31 August 2005

Mother Nature still holds the trump card

On the day after, sobering lessons from Katrina
Wed Aug 31, 7:10 AM ET

As the full impact of Hurricane Katrina began to sink in Tuesday - New Orleans flooding, scenes of devastation along the Gulf Coast, a death toll of dozens and rising - perhaps the broadest lesson was the reminder that in the contest of nature vs. man, nature at its most powerful retains the upper hand.

For all the satellites, mass communications and emergency preparedness that seem to convey omniscience and control, our ability to mitigate nature's fury is marginal. That said, some other painful lessons are already clear, and applicable to future disasters:

First impressions can be misleading. Reporters and officials at first reported jubilantly that the old downtown of New Orleans had been spared the worst. But by Tuesday morning, water was flooding in as levees and pumps failed. Officials discussed how to get the people remaining in the city out. The magnitude of the devastation there, and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, eclipsed Monday's initial assessments.

Even the most sturdy-seeming evacuation centers don't come with guarantees. The Louisiana Superdome, where 10,000 took refuge, had parts of the roof ripped off. "Vertical evacuation" to the upper floors of high-rise hotels, where many hid, didn't work as Katrina shattered windows. "There are no safe havens," was the understatement of Joseph Matthews, local emergency preparedness chief.

Preventive maintenance matters. New Orleans' failure to keep levees and pumps in prime condition is at least partly to blame for the flooding. The same applies for building codes in disaster-prone areas.

There are limits to what emergency services can do. That's an added reason to evacuate when officials give the orders to do so. Some people lost their lives because they didn't evacuate when they could have. Others remained trapped, unable to contact emergency services as phone networks have failed. All place an added burden on thousands of rescuers, including more than 1,600 Mississippi National Guardsmen who have been activated to help.

More lessons will emerge in the days and weeks to come as the full impact sets in of what is shaping up to be the most costly hurricane in U.S. history. Those lessons will surely need to be applied to future disasters; the only question is when.

Will another such storm strike in a year? Five? Thirty? When will that long-predicted killer earthquake hit Los Angeles or San Francisco? What about another tsunami?

They're all nature's secrets.

Genesis has all the answers...

Well, you were expecting this one, weren't you? Thanks for the link Dennis!

Creation Museum near Cincinnati, OH

Check out some of the displays in the walkthrough. Bizarre. And they say the non-believers are the 'wilfully ignorant' ones. Yeesh. There's historically accurate representations of children playing with dinosaurs in #10 and #19.

Crude oil and gasoline prices driven even higher by hurricane

Hurricane Katrina's devastating blow to US Gulf Coast energy operations sent petroleum prices soaring yesterday, with analysts saying crude prices could hit US$80 a barrel and pump prices in the US headed well above $3 a gallon. Motorists across North America can expect gasoline pump prices will quickly reflect the hurricane's impact, while users of natural gas and home heating oil will also be hit with rising costs. Oil eased from record highs above $70 on Wednesday after the US offered to loan crude to replace output lost when Katrina ripped through the Gulf of Mexico. But energy experts, warning of a supply shock on the scale of the 1970s, said a two-year bull run that took oil to $70.85 on Tuesday may not have run its course. Prices may yet rebound since the loan of crude from the strategic stockpile will do little to ease a US refining crunch. "Crude is not the problem," said Deborah White, senior energy analyst at SG Commodities. "The heart of the problem is how much refining capacity we have lost." OPEC and its biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, were quick to say they would sell more crude to restrain prices, but buyers said extra heavy, hard-to-process Saudi oil would not ease the shortage of high-quality consumer fuels driving prices.

Katrina, on the way to becoming the costliest storm in US history, shut down refineries along the Gulf of Mexico and halted 95% of oil production in the region. In addition to causing a dramatic rise in oil prices, it's expected that Katrina could cost the insurance industry up to US$25 billion in claims. Early scrambling to assess the storm's aftermath transfixed traders Tuesday, sending crude prices up $2.61 a barrel to a record close of $69.81. Natural gas, meanwhile, kept on its own record-setting course, climbing 52 cents per million BTU to $11.66. Energy economist James Williams of WTRG Economics said the price of gasoline is pushing up the price of crude, rather than the other way around. Crude inventories are in good shape but gasoline is at a historic low end of its reserve range, Williams said. "Enough refineries have been taken out of commission that we may test some of these historic lows," he said. The price increase for gas contracts was three times as great as it was for crude oil on Tuesday. "This market right now is so sensitive world-wide. And frankly had this hurricane not come there is no reason for it. Pre-hurricane, almost everything world-wide was in better shape than a year ago and oil prices were still $20 higher," he said.

The US Energy Department reported that nine Gulf Coast refineries were shut down - representing 10% of US refining capacity - while 90% of the region's oil production and 80% of its natural gas output were down. The Gulf Coast accounts for 26% of oil production in the continental US, while its damaged ports are a major terminal for imported crude. Larry Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, said it was too early to give an accurate assessment of the damage, or how long facilities will be closed. But he said energy traders are expecting the worst, and are particularly nervous because the hurricane season has just begun. Last year, the southeastern US was hit by four category three or four storms in August and September. “The markets don't wait for assessments - they have to anticipate,” Goldstein said. “When you don't have any cushions of spare capacity and you get a surprise, it gets instantaneously priced and that's going to pass right through” to the retail level. And at least seven oil drilling rigs were adrift in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday. "There's the potential for some environmental impact," Coast Guard spokesman Lieut. Rob Wyman said. "We are trying to keep tabs on them."

Meanwhile, as Katrina plowed through the Mississippi River basin, shutting down ports, flooding cities and cutting power lines, economists warned that it was likely to leave a deeper mark on the national economy than previous hurricanes because of its profound disruption to the area's complex energy supply network. "The typical pattern with a natural disaster like this is that the regional economy gets clobbered but you can barely see it in the national statistics," said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Global Insight. "This time it is very different because of the impact on the energy infrastructure." The resulting impact on US consumer spending could reduce growth in the final quarter to about an annualized 2%, from his previous forecast of more than 3%. It is clear that much of the economic activity in the gulf region has been clobbered. New Orleans, home to nearly a million people, is under water. By yesterday morning an estimated 2.7M residents in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi had reported power failures, with many expected to be without electricity for weeks. Conventional and mobile telephone service along the Gulf Coast suffered from severe disruptions. Casinos were destroyed in Mississippi and New Orleans; tourism is not expected to revive for months. Retail chains also suffered. Wal-Mart said 123 of its stores were closed with many damaged. Other retail outlets such as Family Dollar Stores, Home Depot, Lowe's and Sears will also feel some of the effects as consumer spending drops off. Grain shipments also face serious delay: Bunge evacuated a huge soybean operation in Destrehan, LA, its main US export terminal. Food exports and imports that normally flow in huge quantities through regional ports, roads and rail lines are likely to face major disruptions for weeks, if not longer. Economic activity is expected to resume in the next few days and weeks in all but the worst-hit locations. Total economic losses could go as high as US$35B, said Peter Zeihan, a senior analyst at consultancy Stratfor. "The big question is how much the rivers and ports have been silted up. It could be fixed in two days; it could be two months. If it's the longer end, we're going right into the grain harvest. The US is the biggest grain exporter in the world, and most of those exports go down the Mississippi. So food and feed prices could soar worldwide." Imports of oil and all sorts of other goods would be affected, he added, predicting price hikes for a wide range of items. Global trade in a range of other goods and commodities, including grain, cotton, soy, steel, fertilizer and ore, will also be affected.
(New York Times, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, Globe and Mail, National Post, Reuters, CBC 050831)


Some question whether it's time to declare RIP to the SUV. GM admitted Tuesday that sales of its large sport-utility vehicles are unlikely to ever regain the peaks of recent years as soaring gas prices and changing tastes quell consumers' enthusiasm for the vehicles. GM acknowledged that it has begun planning for a future when large SUVs will no longer be its main profit-driver. “Given all the alternatives that are out there, given the uncertainty on gas prices, given some image factors, we think it's appropriate to plan in a more conservative manner,” said Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis. Nonetheless, GM officials said they aren't ready to scrap the company's fleet of big rigs. GM's current roster of large SUV and pickup models generate more than $50B a year in revenue. But consumers are realizing that bigger isn't always better. Not only are high gas prices making them expensive to operate, but recent studies have raised questions about the safety of some SUVs. With their high centres of gravity, experts say some models may be more susceptible to rollovers. In the first five months of this year, sales of full-sized and mid-sized SUVs across the US tumbled 15% to 822,258 vehicles from 972,150. But analysts say it's too early to bury the SUV. Sales of luxury SUVs and smaller “crossover” models remain strong and they are highly profitable. In 2006, GM is poised to launch a new line of full-sized trucks and SUVs. And analysts say the new models could buck the downward trend in sales. “The [SUV] market is vital to us,” GM's Ballew said. “It's still a great place to do business.”
(Globe and Mail, Toronto Star 050831)

30 August 2005

Greek mythology lesson

So, I've been called lots of things, most recently Debbie Downer and now Canadian Cassandra. I've been hearing (among the Peak Oil writers anyways) the name Cassandra quite a bit so I decided to find out more about this mythological character.

