The Only Way To Change Australia Is To Change The USA  

Posted by Big Gav

Paul Sheehan at the SMH is continuing the Australian water and power theme of last week in "Powerless against Mother Nature".

This is the world of "brownouts", when the electricity generated by the power industry is no longer adequate to the demands made by the population during the hours of peak demand. It is a world we risk entering next year if the winter rains and snow fail again. Because a shortage of water must lead to a shortage of power.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the market, concerned by the lack of rain and lack of future investment, has driven a dramatic run-up in the price of electricity. The forward price for a megawatt hour of electricity for NSW in 2008 has doubled in less than five months.

What are we doing about it? We are waiting for rain. Thanks to years of inertia and denial, there is no other choice. Australia has thus become the first advanced economy in the world to be dependent on the weather.

What if the past 10 years are a signal of the future and not a deviation from the past? Even if the drought breaks this year, we have lost our certainty over water supply.

Experts in the electricity market told me last week the possibility of power cuts in NSW next year is now realistic without meaningful winter rain. Snowy Hydro reports water storage in its system is down to 8 per cent of capacity. Last week the CSIRO released a report warning of power cuts if the existing disconnect between the water supply and demand continues. (The report, Infrastructure and Climate Change Risk Assessment for Victoria, was commissioned by the Victorian Government.)

We are reduced to waiting for rain, not just for the farmers, not just for the dam levels in the Sydney catchment area, but for the power stations, mostly coal and hydro, which have a voracious appetite for water. So what, exactly, are we doing about it?

We are not building dams. When was the last time a large dam was completed in NSW? Every proposal to build a dam is now met with a deluge of opposition on environmental grounds.

We are not building significant coal-fired plants. Australia may be sitting on a mountain of coal, but coal-fired power stations take a lot of time and money to build and a lot of water to operate. (Victoria's three biggest coal-fired power stations alone have a water allotment equivalent to 20 per cent of the entire annual household water consumption of Melbourne.) The power industry is unwilling to invest in baseload plants (big plants for the national power grid) in the absence of a secure regulatory regime of carbon taxes, credits and offsets. ...

We do not want nuclear power. Once again, Australia is sitting on a mountain of uranium, but there is also a mountain of rational, and irrational, political opposition to any nuclear power plants operating in this country.

We refuse to pay the true consumer price for energy because the true cost of water and pollution have never been factored into costing. And so we are not serious about developing new large-scale energy sources.

On January 29, this column described the departure of David Mills, this country's leading authority on solar thermal energy (as distinct from solar voltaic cells, the kind we are being encouraged to put on top of our homes for domestic heating). Mills told me at the time: "Australian business does not offer the risk equity we need, especially under the current climate in which the government clearly favours existing coal and nuclear options based around mineral resources. The Federal Government refuses to put in place strict emissions targets … and reliable long-term market valuations for carbon emissions are avoided."

Last week, I contacted Mills to see how he was progressing. His company is busy building a solar thermal power plant in California. It has plenty of heavyweight investors.

He doesn't know if he is facing boom or bust, but he does know leaving Australia was the only option: "The real issue in Australia is a lack of environmental ethics in governments and their electors. I have heard no encouraging noises from the main parties." (Note his inclusion of the term "electors".)

Mills believes there will have to be a dramatic rerating of the real costs of energy production, which will make existing coal and nuclear technologies much more expensive relative to some alternative fuels being developed: "By 2010, the fossil-nuclear crash will begin in earnest in the Western nations, and a few years later in China. Who will want to build conventional power plants when you can build solar plants as cheaply?

"We used to joke that the only way to change Australia is to change the USA. It is now no joke."

That last line is true unfortunately, which is why I spend so much time on US politics here, berating the immorality and stupidity of Bush and Cheney's energy and environmental policies. While criticising the Rodent and his minions can be therapeutic, as the old saying goes, you need to talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey - so expecting things to change here as the result of some sort of local dialog is just wishful thinking - we need to sort out the problem at its root.

Mr Mills is obviously on the right track since he got Vinod Khosla and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers to fund him, getting quite a lot of attention at the Austin Clean Energy conference last week.

