“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Putin, Thick as a Brick

Putin's idea of globalization of LNG is that a strong cartel is necessary. Why on earth would any rational country trust Russia and a new cartel to supply them with gas? It would seem to be obvious, that any domestic energy plan would use anything other than imported gas or petroleum from a new cartel, especially one controlled by Russia and the esteemed membership of Iran, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and other dear friends.

It is hard to conceive of a better argument for national nuclear power or any domestic source at any cost.


Russia look to control world's gas prices

Plan for 'gas Opec' could tighten Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's grip on Europe's gas supplies.

By Miriam Elder in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia Telegraph
Last Updated: 9:35PM GMT 27 Dec 2008

The Russian national anthem blared over the loudspeakers as dozens of oilmen and officials braved the freezing cold to watch the tanker come in, celebrating the launch of year-round oil production from Sakhalin-2, the largest oil and gas project in the world.

They congratulated themselves and stared out to the sea with pride.

Yet this month's event will be dwarfed by one to come early next year, when the sprawling plant on the tip of Russia's Far Eastern island of Sakhalin begins producing liquefied natural gas, or LNG, a relatively new form of energy.

The advent of LNG may one day allow gas exporting countries, who gathered in Moscow last week to create a new organisation, to act as a cartel along the lines of Opec, holding sway over prices and supply, and thus consumers around the world.

Today, most natural gas is pumped through pipelines. Storage is difficult and the price of gas is linked to the price of oil.

Producers, like Russia's Gazprom, set prices within decades-long contracts, typically lasting 25 years.

LNG changes all that. To make LNG, the gas is frozen into a liquid form, allowing it to be stored in tanks and shipped around the world, just like oil. And priced just like oil, too.

So far, most members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, an informal grouping that was transformed into a proper organisation at a meeting in Moscow this week, deny any ambition to create a Gas OPEC.

The meeting itself was confused. Energy ministers from a dozen countries, accounting for around 60 per cent of the world's gas export supply gathered at a grand Moscow hotel, presided over by Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister.

They agreed to set up a headquarters in Doha, Qatar – the world's main producer of LNG – and start the search for a secretary general.

They also claimed to adopt a charter, but no signing ceremony was held and no details released.

The loudest grumbles on price setting came from the energy ministers of Iran and Venezuela. Venezuela does not export any gas yet. While Iran probably possesses the world's second largest reserves, its wholly inefficient industry, starved of foreign investment and outside technical help by the sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme, make it a net importer of gas.

Meanwhile, energy ministers from Arab countries spent a lot of time arguing that action must first be taken to boost the oil price, urging Russia to join OPEC in production cuts.

The whole gathering seemed like much ado about nothing – a token event designed to stir fears in the West rather than set up an organised group with a focused mission.

Yet that it is what many said when OPEC was first formed in the mid-1960s.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries functioned haphazardly for years, before consolidating and showing its strength during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, when Saudi Arabia led an oil embargo on the West, imposed in retaliation for its support for Israel. This caused the oil price to quadruple and created serious shortages.

Fear over a "Gas OPEC" in the West stems largely from the fact that Russia has a record of using its energy exports as a political tool.

It is currently embroiled in a payment dispute with Ukraine, and has warned it will shut off the gas if Kiev fails to pay a bill for $2 billion by Dec 31. Because Ukraine is the conduit for gas supplies to Europe, other countries could be affected if the situation is not resolved.

This dispute, which has become an annual occurrence, largely comes down to money. But the first such spat came after Ukraine ushered in a Western-leaning government during the Orange Revolution in 2004. Gazprom, Russia's state energy giant, sharply raised the price of its gas exports to Ukraine. Kiev was unable to pay and supplies were promptly cut off in midwinter, a step that also reduced the flow of gas to Europe, most of which travels through pipelines that cross Ukraine.

No-one is quite certain what happened earlier this year, when Russian oil supplies to the Czech Republic suddenly dropped the day after Prague agreed to host a radar station as part of America's missile defence programme. Russia cited technical reasons. The Czech government was not so sure.

Now that oil prices have dropped below $50 a barrel, from a peak of $147 in mid-July, and gas prices have been brought down accordingly, producers have an interest in acting together, said Jonathan Stern, the head of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

If the price falls even further, he said the "operating costs of these countries start to be threatened, and we would start to hear some people saying the current pricing mechanism is not appropriate".

Mr Putin himself warned at the Moscow meeting that the world would not enjoy cheap gas for much longer. But the use of LNG – of the kind that will be produced at Sakhalin-2 – will make a gas cartel most feasible.

So far, LNG production only makes up around 10 per cent of the world's gas supply, mainly in Asia, but also in North America, Britain and Spain. When Sakhalin-2 is up and running, that proportion will immediately rise to 16 per cent.

Many wondered what exactly was at stake in 2006, when Sakhalin-2 operator RoyalDutch Shell became the target of a state campaign accusing the project of massive environmental violations. At the time, the project was the only major one in Russia not to include a local partner. The environmental allegations disappeared once Gazprom bought a majority stake in December 2006.

Many thought it was just another case of resource nationalism, as the oil price continued its climb to record highs. But the Kremlin will also have registered the strategic importance of LNG.