"According to one [version of the] story, Cassandra received the power to foretell the future from the god Apollo. Apparently, Apollo instructed the mortal woman and taught her about the art of prophecy because he had an ulterior motive - the god wished to win her affections. Cassandra accepted Apollo as a teacher, but not as a lover. Naturally, the god was insulted by this refusal. So he punished Cassandra. Apollo caused the gift that he gave Cassandra to be twisted, making everyone who heard her true and accurate foretellings of future events believe that they were instead hearing lies. In other words, the wondrous blessing bestowed upon a mortal became instead a terrible curse.

And indeed, the burden of Cassandra's "gift" is evident in mythology. She predicted the outcome of many disastrous events. In one memorable example, Cassandra announced the dire consequences of the Trojans accepting the infamous Wooden Horse from their Greek opponents. But as Apollo made certain, no one believed Cassandra when she warned her companions about the future. And this, in the end, was to be Cassandra's tragic fate." (from www.loggia.com)

Very interesting....I love ancient mythology. So many lessons to be learned...

Oil and High Water

In Katrina's wake oil prices have spiked, but the real price increase may not be felt until the winter
Time Magazine
Posted Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005

As Hurricane Katrina hurled toward the Gulf of Mexico bad memories flashed through Tony Lentini's mind. Last Sept. 7th, Hurricane Ivan hammered a similar area, and Lentini, a vice president of Apache Corporation, an independent oil and gas exploration company in Houston, says that it's taken a year to get some of Apache's facilities back online. In the sixty days after Ivan struck, the Gulf lost 29 million barrels of production. "What you do as the storm approaches is you have to balance your people's safety with the country's dependence on the Gulf," says Lentini.

That precarious balancing act becomes even more difficult when a storm like Katrina, a Category 4 hurricane, rolls into town packing winds up to 140 mph. Ivan, was a smaller Category 3 storm with lower winds and waves. Damage estimates from Katrina are as high as $26 billion, and oil production in the Gulf will certainly be down, at least in the short term. Yesterday, oil futures spiked to $70.80 before easing to $67.90 by the end of the day, and all of this comes at a time when consumers are already paying high prices at the pump.

The United States consumes 20 million barrels of oil a day, and produces 7.7 million barrels a day—a quarter of our oil and gas production comes from the Gulf. Katrina shut down 92 percent of the oil and 83 percent of the natural gas production, according to the federal officials. Onshore wells and pipelines also were affected and seven Louisiana refineries producing 8.5% of the US total production grinded to a halt.

Here's what's known so far about damage to the oil and gas infrastructure:

- Two multi-million rigs are reported to be free of their moorings and Royal Dutch Shell said its huge Mars platform, which pumps 220,000 barrels a day, is offline.

- The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest U.S. terminal, has yet to open and Midwest refineries may soon experience shortages.

- Producers are moving to restart production on the western and eastern edges of Katrina's strike zone, but assessment of the central zone where up to a third of the Gulf's rigs lie will not begin until midweek.

Even with all the damage, the real squeeze on the consumer's wallet may not be felt until winter when natural gas prices are certain to be higher, since U.S. utilities rely on natural gas for 16-18 percent of their fuel for electricity generation. Then there's oil. After Hurricane Ivan had severely damaged seven oil platforms and key pipelines buried 20 to 30 feet deep in underwater mudslides near the mouth of the Mississippi, President Bush tapped into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move the Administration dubbed "an exchange" since it called for the supplies to be replaced. Political critics are pressing him to repeat that move, but industry analysts are split on whether this really helps keep prices down. Still, most observers expect Bush to approve another "exchange."

If there is any good news to be had, it is for the roughnecks who will repair the rigs and pipelines. "The worry is there are only so many work crews and so many helicopters," Lentini said, "and you don't know until you get out there. Let's hope it didn't do much damage."

Reserve figures suggest increase not a blip

Oil companies such as China National Petroleum and Chevron are showing greater confidence that higher-priced crude is here to stay, judging by the amounts they are paying in acquisitions. China National's agreement last week to buy PetroKazakhstan for US$4.18-billion valued the company's reserves at $10.66 a barrel. Chevron this month paid the equivalent of $10.17 a barrel for Unocal, and the $17.8B price was triple what the company spent in the past five years to find reserves. The average price paid in takeovers during the past four years was about $4 a barrel, according to consulting firm John S. Herold in Norwalk, CT. Companies are locking in higher costs for oil they will produce over a decade or more, posing a risk should prices plummet. "They've all seen the cyclical boom and bust, but it's different this time," says David Baker, who helps oversee $800-million at North American Management in Boston. "Oil is a scarce resource. The easy oil is gone." As oil prices surge to records, industry executives are becoming more willing buyers, Baker said in an interview. Memories are fading of past routs, such as the drop to $10 a barrel after a global economic slowdown in 1998, he said. Energy producers are paying a record $8.83 a barrel on average for acquisitions announced in 2005, up from $3.03 a barrel in 2004. They are also doing more deals this year than in any of the past three years. "This isn't a temporary phenomenon," says Grant Porter, head of energy mergers and acquisitions at Lehman Brothers, an adviser to Chevron as it battled China's CNOOC to acquire Unocal. "We're seeing increased activity across the board. It's going to continue." Buyers can justify the prices by entering into contracts to sell production in advance, Porter said. Oil futures contracts for 2010 are valued at more than $61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
(National Post 050830)

Why This Matters: Katrina and Peak Oil

My heart goes out to the people of the Gulf Coast. Seeing the devastation of places you've been and feeling the hopelessness of the situation is indescribable. It will be months and months before everything is even functional in that part of the world. Screw you, Katrina! And the hurricane season is only half over? I wonder if this is another sign of the things to come for all of us as Mother Nature gives us all a big 'Eff You'?

And to think that our problems in the short-term are only starting....

from www.theoildrum.com:

Posted by Prof. Goose in Supply/Production
Mon Aug 29 at 8:43 PM EST
Katrina IS a big deal today and will be for weeks to come.
Why? Because Katrina will have disrupted Gulf production, refining, and storage of petroleum for an uncertain amount of time. We have probably lost at least 1mbpd of production, if not more, for a significant period of time. We use 20mbpd in the US. That means either the US cuts consumption by at least five percent or demand will push prices upwards, and dramatically.

You see, with supply and demand balanced on a knife's edge as it is because of "peak oil," this scenario could lead to huge amounts of volatilty in the oil markets for weeks to come. There is simply no more extra oil (except maybe the SPR, but that petroleum is problematic as it is yet to be refined, and refineries are already at capacity if they survived the storm, Chuck Schumer, you idiot.) we can call upon to put into the system.

With supply and demand balanced as it is (and with demand only growing over time from places like China and India), it only takes one "something" (terror, weather, malevolent world politician) to disrupt this gently balanced system.

This is what Goldman Sachs was saying six months ago when they introduced the idea of a $105/bbl superspike. NB, I am not saying this is the "superspike." However, if this is an event that really disrupts supply it could mean a terribly volatile market with a price spike...(and yes, that $105/bbl number probably equals somewhere around $4/gal or more for gas or even worse, a shortage of supply because of systemic problems).


How high do you think the oil price could potentially get? I'm sure we'll get a good indication by the end of the week.

29 August 2005

Cliffert moment

Here's the joke Kevin told us while running on Saturday:

"What do you call an Indian with a law school diploma?"

(Ackward silence with a few subverted giggles)

"A lawyer, you f**king racist!"

Whippings, Pilgrimages and Starbucks

What a weekend! Things got started off with a bang on Friday night with the Apollo slo-pitch game and windup at Moneypennies. Joe, Nick, Patrick and I hung out around there until 10 p.m. or so and then headed back to the apartment to prep for Kinky night at Detour. We got to the bar around 11pm and stayed there fairly late. I met up with my racing buddy Graeme there who was wearing a kilt, but the highlight of the evening was definitely Doug. First of all he was wearing bright orange and stuck out like a road beacon in the sea of black leather and mesh. We had originally intended to dress up a bit to go but several beers ended up making our decision (we got very, very lazy).

There was a flogging demonstration going on upstairs and the master was inviting anyone who wanted to try it to volunteer. Of course Doug, being that he had never been whipped before, was gung-ho about the prospects of getting physically beaten. Patrick and I sat back and watched the horror unfold. Doug stood against the wall with his shirt off and let 'er rip. The master would tap on him softly and then give him a sharp snap on the back. Doug would let out a little yelp -- at this point I would always expect him to quit -- but he would always go back and assume the position! Hilarious. I think the fact Patrick and I were laughing so hard might have caused things to go a little longer than they should have, but the topper was when the master brought out the BIG whip and said, "Have you met Veronica?" and Doug's response was, "No, but does she hurt?"

Freaking hilarious! Who will ever forget Veronica?!

I was up early on Saturday for a run and brunch with Frontrunners. We are starting to organize the Banff Ekiden run again for the weekend after Thanksgiving. It sounds like quite a few people are interested, however it doesn't look like many are interested in spending Saturday night in Banff, like we have traditionally done in past years more than not.

I went and picked up my rental car afterwards. I took my road bike out to Cochrane Cycle to Preston in order to get my bottom bracket repacked and a bit cleaned up for the Provincial Time Trial Championships on the long weekend. Afterwards did a bit of shopping, stopped at Ryan's place and then headed over to Inglewood to pick up Joe and Brian for the party. We drove through Kensington to pick up Patrick and then got ready to head down to Bridlewood to Doug's party --- bring a f**king lunch! We waited for Frank to show up at the apartment, then picked up Nick and began the arduous trek to the south end of the city.

The party was fun. It was great to see the gang again. I haven't seen Nancy and Sean in ages so it was nice to catch up with them.

