Thursday, May 29, 2008

[WT논평]The coming crisis

By Daniel L. Davis(columnist)

For more than a decade, English petroleum geologist Colin Campbell has been sounding the warning bell about the coming of peak oil and its disturbing ramifications for the world. And in the past year, the GAO, the National Petroleum Council, and scores of other organizations and governments around the world have reported on the severe consequences the world might incur once the peak has been achieved.

The issue is not simply a concern that we will have to pay outrageous prices for a gallon of gas. If that were the worst of it, the situation would be difficult but manageable. The reality, however, goes deeper and is much more troubling. There are multiple problems affecting the world that are having a decidedly negative net effect: a global rise in demand for crude oil, the plateau in the production of crude oil (which may indicate the peak has already been reached) and continued global population growth. Together, these three factors are serving to shove the world into a crisis that has ominous possibilities.

When there isn’t enough oil to satisfy global demand, the price obviously rises. Perhaps less obvious, however, is the effect this price increase has on the world’s ability to produce food.

Every stage of the food production cycle is affected by petroleum and a rise in the price of a barrel of oil has compounding effects: It costs more to run the farm machinery, more to buy the fertilizer, more to take it to market and more for processing. In parts of the world where upwards of 75 percent of a family’s income goes to buying food, it results in social unrest and riots.

The United Nations estimates that global population is growing at the rate of 78 million people a year - roughly the equivalent of adding the population of Germany to the world every year. According to Energy Information Administration data released earlier this month, global petroleum production has been on a relatively level plateau for the past 44 consecutive months.

But at the same time, the economies of China and India have continued growing, which accelerates the consumption of petroleum-related products and increases the amount and quality of food each person eats. These three facts have conspired to produce a global shortage of crude oil which has exacerbated the world’s inability to feed itself. If the world cannot produce significantly more barrels of oil per day, there won’t be enough oil to go around or enough food for everyone to eat.

  • 다가오는 석유 부족과 식량 위기
    대니얼 L 데이비스(美 칼럼니스트)

    영 국의 석유 지질학자 콜린 캠벨은 다가오는 석유 생산의 정점과 그로 인해 세계적으로 초래되는 불안한 결과에 대해 10년 이상 경고해 왔다. 지난해 회계감사국(GAO)과 미국석유협회 및 다른 수십 개 단체들과 세계 여러 나라 정부들은 석유 생산이 정점에 도달했을 때 세계에 초래될 가능성이 있는 심각한 결과에 관해 보고했다.

    이 문제는 단순히 한 갤런의 휘발유에 터무니없는 가격을 지불하게 되는 사태에 대한 우려가 아니다. 터무니없는 휘발유 가격이 최악의 상황일 경우 해결은 어렵지만 관리는 가능하다. 그러나 현실은 훨씬 심각하며 골치 아프다. 세계에 결정적으로 부정적인 영향을 미치고 있는 다수의 문제들이 존재한다. 문제 가운데는 세계적인 원유 수요 증가, 원유생산의 정체(정점에 이미 도달했다는 것을 나타낼 가능성이 있다), 세계 인구의 지속적인 증가 등이 포함된다. 이 세 가지 문제는 복합적으로 세계를 각종 불길한 가능성이 내포된 위기 속으로 몰아넣는 데 일조하고 있다.

    세계적인 수요를 만족시키기에 충분한 석유가 존재하지 않을 경우 가격은 분명히 오른다. 그러나 이러한 가격인상이 세계의 식량생산 능력에 미치는 영향은 덜 분명할 것이다.

    식 량 생산 주기의 모든 단계가 석유의 영향을 받고 있으며 배럴당 석유가격 인상은 깊은 영향을 미친다. 농장기계를 가동하고 비료를 구입하고 농작물을 시장에 출하하고 가공하는 데 더 많은 돈이 들어간다. 가계 수입의 최고 75% 이상이 식량 구입에 지출되는 세계의 몇몇 지역에서는 이러한 비용 인상이 사회불안과 폭동을 일으킨다.

    유엔은 세계인구가 매년 7800만명의 비율로 증가하는 것으로 추산한다. 대략 독일 만한 인구가 매년 세계에 추가되는 셈이다. 이달 초 발표된 에너지정보국의 자료에 따르면, 세계 석유 생산은 지난 44개월 동안 계속하여 비교적 정체상태를 유지해 왔다.

    그러나 동시에 중국과 인도 경제는 계속 성장하고 있으며 이는 석유 관련 제품들의 소비를 촉진하고 1인당 소비하는 식품의 양과 질을 증가시켰다. 이 3가지 사실이 복합적으로 작용하여 세계적인 원유 부족 사태를 빚었으며 이는 다시 세계의 식량공급 부족을 악화시키고 있다. 만약 세계가 하루 원유 생산량을 현저하게 증가시키지 못할 경우 유통되는 석유와 식량이 부족해질 것이다.

    역주=오성환 외신전문위원

    해설판 참조


    ▲trouble:당혹, 골칫거리

    ▲ominous:험악한, 불길한

    ▲plateau:평탄역, 정체상태, 고원

  • 기사입력 2008.05.29 (목) 19:13, 최종수정 2008.05.29 (목) 19:15

  • [ⓒ 세계일보 &, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tube envy

With higher fuel prices, an effective public transportation system is a must.

By John Sharkey

your humble correspondent here, checking in from beautiful (and, yes, rainy) London. The sites are nice and all, but the real attention-grabber so far has been the public transportation. Especially as we continue to haggle over new light-rail lines, it's important to keep some bigger perspective on what exactly makes a public transportation useful.

Of course, we're faced now with a greater need for decent transportation than ever before. Oil left $100 per gallon behind long ago, and the gas pump dishes out some serious damage. We aren't likely to see the return of $2 gas - worldwide demand probably isn't going to be plummeting any time soon. With that reality in mind, we desperately need to start re-evaluating how we deal with transportation and city planning issues in this country.

The United States has the least-dense cities in the world. New York, our most packed city, checks in at a fairly modest 40 people per hectare. European cities often crack 60 or 70, and major Asian cities like Hong Kong blow past 300. This default system of more sprawling cities makes our reliance on cars a necessity. When gas is cheap, that might not be much of a problem (environmental issues aside). Traffic is the worst of your worries. But with five-dollar gas, the problem is much more severe.

With an expensive-fuel future on the horizon, now is the time to re-evaluate how we utilize public transportation. The idea is a simple one: make public transportation more attractive than using a car. The methods, of course, can vary - part of the solution is to use concepts like congestion pricing that charge motorists who use busy roads during peak times. But just as important are the ways by which we improve the public transportation.

Ease of use is the most important factor. The Go-To system now in use on the Twin Cities' busses, and trains is an important step. (London uses an analogous system called Oyster cards.) But there is more to ease of use than just streamlining the payment system. The busses and trains need to run relatively frequently, and it needs to be easy to tell when the next one arrives.

One of the biggest hassles of using busses, as we all know, is the uncertainty. There's the scheduled time the bus is supposed to arrive, but there's always the chance it could be a few minutes early. That means, to ensure you don't miss your ride, you need to get to the stop far too early. The solution here is to increase frequency, lessening the penalty for missing a bus. If the next one is showing up five minutes later, you don't have to worry as much about being late for work. Again, the Twin Cities are doing a decent job on this front with Hi-Frequency lines, but more can be done.

The expansion of a rail system can, if executed correctly, be the biggest asset of a public transportation system. They're efficient, can be run on relatively exact schedules, and can run frequently. But they require extensive planning. At first glance, a map of London's tube system can be overwhelming, but after a trip or two it feels fairly intuitive. You can't design something like that piecemeal. It requires a long-term strategy to craft a rail system to adequately cover a major metropolitan area. The proposed light-rail line to St. Paul is a start, but if we're ever going to seriously create a system that can replace cars, it's going to take much more. It might seem expensive, but at this point there are no cheap options.

John Sharkey welcomes comments at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Counterpoint: Dangers of Focusing Solely on Climate Change

No one with any scientific sense now disagrees about the severity of the climate crisis. But some people — and some magazines — believe that climate change trumps every other problem. If we take this argument to its extreme, we should ignore any environmental concern that gets in the way of reducing emissions. And that's just plain wrong.

Make no mistake: Tackling climate change is vital. But to see everything through the lens of short-term CO2 reductions, letting our obsession with carbon blind us to the bigger picture, is to court catastrophe.

