Wednesday, August 31, 2005

KATRINA BLOWS RIGHT PAST US

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The rain started two days ago for Hurricane Katrina had quite a reach, pulling moisture from the Atlantic, the Gulf and the Pacific Oceans all at once. Over an inch fell here. We have been in this drought so the rain was a blessing. But this morning, as the remains of that hurricane swirled up the center of America, we could feel the oppression for the isobars were still pretty low.
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From Intellicast.com.
You see, the hurricane broke in three. Like that comet that hit Jupiter, one fragment after another, piling in, this hurricane is taking two days to pass us by.

This morning at dawn, the oppression of the depression passing to the west of us woke me up. My family gets migrane headaches with big storms and my head felt funny and my eyes were hypersensitive. The wind blew hard and then died down and the sun broke out and it looked all so beautiful. I posted the picture at 8am.

Then it got more depressive and my head began to really hurt around lunch. But I still not only blogged on, I worked outside because it wasn't raining. But that low passed by with violent gusts of wind that sent the trees bending and after the worst gusts, we took pictures outside. So far, no problems. The wind is this powerful so far away from the hurricane, it is pretty awesome.

My son called from work to complain about his own headaches. He needed to know how long this was going to happen. I told him the last low had passed us by. I was wrong. (Heh! Wrong! Missed a prediction!!!)

The winds then died down a second time and we ran around doing things but then my head began to pound again. I went inside to check it out. The two lows earlier now had three! And the third one is pushing rain this way.

So we will get some of the actual rain from the main low of Katrina after all!

It is hot and muggy. Quite different from even three hours ago, the temperature is going up even as the sun is more and more scarce.

The rain is beginning to pelt the windows. I had to move my plants around on the deck because the bigger ones were being toppled over by the gusts. But that is pretty much all. I am glad Her fury was spent by the time She came up here. My heart goes out to everyone else who wasn't so lucky.

&spades And on the energy front, this news:From MSN.com:
In the markets, by mid-morning in London on Wednesday, Nymex West Texas Intermediate was again creeping back towards the nominal record high of $70.85 a barrel hit on Tuesday as speculators expected US oil inventories to be squeezed. WTI for October delivery stood at $70.50 a barrel, up 69 cents from Tuesday's close. Gasoline futures moved up more than 3 per cent to $2.57 a gallon, also a new record.

The damage from Hurricane Katrina has been worse than expected, initial assessments showed on Tuesday, prompting a new rise in oil prices to record levels and raising concerns about the cost of insurance in the Gulf of Mexico.

Industry sources said that one big underwriter had already stopped providing business-interruption insurance in the Gulf and others warned that rising storm losses would lead to premiums so high that insuring platforms could become uneconomic.

Damage assessments on Tuesday suggested that it could take a week to restart refineries hit by the hurricane at a time when supplies already are tight.
One group of people very interested in global warming issues and sea rise issues are the insurers. They have been pushing for changes for a while. Which is why Bush chose this week, oh, such timing!--to have the EPA (Energy Pollutes America) allow old coal burning generators to continue polluting the air and killing my forest.

Yes, my forest has been dying for quite a while. The grandest, oldest trees are suffering greatly. All my maples older than 60 years are rotting away, they just up and die on me! I took down several 300 year old maples this last 10 years and although I have many saplings, the middle aged ones are now dying! Not to mention the other bad stuff from acid rain which affects all the trees including the swift growing, swift dying pines.

In 1600, the natives made long houses here using the loose bark from huge white birch trees. They peeled off the bark which peels off naturally. In huge sheets. The average full sized one had trunks about 2-3'+ in diameter. Now, they die when only 1' in diameter. They just sigh, lose their leaves and then topple over. As babies.

Bah.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A HOLE IN THE BUCKET

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Photos in this essay from Yahoo.

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The picture above is just one of several dikes that were breeched. The city won't stop filling up with water until the water levels equalize. The breech is wide, the entire bank has collapsed so no simple sandbagging is possible. The breech has been too long, too, and the water cuts deeper and deeper.

So the city will be underwater and will remain so until the water pressure of water draining into the lake ceases as well as the water out ceases for then, it slows down. After it slows down, one can fill the breeches only to do so requires getting to them all!

The damage is very significant. Here are some important views, nationally speaking: fYet another oil rig, washed ashore as if it were a boat. We have no idea how many sank entirely. Very big object. We will be paying for this baby starting about....now.
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Oil storage under water. This means it can't be tapped until the waters recede. Already, right now, buildings are burning in New Orleans, ships have burned. This could burn too. Let's hope it doesn't short out, for example. The water around it is very flamable, you know.
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Victim swimming in very toxic waters. Note the gasoline on the surface. Drop a match or cigarette on this and voosh.
New photo: f
Severe pollution that is going to kill even more things in the Gulf! Already, this has been one deadly summer there. Another fire hazard in a residential neighborhood. The houses being coated with this stuff cannot be simply cleaned out. Trust me on this, this is what I do for a living: saving damaged houses.

Another reason why the city has to be utterly evacuated.

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Reason #233 why we need the National Guard in America, not Iraq. We have over 100,000 people stuck in New Orleans and many of the roads are a wreck.
fIrony hour is here. This casino's name is "Presidential Casino"--I kid you not. Apt name, sort of our Titanic moment, no? Fortunately, the people fled who lived in these beachfront homes. Casinos are a cancer on our nation and they crush many lives silently but in this case, literally crushing people's homes. They are a menace on every level.

I am off to dinner now. What a mess.

LATEST NEWS: From the NYT:
Gas fires were erupting throughout the city, looters were raiding abandoned businesses downtown, hospitals were making plans to airlift critically ill patients to other cities, numerous roadways were buckled, and residents who had tried to ride out the storm were frantically waving for rescue from their rooftops. A spokesman for the Coast Guard said that more than 1,200 people had been taken to safety by boat and helicopter on Monday and "thousands today."

Well, reason #350 for not sending the entire National Guard to Iraq! How many blocks does New Orleans have? 20,000? With a pitiful 1.500 NG this means...one per square mile? Huh?

No wonder looting is now rampant. When you see danger, thousands of NG should come in and clear the place out and then heavily patrol it.

They aren't able to do this because they are overwhelmed. Rescue on the cheap just like war on the cheap=defeat. As the poor people trying to rescue those poor people, did you know, all the schools in New Orleans are now losing their buses to the floods?

Insane. Those buses should have been filled with people and driven to high ground pronto before the storm hit! Simple: drive into the neighborhoods with a bull horn and two NG people per bus and start rousting people out! And then drive off. There are at least 5,000 such buses that are not lost causes. This would require 10,000 NG people which we don't have, do we?

Gack.

People are going to die in riots and insurrections as the government shoots to kill. Elderly are already dying in droves, drowning or of lack of care. This is all so escapable. But we let things slide, played games as if these disasters won't happen. From the San Francisco Museum:
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This reminds me of 9/11 when everyone protecting America was snoring away. Lives will be lost due to lack of foresight and care.

We need people who want to be functional running our government but then look at yesterday's "Golden Scapegoat" winner.

Last and not least, Atrioscomes this from Pandragon:

New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars. (Much of the research here is from Nexis, which is why some articles aren't linked.)

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to this Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness:

The $750 million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project is another major Corps project, which remains about 20% incomplete due to lack of funds, said Al Naomi, project manager. That project consists of building up levees and protection for pumping stations on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Jefferson parishes.

The Lake Pontchartrain project is slated to receive $3.9 million in the president's 2005 budget. Naomi said about $20 million is needed.