Brian and Patrick

Curtis and Joe

Reid and Nick

Kirk and Shawn

The boys....

The girls....

Sean....for some reason I'm not surprised...

I'm not surprised about this either. Are you sure you want to come to Calgary Sarathena????

So many uses for a counter-weight...

Sunday morning there was an impromptu race at the velodrome put on by cp and Sean H-C. It was essentially a toned down version of the Keech-Corr Classic that was supposed to go on but was cancelled due to lack of entries. The day was great and we all had a lot of fun. I ended up going with Chris Hooper and cp to Starbucks in Marda Loop and sitting in the sun all afternoon drinking Iced Cafe Lattes. How pretentious. We had a great conversation, and I stopped at Ryan's again on the way home for a visit. Joe and I relaxed in the apartment last night. I'm still exhausted today.

Ross and I went for a killer run through the Douglas Fir Trails at lunch and we were supposed to be going for a Synergy team recovery ride tonight, however a freak storm came through the city EXACTLY at 6:30pm. I think it was a sign to stay at home.

Tomorrow I am definitely going to go to the Mid-Week Mayhem Criterium races at the University Research Park. They have been going on all summer, but I haven't been to one yet to due a conflict with track training on Tuesday which was taking precedence earlier in the season.

I'm heading to Lethbridge on Saturday for the Provincial Time Trial Champs. I'm planning on going a day early to visit with my cousin Robert who lives there. The ITT is on Sunday and the TTT is supposed to be on Monday, however we haven't collected enough bodies to put a six-man team together for the race yet. I guess we'll find out during the week what we're going to do.

24 August 2005

'Dismal science' just got a lot gloomier

National Post columnist Jacqueline Thorpe explores possible effects an outbreak of Avian Flu would have on the world's economy. SARS will be nothing compared to Avian Flu if it becomes a pandemic, according to BMO chief economist Sherry Cooper. Experts say worldwide deaths could reach or exceed 50 million if the disease were as vicious as the influenza pandemic of 1918, even if a successful vaccine could be developed and distributed. We're talking quarantines, officials denying landing rights to planes and ships from countries where the disease is spreading, banning concerts, parades, public gatherings. Global trade would probably grind to a halt, leading to empty shelves and shortages of medicine and food. Oil prices would also plunge. Canadian markets and the loonie would be particularly vulnerable. Income and profitability of businesses of all kinds would suffer. Financial institutions would be under enormous pressure to sustain their services, due to employee absenteeism and chaotic financial markets. Staying indoors might boost e-commerce, assuming the postal and delivery services were still operating, but don't buy technology stocks because they are heavily integrated into East Asian economies and are highly volatile at the best of times. Soaring death rates would puncture the housing bubble and create vast oversupply, leading to default for many. Life insurance policies might not cover pandemics. Cooper says the traditional safe havens of gold, the US dollar and US treasuries would benefit, at least until big Asian buyers brought their money home to fight the disease. Central banks would chop interest rates to spur demand, but deflation would probably take root anyway as economic activity and world credit demand plummeted. But BMO financial strategist Donald Coxe says it would likely be a while before financial markets cottoned on to the full implications, giving the prepared investor opportunity to act. Adds Cooper: "[Those] who could protect their assets and hoard cash would ultimately benefit by buying real estate, farms, businesses and stocks at extraordinary bargains. This sounds rather callous, because the death toll could be so high, but those with liquid assets in the lead-up to the Depression were able to scoop up the property of those who were heavily indebted." Bottom line, especially for those investors immersed in the great Canadian oil and commodity play, is be prepared to go liquid quickly -- that is, if there's anyone left standing.
(National Post 050824)

And the other side...

It's Not the End Of the Oil Age
Technology and Higher Prices Drive a Supply Buildup
By Daniel Yergin
Sunday, July 31, 2005; Page B07
We're not running out of oil. Not yet.
"Shortage" is certainly in the air -- and in the price. Right now the oil market is tight, even tighter than it was on the eve of the 1973 oil crisis. In this high-risk market, "surprises" ranging from political instability to hurricanes could send oil prices spiking higher. Moreover, the specter of an energy shortage is not limited to oil. Natural gas supplies are not keeping pace with growing demand. Even supplies of coal, which generates about half of the country's electricity, are constrained at a time when our electric power system has been tested by an extraordinary heat wave.

But it is oil that gets most of the attention. Prices around $60 a barrel, driven by high demand growth, are fueling the fear of imminent shortage -- that the world is going to begin running out of oil in five or 10 years. This shortage, it is argued, will be amplified by the substantial and growing demand from two giants: China and India.

Yet this fear is not borne out by the fundamentals of supply. Our new, field-by-field analysis of production capacity, led by my colleagues Peter Jackson and Robert Esser, is quite at odds with the current view and leads to a strikingly different conclusion: There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day -- from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day -- a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.

Where will this growth come from? It is pretty evenly divided between non-OPEC and OPEC. The largest non-OPEC growth is projected for Canada, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Angola and Russia. In the OPEC countries, significant growth is expected to occur in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Algeria and Libya, among others. Our estimate for growth in Iraq is quite modest -- only 1 million barrels a day -- reflecting the high degree of uncertainty there. In the forecast, the United States remains almost level, with development in the deep-water areas of the Gulf of Mexico compensating for declines elsewhere.

While questions can be raised about specific countries, this forecast is not speculative. It is based on what is already unfolding. The oil industry is governed by a "law of long lead times." Much of the new capacity that will become available between now and 2010 is under development. Many of the projects that embody this new capacity were approved in the 2001-03 period, based on price expectations much lower than current prices.

There are risks to any forecast. In this case, the risks are not the "below ground" ones of geology or lack of resources. Rather, they are "above ground" -- political instability, outright conflict, terrorism or slowdowns in decision making on the part of governments in oil-producing countries. Yet, even with the scaling back of the forecast, it would still constitute a big increase in output.

This is not the first time that the world has "run out of oil." It's more like the fifth. Cycles of shortage and surplus characterize the entire history of the oil industry. A similar fear of shortage after World War I was one of the main drivers for cobbling together the three easternmost provinces of the defunct Ottoman Turkish Empire to create Iraq. In more recent times, the "permanent oil shortage" of the 1970s gave way to the glut and price collapse of the 1980s.

But this time, it is said, is "different." A common pattern in the shortage periods is to underestimate the impact of technology. And, once again, technology is key. "Proven reserves" are not necessarily a good guide to the future. The current Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rules, which define "reserves" for investors, are based on 30-year-old technology and offer an incomplete picture of future potential. As skills improve, output from many producing regions will be much greater than anticipated. The share of "unconventional oil" -- Canadian oil sands, ultra-deep-water developments, "natural gas liquids" -- will rise from 10 percent of total capacity in 1990 to 30 percent by 2010. The "unconventional" will cease being frontier and will instead become "conventional." Over the next few years, new facilities will be transforming what are inaccessible natural gas reserves in different parts of the world into a quality, diesel-like fuel.

The growing supply of energy should not lead us to underestimate the longer-term challenge of providing energy for a growing world economy. At this point, even with greater efficiency, it looks as though the world could be using 50 percent more oil 25 years from now. That is a very big challenge. But at least for the next several years, the growing production capacity will take the air out of the fear of imminent shortage. And that in turn will provide us the breathing space to address the investment needs and the full panoply of technologies and approaches -- from development to conservation -- that will be required to fuel a growing world economy, ensure energy security and meet the needs of what is becoming the global middle class.

The writer is chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. His book "The Prize: the Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power" received the Pulitzer Prize.

23 August 2005

No Discipline

An exerpt from James Howard Kunstler's blog, Clusterfuck Nation. We are so SCREWED here in North America! Remember, boys and girls, everything is wrong...

August 8, 2005

Has the world noted that the conservative establishment in America -- including the always prim George W. Bush and his buttoned-down minions, the heavenly hosts of mass-market evangelism, the zillionaire retired CEO authors of how-to-get-rich books, and the media tub-thumpers like David Brooks of the New York Times -- I repeat, has the world noted that they all preside over the most slovenly, undisciplined, and reckless economy the world has seen since mankind started bathing regularly?

Many are amazed at the levitation of a financial system with no remaining reality-based understructure of value creation. Zero-percent financing. Loans to anybody with a pulse. Instant conversion of hallucinated house value appreciation into speedboats and Hummers, college kids declaring bankruptcy on graduation at unprecedented rates, the explosion of "creative" financial instruments conjured out of the promises of millions to pay back money that they will never earn, and swapped in a spiral of casino-like wagers into metaphysical ethers of delusion -- things like that. I sort of left out the pretend money that Mr. Bush's government itself affects to disburse, and the bond racket linked to that affectation.

We're a country with no discipline, led by fake scoutmasters, moneygrubbing ministers, chiseling accountants, and oversexed schoolmarms. The new national motto: Something for Nothing. The new spiritual capital: Las Vegas.

Now, it's my personal opinion that we really are headed for crash central this fall. The price of oil is entering uncharted territory. Natural gas has virtually tripled in price since 2003. People are beginning to fear that the heating season will be brutal for those in the employ of WalMart and worse for those in the employ of nobody. Magical as this phony-baloney over-leveraged economy has seemed, whatever remains of real life will be affected by higher gasoline prices. I know it sounds absurd to say that, because so far Americans have seemed to absorb a one year price doubling without complaint. But we're hostages to motoring, whether we like it or not, and when the price of gasoline goes north of $3 a gallon (coming very soon) yowls will be heard even in the soundproofed sanctums of Karl Rove's west wing headquarters.