  1. Stalin Still In Running In Russian Contest

    Others in the running are Lenin, Ivan The Terrible, Catherine The Great, Czar Peter The First, Prince Nevsky and the writers Pushkin and Dostoyevsky. Tolstoy not in the top tier.

    Stalin had leaped to a lead earlier on, but as this proved embarrassing, it seems the votes are being recounted and the totals adjusted.

    What a country!


    Build nuclear power plants now.

  2. Serves ol' Unca Joe right. It's not the votes, but who counts the votes that matters.

    Joe is no doubt groaning in hell. What a revoltin' state of affairs, he must be thinking, after all I did to those people!

  3. Stalin is rolling in his grave alright, but's a communist plot!


    "In the future, there will be fewer but better Russians." -- Joseph Stalin

    Boy did he get that wrong.

  4. Pravda Online

    Better than the old Pravda, but not much.

  5. Well, there are fewer Russians

    Whether they're better or not ...

    That's a matter of perspective,
    as much as anything.

  6. Love the video of The Pig in action. Shit-eating grin was in full effect.

  7. I think a Russian dominated NG cartel is a good idea. It might sharpen the reality in the eyes of people of what's already happening, and why moving to solar and other renewables is a good idea.

  8. Program Information

    #416 - War is Peace, Slavery is freedom, Ignorance is Profit

    Series: Unwelcome Guests
    Subtitle: America's Orwellian Media

  9. Marginal Revolution:

    More niggling on fiscal stimulus
    Tyler Cowen

    Paul Krugman describes and writes:

    "Here’s how I see it: the opponents of a strong stimulus plan don’t really have an alternative to offer. They don’t even have a really coherent critique; as Brad DeLong points out, if you believe that a surge in private spending would raise employment — and even the critics agree on that — it’s very hard to explain why a surge of public spending wouldn’t have the same effect.

    "The critics are instead mainly engaged in a series of minor complaints, aka niggles; FDR didn’t do so well, the statistical evidence ain’t so great, you can’t trust government, etc., etc.."

    My view is the disaggregated one that sometimes private spending can stimulate employment and sometimes it cannot. Private spending has the greatest chance of stimulating employment when a) market psychology is on its side, and b) the financial system is relatively well-functioning. Neither is the case right now.

    Note that under standard theory neither monetary nor fiscal policy will set right the basic problems from negative real shocks and indeed the U.S. economy is undergoing a series of massive sectoral shifts. That includes a move out of construction, a move out of finance, a move out of debt-financed consumption, a move out of luxury goods, the collapse of GM, and a move out of industries which cannot compete with the internet (newspapers, Borders, etc.)

    I've never seen a stimulus proponent deny this point about real shocks but I don't see them emphasizing it either. It should be the starting point for any analysis of fiscal policy but so far it is being swept under the proverbial rug.

    Maybe a big enough push to aggregate demand could stimulate useful, productive employment (as opposed to merely boosting measured gdp) right now, but since the U.S. savings rate must rise sooner or later, that would only mean a steeper decline for aggregate demand some time in the future. My discount rate isn't that high.

    The alternative to a huge fiscal stimulus is simple: enough pro-active fiscal policy to ensure that cuts in state and local spending do not bring additional contractionary pressure to bear on the economy. Otherwise bear the costs of the ongoing sectoral shifts and allow consumption to decline as indeed it must sooner or later. Aggregate demand macroeconomics really does matter, but it is easier to do badly from negative shocks than it is to engineer good results from expansionary shocks.

    Those looking for other policy alternatives might consider Robert Lucas's recent suggestions for monetary policy or cuts in the payroll tax, although I am myself not quite (yet?) on either bandwagon (though I think they are better plans than massive fiscal stimulus).

    By the way, FDR didn’t do so well, the statistical evidence ain’t so great, and you can’t trust government, etc. But those are only my minor complaints.

    The bottom line remains this: we are being asked to spend ???? hundreds of billion dollars when a) the evidence for fiscal policy is inconclusive, and b) when you consider how real shocks fit into aggregate demand analysis, the theory isn't there either.

  10. At first glance I thought we were sellin' old tanks, but it seems machine guns are all the rage, now.

    840 rds without a jam or misfire, that is rock and roll, no doubt of it.

  11. Paul Krugman is a commie dipshit.

    Money spent on green infrastructure and conservation is money saved on not having to pay for oil imports a bloated military dead and maimed soldiers and endless fake wars.

  12. ...the U.S. economy is undergoing a series of massive sectoral shifts. That includes a move out of construction, a move out of finance, a move out of debt-financed consumption, a move out of luxury goods,...

    It remains to be seen whether these "massive shifts" will be paradigm changers. I doubt it. Afterall, like it or not, the whirled depends on a gluttonus Amerika which depends on credit.

  13. It will be interesting to see the changes in attitude. Obama for instance, seems to have dumped the sanctimony regarding American consumerism and is now on-board the stimulus train.

    Now that, if genuine, is a paradigm shift.