The SMH also has an article predicting "Drought will 'create oasis change'".
The drought will propel the newest property trend with homeowners moving in search of water, a national property researcher says. The owner of property investment advisory service Hotspotting, Terry Ryder, today said the "sea change" and "tree change" phenomena would be followed by an "oasis change" as water availability became a major influence on property buying patterns.

"The ongoing drought, the subsequent introduction of water restrictions and the increased cost of water use has already propelled the issue up the list of buyers' priorities," Mr Ryder said. He today released a list of the top six "oasis hotspots", chosen for their high rainfall or secure water supplies from dam or groundwater stores.

Mr Ryder identifies Townsville, in north Queensland; Perth; Maleny, in south-east Queensland; Dubbo, in central NSW; and Hobart. Other notable locations were Darwin; Atherton Tableland, in north Queensland; and Port Macquarie, Taree and Bathurst, in NSW.

Perth ? Why are they building another desalination plant then ?

The Australian reports a public servant thinks Electricity emissions are the 'fastest-growing'.
ELECTRICITY production has overtaken transport as the fastest-growing emitter of greenhouse gases, a senior federal public servant says. Executive director of the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics, Phil Potterton, said the stereotype of transport being the worst emitter was no longer the case.

"We have tended to talk about transport as the fastest-growing source of emissions," Mr Potterton told a parliamentary committee today. "But I think that's no longer the case, I think that emissions from the electricity sector are now growing faster than transport." ...

"Certainly, fuel economy is one of the longer-term trends ... there has been a longer-term trend towards more fuel efficient vehicles, that moderated somewhat in the 90s, and we would expect that would be coming through again as a consequence of the high oil prices we have seen over the last three years."

The Australian also has a report on BP and Rio Tinto's planned "clean coal plant" in Perth. I'm glad no one is considering pumping vast amounts of CO2 under the seabed where I live...
TWO of the world's largest resources and energy companies have announced plans for Australia's first industrial scale clean coal power station, which could be operational by 2014. BP and Rio Tinto are starting feasibility studies into the $2 billion coal-fired power generation project at Kwinana in Western Australia that will be fully integrated with technology to capture and store its greenhouse emissions.

The proposed 500 megawatt power station will be developed by their new partnership company, Hydrogen Energy, which will be more expensive than conventional coal fired power and require government policies or regulation to get the technology to market. If it proceeds the proposed industrial-scale station will gasify coal to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide with the hydrogen used to fuel the power station and around 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide captured and stored permanently in a saline formation underneath the seabed off the Perth coastline. ...

The project’s gasification facility and power station would be located in Kwinana, 45km south of Perth, alongside BP's refinery and Rio Tinto’s HIsmelt facility. Plans are also underway for the proposed development of two other hydrogen power projects, at Peterhead, Scotland, and at Carson, California, USA.

For further information on Hydrogen Energy see:

The Sunday Times has a report on Shell's plans to expand green tar sand oil extraction in Canada. I'm not sure what the green bit is - maybe the colour of some of the water after it has been used in tar sands processing ? When they claim Canada has more oil than Saudi Arabia they forgot to compare it to Iraq's reserves, the world's largest.
THE world's largest untapped oil reserves - in the Canadian Arctic - have become the new front line in the battle between environmentalists and the energy industry. Shell, a self-styled "green" energy company, is to invest billions of dollars in exploiting the Athabasca tar sands.

Environmentalists say the tar sands are the world's dirtiest oil deposits and that refining them generates three to four times more carbon dioxide than normal oil extraction. However, Clive Mather, chief executive of Shell Canada, said rising demand and surging oil prices could not be resisted. "The deposits are huge, potentially even greater than in Saudi Arabia," he said. "The time is right to exploit them."

The Athabasca tar sands are named after the river that runs through them. They contain about 1.7 trillion barrels of oil, of which 175 billion can be reached with existing technologies and another 135 billion could be tapped with technologies under development. The total of 310 billion barrels would give Canada the world's largest oil reserves - bigger than Saudi Arabia's 264 billion barrels.

