“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."

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Civilization is the distance man has placed between himself and his excreta. ~Brian Aldiss

Civilization is hideously fragile... there's not much between us and the Horrors underneath, just about a coat of varnish. ~C.P. Snow

CONCEPCION, Chile, March 2 (Reuters) -

Chilean authorities extended a curfew in the country's second-biggest city on Tuesday as troops struggled to contain worsening looting and crime in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

A night-time curfew in the badly damaged city of Concepcion was extended until midday after looters burned stores and residents complained of deteriorating security and slow government delivery of food and other basic supplies.

Despite the arrival of thousands of troops to reinforce local police, authorities were struggling to restore order in the city that bore the brunt of Saturday morning's 8.8-magnitude quake that killed at least 723 people.

Residents in Concepcion said they were organizing groups to defend their properties from robbers and looters, who the city's mayor said on Monday were becoming more organized.

"Government help has been so slow to arrive," said Caroline Contreras, a 36-year-old teacher.

"The soldiers just arrived and haven't been able to control the situation. The neighbors where I live are organizing to defend themselves because people are starting to rob houses."

President Michelle Bachelet, who condemned the "pillage and criminality," dispatched 7,000 soldiers to the region and imposed curfews to restore order, saying her government was sending emergency food and medicine supplies.

The devastating quake struck as Latin America's most stable economy was trying to recover from a recession brought on by the global financial crisis. The total economic damage from the quake could exceed $15 billion, the catastrophe risk firm AIR Worldwide said.


  1. Went to Santiago, once, back in '81. Left Rio on a MAC flight, after one hell of a party there, only to land in Santiago and one of the most repressed societies I had ever visited.

    Uzi armed soldiers on every major intersection, Police dogs with them at every other corner.

    It was not a "happy" place.

  2. ...but had that warm, fuzzy, secure feeling.

  3. I wonder what LA would be like after an 8.8, or better yet, a 9.5?

    Earthquake facts and fantasy.

    The largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 on May 22, 1960 in Chile on a fault that is almost 1,000 miles long.

    The magnitude scale is open-ended, meaning that science has not put a limit on how strong an earthquake could be, and scientists can’t rule out a “Mega Quake” because they’ve only been measuring earthquakes for 100 years, a blink of an eye in geologic time.

    However, scientists agree that “Mega Quakes” of magnitude 10 or more are implausible.

  4. Earthquakes can strike any location at any time. But history shows they occur in the same general patterns over time, principally in three large zones of the earth. The world's greatest earthquake zone, the circum-Pacific seismic belt, is found along the rim of the Pacific Ocean, where about 81 percent of the world's largest earthquakes occur. That belt extends from Chile, northward along the South American coast through Central America, Mexico, the West Coast of the United States, the southern part of Alaska, through the Aleutian Islands to Japan, the Philippine Islands, New Guinea, the island groups of the Southwest Pacific, and to New Zealand.

  5. Never watched Carole before, would never have guessed.
    Guitar guy looked/sounded a lot better than some of the "legends."

  6. High School best friend had the original Mini Cooper.
    Took a wine tasting trip (w/women) up to Joe Montana's place before Joe got there.

  7. To hell with the wine and song, how did the women taste?

  8. "Cockpit" is a very sexist term, Doug. In this nuanced age we prefer to say flight deck.

  9. Doug: However, scientists agree that “Mega Quakes” of magnitude 10 or more are implausible.

    On Art Bell he used to get some guy who said there was going to be an earthquake so big that Colorado would be a west coast state. And of course he knew that Atlantis would simultaneously be raised. But the problem with that could be pointed out by anyone with Statistics 101. A 10.0 earthquake would be a spike in the data. You'd see three 9.5s for every 10.0. And it would take an 11 or 12 to do what he was talking about. Plus it would melt the Earth's crust with the energy release.

    REVELATION 16:18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

  10. That's no deck, Ms T, in that Mini. And it definitely does not fly, at best, it may fall with style.

    No, the seating area, it's a pit.

    Choose the "C" word of your preference to best describe it.

  11. Tuna, Ms T, it tastes kinda like tuna.

    On a fair day.

  12. Chicken of the Sea.

    Canned in water, not oil.

  13. "Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad.

    And thou shalt have a paddle among thy weapons; and it shall be, when thou sittest down abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee."


  14. Comment by Jeffrey Brown (Westexas) at the oil drum.

    Re: Saudi Arabia, China, India, etc. (various links uptop) & ELM 2.0

    ELM 2.0 takes into account Chindia's rapidly increasing net oil imports, which went from 4.6 mbpd in 2005 to 6.0 mbpd in 2008 (EIA), a rate of change of +9.0%/year. Extrapolated out to 2010, they would be net importing about 7.2 mbpd. Expressed as a percentage of net exports from the (2005) top five net exporters, Chindia's net imports increased from 19% of the top five in 2005 to 27% in 2008, to a projected 33% in 2010. One can see where the trend is headed, as combined net exports from the (2005) top five showed a -2%/year rate of change, from 2005 to 2008.