  14. The most beneficial stimulus would be capital investment in revenue producing ventures. Public spending should be done to encourage private capital investment. That is best done with targeted reduction in marginal tax rates on industrial enterprises. Ten to twenty year tax holidays would do just fine.

    Why not a complete non-reporting and tax holiday for start up businesses in targeted areas?

  15. The most beneficial stimulus would be capital investment in revenue producing ventures.

    Which is exactly what green energy is all about. Only that the revenue doesn't go towards enriching jihadi fscks, but stays in the US to enrich US companies and innovation.

  16. These people have a hope...

    "The former Soviet dictator fell just 5,500 votes short of being named Russia's greatest historical figure. The top honour went to medieval military hero Alexander Nevsky, a near mythical figure in Russia who is credited with stopping the advance of invading Teutonic knights in the 13th century.
    Pyotr Stolypin, the last tsar's prime minister, who was assassinated in the midst of a massive reform programme aimed at calming a growing Leftist rebellion in the early 20th century, came in second.
    Despite the purges, deportations and labour camps that killed over 20 million of his own people, Stalin managed to carry third place...." TELEGRAPH

    Imagine the Germans getting nostalgic for Hitler.

  17. February 20, 2002
    Justices to Review Copyright Extension

    The Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether the 1998 law that extended the duration of existing copyrights by 20 years was constitutional. The court's action took the world of copyright holders and users by surprise and held the potential of producing the most important copyright case in decades.

    A challenge to the law, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which many had regarded as a fanciful academic exercise, suddenly looked very different once the Supreme Court declared its interest.

    The issue is whether the Constitution's grant of authority to Congress to issue copyrights and patents ''for limited times'' to ''promote the progress of science and useful arts'' contains any real limitation on how that power is to be exercised. That question has implications for future cases as the battle over the ownership of intellectual property focuses on the Internet.

    As a practical matter, the consequences could be enormous, both for those with stakes in copyrights that are running out and for the growing community of people -- represented by the plaintiffs in this case -- trying to use the Internet to expand the boundaries of the public domain. If the 20-year extension was unconstitutional, early Mickey Mouse depictions would no longer belong exclusively to the Walt Disney Company -- although Disney would retain trademark protection for the character.

    Two lower federal courts here had rejected arguments by a coalition of publishers and individuals that the latest extension of copyright protection -- the 11th in the last 40 years -- defeated the original intent of the Copyright Clause, in which the framers sought to grant a limited monopoly that would encourage and reward the creation of works while ensuring eventual public access. The initial Copyright Act, which Congress amended only once in the next 150 years, provided for a 14-year term, with a 14-year renewal only if the author was still alive.

    The plaintiffs had argued unsuccessfully that extending copyright protection for existing works did nothing to promote new creativity while subverting the concept of ''limited times.'' They had also argued that the extension restricted free speech in violation of the First Amendment. They lost in a 2-to-1 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit one year ago.

    After the plaintiffs filed their Supreme Court appeal last October, the Bush administration urged the Supreme Court to reject the case, Eldred v. Ashcroft, No. 01-618. The administration pointed out that there were no conflicting rulings on the validity of the 1998 law -- with lower court disagreement being the most important criterion for Supreme Court review -- and ''no decision of any court holding that Congress cannot, consistent with the Copyright Clause, enact legislation that extends the term of existing copyrights.''

    The 1998 extension was a result of intense lobbying by a group of powerful corporate copyright holders, most visibly Disney, which faced the imminent expiration of copyrights on depictions of its most famous cartoon characters. Mickey Mouse, first copyrighted in 1928, would have been the first to go under the old law, which gave a 75-year copyright to works created for hire and owned by corporations. That became 95 years under the new law, both prospectively and for existing works; material created by individuals, previously protected for the life of the artist or author, plus 50 years, also received 20 more years.

    Support for the extension also came from those who argued that it was necessary to match the copyright term granted by the European Union.

    The plaintiffs' Supreme Court appeal, filed by Prof. Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law School, garnered support from concerned groups including the American Library Association and other libraries. Now that the court has agreed to hear the case, with arguments to be held in the fall, briefs will undoubtedly pour into the court from copyright holders as well as from public domain advocates.

    The libraries' brief accused Congress of ''transforming a limited monopoly into a virtually limitless one.'' Prof. Peter Jaszi, a copyright expert at American University, whose law students wrote the brief, said today that he was ''flabbergasted and delighted'' that the justices had accepted the case.

    While ''copyright is good,'' he said, the challenge was ''based on the proposition that constitutionally, you can have too much of a good thing.'' He said that while the court had interpreted Congress's exercise of its copyright authority many times, it had never before taken on a direct challenge to that authority.

    The plaintiffs' direct challenge to Congress in fact may have made their case attractive to justices who might otherwise not have been interested in a copyright dispute. The court is in the midst of its most active and skeptical scrutiny of Congressional action in more than 50 years. In his appeal, Professor Lessig cited recent decisions curbing Congress's exercise of another of its powers under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, the power to regulate interstate commerce.

    He also argued that the 20-year extension would block ''an extraordinary range of creative invention'' from entering the public domain ''just at the time that the Internet is enabling a much broader range of individuals to draw upon and develop this creative work.''

