Saturday, September 3, 2011

Political Digest for September 3, 2011

Posts may be limited over the long weekend. My bride of 19 years doesn’t think working on the blog is “romantic” for our anniversary. Go figure. If I can get computer time, I’ll try to check to see if Blogspot has pulled it for a third week, and/or fails to post this post I’ll leave for Saturday. ~Bob.

E-Book Available?
A comment was posted on the blog asking if a Kindle version of The Coming Collapse of the American Republic was available. E-Books are available at Smash Words:
They tell me they have all formats. has the Nook e-version.

Old Jarhead Blog Removed?
Twice in the last two weeks, both times on Saturdays, when readers logged on to my blog at, they got a "blog removed" message with no explanation. Both times I logged on to Blogspot and posted a query and the blog returned in a few hours. They say they have a system for auto removing Spam blogs, but mine has zero advertising, except my books, I kill Spam posts, and it has been up since 2008. I don't know if it is a blogspot glitch, like the way they sometimes change scheduled posts to drafts, or an attack. It is costing me readers--weekly page views dropped in that time from over 4k to about 3k. If you get that message, please try again later.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Chet Nagle, author of The Woolsorter’s Plague, interviewed on PJTV.
About the danger of a biowar attack. ~Bob.

APNewsBreak: Nigeria government freed bomb suspect
Note to Obama and the left. Appeasement kills innocent people. Get it yet? ~Bob. Excerpt: Nigeria detained and released several radical Muslims suspected of being terrorists in 2007 — including a man who officials now say helped organize last week's deadly car bombing at the United Nations headquarters in the nation's capital, a high-ranking official told The Associated Press. The men arrested four years ago had allegedly been caught with explosives. Their rapid release from detention was apparently aimed at placating Muslim groups, but it has now come back to haunt security officials who fear a growing wave of al-Qaida-linked terror attacks in Nigeria, a main supplier of oil to the United States.

Employers added no net jobs in August, while unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.1 pct.
Excerpt: Employers stopped adding jobs in August, an alarming setback for an economy that has struggled to grow and might be at risk of another recession. The government also reported that the unemployment rate remained at 9.1 percent. It was the weakest jobs report since September 2010. Stocks tumbled on the news. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 245 points soon after trading began. (Obama will offer more taxes, more spending and bigger government. Digging the hole deeper is all he knows. ~Bob. This is the first jobs report since 1945 that is carbon neutral. --Jonah Goldberg.)

Zero New Jobs in America
Excerpt: President Obama enters this Labor Day weekend with a serious problem on his hands. For all intents and purposes, the economy appears to be stuck in neutral, with news out today that the U.S. economy created a grand total of zero jobs in August. This followed two months of near zero growth. Not surprisingly then, the unemployment rate in August remained at 9.1 percent, virtually unchanged since April. In fact, it was completely unchanged, and for the first time since 1945, no new jobs were created—Zero. America now has the weakest labor market in a generation, and the American people know it. In a new CNN/ORC poll released this week, 65 percent of Americans say they disapprove of how President Obama is handling the economy. And even the White House has downgraded its expectations for the United States' economic future, as The Hill reports:

New White House analysis: Unemployment should stay above 9% all next year
Excerpt: Remember, the conventional wisdom six months ago was that eight percent is the magic number on unemployment. If the rate starts trending downward and dips below that, then O’s in good shape for reelection; if not, not. Fast forward six months and the best-case scenario is now … 8.3 percent. I hate looking at this issue through the lens of horse-race politics for the same reason I hate looking at counterterrorism that way, because it reduces human suffering to a crude electoral calculation. But reality is what it is. I don’t know how he’s going to explain this to voters next summer, especially when he’s on record as saying he’d deserve only one term if he didn’t have the economy back on track in three years. Maybe the Super Committee will do good work on tax reform and that’ll goose consumer spending; maybe O’s jobs plan will surprise us and have a positive effect; or maybe we’ll continue to stagger along economically but his strategy of complaining about congressional Republicans at every opportunity will carry him to victory. If this is any indicator, though, even Democrats are heading for the lifeboats. Here’s Carney, sans life vest, trying to spin today’s data. Click the image to watch.

CBC: We're Focused on Jobs, not Allen West
Excerpt: Florida Republican Rep. Allen West will not be receiving a response to his letter challenging the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Emanuel Cleaver to condemn recent attacks from its members on the tea party any time soon. CBC spokeswoman Stephanie Young told The Daily Caller Thursday morning the CBC is likely not to respond to West in the coming weeks due to its hectic schedule and the CBC’s current focus on jobs.

