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Current Topic: Current Events

U.S. officer arrested for beating a Chinese
Topic: Current Events 8:26 am EDT, Jul 29, 2004

A Homeland Security inspector of the United States was charged Friday with violating a Chinese tourist's civil rights following an altercation that left the innocent woman's eyes nearly swollen shut and bumps and bruises on her face and head.

The incident occurred late Wednesday at the Rainbow Bridge on the US-Canadian border in Niagara Falls, after Customs and Border Protection officers confiscated marijuana from a male pedestrian.

Officer Robert Rhodes, mistakenly believing the Chinese woman standing nearby was involved, allegedly sprayed her with pepper spray, threw her against a wall, kneed her in the head as she knelt on the ground and struck her head on the ground while holding her hair, according to witnesses.


The picture of her says a thousand words. Moral of the story: If a Homeland Security inspector asks you to come to the "inspection station" (whatever that is,) don't run. If you do, they'll grab you, spray you with pepper spray, and issue you a beating.

I'd like to think officer Rhodes is just one bad apple, but after the systematic prison abuse in Iraq, for this to be popping up on the radar domestically, this is not boding well for our image.

U.S. officer arrested for beating a Chinese

Iran warns Israel of harsh retaliation
Topic: Current Events 1:32 pm EDT, Jul 27, 2004

Iran has responded to regional and Israeli threats of attack by vowing to destroy Israel if it attacks the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities.

Public relations head of the Revolutionary Guards, Commander Seyed Masood Jazayeri, was quoted by the Iranian student news agency ISNA as saying Iran would not initiate a conflict.

However, he said that in retaliation to any attack Iran has proved itself to be "harsh, assertive, hard-hitting and destructive".

"The United States is showing off by threatening to use its wild dog, Israel," he said.

"They will not hesitate to strike Iran if they are capable of it. However, their threats to attack Iran's nuclear facilities cannot be realised. They are aware Tehran's reaction will be so harsh that Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth and US interests will be easily damaged," he warned.

Iran's effort to generate nuclear power is seen by Israel and the US as a cover for nuclear weapons development, allegations that Iran denies.


There has been speculation that Russia and Iran have an arrangement. I wonder if Iran has those Sunburn supersonic cruise missles with nuclear warheads or if this is just bluff.

Iran warns Israel of harsh retaliation

Report: Israel's 'first strike' plan against Iran ready
Topic: Current Events 4:41 pm EDT, Jul 19, 2004

Israel has completed military rehearsals for a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear power facility at Bushehr, Israeli officials told the London-based Sunday Times.

Such a strike is likely if Russia supplies Iran with fuel rods for enriching uranium. The rods, currently stored at a Russian port, are expected to be delivered late next year after a dispute over financial terms is resolved.

An Israeli defense source in Tel Aviv, who confirmed that the military rehearsals had taken place, told the paper: "Israel will on no account permit Iranian reactors - especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help - to go critical."


This will be interesting.

Report: Israel's 'first strike' plan against Iran ready

RE: Officials discuss how to delay Election Day
Topic: Current Events 9:22 pm EDT, Jul 12, 2004

Decius wrote:

] However, any way of addressing this issue should have a very
] clear structure. No more then a certain amount of delay should
] be allowed, and only under certain circumstances.

We need to watch the legislation very carefully when it hits:

It will change rapidly I'm sure. What I'm concerned about is if there is language that allows for suspension of elections just based on a threat.

It looks like this would take a constitutional amendment though. I wonder if they'll try to sneak this into the ban of gay marriage amendment they want.

RE: Officials discuss how to delay Election Day

June 8th, 1967 - June 8th, 2004: 37 years later
Topic: Current Events 11:46 pm EDT, Jun  8, 2004

Today is the 37th anniversary of the Israeli attack on the American ship, the USS Liberty. Was it really an accident? The debate rages on.

* * *

"We had been surveilled all morning and part of the afternoon by Israeli forces. They knew who we were. We heard them reporting over radio who we were and how we were sailing and where we were sailing. They saw the flag and everything else. We were in international waters."