    And? Take a guess who won.

  18. "Obama for instance, seems to have dumped the sanctimony regarding American consumerism and is now on-board the stimulus train."

    And yet the focus, as far as I know, is still on public works, i.e. infrastructure build and repair. Which is consumption of a different flavor and more in line with his communitarian proclivities. He may have shifted on that over the past two weeks; I understand he's quite flexible.
    ; )

    Rhetorically, there's little point in belittling US consumerism when one can go to the shops, for instance, and smell the sweaty terror of retailers - who are set to vanish by a quarter by the time this is over.

  19. Ditto restaurants, chains and independents both.

  20. Robert Lucas, to whom Tyler Cowen refers:


    Could the $600 billion in new reserves be called a bailout? In a sense, yes: The Fed is lending on terms that private banks are not willing to offer. They are not searching for underpriced "bargains" on behalf of the public, nor is it their mission to do so. Their mission is to provide liquidity to the system by acting as lender-of-last-resort. We don't care about the quality of the assets the Fed acquires in doing this. We care about the quantity of its liabilities.

    There are many ways to stimulate spending, and many of these methods are now under serious consideration. How could it be otherwise? But monetary policy as Mr. Bernanke implements it has been the most helpful counter-recession action taken to date, in my opinion, and it will continue to have many advantages in future months. It is fast and flexible. There is no other way that so much cash could have been put into the system as fast as this $600 billion was, and if necessary it can be taken out just as quickly. The cash comes in the form of loans. It entails no new government enterprises, no government equity positions in private enterprises, no price fixing or other controls on the operation of individual businesses, and no government role in the allocation of capital across different activities. These seem to me important virtues.

    Mr. Lucas, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1995.

  21. That M-60 is rat a tat tat for sure. Get your blood circulating. Viking upper body massage.


    Cut corporate and capital gains taxes.

    Build nuke plants.

  22. The shuttering in September of an exclusive club in Tokyo's upscale Ginza district, which closed after its property was seized by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, is a further example of the growing reach of the financial downturn.


    A spokesperson for the Ginza Shakoryoin Kyokai, an association of social clubs and eating and drinking establishments in Ginza, said: "It's likely going to be a tough year-end and New Year period. We hope to get through it by being careful how we treat every customer."

    The bureau said it believed Club Tiffany was not a typical example of the problems facing clubs, because it had tried to maintain the more glamorous, old-style service.

    Global Recession

  23. Rich Lowry, I read, remarked a "paradigm shift" to the left today on MTP. I feel for Lowry as I supposed a near-term collapse in conservative (nominal and otherwise) interest was inevitable: National Review's been holding out the tin cup since the election and they're surely not the only ones.

  24. Bernanke hastened the "Crash" when he raised too high, too fast; but, his reactions this year have been Brilliant.

  25. As for India, it is forecasted that India’s share of gas consumption will rise from 9.55% in 2007 to 10.25% in 2012. Even after factoring in the increase in domestic supply during the period, our import requirement may go up 80% by 2018, largely in the form of LNG.

    With Russia, Iran and Qatar setting up a financial affairs centre in Doha, a technical centre in Tehran and a centre to analyse markets in Moscow, the proposed forum bears all the hallmarks of a nascent cartel that could have a substantive impact on India’s energy future. Sceptics say that the gas cartel is unlikely to take off precisely because it’s so unlike Opec, whose interests are focused, by membership and reserves being concentrated in the Middle East.

    But all efforts in this direction is likely strengthen Russia’s dominance as a gas supplier, and that’s something we might as well start preparing for.


  26. Back on topic -- Russia is the only major economy today which is self-reliant in energy. Beats the EU, US, Japan, China & India.

    The EU, on the other hand, is the world's largest fossil fuel importer -- importing about as much oil as the US, a lot of gas, and importing much of its coal too.

    The EU imports much of its essential gas from Russia. It is only a matter of time until Russia uses that leverage on the Europeans. With low oil prices and winter upon us, that time could be sooner rather than later.

    One of the consequences of decades of sniping at the US by Euroweenies is that, this time, they will have the privilege of facing Russia on their own. Not even The One could persuade the American people to give a tinker's damn about the EUnuchs. No blood for Europeans' gas!

  27. Oil Reserves - billions of barrels/% of total - Top 3

    Saudi - 264.3/21.88%
    Iran - 137.5/11.38%
    Iraq - 115/9.52%

    Gas Reserves - billions of cubic meters/% of total - Top 3

    Russia - 47.65/26.26%
    Iran - 28.13/15.5%
    Qatar - 25.36/13.98%


  28. Cut corporate and capital gains taxes.

    Corporations don't pay tax, they just collect it. What you need to do is eliminate personal income tax across the board.

  29. The Scythians

    The Scythians, the first to domesticate the horse and possibly the first to make their living through the practice of archery on horseback, are one of the most mysterious of ancient peoples, and their stories are fascinating ones. It is among these enigmatic peoples that we find the first examples of our Turanian horse, both the Turkoman-type war horse and another horse nearly indistinguishable from the present day Yabou.