White House shelves smog rule in huge defeat for green groups
re-election trumps big Green. ~Bob. Excerpt: The White House announced Friday that it is shelving a major planned EPA regulation that would have tightened smog standards, dealing a huge blow to environmentalists that had pushed the Obama administration to resist industry pressure to abandon the regulation. President Obama announced that the rule is being shelved in a statement that says the White House is wary of imposing regulatory burdens during the economic recovery.

Did Stimulus Dollars Hire the Unemployed?
Excerpt: Hiring isn’t the same as net job creation. In our survey, just 42.1 percent of the workers hired at ARRA-receiving organizations after January 31, 2009, were unemployed at the time they were hired (Appendix C). More were hired directly from other organizations (47.3 percent of post-ARRA workers), while a handful came from school (6.5%) or from outside the labor force (4.1%)(Figure 2). Thus, there was an almost even split between “job creating” and “job switching.” This suggests just how hard it is for Keynesian job creation to work in a modern, expertise-based economy: even in a weak economy, organizations hired the employed about as often as the unemployed.

Shelby Steele: Obama and the Burden of Exceptionalism
Excerpt: As a president, Barack Obama has been a force for mediocrity. He has banked more on the hopeless interventions of government than on the exceptionalism of the people. His greatest weakness as a president is a limp confidence in his countrymen. He is afraid to ask difficult things of them. Like me, he is black, and it was the government that in part saved us from the ignorances of the people. So the concept of the exceptionalism—the genius for freedom—of the American people may still be a stretch for him. But in fact he was elected to make that stretch. It should be held against him that he has failed to do so.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahns: French Lowlifes in High Society
Excerpt: It’s been very sunny and hot, with the bluest of blue skies above and the greenest of green mountains around me. It does not get any better than this. The farmers have cut their grass and packed it for the winter’s feed, soon the cows will be coming down from the hills, and the Swiss franc will continue going through the roof. Life is now so expensive in Switzerland, even the rich are starting to complain. Sixty greenbacks for a grilled cheese in a top hotel’s terrace is a bit steep unless one has access to the Gaddafi sovereign wealth fund, which I am sure some Swiss bankers do. Still, I know worse places to be: the Hamptons during Labor Day weekend; in Tripoli before the mongrel dog and his syphilitic children cut and ran to Algeria; and if one’s really unlucky, at the Carlton Hotel terrace in Cannes, watching rich Russian slobs guzzling warm champagne in the afternoon sun.

Maxine Waters: ‘Gangster’ Banks Must Modify Loans Or ‘We’re Gonna Tax Them Out of Existence’
Excerpt: While speaking at a Los Angeles Town Hall event recently, Rep. Maxine Waters introduced an interesting idea when it comes to banks and loan modification. According to her, it’s up to the federal government to make sure people can afford their mortgages. So much so that it’s time the president “bring the gangsters in, put them around the table, and let them know that if they don’t come up with loan modifications and keep people in their homes, that they’ve worked so hard for, we’re gonna tax them out of business.”

The Shocking Truth About Electric Cars
Excerpt: The fantasy that electric cars are right around the corner doesn’t survive even the most cursory reality check. As Dennis DesRosiers, a leading auto consultant, points out, consumers simply won’t pay a $20,000 premium for a vehicle that doesn’t go very far, isn’t very convenient, and runs out of juice as soon as you turn on the air conditioner.

CIA shifts focus to killing targets
In 1998, 3 years before 9/11, I published a column entitled, “The war against global terrorism will be long, slow and cruel.” In it I said: “A man with a wild look in his eye, a pipeline to his god, and a weapon in his hand has ever been a danger. But the weapons now are explosives powerful enough to destroy buildings, snuffing out hundreds of lives. … we must increase our intelligence capabilities. The CIA must have the human assets—spies and assassins—to combat this plague for us. It will be war in the shadows, nasty and brutal.” The more of these mutts the CIA kills, the safer we will all be. Unfortunately, newspapers that publish operational details like this will always be ready to assist those who would destroy freedom and our Republic. ~Bob. Excerpt: Behind a nondescript door at CIA headquarters, the agency has assembled a new counterterrorism unit whose job is to find al-Qaeda targets in Yemen. A corresponding commotion has been underway in the Arabian Peninsula, where construction workers have been laying out a secret new runway for CIA drones. When the missiles start falling, it will mark another expansion of the paramilitary mission of the CIA. In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the agency has undergone a fundamental transformation. Although the CIA continues to gather intelligence and furnish analysis on a vast array of subjects, its focus and resources are increasingly centered on the cold counterterrorism objective of finding targets to capture or kill.

