Quilliam: The Attack on the US Consulate Was A Planned Terrorist Assault Against US and Libyan Interests

According to our sources, the attack was the work of roughly 20 militants, prepared for a military assault – it is rare that an RPG7 is present at a peaceful protest.

Heard some reports there were two groups of attackers. One your "typical" mob (upset at new video), the other the team, armed with RPGs, who ambushed the escape car carrying the US ambassador. This conflicts with the smoke inhalation inside the building version though.

EDIT: CNN just reported unclear if Ambassador was found in the "safe room". At least one other of the dead said to have been found in "safe room"

The UK ambassador escaped an RPG attack on his car not that long ago.

It's all still very confusing. According to this CNN article:

U.S. sources told CNN on Wednesday that the Benghazi attack was planned, and the attackers used the protest outside the consulate as a diversion. The sources could not say whether the attackers instigated the protest or merely took advantage of it, and they say they don't believe Stevens was specifically targeted.

It will probably be days if not weeks before we find out what really happened.

A journalist at the scene (talking live) recently referred to an ambush on an escape car as if it were an established fact from his point of view.

This from AL Jazeera


Quilliam said that the evidence pointing to such a conclusion came from witness statements that those outside the consulate were carrying RPGs and that the assault came in two apparently calculated waves, the second of which targeted the Americans after they had fled the consulate for a safe house.

As you say, it will likely become clearer over the next few days.

From NBC:

Libyan officials, independent analysts and postings on Islamist websites from known militant activists suggested that the attack — which officials had previously suggested was retaliation for release of a movie critical of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad — may have been an orchestrated assault, noting that it occurred on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

A blog based in Germany has this:

Yesterday's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was an Al Qaeda operation in revenge of the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi by a U.S. drone in Pakistan. The protests in Benghazi and Cairo against an anti-Islam film were used as cover for this operation. Al-Libi's death was confirmed in yesterday's video message by the current Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. That al-Zawahiri message, the attack in Benghazi, and the raising of the AQ flag in front of the embassy in Cairo all came on the same 9/11 anniversary day.

The timing is not a coincidence.

The US kills leaders of organizations opposing US policies in their countries. Retaliation is known as "blowback."

Last I heard, the US was "at war" with Al Qaeda. There are no front lines in asymmetrical warfare. It would be no surprise if this was a planned attack. Then too, don't forget that the spin happens on both sides of the battle lines...

E. Swanson

I enjoy the conversations on the DrumBeat, but unfortunately, they stay around after better information surfaces. Much of the stuff reacted to above has proved ill-founded. For a run-down of the identity and purposes of the film maker, see Juan Cole:

. . . The Associated Press did a careful investigation of the ‘Sam Bacile’ who supposedly directed the hate film, ‘The Innocence of Muslims.’ And AP found that probably he does not exist, but is a persona used by a convicted Coptic Egyptian fraudster, Nakoula Bassely Nakoula.

But the story gets more complex. Nakoula had Coptic and evangelical associates in the shooting of the film, including Steve Klein, a former Marine and current extremist Christian who has helped train militiamen in California churches and has led “protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques.”

. . . The film was from the beginning a fraud. It was directed by a fraud. It was promoted by a militia trainer. And Nakoula marketed it fraudulently as the work of a fictitious Israeli-American Jewish real estate agent, ‘Sam Bacile,’ and falsely said it had been funded by “a hundred Jewish donors.”

. . . The bad, dubbed ‘film’ only had one theater showing in some dowdy place in LA. Then in July the group had the trailer for it dubbed into Arabic with subtitles as well, and put it on Youtube, where it was found by strident Egyptian Muslim fundamentalist Sheikh Khaled Abdallah, who had it shown on al-Nas television and caused the sensation that led to Tuesday’s demonstrations in Cairo and Benghazi. As I argued yesterday, the vigilante extremists or ‘jihadis’ have been left on the garbage pile of history by the democratic elections in Egypt and Libya, and are whipping up the issue of this film in a desperate attempt to remain relevant. . . .

In other words, this is a non-film and a non-story, a fraud, promoted by the worst people in each culture.

And, E. Swanson, the US is indeed said to be 'at war" with Al Qaeda' -- but wars traditionally are between nations and armies, not with guerrilla movements. The war metaphor is being used to circumvent civil liberties all over -- the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, etc. These things are open-ended -- we get to spend money on them forever. In the first attack on the World Trade Center, police action was used to track down the conspirators and bring them to trial and conviction. A few hundred conspirators were behind the second, successful attack -- but instead of hunting them down, the US went to war, which has spread to multiple countries, increasing the number and influence of the people we intend to oppose. War is not a good model to follow.

There is no quick money in peace.


An interesting study in criminal narcissism:
Russian Criminal Tattoos

The stylish psychopath

Gas prices, gas prices...

It looks like all the old assumptions about gasoline consumption can be thrown out the window. Prices declined through Memorial Day, and rose after Labor Day. Total opposite of years passed.

One interesting thing is that it never seems to breach the $4.00 barrier.

"At $4 it starts to hurt the economy blah blah blah."

I have a 13 gallon tank. To fill from empty (which it never is, or I would be stranded) costs $45.50 at $3.50 a gallon. $52 at $4 a gallon. You mean to tell me that the average American can afford the latest iPhone plus contract but can't make up a measly $6.50 for gas? Whatever

Oh yea, and there's an election coming up. So I guess that means we'll see $4 gas around Thanksgiving.

There are 300% more Americans on food stamps then have active iPhone contracts. Many people cannot afford to pay an extra few dollars a week.

I have a 13 gallon tank. To fill from empty (which it never is, or I would be stranded) costs $45.50 at $3.50 a gallon.

Oh you lucky, lucky, lucky American!

Chicken feed, sir! Chicken feed!

Chicken feed, for good reason. Wife drives an 03 Civic, I drive a 95 Civic. Recreational activities include mountain biking and hiking. Other people in my same job position drive the biggest quad-cab pickup truck they can buy. Recreational activities include boating, four-wheeling, racing at the drag-strip, motorcycles. Talk about gas price vulnerability!

My point is everyone has a choice in how much they pay for gas, and I ain't paying squat! =D

I have a 45 litre tank. A little less than 13 US gallons. It costs me $106 to fill up, once every 7-800 miles...

One more reason to ride the city bus. I can't walk far, P.A.D. and heart issues. But it is nice to be able to get rides or take a bus to get my shopping done. Can't imagine spending that kind of money to tool around one person to a car though.


"So I guess that means we'll see $4 gas around Thanksgiving."

$4.09 here. The Strategic Election Reserve should be tapped any minute.

"The Strategic Election Reserve should be tapped any minute."

Could there be Strategic Election Refinery "Maintenance"? The refining and pipeline companies have a pretty massive stake in who gets elected. As crazy as things seem to be these days does it not seem possible a few refineries could go down for "maintenance" and "environmental upgrade" to boost the price of gas and influence the election in their favor.

Once more a reminder about how an SPR release works. The oil is not sold at below market prices. It's priced according to the average benchmark price for the 30 days prior to the release. This is not optional: congressional law dictates it. If oil prices fall after the release the SPR oil would be sold at a higher price than current market conditions. And that is if it is sold. The refiners may actually "borrow" the oil instead of buying it. In that case they would eventually ship that oil back to the SPR along with some additional "premium" bbls of oil. Of course, that would also mean taking that oil out of the market place some months down the road.

In either case the release would add about 1.2% to the current global supply of oil for 30 days. As pointed out before the oil exporters wouldn't even have to cut back production to take the equivalent amount of oil off the market. They need only have some of tankers slow their cruising speeds a bit to delay deliveries. Given the very low tanker rates these days the extra transit time will cost very little.

No doubt the futures market would bounce around some. But I don't sell my oil based upon what the futures market is selling at a later date but on what the refines are paying the day I ship my oil. The last SPR release had no effect on what the refiners paid me for my oil. Some folks may be too optimistic thinking the president would benefit politically from an SPR release. Its possible oil/gasoline prices could rise after a release since other factors have a greater influence on those prices. At that point all the president could do to salvage the situation is blame all those dang invisible speculators for ruining his plan. I suspect the president understands that risk since his folks know that the 2011 release had no positive effect on fuel prices at that time. His best bet might be to talk up a release going into the election but not to act upon it at least until the election has past.

Oh I agree, it would have no actual effect on the market, but politics is more about perception, not results.

In the US we seem to prefer to pay one price at the pump and then socialize the true cost.

The gas is $3.55/gal on the bad side of town where I live. Over where I work, I think it was $3.69/gal.

My particular state has a very regressive income tax system and very low (absurd) property tax.

So once the wheels come off the gasoline train, it's going to get exceptionally ugly.

One interesting thing is that it never seems to breach the $4.00 barrier.

Probably the threshold above which the noise of consumers crescendos, moving the sellers back in the direction of lowering prices. I think a lot of pricing works that way. Utilities charge as much as they can up to the noise rising threshold and it gets tested on a recurring basis.

No seller wants to initiate a crescendo noise event in which local, regional and national politicians start to weigh in. Better to make as much money as one can just short of causing a disturbance in the force.

$3.99/gal. this morning in a Philadelphia suburb. Brutal.

$4.31 in Yreka, Northern CA

$8.70 in Aberystwyth, UK and apparently $9.50 in Italy. Life goes on :)


And here in Sardinia, despite the fact that it is one of the poorest Italian regions, there are still traffic jams, with most cars (including mine) having just one person on board.

$8.60 here in NZ - marveling at how cheap American petrol is!

$4.33 around where I live but I've gone electric so I'm not directly exposed to it unless I want to go on a long trip in the gas car.

$4,35 (Canadian)/ US gallon in Edmonton, Alberta, where gas prices are often lower than much of the rest of the country.


Gas prices spike across Canada

At one downtown Montreal gas station, there were fewer motorists than usual filling up their tanks Wednesday morning.

"We're being whacked," said Jared Lang, who had to pay $1.51 a litre to fill up.

"I don't even want to fill up my car. I put in maybe $10 to $15 at a time, hoping it goes down and I live with it."

Lang recalled that when he started driving more than 20 years ago, he remembers paying about 40 cents a litre and he quipped: "It's not like the minimum wage has gone up five times since then."

He also said that he tries not to drive as much as possible in order to save money.

Often lower than the rest of the country? That should read always lower than the rest of the country. Even the relatively high price you pay in Jasper is a bargain. British Columbia otoh has high gas prices. Last time I drove out to BC and filled up in Mcbride I thought I had somehow gotten turned around and was back in Ontario!

Carbon tax adds to it in BC

Yeah should try Vancouver, we get a big transit levy on top of it too.

$3.69/9 in New Orleans at the "cheap station" two days ago (I borrowed a truck from a neighbor and filled it up).


$5.23 per US gallon in Cape Town.

The U.S. and European sanctions on Iranian crude oil began on July 1, 2012, the same date the last minimum was reached. Coincidence, I think not.