Climate change is not a discrete issue; it's a symptom of larger problems. Fundamentally, our society as currently designed has no future. We're chewing up the planet so fast, in so many different ways, that we could solve the climate problem tomorrow and still find that environmental collapse is imminent. Myopic responses will only hasten its arrival.

Take the proposal that we cut down old trees in favor of new ones. First, I don't buy the carbon accounting presented to advance this procrustean plan: Older trees can absorb CO2 for centuries after reaching maturity, while replanted forests can emit more CO2 than they sequester until the new trees are as much as 20 years old.

But even if wired's math were correct, this would still be a crap fix for climate change. Chopping down forests causes massive soil erosion and leads to desertification, making repeated tree plantings a dodgy prospect. As monocultures, tree farms are far more vulnerable to pest infestations. And batches of trees planted at the same time are more susceptible to wildfires, causing the carbon they're supposed to be sequestering to go up in smoke.

Old-growth forests, coupled with a broad program of woodlands restoration and sustainable forestry, can provide not only climate relief and ecologically responsible wood and biomass harvests but a slew of other essential ecological services, from salmon habitats to flood prevention. It's a heck of a lot more costly — in both money and emissions — to build massive dams and fish farms than to simply protect the forests we already have.

Another example of how carbon blindness leads to counterproductive policies: embracing nuclear power as a clean energy source. This argument assumes that other clean alternatives will not improve in efficiency or affordability during the 10 years it would take to implement a nuclear program. That's short-term thinking. If we invested the money that we would spend on new nuclear facilities more wisely (and eliminated subsidies on fossil fuels), alternatives like wind, solar, hydroelectric, and wave power could deliver a clean-energy future more cheaply and probably sooner, without any of the security or health risks of nuclear plants. Nuclear power may have a role to play, but it would be far better to create a flexible energy system that draws on many clean sources, instead of on a single panacea. Again, a cut-carbon-at-all-costs approach blinds us to more-sustainable, and ultimately more-promising, solutions.

To have any hope of staving off collapse, we need to move forward with measures that address many interrelated problems at once. We're not going to persuade people in the developing world to go without, but neither can we afford a planet on which everyone lives like an American. Billions more people living in suburbs and driving SUVs to shopping malls is a recipe for planetary suicide. We can't even afford to continue that way of life ourselves.

We don't need a War on Carbon. We need a new prosperity that can be shared by all while still respecting a multitude of real ecological limits — not just atmospheric gas concentrations, but topsoil depth, water supplies, toxic chemical concentrations, and the health of ecosystems, including the diversity of life they depend upon.

We can build a future in which technology, design, smart incentives, and wise policies make it possible to deliver a high quality of life at lower ecological cost. But that brighter, greener future is attainable only if we embrace the problems we face in all their complexity. To do otherwise is tantamount to clear-cutting the very future we're trying to secure.

Alex Steffen (editor AT is the editor of the green futurism site and of the book Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

These folks could spoil the party for McCain


Sen. John McCain is champing at the bit to run against Sen. Barack Obama in the fall. But the presumptive GOP nominee should also worry about his own right flank. Bob Barr entered the presidential race this month as a Libertarian, and while the former Republican congressman from Georgia isn't going to become president, his run is no joke. Barr might well inherit the sizable support garnered by Rep. Ron Paul during his own run for the Republican nomination.

Though Barr's promises to drastically shrink government spending, begin withdrawing from Iraq and protect civil liberties will undoubtedly appeal to capital-L Libertarians, there's little evidence that he has much of a national following. Reporters covering his announcement noted that no Libertarian candidate has ever garnered more than 1 million votes. But he could still siphon votes from McCain in the fall -- not because Barr is such a compelling candidate, but because he could become the vehicle for the many disaffected Republicans gathered under Paul's flag. Consider the following facts:

•More than a million votes have been cast for Paul.

•Paul's activists are swarming local Republican party committees and conventions, quietly capturing or lining up delegates.

•And on the Web, the Paul movement -- which, astonishingly, generated enough grass-roots support to make him the top Republican presidential money-raiser in the fourth quarter of 2007 -- is still going strong.

Clearly, one sizable chunk of the Republican base -- small-government types who also oppose the Iraq war -- hasn't reconciled itself to voting for McCain. At the Republican National Convention, Paul may have a couple of dozen delegates and enough street presence to spoil McCain's show. If Barr manages to capture the attention of Paul's base, it could spell real danger for McCain.

Consider some third-party-candidate history from 2000. While everyone has fixated on whether Ralph Nader cost Al Gore Florida, TV commentator Patrick Buchanan, running on the Reform Party banner, got enough votes in Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin to tip them out of George W. Bush's hands. Ron Paul's sizable grass-roots movement will probably still be looking for a champion. Bob Barr won't be president, but he could still gore McCain.

Micah L. Sifry, author of "Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America," wrote this article for the Washington Post.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Leaders condemn killing of ‘witches’

By Philip Mbaji and Elizabeth Awuor

Religious leaders from Coast Province on Sunday condemned the killing of suspected witches and called on residents to desist from the act.

As the religious leaders called on the Mijikenda to discard outdated cultural practices, tension in the area remained high.

Panic gripped people, especially the elderly, who feared being fingered by witchdoctors — who are calling themselves ‘ghost busters’ — as being witches.

The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), the Catholic Church and the Council of Imam and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) have raised concerns over the increasing cases of lynching of suspected witches in the province.

Mombasa Diocese’s Bishop Julius Kalu condemned the practice, saying it was against the biblical teaching and even the Mijikenda traditions to ‘kill someone over witchcraft suspicion’.

"It is against the principle of peaceful co-existence to lynch someone for suspecting them of witchcraft," Kalu said.

Kalu of ACK made the remarks at Mombasa’s Memorial Cathedral Church as CIPK’s national secretary general, Sheikh Mohammed Dor, urged residents to refer suspects to religious leaders and council of elders.

Said Dor: "This is an unfortunate trend that has its remedy on the residents referring suspected witches to religious leaders or council of elders for arbitration instead of killing them."

They spoke barely two days after police officers, a DC, DOs and chiefs narrowly escaped lynching by irate villagers in Malindi while on a mission to rescue suspected witches from a ghost buster.

Kalu, expressed fear that tension would build up in the area should the so-called ghost busters be allowed to continue operating in the area.

Bishop Boniface Lele of the Mombasa Catholic Diocese condemned the attacks and advised the villagers to face their problems and accept suffering as part of life.

Speaking to The Standard, Lele asked villagers to report suspects to the police and later have them questioned in court instead of lynching them.

"Nobody should lynch another because the whole thing is suspicion and the best way to handle the issue is to report such matters to the police," he said.

He advised villagers to look for solutions to their problems instead of blaming others on grounds of witchcraft.

"People should accept that suffering is part of life and not necessarily caused by witches," he added.

A ghost buster popularly known as Beba Beba was holding 25 elderly men and women in Malindi suspected to be witches when the DC attempted to rescue them.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Have We Really Hit Peak Oil?

By Richard Heinberg,

Last week, Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would halt a U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia worth $1.4 billion. The implication is clear: no more war toys for the Saudis unless they agree to up their oil output.

The same day, the House approved a Senate plan to suspend oil deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in hopes of diverting that oil to the market, thus lowering the pump price a tiny amount. A week earlier, a handful of Senators proposed a bill threatening a trade dispute with members of OPEC if the organization doesn't stop "its anti-competitive practices and illegal export quotas on oil."

It's understandable that our elected leaders would want to do something about the meteoric rise of gasoline, diesel, and heating oil prices that are now bankrupting independent truckers and forcing many folks in colder states to choose between being able to stay warm and being able to drive to work. Yet efforts like the ones just mentioned are based on a profound misperception of why oil prices are rising. The real problem is summed up in the phrase "Peak Oil."

Petroleum is a finite substance and we have reached the inevitable point at which it simply isn't possible to increase the rate at which we extract it from the ground. Most oil producing countries, including the US, have already seen their glory days and are now watching output from their wells gradually dwindle. Only a few nations are early in the production cycle and able to ramp up the rate of flow. Here is a concise definition of Peak Oil from my colleague Chris Skrebowsi, the editor of Petroleum Review in London. He says: "Global oil production falls when loss of output from countries in decline exceeds gains in output from those that are expanding."

Well, how are we doing? Who's winning, the decliners or expanders?

