Saturday, June 11, 2005

African Aid

Just when I thought this administration couldn't sink any lower, they go and prove me a hopeless Pollyanna. Jeanne d'Arc at Tom Tomorrow has posted a horror story about when aid doesn't help and how Bush&co have managed to use the old shell game to line their own pockets. Be sure to follow the links, because the shit just gets deeper, everywhere you look.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Let's Talk Stem Cell Research

I love the fact that this blog has been visited recently by several people who hold opposing views to the ones most often posted on this site. As I have said, my personal signature states, "When all men think alike, no one thinks very much." It does us good to hear from those with differing views, forcing us out of our tunnel-vision comfort zone and into a place for more contemplative thought. Here's to a view from a FAR (sorry, couldn't help myself), and JJ Jones as well.

Before reading FAR's comment about adult stem cell research, I had not known very much about the differences between the two main branches of study on the subject. To put it simply, embryonic stem cells are mostly obtained from blastocysts, frozen for use in invitro-fertilization. Adult stem cells are obtained from live donors, including placenta, umbilical cord and organ tissue. Currently only private companies can conduct embryonic research; government-funded labs conduct research on adult stem cells. The question is, can adult stem cells achieve the medical break-throughs expected from embryonic ones? Is enough research being done to answer question one?

First, let me say in all candor, I am not smart enough to read the link FAR provided in his comments to my original post, Idiotic Stem Cell Moment ( I can't get the link to copy, look it up yourselves). The author loses me after the first page. Secondly, after exhaustive research, I have come to a few conclusions of my own (huge surprise). The most obvious answer is, there is not a lot of agreement on the matter. The Christian right works very hard to provide documented proof that adult stem cells are the ones most viable, proven effective and do not destroy life in obtaining them. The scientific community doubts adult stem cells will live up to the promise of embryonic ones, which have also had their share of success stories. The best information seems to come from, which provides a fairly balanced view of the matter.

Something that jumps out at me is from the American Heart Association. Read down the page to the decision of their board on why the AMA will not conduct embryonic stem cell research:

to await the release of final NIH Guidelines for federal funding of stem cell research.

seek input from Association leadership and Council members.

consider the impact of funding embryonic stem cell research on volunteer and staff retention.

weigh the potential adverse financial impact which would restrict the ability to fund other lifesaving research and programs.

It seems to me they fear a loss of funding if they choose to conduct such research independently, even if they do not use federal funds for that purpose. They also worry about retention of staff, even though it seems such research could be voluntary, from those who do not oppose the use of blastocyst cells. My conclusion from this is that some or even many private organizations who receive any government funding are doing only adult stem cell research. Also, all fully government-funded institutions are doing only adult stem cell research. So the only loser in this equation is embryonic stem cell research, which must rely on totally private funding. QED the answer to question number two is yes, there seems to be plenty of research on adult stem cells.

To answer question number one, there needs to be more research on embryonic stem cells. For the time being, this will be done overseas, where US controls and caution may not be used. So where is the greater good?


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

23 psalm, GOP style

This comes from Jesus' General, comments section, written by democommie

23rd Psalm:

The Bush is my Sheperd,
I shall not want to know the truth.
He maketh me to swallow his lies.
He leadeth me into deep shit.
He selleth his soul and mine.
He leadeth me to the dead-end of self-righteousness
for his ego's sake.

Yea, though CNN walks me through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for we are clueless.
The Karl and thy Staff comfort me.
Thou preparest a fable before and makes me many enemies.
Thou annointest my dead with oil,
Halliburton's cup cost-runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall elude me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of cards until it tumbles down.

As a bonus to this stolen post, here is a link to another one. Read what Driftglass has to say about the conservative mindset.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Tom DeLay’s Nightmare

to the tune of Fins by Jimmy Buffett,
special request of bhblogger,
my one and only fan

He came from Sugarland
After years of swatting bugs.
Looking for some soft money
Hoped to cover it with rugs.

Now he lives full time in Georgetown
And he’s buddies with Jack Abramoff.
They hang out together in Russia,
England, and Scotland playing golf.

Can’t you feel ‘em circling, Tommyboy
Can’t you feel ‘em schooling around.
You got Dems to the Left, no friends on the Right
And you’re the biggest shit in town.
You ho’
You ho’
You got Dems on the Left, no friends on the Right
And your ass is going down!

Saving up a lot of PAC money
Wants to control the vote.
Maybe hijack the land with his re-districting plan
Somewhere down Austin, Texas way.

But the money’s dried up this season
As his misdeeds became known.
Violations climb high as the months go by
He’s getting hate-mail by the ton.

Can’t you feel ‘em circling, Tommy
Can’t you feel ‘em schooling around.
You got Dems to the Left, no friends on the Right
And you’re the biggest prick in town.

Sailed off to the Marianas
On a three day honeymoon.
Looking for some greasy pockets
Hoped to get paid-off soon.

But now he feels like a pariah
Cuz the DA’s close at hand.
Just behind the cheat are some legal briefs
And no one will give him a hand.

Can’t you feel ‘em circling Tommyboy
Can’t you see ‘em schooling around.
You got Dems on the Left, no friends on the Right
And you’re the biggest dick in town.
You got Dems to the Left, no friends on the right
And you’re ass is going down!


Monday, June 06, 2005

Boone Pickens says slim pickins' for our energy future.

For those of you who haven't heard of T. Boone Pickens, he completely turned the oil industry upside down in the early to mid-80's when he was a corporate raider and went after both Gulf Oil (later bought by Chevron) and Phillips Oil (later bought by Conoco) at the beginning of the leveraged buyout binge. He recognized that these companies were grossly undervalued by Wall Street relative to the amount of oil reserves they held in the ground. He made a fortune recognizing something that no one else saw. Here is what he has to say about the current state of the supply of energy in the world.