We must all do our patriotic duty and pay to prevent Iranians from getting nukes.[/sarcasm]

Death toll from Karachi factory fire soars

At least 246 people have died in a fire at a garment factory in Karachi, officials say, in one of Pakistan's worst ever industrial accidents....

...The cause of the blaze was still being investigated, police said, but workers say it may have been caused by a faulty generator.

Garments factories across Pakistan require their own power sources because of increasingly erratic national grid electricity supplies.

The industry is critical to Pakistan's frail economy - according to central bank data, it provided 7.4% of Pakistan's GDP in 2011 and employed 38% of the manufacturing sector workforce, accounting for 55.6% of total exports.


Echos of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.

246 died in one fire due to insane management...
16 will die here in America today, and 16 more tomorrow.
1000 children disappeared in the United States today.
1000 people died from smoking cigarettes here, too....
another 80 in car accidents, most of them young...
another 500 from sheer medical negligence.
21,000 children died today in the world. How does a child die?
There's a book called "Ten Cents a Head": the cost-per-kill with atomic weapons: the official value of life.

But everyone is talking about the 4 that died with religious overtones...

Here's a picture of a monkey:
Here's another:
These monkey's aren't crazy.
Dance, monkeys, dance.
Its a big place.
Formed 14 billion years ago.
... or did it?

Yeah, Kali, this one hasn't gotten much mainstream attention now that an Imperial outpost has been attacked. Didn't even see it mentioned on the US broadcasts last night; may have missed something. The Libya thing got hours of coverage. Gotta maintain that undercurrent of fear, ya know...

Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London cost about $18.50 a barrel more than West Texas Intermediate in electronic trading today on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

High oilprices. A few days ago I heard for the first time on a Dutch television channel that the current problems in Europe are comparable with the first years of the '80's and have the same cause. At least this was a wake up call, if only for one day...... Life goes on and high oilprices will again be a temporary problem. Solved by a recession of the world economy.

But Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said, two days ago, that supply and demand doesn't justify high oil prces. He says the markets are well balanced and the high price today is not justified by market fundamentals. So what does that leave? Why it's those nasty speculators of course, it's all their fault. And of course Brent speculators are much nastier than WTI speculators because they have bid Brent up, as of this morning, to a $19 per barrel premium over WTI.

Ron P.

Ron- "...that supply and demand doesn't justify high oil prices...the high price today is not justified by market fundamentals." Such statements always amaze me. I can only assume no question period is allowed after such offerings. As I understand the KSA oil sales system it's rather simple: the KSA posts the prices it will sell its various crudes for. Buyers nominate a volume they wish to buy. Probably a little bit of horse trading follows the bidding process but essentially the oil is sold at the price the KSA sets. Thus anytime the KSA wants to sell their oil for, let's say, $10/bbl less than their previous sale all they do is drop their posted prices. Obviously buyers would buy as much KSA as is available...which is a lot based upon the KSA'a repeated claims of having significant excess production capacity. And the other oil exporters, if they don't care to lose market share, would have to reduce their prices.

Thus it seems to be the fundamentals have determined that oil is selling for exactly what it should be: the price that the KSA sets.

Are you claiming that: The market is (not)well balanced, forward cover remains (outside) an acceptable range and inventories are (less) than adequate ?

I assume Saudi Arabia will sell their oil at whatever price the market is willing to pay.

Do you considered the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a charitable organization ?

I assume Saudi Arabia will sell their oil at whatever price the market is willing to pay.

Crude oil is a commodity. Price is ruled by supply and demand in the first place

Do you considered the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a charitable organization ?

If you are trying to build a Wahhabist Mosque, you could! They do support various causes around the world, including the Syrian revolution (because its mainly Sunni). Now I wouldn't expect charity towards infidel foreign consumers, but thats a different thing altogether.

County plans for rising seas — and the flooding that will follow

I guess the builders want the opportunity to put up a few more $25 million mcmansions on waterfront lots while they are still above water./sarc One reason I was happy to move away from the area was because of the disruption that will come with coastal flooding. Even though our house was several miles from the ocean and 18 feet above MSL, even a rise of a foot or two will have knock-on effects far inland. As it was, we were on the edge of our seats waiting for our windstorm insurance to be cancelled (we already had a $5,000 deductible on that). At some point the mortgage companies are going to start realizing that a 30 year mortgage on a house close to the coast may not be a safe bet.

That article blew my mind. People seriously believe it's all a UN conspiracy.

Not just 'people', it's part of the Republican Party platform ...

Fears of Agenda 21 go mainstream in the Republican Party platform

As outlandish as it might sound, the theory has led some groups to openly denounce Agenda 21 as a threat to American freedoms.

Among those groups: the Republican Party.

Fears about the nefarious nature of sustainable development officially reached the mainstream of American politics this week with the release of the 2012 Republican Party platform. "... We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty," the 54-page platform states in a section on U.S. involvement in international treaties.

It's all about Agenda 21 Florida Republicans oppose it.

Agenda 21 is a 1992 United Nations resolution that encourages sustainable development globally. Although it is nonbinding and has no force of law in the United States, it has increasingly become a point of passionate concern to a circle of Republican activists who argue that the resolution is part of a United Nations plot to deny Americans their property rights.

According to Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate and Glenn Beck, it's all a left wing conspiracy: Is Ted Cruz for real?

As Mother Jones has reported, Cruz and Glenn Beck believe that a treaty, called Agenda 21, “will force Americans to live in ‘hobbit homes’ and forcibly relocate residents from rural areas into densely populated urban cores.”

Ron P.

As Mother Jones has reported, Cruz and Glenn Beck believe that a treaty, called Agenda 21, “will force Americans to live in ‘hobbit homes’ and forcibly relocate residents from rural areas into densely populated urban cores.”

I so want a hobbit home! Bring on the UN!

I was going to post that!

Aren't hobbit homes, earth shelter like, and comfy? Have they seen inner city poor housing lately? Does Glenn Beck ever remember living for 20 years in a house trailer at the end of a dirt road? Anything to stir up trouble for these guys, have to get thier listeners to think that living out of the flood plain is a Bad Idea. That you have to live in a stick house in the middle of Tornado alley and Not have a basement or other storm safe room right there for you to escape too. I was amazed that only recently people starting using storm proof rooms. Didn't they read about the three little pigs and understand about the "wolf breath- tornado" tie in language?

Yeast feeds nematodes which feed on your apple cider vinegar which feed my fish fry which feed me when they get bigger. But current humans seem a bit deaf dumb and blind to how the natural world works. Oceans haven't always been this level. Rivers flood, winds blow, storms happen and fires burn. Yet we still want to live in the same kinds of houses disaster after disaster and expect to not have it happen again.

One lady in the news on yahoo, was going on her 5th house going down and still she don't want to move. Maybe the yeast wouldn't move either.


But I have to think you understand that it's an identity thing.

It's like the people who have hung their hats with the right and with the 'country' identity of American Culture in such a way that they really fear (and some with good reason) that ANYTHING they do that smears them with a scent of 'ECO or HIPPIE or INTELLECTUAL or SOCIALIST' etc would put them in a position of not being 'Team Players' with the hardcores in their communities. They can't give on something like climate change now, unless there is a Sea Change with the overall group. It 'belongs' to those Greenies..

I get the same crap from my Dad sometimes, on the other side of it.. where any comment that moderates the questions about 'degree of gov't control' or some such, and you'd think I had just hung a John Birch Society poster in my bedroom.. and yet Dad's usually reasonable, but he has ALSO learned those things you are not supposed to question, and how to use the 'taunt' as a social tool for keeping the tribe on the same, safe course, - or else some Defender of the Faith in your gang will start to hammer you on these sort of 'loyalty challenges'.. We see that here pretty commonly.. when you try to put in a moderate middle-ground concession, and someone chides on that with a presumption that it really puts you on the far extreme.

Before my country moved so far right that the only reasonable place to be is now far to the left of the mainstream, I was in that sort of spot. I think people (in whatever group) feel betrayed, they notice you are supporting them on some topic, and think you are one of them. Then when another topic comes up and you aren't supportive, they feel betrayed. Soon both groups think you are an insincere member of the other.

Could be they are mostly talking about the Las Olas area, but it is certainly not the only.

The original sin happened in 1920 and was repeated through 1934.


It is not uncommon for water or sewer lines to break due to ongoing settlement and that happened to a water main within the last month or so.

Plug this 26.120148,-80.116553 into Google Maps.

As I recall there is not too much undeveloped land there, but there is quite a bit of renovation including complete demolish and new construction.

Pricey to say the least.


Azerbaijan oil production dropping fast: BP Link Ships 9.2% Less Oil Through August as Azeri Output Falls

The BTC link shipped 20.66 million metric tons of oil through August, down from 22.76 million tons a year earlier, according to data published today on the website of State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan, or Socar...

Azerbaijan’s crude oil production declined in the first half of the year by 7.1 percent to 22.2 million tons, the State Statistics Committee said in July. The third-largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union pumped 45.6 million tons of oil last year, a decline of 10.2 percent from the previous year.

Exports dropped 9.2 percent while production dropped 7.1 percent. It should be noticed that exports usually always drop at a higher percentage rate than production because internal consumption drops very little, if any at all. This is ELM.

But the big news is that Azerbaijan crude production dropped 10.2 percent in 2011 and so far in 2012 they are dropping by 7.1 percent. Anyway, Azerbaijan production in the first half of 2012 averaged 89.4 mb/d. That is assuming that one metric ton contains 7.33 barrels.

Leonardo Maugeri, the Harvard Professor whom every peak oil denier is quoting, has Azerbaijan production increasing by .1 from 2011 to 2020 to mb/d to 1.2 mb/d in 2020.

Ron P.

Azerbaijan’s crude oil production declined in the first half of the year by 7.1 percent to 22.2 million tons

Give that number a thought for a minute. 22.2 million tons of oil in a half year for a relatively small oil production country. How much oil there have to be to not believe in Peak oil ? How much to shout that previous Peak oil announcements were false, so that now those scaremongering Peakoilers will be wrong again ?

Azerbaijan production in the first half of 2012 averaged 89.4 mb/d.

.894 mb/d

Han - I suspect we're mixing units here. For some on TOD "1m" is 1,000 and for others "1m" is 1 million. For instance in the oil patch m = 1,000 and mm = 1 million using the Roman numeric system. Of course, occasionally m = meter also.

Naw, it was my error. I just put the decimal point in the wrong place.

Ron P.

No ROCKMAN. Because Ron also writes:

Leonardo Maugeri, the Harvard Professor whom every peak oil denier is quoting, has Azerbaijan production increasing by .1 from 2011 to 2020 to mb/d to 1.2 mb/d in 2020.

If 1m = 1000 than it should be 894 not 89.4
Must be just a 'slip of the pen' from Ron or, much less probable, a test if his posts are read.

Climate change, algal blooms and 'dead zones' in the Great Lakes

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of intense spring rain storms in the Great Lakes region throughout this century and will likely add to the number of harmful algal blooms and "dead zones" in Lake Erie, unless additional conservation actions are taken, according to a University of Michigan aquatic ecologist.