"The longer we wait without funding, the more we sink," he said. "I've got at least six levee construction contracts that need to be done to raise the levee protection back to where it should be (because of settling). Right now I owe my contractors about $5 million. And we're going to have to pay them interest."

That June, with the 2004 hurricane seasion starting, the Corps' Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don’t get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can’t stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn’t that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can’t raise them."
As per usual for the monkey at the wheel, to "save" money so it looks like the irresponsible twats ruining our country are trying to fix things, they cut out funds needed to keep us all alive. Naturally. Just wait when we really have to cut the budget and raise taxes.

Riots and insurrections, here we come.

MORE NEWS:From Yahoo news:
The United States can expect major economic disruption which will ripple worldwide after Hurricane Katrina's furious winds and rain shut down ports and hammered oil production, analysts said.

ADVERTISEMENT

With towns flattened, Mississippi ports blocked, coastal refineries starved of crude and oil production in the Gulf of Mexico virtually at a standstill, Katrina has had a devastating effect.

Total economic losses from one of the most powerful hurricanes in US history could go as high as 35 billion dollars, said Peter Zeihan, senior analyst at Stratfor, a global economic and political consultancy in Austin, Texas.

"The big question is how much the rivers and ports have been silted up. It could be fixed in two days, it could be two months," he told AFP.

"If it's the longer end, we're going right into the grain harvest. The US is the biggest grain exporter in the world, and most of those exports go down the Mississippi. So food and feed prices could soar worldwide," he said.

"And imports of oil and all sorts of other goods will be blocked going upstream. Domestic prices will jump as a result."
The Great Mississippi Flood was the push that sent countless workers, farmers and banks spiralling down the rabbit hole. When economies are as unbalanced as ours is...and remember, the Mississippi Flood would have been tolerable if Germany didn't suddenly announce they were suspending paying for WWI and basically declared bankrupcy, thus forcing the dying British Empire that was running deep in the red to lurch off the cliff...along with poor France who bore the brunt of the WWI mess...when the scales are unbalanced, any mishap to the "core" destroys the world's economic balance. And we are witnessing just such an event. Just like the rape of California by Enron pushed us into a recession that we used $2 trillion in deficit spending to "grow out of" which failed, by the way. We shall see exactly how badly this failed in the next year.

Damn.

MORE NEWS: 9 oil rigs shoved ashore and 3 missing entirely. They are not done assessing the damage. This is considerable damage. On a lot of levels. If we had a President that wasn't buddy buddy with the oil companies, he would pull a Chavez and take over the oil companies until the crisis is over to prevent hysteria and PRICE GOUGING. The price gouging will be ferocious and Bush will ask for aid and tax cuts for the price gougers themselves! I know he will. It is what that lunatic does: his worst.

Riots and insurrections...definitely, if Bush lets the oil companies ream us all out, he will at best get to flee like Nixon did, to happy retirement where he can complain about how he didn't deserve impeachment. (Nixon was booted out thanks to wage/price controls and oil problems!)

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THE BIG BLOW

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Unlike the previous hurricane where the media studiously ignored spectacular pictures of oil drilling rig failures, this time they couldn't stop the photo showing this huge rig wedged under a high bridge.

All the oil dealers saw it and went crazy and now the price of oil is way way up and it is going to climb and climb because transportation of all sorts is dead in the water in the Mississippi lowlands and this means no oil or gas production, PERIOD.

The reverberations from this will be immense this winter. We will be short of winter oil and possibly even natural gas!

More: we don't know the status of the oil rigs in the Gulf but this picture shows clearly, we will be lucky if half are useable. The multilevel mess here is hard to minimize. This hurricane struck in the heart of our fuel systems. We have systems in New Jersey and in Texas and in California but guess what?

What if, as I fully expect in the next two years, California has its big blow? You know, the blow out of the earth's crust. Already, our economy is teetering on the edge of disaster and unlike the Florida hurricanes which messed with some vegetable harvests and tourism, this one hit a major industrial city complex that sustains our entire economy! The connection between New Orleans and Chicago has been intimate and huge since La Salle. The entire Civil War was over this river for the northern states could do just fine if they controlled the Mississippi river! So they had to fight the states that left the union simply because this was literally life and death for Chicago and its surrounding region.

And guess where Lincoln hailed from?

The headwaters of the Mississippi river.

This is also why the economy of the entire Mississippi basin went into a severe tail spin during the Great Flood and the bankruptcies from that flood took down one bank after another. This was like a small hole in a very big ship. It takes a while for the Titanic to sink!

Last election (sic) we were promised oil would halve in price. Many voters in red areas which are mostly rural or exurban, believed this utter lie and trooped to the polls to support their executioner. Then they waited happily for the oil to drop in price now that Bush controlled all levels of the government. Their bitter dissappointment is showing up in the polls now. After this hurricane, Bush is toast. He is at a vacation resort, talking about crap while New Orleans drowns!

But then, I am not President. Even though my ability to predict the future is very high, people don't want to take the measures we must all take to prevent this sort of mess.

New Orleans isn't habitable. A million people have to be cared for, a long time. Not one week. The flooding will continue until it ends and the last Great Flood went for months. There are more hurricanes waiting down the line in the Atlantic....Mother Nature isn't through with us, not at all.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

OIL WOES WEIGH LIKE A FEATHER

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Picture on left courtesy of Earl Bockenfeld

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

As oil prices climbed to nearly seventy dollars this week, unrest grows. At one gas station, a self-centered man decided to become a criminal so he tried to steal the gas, his feeling of entitlement, I suppose. When the station owner ran out to stop him, he ran him over, killing him. This story is a metaphor for America.

For we are running over a lot of people in our quest to secure oil.

This week's other story about Robertson suggesting we murder the duly elected leader of Venezuela simply because he interfers with the oil company's dominance of that country, is another sign of how mental illness is destroying American minds thanks to the Hubbert Oil Peak. The other photo here is about an anti-oil company, anti-Bush demonstration in LA hosted by a hip hop star. Of course, he wants cheap energy. And the right to be very fat. And drive all over the place, mindlessly.

This lust is a problem.

A million spoiled enfants, Americans are taking their rage out on the employees working at low wages for the oil companies. This rage will be directed towards the GOP which is why various articles in the news fret about this. Unfortunately, the realistic solution, to retrofit our country so it can survive the really deadly downslope of the Hubbert Oil Peak, isn't popular. Nor will it ever be popular. Even as everyone complains about the high cost of fuel, very few are changing anything at all. So the true weight of all this is like a feather balanced on the scales of desire. Obviously, despite the pain, we want to gain.

Just yesterday there was this news story about a very obese woman who was angry with her doctor because he told her very forcefully that her gluttony was going to kill her. Her feelings were so hurt, she filed a complaint about him and he was disciplined by the board that controls doctor's licenses. She didn't want to be told bad news, she wanted to be catered to.

This childish attitude about reality is where things can go off the rails hugely.
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King Henry VIII was part of a new movement in politics in his time: the absolute monarch who could defy even the Church and create anything he wanted and he wanted to slough off an undesirable wife and so he started his own religion. He killed more than one wife in his quest for the perfect spouse and he ate like a pig, feeling that there should be no limit to anything he desired.

As his body deteriorated, he suffered from dietary diseases and was increasingly enraged and murderous as reality closed in on him. When his bloated, monstrous remains collapsed, his country was on the verge of collapse. After many struggles, his daughter, Elizabeth I, took over. She was a strict eater because of her loathing of what happened before but she was very vain and her vanities put England into serious trouble repeatedly (refusing to marry was at the top of the list). Her reign was glorious but vain. Everything fell apart upon her death.