For Western countries, especially the US, Canada's oil is a chance to cut dependence on the Middle East but the environmental costs could be huge. This is because tar sands comprise viscous bitumen and sand, a mixture that can currently be extracted only by digging it out, destroying the overlying forests. The Athabasca region has already been scarred with huge pits, some hundreds of feet deep. Alongside them lie vast ponds that hold the contaminated sands and other residues left after the oil is removed.

Shell, along with Suncor and Syncrude, the other main oil companies in the area, are developing a second extraction method, whereby superheated steam is pumped into the ground to melt the oil so that it can be sucked out as a liquid. However, both processes, and the subsequent refining, require huge amounts of energy - equivalent to up to 30 per cent of the energy contained in the extracted oil.

Shell and its partners are extracting about 150,000 barrels of oil a day but now want a five-fold expansion to 770,000 barrels. Suncor and Syncrude are each planning similar expansions to about 500,000 barrels a day.

This will require so much energy that the oil firms want to lay a pipeline across 1300km of forest to tap into gas reserves in the Mackenzie River basin in Canada's far north. There are also proposals to build a nuclear power station near the tar sands. Such plans are causing alarm among environmental groups such as Britain's WWF. It has set up an office in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, to campaign for improved monitoring and restraints on development.

"Tar sands are the worst kind of source for oil," said James Leaton, WWF's policy adviser on gas and oil. "Extracting oil takes huge amounts of energy and devastates the local environment by destroying the forest and polluting rivers, lakes and the air." Leaton and other environmentalists contrast Shell's operations in Canada with the firm's public relations, which portray it as the greenest of oil companies.

Tyler at Clean Break has a look at nuclear industry lobbyist Patrick Moore and his campaign to make the Atahabascan wasteland radioactive as a way of not wasting natural gas during the process of washing oil out of the sand. There is actually a slightly greenish alternative here - using geothermal energy to power the processing - but this is just a thin green sheen over an environmental calamity. From "Patrick Moore and the path to lost credibility":
Patrick Moore, the former Greenpeace member and co-founder, was quick to write a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star following a column I wrote in which I argued that more attention needs to be paid to the potential of geothermal heat and power in the oil sands, particularly before we head down a path that includes nuclear. Now, we all know Moore is a nuclear convert who spends most of his time promoting the technology as a solution to global warming. While I don't always agree with his point of view, I certainly respect his belief -- and the reasoning behind it -- that only widespread acceptance of nuclear, where no large-scale "clean" alternatives exist, can help us manage climate change. But by jumping so quickly to dismiss my column and the potential of geothermal, I question whether he truly is a nuclear gun for hire who attacks any suggestion of a reasonable alternative. ...

The thing is, you don't need unproven depths to tap heat in the oil sands. Those studying geothermal as an option are looking at depths of between 2 and 5 kilometres, which is quite common in the area. The reason greater depths are not needed is because geothermal in the context of oil sands production isn't necessarily for power generation, which requires high temperatures. It's the heat they need, and only between 80 C and 100 C. Mind you, if they wanted to they could drill deeper to build centralized geothermal power plants, and there again this is not unproven -- it's happening everywhere around the world and at an accelerated pace. And nobody knows better than the oil industry, which continues to drill wells at record depths as part of everyday oil exploration.

The fact is, oil sands companies are seriously considering geothermal, because they know how expensive nuclear can be and how long it can take to build it. MIT, in a recent study, concluded that geothermal facilities could be up and providing clean power much more quickly than nuclear. If the oil sands companies are taking a hard looking, who is Moore to suggest they simply abandon reason and go directly to nuclear?

All I argued in my column is that geothermal be part of the discussion before jumping blindfolded into nuclear. He seems to want to stifle that discussion.

This is where I think Moore has lost credibility. If he was a true environmentalist, he would be someone who is open to different options where alternatives make sense. By so quickly dismissing geothermal as something that should be part of the oil sands debate, even as the oil companies themselves explore the option, he exposes himself for what he appears to be: a nuclear pitchman riding on a fading reputation as an environmentalist.

Tyler also has a look at yet another Ontario solar power plant. If Canada and Germany can build swathes of these things, why can't we ?
I have a story in today's Toronto Star about plans to build another three large solar farms in Ontario, adding to the four 10-megawatt projects that were announced last month by California-based OptiSolar Inc.