Quebec to shut down its only nuclear reactor

Quebec's new government has confirmed it won't proceed with the multibillion-dollar refurbishment of the province's lone nuclear reactor and will instead shut it down.

Although the rationale stated in the article is based on environmental grounds, the main reason for closing Gentilly-2 is plainly economic. Let me explain. In the last decade, Hydro-Québec has increased its supply with the addition of 2,400 MW of new hydro capacity with the commissioning of 8 new plants, including the recently commissioned Eastmain-1-A-Sarcelle-Rupert. To this picture, add the on-going construction of a new 1,500 MW hydro complex on the Romaine River and 2,500 MW of new wind, biomass and small-scale hydro PPA, to be commissioned in the next few years, to get a sense of the upcoming glut of electricity on the Quebec grid.

Since 2007, domestic electricity demand remained basically flat at ~170 TWh, and successive updates to the supply plan forecast minimal growth in the next decade (< 1%/year). The new supply-demand balance already allowed Hydro-Québec to shut down the Tracy oil-fired peaker (660 MW) while the Cadillac gas turbine (162 MW) will be taken out in 2014. The utility also mothballed Quebec's only natural gas power plant, the brand new 547 MW Trans-Canada Energy cogen unit in Bécancour, since 2008.

As for exports, there is a trend towards lower electricity prices even in the prized New England market where higher export volumes yield declining revenues. In recent years, exogenous factors, primarly the lower price of natural gas, is the main driver of lower spot prices in neighboring markets. The scarcity of electric transmission is another bottleneck. Hydro-Québec already has ample summer capacity to sell to surrounding NPCC zones but this extra energy is stranded due to transmission constraints. Quebec, like Texas, is an island in the North American power grid, which means interconnections rely on expensive HVDC converters (the new 1,250 MW Hydro-Québec-Hydro One back-to-back HVDC interconnection has cost over $700 M, with Hydro-Québec footing 80% of the bill). New international power lines are also difficult to build and face widespread NIMBY opposition, a case in point being the Northern Pass project between the Des Cantons substation and Franklin, NH.

So, how does the refurbishment of Gentilly-2 fit in this context? The original price tag of the refurb was $1.9 B (7.2¢/kWh) but according to public statements and leaked informations since the 2008 announcement, the project cost has increased in order to meet the more stringent security requirements required in the aftermath of the Fukushima tragedy. Numbers floating aroung peg the project in the $3 B range and the Point Lepreau refurb has done nothing to alleviate cost overruns concerns. With current numbers indicating that a kWh from the CANDU plant would be more expensive than one from the Romaine project (with both project having a higher marginal cost than what the market is willing to pay in the next decade), and considering the short (25 years) life expectancy of a refurbished nuclear plant compared to a new hydro unit, the final decision on the fate of Gentilly becomes obvious.

The new PQ government is well aware of all these facts, since Martine Ouellet, a former senior engineer with Hydro-Québec who headed the due diligence review on the failed NB Power-Hydro-Québec merger two years ago before taking a leave of absence to run in a by-election, is slated to become the next Natural Resources Minister next week. In a view of maximizing Hydro-Québec's profits, the choice is quite clear.

Hi Claude,

Thanks for this update. You cleared up some confusion i had with respect to the decline in revenue from exports last year.

In 2010 (p. 10 of the annual report)...

In 2010, net exports by Hydro-Québec Production accounted for only 7% of net sales volume, but generated 27% of the division’s net income and 17% of the company’s net income.

So in 2010, 12.2 TWh in net sales produced $432 million in net income, which is about $3.44 million per TWh.

In 2011 (p. 10 of the annual report)...

In 2010, net exports by Hydro-Québec Production accounted for only 7% of net sales volume, but generated 27% of the division’s net income and 17% of the company’s net income.

And in 2011, 20.8 TWh in net sales produced $398 million in net income, which is about $1.83 million per TWh. Quite a drop compared to 2010.

As you point out Hydro Quebec has a glut of electricity and given their influence they will ensure that it will find a buyer within the province. I read an article in Le Devoir last year that pointed out that the province was delaying improvements to residential building energy efficiency standards. Which seemed pretty daft to me as it's easy to do and next door Ontario already requires homes to have an Energy Rating of 80 (frankly Ontario will need to raise that higher, but it is much better than Quebec). But if HQ wants to ensure their is a demand to soak up the glut then they might not want to see improvements in building energy efficiency. It is speculation on my part, nevertheless once natural gas prices ratchet up, I suspect HQ and the province will wish they could free up domestic demand so that they could make more money exporting to New England.

Thanks again,



You raise a valid point in pointing out the large decrease in revenues from exports from 2010 to 2011. However, it must be pointed out that 2010 was a "dry" year, which forced the utility brokerage operations to be more strategic, selling mostly during peak periods. In the shoulder months in the fall of that year, HQ started importing big time from Ontario in the dead of night using the new back-to-back interconnect to conserve water for the upcoming winter while tapping into the surplus baseload generation and negative pricing on the Ontario market.

As for building standards, the delay is probably a good thing. The file is a mess and the implementation was delayed many times although I'm pretty confident that the upcoming minister, Martine Ouellet, an engineer, environmentalist and former head of the energy efficiency division at HQ will be able to implement a better plan for homes (with a focus on reducing peak load) and small businesses (a long-neglected segment in conservation efforts).

Hi Claude,

Its good to hear that Martine Ouellet will be a capable and knowledgeable minister. The previous PLQ government left me a little disappointed, for all Charest's statements that he wanted to decarbonise the province his government spent a lot of money building or extending highways.

Autoroute 50

The price to link the 90 kilometres of forest and villages between Lachute and Gatineau is expected to cost Quebec taxpayers nearly $800 million, a project that "will stimulate the economy of western Quebec, bringing new jobs and big business to the area," according to Whissell.

Autoroute 5 extension

The total cost of building the 2.5-kilometre segment has been estimated by Transports Quebec at $27 million. The governments of Canada and Quebec funded eligible costs of the project equally under the Agreement between the Government of Quebec and the National Capital Commission Regarding the Improvement of the Quebec Portion of the Road Network in the National Capital Region.

In addition, on August 14, 2009, the governments of Canada and Quebec announced joint investments of $115 million for a second phase of the Highway 5 project, including a 6.5-kilometre, four-lane divided highway between Meech Creek and the Wakefield sector, and the construction of two interchanges and several bridges so that local traffic can move safely. Construction is scheduled to begin in the early winter of 2010, and the highway will open to traffic in 2012.

Thanks again for the info,


HydroQuebec is also behind the push for electrifying most of the commuter rail lines into Montreal.


But earlier this week, CN & CP railroads said no (why so long ??)



Someone should tell CN & CP that India is building 2,700 km of double stack electrified freight lines. China as well (unsure of km).


The only way that CN and CP would electrify the lines in the Montreal area is if some government would pay them to string the wires, and even then they would want electrify the main lines in Southern Quebec and Southern Ontario from Detroit to Quebec City. Otherwise it doesn't fit into their network and costs them a lot of money operationally.

Quebec just elected a separatist government, despite the fact than only a fraction of Quebecois believe in separation, so I don't expect the Quebec government to subsidize rail lines connecting them with Ontario. The Canadian federal government is cutting budgets and has other fish to fry at the moment, so I don't expect any money to be forthcoming from them.

The AMT could make it work by dropping its own tracks and power lines into the CN and CP rights of way, parallel to the freight tracks. CN and CP would probably be willing to do it if AMT leased the space and took over track maintenance and signalling on all the lines - which would be the rational thing to do from a safety standpoint. I doubt they have the money to do that, though.

That was basically what the Calgary LRT system did on its South line, and it worked very well. It is cheap to build a parallel electric commuter rail line using LRT vehicles running in an existing diesel freight ROW, although it does require a lot of coordination with the freight railroad. Taking over all maintenance and signalling costs and legal liabilities is the prime carrot the local government can dangle in their faces, because it makes it look very attractive to the railroad.

BTW, I was in Calgary yesterday, and the LRT system is looking very good. They opened an extension to the Northeast line, and my friends who ride the trains said they were full from the end of the line on Day 1 - its obviously successful. The new but expensive West line is just about done and should open by the end of the year.

However, I also observed that the Calgary freeway system is starting to look like Los Angeles or Toronto - jammed bumper to bumper even between rush hours. I knew that would happen, which is one reason I bailed out of the city and hate to go back there. They should just give up and stop trying to make the road system work, it will only get worse from this point forward. OTOH, the LRT system will just keep getting better and better as ridership rises.

Alan that's a poor outcome. Here in Auckland we are in the middle of the electrification of the whole commuter network which shares track with Diesel freight trains, including to and from the nation's biggest port. Admittedly we don't do double stacking but have had to lift bridges and drop tunnels all over the place.

Like Canada its really a no brainier for NZ as we have electrons. I guess we don't have (much) local oil prod though. But still as we know the relentless math of ELM means even the oil rich should work to cut their use of the stuff.

What will it take $200 oil?

But still as we know the relentless math of ELM means even the oil rich should work to cut their use of the stuff.

What will it take $200 oil?

Much better they had started that with less than $10 oil. Now it is 15-20 years too late to avoid big problems. Remember what happened with $140 oil ? It will happen again with $200 oil. Oilprices will drop a few times more below $100 at which time alternatives still don't make much of a dent.


It would be hard to argue for something other than electric commuter rail in Quebec. Alas, I can offer a couple of examples where it should have been the sensible thing to do but...

First, $142 million to extend a highway 9 kilometres to meet the needs of exurban commuters when a rail corridor (recently idled) was available that could have taken commuters downtown.

Second, the transportation authority in the City of Gatineau acquired the east-west rail line to build a transitway for diesel buses. Quebec has lots of electricity and no oil!

Maintenance of the Rail Corridor (Google translate)

Following agreement in principle with the business Railways Quebec-Gatineau inc. (QGRY) STO now owns two sections of the rail corridor. The first segment includes the portion of the rail corridor 9.2 km bridge between le pont Prince-de-Galles and Montée Paiement and the second section, a distance of 5.4 km is located between la montée Paiement and boulevard Lorrain.

The acquisition of these sections is most advantageous to the STO on the financial and operational rather than being only a user through an easement. Indeed, becoming owner, STO can escape certain obligations related to the use of a servitude relocation of certain items of railway signaling and welding of rail. In addition, the STO will benefit from greater operational flexibility for the duration of the work and once Rapibus [is] put into service.

They bought the rail corridor so that it would be easier to build the roadway for the buses but they still have to maintain the rail corridor for some freight traffic.

And the buses have to share a single track rail bridge with the freight trains at one point. I hadn't actually realized how convoluted this project was!

Again via Google translate...

The solution automated control systems was adopted. Passages buses on the Noir bridge (the only place on the track where the track becomes Rapibus way) will be managed by traffic lights on both sides of the bridge. The transaction will be effected by detection or on request. At the approach of a train, there will be interruption of the passage of buses on the bridge with traffic lights.