    But let's look at the Net/Net Exports from the top five, after subtracting out Chindia's net imports. In 2005, the Net/Net (2005 top five) number was about 19.4 mbpd. Assuming 22 mbpd Net Exports from the top five in 2010, and assuming 7.2 mbpd net imports into Chindia, the Net/Net number would fall to 14.8 mbpd in 2010.

    Now, Sam's best case for the (2005) top five is that their net exports would be down to about 15 mbpd in 2018, and if we extrapolate Chindia's net imports, they would be approaching 15 mbpd in 2018, resulting in a projected Net/Net number of zero. If we do some "Cowboy Integration" (19.6 mbpd X 365 Days X 13 years X 0.5), it suggests that estimated post-2005 Net/Net Top Five Cumulative Exports are about 46 Gb. At the end of this year, the projected remaining Net/Net (2005) Top Five Cumulative Exports would be down to about 22 Gb, a five year Net/Net depletion rate of 15%/year. This is ELM 2.0.

  15. Wholesale unleaded (RBOB) is setting at $2.21 gal. That works out to $2.91 Retail.

    That's with our oil imports down about 5 Million bbl/day since 2006.

  16. The Ethical Dog

    Communicate clearly. Trust in one another’s honest communication is vital for a smoothly functioning social group.

    Admit when you are wrong. Even when everyone wants to keep things fair, play can sometimes get out of hand.

    Be honest. An apology, like an invitation to play, must be sincere

    Fair play, then, can be understood as an evolved

  17. DR - 05:56

    Same as my impression of Karachi on a visit in '87 during a WESTPAC.

  18. Pakistan has driven out Al Qaeda and the Taliban from one of their main nerve centres near the Afghan border, where it has been fighting militants for nearly two years, a top commander said on Tuesday.


    It's the kind of scene that will encourage the United States as it presses ally Pakistan to clear out militant strongholds and win over the people in its semi-autonomous Pashtun border lands.


    Eighteen people were killed in Damadola in January 2006 in a US drone strike aimed at Al Qaeda second-in-command Zawahri.

    Militiamen Dance

  19. US to share laser-guiding bomb kits with Pakistan

    This is sure to make India happy.

    Obama must think the most important aspect of Asian foreign policy is placating the Muslim countries. Never mind as the Indians turn towards China.

    Who cares? We've got Pakistan.

  20. NyTimes headlines says, "Greece Set to Release Austerity Plan". I thought I might see what our future medicine might look like. The takeaway is that the unions are resisting the early proposals.

    On the homefront, VP Biden is meeting with the AFLCIO in Orlando, tonight, I think.

  21. Last week Quirk was asking about Jeb Bush. In my opinion, he was a good Governor.

    He cut the size of state governor through some actual cuts and privatization.

    He instituted school and teacher accountability with a state-wide testing system (Google FCAT) which the teachers unions despise.

    He was not a perfect governor but I've never seen one anyway. He was just conservative enough without being rancorous and was popular to enough to get reelected to a third term were that possible.

    He is a competent politician, a good campaigner, well spoken, personable, good looking, and down to earth.

    I would consider voting for him again.

    His wife, Colomba did not do well Tallahassee. She was seldom seen and I doubt that she ever resided in the capital city.

  22. I meant to select edit instead of publish.

    meant to say

    ..."cut the size of state government..."

  23. The small moves in rates followed a third straight advance in the stock market. A second day of merger news and Qualcomm Inc.'s plan to repurchase stock and raise its dividend signaled that businesses are becoming more confident in the economy.


    Many traders are cautious ahead of the Labor Department's February employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday. Economists expect that the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent last month from 9.7 percent in January.

    A weaker employment report could rekindle concerns that the recovery will falter.

    Cautious Tone Remains

  24. Camilo Barrios, a Mexican on vacation, had not spoken to his family since the earthquake. He knew they'd be worried and asked me to e-mail them.

    His face softened into a gigantic smile when they responded "Gracias a Dios."

    He was out. He was OK.

    City of Chaos

  25. Complicating matters even more is the fact that Payoneer CEO Yuval Tal was a commentator for Fox News during the Second Lebanon War, and described himself as a former Israeli special operations soldier.

    Tal told the Wall Street Journal last week that the company was very surprised by the news, but refused to comment on his service in the IDF.

    "We are aware of the news reports," said Mary Kae Marinac, a spokeswoman for Payoneer. "We are cooperating with the bank and the authorities to explore the matter," she added.

    Dubai Hit

  26. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the project as another attempt by Israel to cement its claim to all of Jerusalem, and urged the international community to stop Israel from carrying it out.


    The plan has stoked Palestinian anger and any demolitions would be certain to raise international concern.


    Monday, an Israeli security guard was wounded by gunfire in Silwan. A day earlier, Israeli police clashed with dozens of rock-throwing Palestinians outside al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City.

    Jerusalem Project

  27. The proposal would include strict monitoring and reductions in the number of whales killed over the next 10 years.

    Australia is trying to stop Japanese whaling in the Antarctic and has put forward its own proposal.