The world isn't limitless and the price we pay for our appetites can be severe or even fatal. The recent energy bill passed by the lunatics running this nation was one big fat, vain, ugly exercise in childish denial. It made things significantly worse. One of the things Americans could do to recapture all our money that is flowing out of our pockets now is to tax oil companies heavily.

Instead, we cut their taxes even more!

So all our wealth will slither into the oil companies' hands and they will use it to drive us all into madcap wars as they use American lusts and vain delusions to whip us into neo-fascist wars of conquest to give them control of all the world's remaining oil. They will do this as cheaply as possible, note how they still won't bother with giving our troops armor! This isn't accidental, it is deliberate.

They want us dead, in the end. This is why Cindy Sheehan's quest in Texas, the heart of the oil/ruler conspiracies, troubles them so greatly. They need to direct American anger to the targets they choose and the Antiholy Wars that are raging are a side issue because they also want to kill Christians in Venezuela (and Mexico and Canada!) if this is needed in order to control world oil.

In other words, we took over OPEC or rather, the Saudis and Bush have conspired to change America into the OPEC strong arm enforcer. The entire world is mad at us for this. This is why we are increasingly unpopular. We parade our gluttony and vanity by the mere fact that we are growing huge, massive, our massive cars aren't disappearing, we cling to them just like we cling to our lust to eat nonstop. We don't want any limits.

This week, Chuck Hagel, a Republican Senator who wants to be President, talked about changing our approach to oil by conserving and using alternative energy systems. Unlike me, when I talk about this, I am bracing and full of confidence, and I tell everyone, change isn't bad for us! It will probably save us from ourselves!--he looked scared. Like he was giving us medicine without the sugar.

Well, we don't need sugar. We need the bracing effects of a dash of bitter medicine. It won't hurt!

Hagel won't go far with this. He can't ask for belt tightening when the very rich want to lord it over us. Like Queen Elizabeth's successor who wanted to ape his family's bad habits, the reaction can be severe. This is what the Puritan ethos was all about! The commoners chopped off the head of the king! The English went on to create an empire and was able to go back to wild spending, unfettered appetites which still run strong today in the royal family. Despite the death of the empire, they live as if they rule the earth, which they do, via the American oil companies. Like the Saudi royals.

Limits are coming! The earth isn't a ball of oil!

When the limits come, it won't be pretty. I expect American lust and gluttony to drive us to use nuclear weapons to reduce competition and gain power over resources. The desire to pull that trigger to get what we want, the outlaw ethos, is very strong and will grow stronger.

The greatest temptation is always the powerful abusing the weak. Ask any child molestor.

Ask any ruler.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

EATING THE SEED CORN

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

There has always been a direct connection between high oil prices and war in the Middle East. No matter who or why the war is for or about, this always causes oil prices to climb for obvious reasons. When Bush and the Texas oilmen conspired with Blair to start a totally uncalled for and obviously illegal war so they could steal oil and control OPEC, one of the unspoken in public but touted loudly by extention in the media before the war was that oil would become very cheap again as it was when Russia entered the international oil markets and blew out the price supports of OPEC.

The gamble was a swift victory and happy Iraqis handing over the oil without question. This premise turned out to be wishful thinking. A rule of war is, once launched, it stops when it wants to stop not when one wishes it could stop.

So, as the price of fuels skyrocket, first the rulers lied to us and said, there is no inflation. Then as inflation began to set in selectively, they claimed that it was only a few sectors, in food and fuel and transport. No worry. Then the fire of inflation destroyed the value of manufactured goods and the rulers yelled that this is great! No one gets to make a profit and everything sold at fire sale prices means no inflation! Whoopee.

As the destruction continues apace, they said each month, the price of oil would drop. And besides, if you play tricky fiscal manipulation games, the price of oil during the last two major wars in the Middle East were higher, adjusted etc. The horrible fact that the price rises in the past affected only oil unlike today with all the privatization of all energy systems, any time now that the price of oil goes up, all other energy sources rise instantly the same degree amplifying the effects, is not mentioned for some odd and obviously infuriating reason.

And the price isn't going down. From the BBC, of course:
fEcuador's state oil company says it is suspending crude oil exports following five days of protests in two provinces that have slashed production.
Hundreds of demonstrators in Sucumbios and Orellana have occupied oil installations and airports.

They want more of the country's oil money to be spent on infrastructure and new jobs. Ecuador is the fifth biggest oil producer in South America.

The government has declared a state of emergency in the region.
Iron clad rule in American media: thou shalt not ever talk about South or Central American news except if the spooks in Washington want to run fake stories---holds steady as all the American media ignores this news that directly impacts on all of us!

From the Washington Post:
President Bush and members of Congress are facing an uncomfortable political reality this summer: They have little to offer Americans to ease their pain at the pump.

With gasoline prices nearing or topping $3 per gallon in some cities, Bush and lawmakers would be thrilled to call for steps big and small to quickly take the pressure off motorists financially -- and themselves politically. The president's advisers cite high gasoline prices as one reason for Bush's sagging approval ratings, while lawmakers home for the August break are feeling the heat from anxious constituents.

But the prices are an economic and political problem for which Washington has few, if any, policy remedies that would be effective or practical in the near term, according to many energy experts and elected officials.
Time to replace these helpless, stupid numskulls! Of course, the media can't teach people anything since they refuse to cover the real news in America so voters vote for idiots because everyone has been dumbed down. Here is my Senator, Schumer:
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) is one of several Democrats who support releasing oil from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve. He warned this week that the soaring prices are "taking money out of the hands of working families." The idea is to pour U.S. oil into the world market to push down prices. But energy analysts warn that this move would draw down reserves whose stated purpose is to protect national security, not to manipulate prices. In any event, they note, the price drop would be uncertain and would perhaps amount to as little as a few cents per gallon.

"Gas prices are clearly reaching a level where it's a political problem for people," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, but "unless you empty [the reserve], it is a very temporary expedient. It does not affect the basic supply-and-demand problem."
Tapping the oil reserve might help but I remember my Senators voting for the damn war and this is the root cause of the price hikes. And the war is spreading not contracting.

From the BBC:
At least one missile has been fired at a US Navy ship docked in the Jordanian port of Aqaba, officials said.
The rocket missed the USS Ashland, but hit a nearby warehouse killing one Jordanian soldier and injuring another.

In a second attack minutes later another missile, also launched from Jordanian soil, was fired at an airport in Eilat, in neighbouring Israel.Israeli and Jordanian authorities are working together to track down the unknown assailants.
The puppet governments in all the Middle East do our bidding and the more they work with Israel the worse it gets with their own very angry population. Saudi Arabia, a very harsh, right wing police state, a totalitarian state, claims they killed the head of al Qaeda two days ago. Well, this Hydra simply grows new heads as the unhappy population struggles with their despotic rulers.

Of course, this struggle is despot vs despot. No happy ending in sight. But it is part of the great fire that is consuming this most explosive region on earth, literally and metaphorically explosive.

From a Wisconsin TV station:
Three Republican lawmakers say Wisconsinites deserve a gas tax holiday for the rest of the year.
It would cut pump prices by 15 cents a gallon and take $170 million out of the state budget.
The legislators want to cut the 30 cent-a-gallon tax in half from Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. They figure it will save about $100 on average for a family with two cars.
Regular unleaded prices hit an average $2.64 a gallon in Wisconsin on Wednesday, up from $1.94 a year ago.
Rep. Robin Vos, Pat Strachota and Don Pridemore want the governor to call the Legislature into special session to approve their plan.
The lawmakers said funding shortfall would be covered by $181 million that would accumulate in the transportation fund over the next two years.
Smart move. Destroy the highway funds so you can't fix roads and bridges! That will be great. Lots of gas and no roads. Other desperate measures will be suggested, that I know. Like extending gambling even more so gamblers can pay for everything. Great.