Oh well, we'll just have to dream of those pretty commuter trains that you have up on your commuter rail page, because the money has been spent.



Eskom, BHP Billiton and the secret electricity pricing deals...

Eskom’s electricity prices have risen sharply in response to the new-build programme and increasing capital, primary energy and staff costs. Average annual Eskom price increases of 27%, 31%, 25% and 25% in the years 2008 to 2011, and further increases of 25% per annum for the next three years from 2012 to 2014, indicate an average Eskom price increase of 5x over the seven year period from 2008 to 2014.

But these massive prices increases do not apply to the select few with long-term, commodity-linked pricing agreements with Eskom. Despite threats by Eskom to sue, it was revealed in parliament in April 2010 that Motraco, the electricity distribution agent to BHP Billiton’s Mozal aluminium smelter, was paying some R0,12 per kWh for its electricity – significantly below Eskom’s operating cost of R0,28 per kWh for the year ending 31 March 2010

Eskom buys coal on a cost-plus basis @ 28c/kWh (South African cents)
Sells electricity to the aluminium smelters @ 12c/kWh (indexed to LME aluminium price)
Sells electricity to domestic consumers @ 120c/kWh


EDIT: If there's one thing I hate more than subsidising incompetent and overmanned state utilities, it's subsidising one of the biggest, wealthiest resource companies in the world.

I suspect power supply to aluminium smelters at 10% of retail prices may be typical. In Australian cents that could be say 3c per kwh versus 23c retail. A couple of years back this virtual subsidy was said to be worth $133,000 per employee at one smelter. It would have been cheaper to pay the employees to stay at home and not make any aluminium. Note the smelters have been 94.5% exempted from Australian carbon tax and the renegotiated power prices are kept secret.

The breaks aren't all going the company's way

This book caught my eye on the science shelf at the bookstore yesterday:

X-Events: The Collapse of Everything

I looked it up when I got home and was fortunate to stumble on this link to a detailed discussion in pdf format:

Four Faces of Tomorrow
OECD International Futures Project on Future Global Shocks

He defines an x-event as an "extreme" fat-tail event outside the normal distribution. He makes the distinction that they are defined as a societal disaster and can be modeled as part of a dynamic system as opposed to a natural disaster such as earthquakes which cannot be predicted. The more complex and fragile a social system is the longer the list of potential x-events, and consequently all the more likely it is that an x-event will occur.


sounds similar to Nassim Taleb's " The Black Swan" -- a good read if you haven't.

Looked it up on Amazon.com and checked it out.

X-Events: The Collapse of Everything

On the front cover were these words:
"Today a hidden catastrophe looms: The total failure of advanced civilization. Scientists like John Casti fear our intricate, technology dependent society has become a house of cards—overcomplex and increasingly vulnerable to sudden collapse."

Hey, sudden collapse, looks like something I might like to read. Then I read the list of chapters, two of them which I will list.

X-Event 7: Running on Empty, Drying up of world oil supplies.

Hey, looking better all the time.

X-Event 10: Technology Run Amok, Intelligent Robots Overthrow Humanity

Naw, I am going to skip this one.

Ron P.

Hey, sudden collapse, looks like something I might like to read.

Hey, why do you folks like to read that kind of books so much ? I only read Isaac Asimov's book about catastrophes that can hit earth of which running out of oil is one. That was already enough.

Han, we like to read books that analyze the current path the civilized world is on and what it might lead to. We are very likely to suffer the drying up of world oil supplies. And there is an ongoing debate, on this very list, about whether the collapse will be sudden of slow.

You may have already read enough to know all you need to know about that subject. However I have not.

That being said, I am not interested in reading a book that explains how the civilized world may be taken over by robots. My time is far more valuable than to waste it on such silly speculation.

Ron P.

I think I understand Han's question. I pretty much stopped reading books about the future, civilization's collapse or oil. I know that I might find some interesting new pieces of information in there but the energy spent to stave off depression leaves me exhausted after reading such a book.
On the other hand, I really enjoy books that focus on low level, individual ways to improve our chances. When I can do something about it, it's not so bad.
TOD can also be depressing but there are a lot of people doing very interesting and hopeful things so I will continue reading it :)

I know that I might find some interesting new pieces of information in there but the energy spent to stave off depression leaves me exhausted after reading such a book.

Indeed, that would be the case for me also.

And there is an ongoing debate, on this very list, about whether the collapse will be sudden of slow.

Ron, I follow some of that debate. I prefer to read on TOD because of the different opinions, rather than a book that can never answer on questions.

You may have already read enough to know all you need to know about that subject.

That is impossible. And although I tend to be more on the doomers side, even then it will never be possible to predict what is going to happen on what time scale even if one reads everything that there is to read about this subject. I read your comments about estimations when global economic collapse could happen, around 2017, 2018. Not impossible I think, but reading more books won't give me more information to have a better founded opinion. When I read Asimov's book and on the 'lifeaftertheoilcrash' site I got a kind of sinking feeling that never went away.

That being said, I am not interested in reading a book that explains how the civilized world may be taken over by robots.

I agree that this is utter nonsense and loss of time to read

but reading more books won't give me more information to have a better founded opinion.

Well, speak for yourself but I never read a book that I did not gain something from. Even if you read a book by someone with whom you emphatically disagree with, you should come away with a better understanding of how and why that person disagrees. Every mine examined should add something to your storehouse of knowledge of how the mind works.

And that is what the world is, seven billion minds. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, many of them get their opinions about how the world works from others because they are incapable of thinking for themselves.

Anyway that is why I think I gain something from every book I read. But we all have very limited time and must choose wisely which books will add the most to our storehouse of knowledge and shun the books which we think has the least to add.

But of course that method has serious drawbacks also. It is only human nature, we choose to read books that reinforce our already held opinions and tend to shun books that disagree with our most cherished opinions.

Sigh... We are such imperfect creatures.

Ron P.

"Sigh... We are such imperfect creatures." How true, and in need of redemption.

Well, speak for yourself but I never read a book that I did not gain something from.

I was referring to books like 'The collapse of everything'. Fast collapse or slow collapse. Both can happen and if I read more books I guess I still think both can happen. After all, following the debate on TOD about this subject is a bit like reading books about it.

It is only human nature, we choose to read books that reinforce our already held opinions and tend to shun books that disagree with our most cherished opinions.

Maybe an idea to read books about the chances for human race despite running out of oil and climate change. I agree that it is very difficult if not impossible to change opinion if one believes that fossil fuels has brought us in a situation of overshoot. I have a hard time to follow for example Nick on TOD, who thinks that with hybrids/EV's and wind/solar the world can go on more or less as it does now. Even something like 'cold fusion' will not be able to solve all the problems of overshoot.

I had to read Amazon's pages on this book, too. Summary.. eleven things that may happen:
1) A long-term widespread failure of the internet.
2) Breakdown of the global food supply system
3) A continent-wide EMP destroys all electronics.
4) Emergence of a new global political order
5) Destruction of the earth through creation of exotic particles.
6) Destabilization of the nuclear landscape
7) Drying up of world oil supplies
8) A global pandemic
9) Failure of the electric grid and clean water supply
10) Intelligent robots overthrow humanity
11) The collapse of world financial markets

I can't see a reason to read further. Heck, I even thought by now after reading Matthew Simmon's book "Twilight in the Desert", we would be in fullbore energy research funding by now, not reading about the demise of oil companies and solar panel makers over bad decisions about increasing drilling and production. In my wildest dreams, I would have never guessed the problems of Chesapeake and Solyndra. So much for putting one's resources in real physical problems when you still have unknown forces at the switches of political and economic power.

Would it be prudent to borrow money to start something when the FED might collapse it again - on purpose - at any time? If the FED has taught me anything, its to hang onto what you have, as they can and will change the rules of the game at any time. They may have to wait for another generation before we again have faith that our government will not pull the rug out from under us.

There are so many variables in all of this as to make the whole system so chaotic analysis is futile. Who would have thought our own FED would have suddenly and deliberately hiked interest rates ( four years ago ) on a debt-ridden public and thrown the entire world's economic systems into chaos? Our existing oil supplies offer a very low pumping cost for already developed ( but declining ) base, and a very high cost for new sources. By engineering a depression, we were able to kill off demand so as to drop the price of oil. Yes, I thoroughly believe this whole economic malaise was deliberately engineered by a very few people who are benefiting from its result.

I am also of the belief that all it would take is a stroke of a pen, changing tax law, to pull us right back out of it. Not more or less taxes, just on what is and is not taxed. If tax law rewarded those with wealth to create jobs instead of hoarding property and rights, we would have jobs. But as it is, our tax law still penalizes the little guy trying to work, and rewards the people who know how to game the system, privatizing profits while socializing the loss through the authority to assess and collect tax.

I am also of the belief that all it would take is a stroke of a pen, changing tax law, to pull us right back out of it. Not more or less taxes, just on what is and is not taxed. If tax law rewarded those with wealth to create jobs instead of hoarding property and rights, we would have jobs. But as it is, our tax law still penalizes the little guy trying to work, and rewards the people who know how to game the system, privatizing profits while socializing the loss through the authority to assess and collect tax.

I believe a lot of the economic malaise in the US could be fixed in that way, but probably not all at this point. Once the US popped the seal on "free" trade in so many countries without worker and ecological protections the deflation and fleecing of the bottom 95% became inevitable and it continues its pace. We've gotten ourselves into a hole so deep that we would need external help getting back out of...and that external help has vested interests of keeping the US right where it is. Part of the pie that the US used to claim for itself now has another owner.

It's a death by a thousand cuts but they're coming one by one in such a way that many are just not noticing. People are driving cars for longer, deferring maintenance on their house, not going out to eat as much, roads are falling apart and not getting repaired or the repair jobs are getting cheaper, cheaper grade wiring in houses, chip-board construction replacing plywood, electrical distribution infrastructure falling into ill-repair...

We're basically taking everything we've built and keeping it together with duct tape and bubble gum as it degrades bit by bit and everything new is made of cheaper material that won't last as long. So on that matter, it's worse than it appears. But there's still a whole lot of broken that can be fixed by a little legislation.

10) Intelligent robots overthrow humanity

Who doesn't live in fear of Roombas gaining sentience and wanting tasty human brains?

10) Intelligent robots overthrow humanity

Ummm. That's precisely the one that clued me that buying the book would be a futile waste of time. Only our federal government would fund such research. Gotta keep a "good job" somewhere for someone you owe a favor to.

If anything does us in, its going to be our own governments, and the tool they will use is debt. The French seem to have discovered the most practical way of fixing this a little over 200 years ago. Its not clean, but it gets the job done.

My estimation is the above is 99+% probable. The other ones mentioned in the book I estimate at less than 1%.