Trouble is brewing with WalMart's chief partner, China. They are ticked off that they are prevented from acquiring hard strategic assets, such as US owned oil companies, with all those US dollars we have snookered them into hoarding from the sale of their plastic-ware. Together with Russia, China is egging on the former soviet-o-stans to kick out our military bases. China is inking long-term supply contracts with the people we desperately depend on for our oil: Venezuela and Canada. China is tired of our tendentious jive. Pretty soon they are going to want to try to kick our ass. Let's hope they don't try that by making moves in central Asia, where our prospects for fighting a land war with them are not promising.

Meanwhile, at home, we will come to grips with the sheer fact that a society unable to produce things of real value must contend with a tanking of those financial markers pegged to the expectation that a society can produced things of value. When that recognition hits, there will be far fewer zero percent loans and no money down ghost condo sales. The unwinding will begin. America will be reunited with it's long-lost biological parent: reality. What will the despondent public think of the conservative establishment then?


Okay, so here's part of a new article I read today that freaks the hell out of me. Can anyone comment on its accuracy? Holy crap!

Oil Shortages After 2007 by Dale Allen Pfeiffer -- FTW Energy Editor

It appears that the year 2007 will be important for oil as well as natural gas. A new study published in Petroleum Review suggests that production might not be able to keep up with demand by 2007. The study is a survey of mega projects (those with reserves of over 500 million barrels (Mb)) and the potential to produce over 100,000 barrels per day (Gbpd) of oil). Mega projects are important not only because they provide the bulk of world oil production, but also because they have a better net energy profile than smaller projects, and they provide a more substantial profit than smaller projects. Bear in mind that the planet consumes a billion barrels of oil (or two mega fields) every eleven and one half days.

The discovery rate for mega projects has dwindled to almost nothing. This can be seen in the data for the last few years. In 2000, there were 16 discoveries of over 500 Mb; in 2001 there were only 8 new discoveries, and in 2002 there were only 3 such discoveries. From first discovery to first production generally takes about 6 years. If the new project can make use of existing infrastructure, then the start up time might be cut to 4 years.

This past year (2003), 7 new mega projects were brought on stream. 2004 expects to see another 11 projects start producing. 2005 will be the peak year for bringing new projects on stream, with 18 new projects expected to be brought on stream in that year. In 2006, the pace drops back to 11 new projects. But in 2007 there are only 3 new projects scheduled to begin production, followed by 3 more in 2008. There are no new projects on track for 2009 or 2010. And any new mega project sanctioned now could not possibly come on stream any sooner than 2008.

The study points out that currently about a third of the world's oil production comes from declining fields, with a likely overall decline rate of about 4%. As a result, global production capacity is contracting by over 1 million barrels per day (Mbpd) each year. New production is the only thing offsetting this decline.

By 2007, production capacity will have declined by 3-4mn b/d. Yet this decline will be offset by 8mn b/d of new capacity drawn from the many new projects expected to come on stream over the next few years. This leaves a surplus of 4mn b/d in spare capacity. Yet global demand is growing by over 1 Mbpd each year. So 3 years of demand growth will reduce our spare capacity to 1mn b/d by the start of 2007. As very little new capacity is set to come on stream in 2007, that remaining 1 Mbpd spare capacity will likely disappear before 2008.

The upshot of all this is that the oil supply appears robust until 2007. With so much new production coming on stream, there may even be periods of price weakness. However, it is likely that we will begin suffering oil shortages after 2007, especially if anything happens to disrupt a portion of the production. If new projects are not sanctioned to start up by 2008, then by the end of that year we are likely to see shortages without any cause other than rising demand.

AIGHHHHH!!! The full article is on the FromTheWilderness.com website or can be found on my other blog.

Scenes from yesterday's photo shoot

Synergy Racing Cycle Club 2005

And another...

And another...

Isn't Pat Robertson a Christian darling?

Like, I know Hugo Chavez is no prize, but really, Pat. You're a freakin' wingnut, and you have a scary amount of power to wield moral authority over the brainwashed cattle you call constituents.

Televangelist Robertson calls for assassination of Venezuelan president
01:09 PM EDT Aug 23

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has called on-air for American operatives to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying it would be "cheaper than starting a war . . . and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's The 700 Club.

"We don't need another $200-billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he said of the democratically elected Chavez, who is a frequent critic of U.S. foreign policy.

"It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President George W. Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war . . . and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Among other things, Robertson accused Chavez, a personal friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, of wanting Venezuela to become "a launching pad for communist infiltration" and "Muslim extremism."

Robertson, 75, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, accused the United States of failing to act when Chavez was briefly overthrown in a failed right-wing coup in 2002.

A message to a Robertson spokeswoman seeking further comment was not immediately returned.

Venezuela is the one of the world's largest oil exporters and a major supplier to the United States. The CIA estimates that U.S. markets absorb almost 59 per cent of Venezuela's total exports.

Venezuela's government has demanded in the past that the United States crack down on Cuban and Venezuelan "terrorists" in Florida who they say are conspiring against Chavez.

Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the U.S. State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Armstrong denies report that he took EPO during 1999 Tour de France

PARIS (AP) - Cycling star Lance Armstrong found himself mired in more doping allegations Tuesday after L'Equipe, a French sports daily, reported that the seven-time Tour de France champion used the performance-enhancing drug EPO to help win his first Tour in 1999.

Armstrong, who has gone to court in England to fight other doping accusations, immediately denied the allegation. L'Equipe, whose parent company is closely linked to the Tour, devoted four pages to its claims, under a front-page headline The Armstrong Lie. The paper said that signs of EPO use showed up in Armstrong's urine six times during the '99 race.
"Unfortunately, the witch hunt continues and tomorrow's article is nothing short of tabloid journalism," Armstrong wrote Monday night on his website. "I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs."

However, Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc said Tuesday that L'Equipe's report seemed "very complete, very professional, very meticulous" and that it "appears credible."

"We are very shocked, very troubled by the revelations we read this morning," Leblanc told RTL radio. He cautioned that Armstrong, his doctors and his aides should be heard out before people make any final judgment.

Leblanc also said any disciplinary action appeared unlikely, based on the L'Equipe account. The paper's investigation was based solely on B samples - the second of two samples used in doping tests. The A samples were used in 1999 for analysis at the time.

The governing body of world cycling did not begin using a urine test for EPO until 2001. For years, it had been impossible to detect the drug, called erythropoietin, which builds endurance by boosting the production of oxygen-rich red blood cells.

EPO tests on the 1999 B urine samples were not carried out until last year, when scientists performed research on them to fine-tune EPO testing methods, the paper said.

The national anti-doping laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry, which developed the EPO test and analyzed the urine samples in question, said it could not confirm that the positive EPO results were Armstrong's.

It noted that the samples were anonymous, bearing only a six-digit number to identify the rider, and could not be matched with the name of any one cyclist.

However, L'Equipe said it was able to make the match. It printed photos of what it said were official doping documents. On one side of the page, it showed what it said were the results of EPO tests from anonymous riders used for lab research. On the other, it showed Armstrong's medical certificates, signed by doctors and riders after doping tests - and bearing the same identifying number printed on the results.

The lab statement said it had promised to turn over its results to the World Anti-Doping Agency "on condition that they could not be used in any disciplinary proceeding."

"It will be very interesting to see what UCI does and what the U.S. Cycling Federation does and what Lance Armstrong has to say," WADA chairman Dick Pound said. "If the evidence is seen as credible than yes, he has an obligation to come forward and specifically give his comments, especially after his previous comments that he has never used drugs.

"If anything were found, we couldn't do anything because we didn't even exist in 1999. But it's important that the truth must always be made clear," added the Canadian.

L'Equipe has frequently raised questions about how Armstrong could have made his spectacular comeback from testicular cancer without using performance enhancers. L'Equipe is owned by the Amaury Group whose subsidiary, Amaury Sport Organization, organizes the Tour de France and other sporting events.

A former L'Equipe journalist, Pierre Ballester, was co-author of a book published last year that contained doping allegations against Armstrong. He wrote the book with Sunday Times sportswriter David Walsh.

In the book, L.A. Confidential, the Secrets of Lance Armstrong, one of the cyclist's former assistants claimed that Armstrong once asked her to dispose of used syringes and give him makeup to conceal needle marks on his arms.

Armstrong took libel action against the Sunday Times after the British newspaper reprinted allegations in a review of the book in June 2004. The case will go to trial in London's High Court in November.

Armstrong retired from cycling after his record seventh straight Tour victory last month.

French Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour said he was deeply saddened by the allegations, though he noted that they were unconfirmed and never could be because of the lost A samples.

"It's a shock to learn this about a great champion," the former Olympic champion fencer said. "This is certainly an element that could tarnish his image."

*SIGH* I hate how tarnished my sport is. It's so frustrating trying to build an interest base in the sport when you know that it's as filled with druggies as baseball or football. And it's not like amateur sport can survive in North America on its own merits. If this allegation by L'Equipe is found to be true, it could be a devastating blow to cycling in North America.