    Where the Scythians come from, and which racial stock they were, are hotly debated--sometimes in the international courts--even to this day. They were most likely from the Altai region, or perhaps from an area slightly west of it. Buried and subsequently frozen Scythians found in places such as the Pazyryk kurgans show some people with strong Mongolian features, and others who were blond and had quite European-looking faces. "Genes from ancient tissue are compared with genes from modern-day groups. Research with tissue from a number of burials suggests that the Pazyryks were ethnically diverse" (Nova).

    We do know, however, that in one important respect, they were very different from the mounted archers who came after them: many of their best and most celebrated warriors--or at least given the most elaborate funerals--were women. It was almost certainly these Scythian warrioresses who inspired the Greek depictions of the Amazons. Herodotus wrote that "No Scythian woman may marry until she has killed a man of the enemy." These reports, and the evidence of Scythian and Saurmatian (a Scythian subgroup) art and craft were routinely dismissed until the latter part of the 20th century, when Scythian women were found buried in their riding clothing--identical to that of men--together with their bows, swords, and horses.

    To bad Ms T isn't around any more, she'd have gotten a charge out of a tribe of real women warriors.

  30. wiki, afer a lot of verbage, gets to brass tacks ...

    Ruled by small numbers of closely-allied élites, Scythians had a reputation for their archers, and many gained employment as mercenaries. Scythian élites had kurgan tombs: high barrows heaped over chamber-tombs of larch-wood — a deciduous conifer that may have had special significance as a tree of life-renewal, for it stands bare in winter. Burials at Pazyryk in the Altay Mountains have included some spectacularly preserved Scythians of the "Pazyryk culture" — including the Ice Maiden of the 5th century BC.

    Scythian women dressed in much the same fashion as men, and at times fought alongside them in battle. A Pazyryk burial found in the 1990s contained the skeletons of a man and a woman, each with weapons, arrowheads, and an axe. In the 1998 NOVA documentary "Ice Mummies", an archaeologist explains that, "The woman was dressed exactly like a man. This shows that certain women, probably young and unmarried, could be warriors, literally Amazons. It didn't offend the principles of nomadic society."

    As far as we know, the Scythians had no writing system. Until recent archaeological developments, most of our information about them came from the Greeks. The Ziwiye hoard, a treasure of gold and silver metalwork and ivory found near the town of Sakiz south of Lake Urmia and dated to between 680 and 625 BC, includes objects with Scythian "animal style" features. One silver dish from this find bears some inscriptions, as yet undeciphered and so possibly representing a form of Scythian writing.

    Homer called the Scythians "the mare-milkers". Herodotus described them in detail: their costume consisted of padded and quilted leather trousers tucked into boots, and open tunics. They rode with no stirrups or saddles, just saddle-cloths. Herodotus reports that Scythians used cannabis, both to weave their clothing and to cleanse themselves in its smoke (Hist. 4.73-75); archaeology has confirmed the use of cannabis in funeral rituals. The Scythian philosopher Anacharsis visited Athens in the 6th century BC and became a legendary sage.

    Scythians also had a reputation for the use of barbed and poisoned arrows of several types, for a nomadic life centered around horses — "fed from horse-blood" according to Herodotus — and for skill in guerrilla warfare.

  31. Cut the corporate tax, they don't have to collect it.

  32. Oh, but they will continue to collect it, they'd just retain it, bob.

    Just as the Bamkers have not used the $350 billion in prefered equity to Uncle Sam to unfreeze the credit markets.

    The AP contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in government money and asked four questions: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings? What's the plan for the rest? None of the banks provided specific answers, and most refused to explain why they are keeping the information secret.

    Or, as this headline from the AZ Republic exemmplifies, there is some smoke, many mirrors but no fire.

    Employers busted by hiring law so far: 0
    Thomas seeks new powers after measure's quiet year

  33. One of the consequences of decades of sniping at the US by Euroweenies is that, this time, they will have the privilege of facing Russia on their own.

    Then why do we still have 259 installations and 112,000 troops in Europe?

  34. NO, I Don't KNOW!

    Damn, I've always hated that you knowing to the end of time. It'd drive me nuts being around her.

    Started in the 60's when drugs hit campus, hasn't let up.

  35. Suffered another metamorphosis, you know.

  36. Teresita, the first born of Proteus of the sea, he of many shapes, who speech is sooth....

  37. Cut the corporate tax, they don't have to collect it.

    I'd rather eliminate the personal income tax. In fact, given that 100% of the national debt is due to federal corporate giveaways, I'd insist that the Corporates, and they only, pay it in full.

  38. by Craig Harris and Daniel González -
    Dec. 28, 2008 12:00 AM
    The Arizona Republic

    When the state's employer-sanctions law took effect nearly a year ago, it threatened to shut down businesses that hired illegal workers.

    But not a single employer has been taken to court in Arizona, mainly because the landmark law is too difficult to enforce, authorities say.

    In Maricopa County, where the law led to raids on a dozen businesses and the arrest of 159 workers and a manager, investigators have not been able to assemble enough evidence showing that employers actually knew the arrested workers were illegal, which the sanctions law requires.

    A few employers have resisted turning over their hiring records or talking to investigators.