1. Adlai Stevenson supported USS Liberty 2. USS LIBERTY in Ha'aretz 3. USS Liberty Israeli denial; Israeli Pilot Speaks Up

(1) Adlai Stevenson supported USS Liberty

From: Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2003

Adlai Stevenson supported USS Liberty

Senator Adlai Stevenson III in 1980, his last year as a United States Senator from Illinois, invited Jim Ennes to his Senate office for a private, two hour meeting to discuss the USS Liberty attack and coverup. Following the private meeting, Ennes was invited back the next day to discuss the attack with members of Stevenson's staff, along with members of the staff of Senator Barry Goldwater and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

In that meeting, staff members told Ennes that they found his story convincing, but that they would recommend to both senators that they not pursue an investigation because an investigation would only antagonize Israeli interests while "nothing good could come of it." Goldwater accepted that staff recommendation. Stevenson did not. Instead, Stevenson called a news conference in which he announced that he was convinced that the attack was deliberate and that the survivors deserved an investigation. He would, he said, spend the remaining few weeks of his Senate term attempting to arrange for an inquiry.

Almost immediately, the government of Israel contacted the White House and offered to settle the outstanding $40million damage claims for $6million an amount equal to one dollar for each Jewish victim of the Holocaust. Vice President Walter Mondale quickly agreed to that offer just before Christmas while Congress and President Carter were on vacation. The Department of State followed immediately with a press release, reported on the front page of the New York Times, which announced, "The book is now closed on the USS Liberty."

Indeed, from that point on, it was impossible to generate any congressional interest in the Liberty at all. Senator Stevenson's staff told me later that they felt the settlement was directly related to Senator Stevenson's announced plan to hold an inquiry, and was engineered to block forever any inquiry plans. Israel did subsequently pay $6million in three annual installments of $2million each. Secretary of State Dean Rusk said later that he considered the payments meaningless, as Congress merely increased the annual Israeli allotment by that amount.

Adlai Stevenson later ran for Governor of Illinois. He was strongly op... [ Read More (3.8k in body) ]

America’s New Coal Rush
Topic: Current Events 4:33 pm EDT, May 27, 2004

Decius wrote:

] The radical left would very much like to tell me that we're
] minutes away of running out of every kind of fossil fuel and
] no other energy source is acceptable for either efficiency or
] saftey reasons. This perspective can only be held through
] self-deception. Either because we're intentionally ignoring
] sources of natural gas on the one hand, or because we're
] holding nuclear power to a safety standard that far exceeds,
] at scale, any other activity that we participate in.
] What is the point in being this disingenuous? I don't get it!

Food for thought: Christian Science Monitor reporting on "The New Coal Rush" back in February:


After 25 years on the blacklist of America's energy sources, coal is poised to make a comeback, stoked by the demand for affordable electricity and the rising price of other fuels.

At least 94 coal-fired electric power plants - with the capacity to power 62 million American homes - are now planned across 36 states.

The plants, slated to start coming on line as early as next year, would add significantly to the United States' generating power, help keep electricity prices low, and boost energy security by offering an alternative to foreign oil and gas.


The jump in proposed coal-fired plants over the past three years - which would add 62 gigawatts or another 20 percent to the US's current coal-generating capacity - was documented in a report last month by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), an arm of the US Department of Energy.


The economics have also swung in the fuel's favor. Low-cost, low-emission, natural-gas turbines sprouted like mushrooms in the '90s and their contribution to the nation's generating capacity reached 19 percent. But in the past four years, the cost of natural gas has roughly tripled: from $2 per 1 million British thermal units of heat generated to over $6 per million BTUs. By contrast, coal costs less than $1 per million BTUs. That has put utilities in the position of paying more for the gas they burn to make power than they can get for the electricity it produces.


Natural gas gets more expensive, so we start reverting to coal. It doesn't look like they are really trying to exploit unconventional gas. Economics would dictate that since gas prices are higher, that would start to make unconventional gas become conventional gas.

It doesn't appear to be panning out quite like that though. Why the rush to start building coal fired electric plants? It's cheap. You tell me, are we that dependent on keeping the status-quo of current energy prices? By the actions of our energy policy planners, it appears so.

Trying to keep energy prices flat like this is going to really cause problems later. Unless this is some sort of stop-gap measure to allow more working capital to temporarily be allocated to alternative energies, I don't see this as a solution. Regardless of the safety of nuclear energy, it is not as economic as natural gas. If they're already getting the jitters on natural gas and starting to implement more coal, I don't see any shift to nuclear in the cards.