22 August 2005

How oil dependence fuels US policies

Opinion -- From Iraq to China, from the Gaza Strip to Iran, the biggest foreign-policy problems of the summer all are setting off the same alarm: It is imperative for the US to become more energy independent. But that, of course, is precisely what Washington's policymakers have been unable, or unwilling, to accomplish. Instead, America's exposure to trouble in the world's volatile oil-producing regions actually is on the rise, even as the summer driving season heads toward its climax with oil near a once-unthinkable US$65 a barrel. In brief, while the 20th century was the century of oil, the 21st already is unfolding as the century of whatever follows oil, or the century of fighting over what's left of oil -- or both. The omnipresence of oil in America's foreign calculations will be underscored this week. The interim government in Iraq -- an oil-rich country that's actually pumping less now than it did before the US invaded -- will try again to write a new constitution that's supposed to start stabilizing the nation. At the same time, Israel will be trying to force out the final settlers in the Gaza Strip so it can be turned over to the Palestinians. There's no oil in the Gaza Strip, of course, but the whole episode is a wrenching reminder of how vulnerable the broader, oil-soaked Middle East remains to continuing upheaval. Meantime, President Bush will be getting ready for a September meeting with China's president, Hu Jintao. Overhanging that meeting will be a nasty midsummer episode in which Congress effectively stopped oil company Cnooc of China -- which has its own unquenchable thirst for oil -- from taking over an American oil firm, Unocal. Simultaneously, the US and Western Europe are cruising for a September confrontation at the United Nations with Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, over the Iranian nuclear program.

If it seems that the odor of oil hangs over America's whole international agenda right now -- well, that's about right. "The overwhelming national-security issue is that we are becoming increasingly dependent for the lifeblood of an industrialized economy, oil, on the most unstable parts of the world," says Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. "And there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency about energy policy in this country." Yes, Congress did pass an energy bill earlier this summer, after four years of dithering. But even its champions found it a bit of a letdown. It does open the way to more nuclear power and better use of coal for power generation, but doesn't promise to make a big dent in America's gasoline consumption, at least immediately. There are, among other things, hefty subsidies for ethanol, which should decrease gasoline use gradually over the longer term, and modest incentives for buying hybrid cars that burn less gasoline, but nothing revolutionary. Meantime, oil imports as a share of total American oil consumption are more than 60%, up from about 50% a decade ago. Hormats suggests that when President Bush and Chinese President Hu meet next month, they set out to devise a plan for the two countries to become energy partners rather than energy competitors. That quest might well begin by paving the way for more US oil companies to take their oil-finding and energy-extracting expertise into China to help pump up production there. Imagine, Hormats muses, if oil could be a source of cooperation instead of tension, for once.
(Wall Street Journal 050822)

21 August 2005

Whew! What a freakin' weekend!

So much to say, so little time.

I'm exhausted after the Alberta Provincial Road Race today in Red Deer. The weather was phenomenal - 30C with a southerly wind from Texas. The race was one of attrition. I made the mistake of going on a ride with Harley Borlee yesterday for what we had termed a 'leg stretcher', but which ended up being a 100km anyways. The race today was 140km. Since I've been training on the track most of the season, this was probably the most mileage I've done in a very long time, maybe even since Tucson this spring! I can't say that I won, or even ended with a good ranking, but a group of three of us came across the line together after slogging almost 100kms by ourselves. A bit of cramping, wasp stings and such wouldn't get us from finishing! We completed the course in just under four hours.

Included here are some pictures from my tour of my company's Shepard Intermodal facility in the south end of the city. I've been there on tour before, but this was supposed to be more IT focused on all the applications they use 'in the field' to give us a clearer understanding of how everything works together. A group of eight of us went out for this one. It was pretty interesting and the guys that work there that took us on the tour were really great at answering questions.

Loaded container cars

Pulling containers off the car

Putting container on flatbed for transport

Adding to the pile. How do they keep track of everything? Oh right, that's my department's job...

Friday night, Joe, Doug, Kirk and I went to Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club. It was a riot. We ended up getting seated at a table right next to the stage, so you knew we were going to get heckled. It was quite funny because just before the second comedian came on, our food order arrived at the table. Halfway through his bit all that was left was the plate of sushi rolls. So he turns to us and says, "Four men, well dressed, sushi...does this scream gay or what?". The entire room howled and we cheered, especially Doug, who got heckled still more by the same comedian later on. Afterwards we went to Curtis' place for more beers, theoretically before going out to Twisted Element, but we ended up staying at Curtis' and getting bent out of control. If you check out the audioblogs on Jeff's site, you'll know what I mean.

I woke up Saturday morning amazingly without a headache. I met up with the running group for brunch and then headed up to meet Harley for our ride. We got back into the city around 4pm and I went straight to the velodrome to meet up with cp since we were supposed to be picking up the rental vans for the trip to Red Deer at 6pm. As it turns out, we didn't even get the vans until 7pm, so my entire evening was an hour behind what had been planned. I went and picked up Joe at Swan's and we met up with Bryan, Tim, Doug and Aaron at the Rose & Crown pub for a few brews. Coincidentally we also knew that Jon, Alanis and her friend Melissa were also there so we pulled a bunch of tables together and had some laughs. Raymond showed up for a bit. We went home around 10pm and then Joe and Raymond headed to the bar while I went to bed.

Sunday has been entirely travelling and racing. The day was so beautiful and I have so much fun hanging out with my teammates.

Synergy team preparing for Alberta Provincial Road Race at Balmoral Hall in Red Deer

Tomorrow I have my interview with Todd Hirsch for the Gay Canada Guide article and tomorrow evening is the Synergy Shindig and Team photo at the Velodrome. That about all I forsee on the horizon right now.

18 August 2005

Debbie Downer

Have you ever seen Rachel Dratch's character on Saturday Night Live, Debbie Downer? I was doing some introspection last night and have realized that I am the Debbie Downer of our group (also know as a Grenade Thrower)! How sad! I don't want to be the downer anymore. I'm only going to be positive and happy from now on. Good news story rants. Lots and lots of Zoloft.

03r: Lindsay Lohan / Usher

Debbie Downer

Waiter.....Kenan Thompson
Brother 1.....Fred Armisen
Brother 2.....Jimmy Fallon
Debbie Downer.....Rachel Dratch
Dad.....Horatio Sanz
Sister 1.....Lindsay Lohan
Sister 2.....Amy Poehler

[ open on exterior, outdoor parade at Disneyland ]

[ dissolve to interior, Mickey's Breakfast Jamboree, as Waiter approaches the McKusick family ]

Waiter: Good morning! Welcome to the Mickey's Breakfast Jamboree! My name is Billiam, and I'll be serving you today. You guys here on a special occasion?

Brother 1: Well, we're here on that new Magical Gatherings family package. We've got the McKusick clan down from Ohio - right, guys? Say Hi!

Family: Hiiiii!!!!

Waiter: Well, great. Let me tell you Mickey's specials today - we've got steak and eggs, served with some home fries and Mickey waffles.

Brother 2: [ excited ] Whoo-oooo! I loves me some Steak and Eggs!

Debbie Downer: Ever since they found Mad Cow Disease in the U.S., I'm not taking any chances. It can live in your body for years, before it ravages your brain.

[ sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face ]

[ dissolve to jingle montage ]

"You're enjoying your day, everything's going your way
Then, along comes Debbie Downer!
Always there to tell you about a new disease
A car accident or killer bees.
You'll beg her to spare you, "Debbie, please."
But you can't stop Debbie Downer!"

[ zoom on Debbie's sad face ]

[ dissolve back to the family gathering ]

Dad: We did it, gang! We pulled it off! A family reunion at Disney! I don't know about you guys, but the first I'm gonna do is ride that haunted elevator thingie! [ laughs ] It drops you straight down!

Sister 1: This is my dream come true! I mean, I'm totally serious! Tigger hugged me at the door, and I thought I was gonna cry!

Sister 2: Awww..

Debbie Downer: [ sullenly ] I guess Roy isn't doing as well as I first thought..

Sister 2: What? Who's Roy?

Debbie Downer: Roy? Of Siegfried and Roy? He was attacked by his own tiger and suffered devestating injuries.

[ drunken trombone sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face ]

Brother 1: So, uh.. hey! Who wants to go on Space Mountain with me?

Family: Me!! Me!! Me!!

Sister 1: I want to see the Country Bear Jamboree!

Sister 2: I want to go to every country in Epcot, and greet them in their own native language! "Hola!" "Konnichiwa!" "Hi!"

Debbie Downer: Do you guys care about that train explosion in North Korea?

[ drunken trombone sound effect; Jimmy Fallon starts to crack up ]

Debbie Downer: The media is so sensitive there.. so secretive --

[ Rachel Dratch begins to crack up with Jimmy Fallon ]

Debbie Downer: -- that they may never know how many people perished.

[ sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face, which begins to crack up under Rachel Dratch's crumbling willpower ]

Waiter: Who's ready for Mickey waffles!

Family: Oh, me! Me, me, me!!

Sister 1: Oh.. my.. God! I just made eye contact with Pluto! And he's coming over here!

Brother 1: Pluto! Pluto!

[ guy in a Pluto costume comes over to hug Sister 1 ]

Sister 1: Oh, my God, oh, my God! I'm hugging Pluto! I'm at Disneyworld, and I'm hugging Pluto! Somebody take a picture!

[ everyone crowds around to be in the photo, as Debbie takes the picture with her camera ]

Debbie Downer: Wow, you guys, Disneyworld really is fun, it makes me feel like a kid again. I mean, the time before my two-year stint at Children's.

[ sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face as she takes the picture ]

[ everyone tries desperately not to crack up, as Pluto comes over to hug Debbie ]

Debbie Downer: Oh.. hey.. hey, Pluto, hi. Boy.. it must be fun to work here.. although, the biggest drawback to working in a theme park is that you must live in constant fear of deadly terrorist attacks.