OptiSolar Farms Canada, the local subsidiary, is building another two 10-megawatt farms in Petrolia, Ontario, home of North America's first commercial oil well. It's about half an hour away from Sarnia, where the first four farms were announced. This brings OptiSolar's announcements to 69 megawatts, and another 10-megawatt farm is planned for Sarnia and another at another location is being announced within the next month. OptiSolar hinted that total announced projects could reach 100 megawatts.

Meanwhile, SkyPower Corp. of Toronto and Balitmore-based SunEdison LLC announced the first of several solar farms planned for Ontario under their joint venture. A 9.12 megawatt farm is being built in Norfolk County in southwestern Ontario, and should be complete sometime in 2008. SkyPower has committed to building at least 50 megawatts of farms, possibly much more. ...

Today's Daily Reckoning has a section on China's "Empire of Dirt".
--What's going in the world of real numbers and real decisions? Well, China is desperately seeking for ways to relieve the inflationary pressure in its financial system. Interest rates were raised again, for the fourth time this year. And another important step was taken to get some of the hot money out of China's banking system (and stock market) and into real, higher-yielding tangible assets (assets that are NOT U.S. Treasury bonds or notes.)

--Specifically, China's newly formed state investment agency is going to "invest" US$3 billion in pirate equity outfit Blackstone. "The decision suggests China is testing the waters for a much bigger investment in private equity. It could open the floodgates to a tide of money flowing into the sector just as regulators are becoming concerned it may be overheating," says Martin Arnold in the Financial Times.

--China's forex reserves of US$1.2 trillion remind us of the red tide algal blooms we've seen on the Discovery Channel. In nature, the red tide is a "bloom" of algale in an estuary or coastal area that, for reasons that exceed our understanding of biology, kill off or make poisonous for human consumption other local organisms.

--In financial markets it's simpler. The red tide of Chinese forex reserves threatens to drown China's banking system unless it can be re-directed to other foreign assets. "They are really up against a wall, trying to find ways to release the pressure and make (better) use of their foreign exchange reserves," says Diana Choyleva, an economist at Lombard Street Research.

--China, while it gives $3 billion to Blackstone, has also committed $24.3 billion to African infrastructure. William Wallis of the FT calls this China's effort to buy an African 'empire."

--Maybe he's right. But China is not seeking an empire of prestige. It's seeking an empire of dirt, the kind of dirt that has metals and minerals to power China's economy for the next 100 years. China would rather own tangible assets that have an entire continent in thrall to its bankers (the way European and American banks have approached aid to Latin America and Africa.) Is China's strategy any more sensible?

----Meanwhile, what will the Blackstone group do with an extra three billion dollars? Will it find some beaten-down, overlooked investment that everyone else in the world has missed? Telstra? Qantas? Coles?

--The big problem for investors today is that the red tide is just one of several monetary tides, and they are all rising. Maybe it's global warming! Whatever it is, it makes it very difficult to bet against rising asset prices, and even more difficult to find absolute or even relative value in today's markets.

--The biggest cycle of all today may not be the commodity super cycle. Instead, the biggest cycle may be the monetary super cycle that's seen all central banks embrace the U.S. model that requires inflation. We are in the midst of a synchronized global credit bubble-the biggest one we've ever seen. It's the melt up we wrote about in March, only it's much higher and its melting much higher than we thought.

The petrodollar seems to be losing friends rapidly, with Kuwait untying from the sinking ship.
Kuwait unshackled its dinar from the tumbling U.S. dollar on Sunday and switched the exchange rate mechanism to a basket of currencies, throwing plans for currency union with other Gulf Arab oil producers into disarray.

Kuwait's central bank, which battled speculators for weeks to defend the peg, said the dollar's slide against other currencies had forced it to break ranks with fellow Gulf states to contain inflation from the rising cost of some imports.

The move stunned Gulf currency markets and volumes dried up. The impact would be clearer on Monday when international markets open, said Steve Brice, chief middle east economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Dubai.