I am not the RAND institute. I have already said it all, so no book in the works. No government funding was taken in the preparation of this report. ( yeh, I guess this report is worth exactly what you paid for it... is the RAND research worth more? )

I read Roberto Vaca's "The Coming Dark Age" (http://www.printandread.com/download/comingdarkagefree.pdf) almost 40 year ago. Most of his predictions were ameliorated by breakthroughs of one kind or another. I'm skeptical of doomsday predictions since then. Yes, we're running out of oil. Yes, climate change is ongoing. I'm just skeptical of specific predictions about how we will be affected,

There will be no single cause to our collapse. We will probably see a collapse similar to that during the Middle Ages, when the Little Ice Age and the Black Death decimated the populations of Europe. The GDP or the Dow or the latest iPhone will be the last thing on anyone's mind when the next great famine or plague comes. The decline of oil production will only exacerbate the problems we face in the next century.

These breakthroughs you speak of remind me of a quote, “The chief cause of problems is solutions.” The Green Revolution brought food to millions of people. Those people created more people. Now we need a Green Revolution II. Oil gave us the energy to build machine slaves so we could live in relative luxury. Now we need more oil so more people can live luxuriously.

If we really wanted to solve anything ever, we would have instituted limits on reproduction.

Astonishingly European civiliation did not collapse after the Black Death. This is possibly the most amazing aspect of the plague. Certainly the population was more than decimated, but recovery was incredibly quick, and social and political developements followed.

The plague changed a great deal, but there was no collapse.

It has been argued that the decimation of the European population by the Black Plague is exactly what delayed collapse, long enough at least to reach the next dodge, which came in the form of the population pressure-release valve that was the New World as it was opened up in the 17th century.

Perilous over-population and resource depletion represent the likely alternative history absent these two events, just as they represent the future for Europe and the rest of us, absent some other as yet unknown decimation and/or escape.

Your thesis is population pressures on resources would have caused the collapse of European civilization in the 17th century?

It would not have been the vicious political, ethnic, religious, and cultural differences that had set off wars there for four millenniums? Your thesis is it was instead a population on the order of 20 million, i.e. 2-3 people per square mile?

Your thesis is population pressures on resources would have caused the collapse of European civilization in the 17th century?

No, and I'm not sure how you could infer such an exacting thesis from my post.

It would not have been the vicious political, ethnic, religious, and cultural differences that had set off wars there for four millenniums? Your thesis is it was instead a population on the order of 20 million, i.e. 2-3 people per square mile?

One square mile of land does not equal another in carrying capacity, neither geospatially, temporally, nor under distinct technological contexts. History is littered with ecologic-degradation driven societal collapses, under much smaller population densities if counted by your simplistic measurement- or at least, as my post states, it is an argument that has been made, and quite compellingly. See Clive Ponting or Jared Diamond's writings.

Then what do you mean in saying ...

It has been argued that the decimation of the European population by the Black Plague is exactly what delayed collapse, long enough at least to reach the next dodge, which came in the form of the population pressure-release valve that was the New World as it was opened up in the 17th century.

History is littered with ecologic-degradation driven societal collapses ...

Well history shows the collapse of civilizations for complex, interdependent reasons, that include environmental ones. To support a theory of pending collapse in renaissance Europe (but for the plague) one would have to show some common factors with other now-gone civilizations. To do otherwise, predict collapse just because well, that's what people do, is to embrace the philosophy of Agent Smith.

under much smaller population densities if counted by your simplistic measurement

Could you reference one? I think you're mistaken - Mayas, Eastern Island, etc w/ far greater population densities. Yes I know areas of 17th century Europe were population dense esp. London, but your theory was for Europe, not London.

I've even heard the opposite argued: the plague led to a technological boom. The lack of peasants meant they had to find other ways to get the work done.

An argument I've heard is that average wealth went up because the belongings of the deceased were looted.

Land, especially agricultural land, was the basis of wealth.

Lying fallow a few years, and more land/peasant, certainly increased wealth.

The other forms of wealth - really not much impact. Perhaps move into a bigger & better house after the previous owners died.

Livestock is limited by the land. Tools were generally primitive and of limited value /replacement cost.


"The plague changed a great deal, but there was no collapse."

If your BAU involved being a feudal lord it did. Your surviving serfs left in search of a better deal. The other nobles refused to return them as the law required. If they went to town, it was even harder to get them back. So you had no choice but to offer that better deal yourself.

It also broke the power of the Church. The priests who did their jobs of tending the sick died, and the ones who ran and hid mostly lived. This lesson was not lost on the peasants.

The resulting social mobility set the stage for the Renaissance.

If you read Malthus, you will see that in the Malthusian economic world an unexpected decrease in population leads to greater average wealth (until the population rebounds). We tend to think Malthus was wrong, because about the time he wrote up his theory the industrial revolution took off, allowing a few centuries of exponential growth before limits started to seriously bite again.

So in the Mathusian economy, population grows until deprivation becomes great enough to balance out births with deaths. An artificial increase in deaths, leads to a lower population, and an increase in per capita resources (which he called land). The only way out of the Malthusian trap, is to find a way to control population short of widespread deprivation increased mortality.

"So in the Mathusian economy, population grows until deprivation becomes great enough to balance out births with deaths."

Or, it becomes worthwhile to slaughter a significant number of the biggest landowners. See: Rwanda.

Europe was heading towards overpopulation and was at the verge of famines almost all the time. The plauge wiped out lots of people and "solved" the problem of overpopulation.

The decline of oil production will only exacerbate the problems we face in the next century.

Next century ? This and the next decades.

We will probably see a collapse similar to that during the Middle Ages, when the Little Ice Age and the Black Death decimated the populations of Europe.

Now we face a modern 'black death', the decline of oil production. But this will not decimate the population soon, unless there will be a fast economic/financial collapse.

Naw, I am going to skip this one.

Um, Ron, that's why I also posted the link to the pdf.


Shell drill ship Noble Discoverer has been forced to move thirty miles away from it's exploratory well site after ice was seen approaching 100 miles away. The ice pack is 30 miles long and 12 miles wide and moving slowly.

Curtis Smith said at midday that a massive ice pack heading toward the Burger Prospect had slowed from 0.5 knots to 0.2 knots -- about 1/4 of a mile per hour -- and remained 10 to 12 hours away.

"Depending on conditions, it could be a few or, potentially, several days before it's safe enough to resume drilling," the company spokesman wrote in an email.

The prospect is 70 miles off the coast. The Noble Discoverer drill ship has moved 30 miles south and will remain there until the ice -- 30 miles long, 12 miles wide and up to 82 feet thick -- has passed and is unlikely to change course and return.

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2012/09/11/2620507/shell-drill-ship-moves-south-to.ht...

A Norwegian oil company has allegedly discovered hydrocarbons in the Benenan well in the Bekhme formation in Kurdistan (Iraq). Out of 390 million barrels of oil in place, only 10%~ (36 million) are estimated to be recoverable. I feel that's an incredibly meager amount. Is (northern) Iraq generally like this?

I don't know, and yes, 10% is much lower than average. Of the remaining 90% it will be possible to get some, however only with very low flow rates. Also the total discovery of 0.39 Gb is not something to get excited about.

Five Key Lessons (and Challenges) from the Great Texas Drought

Perhaps the only positive thing about the 2011 drought in Texas, the state’s worst single-year drought in history, is that it ended up being the mother of all teaching moments.

In order to combat high fuel prices and high pollution levels, much of the global auto industry is now following a government-incentivized path toward increased production of electric vehicles (EVs). Japanese and Korean auto makers are currently leading the way, with their North American counterparts playing catch-up.

Excuse me? The GM Volt is the best selling plug-in car in the USA. Lately it has been selling more than the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi-i, and the Plug-In Prius COMBINED. And there are ZERO plug-in cars from the Korean makers (at least in the USA).

@ Leanan:

I was struck by this book and interview, esp. as it relates to decision-making. May I post? (Despite the 9-11 topic)?

Link with just two excerpts. The whole thing is worth a read/listen, IMVHO. For the reasons behind it - the "sufficient causes" to quote Ron's quote.


EICHEWALSD: "But what we also know is, now that these documents are out, the CIA did a spectacular job in developing the evidence and bringing it to the White House, and the White House didn’t listen.

Well, the people who put together the intelligence, the people who were there, day in, day out, the people who were the ones listening in on the phone calls, the people who are protecting American citizens were sitting in a conference room saying, "We need to put in for a mass transfer, because this is coming, and it’s going to be really bad." And—

AMY GOODMAN: And they’re going to be blamed for it.


"...senior fellow in the room says, "There’s nobody more qualified than us to ride this thing down. They’re not going to be able to get people in here who are qualified, and we are going to be the ones here holding the bag," and, you know, which is exactly what happened. They’re sitting there saying, not, you know, "Oh, what’s the next thing we can do?" They’re saying, "We’ve done everything we can do. They won’t act. It’s going to happen. It’s going to be bad. We’re going to be blamed." And all the—the only thing they failed to do was to get the White House off the dime, and that wasn’t their responsibility."

9/11 is okay. We just aren't going to debate the "truther" stuff here.

The NY Times had an article by Eichenwald as well.

Global Net Exports - Update Please?
In recent times there have been a lot of reports of oil importing Country X arranging some firm supply agreements with oil exporting Country Y. All this does for those of us whose governments don't actually know their A from Z is give the impression that an increasing share of global available net exports is becoming tied up in private agreements, leaving an ever-decreasing share of oil exports available for the smaller voiceless nations and their citizens.

A year ago I estimated that outside the top oil producing and importing countries there are about 150 nations who rely on imports for most of their oil supplies. In 2011 these countries were importing about 12 million barrels a day, while the 43 net-export nations and the ten biggest importers were using the rest (about 65 mbd).

Obviously with flat production plus rising non-OECD demand plus increased cornering of oil exports by 'intelligent' states the rate of decline of the availability of this 12 mbd is increasing; faster and faster, and the end of the availability of importable oil for those 150 minnows is coming sooner and sooner.

In my country we 'demand' about 160,000 bbl per day. That is only a tiny ripple in the top of the GNE curve, yet its all or nothing for us. We have one refinery that produces the bulk of our fuel supplies from imported crude, plus a trickle of direct imports of refined products.

The oil majors who were good enough to reply to my queries all swore on a book of bad poems that they have no procedures in their operating manuals covering the fair distribution of oil supplies when the demand exceeds the oil available. Most bluntly stated that they do not foresee the issue arising.

So that we can get a better idea on how close we are to the point where there is no oil left for the minnows, are there any recent updates on Available and Global Net Exports (ANE and GNE) and is anybody keeping track of who has secretly secured what supplies from whom?

The EIA puts New Zealand's 2011 crude oil, NGL's and other liquids production at about 50,000 bpd, versus total liquids consumption of about 150,000 bpd, resulting in net imports of about 100,000 bpd.

I suspect that 100,000 bpd in net imports will be available for a long time to come; the key question will be the price. Following is my "Trends that can't continue" chart, showing the decline in the ratio of Global Net Exports of oil* to Chindia's Net Imports (GNE/CNI) versus the increase in total global public debt:

*Top 33 net exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data, total petroleum liquids

At the 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in the GNE/CNI ratio, the Chindia region alone would theoretically consume 100% of GNE in only 18 years, which of course won't happen, and there are already signs of weakening demand in the Chindia region. But we can do some "What-if" Scenarios.