GOP poll shows tie in race to replace Weiner
Hard to believe in deep blue NY. ~Bob. Excerpt: A GOP poll commissioned for Republican businessman Bob Turner has him tied with New York state Assemblyman David Weprin (D) at 42 percent each with 12 days until the special election to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). This is not the first poll to show the race close: A Siena Research Institute poll conducted in early August had Weprin leading by a narrow 6-point margin.

Sky's the limit: Amputee earns title of 'Sergeant Airborne'
Excerpt: Like thousands before him, Sgt. Joel Dulashanti donned an Airborne instructor black hat for the first time Aug. 22, signifying his completion of a detailed certification process with 1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Unlike those before him, he met the standard with a prosthetic leg, a partial knee replacement and the aftermath of several internal injuries received during an ambush in Afghanistan. With his wounds, he could have taken a medical discharge from the Army, but the paratrooper chose to stay in -- and remain Airborne all the way.

No Evidence Global Warming Is Making Hurricanes Worse
Excerpt: Hurricane Irene has prompted the usual rhetoric from the usual suspects about global warming making these storms worse. Too bad there is no evidence for this whatsoever on a global scale, says Patrick J. Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute. Ryan Maue, at Florida State University, tracks global tropical cyclone energy back to 1970, which is the time at which adequate data on hurricane winds became available. His "Accumulated Cyclone Energy" index peaked in the mid-1990s and in recent years has been at or near the lowest point ever recorded. Indeed, his most recent refereed paper, in press at Geophysical Research Letters, is called "Recent Historically Low Global Tropical Cyclone Activity." However, there is an interesting trend in Atlantic hurricane activity. The Department of Commerce's National Hurricane Center (NHC) is naming tropical storms that they clearly would have ignored in previous years. At the time of this writing, we have had 10; Michaels doubts that seven of these would have made the grade years ago. In fact NHC's Chris Landsea agrees that NHC is naming systems that they would have previously ignored or missed. A recent paper in Journal of Geophysical Research, by Princeton's Gabriele Villarini, noted the contamination of the Atlantic hurricane data by what he called "shorties." Why NHC is doing this, and why they kept Hurricane Irene's "category" (one through five) high despite acknowledging that hurricane hunter aircraft were having trouble finding enough wind, has more to do with risk aversion than any putative conspiracy to toe the politically correct line on global warming. The result is that ships at sea are "warned" of brisk winds and high seas that might have previously surprised them, and that politicians and emergency management officials can justify massive evacuation orders. This used to be known as covering one's posterior. Now NHC sometimes calls it "the course of least regret.” It is also a dangerous practice. People who endure the endless torture of a hurricane evacuation from barrier islands like the North Carolina Outer Banks from storms that cause little damage may be reluctant to leave when the next -- big and real -- one shows up, says Michaels.

Editorial: How Australia got its triple-A credit rating back
Excerpt: This spring, Australia's government submitted a budget that included something unheard of among major industrialized nations —a projected surplus next year. The rosy fiscal outlook came as the global economy struggles to emerge from recession, and just two-and-a-half years after the country adopted a costly stimulus measure much like the one passed in the United States. … The story of how Australia got its fiscal groove back explains why it has fared so much better in recent years than other major industrialized nations. In 1986, it had been running deficits for decades. Many of its industries were heavily regulated. And the same natural resources companies that are booming now were in the doldrums. Paul Keating, a member of Parliament who would become prime minister, described Australia as "a banana republic." The downgrades came as a shock and had a transformative impact on the entire political landscape. The government immediately began offering much more austere budgets, notwithstanding the fact that it was controlled by the left-of-center Australian Labor Party. The country later adopted a measure called the Charter of Budget Honesty, which requires government leaders to go before Parliament to explain what went wrong if their budget projections fall short. The law has no automatic trigger mechanism to force cuts if goals are not met. But the potential for a public shaming has been enough to keep government leaders from over-promising. Australia has shifted most current workers out of a state-run pension plan like Social Security and into a compulsory 401(k)-type savings plan.