According to last year's scorecard, the decliners won. The same happened in 2006. And that's with oil prices at record highs, presumably offering every incentive for nations that can produce more oil to do so. Does this mean we are at the all-time peak of global oil flow rates now? Not necessarily. There are large new production projects coming on line this year and next, including one in Saudi Arabia that will add several hundred thousand barrels a day to that nation's productive capacity.

However, on the other side of the balance there is some very bad news. Russia, the world's leading oil producing nation and the country that has been responsible for the lion's share of the world's production growth over the past decade, has gone into decline. Optimistic analysts hope Russia will be able to keep production more or less flat for a few years, but that may not be possible. The past few months have seen reductions in output. Other important exporting nations like Nigeria and Mexico are also in trouble.

The timing of the global peak may still be unclear. But surely we can't afford, as a matter of national policy, to assume that it will be decades in the future -- given that all of the symptoms are staring us in the face now. Some economists say that current high oil prices are largely due to the falling value of the dollar, or to speculation. Simple arithmetic tells us that dollar depreciation has added only ten or fifteen percent to oil's cost over the past two to three years.

As for speculation, one has to ask why investors are choosing to park their money in oil contracts. It must be because they see the fundamentals supporting rising prices. In a situation where demand is headed higher but supply isn't, speculation is inevitable. So speculation is a symptom; it isn't the cause of the problem. Given all this, how much sense does it make to spend our time and effort blaming OPEC for not producing more, or to neglect saving some petroleum for the inevitable point in the future when our problem isn't just high oil prices, but actual shortages of fuel for emergency vehicles and food delivery trucks?

If I were a Saudi or a Kuwaiti, I would be advising my government not to pump more oil. After all, these countries earn nearly all of their income from selling the stuff; once the oil's gone, what can they do for an encore? No, it makes more sense for them to husband the resource, sell it for higher prices, and invest in renewable energy sources at home in preparation for the day when nature's patrimony is gone. In fact, however, in recent years most OPEC countries have been pumping flat out; only the Saudis claim to have any spare production capacity to speak of.

But isn't it a good idea for some country somewhere to keep some capacity in reserve in case of a real emergency -- a major pipeline outage, another hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, or a revolution in one of the other main producing countries? Should efforts at responsible resource management make these people our enemies?

The blame game makes for good sound bites on the floor of Congress. It plays well with folks back home who are struggling to find the money to fill up their SUVs but can't find Saudi Arabia on a map. All they have been taught to know is that Arabs have lots of oil and they are bad people. But think where this might lead: suppose we get tough with the Saudis and end up destabilizing the kingdom so that forces unfriendly to us take over. Then we will feel more or less forced to invade in order to maintain access to our national drug of choice. Where would it end? Does any of this help?

Rather than looking for villains, we should be exploring how we can adapt to having less oil next year, and even less the year after that. Rebuilding our oil-dependent transport, agricultural, and manufacturing infrastructure is going to be a big job, and it's going to take time. So the sooner we start, the better. The real problem is that we use too much oil. It's that simple and that difficult. If we truly want to reduce our vulnerability to high prices, the best way to do so is to reduce consumption. One way or another, we will adapt.

We will drive less, we will fly less, and we will grow our food more locally with fewer inputs. But these changes will go far more smoothly if we plan for them, rather than being forced into them at the nozzle of an empty gas pump. There is a cliché in action films: "We can do this the hard way, or we can do it the easy way." Blaming OPEC while doing nothing to rein in our domestic demand for petroleum only ensures that we will be adapting to Peak Oil the hard way.

Richard Heinberg is a Senior Fellow of Post Carbon Institute and the author of Peak Everything, The Oil Depletion Protocol, and The Party's Over. He writes a regular column for The Ecologist magazine and is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost Peak Oil educators.

© 2008 All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Kenya mob burns 15 women to death over witchcraft

NYAKEO, Kenya (AFP) — A rampaging mob in western Kenya burnt 15 women accused of witchcraft to death, a local official and villagers told AFP Wednesday.

"This is unacceptable. People must not take the law into their own hands simply because they suspected someone," said Mwangi Ngunyi, the head of Nyamaiya district. "We will hunt the suspects down," he added.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hakeem Unanimously Wins Green Party Endorsement

Farheen Hakeem, candidate for State Representative District 61b, has won
the endorsement of the 5th Congressional District Green Party.

“It is an honor and a privilege to run this race on the Green Party
Ticket,” states Hakeem. For a candidate to be endorsed by this Green party
local, the candidate must receive at least a 2/3rds majority vote. Of all
Green Party members that were present at the convention, 100% of them
voted to endorse Hakeem. Three Green Party members spoke highly in favor
of Hakeem, including Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon.

Adri Mehra, candidate seeking Green Party endorsement for Minnesota 5th
Congressional District, was also present, and will be screening in June.

Farheen Hakeem has also won the endorsement of the Minnesota Women’s
Political Caucus.

For more information contact Ayesha at 612-636-1557 or at
press AT farheenhakeem DOT org

Saudis Reject Bush Plea -- Oil Prices Soar Again; U.S. Halts Reserve Buys

Saudi Arabia rejected President Bush's appeals to increase oil production and the Energy Department announced it would halt shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as oil barreled to a record close Friday.

The day's events meant no relief for U.S. motorists suffering pain at the pump.

Bush, visiting Saudi Arabia on Friday for the second time in five months, had hoped to use his oil industry background and ties to the Saudi leadership to persuade them to increase their current oil production of 9.15 million barrels a day. But despite receiving a red carpet welcome in Riyadh, where gasoline costs 50 cents a gallon, Bush was rebuffed.

Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said his nation already had marginally boosted production by about 300,000 barrels a day, as of May 10, to meet world demand, as they see it. This will boost output to 9.45 million barrels a day in June.

"Supply and demand are in balance today," al-Naimi told a news conference. "How much does Saudi Arabia need to do to satisfy people who are questioning our oil practices and policies?"

Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser, briefed reporters after the private meetings between Bush and King Abdullah at the king's ranch.

"What they're saying to us is ... Saudi Arabia at the present time does not have customers that are making requests for oil that they are not able to satisfy," Hadley said. And despite the production boost announced "in order to meet the demand of their customers, in their judgment ... even increased production under this policy would not result in dramatic ... reduction of gas prices in the United States."

Economists say prices are being driven up by increased demand, not slowed production. Energy-guzzlers China and India are stretching supplies.

While the overtures to Saudi Arabia failed, the Bush administration said it is suspending oil deliveries into the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the remainder of the year.

The move came days after Congress passed legislation requiring Bush to temporarily halt shipments into the reserve in hopes of lowering gasoline prices. Although the president dismissed the idea as a small step that would have little affect on U.S. gas prices, Bush is expected to sign the bill.

The Energy Department moved to comply with the congressional mandate, saying it will not sign six-month contracts to have begun starting July 1, for the acceptance of 76,000 barrels of oil a day.

The department also plans to defer deliveries under existing contracts once the legislation passed by Congress late Wednesday becomes law.

The reserve, a system of salt caverns on the Louisiana and Texas Gulf coast, is 97 percent full, holding 701 million barrels of crude. The stockpile, currently sufficient to cover two months of oil imports, is kept as a cushion in case of a major disruption of oil supplies.

Both the House and Senate by lopsided votes this week directed the president to suspend the oil SPR shipments with both Republicans and Democrats saying it made no sense for the government to take oil at today's prices. The crude oil would better be left on the market to increase commercial supplies, they said.

In New York on Friday, oil traders were not impressed by the news of Saudi Arabia's small production increase and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve moratorium. They did what they've been doing for months now, and pushed crude oil and gasoline futures to new highs.

The price for a barrel of benchmark light, sweet crude for June delivery jumped $2.17 to settle at a record close of $126.29 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the session, prices surged to $127.82 a barrel, also a record high.


Pump pressures

Memphis gas

Here are the most recent average prices per gallon in the Memphis market:


Regular unleaded

$3.623 $3.614


$3.835 $3.825


$4.019 $4.009


$4.327 $4.293

Note: Gas price includes 18.4 cents federal tax, 21.4 cents Tennessee tax (18.4 cents on diesel).

Friday's U.S. oil price: $126.29 a barrel for light sweet crude, June delivery, up $2.17 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Get it Cheap

Among the least expensive places in Greater Memphis to buy fuel (per gallon over the past 72 hours):

$3.49: Texaco, 4286 Macon.

$3.54: Texaco, Hickory Hill & Winchester; Citgo, 5930 Winchester, and Winchester & Old Getwell.

$3.55: Murphy USA, 6506 Memphis-Arlington, and Citgo, 6505 Memphis-Arlington, both in Bartlett.