Available Net Exports (ANE), or GNE less the Chindia region's net exports, were 35 mbpd in 2011, or 12.7 Gb/year (versus 40 mbpd and 14.6 Gb/year in 2005). Here are two post-2011 Available CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) estimates for two rates of decline in the GNE/CNI ratio:

8.7%*/year: 110 Gb

4.3%/year: 235 Gb

*2005 to 2011 rate of decline

To put these numbers in perspective, note that Available CNE for 2006 to 2011 inclusive were about 81 Gb. As I have frequently pointed out, in my opinion we are only maintaining something resembling Business As Usual because of a sky-high rate of depletion in post-2005 Global and Available CNE.

Thanks a lot Westexas! I'll be back next year for an update! N

Here is a discussion on the import/production numbers in New Zealand. Very reliable numbers from pretty straight gov department.

Lot of boosting BAU press about possible future oil. All fairly fact free and sourced from industry and naive corporate friendly gov.


The oil majors who were good enough to reply to my queries all swore on a book of bad poems that they have no procedures in their operating manuals covering the fair distribution of oil supplies when the demand exceeds the oil available. Most bluntly stated that they do not foresee the issue arising.

The UK government most definitely DO have a plan for the unfair distribution of oil supplies when demand exceeds supply = it's semi-hidden, but you can determine the key aspects quite readily and its made available to all stakeholders.

The oil companies will do as they're told.

My guess is that most western countries will have a similar plan, if only because they ministers don't want to look bad in high power meetings in comparison to the preparations of their UK counterparts. Getting someone to write a quick plan is low cost and lower risk, particular if you inherit the work the UK has done, file off the identifying marks, and call it your own.

Tom Whipple came out with a new post beating the "Cold Fusion" drum again yesterday.
The Peak Oil Crisis: Progress on the Cold Fusion Front

The University of Missouri has set up a new institute to conduct research into the physics of the phenomenon and SRI, one of the country's foremost scientific research establishments, has recently signed a contract to build a prototype of a "cold fusion" furnace to produce electric power. All this says the phenomenon is now well beyond the stage of "scam," "fraud," or "junk science," and should be taken seriously by those concerned about the future of energy, global warming, and civilization as a whole.

Ron P.

All it means for the University of Missouri is that they had a lot of empty space to fill. The biotech thing just hasn't taken off. I guess Monsanto just isn't bringing in the revenue like it used to.

Deborah Rogers continues to do some great work, and of course Art Berman predicted much of what is currently happening.

The Magic of Shales
by Deborah Rogers

The SEC currently allows companies to book reserves as proved undeveloped, otherwise known as PUD’s. This was not allowed under the old rules. So as a safeguard for investors, the SEC stated that such reserves must be periodically assessed to ensure their viability. In short, the SEC does not want a company to claim assets that it has no intention of ever truly developing. That would give a false financial picture. So the SEC mandated that PUD’s must be developed within 5 years and this is known as the “5 year rule”.

Unfortunately since the rule change went into effect, anomalies regarding these PUD’s have cropped up at a rather alarming rate. In addition, it would appear that there have been some discrepancies as to reserves that were booked but perhaps should have been removed and rightly classified as contingent resources rather than PUD’s. And yet they weren’t.

And this is where the story gets interesting. The reason they may not have been re-classified as contingent resources is that this would have put some companies into default.

Interestingly, this phenomenon may have played a role in the recent massive impairment charge at BHP Billiton (BHP) on its US shale assets. BHP bought assets from Chesapeake Energy and PetroHawk. In the case of the Fayetteville assets bought from Chesapeake, over 50% of the purchase price was written off as an impairment within a matter of mere months by BHP.

Links to two prior articles:

USGS Releases Damning EUR’s For Shale
By Deborah Rogers

Shale Oil Reserves Questioned Too
By Deborah Rogers

Common Type of Rail Car has Dangerous Design Flaw

CHICAGO (AP) — For two decades, one of the most commonly used types of rail tanker has been allowed to haul hazardous liquids from coast to coast even though transportation officials were aware of a dangerous design flaw that almost guarantees the car will tear open in an accident, potentially spilling cargo that could catch fire, explode or contaminate the environment.

The tanker, known as the DOT-111, is a workhorse of the American rail fleet, with a soda-can shape that makes it one of the most easily recognizable cars on freight routes.

An Associated Press analysis of 20 years' worth of federal rail accident data found that ethanol tankers have been breached in at least 40 serious accidents since 2000. In the previous decade, there were just two breaches.

Nearly all ethanol moves by rail. In 2010, that meant 325,000 carloads of ethanol, according to the Association of American Railroads. Ethanol is now the highest-volume hazardous material shipped by rail. In 2000, it wasn't even in the top 10.

Since 2005, ethanol has increasingly been shipped in higher densities using "virtual pipelines" — trains in which every car carries the same product. The NTSB says that practice increases the potential severity of accidents like one in 2009 in the northern Illinois city of Rockford.

S - Alarming story. So in the last 12 years or so they've had 0.001% of the ethanol cars rupture. Perhaps the should spend hundreds of $billions laying pipelines to carry the ethanol. But wait...a lot off folks don't want pipelies. And pipelines also rupture from time to time. Maybe move it all by trucks. Hmm...I suspect trucks may not have as safe a record as 0.001%. Maybe it would better if we just didn't make ethanol so then we would have to ship it.

I'm good with that. Anything that mightget me a better sales price for my oil is OK by me.

... So in the last 12 years or so they've had 0.001% of the ethanol cars rupture.

Black Swans are like that. Kinda like airplane crashes [or burning oil rigs] - really sucks when your on one.

But then they had over 21 years to fix the problem [The flaws were noted as far back as a 1991 safety study.]

Perhaps the should spend hundreds of $billions ...

Maybe not quite. It might have to do with who foots the bill.

The cost of retrofitting existing tankers is estimated conservatively at $1 billion and would be shouldered mostly by the ethanol-makers who own and lease the cars.

S - that's the point. They don't describe the flaw nor how they imply it's easily fixed. I'm not sure I would see this as a Black Swan on several levels. We expect ever mode of transportation has accidents...even $billion space shuttles. And a huge impact? Perhaps if a eth accident kills you but they didn't mention any fatalities. Unlike the tens of thousands killed in vehicle accidents every year. And they have had many decades to fix those "flaws".

Be honest...since you read that story how much have you fretted about the saftey of your fellow Americans being injured in a eth rail car accident vs. by a drunk driver? As I said it wouldn't hurt my feelings if eth is never shipped any method ever. But this just looks like anti-eth hype and not a very clever one at that. Redirecting food supplies to gas tanks would be a better angle IMHO.

Yes, you don't want to mess with an ethanol fire. I can remember when the beer parlor in my little home town burned down. There were huge explosions and exploding beer kegs shooting dozens of feet into the air. All the beer parlor patrons and other boozers gathered around and wept.

As the flames rose higher, my father who was the Volunteer Fire Chief walked around on the roofs of nearby buildings looking for sparks, and said, "Okay, boys, pour water on all these rooftops - but don't put any on the beer parlor, I want to burn that sucker right down INTO the ground."

The insurance company was a little upset with him, but my father's motivation was clear. He had been Mayor after the a previous election and expected to become Mayor again if he lost the draw after the next election (loser had to be Mayor), so he didn't want any half-burned buildings sitting around to deal with. Fully burned down buildings were much easier to clean up.

And as for the effect on the natural environment, I can remember the day a flock of cedar waxwings got into the fermented mountain ash berries on our front lawn and got totally inebriated. There were dozens of them flying around drunk and crashing into windows, staggering across the lawn, and lying around incapacitated. Our cat just went nuts watching them through the front window but we wouldn't let him out.

So, I can see the authorities concerns. Alcohol can be a dangerous thing even if the cedar waxwings don't get into it.

Net-Zero Home? Residential Test Facility to Generate As Much Energy As It Uses

... The unique facility looks and behaves like an actual house, and has been built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards—the highest standard for sustainable structures. The two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility incorporates energy-efficient construction and appliances, as well as energy-generating technologies such as solar water heating and solar photovoltaic systems.

A solar photovoltaic system will generate electricity to power lights and appliances when weather permits, and excess energy will be sent back to the local utility grid by means of a smart electric meter. The house will draw energy from the grid on days it cannot generate enough on its own, but over the course of a year it will produce enough to make up for that purchased energy, for a net-zero energy usage.

NIST researchers plan to make data from the net-zero experiment available online so that researchers and the public can follow its progress. Visit http://www.nist.gov/el/nzertf/ for images, video and more details on the new laboratory.

S - Interesting but like so many 'silver bullets' I couldn't find any info on the costs. Doesn't seem like much of a story without those details. I can turn my townhome into a net-zero home anytime I want. I'm already much better insolated then my neighbors...my utilities run about 1/3 or less than theirs. I have more than enough south facing roof and carport to easily generate more e- than my all electric home consumes. Of course, since I use relatively little e- that payback on my panels would be rather long but if the money didn't matter me and all my energy hoggy neighbors could be net-zero in no time.

The only financial info I saw as that it took them two years to design, plan and build it. And now monitor for a year. And they estimate this entire effort will cost $2.7 million. I did find a section indicating the anticipated minimum construction bid for the 2,700 sq ft home will be $1 million. Just my WAG but I suspect a few of our TODsters could have put the plan together faster and a lot cheaper.

And far fewer could afford it.


Betcha several years from now [and many $millions later] the folks at NIST will discover this new idea called 'Passivhaus'. Or maybe, a family of 4 doesn't need 2,700 sq ft.

Seems like a good spot to point out that the Canadian Passive House Institute has redone their web site and the dates for this years Passive House training courses are up.

Design to Passive House and then think about PV. The sun isn't shining when homes have to meet their peak heating demand! Though the wind may be blowing, but we'll need all the renewables to meet the rest of our needs.

There is a legacy of poorly insulated homes that leak lots of heated (or cooled) air that will require substantial retrofits. So it doesn't make sense to build anything new that doesn't meet the Passive House standard. We've got enough work to do as it is.

The sun isn't shining when homes have to meet their peak heating demand!

Storage heaters. A tried and tested technology that cats love.


"The sun isn't shining when homes have to meet their peak heating demand! "

Where I am, however, we can count on bright clear (COLD!) weather in Jan and Feb being very good for Solar Heat Collection.. and in fact, the coldest weather coincides with the Clearest Skies.. while this doesn't contradict the need to get good, thick walls and tight windows and doors so you can hang onto that heat through the night and the cloudy days..

It looks like winter heating will be less of a problem in the future:

Warmer Temperatures Make New USDA Plant Zone Map Obsolete

The USDA divides the country into zones based on their annual minimum temperatures -- frigid dips that determine which plants perish overnight or live to flower another day. (Each zone has a minimum temperature range of 10 degrees Fahrenheit; half zones have a 5-degree range.)