[ the jovial Pluto stops being so jovial, its tongue hanging out rather sad and pitiful in light of Debbie's statement ]

[ sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face, which begins to crack up under Rachel Dratch's crumbling willpower ]

[ Pluto runs off ]

Brother 1: Pluto.. Pluto, wait, where are you going?

Debbie Downer: With that costume on, he's probably under the early stages of heatstroke.

[ drunken trombone sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face. . Rachel Dratch begins to crack up and covers her face with her hand as she loses it completely ]

Debbie Downer: Speaking of -- [ cracks up ] Speaking of --

[ Amy Poehler has her head down and is laughing. Rachel Dratch is trying to stop laughing as she gets on with the rest of the sketch ]

Debbie Downer: Speaking of heat.. if this greenhouse effect keeps up, we'll all be living underwater.

[ drunken trombone sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face which breaks because of her cracking up; Rachel Dratch tries to hold her breath to keep from cracking up, but it doesn’t work that well ]

Debbie Downer: By the way -- [ cracks up ] By the way, it's official -- [ pauses extensively to hold in her laughter; Jimmy Fallon is looking at her. Dratch’s voice breaks as she says the next line]: I can't have children! [Jimmy Fallon covers his face with his hands to keep from laughing]

[ drunken trombone sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie’s face, which is distraught with laughter. At this point, everyone at the table is cracking up, except for Fred Armisen, who is just smiling to keep from laughing ]

Sister 1: Okay. You know what, Debbie? [ stands ] You are totally ruining my trip to Disne -- [ cracks up in the middle of her anger, then composes herself quickly as Horatio Sanz is wiping his tears of laughter with a Mickey Mouse waffle ] I didn't say a word during It's A Small World, when you talked about low birth weight! Or, during the fireworks when you went on -- [ cracks up again, tries to sit down, but gets back up and finishes the line ] When you when on and on about feline AIDS!

Debbie Downer: It's the number one killer of domestic cats.

[ meowing sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face ]

Sister #1: I can’t take this! [leaves in a huff ]

Debbie Downer: So, after this, we'll head to the park, guys? [ cracks up ] Lather up the sunscreen. I had a mole looked at recently, and the doctor told me that, due to the extent of its irregular borders, I'm flirting with a melanoma.

[ drunken trombone sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face; Rachel Dratch again tries to hold her breath to keep from laughing ]

[ everyone abruptly leaves the table ]

Debbie Downer: You guys go ahead. I'll meet you at my favorite ride - the Hall of Presidents.

[ drunken trombone sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie's comic distraught face ]

[ dissolve to title card ]

Jingle: "But you can't stop Debbie Downer!"

Debbie Downer: They never did catch that anthrax guy.

[ fade ]


04a: Ben Affleck / Nelly

Debbie Downer

Debbie Downer.....Rachel Dratch
Ronnie.....Ben Affleck
Ronnie's Wife.....Maya Rudolph
Ronnie's Uncle.....Horatio Sanz
Friend #1.....Amy Poehler
Friend #2.....Fred Armisen

(Scene first shows the door to a house. Cut to a living room, with people seated around a birthday cake. A banner in the background says "Happy 35th Ronnie!")

All: Happy birthday to you!

Friend #1: Make a wish!

(Ronnie blows out the candles; everyone claps and yells "Yay!")

Friend #2: What'd you wish for?

Ronnie: Can't tell ya; it won't come true!

Ronnie's Wife: Oh, I bet he wished for that new Mustang GT he wants!

Ronnie's Uncle: Yeah, he should have wished for a better golf score. Who said that? (everyone laughs)

Debbie Downer: If I had a wish, I'd wish they'd release the British hostage in Iraq.

(drunken trombone sound effect; zoom in on Debbie's pained demeanor)

"You're enjoying your day
Everything's going your way
Then along comes Debbie Downer
Always there to tell you 'bout a new disease
A car accident or killer bees
You'll beg her to spare you
Debbie, please!
But you can't stop Debbie Downer!"

Friend #2: Oh! I want some cake!

Ronnie's Wife: (hands friend cake) Oh, yeah, honey, give me a rose!

Ronnie: All right, here's a big one. Here you go. Guys, I wanna say something. It really means the world to me that you all showed up here on my birthday...my family. *gestures to uncle* Uncle Frank, especially you, all the way from North Carolina. Thank you.

Debbie: (nods) Good thing Jeanne's out of the picture.

Friend #1: Jeanne? Who's Jeanne?

Debbie: Hurricane Jeanne. The latest in a string of deadly storms that left thousands of Floridians homeless. They're still counting the fatalities in Haiti.

(drunken trombone sound effect; camera zooms in on a particularly constipated Debbie face)

Ronnie's Wife: Um...you know what? Maybe Ronnie should open his presents. (cheers from the other guests)

Friend #2: Yeah, open your presents!

Ronnie: Come on, twist my arm! I'll do it.

Debbie: First it was Cha--

Friend #1: All right!

Debbie: First it was Charley...

(drunken trombone sound effect)

Debbie: Then Frances.

(drunken trombone sound effect)

Debbie: Ivan.

(drunken trombone sound effect)

Debbie: And Jeanne.

(drunken trombone sound effect)

Debbie: Who knows what Tropical Storm Karl's got in store?

(drunken trombone sound effect; zoom in even further on Debbie's face)

(pained expressions by other partygoers)

Friend #1: Okay! Why don't you open mine first?

Ronnie: All-righty. Here we go. All right. (tears wrapping paper) Let's see what we got here....Hey! The Essential Movie Guide! Thank you. I love it.

Debbie: Oh...I haven't been able to read a movie review since the untimely passing of Gene Siskel.

(higher-pitched drunken trombone sound effect; zoom in on Debbie again)

(Ronnie rests his face on one fist; his wife looks angry. Awkwardly, Uncle Frank reaches for his gift: a fishing rod)

Ronnie: Hey! What have we got here?

Ronnie's Uncle: It's mine, there, Ronnie.

Ronnie: All right. (shakes rod) Well...what could it be? (laughs) This is great! A fishing rod...thank you so much.

Ronnie's Uncle: We gotta go fishing sometime, buddy.

Ronnie: You know...we should go Saturday!

Ronnie's Wife: Oh, that sounds fun!

Ronnie: Wouldn't that be fun?

Ronnie's Uncle: Done deal.

(Ronnie and his uncle high-five)

Debbie: Hey, hey, hey, count me out, guys. Doctor said if I don't cut down on my consumption of fresh fish, my mercury level will reach toxic proportions.

(drunken trombone sound effect; zoom in on Debbie making an "unsure" facial expression)

Friend #2: Hey, Teresa, what'd you get your sweetie for his birthday?

Ronnie's Wife: We are going on a ten-day safari to Kenya!

Ronnie: Yeah. It's gonna be incredible.

Ronnie's Wife: Yeah!

Debbie: Steer clear of The Sudan. It makes Fallujah look like Club Med.

(higher-pitched drunken trombone sound effect; zoom in on Debbie's worried facial expression)

Ronnie: We're not going anywhere near The Sudan, Debbie.

Ronnie's Wife: Yeah. We're going to see elephants in their natural habitat.

Debbie: Well, that's cool. See 'em now...populations are dwindling.

(elephant drunken trombone sound effect sound; zoom in on Debbie)

Friend #2: Well, it sounds amazing!

Ronnie's Uncle: Yeah, once in a lifetime.

Ronnie: Yeah, I'm excited.

Ronnie's Wife: Yeah.

Debbie: Hey, does anyone have a banana?

Friend #1: What?

Debbie: Well, if I don't get enough potassium every day, I awaken in the middle of the night by crippling leg cramps.

(higher-pitched drunken trombone sound effect; zoom in)

(everyone looks pissed off)

Debbie: By the way, it's official -- they've located my birth mother. Deceased.

(deeper drunken trombone sound effect; zoom in on a particularly painful facial expression)

Ronnie: All right, you know what, Debbie? You are totally ruining my birthday party. I completely held my tongue during cocktails when you showed us the pictures from the Holocaust Museum...I didn't say word one (slip-up) during dinner when you went on and on about feline AIDS.

Debbie: (shakes finger) It's the number one killer of domestic cats.

(meow meowwwwwwwwww; zoom in)

Ronnie: (stands up) Ugh...I gotta get a drink.

Ronnie's Wife: Honey, no! The party's just starting. We are taking you dancing.

Friend #1: Yeah, let's go! *everyone jumps up*

Debbie: Yeah! Yeah! All right, guys, but I can't stay long; I got a big day tomorrow. The Orkin Man's coming first thing to scrape out the remains of whatever died in my chimney.

(drunken trombone sound effect; zoom in on Debbie's half-grin)

(end title card)

Jingle: "No, you can't stop Debbie Downer!" (wahhh wah)

Debbie: "Bird flu's even deadlier than SARS."

[ fade ]

17 August 2005

Will the Canadian government show a backbone?