The Green Geek has a look at a process for generating hydrogen using an aluminium alloy. I'm always dubious about some of these schemes given the enormous amount of energy embodied in aluminium...
Jerry Woodall, an engineer from Purdue University, has developed a method that uses an aluminum alloy to extract hydrogen from water on contact. This process eliminates the need to transport or store hydrogen gas, 2 things that have been major obstacles to achieving the much anticipated hydrogen economy.

Hydrogen is generated spontaneously when water is added to pellets of the alloy, which is a mixture of aluminum and gallium. Aluminum has been used for a long time in chemical production of hydrogen, but the addition of gallium makes this alloy far more effective as a catalyst. As aluminum oxidizes, a skin forms on it’s surface preventing further contact between the aluminum and the water. The gallium prevents this skin formation, allowing the reaction to continue until the aluminum has been used up. The aluminum has a strong attraction to the oxygen in the water, and when water is added to the pellets the oxygen is stripped out of the water molecules, leaving free hydrogen gas as a byproduct.

This technology is being looked at to allow the conversion of cars and trucks to hydrogen, but the prospects aren’t quite as good as a first glance might suggest. ...

After Gutenberg has some thoughts on agri-char.
Besides the romantic title that it goes by in the Lost Secret of El Dorado, terra preta de Indio, it also is known as bio-char or agri-char.

One reason for a growing awareness of this agriculture approach is the Syngas Spin, a byproduct of which is char. Thus, for the bio-energy industry, agri-char is a technology with a (Potentially) Huge Upside.
In 2100, if pyrolysis met the entire projected demand for renewable fuels, the process would sequester enough carbon (9.5 billion tons a year) to offset current fossil fuel emissions, which stand at 5.4 billion tons a year, and then some. “Even if only a third of the bioenergy in 2100 uses pyrolysis, we still would make a huge splash with this technology,” remarks Johannes Lehmann, a soil biogeochemist at Cornell University and one of the organizers of the agrichar conference.

There are other perks: Increasing production of bio-oil could decrease a country’s dependence on foreign oil. In the tropics, boosting soil productivity increases the number of growing seasons per year, which could help alleviate the pressure to deforest biodiversity hot spots. The new markets for agricultural crops, which would in effect become sources of fuel, could boost rural economies worldwide, just as the demand for ethanol has bolstered the price of corn.

As previously noted, the government of the Netherlands has commissioned a study on sustainable bio-energy. They want to know whether it would be possible to create trade in “green certificates”. The Dutch set stringent criteria for certification; one criterion was that biomass production should not come at the cost of important carbon reservoirs in the vegetation and the soil.

This is a potential downside to the diversion of agricultural waste or lignocellulosic crops to the production of energy. But, if it is beneficial to recyle the char that results from the waste to energy process back into the soil, then such sequestration might offset the lost of micronutrients from the natural breakdown of waste materials in the soil, in addition to providing a means for carbon sequestration.

This blog remains somewhat unconvinced since soil ecology is more complex than a graphic of a carbon cycle and wonders how soil chemists and farm agents assess agri-char. In information about the impact upon soil bio geo chemistry of bio-char, Johannes Lehmann at Cornell emphasizes “the extremely high affinity of nutrients to bio-char.” The Energy Bulleting recounts the efforts of an energy solutions provider based in Vancouver, British Columbia,
When Desmond Radlein heard about Richard Branson and Al Gore’s Virgin Earth Challenge, a contest in which the first person who can sequester one billion tons of carbon dioxide a year wins $25 million, he got out his pencil and began figuring whether or not his company was up to the task.

Radlein is on the board of directors at Dynamotive Energy Systems, …one of several companies pioneering the use of pyrolysis, a process in which biomass is burned at a high temperature in the absence of oxygen. The process yields both a charcoal by-product that can be used as a fertilizer, and bio-oil, which is a mix of oxygenated hydrocarbons that can be used to generate heat or electricity.

Because the charcoal by-product, or “agrichar,” does not readily break down, it could sequester for thousands of years nearly all the carbon it contains, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Along the way, it would boost agricultural productivity through its ability to retain nutrients and moisture.