America’s New Coal Rush

Sarin Shells Made Before 1991 War
Topic: Current Events 2:57 pm EDT, May 27, 2004

The 155-mm shells containing sarin gas that exploded in Iraq May 17 were manufactured before 1991, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. That was a pre-Gulf War shell, a different category than the weapons being sought by the Iraq Survey Group, Brig. Gen. David Rodriguez, the joint staff deputy director for operations, told a Pentagon news briefing.


For what it's worth in the debate over the shells.

Sarin Shells Made Before 1991 War

RE: As prices rise, concerns grow about world oil supplies
Topic: Current Events 7:02 pm EDT, May 23, 2004

Decius wrote:

] In 2000, natural gas reserves in the United States were
] estimated to be 1,190 trillion cubic feet, and U.S. gas
] production was 19.2 trillion cubic feet.

] 61 years...

Nice find. And the graph showing the steady level of proved reserves was enlightening as well. I guess this means that "proved" reserves should be analogous to "what the market will bear." Still, we've burned through almost 1000 tcf of natural gas over the course of using it. That's putting us at the halfway mark if you consider the total reserves, not just proved. Those figures do not take into consideration how much of it will be left in the ground either. Surely we cannot recover all of it. We could, but will it take more money and energy to extract than what it is worth or what energy it yields? These questions though, they are ones we will not have answers to until more time elapses. I would caveat looking at total reserves just as you caveat looking at proved reserve figures.

Consumption keeps rising at a fairly linear rate. I understand what you are saying about 1 well on a 100 unit field versus say, 2 wells each on 50 unit fields. In that case, it is not particularly alarming from a pure arithmetic standpoint. But consider that you may now be expending twice the energy to produce the same unit amount. Each well takes energy to create, operate, maintain, and decommission. What these studies lack is a granular breakdown of each field and where the EROEI ratios are trending. If market rates are any indication, those ratios are falling.

As the production switches from conventional to unconventional gas reserves, the economic cost will rise and the EROEI ratios will fall. I know that's a blanket statement that doesn't account for technological advance, but history bears it out as true so far. If it were economical, these reserves wouldn't be unconventional. The sharp rise in NG prices is reflecting this trend. That and the ramp up of LNG imports on the horizon.

As this happens, everything is going to become more expensive. This is something that even the "proved" reserve figures probably do not adequately account for. But the point has not be lost that you just made, that "proved" reserves should be considered in concert with other factors.

Delving into the political landscape for just a second, we might believe that the war is affecting these trends. Surely it is, but take a look around. I don't believe this war is going to end. Our leaders say as much. Consider that outside influencing factor a constant from here on out.

] Some wells are easier to tap then others. Cheaper
] transportation costs are a huge factor. In the US much of our
] supply is on federal lands and is illegal to tap.

Transportation ties in with the point you made above about the 61 year supply. It's nice to know we have reserves, but getting them to market is a different sto... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

RE: As prices rise, concerns grow about world oil supplies

The New Pessimism about Petroleum Resources: Debunking the Hubbert Model
Topic: Current Events 1:17 pm EDT, May 23, 2004

I found a good counter-opinion to Peak Oil.


Recently, numerous publications have appeared warning that oil production is near an unavoidable, geologically-determined peak that could have consequences up to and including “war, starvation, economic recession, possibly even the extinction of homo sapiens” (Campbell in Ruppert 2002) The current series of alarmist articles could be said to be merely reincarnations of earlier work which proved fallacious, but the authors insist that they have made significant advances in their analyses, overcoming earlier errors. For a number of reasons, this work has been nearly impenetrable to many observers, which seems to have lent it an added cachet. However, careful examination of the data and methods, as well as extensive perusal of the writings, suggests that the opacity of the work is at best obscuring the inconclusive nature of their research.


This article has things I do not agree with. Note this flip flop:


The initial theory behind what is now known as the Hubbert curve was very simplistic. Hubbert was simply trying to estimate approximate resource levels, and for the lower-48 US, he thought a bell-curve would be the most appropriate form. It was only later that the Hubbert curve came to be seen as explanatory in and of itself, that is, geology requires that production should follow such a curve. Indeed, for many years, Hubbert himself published no equations for deriving the curve, and it appears that he only used a rough estimation initially. In his 1956 paper, in fact, he noted that production often did not follow a bell curve. In later years, however, he seems to have accepted the curve as explanatory.