Turkey cuts Israel ties over flotilla raid
Excerpt: Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and said Friday it is cutting military ties with Jerusalem over last year's raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine people. Turkey's move came before the anticipated publication Friday of a U.N. report on violence aboard a Gaza-bound protest flotilla. The fatalities included eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish-American activist. The New York Times published what it said were excerpts from the report, which said Israel's blockade of Gaza is a "legitimate security measure." But the report also said Israel's use of force against the flotilla was "excessive and unreasonable," according to the newspaper. An Israeli official said the report showed Israel's actions were in keeping with international law. The official said Israel hoped the two countries could now "return to the cooperation that was a cornerstone of regional stability." He spoke on condition of anonymity because the report had yet to be officially released. He said Israel expected it to be made public by the U.N. later Friday.

Rebels Release 600 Al-Qaeda Terrorists

Justice nominee keeps names of 11 clients secret
Excerpt: Michael E. Horowitz, President Obama's nominee as the Justice Department's top watchdog, has earned more than $4 million since last year as an attorney representing the likes of Pfizer Inc., Dow Chemical Co. and Cablevision Systems Corp. But he is keeping the identities of nearly a dozen other clients secret on newly filed ethics forms. Federal ethics rules require nominees to disclose clients and customers so ethics officials and the public can vet potential conflicts of interest. But because of a narrow exception to the rules, Mr. Horowitz is withholding about half of his client list, meaning he essentially will have to police himself on any potential conflicts. The secrecy is permitted thanks to an exception that allows attorney-client confidentiality to trump government disclosure mandates in limited circumstances, such as when a client has been involved in secret proceedings.

The White House mess
Excerpt: We will little note nor long remember Wednesday’s breathless kerfuffle, with the White House deciding to schedule a speech in front of a joint session of Congress without actually asking Congress first -- and planning for it during a long-planned Republican debate. The White House spin doctors told some fibs, realized they looked petty and unseemly, then backed off and moved it a day. This won’t even rise to the level of a Jeopardy question in a year’s time. But supporters of President Obama outside the White House have every reason to be terrified by what happened on Wednesday -- and I choose the word “terrified” carefully. For the incident suggests that the White House’s sense of how things work has grown dangerously distorted. And if this White House is broken, it’s not good for anyone. A successful presidency tends to run like a well-oiled machine. The Reagan White House was a famously fractious place; its aides did great damage fighting and leaking against each other. But the work product -- the White House’s political communication and interaction with Capitol Hill, with the rest of the executive branch and with the public -- was technically proficient and highly professional.

Every Single One: The Politicized Hiring of Eric Holder’s Disability Rights Section
Ninth in this series, links to the previous articles are included in the header. RGP. Excerpt: Today’s installment of our series focuses on the Disability Rights Section, whose primary responsibility is to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The jurisdictional reach of the Section is vast; it monitors not only businesses but non-profits, local and state government, and even the practices of the federal government itself. The Section’s own website boasts that its work “affect[s] six million businesses and non-profit agencies, 80,000 units of state and local government, 49 million people with disabilities, and over 100 Federal agencies and commissions in the Executive Branch.” The ADA is a signature achievement, and there is no doubt that it has helped to positively transform the lives of millions of Americans. I know, as I run a workshop each month for the mentally handicapped at a non-profit center outside Washington, D.C. The obligation of private sector employers and public sector municipalities to accommodate the needs of the disabled, however, must be balanced against what is financially reasonable and pragmatically appropriate. That need for balance is why an influx of partisan advocates can result in setbacks for an entire society. The transformation within the Disability Rights Section explains why we see patently ridiculous enforcement dictates, such as threatening several prestigious universities with legal action because they took part in an experimental program to allow students to use the Amazon Kindle for textbooks.

Internment and Terror for Black Libyans
Racial profiling, anyone? Thank you, BO. ~Bob. Excerpt: Chaotic conditions in post-Gaddafi Libya have led to a breakdown in security that threatens hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan black African migrant workers. Reports from Tripoli indicate that the rebels who took control of the city last week have been rounding up people described as “mercenaries,” but who appear to be innocent residents caught up in a racial dragnet, with the soldiers and their neighborhood council adjuncts arresting and detaining almost all males with a black face. There is no firm number of blacks being held in Tripoli, but one rebel commander said that about 5,000 prisoners were being detained in several locations around the city. Human rights groups believe the number is much higher and have raised the alarm about the conditions in which prisoners are being held, as well as concern over the safety of all blacks in Libya. The African Union has withheld recognition of the National Transitional Council, taking them to task for what they view as a racist detention policy. And the NTC has rejected a UN offer of peacekeeping troops to “monitor” the situation.