Back to the WP article:
Lawmakers also cannot easily suspend or reduce the 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal tax on gasoline. That money goes straight into a trust fund for covering highway and mass-transit upgrades. When gas prices climbed in the 1990s, some Republicans were quick to call for lowering the tax. This time, however, Congress has boxed itself in by passing the largest-ever transportation bill just before leaving for the August recess.
Yup. As I and many others pointed out, the highway robbery bill is a big, fat porker of a pig, just what we don't need now. The dessication of Amtrak continues while throwing all our money and efforts into extending the inefficient highway systems is just another sign of the raging insanity that possesses us today.

Five years ago, higher CAFE standards for vehicles was suggested in Congress and both parties screamed like banshees. As well as deluded Americans who thought the world was a big bag of oil we could tap forever (bad analogy, empty bags collapse!). We cut support for alternative energy systems, we cut everything. As I noted just two days ago, the hysteria over a 4.7 cent tax hike in gas taxes to pay for future systems was screamed down by a chorus of hysterical ninnies claiming it would kill commerce and the economy back when gas was retailing for just 95 cents a gallon.
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and others say Bush should take a harder line with Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing nations, and demand that they release more oil and help push down the price of oil, which hit a record $66 per barrel this week. But skeptics say that approach has not worked in the past. "We have to realize they have the oil, and it's a seller's market," Beauprez said.
Heh. Taking hard lines with our owners is stupid. The Chinese, Japanese and Saudis own our asses. They are our new bosses. We can squirm and scream but note that it is all fake since they own our politicians! Look at the yuan garbage. Everyone, everyone was screaming about it then the Chinese manipulated it by 2.1% and now all the professional screamers shut up and the news media went on to new topics, equally stupid.

I noted here that there was little sane analysis of the currency manipulations because our rulers don't want us to have a clue about this subject. This is how they make the most money with the least effort and they control the currency values so they can make 100% profitable bets on a daily basis without blushing with shame. They don't want us to know how they milk the currencies of the world to make them rich and us, slaves.
Bush, who signed into law a new energy policy earlier this year, has told audiences that the measure will not pull down prices now, but will set the stage for the United States to rely less on foreign oil in the future and more on domestically produced alternative fuels and on hybrid vehicles.
The energy bill does none of that. The support for alternative fuels is crap. The hybrid vehicle stuff, useless in the long run. The energy bill is stuffed with junk subsidizing extending exurbia which votes for Bush...now. It makes us more fossil fuel dependent, extending gas lines, for example, even though gas is reaching its Hubbert Oil Peak right now in America and is already in decline in Canada.

Soon enough, the Canadians will panic and decide to cut us off to preserve some fossil fuel for themselves in the future.

Meanwhile, we plan to drill in the last resorts for oil, we will eat up the very last of our seed corn for the future. We plan to leave not one drop of oil for our great grandchildren.

The Real Dark Ages will be very unpleasant for them. This ticks me off.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

KEEP ON TRUCKING...NOT

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From NBC news

by Elaine Meinel Supkis

From Atrios:
Truckers in Florida protest high prices

More than 600 truckers gathered in their big rigs Wednesday to protest the rising gas prices in South Florida, NBC 6's Hank Tester reported.The trucks, which included tractor-trailers, dump trucks and box trucks, gathered at the intersection of Okeechobee Road and the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade County.

snip

The drivers told NBC 6 that the shipping companies that contract them to haul to the Port of Miami pay around 85 cents per mile. With the high cost of gas, operating per mile could cost 60 cents.
"A lot of people are making money on this business -- the shipping line, the owner of the company, the marine terminal. They make a lot of money but we are poor," driver Luis Rivera said.
Looks like the natives are getting restive. I wondered how long this would take. Let's look at the past and see how propaganda, the media and the GOP cross conspire to work people into a lather when they want things done but then go lax and sleepy when a Republican is running the place.

During the Clinton years, fuel was very cheap. Few people wondered why and the pundits lied so everyone thought this was the new status quo and not a very temporary condition. So we began to guzzle energy again. Recklessly and willfully, we launched ourselves into increasingly bigger and bigger houses and vehicles. To slow down the obvious pollution and other negative effects (try parking these days!), Clinton proposed several measures. To balance the budget that the GOP whacked into red ink territory, Clinton proposed a four cent surtax on gasoline.

The screeches of horror were deafening. A typical example: From NPRI:
Nevadans constantly complain—and rightfully so—about the high price of gasoline in the Silver State. Although prices have declined in recent months, gas in Nevada costs significantly higher than in other states, including nearby California. Many critics, such as the editors of the Las Vegas Sun, allege the state is being "gouged by an industry that allows only token competition." Such claims remain to be proven, but one fact in the discussion regarding gas prices cannot be disputed: the majority of Nevada’s drivers pay a whopping 52.05 cents per gallon in federal, state, and county taxes. Herewith, an examination of Nevada’s gas tax structure.

The Federal Bite

The federal government’s gas tax is 18.3 cents per gallon. The most recent tax increase of 4.3 cents came in 1993, with the passage of President Clinton’s first budget. As the following chart indicates, the federal gas tax bite has risen precipitously in recent years:

1980 4 cents
1982 9 cents
1989 14 cents
1993 18.3 cents
The article from 1998 goes on and on about this terrible 18.3% tax and how this is ruination for us all. Since 1998, the price of fuel has shot up 100%+ and the same yappers screaming about federal taxes are silent. Worse, we are now running deficits of heroic proportions.

Here is a reminder of the debate in 1996: From CNN, back when it was still owned by Ted Turner:
It may be a patriotic duty to fume over the spike in gas prices, but like it or not, there's a paradox in our pique: America's love affair with cheap energy is precisely the reason that gas taxes should be higher. Bob Dole and Bill Clinton won't say so, of course. They're busy sparring over a repeal of the 4.3 cents-per-gallon gas tax the President included in his 1993 deficit-reduction plan. But pandering isn't inevitable: four years ago, Ross Perot and Paul Tsongas were calling for a new 50 cents-per-gallon tax to be phased in over a number of years. The Big Three automakers and oil giants Chevron and Conoco were onboard with the basic concept. Why? They had come around to the view held by every other advanced nation: cheap oil is costly to the environment, the economy and national security, and raising taxes to reduce consumption is a smart way to fund government.

To the rest of the world, our price complaint must look a little silly. Even at an average $1.30 per gallon, gas prices are as low today in real terms as they were in 1950-and nearly 40% lower than after the last embargo's price peak in 1981. Thanks to these bargains, Americans slurp as much oil as ever. In France, Germany and Japan, meanwhile, a gallon of gas costs more than $4. Taxes there account for 50% to 80% of the pump price. Here, by contrast, federal and state taxes together average 38 cents per gallon, less than 30% of the price. Thanks in part to their policy of high-priced gas, our industrial competitors have made stunning strides in energy efficiency and independence. In Japan the high cost of oil imports--5.5% of GDP in 1980--forced industry to restructure. By 1990 oil imports were 1% of GDP. Put another way, Japan produces about three times its 1975 output with, in effect, the same tank of gas.
An intelligent article from a network that was once my very favorite news source. Sigh.