Sources: American Automobile Association Daily Fuel Gauge Report via Oil Price Information Service, Associated Press,

- Mark Watson


Originally published by From Our Press Services / Mark Watson contributed .

(c) 2008 Commercial Appeal, The. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Run Jesse Run!

by Rich Broderick

The barely disguised antipathy Minnesota’s corporate news media displayed toward Jesse Ventura during the 1998 election and his subsequent time as governor always had more to do with snobbery and social class than policies or politics.

The shock over his election was rooted in embarrassment at what “they,” meaning the rest of the country (which doesn’t think about us at all), would think of Minnesota for having voted in a man who speaks with a Midwestern equivalent of a “youse guys” Brooklyn accent. It was the kind of vapors my lace-curtain Irish grandma used to succumb to whenever her grandkids behaved in ways that were not “respectable.” What will the neighbors think?!!

Even though Ventura appointed perfectly respectable – and highly competent – commissioners (he never once saddled us with hapless ideologues like Carol Molnau or Cheryl Yecke), his governorship was not a successful one. It fell victim both to his impatience with the often-tedious process of political bargaining and to the determination of the DFL and the GOP (one of the ringleaders: Tim Pawlenty) to sabotage him – and thus the Independence Party – the consequences of which narrow bi-partisanship have left Minnesota reeling financially ever since.

Still, it’s good to have Jesse back in action, hawking his new book and, even more intriguingly, bruiting the possibility of another run for office, this time for the U.S. Senate.

Anyone who caught Jesse’s bravura performance last week on MPR’s mid-day program got a refresher course in what a breath of fresh air the man is in today’s consultant-driven political environment. Not only is he bright and articulate, he also has an extraordinary ability to frame supposedly complex issues in ways that are not only simple to understand but also illuminate otherwise overlooked dimensions of critical importance. My favorite moment during the show was his comment about the proposed 600-mile fence along the U.S. Mexico border. People should remember, he observed, that fences not only keep people out, they can also keep people in – a pithy allusion to the authoritarian streak behind “Homeland Security.”

I don’t know if Ventura could win a Senate seat this year. Conditions are not the same as they were in ’98, and he would face a wave of press hostility that would make his previous tangles with the “media jackals” pale by comparison. But it sure would be fun to hear him debate Norm Coleman, desperately trying to distance himself from the Bush Administration, and Al Franken, the soi-disant wit who is not only witless when it comes to public policy but a major-league carpetbagger as well – the real issue exposed by his recent tax problems. In any public forum matching a clone and a clown like these two, Ventura would shine.

Norm Coleman and Al Franken running for Senate? Now that’s embarrassing


Sunday, May 18, 2008

'Fewer hurricanes' as world warms

By Mark Kinver
Science and nature reporter, BBC News

Hurricanes and tropical storms will become less frequent by the end of the century as a result of climate change, US researchers have suggested.

But the scientists added their data also showed that there would be a "modest increase" in the intensity of these extreme weather events.

The findings are at odds with some other studies, which forecast a greater number of hurricanes in a warmer world.

The researchers' results appear in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (Noaa) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) said its findings did not support the notion that human-induced climate change was causing an increase in the number of hurricanes and tropical storms.

"There have been some studies published that have suggested that this is the case, but this modelling study does not support that idea," observed lead author Tom Knutson.

"Rather, we actually simulate a reduction in hurricane frequency in the Atlantic."

Eye of the storm

Although the study projected that there would be fewer extreme weather events in the future, Dr Knutson said that these storms were likely to be more powerful.

"The model is simulating increased intensity of the hurricanes that do occur, and also increased rainfall rates.

"This is something that has been seen in previous studies, and the IPCC use this [scenario] as a likely projection for future climate warming.

We do not regard this study as the last word on this topic
Dr Tom Knutson,
Noaa meteorologist
"These changes in intensity are still fairly modest in size."

A previous study by Noaa scientists showed a 4% increase in storm intensity for every 1C (1.8F) increase in sea surface temperature. Yet, he explained, this study suggested only a 1-2% increase.

A sea surface temperature (SST) above 26.5C (79.7F) is one of the key factors in the formation and feeding of a hurricane.

Over recent decades, the surfaces of most tropical oceans have warmed by up to 0.5C (0.9F), which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes has been caused by an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

In November 2006, the global community of tropical cyclone researchers gathered at a workshop organised by the World Meteorological Organization to consider the impact of human activity on the frequency and intensity of cyclones.

Sea surface temperatures above 26.5C (79.7F)
A pre-existing weather disturbance
Moisture in the atmosphere
Favourable conditions, such as light winds or weak wind shear

In a concluding statement, the researchers said that although there was evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record, no firm conclusion could be made.

One reason for the uncertainty is the changes in observation methods used to record Atlantic hurricanes - a record that dates back to 1850.

From 1944, air reconnaissance flights were used to monitor tropical storms and hurricanes. This development allowed researchers to monitor a much greater area and not rely on ships' logs and storms reaching land.

And from the late 1960s, satellite technology has been used to monitor and track hurricanes.

Therefore, a reliable record of past hurricane activity only stretches back about 35 years.

Natural variations that affect SSTs - such as El Nino and La Nina episodes and the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation - add to the difficulty of identifying the influence of human-induced climate change on the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.

Model mechanics

Dr Knutson's colleague and co-author, Isaac Held, said the team's model used a different approach to previous efforts, which gave them a high degree of confidence in their results.

"Most of the literature to date on hurricanes and climate change has used statistical techniques," he said.

"You've had time series of hurricane activity and time series of sea surface temperatures, and people correlate them."

Because there was a high degree of confidence that the sea surface temperature trend was going to continue to rise, Dr Held explained, people had "tried to conclude that hurricane activity will increase rather dramatically in the future".

"We tried to simulate the fundamental fluid dynamics and thermodynamics that control hurricane genesis in the Atlantic in a numerical model to a very high resolution."

He added that the team ran data from the past 25 years through the model, and it returned results closely correlated to what actually occurred.

"It is interesting and important to understand why it is that this model is capable of simulating an increase in hurricane activity that we have seen in recent decades, yet it predicts a decrease in the future.

"This implies that we cannot simply extrapolate the past 25 years into the future."

Dr Knutson said that he did not expect the study's findings to end the scientific debate surrounding the impact of human-induced climate change on tropical storms.

"We do not regard this study as the last word on this topic," he told reporters.

"The main point that we want to emphasise is that there is no evidence in this study that we are seeing large greenhouse-gas-driven increases in Atlantic hurricane or tropical storm frequencies."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/05/18 20:52:13 GMT


Weapons can't be green

By Zafrir Rinat

More and more green parties are emerging around the world. Green party representatives from 88 countries, including three from Israel, gathered this month in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the Second Global Greens Congress. The conference was dedicated to Ingrid Betancourt, the former leader of Colombia's Oxygen Green Party, who was kidnapped by a guerrilla group in 2002 and is still being held hostage.

The conference's discussions centered on mega cities, such as Sao Paulo, Mexico City and New York, and environmental problems, foremost among them global warming. "The main problems occupying most party representatives are too much traffic and air pollution, producing electricity from renewable sources, and waste management," says Hadas Shachnai of the Green Party, who represented Israel along with Mosi Raz of Meretz and environmental activist Eran Binyamini. "For example, representatives from New York complained that while the city has efficient public transportation, it is flooded with garbage."

The congress was the first of its kind with a substantial presence of green parties from Africa and even from Mediterranean countries. However, the strongest green parties come from Europe, Australia and North America, where environmental awareness is more established. In these countries, green party representatives sit in parliament and hold senior positions in the big cities.

So far, the greens' greatest success has been registered in Germany, where the Green Party was a member of the government. The Germans are very involved in the activities of green parties the world over, through the Heinrich Boell Foundation, which promotes the activities of green organizations. The foundation also has offices in Israel.

The greens' situation is completely different in countries like China, the main stage for environmental problems today, because of its accelerated pace of development. The Chinese authorities have banned several parties. Shachnai relates that the green party representative in China openly voiced concern over his own fate and his name was barred from publication.

The situation is a lot better in places such as Paris, where the greens play a key role in city hall. They have recently promoted several environmental initiatives, including setting up the infrastructure for renting and riding bicycles. Green Party member Denis Baupin is the deputy mayor of Paris. In a meeting with Shachnai, he presented several ambitious objectives his party wants to promote: significantly reducing the use of private transportation over the next two decades and, as a result, increasing the use of public transportation. Another objective is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases within the city by two-thirds.