“I developed this rough back-of-the-envelope calculation of what it would require if one were to [attempt the Virgin Earth Challenge] with the agrichar concept,” Radlein explains. “One would need about 7,000 plants each processing 500 tons of biomass per day, which is a large number, but it’s not outside the bounds of possibility.” Such facilities would produce four parts bio-oil to one part carbon sequestered, so it would rake in money as well as carbon.

Radlein is not alone in his belief in this technology-last week in Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia, the newly formed International Agrichar Initiative held its first ever conference, which included 135 attendees from every corner of the globe. According to Debbie Reed, an environmental policy expert who organized the conference, keynote speaker Mike Mason of the carbon offset company Climate Care urged attendees to unify in an effort to apply for the Virgin Earth Challenge. He also encouraged them to submit their method to the United Nations’s Clean Development Mechanism program, which is designed to transfer clean technology from the developed to the developing world.

Although no officials from the U.S. government attended the conference, there is a nascent stateside movement pushing for adoption of agrichar. “[Democratic Senator] Ken Salazar of Colorado is drafting a stand-alone bill on this, and he may also promote it as part of the Farm Bill,” notes Reed. The Farm Bill, whose terms are decided every year, determines what agricultural initiatives can be funded by the U.S. government. Inclusion in the Farm Bill would virtually guarantee subsidies for research and application of the agrichar process.

The New York Times reports that casualties amongst mercenaries in Iraq are soaring.
Casualties among private contractors in Iraq have soared to record levels this year, setting a pace that seems certain to turn 2007 into the bloodiest year yet for the civilians who work alongside the American military in the war zone, according to new government numbers.

At least 146 contract workers were killed in Iraq in the first three months of the year, by far the highest number for any quarter since the war began in March 2003, according to the Labor Department, which processes death and injury claims for those working as United States government contractors in Iraq.

That brings the total number of contractors killed in Iraq to at least 917, along with more than 12,000 wounded in battle or injured on the job, according to government figures and dozens of interviews.

The numbers, which have not been previously reported, disclose the extent to which contractors — Americans, Iraqis and workers from more than three dozen other countries — are largely hidden casualties of the war, and now are facing increased risks alongside American soldiers and marines as President Bush’s plan to increase troop levels in Baghdad takes hold.

As troops patrol more aggressively in and around the capital, both soldiers and the contractors who support them, often at small outposts, are at greater peril. The contractor deaths earlier this year, for example, came closer to the number of American military deaths during the same period — 244 — than during any other quarter since the war began, according to official figures.

Harpers notes that the only Republican presidential candidate who sounds at all sane is Ron Paul, who is leading all the online polls, even if the mainstream media want to pretend it isn't happening.
Listening to the GOP presidential debate on a drive across California on Tuesday night, I was stopped cold more than once by Rep. Ron Paul. My God, I thought, compared with the others, he sounds positively sane. He made coherent point after point. After the debate, it appears there was a net-polling consensus that he actually won it. On debating points, no doubt he did. But who is this man?

Today Andrew Sullivan takes a look at Ron Paul and the reaction from the Republican Amen media corner. Why are they scared to death of this man?
“They attack us because we’ve been over there,” he declared unblinkingly. “We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We’ve been in the Middle East [for years]. I think [Ronald] Reagan was right. We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics.

“Right now, we’re building an embassy in Iraq that is bigger than the Vatican. We’re building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting.”

The crowd in South Carolina started to applaud Paul’s derision of a distant war until they were cut off by the Fox News questioner, and then by Rudy Giuliani, who accused Paul of saying that the US deserved the September 11 attacks.

Of course, the transcript showed that Giuliani was wrong. The man who said that the U.S. deserved the September 11 attacks was named Jerry Falwell. And he died earlier that day. Rudy got them confused, apparently.

A British police chief is worried about the Orwellian situation the rapid spread of the surveillence state is having in the home of Orwell.
A senior police officer has said he fears the spread of CCTV cameras is leading to “an Orwellian situation”.

Deputy chief constable of Hampshire Ian Readhead said Britain could become a surveillance society with cameras on every street corner. He told the BBC’s Politics Show that CCTV was being used in small towns and villages where crime rates were low.