    As a result, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas wants the Legislature to give prosecutors subpoena power to investigate cases under the employer-sanctions law, which is enforced by filing a civil lawsuit.

    That would make it easier for investigators to force employers to turn over records.

  39. Sheriff Joe, making arrests, but there are never any convictions, under the new law.

    Sanctions cases
    No employer in Arizona has been accused of violating the state's employer-sanctions law, but six civil cases are under investigation in Maricopa County. A summary of cases:

    March 12: Royal Paper Converting. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office alleged that five suspects used fraudulent documents to gain employment at the Phoenix company. Three people were arrested.

    June 10: Golfland Entertainment Centers. Deputies seized hundreds of employee records from the operator of three Valley water parks. Officers arrested 12 employees, including 11 workers and a food-services manager.

    Aug. 27: Artistic Land Management. Twenty-nine people suspected of being illegal workers were arrested at the Mesa landscaping company.

    Sept. 10: Gold Canyon Candle Co. Sixty-five people were arrested at the Chandler business, including 23 on identity-theft charges.

    Sept. 24: Legacy Custom Doors and Western Lock. Ten people were arrested at the Chandler business, including seven who faced identity-theft charges.

    Oct. 16: Management Cleaning Controls. Deputies stormed Mesa City Hall hunting for illegal employees of the cleaning company. Sixteen people were arrested.

    Sources: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, The Arizona Republic

    Theatrics and eyewash.

  40. Indian hunters had many clever ways of killing buffalo. They'd dress in wolf hides and crawl up close enough to sink prejectile points into the rib cages of the unsuspecting grazers. A hunter might kill several baffalo this way before the herd took flight. Early in the spring, buffalo calves were so dependent on their mothers that they wouldn't run off even when the mother fell dead. Indians would snatch these calves by the back legs and bring them home so that their children could practice archery and spear throwing in live targets. Then the hunter could skin the calf and climb into its fresh hide and waddle back into another buffalo herd to make a kill.

    In the wintertime the Indians would herd buffalo into snowdrifts; while the animals floundered on their spindly legs, the hunters would walk across the snow drifts on snowshoes and kill the animals with knives. If the ice on a lake was slick, the Indians would chase buffalo out there and spear the animals when they fell down. On the Missouri River in winter of 1805-1806, the fur trader Charles McKenzie watched the Mandan Indians use another trick to kill buffalo on the ice. They would drive herds "to the banks of the Missouri and, by gradual approaches, confine them into a narrow space where the ice was weakened, until, by their weight and pressure, large squares of ice....would give away and vast numbers of animals were plunged into the river and carried by the current under the solid ice to a 'mare' a little below, where they again emerged, floated and were received by crowds of women and children."

    In the summer and fall months they'd kill buffalo with fire and water. Along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Indians would torch vast tracts of land next to the river and then wait for the buffalo to jump into the water to escape. While swimming, the animals were so slow that hunters could grab on to their hair and slit their throats while they swam. The explorer and missionary Father Louis Hennepin described how the Indians would set large fires that encircled entire herds "except some passage which they leavae on purpose, and where they take post with their bows and arrows. The buffalo.....are thus compelled to pass near these Indians, who sometimes kill as many as a hundred and twenty in a day." Sometimes Indians would use nothing beyond their own bodies to corral buffalo. A group of hunters would surround small buffalo herds and then close in
    until the animals were contained in a circle. The Indians would kill the buffalo as they tried to escape, often so close that the hunter could pluck out his used arro from the side of the animal before it fell over and broke it.

    Despite the ingenuity of these methods, anthropologists seem to be most interested in the large-scale, industrial slaughter of buffalo that is typified by the use of buffalo jumps. While it seems as though buffalo jumps were in isolated, scattered usage for much of the time since the end of the Pleistocene, they came into their heyday at about the time of Christ. Their widespread usage marks the advent of large tribal alliances that gathered together on a seasonal basis to trade, socialize, and conduct religious practices. Feeding these big groups of people required large-scale buffalo hunting; likewise, large-scale buffalo hunting required big groups of people. The use of buffalo jumps dropped off precipitously--(bob laughs at the choice of words here)--with the introduction of the horse; with beasts of burden, the Indians could kill just as many buffalo without having to rely on luck to put the animals in the proper position. From then on, the most common hunting method was the one that we know from movies: bare-chested, brightly paintyed Indians who daringly rode into running buffalo herds while firing arrows and bullets into the animals at point-blank range.

    One could make a cogent argument that the widespread advent of buffalo jumps marked the beginning of the end for the buffalo. Its seems as though the massive, wholesale slaughter of complete buffalo herds was like an addictive drug....

    Another arrow in the hide of the conception of deep indigenous ecologists.

    Europe was a massive forest, before the whites got going good...

    from "American Buffalo" Steven Rinella

  41. We might as well quit talking about tax cuts.

    It's a futile subject under the current circumstances.


    As also, the stopping of the flow of illegals, ethics reform, decent court appointments....

    What the hell is there to talk about that has a chance?

    I sent out for a Sarah Palin 2009 Calendar yesterday, to keep my spirits up during the coming year. Some good shots of Lady Palin with a shotgun, etc., so I've heard. Bet the summer and fall months involve some fishing, too!