Irresponsible behavior is all the rage in the Republican capitols. The latest salvos in the war to bankrupt America are the Energy Bill which is a bill, all right, a bill our children will have to pay since it does nearly nothing to prepare us for the eons of no cheap oil that will follow in the wake of the Hubbert Oil Peak, and the Highway Bill which is really highway robbery since it isn't using money raised by gasoline taxes but is loading on even more debt!

From Associated Press:
President Bush on Wednesday signed a whopping $286.4 billion transportation bill, touting it as bringing the nation’s transportation network "into the 21st century."
With fanfare, Bush signed the more than 1,000-page highway bill into law even though it was more costly than he preferred. It includes cash to bankroll some 6,000 pet projects for lawmakers in their home districts.

The setting for Bush’s bill-signing ceremony and speech was a plant operated by Caterpillar Inc., which makes road-building equipment. For the president, it was his second trip away from his Texas ranch this week to highlight recently passed legislation.
This bill is ridiculous on so many levels! Building bridges to nowhere. Extending suburbia across our precious farmlands. Like the energy bill, it rewards and protects those very people who are doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

The poor truckers don't understand their plight here for they are caught up in the same net they wove themselves. They are cogs in a machine that is going to begin grinding gears for lack of lubricating oil. They will be ground up with their rigs. The free spending ways of America will be ending, too. When it does, we will have lots of fine highways to bicycle on only no one will want to since these roads will be literally roads to nowhere.

Building roads and stadiums and other things don't really "grow" our economy. The problem of us importing nearly everything that is manufactured is growing worse, not better. Caterpillar's American factory was the site of the signing as the unions and the corporate bosses stood around with straight faces as Bush talked about creating American jobs.

Of course, this is all welfare queen stuff. After all, every one of these jobs are due to federal taxes and federal debt. You and i are paying for all this. This doesn't make us richer or better. It does give parasites more chances to make money at our expense. Note how this government boondoggle isn't being attacked by the minions in the media.

Dead silence. Worse, crowing about how great it is, we can do this stupid stuff.

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Monday, August 08, 2005

PARADISE LOST

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Photo:Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times/Metropolitan Museum, the Cloisters Unicorn tapestry

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The Unicorn dips its einhorn into the water spilling out of the Well at the center of Paradise, cleansing the water. The Child and the Mother walk in the wastelands, holding hands, the stream of life, an open sewer running down the middle of the street in Baghdad, Iraq.

Our hell on earth.

Sometimes a very brief story grabs me. The reports that the writing of the Constituion of Iraq has been suspended because of dust storms caused a pang of sorrow. Aside from the fact that this document will reenslave women, there is the matter of Paradise: it is gone.

This has consequences. Our concept of law, history, culture and astronomy all spring out of the Euprates/Tigris valley via the Bible as well as other means. It is the bedrock of our entire culture. Millions of Americans worship the Bible blindly not knowing the truth: Paradise was on earth, once. In the city of Ur.

On February 10th, 1258, the Mongols took down Baghdad and slaughtered the populace and laid the rich lands and gold plated mosques into ruin, they destroyed the complex irrigation systems and wrecked the farmlands. They spared nearly no one. The Christians hailed this as the Apocalypse and the Muslim world agreed, it was the End of Times.

But it wasn't at all. Life springs ever eternal but Paradise never came back. The Greeks, 1,000 years earlier, called Babylon, an earlier incarnation of Baghdad, "One of the Wonders of the World" and it was the delight of Alexander the Great and his doom, that Heaven on Earth.

For nearly 1,000 years after the Mongols destroyed it, the place festered and waited, increasingly isolated and degraded, the Oldest Lady, she was. Then, oil was discovered.

Soon enough, gold and power poured into Baghdad only instead of bringing peace and plenty it brought only death and war. Like the dragon that sits upon the hoard, fighting and killing all who come only to fall to Siegfried's sword, cursing him to an eternity of betrayal and death in his own turn, so sits Baghdad. And we waved our Depleted Uranium sword and laughed as we slew them, we thought, this was all too easy. We now sit in Baghdad, upon the golden hoard, and it is killing us. It is killing us very relentlessly, as our rulers clutch this prize, many die.

Today, aside from the usual violent deaths, they are dying of disease from the polluted waters, they are dying from the dust that is rasing hell as it blows mournfully through, choking young and old, leaving death all over the great, ancient city.

For it is no longer one of the Seven Wonders, it is one of the warnings to humanity as to our fate!

From the Washington Post:
Before the Pentagon begins reducing troop levels in Iraq next year it probably will increase them this fall to provide extra security for a planned October referendum and a December election, a Pentagon official said Monday.

Lawrence Di Rita, spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, noted that troop levels were raised last January during Iraq's first elections, and then returned to the current level of about 138,000 several weeks later.

"It's perfectly plausible to assume we'll do the same thing for this election," he said, while stressing that no decisions have been made.

Di Rita said he did not know how many extra troops might be needed during the referendum and election period.
The tormentors in the Pentagon, the crazy man in the White House, every day, they whipsaw us all. After spending many hours lying about how the troops will come home and not at night, in small boxes, they blurt out the truth because they know, if they don't, there will be a riot.

Well, they might get their riots soon enough. All the frightened wives and mothers and fathers and children of the people stationed in the circle of Hell in Iraq want to know that they will come home. Now, utter despair.

There is no victory, no end, no exit. No light except for the final glow as the soul passes forever through the Gates of Death.
Di Rita said the number of extra U.S. troops needed for the fall voting would depend in part on the readiness of newly trained Iraqi security forces.
News elsewhere, notes that many of the attacks in Iraq come from the troops we are training for they hate us. Why we think more training will make things better for us is a particular insanity that is held dear by those who never served in Nam, made fun of Kerry for serving in Nam and who think we didn't win in Vietnam because volunteers like Kerry were responsible for everything.

And us hippie chicks. We messed it all up, too.
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Cindy Sheehan has been demonstrating in the hot Texas sun, demanding Bush explain his stupid war. He sent out some aides to explain nothing and of course, they didn't tell her they want more dupes to die there. They pretend all is well.

From CNN:
"....I told them Iraq was not a threat to the United States and that now people are dead for nothing. I told them I wouldn't leave until I talked to George Bush."

She said Hagin told her, "I want to assure you that he (Bush) really does care."

"And I said if he does care, why doesn't he come out and talk to me."
Bush only talks to toadies, his Asian bosses, his OPEC co-conspiritors and maybe, Jenna. He doesn't talk to the rest of us. 61% of Americans in today's polls think the war in Iraq is a catastrophe. His approval ratings continue their plunge below the 9/11/01 levels which came just one year after a fake election victory which echoes the present fake election victory.

From the Independent:
The price of oil rose to its highest level for more than 22 years after warnings of imminent terror attacks against Westerners in Saudi Arabia.

There was also evidence that the surge in the price of crude oil driven in part by the invasion of Iraq and more general concerns about the security of the commodity's supply is poised to have a significant impact on the spending power of British consumers. In some areas the cost of a litre of unleaded petrol is over £1. Gas prices, which are also dependent on it, will increase by 11.9 per cent this month, according to Powergen, the supply company. And rising fuel bills faced by the airlines are likely to be passed on to passengers.

According to figures released yesterday, the cost of raw materials rose at their fastest annual rate for more than 20 years in July, with higher oil prices largely to blame. Economists warned that the prospects of lower interest rates, desperately needed to boost the sluggish retail sector and a stagnant property market, had shrunk dramatically.
High prices may affect homeowners this winter? Geeze. Duh. How about "ouch"?