One of the main objectives of conferences such as the one held in Sao Paulo is to create a common agenda for political movements from different countries. This agenda was formulated in what the greens defined as "the 21-points plan for the 21st century." This is not merely an environmental action plan, but also the herald of decisions calling for supporting democratic regimes and promoting activities to enhance health care, education and nutrition in developing countries. There is even a call to limit the global arms trade, which increased by 50 percent over the last four years.

"We aren't ashamed to state that green politics support peace," the program stated. "Our strategy, which entails conceding the use of gas and oil and opposition to nuclear energy, is intended to provide security for the energy supply and to prevent conflicts."

The first section of the greens' action plan states that they will work to replace the Western economic model, based on the use of different types of gasoline that cause pollution, inefficient energy use and a culture of consuming products and then disposing of them as waste.

The alternative model will consist of an economy whose prices will reflect both social and environmental costs. As such, income tax will be reduced and, simultaneously, a tax will be levied on acts that cause pollution. Subsidies that encourage pollution will be replaced by investment in renewable energies and in activities based on reducing emissions of carbon, the main greenhouse gas.

The action plan calls for reducing greenhouse gases by up to 40 percent by 2020. The greens are also calling for a halt in cutting down natural forests and for imposing strict supervision over wood products, to ensure that there is no trading in wood from forests where cutting has been prohibited. The greens assert that nature preservation in developing countries should be ensured by means of financial aid from the wealthy countries, which are largely responsible for the ongoing destruction of the world's natural resources.

Local butterflies face extinction

Over 100 species of day-flying butterflies are found in Israel. Now hikers can get acquainted with them, thanks to a pocket guide to butterflies. The guide, published by Teva Yisraeli publishers, is a continuation of the series that has already produced guides to flora and mammals.

The new guide, edited by Noam Kirschenbaum, features illustrations by Richard Lewington and Tuvia Kurtz and contains scientific descriptions by Dr. Oz Ben Yehuda. Many of the species appearing in it can be found in Israel, including in urban areas and their outskirts.

Day-flying butterflies live for just a few weeks and feed on nectar. Butterfly larva feed on plant leaves. Many butterfly species today face extinction due to the damage to their natural habitats and collectors' activities. The plans to expand such cities as Hadera and Safed threaten some of the last remaining habitats of particularly rare species. Among the species facing danger are the tree nymph, the largest day-flying butterfly in Israel, and one of the most stunning. Butterfly lovers recently waged a campaign that succeeded in delaying construction plans that would have damaged the butterflies and they are trying to add some species to the list of protected wild fauna in Israel.


A message to all nonresident workers ( in Saipan )

Those who have pending labor cases with NLRB, EEOC, U.S. Dept. of Labor, CNMI Labor and have been notified that you must depart the CNMI please email your name, contact number, case number, and a brief description of your case including date filed and any action taken to doromal AT earthlink DOT net or jerrycustodio AT yahoo DOT com.

We want to help each other have equal protection of law and fair treatment in this critical time. Please feel free to contact any member of the HUMAN DIGNITY MOVEMENT to coordinate, document, and report all labor and human rights abuses to our fellow workers.

Thank you for all your support to our cause. No good cause is ever lost!

Congratulations to all! We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Wendy Doromal and other human rights groups for their concern on the plight of the guest workers in the CNMI.


Jerry Custodio
Human Dignity Movement


We ( In Saipan) should care

From the day S. 2739 (now PL 110 -229) was signed by President Bush, speculations on who are running started to become a hot topic among conversations. By now, few names have surfaced. Just recently, CNMI Washington Pete A. Tenorio announced that he is a candidate. The other names being mentioned as possible candidates are Sec. Eloy Inos, Judge Juan Lizama, Robert Torres, and Former Gov. Juan Babauta.

I believe that the Congressional Delegate especially during the next five years will play a very vital role. It’s not only because of the historical value of being the first CNMI Congressional delegate but more so because we are expecting a lot of actions happening during that period.

And while it may seem like the issue of electing the first Congressional Delegate does not affect the guest workers, think again. He is the voice of CNMI to Washington. Therefore, I think we, the guest workers, should help in anyway we can to make sure that the candidate who has sincere concern for the guest workers will win. Yes, we cannot vote and yes what we can do is limited but there is a way. For example, I’m sure that each of us has at least one or two local friends or family, tell them why you want your candidate to win. I’m sure that there are other ways to help a candidate.

If we are united in this endeavor, I’m sure we can create an impact. United we stand!
Let’s start to care.

Irene N. Tantiado
Capital Hill


Friday, May 16, 2008

Oil production has peaked as demand soars

By Andy Welti

In 1998, oil cost $10 per barrel and experts said the price would return to $5 per barrel, but it never happened. Many people believed we had huge oil fields that would never run dry, and that new fields would meet our growing demands. Ten years later, the evidence is beginning to align to tell a much different story -- one that we are just beginning to read.

I serve as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives Energy Committee. This year our committee held hearings on "peak oil."

Peak oil is the point where world oil companies produce a maximum output of oil, after which they will never be able to sustainably produce that same amount of oil again. Some people believe we have already reached that point, and many others believe we will reach that point in five to 10 years.

What does that mean for residents in district 30B? If China and India continue to purchase vehicles at the rate they are now, they will be consuming much greater amounts of oil at a time when world oil supply is either at its peak or beginning to decline. This is simple economics; a shortage in supply and increase in demand will lead to higher prices.

Consider these facts: According to Matthew R. Simmons, author of "Twilight in the Desert -- The Risk of Peak Oil," and one of the testifiers before our Energy Committee, oil accounts for 95 percent of our transportation energy and is increasingly being used to make consumer goods. In 1995, the world demanded 70 million barrels per day (mbd), and today we demand 88 mbd. World crude production was at about 69 mbd in 2003, 74 mbd in 2005, and is currently at about 73 mbd.

Did you know that the U.S. reached peak oil in 1970? Indonesia once exported oil and now imports it. Cantarell, the world's second-largest oil field in Mexico, peaked in May of 2005 and its production has since declined by 41 percent. Prudhoe Bay peaked around 1988 and produces less than one-third of its peak production. Several other oil fields have peaked and are declining.

Skeptics point to new discoveries to solve our supply shortage issue. There were 134 fields discovered in the 1940's, 743 in the 1970's, 510 in the 1990's, and so far 65 in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Production from those fields closely correlates with the number of fields discovered.

Oil companies are drilling in deeper waters and extracting oil from Canadian tar sands, which is very inefficient. Saudi Arabian production has been relatively constant, with a recent small decline. Hedge fund trading wasn't responsible for past price increases. High prices haven't squelched demand, yet.

Prices continued to climb after the first Iraq War, and technology hasn't had a great impact on consumption in automobiles. Mr. Simmons clearly proves the skeptics wrong.

If you are still skeptical, maybe this will change your mind... in an email sent to Shell Oil employees in January of 2008, Shell Oil's CEO, Jeron van der Veer stated that the company estimates that after 2015, supplies of easy-to-access oil will not keep up with demand.

Peak oil is real. If we're not seeing it now, we will be soon. People continue to ask me if I can do something about gas prices -- then they chuckle because they think it is too large of an issue to tackle. Well, the state is responding.

We passed a peak oil resolution to draw attention to this emerging issue; we funded research for hydrogen and algae being used to create biodiesel; we established renewable energy goals for transportation fuels and we held many discussions about biomass and renewable energy fuel potential.

We're trying to move forward on rail and transit initiatives and are asking tough questions of refiners, auto manufacturers and others involved in transportation to encourage them to be the catalyst for change.

If we continue to rely upon oil as our main source of transportation fuel, our economy will suffer. We have the ability to overcome the economic challenges of the near future by being leaders in finding ways to create alternative fuel sources and reduce consumption.

Mr. Simmons is a Harvard Business School Graduate and former energy investment banker of nearly 40 years. When I asked why he shared this information, he replied that during his career he began seeing indisputable evidence related to peaking oil supplies, and researching the issue became a passion. He said that he now feels a responsibility to share this information and to give something back to society.

Welti, DFL-Plainview, represents District 30B in the Minnesota House.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Peak-oil spike reshapes the suburbs

By Carlito Pablo

The reality of peak oil will see properties classified into two types in the near future, according to Simon Fraser University professor Anthony Perl.