Legendary oil magnate calls it, peak oil is here

Boone Pickens Warns of Petroleum Production PeakMay 04, 2005 PALM SPRINGS, CA. -
May 3, 2005.
By EV World

Legendary Oklahoma energy magnate, T. Boone Pickens will be 77 years old this month, and maybe because of that, he feels free to speak what's on his mind; and he did to an audience of alternative fuel advocates in Palm Springs today. Addressing the 11th National Clean Cities conference, hosted by the former mayor of Palm Springs and introduced by former U.S. Energy Secretary John Herrington (1984-1989), Boone, as his friends refer to him, was candid in his views of wind energy, nuclear power, natural gas, and in particular petroleum. While he acknowledges wind power is cheap today, he, as well as former-Secretary Herrington, questioned the contribution it can make to the nation's future energy needs. He finds nuclear power attractive and believes natural gas should be used to power our transportation fleets rather than to generate electricity. In general, he was very upbeat about the prospects for alternative transportation fuels. But on the future of petroleum, he was less sanguine.

"Let me tell you some facts the way I see it," he began. "Global oil (production) is 84 million barrels (a day). I don't believe you can get it any more than 84 million barrels. I don't care what (Saudi Crown Prince) Abdullah, (Russian Premier Vladimir) Putin or anybody else says about oil reserves or production. I think they are on decline in the biggest oil fields in the world today and I know what's it like once you turn the corner and start declining, it's a tread mill that you just can't keep up with. "So, when you start adding the reserves in these countries, you're not even replacing what you're taking out. "Let me take you to another situation quickly. 84 million barrels a day times 365 days is 30 billion barrels of oil a year that we're depleting. All of the world's (oil) industry doesn't even come close to replacing 30 billion barrels of oil. We don't spend enough money to even give ourselves a chance to replace 30 billion barrels. It may be because the prospects are not there. I rather imagine that's what the answer is to that. "So, if you accept that 84 million barrels a day is all the world can (produce), and then look at refining capacity, I think it's just a coincidence that refining capacity... world capacity... is 84 million barrels a day. So, we're in balance: 84, 84.

"Now you see the projections for the fourth quarter of '05, I mean like tomorrow; it is 86 to 87 million barrels of oil a day required. China (and) India (are) growing fast. Our economy is going down a little bit, but it doesn't seem to be shutting off demand for gasoline, oil, natural gas, whatever. But around the world... just assume that the (U.S.) economy is slowing, but China is still ramped up; it is still 86, 87 million for the fourth quarter. "Now we've got some pretty good inventory, those will be... I think.. they'll be gone in the third quarter. I can't wait to see how this is all going to play out. "Don't let the day-to-day NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) fool you, because it can turn and go the other direction. I may be wrong. Some of the experts say we'll be down to $35 oil by the end of the year. I think it'll be $60 oil by the end of the year. You're going to see $3 gasoline twelve months from today, or some time during that period. I know you've already experienced it in California. I am not that much out of it... But in the Midwest you've probably got $2.20 today. That's the way I see it unfolding".

Pickens went to explain that if he were Energy "Czar", he'd immediately begin to phase out the use of natural gas in electric power generation and encourage the construction of more coal-fired and nuclear power plants. He'd use the natural gas to power transportation instead. Speaking of the various alternative fuels, he stated, "I don't think any of them can miss. I think some will be further out than others. Hydrogen, I think, is going to take a long time".

Speaking before an audience with vested interests in ethanol, biodiesel, propane and compressed natural gas as transportation fuels, he added that he believes all the alternatives will work. "We're going to have to use shale oil the western slope of the Rockies. That's going to happen. The technology is just about here", he noted, adding that he blames both Republican and Democratic administrations for not engaging in long term planning to meet the nation's future energy needs.

"It's all getting very, very tight. We're just about there. The sixty percent we import now (of petroleum), is about all we can get from the countries that export". He cited the example of Venezuela where its "screwball" leader, Hugo Chavez has pledged to not sell any additional oil to the United States.

"The majors, they talk about plenty of oil and that they can produce more, but if you look at ExxonMobile, ChevronTexaco, BP (British Petroleum), all the production (is) going down every year. They don't replace and they don't add to production, but they say there's plenty of oil around."Now why would they say that?

One of the chief economists with one of the major oil companies... I was at a conference where he was... we were talking and I asked, why do they say that? And he said, can you imagine what would happen if one of these major oil company's CEO's got up and made a speech and he said, 'We're running out of oil'? I said there'd be panic and he said, 'That's right. They're not going to make the statement. They're going to say there's plenty of oil around'".

"I know that sounds rather simple, but that's the best answer I've had... why they keep saying that there's plenty of oil around. I can't tell you positive, but I am just so sure that we have peaked and from here on the demand side that we are going to have a hard time making the trip on fuel. I know demand will come down with price. That will happen".

He answered several audience questions and predicted that if the summer is hot in the Southeast that natural gas prices will go to $10. "Natural gas is in decline", he stated, concluding that eventually the market will sort out the winners and losers".

After his remarks, EV World asked Mr. Pickens if he agrees with Houston-based investment banker Matthew Simmons that Saudi Arabia's oil fields may be on the verge of decline and he replied that he did agree him. If Pickens and Simmons are correct, then Crown Prince Abdullah's promises to raise production over the next ten years to 15 million barrels a day may be just wishful thinking, in which case, Saudi Arabia's role as swing producer and oil price stabilizer may be a thing of the past. Oil prices will begin to experience unprecedented volatility, which is likely to place serious stresses on a world largely unprepared for the end of cheap fossil fuels. The road from here on will be a bumpy one.

For those of you who have money I recommend the following stocks to protect your assets from this eventuality.