Liberals pull plug on softwood negotiations

The Liberal government, under pressure from opposition critics and its own MPs to get tough with the Americans on softwood lumber, announced Tuesday it is cancelling next week's scheduled negotiations on the issue with the US government. The federal government is also once again talking about imposing duties worth up to $5 billion on US imports such as California wine, though Canada doesn't expect to be in a legal position to do so until mid-2006. The federal government is not, according to one official, considering whether to threaten American access to Canadian energy, a move strongly opposed by Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, but advocated by BC Premier Gordon Campbell and federal industry minister David Emerson. International trade minister Jim Peterson said Tuesday's decision to pull the plug on negotiations, made in consultation with provincial governments and industry, follows the US refusal last week to comply with a ruling by a committee established under the North American Free Trade Agreement rules. "We fully support the federal government's decision to suspend these discussions and look forward to continuing to work with the federal government and the provinces to bring a resolution to this long-standing disruption of free trade," BC forests minister Rich Coleman said in a statement. Peterson portrayed last week's NAFTA decision as a slam-dunk win for Canada and demanded the return of $5 billion in duties paid by Canadian companies since 2002. But the US government, citing legal technicalities, stated that under American trade law it is not obliged to honour the NAFTA ruling. "The government of Canada will continue to consult with industry stakeholders as we consider all possible options for promoting Canada's interests in this long-standing dispute," Peterson said in a news release.

In Vancouver, foreign affairs minister Pierre Pettigrew said Tuesday that trade sanctions are to be brought before cabinet by finance minister Ralph Goodale. He said Canada has to be "determined and strong" in the light of the American decision to ignore last week's NAFTA ruling. "For five years we've been fighting this present challenge and conflict. Canadians have suffered a lot because of the illegal actions of the United States. Many, many of our workers and their families have been victims of these illegal action of the United States". There would be no point, he said, in undertaking negotiations now as long as the Americans are defying last week's NAFTA ruling. John Allan, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, said the Canadian industry supports the decision to cancel talks. He said it's time to pause to see what action Ottawa intends to take. The US government said Tuesday it is dismayed by Canada's latest move but didn't budge from its position on the NAFTA decision. "We are disappointed the meeting has been cancelled and hope talks can resume shortly," said Neena Moorjani, a spokeswoman for US Trade Representative Rob Portman. "As Ambassador Portman has made clear, the United States respects the NAFTA process. US policy continues to be that we comply with our trade obligations." John Ragosta, lawyer with the US Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, suggested that Canada's trade war threats may not amount to anything more than political posturing. "No, I'm not sitting around quaking in my boots," Ragosta said.
(National Post, Vancouver Sun. Globe and Mail 050817)

Dumb movies, Avian flu and stuff.

It's still raining here. I'm about to go out for a run, although none of the other runners I go with normally are coming out today. Too cold and wet to go biking, and no one else wants to run in the rain. Oh well.

Joe and I went to see "The Island" last night. It was pretty okay. It started very promising, with the potential to get the audience thinking about certain issues like cloning, media propaganda and such, but then simply fell back into the old Hollywood formula of a bunch of car chases and crashes. They tried to touch on some of the subjects again at the end of the movie, but by then it was too late. Sort of 'Gattaca' meets 'The Fast and the Furious'. They put all the crap in the middle and completely lost my interest. I had always been hopeful that Ewan McGregor would sort of go the way of Johnny Depp and take roles that were challenging and controversial, but now I see he is just turning into a money whore just like the rest of them. Too bad. I used to really like him as an actor. I guess I should have known after he took on the Obi-Wan Kenobi role. Like that was an acting challenge.

Jeff and I had a bit of a conversation about the bird flu this morning and what could come of that whole bizarre situation. It's only a matter of time before the virus mutates into something that will transmit from human to human. Yeesh. I'd better start practicing holding my breath and sterilizing everything that I want to touch. Of course this wouldn't become big news until the financial markets started looking at it, but now that they are giving press releases on this stuff, maybe I should be becoming more unnerved.

Calgary Herald
Real Truth
World Health Organization

16 August 2005

The Oil Depletion Protocol

Big Systems - Global Institutions, Governance and History

Whether the oil peak happens over the next few months or next few decades, it's widely acknowledged that global conventional production of petroleum will see a sharp decline soon, with natural gas following thereafter. We know, in broad strokes, what needs to be done to keep that decline from turning into a global economic and political disaster, and the major recommendations -- such as an aggressive shift to alternative energies and transportation technologies, widespread adoption of higher-efficiency building designs, greater reliance on organic/local/smart agriculture techniques, and the like -- parallel what's needed to forestall the worst effects of global warming-induced climate disruption.

So how do we do it?

Richard Heinberg has a fascinating proposal, one that could reduce the risk of oil wars and economic ruin. It's simple to understand, and its logic is compelling. Heinberg, a professor at the New College of California and author of Powerdown -- Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, calls his proposal the Oil Depletion Protocol, as it is a formalization of what is already happening worldwide: oil reserves are declining, and all too soon demand will overtake production.
(Posted by Jamais Cascio at August 2, 2005 07:59 AM)

15 August 2005

News O' the Day - Rant #3

Okay, so what the frick are the Big Three in Detroit doing? They are crying about how much money they are bleeding while in competition with Nissan, Toyota and the like from Asia, then they ramp up promotion of their stupid marketing which has gotten them into trouble in the first place! Now the North American market is convinced that GM and Ford vehicles are cheap, crappy, and poorly built, they are losing market share, so what do they do? Sell them for even less! I mean, how can you say you're getting the Employee Discount when there aren't any employees left?

Job cuts at Ford permanent

Ford ceo William Ford Jr. told employees Friday that job cuts of salaried employees are permanent as the company tries to stop losses in its North American automotive operations. "We're not downsizing temporarily with the hope that conditions will get better," Bill Ford said in an e-mail sent to employees . "We're accelerating our business plan to be competitive in the 21st Century." Spokesman Oscar Suris confirmed the quotes in the e-mail. Ford is in the midst of cutting 5%, or about 1,700 jobs, out of its North American automotive salaried workforce. That comes on top of the elimination of 1,000 US salaried jobs in the second quarter. Cfo Don Leclair said in an interview July 19 that the automaker will announce additional cost-cutting moves, "probably in the fourth quarter."
(National Post 050813)

Stupid bastards. Car industry + oil industry + government lobbyists/pork barrelling = Death for us all

News O' the Day - Rant #2

So, I think Albertans are losing their minds, losing their faculties because of out-and-out greed. Like, when did 'God' bless Albertans with divine skills and knowledge required to be custodians of the pools of oil below ground? Like fuck, people, you just happen to live in the right place at the right time. You have no divine grant to proclaim the oil as your own. It's not like if they found a big pool of oil underneath Manitoba that there wouldn't be people there that could figure out how best to bring it out of the ground either. Fuckin' morons. Everytime the price goes up, Albertans freak out and want to secede from Confederation, simply because they want to keep the spoils of their luck to themselves. Frick, what's so wrong with sharing when you have MORE THAN YOU COULD EVER SPEND YOURSELF?

Alberta awash in oil, gas money

Column -- A headline in an Alberta newspaper last week said that the provincial government has "money to burn." So true. Every $1 hike in the price of a barrel of oil translates into an additional $99 million for the Alberta treasury. This windfall is coming to a province that is already debt-free with no sales tax, the lowest corporate and personal income taxes in the country, and a budget that includes whopping increases in spending on post-secondary education (30% over three years) and health (11.3% this year alone). That Alberta budget was predicated on the assumption that the price for oil would be US$36. Last week, the price nudged above $65. Money to burn, indeed. You could see some of it burning last week at the annual premiers' conference, which Alberta's Ralph Klein hosted in Banff. The Alberta government spent lavishly - more than $1M - to show off the province, which is celebrating its centennial, to the visiting premiers. While appreciative of the hospitality, the other premiers - struggling as they are with deficits and spending pressures they cannot hope to meet - look at Klein's bulging Alberta treasury with a combination of envy and fear. They are fearful of the implications down the road if oil and gas prices continue their upward spiral and the Alberta treasury remains bloated. Alberta is socking its excess cash away in rainy day accounts such as its Heritage Fund. But there is talk in Alberta that the province could use its new wealth to lower its already low personal and corporate income taxes to lure both businesses and high-salaried professionals (engineers, doctors, computer programmers, and the like) away from other provinces.

Alberta has already succeeded in attracting such businesses as Imperial Oil, which recently moved its headquarters from Toronto to Calgary. But if higher oil and gas prices mean the westward flow becomes a flood, there will be panic in the other provinces. Ontario, the longstanding "fat cat of Confederation" (at least in the eyes of the rest of the country), is particularly vulnerable due to the double-whammy effect of higher oil and gas prices. They both increase the cost of doing business in the province and drive up the value of the Canadian dollar, thus making Ontario's manufactured goods less competitive in export markets. Ontario's Dalton McGuinty and the other premiers were too polite to raise this issue during this week's conference. But they talked about it privately, and they know that, sooner or later, they will have to confront it in the open. Albertans know it, too, which is why with each rise in the price of oil, the anxiety level in this province goes up correspondingly. They remember the last era of soaring oil prices a quarter century ago, when the federal government introduced the national energy program to spread the wealth. It was seen in Alberta as a confiscatory move by Ottawa. Heading into last week's conference, there was some concern in the Ontario delegation that Klein might try to get the other premiers to sign on to a pre-emptive declaration against a 2005 version of the NEP. Klein did not do this. But at the microphone after one closed-door session, he did take the opportunity to underscore the point that Ottawa should keep its hands off the massive oil sands. The oil sands, he said, "belong to us." By "us," he meant Albertans, not all Canadians.
(Toronto Star 050813)

And, conveniently, on the same note...it's amazing how many cool addicts *cough* you get knocking on your door when you're the DEPENDABLE crack dealer!!!