  42. Recent studies indicate that tuberculosis may have been partly responsible for the extinction of the mastodon 10,000 years ago.[18]

    Another influencing factor to their eventual extinction in America during the late Pleistocene may have been the presence of Paleo-Indians, who entered the American continent in relatively large numbers 13,000 years ago. Their hunting caused a gradual attrition to the mastodon and mammoth populations, significant enough that over time the mastodons were hunted to extinction.[19]

    Deep indigenous ecology.

    No Endangered Species Act in those days.

  43. "Ssangyong is actively seeking support from the Korean government and banks while talking to the union to lower labor costs to overcome the difficulties in their operation brought by the global financial crisis," Zhu Xiangjun, a spokeswoman for SAIC Motor, said without elaborating.

    The Chinese auto maker is due to give Ssangyong 120 billion won (US$93 million) in technology transfer fees and the Korean car maker has unused credit lines worth up to 200 billion won from Chinese banks, according to a Yonhap report yesterday. SAIC owns 51 percent of Ssangyong Motor.

    The auto maker posted a loss of 98.1 billion won in the January-September period, against a profit of 16.7 billion won in the same period a year earlier. Output will be suspended until Wednesday at all plants, the firm said earlier this month.

    Financial Rescue Decision

  44. Rufus, here's the skinny on Idaho and wind energy that I received today (has some neat maps but I don't know how to put them up from an e-mail)

    Nuclear plant developer supports state shifting energy resources away from wind power

    Idaho’s low potential for utility-scale wind generation means efforts would be better spent on complimentary initiatives

    Dec. 28, 2008

    For more information, contact

    Martin Johncox 208-658-9100

    Don Gillispie, 208-939-9311

    In response to a recent story that Gov. Otter has disbanded the Idaho Wind Power Working Group and assigned some of its functions to the Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance, Don Gillispie, President and CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., made the following statement:

    “This is a very wise move on the part of the state government. Before I am pegged as being anti-wind, one of AEHI’s subsidiaries, Energy Neutral, works to put wind, solar and other renewable into new and existing homes and businesses, so I understand the potential and proper place for wind energy.

    “As far as a statewide policy for Idaho, energy efficiency is a better goal than wind promotion. Wind is a niche power source at best and the real energy issue in Idaho is no base load plants have been built in 30 years. The Associated Press, the Snake River Alliance and other wind promoters like to say Idaho ranks 13th among states for wind power potential. That figure comes from the American Wind Energy Association which obviously has in interest in promoting wind development.

    “A rank of 13 is actually misleading, because wind potential, like fossil fuels, geothermal, hydro or solar power potential, is a gift that nature does not share equally. Taking a look at the wind potential map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory below, we can see that only a few areas nationally reach Class 3, the minimum required for utility-scale power generation, and 95 percent of Idaho ranks as Class 1 or 2; indeed, most of the U.S. ranks as Class 1 or below. Only in the very center of the nation – from about North Dakota to straight down to northern Texas – are there large contiguous areas necessary for large-scale industrial wind production.

    “According to the NREL, ‘Areas designated Class 3 or greater are suitable for most utility-scale wind turbine applications, whereas class 2 areas are marginal for utility-scale applications but may be suitable for rural applications.’

    “The 50-meter wind resource map below presents the same information a bit differently, showing wind speed estimates at 50 meters above the ground and depicting the resource that could be used for utility-scale wind development. Of the developable areas in Idaho, most are fair-to-marginal for utility-scale generation.

    “Still, savvy wind developers are finding and harnessing Idaho’s wind potential and I wish them the best of luck. We can and should be developing every green energy source at our disposal.

    “These maps are further evidence that Gov. Otter and Paul Kjellander made the right decision. If Idaho were one of the few states that had an abundance of utility-scale generation, then a state office dedicated to wind energy would make sense. As it stands, however, Idaho’s wind energy resources are more suitable for smaller-scale rural production, which has an important role to play in the scheme of things. But Idaho definitely doesn’t have the concentration of wind resources for any sizeable utility-scale generation.”

  45. Israeli Tots At 82 Kindergartens To Learn Green ABC's
    by Karin Kloosterman

    In a special ceremony, held in Bar-Ilan University earlier this month, some 48 green kindergartens located in the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, central and southern districts of Israel were certified "green."

    An additional 34 kindergartens were certified earlier in the month, on December 3 in Haifa, 8 of which came from the Arab sector, reports the Ministry of Environmental Protection website.

  46. Sen. Craig Restroom Tanking as Tourist Destination

    Sunday, December 28, 2008 6:00pm

    BOISE, Idaho -- The men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport where Republican Sen. Larry Craig was arrested in a sex sting is losing it appeal as a tourist stop, an official said.

    "We're getting there," said Patrick Hogan, director of public affairs for the Metropolitan Airports Commission. "I think we'll all be glad when there's no special interest in that restroom."

    Craig was accused of soliciting sex in the bathroom in June 2007 and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August 2007.

    One person had offered to buy the restroom stall for $5,000, Hogan said, but airport officials "don't sell fixtures for novelty purposes."