Mr Readhead also called for the retention of some DNA evidence and the use of speed cameras to be reviewed. His force area includes the small town of Stockbridge, where parish councillors have spent £10,000 installing CCTV.

Mr Readhead questioned whether the relatively low crime levels justified the expense and intrusion. “I’m really concerned about what happens to the product of these cameras, and what comes next?” he said. “If it’s in our villages, are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner? “And I really don’t think that’s the kind of country that I want to live in.”

There are up to 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people. The UK also has the world’s biggest DNA database, with 3.6 million DNA samples on file.

In other British news, the Cutty Sark has gone up in flames. I wonder if the CCTV cameras recorded what happened ? Hopefully they get it rebuilt soon - its one of the best features of Greenwich.
he Cutty Sark, thought to be the world's only surviving 19th century tea clipper and a prime relic of the golden age of sail, was engulfed by flames Monday, causing extensive damage to one of London's most popular tourist attractions.

The blaze, which began before dawn and took 40 firefighters several hours to extinguish, is expected to drastically increase the cost of a $50 million three-year restoration that began in 2006. The cause is under investigation.

The clipper -- a very fast multi-masted sailing ship used for transporting high value goods such as tea and wool -- was once regarded as the pinnacle of merchant sail vessel development.

Standing by the smoldering hull of the vessel, Chris Levett, chairman of Cutty Sark Enterprises, told CNN that although the ship's decks were "unsalvageable", he believed the vessel could be fully restored.

He said half of the timbers and all historic artifacts on board had been removed for the conservation project. "I do not think we can give a figure on how much this damage has cost," he told CNN. "We're in dire straits now."

And to close, here's the inimitable Kevin from Cryptogon, explaining the poisoned food from China issue as only he can in "Why the U.S. Doesn’t Stop Importing Tainted Food from China"...
Always low prices. Always.

At least a crock of shit would be useful. You can compost it and put it on your garden.

“Typical Americans” are nourished on increasing amounts of petroleum, empty calories and toxic slag from slave labor camps in China. I wouldn’t allow what “typical Americans” are eating everyday into my compost heap.

Society is now a zombie consumer death cult, with uncontrollable self destructive urges. Everything is being turned to poison and the goal of the zombies is to consume as much of that poison as possible before their carcasses simply give out. Oh yeah, they want to make more zombies in the process.

But is it time to get excited about the next election?

Someone sent me an email asking me which candidate I’d like to see win the next U.S. Presidential Election.

I’m not sure if the person was serious, just taking the piss or trying to insult my intelligence, but here was my response:
“Are you out of your f*@*^%$ mind? Have you been paying attention to ANYTHING I’ve been posting here for the LAST FIVE F&@&%$! YEARS!?

Run for your life.

If you get cornered by zombies, aim for their heads.


Don’t get taken in by the zombie mind trick which tempts you to engage in worthless political debates. If I catch myself reading or viewing corporate propaganda and starting to think in terms of a political solution to this shit we’re in, this mantra helps me get through it:
You are a zombie. You are undead. I will not join you.

It’s weird, but it works well. Try it, the next time you’re thinking about mainstream politics in the U.S.

I don’t know what you’re going to be eating in the meantime, but if you keep the zombie scripts out of your mind, eventually you’ll figure out how to grow your own food. ...


"The Only Way To Change Australia Is To Change The USA"

For Australia's sake I hope that's not the case.

I don't understand why Australia isn't into solar in a big way. Certainly there is sun in abundance down there, and it doesn't require water to keep it cool.

Unfortunately it is so.

The secret as to why we aren't into solar in a big way is known as "the greenhouse mafia".

If thats the case read on:

Electricity companies in the US are asking the Government to change the rules of the loan guarantees being offered so that 100% of the loan is covered, instead of 90%, as currently proposed. The electricity companies are being advised by finance experts that the 90% loan scheme won't work well, as it would create "two tier" risk in any finance package to fund the construction of a new nuclear power plant.

The loan guarantees are meant to protect companies from the possibility that they start to build a new nuclear power plant and then have a new government policy on nuclear power emerge that might jeopardise the success of that new build project.

click here for the full story

Sounds like a good reason for not investing in nuclear power, period.

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