Inflation rages where ever it can and it does. Auto sales are up only because the auto companies are unloading excess stock and they are doing so with poor profitability. Meanwhile, American oil barons rejoice. Bush is cautious. Will Americans wise up? Will they figure out that the King of Saudi Arabia and he are not only in cahoots but are close buddies? And neither really care if we freeze to death? Well.

I will keep saying this, our nightmare won't end quietly. If everyone waits too long, the change will be explosive, literally. We are in a race against time. Who will blow up first? Or shall I say, what terrors will we have to endure before we figure out that we are the sheep the wolves are hunting and the men blowing the horns summoning them in this Hunt of the Unicorn are
our own American leaders?

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

BLACK DEATH

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

When large number of people die in the two Chinas as well as India, it makes barely a ripple over here. Not one but two typhoons have slammed directly into Taiwan and then China. Tremendous rain fall in India killed many, too.

But this isn't the only deaths we ignore. Every week, there is some coal mining disaster or another that gets dutifully reported in Xinhuanet, for example. The need for coal is intense and just like 100 years ago in America, the death toll mining this precious fossil fuel mounts ever higher.

From Xinhuanet:
Top Chinese leaders have showed enormous concern over the coal mine flood which trapped 102 miners at the Daxing Coal Mine in southern China's Guangdong Province on Sunday afternoon, according to official sources.

Shortly after the accident occurred, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao gave important instructions to urge the local government and departments concerned to "take substantial steps and spare no efforts" to save the trapped miners.

Zhang Dejiang, secretary of Guangdong provincial committee of the Communist Party of China and Hua Jianmin State Councilor and Secretary-General of the State Council, also ordered rescuers to try every means to minimize the number of casualties.

The accident occurred at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in a private coal mine named of Daxing, which is located at the Wanghuai Town of Meizhou City.
There is rising anxiety and rage over these privately owned mines and the lack of safety. This matter has finally come to the collective attention of the Ruling Party High Rank Officers, even Hu and Wen are pausing in their games with the American capitalists and their bag men, the Republican Party. This is serious enough to stir sentiment at the highest levels, for worry over what the restive workers might do such as organize, causes real fear.

From US Department of Labor:

Fatalities and Injuries for All Mining (Coal & Noncoal)

Year Average Annual
Deaths Average Annual
Injuries
1936-1940 1,546 81,342
1941-1945 1,592 82,825
1946-1950 1,054 63,367
1951-1955 690 38,510
1956-1960 550 28,805
1961-1965 449 23,204
1966-1970 426 22,435
1971-1975 322 33,963
1976-1980 254 41,220
1981-1985 174 24,290
1986-1990 122 27,524
1991-1999 93 21,351
Thanks to Joe Hill" and a host of miners defying the powers that be and the political structure to build real unions that changed mining so that it is now much safer. But this change also comes with a high price tag.

For example, now that miners are "expensive," they are being dropped rapidly. The methods used to mine for coal in America now mirror copper mining, namely, removal of the hills and valleys and extracting the coal from the mass of earth which is vastly redesigning the mountain ranges were most of the coal is found in folds in the earth.

Coal mining has been dropping in developed lands and rising in places like China where conditions are very similar to here at the turn of the 19th century.

fFrom Coal Mining in Perryopolis
The history of Perryopolis wouldn't be complete without a reference to coal mining. Although Perryopolis itself is not a “company town” -- a town built and owned by a coal company to house miners and their families close to the mines -- there were coal mines in and around town, and Perryopolis is surrounded by coal mining towns and patches. Star Junction, Victoria, Sweetcake, Panicktown, Whitsett, and Wickhaven were all coal mining towns or patches.

The coal companies owned the stores in which miners shopped, and these stores sold just about everything the miners needed, from food to clothing to coal itself to heat the miner’s houses. The miners also liked to shop elsewhere when they could, and Perryopolis businesses benefited considerably from the local coal industry from the middle of the 19th century until the 1950’s.

Many Perryopolis residents are retired miners, and many more are the sons and daughters of coal miners. All of the photographs on this page were made at Southwestern Pennsylvania mines. Although it is not known at which mines most of the photographs were made, the first photo shows Colonial 3 mine at Rowes Run, near Gridstone, in 1937. The enormous slate dump from this mine still stands alongside the Grindstone-Brownsville road. Your webmaster’s father, Louis Earl Illig, and many other Perry-area men worked in this mine. Colonial 3 closed in the late 1950’s.

The dramatically successful rescue of nine miners who were trapped underground by a flood in Somerset County in July, 2002, serves as a reminder that coal mining is still very much a part of life in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and that the men who go into the mines to bring out the coal are still brave men, though they would never say so.
I remember that mine accident. The men managed to stay alive until rescued. Their lives have been very difficult since then because this sort of thing plus the media attention can be very difficult to handle (one committed suicide, I believe).

What does all this have to do with us?

Take a good look at many things we now buy so cheaply. Just consider things made out of steel. The wrench in my photograph is a 24" adjustable made in China. The steel had to be either smelted or reshaped after being heated and the chances of this process being accomplished by burning coal is extremely high. The reason why, up until recently, our steel mills were mostly in places like Pittsburgh, for example, was due entirely to the proximity of coal. I believe that virtually no other fuel is used to smelt ores or melt steel. Aluminum is made using electricity which is why it is close to hydrolic dams, for example.

When we buy our cheap steel products, we are playing a time warp game. Spending modern money for Victorian era goods, namely, the working conditions of the labor is way out of whack with our own conditions. We benefit from the oppression and suffering of the Chinese people as they toil in dangerous, dark conditions while we gobble up energy creating comfort zones of vast proportions. We buy airconditioners made in China as well as many tools and other necessities. We rejoice in the cheap cost of that microwave but the steel case was made at a dear price, literally, in blood.

The fiction that America has nothing to do with the dire working conditions of all the Dickensinian Free Trade Flat Earth New World Order is something we created because we really don't want to change anything at all since this would cut into the profits of many people who want to live in a comfort zone. The Victorians, perforce, had to live cheek to jowl with their workers because of transportation difficulties and primative communication systems. So the Steel Lords of Pittburgh lived within a spitting distance of the steel mills that belched pollution and kiled workers. They couldn't hide so they created other means of hiding like thick curtains, literally, shutting out the mess outside.

The heavy hangings over the windows of the rich during this era is rather amusing. Today, they can park their asses where ever they want and breathe clean air and be bissfully ignorant of the mess they stand upon for it is banished, far, far away.

It doesn't even rate a small headline in the New York Times which prefers, just like the Victorians, to fulimate about tribal warfare in Africa and egg on imperial troops invading far lands. Some day, troops of workers might invade. This happens, you know.

The Maoist victory in China wasn't spearheaded by workers.

The next wave just might be that.

UPDATE: Looks like this is the straw breaking the Chinese laborer's back. Not only is the entire government taking measures now, the news is big news in China and for the first time, they are allowing pictures of the disaster to appear in public. This seems to me to be a signal from the ruling committee that it is time to fix the problems.

Pictures here
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CHIMERA

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The human mind is a wonderful thing. It can imagine anything. Chimerae of the mind populate the historic record. Even as humans drew the first portraits and views of living things, they began to create imaginary symbols. There is a strong element of wishful thinking which humans indulge in and it is a good thing for this is how we cope with life.

But it has dangers. Believing in Santa Claus as an adult means one will be the victim of many schemes and plots. Believing in the Easter Bunny is foolish if one seriously thinks a member of the rodent family will fetch candy and eggs for you.

When comtemplating the reality of energy use, one encounters downright insanity.

From Yahoo:
A U.S. chemist is trying to determine how the world will produce enough energy to supply 9 billion people by mid-century — and whether that can be done without pumping off-the-charts amounts of carbon dioxide into the air.