Bush sending VP to Alberta

US vp Dick Cheney is to jet into Alberta next month for an oilsands tour, further cementing the vital role Canada will play in supplying crude to the world's biggest energy consumer. Premier Ralph Klein surprised his aides Friday by revealing at the premiers meeting in Banff that US President Bush's right-hand man would arrive in September for a primer on the multibillion-dollar oilsands projects in northeastern Alberta. It came as Klein reiterated Alberta's oilpatch shouldn't be used as a bargaining chip in an increasingly bitter trade dispute with the US over softwood lumber. Cheney's visit indicates the oilsands have arrived as a recognized global energy source and "not some interesting science experiment in the backwoods of Alberta," said Pierre Alvarez, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Interest in Canada's oilpatch continues to grow as the demand for fresh crude supplies becomes more intense. Political uncertainty in oil producing hot spots around the world has made Canada's oil and gas supplies even more attractive to the US and other countries. China has also been eyeing the Canadian oilpatch -- a point not lost on Washington. Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the US and major American petroleum producers have made big investments in their northern neighbour. Alberta's oilsands are also viewed as a major piece of the puzzle in meeting North America's energy demands. Oilsands production exceeded one million barrels a day this year, but that figure is expected to strike 2.7 million barrels daily by 2015. The US, meanwhile, consumes about 20 million barrels of oil a day. Cheney's visit is "recognition of the role Fort McMurray and northeast Alberta is going to be playing in the future supply of the United States and Canada," noted longtime oilpatch observer Ian Doig, of Doig's Digest.
(Calgary Herald 050813)

Here is an interesting article from National Geographic that sums up the Peak Oil argument in a single page. This topic gets me going like no other! Link Here

News O' the Day - Rant #1

Well, I get Intra-company News in my Inbox everyday, and most of it is transportation industry news, but a lot of it is related to the industries my company hauls for, etc., etc.

Okay, so what is the American government doing? I'm sorry, Sara and Richard, but I think the Bush Administration has Empire on the mind, and now they don't even seem to care if they even appear to be the least bit interested in maintaining their obligations to international agreements and bodies. I'm ranting on this today because of the obvious snub of the NAFTA court ruling on softwood lumber.

Exerpt from http://www.motherearth.org/bushwanted/laws.php explains some of the other snubs from shrub since 2000.

1. In December 2001, the United States officially withdrew from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, gutting the landmark agreement-the first time in the nuclear era that the US renounced a major arms control accord.

2. 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention ratified by 144 nations including the United States. In July 2001 the US walked out of a London conference to discuss a 1994 protocol designed to strengthen the Convention by providing for on-site inspections. At Geneva in November 2001, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton stated that "the protocol is dead," at the same time accusing Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Sudan, and Syria of violating the Convention but offering no specific allegations or supporting evidence.

3. UN Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Illicit Small Arms, July 2001: the US was the only nation to oppose it.

4. April 2001, the US was not re-elected to the UN Human Rights Commission, after years of withholding dues to the UN (including current dues of $244 million)-and after having forced the UN to lower its share of the UN budget from 25 to 22 percent. (In the Human Rights Commission, the US stood virtually alone in opposing resolutions supporting lower-cost access to HIV/AIDS drugs, acknowledging a basic human right to adequate food, and calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.)

5. International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty, to be set up in The Hague to try political leaders and military personnel charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Signed in Rome in July 1998, the Treaty was approved by 120 countries, with 7 opposed (including the US). In October 2001 Great Britain became the 42nd nation to sign. In December 2001 the US Senate again added an amendment to a military appropriations bill that would keep US military personnel from obeying the jurisdiction of the proposed ICC.

6. Land Mine Treaty, banning land mines; signed in Ottawa in December 1997 by 122 nations. The United States refused to sign, along with Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Egypt, and Turkey. President Clinton rejected the Treaty, claiming that mines were needed to protect South Korea against North Korea's "overwhelming military advantage." He stated that the US would "eventually" comply, in 2006; this was disavowed by President Bush in August 2001.

7. Kyoto Protocol of 1997, for controlling global warming: declared "dead" by President Bush in March 2001. In November 2001, the Bush administration shunned negotiations in Marrakech (Morocco) to revise the accord, mainly by watering it down in a vain attempt to gain US approval.

8. In May 2001, refused to meet with European Union nations to discuss, even at lower levels of government, economic espionage and electronic surveillance of phone calls, e-mail, and faxes (the US "Echelon" program),

9. Refused to participate in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)-sponsored talks in Paris, May 2001, on ways to crack down on off-shore and other tax and money-laundering havens.

10. Refused to join 123 nations pledged to ban the use and production of anti-personnel bombs and mines, February 2001

11. September 2001: withdrew from International Conference on Racism, bringing together 163 countries in Durban, South Africa

12. International Plan for Cleaner Energy: G-8 group of industrial nations (US, Canada, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, UK), July 2001: the US was the only one to oppose it.

13. Enforcing an illegal boycott of Cuba, now being made tighter. In the UN in October 2001, the General Assembly passed a resolution, for the tenth consecutive year, calling for an end to the US embargo, by a vote of 167 to 3 (the US, Israel, and the Marshall Islands in opposition).

14. Comprehensive [Nuclear] Test Ban Treaty. Signed by 164 nations and ratified by 89 including France, Great Britain, and Russia; signed by President Clinton in 1996 but rejected by the Senate in 1999. The US is one of 13 nonratifiers among countries that have nuclear weapons or nuclear power programs. In November 2001, the US forced a vote in the UN Committee on Disarmament and Security to demonstrate its opposition to the Test Ban Treaty.

15. In 1986 the International Court of Justice (The Hague) ruled that the US was in violation of international law for "unlawful use of force" in Nicaragua, through its actions and those of its Contra proxy army. The US refused to recognize the Court's jurisdiction. A UN resolution calling for compliance with the Court's decision was approved 94-2 (US and Israel voting no).

16. In 1984 the US quit UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and ceased its payments for UNESCO's budget, over the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) project designed to lessen world media dependence on the "big four" wire agencies (AP, UPI, Agence France-Presse, Reuters). The US charged UNESCO with "curtailment of press freedom," as well as mismanagement and other faults, despite a 148-1 in vote in favor of NWICO in the UN. UNESCO terminated NWICO in 1989; the US nonetheless refused to rejoin. In 1995 the Clinton administration proposed rejoining; the move was blocked in Congress and Clinton did not press the issue. In February 2000 the US finally paid some of its arrears to the UN but excluded UNESCO, which the US has not rejoined.

17. Optional Protocol, 1989, to the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at abolition of the death penalty and containing a provision banning the execution of those under 18. The US has neither signed nor ratified and specifically exempts itself from the latter provision, making it one of five countries that still execute juveniles (with Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria). China abolished the practice in 1997, Pakistan in 2000.

18. 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The only countries that have signed but not ratified are the US, Afghanistan, Sao Tome and Principe.

19. The US has signed but not ratified the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which protects the economic and social rights of children. The only other country not to ratify is Somalia, which has no functioning government.

20. UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, covering a wide range of rights and monitored by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The US signed in 1977 but has not ratified.

21. UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948. The US finally ratified in 1988, adding several "reservations" to the effect that the US Constitution and the "advice and consent" of the Senate are required to judge whether any "acts in the course of armed conflict" constitute genocide. The reservations are rejected by Britain, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece, Mexico, Estonia, and others.

22. Is the status of "we're number one!" Rogue overcome by generous foreign aid to given less fortunate countries? The three best aid providers, measured by the foreign aid percentage of their gross domestic products, are Denmark (1.01%), Norway (0.91%), and the Netherlands (0.79), The three worst: USA (0.10%), UK (0.23%), Australia, Portugal, and Austria (all 0.26).

So now, is NAFTA next? I mean, come on. Is it because the Administration only has a few years left of mandate now that they are obliged to do whatever the hell they want? This is bullshit!

Canada roars, US yawns over softwood ruling

The US has responded to Canada's mighty roars in the softwood lumber dispute with a deafening yawn. But as Ottawa makes rumblings about trade retaliation and the prime minister prepares to weigh in, the Americans are holding out the hope of a negotiated settlement. Canada won what it says is a major victory this past week when a NAFTA panel dismissed Washington's claims that Canadian softwood exports are subsidized and damage the US lumber industry. International trade minister Jim Peterson immediately called on Washington to concede defeat and return about $5 billion in countervail and anti-dumping duties collected from Canadian companies. The US refused, saying the ruling is not the end of the matter because it does not deal with a 2004 decision from the US-based International Trade Commission. That decision supported the American case, although it's believed it and other earlier decisions have all been trumped by the NAFTA conclusion. Peterson and several cabinet colleagues expressed outrage. They issued a statement calling on the US to “do the right thing” by accepting the NAFTA ruling. They said the American position raises questions about Washington's commitment to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Peterson followed that up with a call to his American counterpart, US Trade Representative Rob Portman. Portman reportedly responded that the US is committed to NAFTA but that he has to explore any avenue of appeal that remains open. Both did agree that the dispute must end soon and that negotiations will continue within two weeks. In the meantime, Canada is girding for battle. “We have already begun the process of getting permission from the (World Trade Organization) to implement punitive measures against the Americans,” Peterson said. “I gave the order to complete the litigation in order to obtain the right to impose these measures." Prime Minister Paul Martin, who has been under pressure from several premiers to get tougher with the US, is also to raise the matter with President Bush.
(Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, National Post 050813)