This particular example demonstrates a major theoretical flaw underlying the curve: for a closed system, such as the US gas market, demand determines production, not geology. (High gas transportation costs mean that overseas gas plays a trivial role in the US market.) Globally, the recent slowdown in demand has suggested to some that the peak has already occurred.


I've never heard anyone on the Peak Oil side argue that natural gas follows the Hubbert Curve. The production of gas is different than oil. Once a field is tapped, the gas flow is steady until the end. It's disingenuous to use this as an illustration. I am sure the author knows the difference. This bait and switch was laid early on in the article to set the tone for poo-pooing on the Hubbert model. That did not turn me off from the rest of the article though.

Also, note the other section I highlighted. Even this guy, a staunch debunker of Peak Oil theory, agrees that LNG imports are not feasible.


A more technical example is telling. Laherrere notes that the first 1920 new field wildcats in the Middle East discovered 723 billion barrels by 1980, while by the year 2000, a subsequent 1760 had found a... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

The New Pessimism about Petroleum Resources: Debunking the Hubbert Model

RE: As prices rise, concerns grow about world oil supplies
Topic: Current Events 1:17 am EDT, May 23, 2004

Decius wrote:

] 1. You writings on this subject have caused me to pay closer
] attention to it.

Really good to hear, thanks for sharing your thoughts. On the same note, the discussion has been making me rethink some of my positions on the issue and look deeper for answers. I see this as extremely encouraging. We are all bright enough to work on this problem and start coming up with good solutions.

] 3. I went and researched some other fossil fuels. The US has
] enough natural gas to provide its own supply for 70 years at
] the current rate of consumption,

Where did you read this? I refer you to this study:

This is BP's Statistical Review of US Energy, 2003. There is a PDF available. It's really easy to get it, just hit BP's website and search for "statistical review" 2004's probably won't be available for some time. BP has done an excellent job with their data layout.

Quoting from the section on natural gas, these are US stats:


At the end of 2002:

Proved Reserves: 5.19 trillion cubic metres
Production: 547.7 billion cubic metres
Consumption: 667.5 billion cubic metres
R/P Ratio: 9.6


Proved Reserves: Generally taken to be those quantities that geological and engineering information indicates with reasonable certainty can be recovered in the future from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions.

Reserves/Production (R/P) Ratio: If the reserves remaining at the end of the year are divided by the production in that year, the result is the length of time that those remaining reserves would last if production were to continue at that level.


That gives the US about 10 years of natural gas. Also from the study's forward:

"On the gas production side, North America was the only region to see a decline. A price-driven drop in drilling activity following the boom of 2001 explains some of the decrease, but the maturity of the USA and Canada from a resource perspective also seems a contributing factor."

You may be asking yourself, given the number above, "Where are we making up the 100 billion cubic metres difference between production and consumption?" The answer: Canada. We imported 108.8 bcm from them in 2002. Guess what Canada's R/P ratio is? 9.3 years.

See why having gas fired electric plants account for 90% of all new electric plant growth is short sighted? They are counting on the LNG infrastructure to be in place by then.

I need to locate an article I found about the logistics of LNG, but to give you an idea of what is in place today, the US has four LNG terminals. The numbers weren't encouraging from what I rememeber.

] that power without fossil fuels. Its a problem we have to
] solve, but not one we have to solve within a couple of
] decades.

See above. It is upon us my friend, if studies like these are to be believed.

] 7. mostly consists of peak oil discussions and
] various 9/11 conspiracy theories, including articles like
] "Consider 20 parallels between the USA today and Hitler’s
] Germany." Its about as fair and balanced as fox news. Debating
] this in detail is really beside the point.

Agreed. I actually found it doing Google searches for things like "peak oil is a sham" "peak oil is a farce" etc. Just trying to find opinions on the other side. The page I meme'd was the first page I had ever seen on that site. I liked all of the points that were discussed, mainly because Heinberg's book was something that I was reading at the time and he was quoted quite heavily on the page. Easier than me typing it all in from the book.

RE: As prices rise, concerns grow about world oil supplies

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