Daniel Nocera, 48, is working to achieve an old, elusive dream: using the bountiful energy in sunlight to split water into its basic components, hydrogen and oxygen. The elements could then be used to supply clean-running fuel cells or new kinds of machinery. Or the energy created from the reaction itself, as atomic bonds are severed and re-formed, might be harnessed and stored.

There is a beautiful model for this: photosynthesis. Sunlight kickstarts a reaction in which leaves break down water and carbon dioxide and turn them into oxygen and sugar, which plants use for fuel.

But plants developed this process over billions of years, and even so, it's technically not that efficient. Nocera and other scientists are trying to replicate that — and perhaps improve on it — in decades.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but it's generally locked up in compounds with other elements. Currently, it is chiefly harvested from fossil fuels, whose use is the main cause of carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming.

And so while hydrogen fuel cells — in which hydrogen and oxygen combine to produce electricity and water — have a green reputation, their long-term promise could be limited unless the hydrogen they consume comes from clean sources.

That's where Nocera's method comes in. If it works, it would be free of carbon and the epitome of renewable, since it would be powered by the sun. Enough energy from sunlight hits the earth every hour to supply the world for months. The challenge is harnessing it and storing it efficiently, which existing solar technologies do not do.

"This is nirvana in energy. This will make the problem go away," Nocera said one morning in his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the Grateful Dead devotee has a "Mean People Suck" sticker on his window. "If it doesn't, we will cease to exist as humanity."
The perpetual motion machine is also an alluring dream. The problem with solving our lust for power using simple methods is that if it worked, it would have worked already. Even though, compared to 50 years from now, energy is really cheap, a source of energy that is easy and even cheaper would have swept the world long ago.

The other thing that terrifies me is the contention about ceasing to be human if we can't consume vast quantities of energy. Humans lived as humanity with only stone tools and simple fires. Millions live today, lives that have near zero levels of energy. They may appear poor to us but they still have families, culture and a life. Not being able to live in an artificial environment isn't the end of the world.

My family lived with me in a tent complex on the side of a mountain in the northeast where it snows half the time and we did this with minimal electricity from our single solar panel and a generator and our woodstoves for heating.

Far from dying or being miserable, it was a blast. We lived like this for ten years. I am still human, last time I looked.
"Dan is even-money (odds) to solve this problem," says Harry Gray, a renowned California Institute of Technology chemist who was Nocera's graduate adviser.

But there's a catch. In fact, there's a few, and they illustrate how hard it can be to move alternative energy beyond the proof-of-concept phase.

Nocera has performed the reaction with acidic solutions, but not water yet.

The catalyst he used was a compound that included the expensive metal rhodium. To be a practical energy solution, it will have to be made from inexpensive elements like iron, nickel or cobalt.

Nocera's reaction got the photons in light to free up hydrogen atoms, but that's only half the equation. The harder part will be to also capture the oxygen that emerges when water molecules are split. That way, both elements can be fed into a fuel cell, making the process as efficient as possible.
There is always more hitches than at a Boy Scout Jamboree. Once, when there was no life on earth, the oceans were rather acidic. Why do all our energy lusts lead to a planet hostile to living things? This is the real problem.

The sun has tons of energy but this doesn't mean we should turn our planet into a sun like some want to do by building a zillion nuclear power plants, just for example.
Nocera cites a calculation by Caltech chemist Nathan Lewis that power demands in 2050 will be so great that just to keep carbon dioxide emissions at twice preindustrial levels, a nuclear plant would have to be built every two days. There's not enough room on the planet's surface for other widely touted solutions such as wind and biomass to have much impact.
Unlimited lust meets limited planet! There is plenty of surface available for solar energy, for example. Our roofs. They are everywhere and on every building! Of course, most are oriented in such a way as to be nearly useless but they exist and future homes will be built like mine, with a compass and a roof pitched to accomodate solar panels. The real problem is our joy at living in a literal bubble. This massive bubble requires incredible amounts of energy to sustain. I used very little energy living in my tent, the refrigerator turned on in late October and turned off in April, for example (a joke). In summer, I grew veggies and ate them as I harvested them.

The cycles of nature even in harsh climates are quite livable. But we would love to live in a hyper-nice padded bubble and this is, due to population growth and desire to make the bubble bigger and bigger, on a collision course with harsh reality. The quest for everlasting life is part of this whole human quest for the Holy Grail, a perfect world that allows us to be absolutely out of control, to live forever while consuming everything.

Alas, only one person can end up doing all this and that person will end up becoming the god of a dead planet.

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

E=Mc2

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Today is the 60th anniversary of the greatest demonstration of power ever: a nuclear bomb was dropped on a city. From that day forwards, we knew we had the power of the Gods and unfortunately, as the Bible likes to show, Gods have a tic for annihilation.

Wipe outs.

On that gloomy note, I must address a rather gloomy problem: the Hubbert Oil Peak. From the New York Times:
President Bush might not have turned up personally in Riyadh yesterday but he certainly sent a high-powered delegation to pay his respects to the new leader of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah.
I guess old Abdullah's kissing and hand holding cooing session with Bush at Crawford was suffient.
The American turnout, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, former President George H. W. Bush, and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, was the latest signal that relations between the two countries have thawed since the strains of 9/11. But it was also an acknowledgment of a simple fact: like it or not, the United States is more dependent than ever on Saudi Arabia.

"The Saudis are in a great position today," said Jean-François Seznec, a professor at Columbia University's Middle East Institute. "We cannot be enemies with everybody. We need their oil desperately."
The usual lies. Right after the WTC collapsed, Bush and Cheney moved swiftly...to protect the Saudis, even those directly involved in funding and covering up the hijacker's activities. The Saudi information the 9/11 white wash commission wrote was redacted and so was another 9/11 government report. At no point did we punish the Saudis in any fashion at all. Throughout the "War on Terror" we have literally kissed and bowed and scraped in front of the Saudis.

Just one month before 9/11, I wrote about a news article that described a visit to one of the Saudi princes by Bush Sr. In it, the reporter described how the Saudi ignored Bush Sr and watched TV while he made the former President sit on a cushion while he reclined on a couch. He was nonchalant while Bush Sr leaned forward and betrayed his anxiety to please.

Sort of like how the Bush team meets with the top Chinese communists.
"As the world's largest producer and as the world's largest consumer, our two countries have a special relationship," Samuel W. Bodman, the secretary of energy, said earlier this year after meeting in Washington with his Saudi counterpart, Ali al-Naimi. "We are, at least in certain respects, partners."
This is why curbing our consumption is so important and the failure to do this is going to haunt us later if not sooner. At no point have the Bush/oil rulers team tried to avert the coming crisis. Indeed, they encourage it such as the bill that Congress passed giving huge tax cuts for people buying Hummers.
Then came the Iraq war. Among the fringe benefits of removing Saddam Hussein from power, went the thinking in the United States at the time, would be a rapid recovery of that country's oil production. In some hawkish circles in Washington, it was thought that a free Iraq would eventually undercut OPEC's power and marginalize Saudi Arabia.
This paragraph is pure propaganda. It is all lies.

Texas and the other former Confederate states that pump oil and gas are all part of OPEC. They love OPEC. They do everything in their power to extend OPEC's power and to enhance OPEC. When Russia suddenly joined the energy market with the fall of communism there, fuel prices collapsed. This was terrible for the American branch of OPEC but now everything is coming up roses for them. They are reaming out their fellow Americans and laughing all the way to the bank. They know, if the natives get restive, they can point to Venezuela and demand we invade.

