Over at The Atlantic, Charles Mann tells the story of Japan’s 18-year old project to mine natural gas from the ice at the bottom of the Philippine Sea. While not a certainty, Japan has come far enough to launch a test that will determine if gas trapped in ice can be mined in sufficient quantities to be useful. If so, undersea natural gas could impact how the world gets energy the way that the switch from coal to oil impacted it back in the early 20th century. How big a deal is that? Well, how big a deal would it be if suddenly the world was no longer vying over Mideastern oil reserves?
Mann concisely describes the ascendance of oil over coal and its affect on geopolitics. There is a lot of skepticism about whether ice-trapped gas can ever be effectively harvested but, as Mann points out, the same kind of skepticism surrounded the mining of shale gas through the controversial practice of fracking. As a result of gas production from fracking, the price and of gas has dropped and the U.S. actually stands a chance of becoming energy self-sufficient on net which was a pipe dream only a few years ago. If viable, gas from undersea ice could transform the energy control landscape making dependent countries independent from foreign energy suppliers.
To add even more context, Mann goes through a history of the antagonism between those who predict petroleum energy will soon run dry and those who preach that we have enough for the foreseeable future. Despite the fact that history favors the latter, political fighting continues.
The title of Mann’s article is “What if we never run out of oil?” Seemingly great news if you’re not worried about environmental issues. If fossil fuel energy continues to be cheap, the incentive to switch to renewable energy sources is threatened. While renewable sources are getting cheaper, they cannot compete with fossil fuels.
From The Telegraph:
The European Union is quietly pouring millions of pounds into initiatives and groups seeking state-backed regulation of the press, including key allies of the controversial Hacked Off campaign.
These groups apparently want to see the same restrictions on print outlets that are currently imposed on broadcast outlets.
The recommendations call for the press to be controlled by the same body and on the same basis as broadcasters, who are currently tightly regulated with statutory “balance” obligations that do not apply to newspapers.
Nothing pisses off government more than when the press doesn’t play along like they should and nothing makes a media outlet more of a team player than when their right to exist is controlled by the government.
The group wants a new media regulator to correct the “national conversation” which it says has been “distorted” by Right-wing newspapers and to change the “terms of public debate” by “imposing public-service duties” on the press.
The U.S. considers sanctions against Pakistan over a $7B “peace pipeline” deal with Iran. Such a deal threatens U.S. efforts to bring Iran to its knees for failing to prove that it is not manufacturing nuclear WMDs in a repeat of the same strategy used to start a war with Iraq.
Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state. Wait a sec. Aren’t they already a nuclear state? Surely the recent U.S. strategy of flying strategic war planes around over the peninsula will calm things down.
A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a man who stabbed his best friend ten years ago, paralyzing him, to be paralyzed himself if he can’t come up with $266,000 in compensation for his victim.
What happens to persecutors who abuse their trust and destroy people’s lives? Nothing.
From reason.com: A Texas state trooper charged with sexually assaulting two women during a traffic stop was providing them with “customer service,” says Dale Roberts, the executive director of the Columbia Police Officers Association (CPOA) and a professor at the University of Missouri. (The CPOA is a part of the Fraternal Order of Police, one of the country’s largest police unions.)
I’ve have some other priorities taking precedence at the moment. Hope to be back to a more regular blogging schedule soon.
I’m behind on my reading, so I’m only up to the March issue of Reason. Matt Welch, always superb in his ability to expose political reality, outdid himself when he wrote Spending Denialists and the Fiscal Illusion. In it he quotes the position of the late economist James Buchanan on the topic of deficit spending.
“The attractiveness of financing spending by debt issue to the elected politicians should be obvious. Borrowing allows spending to be made that will yield immediate political payoffs without the incurring of any immediate political cost.”
This is concise and to the point. Politicians willingly fuck over future generations for their own political gain. And they do this openly and with great enthusiasm.
What’s more, Buchanan warned, “the replacement of current tax financing by government borrowing has the effect of reducing the ‘perceived price’ of government goods and services,” with the result that taxpayers “increase their demands for such goods and services.”
Which, of course, is why the same wicked politicians keep getting reelected and why this behavior will continue until it culminates in disaster. This impending doom will never be averted by the likes of Barrack Obama, or John Boehner, or Mitch McConnell, or Nancy Pelosi, or Paul Ryan, or Harry Reid. They don’t begin to have the necessary integrity. In their capacity to rationalize their destructive irresponsibility, they are no different from every other dime-a-dozen corrupt politician.
By what perversion of logic do we honor these “national leaders”, who spew forth lofty declarations of the heroism of soldiers who “risk their lives for their country” (in a perpetual manufactured war), while they themselves don’t even have the minimal courage it would take to risk losing an election in order to do what they know is decent? There has to be something deeply wrong with a country that rewards soldiers who risk their lives with anonymity and a pittance while showering wealth and fame upon the cowardly scoundrels who pillage the livelihood of its children to enrich themselves.
The Manchester Community College in Connecticut went into lock-down and police were called in after a student reported seeing a man with a handgun in his waistband. The lock-down which started at 2PM ended at 7PM when no such man was found. While Manchester police were searching the building, one officer apparently shot himself in the foot.
A 16 year old Ft Meyers, Florida high school student has been suspended for wrestling a loaded gun away from another student who was threatening to shoot another student. From Fox 4:
The student grappled the gun away from the 15-year-old suspect on the bus ride home Tuesday after witnesses say he aimed the weapon point blank at another student and threatened to shoot him.
This is yet another one of those cases where rigid rules are substituted for common sense.
According to the referral, he was suspended for being part of an “incident” where a weapon was present and given an “emergency suspension.”
According to the mother, the school suspended her son because he refused to cooperate in the investigation. She says he was scared.
One can only wonder what that means. Maybe he was refusing to answer questions.
As for the kid with the gun:
Despite the fact the suspect pointed a loaded gun at another student and threatened to shoot, authorities charged him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon “without intent” to kill.
There will be no “film at eleven”:
Authorities were unable to watch the school bus surveillance video because the cameras weren’t working.
The story doesn’t seem to have enough detail to really understand what happened, but it seems like the outcome was the best scenario possible under the circumstances. No doubt if there had been a cop around, they would be mourning one or more deaths now.