One will be properties from which owners can get to work, leisure activities, and services predominantly by car. The other offers alternatives to the automobile such as public transit, biking, and walking.

“The one that is accessible without a car will have a higher value,” Perl told the Georgia Straight in a telephone interview during which the director of SFU’s urban studies program tracked changes in oil prices with a ticker he keeps on his desk.

A few minutes into the conversation, oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 50 cents a barrel to $125.98. It was $110 a few weeks ago, Perl noted. Before he hung up, the price was up to $126.11 a barrel.

According to Perl, coauthor with Richard Gilbert of Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil (Earthscan/James & James), current property values in the U.S., where the subprime-mortgage crisis has unleashed a sea of foreclosures, demonstrate how surging oil prices can affect the real-estate market.

Perl said that cities with more suburban sprawl are suffering more in terms of depressed prices than denser areas that are less dependent on cars.

“I think that there is an obvious relationship between the way the land is used and the transportation alternatives that are available,” noted Perl, a panelist in a forum on the future of transportation to be held at the SFU Harbour Centre campus next Thursday (May 22) at 7 p.m.

A new study by Oregon-based economist Joe Cortright suggests that spiralling oil prices in the last five years burst the American housing bubble that swelled partly due to relaxed lending practices and speculation.

Properties located in cities and neighbourhoods that require residents to go on lengthy commutes and don’t provide many transportation alternatives have fallen in value more deeply than those in “more central, compact and accessible places”, Cortright wrote in Driven to the Brink: How the Gas Price Spike Popped the Housing Bubble and Devalued the Suburbs.

“The collapse of the housing bubble, punctured by the gas price spoke, marks a watershed point for the nation’s suburbs,” Cortright wrote. “When gas was cheap, buying a house in a distant suburb where housing prices were cheaper seemed like an affordable choice for many families. But as the more severe decline in housing prices on the urban fringe over the past year illustrates, $3 a gallon gas has made low density development a false economy across the nation.”

As an example of how oil prices have affected property values, Cortright wrote that setting aside factors like house size, lot size, and neighbourhood characteristics, a house close to the centre of Austin, Texas, costs $8,000 more than a house a mile farther away. He also noted that a house’s value increases by $4,700 for each minute saved on commute time.

Former Vancouver city councillor Gordon Price is among those watching with close interest the developments in the American property market in light of surging oil prices.

“It’s part of the larger question about how the future is going to play out in the world of more expensive gas, carbon taxes, where you’re going to put the investment, and whether if, as promised, increasing density actually delivers a reduction in transportation costs,” Price explained to the Straight.

Price said that an increasing acceptance of the theory of peak oil has led more people to rethink the drive-till-you-qualify approach in purchasing properties. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the death of suburbia.

“You may be living and working in a suburban environment, and if that environment is designed so that it’s possible to cycle or walk or take transit, it may in some ways be more competitive than a downtown environment,” Price pointed out.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Great Depression of 2009

by chris rice

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A crashing housing market appeared to be something that could be weathered by other growing sectors of the US/Western economies. Then, the inevitable credit dominoes started to fall, after the mortgage delinquencies fell. Next we entered a scary August and September world credit crisis, as huge forms of liquidity, formerly seeming in endless supply, rapidly dropped to nothing. That would be the securitized credit markets.

Rapidly, the emerging losses in securitized credit, from CDOs, MBS and such (packages of loans such as mortgages sold off as securities and derivatives) caused a cascade of falling confidence in our banking sectors. All of a sudden, the credit crisis spread from the mortgage derivatives markets to the commercial paper markets in an almost instantaneous fashion. BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, had to freeze redemptions on two hedge funds that had losses in mortgage derivatives. In about a week from that announcement, the entire European commercial paper market froze, as banks were afraid to roll over each other's commercial paper, not knowing who else had $billions worth of exposure to the huge mortgage derivatives market. This was in August of 2007.

The credit market damage is so severe that the largest banks in the US are at risk of losing much of their capital. Citibank alone said it needs to raise $30 billion in capital. If the 5 largest banks in the US are already in crisis mode, and other major banks in the EU too, and don't forget Canada, England and so on, things look incredibly negative. And the losses have only just begun to pile up. There are many more to come. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated that 450,000 mortgages reset each quarter in the US in the coming year. But this is not all about just mortgage resets and the housing market. This is about the spreading damage to other key sectors of the credit markets.

Since July, the West's commercial paper markets (CP) have contracted by hundreds of $billions worth, as banks and investors refused to roll over CP of 270 days or less maturity. The ECB (European Central Bank), and US Fed, and other western central banks had to step in and offer short term money to cover the shortfalls, or else a massive world banking liquidity crisis would have emerged.

As it is, interbank lending is quite bad, and Central banks have not been able to stop either the continued shrinking of the CP markets, nor the ever increasing losses stemming from a collapse of the securitized debt markets. Central banks have had to step in as lenders of last resort to keep the banking and financial system from imploding, and there is little progress on this front to date. The $75 billion SIV bailouts arranged by the US Treasury department is on and off again. The key banks involved may not be able or wish to complete it. Citi, for example has to raise $30 billion in capital to cover the mess that has emerged since July.

Next big credit domino

Now, other huge credit markets are about to fall in turn. The next one is the credit insurance market. Credit insurance is an essential part of any credit market. Lenders can buy credit insurance to help cover the risk of loss when they lend. Credit insurance is a key component rating agencies use to asses credit risk of bonds and such, and assume that if any of the bonds that have credit insurance default, the credit insurers will pay off.

But, the amount of securitized credit loss is so huge at this time, losses on CDOs, MBS, and other securitized credit vehicles, that the viability of credit insurers is now in question. Credit insurers will have to start paying off in the next several months. They will be reporting big losses. That will affect the credit ratings of every security they insure.

This means that all the securities these credit insurers insure will be downgraded by rating agencies – if the credit insurer becomes insolvent.

This crisis has spread to Money Market funds for various reasons. First, many money market funds have a large part of their capital invested in short term commercial paper that provides a slight yield bonus. Since much CP is not rolling over, MMFs are having trouble rolling forward those maturities. Also, MMFs have invested heavily in the securitized debt (mortgage derivatives like MBS and SIVs and CDOs) all of which are in deep trouble.

I have had readers email me stories of being put off from redemptions from many money market funds since August. These are from major name institutions. I have been told of games like telling people to fill out forms and not executing what people wanted to do in their fund. Those stories still come in as I write this. It is very important that you read the disclosures about your MMFs, and know that these are generally not FDIC insured. The same goes for other nations MMFs and their deposit insurance.

How this crisis develops

First, US mortgages default, Jan to June 07. Then, the credit securities back of them collapse in value July 07 to present. Then the banks and others holding these have to take huge losses/writedowns. Then those institutions have to raise capital. Then credit insurers have to pay off (coming in the next several months). Then as they go bankrupt, all the rated securities they insure will be downgraded, as the supposed insurance that was purchased is now worthless, as the insurer is insolvent. Then a new cycle of losses as the newly downgraded credit securities have to be marked down.

Then - here is the rub – banks and such have to stop lending, and you get a system wide freeze of new credit. We are right in the middle of this part. HSBC, for example, has stated they are going to pull back lending in the US, as they have been badly hit in the mortgage markets. Consider this, and see credit contraction in the US increasing across lenders. As I said, Citi stated they need to raise $30 billion of capital.

Main source of credit now totally dead

What's more, the source of most of the credit in the last 5 years, securitized credit, is literally disappearing. As that entire sector becomes discredited, the source of most of the money coming into the world's bubble economies, securitized debt, is drying up.

As banks are forced to raise capital and stop lending, consumers find new credit hard to get or not available at all. The same goes for businesses. You then get system wide credit collapse, and the resultant collapse in economic growth. And if no recovery is made quickly, you get a depression. Not a recession, a depression, due to collapsing economic demand.

New Chinese Foreign investment restrictions

Just consider that many Chinese economic sectors have huge overinvestment, and that China just instituted economic restrictions on new foreign investment in many sectors they consider over invested. That being the case, they would not do well if a large part of their export markets contracted, should the west (EU, US, etc.) have a severe economic contraction.

The Facts Are Undeniable

Congress & the President scrambled to sign in a multi-billion dollar stimilus package. But where does the money come from? The government will borrow the money from China & Saudi Arabia to pay for the rebate, which is projected to cost $117 billion over the next two years, adding to the federal deficit.

The Federal government owes $53.3 trillion in future obligations that it has no ability to pay. The Government Accountability Office has sounded the alarm, but neither the politicians nor the American people are listening.