    Though tourist interest has withered, the surge of publicity from Craig's arrest helped end the type of activity in the restroom that had prompted lewd-conduct complaints, he said.

    Plans to modify the restroom to prevent occupants from passing signals were scrapped because complaints dropped.

    "It is the busiest restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International," Hogan told The Spokesman-Review. "It's right in the middle of our main thoroughfare."

    Craig _ who has maintained his innocence and heterosexuality _ has said he only pleaded guilty to keep the embarrassing situation quiet. He attempted to withdraw his guilty plea but the Minnesota Court of Appeals earlier this month rejected the appeal.

    Craig, who said he was considering another appeal, did not seek re-election in last month's election for the seat he has held for 18 years. He will be replaced in January by Idaho Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, a Republican.

  47. Tonight on C2C--

    Sun 12.28 >>
    UFO Year in Review
    Starting in the first hour, George Knapp welcomes Alejandro Rojas and James Carrion, both of MUFON, to review various events and UFO sightings of 2008. They'll be joined by special guests throughout the evening.

    I'll put my Swedish body builder up against any Alien of your choice.

  48. You can't fool me. I can read. That's no alien. It's a Hairy Anglerfish.

    Extraterrestial is a requirement in this contest.

  49. Josh Kohut, an assistant professor at the institute, said a state-of-the-art ocean observation network has been set up off the New Jersey coast. It monitors ocean life through radar networks, satellites in space, and even underwater vehicles that record data on the ocean floor.

    "We're looking at how we can take the measures of temperature and salinity of the ocean and link it to the distribution of animals," he said. "Is the ocean environment changing, or is it that the ocean is changing their food supply - which is changing their habits?

    We're starting to be able to answer those questions."

    Dolphin Dies

  50. Extraterrestial is a requirement in this contest.

    Got it!

  51. I've been to Shark Bay. Just south of the tropic line. Water temperature super warm. Walk right in. Some of the beaches - the sand is a rusty/reddish color. The iron in the ground there. That rusty/red sand against the calm blues of the ocean is spectacular. Gorgeous up there.

  52. The Killer Whale Is A Dolphin

    Dolphins Surfing

    I like dolphins.

    Dolphins are promiscuous, and, sometimes go gay.

    They talk to one another by squeaking, and may call one another by name.

    They are said to help sailors, and I remember a news article where a dolphin saved a little drowning boy.

    We should not eat dolphins.

    You can Adopt A Baby Dolphin Here

    And receive A VALID DOLPHIN BIRTH CERTIFICATE better than the President-elect has shown.

    I would vote for a dolphin for President over what we are getting.

  53. You best take that down lest your wife see it.

  54. Nah, She's got a good sense of humor.

  55. Now if I could only get her to adopt a beaver.

  56. Judging by the name, Shark Bay might not be the best place to flop around in the water, Sam.

    Like one should be careful, fishing Crocodile River.

  57. Then, I quess you'd be busy as a beaver yourself.

  58. Exactly right. You're o.k. close to shore. In the shallows. You probably don't want to be jumping off the boat out in the open water 'though.

  59. For instance, inside the dolphin brain is a chamber that baffles researchers: recent studies imply that this mysterious area of the brain may serve in achieving meditative states, contemplation or abstract thought. A favorite theory is that this chamber is not only responsible for all these activities, but that it additionally serves in telepathic communication and in visualizing in holographic fashion.

    It's interesting, too, that Jacques Cousteau - legendary ocean explorer - wrote that the original sin was gravity and that we will only achieve redemption when we return to the water - as cetaceans did long ago.

    Human/Dolphin Connection

  60. When you get the chance, Bob, go to Monkey Mia.

  61. Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort

    Sounds like a neat place. I'd like to, for sure. But when, that's the question.

  62. Rough Sex at 40,000 Leagues Under the Sea

  63. That's really weird, Mat. Three foot penises, and the ladies never come back for seconds.

    Detroit Lions Have Perfect Year

  64. Not the behavior of the typical American divorcee.

  65. For female squids, sex is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience—and an apparently horrible one at that. The female releases millions of tiny eggs into the water along with the sperm contributed by the one male who got his hooks into her, and usually never goes back for seconds, the researchers found. Afterward, they never let a male get close—a behavior that even has led to the technical term "traumatic fertilization."

    Apparently a 3 foot penis is not all that.

  66. It ain't the meat, mat,
    it's the motion.

    Or so some say.

  67. Heute Technologie hat [url= ]download[/url] verlängern ihrer Markt enorm in Spinnennetz Gebiet und tugendhaft wie die Technologie-Anbieter haben von auch finden für die Art und Weise Ertrag da von einfacher zu bedienen. Größter Vorteil Extras ist "Abstraktion" kaufen hier reden wir über die Bedeutung Kern der Abstraktion ist wo Online Miet-Software effizient Umgang mit solchen Feder von Business wie Managed Inventory, nach innen Rechnung Systeme, Text feige glücklicherweise Schweiß mit einer anderen Software kann das sind die Beitrag Programme, Buchhaltungs-Software und andere akkommodierend Software.

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