    The meeting is closed to the media but lobby groups are allowed to observe. They say the atmosphere is cordial.

    Whaling Talks

  28. Barbara Wybar, a teacher from Montreal who runs a vocational school in Bududa, said the rains were the worst she had seen.


    In the past, she said, people did not live on the area’s steep slopes.

    “But they are so poor here, and the population is exploding,” she said. “People live and farm everywhere.”

    Eastern Uganda

  29. But Dr David Kerridge from the British Geological Survey says only experts will notice the change.


    NASA geophysicist Richard Gross has told the Bloomberg newsagency the quake sped up the rotation of the earth enough to shorten the day by an estimated 1.26 millionths of a second.

    The same model showed the 2004 Sumatra quake, which generated the Indian Ocean tsunami, should have shortened each day by 6.8 microseconds.

    Earth's Days

  30. The unemployment benefits to more than 200,000 Americans and other federal programs expired Feb. 28. An extension has already been passed by the House, and Democrats were preparing to usher the bill quickly to President Obama after its passage Tuesday night.

    Reid (D-Nev.) said the deal "came about because Republicans realized they were wrong."

    In addition to blocking the package of extensions, the Kentucky Republican had also placed holds on all pending Obama administration nominees, but Bunning will lift those holds now that an agreement has been reached.

    Ends Blockade

  31. In one of the biggest cases involving police officials helping cartels, former anti-drug czar Adan Castillo was caught on tape accepting $25,000 from an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to protect a U.S.-bound cocaine shipment. Castillo and his assistant were arrested in 2005 in Virginia after being invited by the DEA to attend an anti-narcotics training session.


    "Where legitimate institutions are weak and fragile then you're going to have criminal institutions moving into that vacuum, and that's what's happening there," said George Grayson, a professor at the College of William & Mary in Virginia who has written about Mexico's drug cartels.


    In a corruption case reaching the highest levels of government in Guatemala, former President Alfonso Portillo was arrested in February after being indicted in a U.S. court on money laundering charges. He already was on trial on corruption charges brought by Guatemalan prosecutors.

    Drug Czar

  32. whit said:

    Who cares? We've got Pakistan.

    One of the most interesting and probably indicative signs of Pakistan's commitment to eradicating a'Q and Taliban leadership is the policy of making arrests instead of kills. If Pakistan stays true to form, the detainees will be released in short order.

  33. Can clerical collars be had in USA camouflage? Is there sufficient room for four stars on each side of the white center tab?

  34. NATO Future in Question As Afghanistan Role Dwindles

    “…getting the Europeans to pony up resources is proving to be an even tougher sell - and threatening NATO's very survival…”

    “…only five of the 28 members are meeting the alliance's goal of spending 2% of their GDP on defense…

    “…NATO is hamstrung by its decisionmaking structures, which include more than 300 committees, with 20 focused on intelligence alone…”

  35. “I think he’s too far right, even though I consider myself a conservative,” said Van Williams, 47, as he cast his vote at the Tom C. Clark High School in an affluent suburb of San Antonio. “His leadership has been abysmal.

    He hasn’t solved anything.”

    In rural areas, the Republican primary took on the tone of a cultural as much as political battle. Many voters in the farming community of Fulshear, outside Houston, for instance, expressed support for Mr. Perry, in part because they say he has helped keep the economy stronger than the rest of the country.

    Primary to Perry

  36. Argentina celebrates diplomatic coup as Hillary Clinton calls for talks over Falklands

    This is sure to displease the UK. But given the UK's constant meddling in the affairs of others, particularly in the ME and North Africa, well, tough.

  37. Britain Grapples With Debt of Greek Proportions

    "...the overall level of debt in Britain is the second-largest in the world, after Japan’s, at 380 percent of the country’s gross domestic product..."

    "...That means the government and its citizens have been able to continue to borrow at interest rates that do not reflect their true financial situation..."

    "...British household debt is now 170 percent of overall annual income, compared with 130 percent in the United States..."

    "...As a result, those counting on the British consumer to take up the slack from any scaling back of government borrowing could be in for a shock..."

  38. The chairman of Britain's Financial Services Authority said on Tuesday curbing short-selling on the cost of insuring Greek debt would not alone solve volatility.

    "It is important that even if we look at this issue we don't overstate it. A fundamental issue that can drive volatility on spreads on Greek bonds is a whole load of long investors not being willing to buy," Adair Turner told lawmakers.

    "I believe the total amount of CDS short positions in the area of Greek problem debt is only 3-4 percent of outstanding Greek sovereign debt. The biggest driver is confidence levels and actions of long investors," said Turner.

    CDS Trades

  39. Reuters -

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York Democrat Charles Rangel, admonished last week by an ethics panel, will give up the powerful chairmanship of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, NBC reported on Tuesday.


    The head of the Dubai police is planning to seek the arrest of the prime minister of Israel and the head of the country's secret service, Mossad, over the killing of a Hamas leader.

  41. JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, citing concern over Israel's international image, persuaded Jerusalem's mayor on Tuesday to put on hold any demolition of Palestinian homes in a municipal tourism project.