The Iraq war was a conspiracy between OPEC members to take down someone who was troubling them. It wasn't to make oil cheap, either. It was to extend the powers of the Saudi/Texas ruling alliance. The support of the Israeli/American Jewish community was a bonus for them, they know they can crush the Jewish alliance in an eyeblink whenever it suits them, right now, keeping Israel locked in the futile battle over nearly useless land keeps them in power.

Back on the homefront, all sorts of schemes keep popping up in a vain struggle to try to keep the oil based culture running. From Yahoo:
A University of Idaho graduate student believes the answer to the world's crude oil crisis grows on trees. Juan Andres Soria says he has developed a process that turns wood into bio-oil, a substance similar to crude oil.

The process — in which sawdust and methanol are heated to 900 degrees Fahrenheit to create the bio-oil — is already drawing some interest from energy and wood product companies, Soria said.

"But because it's quite novel, there's a bit of reserve," he said.

Soria is testing his theory with the help of Armando McDonald, associate professor of wood chemistry and composites in the University of Idaho's College of Natural Resources.

Though the idea may sound far-fetched, Soria and McDonald say the theory has precedent in nature — coal is the result of trees being subjected to high amounts of heat and pressure.

"We're trying to speed up the process," McDonald said. "Rather than doing it in millions of years, can we do it in minutes?"

So far, Soria's research has focused on sawdust from Ponderosa pine trees, although he said any variety of tree could be used, including fast-growing varieties like those being cultivated for wood pulp. Only about 2 percent of the mass is lost in the heating process, he said. After the bio-oil is produced, he separates it by boiling points, or grades. So far, he said, he's identified oil grades that could someday replace gasoline, tar, glues and resins that make things like lawn furniture.

Ponderosa pine sawdust is only the beginning, Soria and McDonald claim. Next, they will begin testing to see if they can get bio-oil from pine needles and bark.

The two are doing the research without grant money. Soria plans to use the research in his dissertation for his doctorate. If the private sector likes the idea enough to back it financially, Soria said he could put together an industrial-size bio refinery in five years.

Still, he said, the bio-oil isn't likely to be an immediate competitor to crude oil. Crude oil currently costs about $60 a barrel, and bio-oil will only be competitive when the cost of crude oil reaches $80 a barrel, Soria said.
The reason why oil changed civilization and rapidly became the basis of modern life is that it is the compressed energy of the sun, millions of years of energy, trapped in rock that is relatively, until recently, easy to extract. Just put in a well and a pump and let her rip! Transporting it raises the overhead, processing it into gasoline takes energy, too, but the stored value of all these years of capturing sun power, due to geological compression from the very weight of the rocks overlaying the organic matter, the positive energy flow is tremendous.

Nothing comes near it.

I heat my house with wood. The trees in my forest collect solar energy over the years, hundreds of years in the case of some of my oak trees. To use this energy my husband and I have to expend energy. We have to use either the tractor, the horse or drag the wood on the ground by hand or by sled in winter. We have to saw it up and then chop it, a lot of energy expended there! Then carry the chopped wood and stack it. Then unstack it and take it inside. And then throw it in the fire, all this requires a lot of calories expended.

To harvest wood takes lots of energy. If, say, we take up all the pine needles, for example, over 100 years, the forest will be a desert because the trees will take energy out of the soil as they grow and not replentish it by dropping leaves and needles. All forests are rich environments only because of trees rotting or dropping organic matter. This is why, when jungles are clear cut, the soil degrades nearly immediately. Indeed, the history of agriculture is the history of desertifcation.

The nexus of the agrarian revolution was in the Nile valley and the Tigris/Euphretes valley. Other great centers were in similar valleys all of which had one thing in common: they flooded a lot.

The floods regenerate the soil.

Turning wood in gasoline is a tremendous waste of energy and it will destroy the enviroment even more hideously than the present rate of destruction.

Others are just as alarmed as I am about this frekless disregard of all the levels of interaction. From the San Diego Union Tribune:
It sounds like a perfect, win-win solution for both the nation's farm economy and its energy needs. According to the National Corn Growers Association, ethanol production could make 1.4 billion bushels of corn "disappear" in 2004 ... enough to replace more than 2 billion gallons of gasoline and provide a much-needed market for farmers stricken with chronically low corn prices.

There's just one catch: According to scientists in New York and California, it takes more energy to make ethanol than you get back in fuel savings. More precisely, says David Pimentel of Cornell University, it takes the equivalent of 1.29 gallons of gasoline to produce enough ethanol to replace one gallon of gasoline at the pump. Instead of making the nation more energy self-sufficient, ethanol production actually increases our need for oil and gas imports, Pimentel says.
Like when the Norse were dying in Greenland, they refused to change their culture and adapt to deteriorating conditions and ended up eating their sheep and milk cows and then starved to death, we, too, don't want to change anything and would rather starve part of humanity so we can burn corn rather than change even slightly.

The cheap price of corn is due only to the cheap price of fuel. Farmers can grow and harvest corn easily and thanks to fertilizers, they can do this without regard to the balance of nature, but this is a temporary situation. The fields have to be ploughed, then sown, then maintained, all requiring fuel expenditures, then harvested, processed, transported and then in order to turn it into fuel, energy has to be applied yet again!

This is why the economy of horses and oxen made sense for eons. My ox team produced tons of manure which they then hauled around the farm for me and I used it to enrich the soil. The sheep pen in winter was the vegetable garden. Their piss enriched the soil which is why, in medieval times, people fought in courts over who gets to pen the sheep in winter.

From Xinhuanet:
Big oil companies are driving advertising campaigns warning that the world is running out of oil and calling on the public to help the industry.

ExxonMobil, the world's largest energy group, said in a recent advertisement: "The world faces enormous energy challenges. There are no easy answers," according to a story of Financial Times published on Friday.

And ExxonMobil's statistics back up the sentiment. In The Outlook for Energy: A 2030 View, the Irving, Texas-based company forecasts that oil production outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the cartel that controls three-quarters of the world's oil reserves, will reach its peak injust five years.

Chevron, the second-largest energy group in the United States, sends a similar message, but goes two steps further. "One thing isclear: The era of easy oil is over. We call upon scientists and educators, politicians and policy-makers, environmentalists, leaders of industry and each one of you to be part of reshaping the next era of energy. Inaction is not an option," was the message in a recent advertising campaign.
This is infuriating, to say the least. When we campaigned about the Hubbert Oil Peak, they were lobbying Congress and corrupting our political system via campaign money funneled to the GOP to get them into power so they could make our situation much worse, now they are warning us?

Insane.
Meanwhile, a recent simulation exercise showed that terrorists struck oil facilities in the US and Saudi Arabia, pushing oil prices to a record 120 dollars. It goes further to "project" that oil price might rocket to 160 dollars a barrel, after a "simulated" violence in Saudi Arabia which causes evacuation of foreign nationals with oil expertise, ending the country's ability to increase oil production.

However, a senior executive at an oil company not involved in the advertising campaigns speculated that his counterparts were attempting to buy themselves some slack to go after the messier, more expensive, dirty oil. Another executive said it may buy some sympathy for the difficulty many companies are having in increasing their production and reserves.
The pessimist in me often says, in the bitter end, in an attempt to cling to the dying Oil Era Civilization, humans will start WWIII and will rush to kill off each other so the survivors can consume oil to their heart's content because all the competitors for it will be dead.

Saving the environment makes sense but as Jarrad notes in his best seller book about failed cultures: people would rather turn cannibal than stop doing destructive things that are driving them into annihilation.

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