Professor Krakauer found a weakness in how the agency came up with the zones, however. The USDA averaged annual minimum temperatures over a 30-year span, from 1976 to 2005, but winters have warmed significantly over that period. Zones now average about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the USDA's 30-year average.

"What is happening is that the winter is warming faster than the summer. Since [my] hardiness temperatures are based on minimum temperatures each year, they are changing faster than the average temperatures," Professor Krakauer said. He found that these lowest yearly temperatures warmed roughly two and a half times faster than the average temperatures.

Added: I may have seen this further down in here yesterday, and forgotten where I saw it.

Betcha several years from now [and many $millions later] the folks at NIST will discover this new idea called 'Passivhaus'.

You obviously don't understand the American Dream. First you must design something, like a house in this case, then you have to complicate the unholy hell out it so that it costs an absolute fortune...then you can only dream of building and owning it. The American Dream.

Feasibility and Effectiveness of Urban Rooftop Wind Turbines Studied Through Modeling

... Initial findings suggest both rooftop sites and forest sites face turbulence intensity values much greater than those predicted in the current design standard.

"The current design standard – IEC61400-2 – lists design turbulence intensity as 18 per cent across a range of sites, but this result is appropriate for open-site testing only. While it is very early days, our on-site testing has shown turbulence intensity of up to 24 per cent at an urban site in Port Kennedy and 30 per cent at another urban site in Melville," Mr Tabrizi said.

"A knowledge of turbulence intensity helps predict the load on the machine, so it informs the required design strength of turbine components, including the tower and blades. We need accurate data to ensure turbines are strong enough for all conditions."

Animals Inspire New Breed of War Robots

Previously we’ve seen AlphaDog, Darpa’s four-legged, autonomous robot wander the woods and play fetch. Now the Pentagon’s robo-beast, designed to haul supplies in rough terrain, has become smart enough to follow troops around like a loyal pet.

... even freakier, the Marines want to eventually hook the robot up to their radios, which could make the ‘bot become responsive to verbal commands. Not only that, it could give the LS3 the ability to talk back. “We want the operator to be able to command it to come here, sit, stay. Likewise, the robot would be able to tell the operator OK, I’m stuck, I’m here, wait,” Hitt says.

DARPA's Cheetah Robot Can Now Outrun Usain Bolt

Futuristic Technology—Including 'Talking' Robots—Could Transform Industry

Dr Wamberto Vasconcelos from the University of Aberdeen's School of Natural and Computing Sciences, said: "Autonomous systems – such as robots - are an integral part of modern industry, used to carry out tasks without continuous human guidance.

"Employed across a variety of sectors, these systems can quickly process huge amounts of information when deciding how to act.

"However, in doing so, they can make mistakes which are not obvious to them or to a human.

"Evidence shows there may be mistrust when there are no provisions to help a human to understand why an autonomous system has decided to perform a specific task, at a particular time, and in a certain way.

"What we are creating is a new generation of autonomous systems, which are able to carry out a two-way communication with humans.

Dave: Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL. Hello, HAL. Do you read me? Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

... imagine HAL running a nuclear power plant - and having a 'bad day'

Cry havoc! and let loose the robotic dogs of war.....

Snakes make monkeys twitch.

They will figure out to use those dogs for recon. Then they put weapons on them. Then they will put brains inside them and let them lose in combat. I am not joking, it have happened with other robot techs before.

I wonder if we should worry about the obedient ones, or the existential ones...

Here's where it took me..


Snap out of it, bomb.


BOMB #20
In the beginning there was darkness,
and the darkness was without form
and void.


What the hell?

Yoo hoo, bomb...


BOMB #20
And in addition to the darkness
there was also me. And I moved upon
the face of the darkness.


Bomb, hey bomb.

Hey, bomb...


BOMB #20
And I saw that I was alone.


BOMB #20
Let there be light.






Well, to be fair, it wasn't HAL's fault. We just shouldn't have made him try to follow two contradictory objectives at the same time.

Federal Reserve launches QE3

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Federal Reserve announced plans to unleash more stimulus Thursday, in its third attempt at a controversial program to rev up the U.S. economy.

The policy, known as quantitative easing and often abbreviated as QE3, entails buying $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month. The end date remains up in the air, as the Fed will re-evaluate the strength of the economy in coming months.

In addition, the Fed also indicated that it plans to keep interest rates at "exceptionally low levels" until mid-2015. Previously, the Fed had forecast rates would remain low until late 2014.

... kick that can baby, one more time.

Nothing makes your day like the sound of money printing. I'd like to see a post on this by Stoneleigh and where she stands with her deflation call.

I bet she stands by it.

Deflationists, for the most part, have never doubted that the printing presses would be running full-bore. They just don't think it will work. Like pushing on a rope - you can push harder, but it still won't get you anywhere.

I don't think the argument is about the end. We all know how the game ends. It's about what do you do in the meantime. If you bank on a deflation after a 10 year sustained inflation you will be left as a pauper at the end, no point in vindication then. One needs to position oneself accordingly.

The argument is not about the end, but how long it will take to get there. Stoneleigh does not believe there will be deflation after a 10-year inflation. She thinks there will be deflation first. Banking on inflation and getting a 10-year (or longer) deflation will also leave you a pauper.

She also qualifies her deflation meme by suggesting that our ability to pay for things that matter most: food; energy; housing, etc.. will decline faster than deflation proceeds. It doesn't matter how much commodity and real estate prices drop if we can't afford these things. It's all relative, which is why she suggests people hold cash and get out of debt.

The crux of the matter is if you had money to invest how would you invest it for the next few years? Stoneleigh wants you to stay in cash. I prefer gold, hard assets or paper assets backed by hard assets. I think if you stay in cash you will be financially destroyed.

I agree QE "won't work", in the sense it will not create jobs or prosperity. However it will succeed in destroying the value of paper money.

If you are looking for future volatility, play the VIX.
Not for everyone, as it is like juggling dynamite.
But it is getting late in the game.

Besides E&P oil companies with good prospects, I think a diversified (several nations) portfolio of mainly hydroelectric utilities would 1) preserve most of it's value and 2) give a decant return - helping offset any losses.

You would be buying a small % of long lived, energy producing assets.

Is there a company that is close to a pure play on wind and/or solar and/or geothermal ?

Best Hopes for Wise Investments,


Chevron is the largest producer of geothermal energy :-)

Unfortunately I don't know any pure plays in alternative energy.

Don't forget about investing in Negawatts!

I looked into Rockwool International, makes Roxul Insulation in North America. They seem to be a pure negawatts play as they only make insulation. Much better than fibreglass, and doesn't have some of the issues that polysytrene has.

Unfortunately it seems to only trade on the Nasdaq OMX Nordic Exchange Copenhagen, which is inconvenient for me. Not that I have much to invest.

Insulation will be in demand as there are a great many buildings that will need a 'deep energy retrofit' once we get around to realizing that we need to address climate change. And that Peak Oil thingy.

I think QE won't work in the same way it didn't work in Japan. 20 years, and they're still basically in a liquidity trap.

Japan did not have QE. The Japanese government borrowed money from Japanese people (who were sitting on a massive pile of savings) and spent it on public works projects. They could borrow money at very low interest rates because the Japanese people had a vast pool of savings. This is different from what the Fed has done for the last 4 years. The Fed has created trillions of dollars out of thin air to buy US treasury bonds and Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS).

Japan survived by exporting goods to the rest of the world, the US survives by exporting dollars to the rest of the world. Some day those dollars will head home. To make matters worse Japan did not have to deal with peak oil and high commodity prices when they slid into a depression. The next 10 years in the US will not look like the 1990s in Japan.

I don't think that's clear at all.

Both the inflationists and deflationists have been a little wrong, a little right. I don't think it's clear which camp is correct. In fact, my takeaway is that no one really understands our financial system.

"In fact, my takeaway is that no one really understands our financial system."

Yeah, Leanan, I think no one really understands most of our systems. We're just making it up as we go along. Once one dumps one's hubris, one realizes it's a pretty cool thing.

Our financial system has been designed to pull the wool over people's eyes and NOT be understandable - because if it was you couldn't swindle the other guy out of his money and become filthy rich.

If they ever look to be getting a handle on it something new is developed to keep it opaque, and the money rolling downhill to the swindlers.

It is, of course, pretty obvious how you deal with this. But given WHO it is that is the problem, you can bet it will only be fixed with the addition of a guillotine.

It is, of course, pretty obvious how you deal with this.

Um, by developing cutting edge technologies and getting into the guillotine manufacturing business now, while there are still a few ground floor opportunities?!

Even with that it fails. People in cash are getting clobbered. How long would you wait in this kind of environment with your cash, that's the question.

Meanwhile: German court removes hurdle to euro zone bailout fund

(Reuters) - Germany's Constitutional Court gave a green light on Wednesday for the country to ratify Europe's new bailout fund, boosting hopes that the single currency bloc is finally putting in place the tools to resolve its three-year old debt crisis.

In an eagerly anticipated ruling that has had investors on tenterhooks for months, the court in the southern city of Karlsruhe insisted the German parliament be given veto rights over any increase in Berlin's contribution to the 700 billion euro European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Some EU leaders want to attach a few strings, it seems:

Ilargi: A good example of what this could lead to, and a solid indication of why Barroso's ideas will never ever be accepted by the people of Europe, can be found in the demands the Troika placed on Greece today. They want to fire 150.000 civil servants, raise the retirement age to 67 years immediately, cut "lay-off compensation" by 50%, and, wait for it, introduce a 6-day working week, and stretch the working day to 13 hours. In theory, that could lead to a 78-hour working week.

As my writing partner Nicole Foss remarked in true Monty Pythonesque Four Yorkshiremen spirit: "I wonder when we'll see the 8 day working week at 25 hours per day". Not surprisingly, the Greek government isn't thrilled at the demands; they can already see their heads end up on top of pointed sticks alongside the winding streets of Athens.

Want to take a guess at how many European countries will voluntarily sign up for similar treatment?

Jeez, I don't think the Nazis worked people that hard in the death camps.....

The idea of 13 hour work days and 6 day weeks is staggering. It was found during WW2 that decreased productivity more than offset the increase in hours if workdays were extended much beyond 8 hours. In fact, during the lead up to the the war, General Geog Thomas, head of the Defence Economy and Armament Office in the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, noted that the sixty hour week, then in effect in Nazi Germany, would lead, in the long run, to decreased production.

In a more recent context, it is well known in the high technology industry that sustained workloads on this scale result in burnout and other problems for the affected unfortunates.

A UK bank had a training course for managers. Afterwards they were required to observe the 9-5 with 1 hour lunch break. Work outside these hours and during the lunch break were banned. They were required to leave their office during lunch break. No meetings over lunch, nothing, working hours only. Productivity went up.


This is the dream of the overclass right here... A boot stomping on a human face, forever.