What Have We Been Told To Do With Our Tax Rebates

Save the new world order.

How Else Might We Use This Information?


No school, no work, no shopping, no life as usual....Not for today. Not this week. Not until we've won!

Get On Board

There is no reason to wait 'till Sept. to strike & every reason to strike now!When Bush says to shop, WE MUST STOP!

Congress has borrowed trillions of dollars on top of our outrageous debt to hand out tax rebates to folks that don't even pay taxes. Why? To save the New World Order. This is our time to STRIKE BACK!

I've been told that people won't take a day off during an economic downturn BUT that is when you strike. When the BEAST is weak. Now is the time, the only time that a few days of empty Wal Marts & theatres will send the economy reeling & give this strike the bite that it needs to succeed.

Bring them to their knees. STRIKE today, strike everyday. Buy nothing you don't absolutely need.

In order to get involved, here are the five best steps to take now:

1) Sign up with your email address HERE in order to get updates,

2) Don't buy anything that you don't absolutely need.

3) Send this URL to all your friends, post it to forums, put it on your personal pages,

4) Be a volunteer activist, ask us how.

5) Take the lead and help organize a protest on 9/11.


I created a website for you the voters because whichever party you belong to they have failed you. The website has ambitious goals of how to end the two party system & the third party myth. Modeled after the fall of the Berlin wall, the Polish overthrow of the communist government & the Phillipines removal of Marcos. All accomplished without firing a shot. But we do not rely on the failed tactics of the past instead we use the election system & the very votes & voters this system relies upon. And the site also offers campaign funding sources- who's bought off your candidate? As well as your solutions to education, lobbyist, healthcare, illegal immigration, the war on terror, the war in Iraq, crime, drugs, pedophiles, taxes. And a link page with 1000 links to more on these topics. I'm here to ask you to check it out, it's free. And you can submit content. Thanks for your time, my name is chris.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Minnesota's Sesquicentennial

Protesters decry 'shameful history'

About two dozen protesters, many of them Dakota Indians, blocked the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Wagon Train for about an hour Saturday afternoon as it reached Historic Fort Snelling.

The protesters said Minnesota's 150th birthday this weekend is no cause for celebration among Indian people, whose lands were stolen from them and who endured injustice, broken treaties and imprisonment before and after Minnesota became a state.

Officials planning the sesquicentennial and historians have ignored the state's "shameful history," said Chris Mato Nunpa, who just retired as associate professor of indigenous nations and Dakota studies at Southwest Minnesota State University. "We're engaged in truth telling," he said.

He said the early history of Minnesota's settlement by whites included bounties on Indian scalps, a mass execution in Mankato, and a "concentration camp" of Dakota women, children and the elderly at Fort Snelling during the winter of 1862-63.

"We honor those people who passed away, and we also grieve for them," said Allan Henderson, another of the protesters. "It's very emotional for us."

The protesters carried signs in the rain, burned sage and beat on drums while singing, and two of them lay on the wet asphalt in front of horses pulling the first of several dozen wagons on their way from Cannon Falls to the Sesquicentennial celebration in St. Paul today.

Escorting the wagon train were about a dozen Dakota County deputies on horses, who were joined by several squads from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the airport police.

Joe Dalby of Bemidji, riding a mule at the front of the wagon train procession, watched as Hennepin officers arrested five adults and two adolescents and ushered them to squad cars. "I certainly appreciate their passion, but it's too bad it has to end this way," Dalby said.

After the arrests, deputies formed a line across the road and walked through the remaining protesters, allowing the wagons to pass so they could reach a special campground a few hundred yards away.

The Indian group is planning a march from Mounds Park in St. Paul to the Capitol today, where it may meet the wagon train again.

Watching the event Saturday was Heather Koop of the Minnesota Historical Society, who said that she's sympathetic to the issues being raised. "What this protest is really about is the power of place," she said.

Bob Dalbec of Bloomington saw the police cars from the highway, exited and parked to see what was going on. "Indians have a right to protest and to show their feelings," he said. "I'm with them 100 percent."

After checking the identifications of the arrested and holding them for less than an hour, authorities released them with warning tickets.

Tom Meersman

Thursday, May 01, 2008

La Vida Local

Does eating Minnesota-grown food truly benefit the planet and the local economy? One man finds such claims difficult to swallow.

La Vida Local
Photo by Shannon Brady (Illustration)
The Sunbutter was disappointing. The mashed-up North Dakota sunflower seeds and sugar dripped off the knife—ugly brown and too sweet. I would have preferred peanut butter. ¶ But I was trying to “eat local”—in the parlance of the moment, sub­sisting on foods grown and processed close to home. I was planning to stick to the diet of a locavore for two weeks to find out what was available, to learn what I would have to give up, and to examine why anyone would really want to make such a commitment. My wife, Susan, an adventurous chef and fan of fresh, whole foods, would help select our menu and do most of the cooking.

Eating local is hardly a new idea: Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, in 1971, with a menu emphasizing ingredients purchased from local farmers. Today, co-ops paste local-food stickers on goods. Some even post food-miles—the distance that products travel from farm to fork. At Google headquarters in California, none of the produce served in the cafeteria travels more than 150 miles. Recently, local food has even been the subject of several books, such as Plenty by a Canadian couple who tried a “100-mile diet” for a year.

To begin our experiment, Susan and I visited Mississippi Market, a co-op grocer that promotes local food and is close to our home in St. Paul. (To drive farther than a couple of miles to buy “local” seemed contradictory.) We decided to limit ourselves to foods produced within 100 miles of the Twin Cities, but soon realized some compromises were in order. Any Minnesotan can eat local in summer or fall, when the stalls at the farmers’ market overflow with produce. But the pickings are slim in January. So we redrew the line, at roughly 200 miles from home. That allowed plenty of choices: cream from Cedar Summit Farm in New Prague, apples from Whitewater Valley Orchard in St. Charles, breakfast sausage from Pastures A Plenty in Kerkhoven. We reached a bit farther for a few items—jam made from blueberries gathered on the Red Lake reservation, and pasta from North Dakota wheat. Some items, such as La Perla tortillas, were locally made, but the origin of their ingredients was unknown. The Guatemalan Peace Coffee traveled a long way, but who could resist the righteousness of organic, shade-grown, farmer-friendly, fair-trade coffee delivered to the co-op by bicycle?

The two-week experiment began. Breakfasts were easy, and not much different from what I usually ate: oatmeal and cream, with maple sugar and (nonlocal) salt. Eggs from cage-free hens, topped with shallots and micro-greens (beets, arugula, endive, chard). Sausage from pasture-raised hogs. Lunches relied on locally baked bread and crisp Keepsake apples.

For our first supper, Susan roasted a free-range chicken with shallots and garlic. The casserole paired wild rice with a Hen of the Woods mushroom that was the size of a soccer ball (we’d picked it on a hike the previous fall). The “cheese squash” she prepared looked like a flattened pumpkin the color of cheap car upholstery. But it cooked up tender, if a little stringy, sweetened with maple sugar. To drink, I grabbed a dark cherry stout brewed by a friend.

Our meals weren’t cheap. We could have saved money by bargain-hunting at a big box. But a fresh loaf from a local bakery tastes better than Wonder Bread, and our free-range chicken was more flavorful than most grocery-store birds. When I compared the prices we paid with those of nonlocal products, I discovered we spent a bit more. But often local and nonlocal goods cost about the same.

It was great eating, but I still struggled to understand why I should make “local” a criterion for choosing food. I grasped why you’d prefer products that were fresh, organic, in-season, or certified as environmentally friendly. I could see why you’d buy from your friend the farmer down the road, eat from your garden, or fish or hunt for your own sustenance. I even understood promoting Minnesota food—if you’re a Minnesota farmer.

Sure, plenty of great food grew within a couple hundred miles of my home and was available even in winter. But why forgo lettuce from California or limes from Florida? Why should I, as a consumer, choose local over nonlocal foods?

A century ago, Minneapolis mills ground enough flour in a day to bake 12 million loaves. Trains carried sacks to Eastern cities, and much of Minnesota’s flour was shipped abroad. Since then, the distances that food travels have risen wildly. A 2001 report by researchers at Iowa State University found that, on average, an item of fresh produce travels more than 1,500 miles. The ingredients in strawberry yogurt journey more than 2,200 miles before reaching store shelves.

The trucks, planes, and ships that carry our food burn fossil fuels, depleting the world’s oil reserves and contributing to pollution and global warming. Certainly, I could be persuaded to eat locally if doing so would help reduce the carbon footprint of my meals.

But when shipping is done in bulk, transportation costs are fairly small, according to calculations by the Iowa State researchers. A fully loaded 18-wheeler carrying produce from California to Minnesota consumes about a quart of fuel per 25-pound load. By contrast, if I make a special trip to the St. Paul Farmers’ Market in my Honda Civic to buy local food I can’t get at Cub Foods, I also burn a quart of gas. Trifling decisions about when and how we shop can also affect energy usage.

Now imagine the scene at the market: Proud producers with fruits and veggies—and behind them, their pickups and vans. That’s a lot of farmers logging lots of miles to get small loads from farm to market. “It may be more efficient, if you look at pounds transported, to send a semi-truck load of lettuce or celery from the Salinas Valley in California to Minneapolis, say, than it is for a little farmer to drive his pickup truck in,” says Ben Senauer, a professor of applied economics and former co-director of the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota. “We have an extremely efficient distribution system in this country.”

The most important thing to consider is the full-cycle carbon footprint, Senauer says. “How’s that product produced? How much fertilizer is being used? What kind of packaging does it have? Was it refrigerated? All this is using fossil fuel,” he explains. “And then, of course, the most wasteful thing of all is to let it rot. If you throw it out because you left it in the refrigerator too long, that is really wasteful.”

Local food is fresher, say boosters, and more nutritious. It’s hard to argue that point when gardens are exploding and farmers’ markets are in full swing. But how fresh is any food in midwinter, local or otherwise? The cheese squash that Susan and I ate had been stored since autumn. The honey and jam had been packed in jars months ago. The pasta from North Dakota wheat wasn’t going to be any less nutritious if we let it sit another week.

It’s true that the nutrients in fruits and vegetables begin to degrade as soon as the plant is harvested. Some, such as vitamin C and folate (a water-soluble B vitamin), break down quickly, especially in heat. But it’s not at all clear that going local is the key to finding freshness, vitamins, and minerals, says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University. More important than the time or distance traveled, Nestle says, is the “cold chain” between harvest and table. “I’ve been in vegetable packing plants in California,” Nestle says. “They’re freezing. You have to wear heavy clothes in them.” The refrigeration retards spoilage, nutrient breakdown, and the growth of microorganisms.

In other words, where produce came from matters less than how it was transported and treated, Nestle says. Think of a sidewalk market in New York. “Boxes sit out on the sidewalk for hours in the middle of summer,” Nestle says. It doesn’t matter if the apples came from New Jersey or Washington or China—without refrigeration, the nutrients will dissipate. “There’s no stocking room, no place to put anything away.” Sounds like a
farmers’ market on a hot day, doesn’t it?

Still, provided the food hasn’t spoiled, nutritional value will remain, Nestle says. “It will still be edible. The differences will be small.”

I had my favorites. I liked the Beauty Heart radishes (dubbed watermelon radishes because of their green exteriors and shocking red insides) and the tangy Stravecchio cheese, both from Wisconsin. And I loved the grass-fed round steak from Thousand Hills Cattle Company in Cannon Falls, mainly for the way Susan prepared it—marinated in (nonlocal) soy sauce, honey, garlic, shallots, and locally grown Thai peppers, and then pan-seared.

Not only was I satisfying my own appetite with these wonderful local foods, but if I were to believe the claims made for buying local, I was also supporting family farmers. But was it more important to me to support a Minnesota farmer than, say, a migrant worker and his family in California? Or a trucker hauling goods on I-80? Or my friend Gene, who works at Rainbow Foods?

Pro-local literature also told me that buying from nearby farmers helps build a strong local economy—even if I have to pay extra. By this logic, the money I spent with local producers eddied about in the local economy for several transactions, benefiting my neighbors and, not incidentally, enriching myself. Thus, I stood to gain, even if I got less for my dollar. This entry from a blog promoting local food was typical: “We must be willing to pay a small price premium for the overwhelming benefit of keeping money circulating in the local community rather than shunting most of it off to a corporate office out of state.”

Even assuming that I and my neighbors are more deserving than, say, farmers in Texas or business owners in Chicago, is spending local really the way to build a local economy? I was suspicious on a number of counts. For one, our economy is not very local anymore. If I give a buck to Farmer Jones for a bag of sweet corn, where does it go? For gas, for utilities, for his mortgage. It flies out of the local community pretty fast. We here in Minnesota are, after all, net exporters of food. What if the rest of the nation rejected our products in favor of local goods?

I asked Arthur J. Rolnick, senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis: Does paying a bit more for local products really contribute to prosperity, local or otherwise?

“From a particular producer’s point of view, it might look like that makes some economic sense—the more people who buy my product here, the more successful I am, the more people I can hire,” Rolnick says. “[But] it’s just bad economics. We know that economic trade is a cornerstone to any successful economy. So, for example, if buying local was good for St. Paul, I assume buying local is good for Minneapolis. So all the agricultural goods we sell overseas, if they start buying local, we can’t sell them over there.

“If you look at the big picture, trade is the key,” says Rolnick. “If people bought higher price goods here and stopped buying in Wisconsin, or China, in the big picture you would actually see economic stagnation.”

During our experiment, Susan and I argued. We even fought. (Food is a passionate business.) Our fights came down to this: First, that I was pig-headed and argumentative. (These were not new discoveries.) Second, Susan said, I was ignoring the fact that “local” is really a code word for a lot of other values—high-quality food, small farms, animal welfare, environmental stewardship. “It isn’t just about local food,” she said.

Local food proponents often say that buying local helps you to know the farmer, how he treats his animals, how he cares for the land. But is that realistic? A local farm isn’t necessarily a well-managed one. Walk along any farmland stream in Minnesota and before long you’re likely to see eroded banks where cows have grazed too long, and murky water that’s cloudy with pesticide runoff from corn and soybean fields.

I tend to put more trust in food that is certified. In our stash of local groceries, several items were certified by the Food Alliance Midwest, so I called the St. Paul office to find out what the seals meant. “We define sustainability in a broad way,” alliance director Jim Ennis told me. The organization consulted with universities in Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington to develop standards for farms and ranches that include: providing safe and fair working conditions for employees, treating animals humanely, reducing pesticide use, conserving soil and water, and protecting wildlife habitat. Those are all things that I can endorse. They are values for which I would pay extra. But that certification has little to do with “local.”

My most favorite meal began with a deer I shot last fall. The venison was local food of the highest order, procured just three miles from our cabin—though its “localness” diminished steadily as it traveled 150 miles to our St. Paul home. Susan sautéed cubes of the meat with bacon, shallot, garlic, local mushrooms, and then braised it with wine from Saint Croix Vineyards. The side dish was polenta of local corn meal. Fried cabbage, green beans, and red pepper with garlic and shallots rounded out the meal.

After two weeks, the experiment ended. As foods from all over the world began to replace the locally grown items in our cupboards, I drew two conclusions: First, eating local, even in the dead of winter, was both feasible and enjoyable. Second, it still didn’t make sense to pass up nonlocal foods.

I had come to appreciate the miracle of a distribution system that wraps the world, offering me a pear from China or a tangerine from Spain, like a kiss of summer, even as snow blankets my yard.

I would make a point of looking for local food for only one reason, and it had nothing to do with food miles, the local economy, or the family farm. “It’s cultural. It’s psychological,” Ben Senauer told me. “We want to connect with our food. It’s not just another industrial product. It’s something we put in our bodies.”

For those very reasons, I expect Susan and I will continue to buy pork from the hog farm we pass as we drive to our cabin. I enjoy watching the free-range pigs jostle at the trough, like the squealers on my grandfather’s farm a half-century ago. We’ll continue to burn extra gas to run to the farmers’ market—because we like to see the produce of the moment, fresh-picked and just trucked into the city (no matter how inefficiently). And this fall, I will lug my rifle to the woods again, because I love to hunt. I don’t mind the killing, and I have come to find satisfaction in carving, wrapping, and packing the red muscle—meat whose provenance I understand.

None of this guarantees that my food will be tastier, more nutritious, or better for the local economy and the planet. But I like the sense of reaching toward the source of my food, whether it is on a local farm or deep in the woods or at a busy market. To do so gives me pleasure. That is the best reason, and as far as I can tell, the only reason, to eat local.

Greg Breining is a frequent contributor to Minnesota Monthly.
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