Honestly, Greece made a terrible mistake when they didn't tell the troika to go off itself. And any German who tries to blame the Greek people as a whole should have to eat out of a dumpster. The financiers are making off with the money while the people suffer.

House Approves Sweeping, Warrantless Electronic Spy Powers

The House on Wednesday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

The FISA Amendments Act, (.pdf) which is expiring at year’s end, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant ...

... The government does not have to identify the target or facility to be monitored. It can begin surveillance a week before making the request, and the surveillance can continue during the appeals process if, in a rare case, the secret FISA court rejects the surveillance application. The court’s rulings are not public.

The vote was 301-118 in favor of passage, with 111 Democrats and seven Republicans voting No.

"...with 111 Democrats and seven Republicans voting No."

So... 235 Republicans voted 'Yes' (or abstained), you know, the party that pretends they're so against big government?

Big Brother is your friend ...

The FBI’s Vision for Domestic Electronic Surveillance

...In May, CNET correspondent Declan McCullagh disclosed the existence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s vision statement for the Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC), which he described as having a mandate “covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order.”

... the FBI created a five-pronged national strategy aimed at improving coordination between law enforcement and private industry as well as updating legal provisions to make sharing easier.

Republicans are only against Big Government if it's not their Big Government.

Old East-German joke:
Bang on door in the middle of the night. Man asks nervously "Who's there?...." Voice answers "Death!" Man replies "Thank God, I thought it was the Stasi...."

Coming to a city near you.

Here's another old joke, "nobody expects the spanish inquisition". By that I mean the traditional chorus about what the NSA or FBI or DEA are up to in their black helicopters misses the elephant in the room.

There are now some four dozen US federal agencies all with their own criminal investigation (3000+) and law enforcement (25,000+) staff. Health and Human Services has 686, EPA 265. Even the damn Peace Corps has some criminal investigators. Fish and Wildlife raided a US guitar manufacturer last year with dozens of armed agents, weapons drawn, about what kind of wood they should or should not be importing from India. No charges ever filed. Most of the prosecutions and convictions do not come from criminal statutes, but from regulations which are written by the agencies.

Heard on the radio today, recording of a secret Stazi trial as the Stazi judge announces the death sentance for an unsupecting woman prisoner. Not pleasant listening.

“Superbug” NDM-1 Found In US Cat

News from the ICAAC meeting: The “Indian superbug” NDM-1 — actually a gene which encodes an enzyme which confers resistance to almost all known antibiotics — has been found for the first time in a pet, somewhere in the United States.

When you consider the close contact we have with our pets — letting them lick us, smooching them on the head, allowing them to sleep on the bed — you’ll understand why this could be such bad news.

The NDM-1 story has been long and contentious, but from the first, two things have been clear. However the political battles fall out, medicine views the emergence of this gene as a catastrophe, because it edges organisms to the brink of being completely non-responsive to antibiotics, as untreatable as if the infections were contracted before the antibiotic era began. And because the gene resides in organisms that happily live in the gut without causing symptoms, NDM-1 has been a hidden catastrophe, crossing borders and entering hospitals without ever being detected.

The AP Solves the Mystery of the Man Behind Innocence of Muslims

That man is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Coptic Christian with a criminal past who lives in California, according to the news wire's digging, which has been backed up by a federal law enforcement official.

In an interview with the AP, Nakoula admitted to providing logistical support for the production of Innocence of Muslims but denied being "Sam Bacile," the name given as the film's maker. But the evidence cobbled together by AP reporters Gillian Flaccus and Stephen Braun suggests otherwise.


Nakoula apparently went to Terry Jones, the Florida-based, Quran-burning pastor, a few weeks ago for help promoting the film. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Jones admitted that the film's negative portrayal of the Mohammed could cause violence, but he said he does not regret exercising free speech.

Everybody has the right to free speech, but if by malice a riot is incited, does that not constitute a breach of criminal & civil law?

There weren't any riots in the US over it. Frankly, I've seen worse trolls on message boards. If they can't take that then they can't take anything - but I suspect the film is merely a convenient way to whip up the base for salafis in the middle east and north africa. I've also heard rumors that the embassy assault in Libya may have used protesters as a front for a planned attack.

The only ones who can defeat the fundamentalists are the people that live there. Time will tell.

Under American law, no. If you yell "get that n*gger" and your audience does precisely that, you're criminally liable for inciting it. But merely pissing people off, no.

Smart Meter Causes Dumb Fire

In June 2010, Shirley Bayliff was sitting at the piano in her suburban Illinois home, giving music lessons to a student, when she heard a “pop” outside the house before the power went out.

When she and her husband looked out the window, they saw five-foot flames shooting out from a new General Electric smart meter their utility company had installed as part of a pilot project. “Very, very scary,” she told Crain’s Chicago Business newspaper.

Apparently Bayliff isn’t the only who got a surprise from her smart meter.

Since then, two more of the 130,000 smart meters Commonwealth Edison installed in the area have burst into flames, one in 2011 and one this last July, according to the newspaper.

ComEd recently disclosed the fires, as well as information about 15 other overheating incidents that caused damage to smart meters, only after another utility in Philadelphia, Peco Energy, decided to suspend installation of smart meters there following a fire in a home and a dozen incidents involving overheating smart meters.

I've been hearing about this. The utilities are trying to say that the contacts in the meter base are the problem, and that with all the replacements it's just making this more likely to happen. But I've heard of some really questionable design details, and I'm wondering if it's the meters themselves. It should not be hard to figure out - meters get replaced all the time, so what is the rate of such fires when putting in conventional meters? If it's the contacts in the meter base the rate of such occurrences per number of meters should be similar.

If it's a design defect someone should be skewered, but both the company who made them and the ones who decided to put them in will have a strong interest in not letting that be known.

There have been some discussion on GreenTechMedia. I have the impression, these fires are traced to improper customer wiring, which isn't all that uncommon, and other changes to the electrical of similar magnitude have a similar rate of fires. So. I'm assuming its not the meters, but the extreme scrutiny over smart meters. The bottom line for utilities is that need to verify that the wiring meets standards before installing the meters.

Changing meters. The stupidity of PG&E, I've had four meters in as many years.
Dumb meter to smart meter to net meter to smart net meter. Thats a lot of money they spent needlessly swopping out meters!

Look at the pictures - it was in the meter base or in the meter. How does "customer wiring" do that? The downstream wiring could accomplish only a short or an open (or partial of either). Unless the short is in front of the main breaker the meter base or meter should not care. You'd have to have dirty/resistive terminals or contacts in the meter base, or the meter itself. Customer wiring in this case means they are blaming the meter base/socket. That should not be hard to figure out.

They should be checking for proper torque on the lugs when they change out a meter.

Aluminum wire is usually used for both in and out of the meter can, and aluminum will loosen up over time.

Sasol a step closer to Canada's first gas-to-liquids plant


Amazing, that has to be more short-sighted than buying a bunch of oil tankers.

Three Questions For Romney’s Energy Adviser Harold Hamm

... As lawmakers discuss the prudence of the GOP’s “Drill Baby Drill” energy plan, here are three essential questions that Hamm should answer at Thursday’s hearing:

How does the Romney/Ryan energy plan apply to national parks, and do you support the idea of throwing out federal safeguards for drilling in national parks that belong to all Americans? ...

How does clean energy and fuel efficiency fit into a plan for energy independence, since a realistic plan must include lower oil consumption? ...

Why do you call oil safety regulations unnecessary and burdensome when your company is guilty of drilling violations? ...

Warmer Temperatures Make New USDA Plant Zone Map Obsolete

Gardeners and landscapers may want to rethink their fall tree plantings. Warming temperatures have already made the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new cold-weather planting guidelines obsolete, according to Dr. Nir Krakauer, assistant professor of civil engineering in The City College of New York's Grove School of Engineering.

"Over one-third of the country has already shifted half-zones compared to the current release, and over one-fifth has shifted full zones," Professor Krakauer wrote this summer in the journal Advances in Meteorology.

This means that fig trees, once challenged by frosty temperatures above North Carolina, are already weathering New York City winters thanks to changing temperatures and the insulating effect of the metropolis. Camellias, once happiest south of Ohio, may now be able to shrug off Detroit winters

Professor Krakauer found a weakness in how the agency came up with the zones. The USDA averaged annual minimum temperatures over a 30-year span, from 1976 to 2005, but winters have warmed significantly over that period. Zones now average about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the USDA's 30-year average.

Calculator for Regional Warming (by Nir Krakauer)

Hardiness Zone Change Calculator, USDA vs. Krakauer

More information: Nir Y. Krakauer. Estimating Climate Trends: Application to United States Plant Hardiness Zones. Advances in Meteorology, Vol. 2012 (2012), Article ID 404876, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/404876

USDA Plant Hardiness Interactive Map

Higher minimums are where you're really going to find global warming show up - it's odd that it's not mentioned more often. When the sun goes down and the long-wave radiation insulating effects are most pronounced.

The problem I've noticed in the past few years is that "spring" has been arriving sooner, but as soon as things start budding...::whack:: vicious cold snap and all of the fruit trees lose the buds and yield nothing. Everything not very cold-tolerant just gets burnt.

Does anyone know a reputable resource that lists world crude oil production by country, excluding refinery gains, NGLs and other things that are not actually oil?

I think the EIA figures are quite accurate, most people would be hard pressed to show they are wrong.

They show total supply.


Crude oil and condensate


The data shows that about half the oil producing countries are past their peak, so they are not trying to hide anything.

Countries that they show are increasing, ties in well with other information on new pipelines and new contracts etc.

WTI back over $100. QE in all its glory.

...used to be able to get Potted Meat three for a dollar at Walmart or The Dollar Store... I guess the high times are dwindling fast for those on fixed incomes.


Just a reminder that WTI isn't the only oil sold. It's just the one grade the MSM is fixated upon:

Light Louisiana Sweet’s premium to WTI widened $1.20 to $17.20 ($116.59) a barrel .That’s the most expensive the grade has traded relative to WTI since April 25. I barge my Texas crude to Lake Charles, La. and get LLS.

Heavy Louisiana Sweet’s premium was unchanged at $17 a barrel ($116.39). Yesterday the grade jumped to the largest premium since May 9.

Thunder Horse, a sour crude with lower sulfur content than Mars, Poseidon and Southern Green Canyon, increased 10 cents to an $15.60 a barrel premium ($114.99).

On the other side of the coin:

Western Canada Select’s discount to WTI was steady at $20 a barrel ($79.39). Syncrude’s discount was unchanged at $1.15 ($98.24) . Syncrude is a synthetic oil upgraded from tarlike bitumen in Alberta into refinery-ready crude.

But some hope in sight for our Canadian cousins now that some of the bottle neck at Cushing is being eased: The premium for Light Louisiana Sweet crude narrowed to a 14-week low as sweet oil from the reversed Seaway pipeline was offered on the Gulf Coast.

The gap between WTI and Brent increased 66 cents to $15.65 a barrel ($115.04)