Africa’s Shameful Secret
All cultures are equally valid, including those that enslave children. ~Bob. Excerpt: It is a story the left hates to see and loves to ignore. While leftists and other “humanitarians” in the United States and Europe are in a perpetual state of moral outrage concerning Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians, the savagery of modern-day Arab enslavement of black Africans elicits almost no reaction. The most recent case highlighting this leftist hypocrisy concerns four anti-slavery activists in Mauritania, who were sentenced last week to six months in jail for protesting the enslavement of a ten-year-old girl earlier in August in Nouakchott, the country’s capital. According to a report by Amnesty International, the convicted men belong to the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania (IRA), an anti-slavery NGO. Others who took part in the protest said they were beaten by police and imprisoned but let go after a few days.

Fear of ‘Prejudiced’ Label May Have Silenced Whistleblowers About Ft. Hood Shooter
Better others dead than I be called Islamophobic! ~Bob. Excerpt: Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said that fear of being labeled “prejudiced” may have prevented whistleblowers from notifying authorities about the violent evolution of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan before he launched his deadly terrorist attack on Fort Hood in 2009, in which 13 people were killed and 30 wounded.

Bachmann Changes Strategy as Perry Surges in Polls
Excerpt: Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s rocket-like ascent in the polls has left the rest of the GOP field gasping for political oxygen, with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann the latest to alter her campaign strategy accordingly. On Thursday, Bachmann's super-PAC launched the first primary ad attacking a fellow Republican -- Perry. The ad, which technically isn't controlled by the Bachmann campaign, stated that Perry "doubled spending in a decade" in Texas and is borrowing money for deficit spending. It's a direct attack on Perry's strongest flank -- his popularity with fiscally minded tea party conservatives. The Perry campaign, in rapid-response style, countered the ad in a press release, claiming that both of the ads' assertions on Perry's record are false. “Gov. Perry is a proven fiscal conservative, having cut taxes, signed six balanced budgets, and led Texas to become America’s top job-creating state,” Ray Sullivan,’s communications director, said in the release. “Congresswoman Bachmann’s front-group ad is patently and provably false. Unlike Washington, the Texas budget is balanced, does not run deficits and limits spending, even as Texas added jobs and population in big numbers.” (This could backfire on Bachmann. Obama's popularity suggests Americans WANT presidents to spend more and more money that we don't have. That would favor Perry. --Don Hank)

Missouri: Publisher calls FBI over Muslim rage at truthful 9/11 coloring book
Excerpt: Hamas-linked CAIR and allied groups are enraged, and it looks likely that Really Big Coloring Books is receiving threats, because of a coloring book that dares to portray the Islamic jihadists who attacked us on 9/11 as...Islamic jihadists. Of course, this is the one truth that Hamas-linked CAIR and its allies and useful idiots like the Center for American Progress would most like to obfuscate, so as to more easily advance their narrative that Muslims are victims and the problem is really "Islamophobia." But Wayne Bell is just telling the truth: “Every time we mention one of the hijackers we call them what they are. And that’s what parents wanted. Radical, Islamic, Muslim Extremists. And every time we mention one of the hijackers like the three guys that drove the plane into the Pentagon, there’s nothing else you can call them. I mean, what do think, they’re having a bad hair day?” Show your gratitude for Really Big Coloring Books' truth-telling: order the We Shall Never Forget coloring book here.

CBO: Cost Per Job Between $196,750 and $562,000
Excerpt: One of the first moves of the Obama administration was a $787 billion government stimulus in early 2009 to prop up an ailing economy. Many conservatives these days are focused on reining in government spending -- and this undoubtedly will be a talking point in the days to come as GOP candidates and the president hunker down for Election Day 2012. Was the stimulus just one more Washington boondoggle -- a handout to special interests that wasted taxpayer money when we already are up to our eyeballs in debt? Or was it a crucial intervention in a time of great need that helped prevent a recession from turning into a depression or worse? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has just come out with its report on the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (referred to in the document as ARRA in typical beltway affection for acronyms and jargon). And its findings on the real impact of the stimulus package are worth noting:

All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife. –Daniel Boone

D.C. Government Claims Nonprofit Used Grant Money to Open Strip Club
Excerpt: The D.C. government is suing a non-profit group to get back nearly $330,000 in grant money given for a job-training facility that was instead allegedly used to build a strip club. The suit claims the director of "Miracle Hands" improperly billed the city for work that was never done. It also claims that Director Cornell Jones used the money to open the Stadium club venue. The lawsuit contends the money was supposed to be used to build a job-training facility for people with HIV/AIDS. The city expected the facility -- to be constructed in an old warehouse -- to open in 2007. Instead, the civil complaint charges that Miracle Hands changed the so-called site of its job-training facility from one building to another, it continued to submit invoices for renovation work at the original location. The establishment at that location secured a nightclub liquor license in August 2006. The Stadium Club opened in 2007 in the spot. After that, Miracle Hands began billing the district for renovations at the second location, the suit alleges. The office of the attorney general "will continue to be relentless in our efforts to recover government funds from those who have unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of the District of Columbia," D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan said in a statement. (Some years ago, the Small Business Administration guaranteed a loan to open a business called “The Body Shop.” Many were unhappy to discover it was a strip club. It might even have been in D. C.  That one, however, didn’t involve fraud, it was simply very vague in its descriptions of the services to be performed, and even paid the loan off in a timely manner. Of course, that was an evil “for profit” business. Ron P.)

North Dakota's Economic "Miracle"-It's Not Oil
Excerpt: North Dakota is the only state to be in continuous budget surplus since the banking crisis of 2008. Its balance sheet is so strong that it recently reduced individual income taxes and property taxes by a combined $400 million, and is debating further cuts. It also has the lowest foreclosure rate and lowest credit card default rate in the country, and it has had NO bank failures in at least the last decade. If its secret isn't oil, what is so unique about the state? North Dakota has one thing that no other state has: its own state-owned bank. Access to credit is the enabling factor that has fostered both a boom in oil and record profits from agriculture in North Dakota. The Bank of North Dakota (BND) does not compete with local banks but partners with them, helping with capital and liquidity requirements. It participates in loans, provides guarantees, and acts as a sort of mini-Fed for the state. In 2010, according to the BND's annual report: The Bank provided Secured and Unsecured Federal Fund Lines to 95 financial institutions with combined lines of over $318 million for 2010. Federal Fund sales averaged over $13 million per day, peaking at $36 million in June.

Shale gas: controversy and resources
Excerpt: Comment by the editor of European Energy News: Has the International Energy Agency (IEA) been too quick to herald a “Golden Age of Gas”? We ask the question because, as you may have heard, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) was forced last week to cut its estimate of the amount of shale gas in the great Marcellus basin by 80%.  How significant is this? Well, the Marcellus basin is to the American “shale gas revolution” what Al Ghawar is to the Saudi Arabian oil reserves. It accounted for about 60% of the total estimated US shale gas reserves. Now, however, new research by the United States Geological Survey shows that Marcellus may not be an Al Ghawar after all. It seems it contains not the previously dreamed-of 440 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, but just 84.  How important are those American shale gas reserves to the rest of the world? Very. The US “shale gas miracle” forms the basis of the “unconventional gas revolution” that analysts and prestigious governmental agencies like the IEA and EIA predict will take place all over the world in the coming decades. If it turns out there is no US shale gas miracle, there will not be a global miracle either. No “Golden Age of Gas”, but back to fossil fuel scarcity.  The Marcellus issue is also important because the US – both for commercial and geopolitical reasons – has been actively promoting the shale gas revolution abroad

Report: Hezbollah Sets up Shop in Cuba
Excerpt: Cuba has allowed a group of Hezbollah operatives to establish a base for external terrorist operations in the region, according to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera. Reports of a Hezbollah base on Cuba are still in the early stages, but Investor’s Business Daily has already referred to the base described by Corriere as “Cuba’s Terror Smoking Gun,”

Worth reading: Strangers in a Familiar Land
Excerpt: High-Speed Rail? California sits in a time warp. Despite tax hikes that make our roughly 10% income tax and 10% sales tax among the highest in the nation, there is little to show for it during the last forty years. I drive often the 20-mile sector of the 99 between Selma and northern Fresno. The freeway — one of the 99’s best sections — is unchanged since I drove it 41 years ago as a high-school junior in 1970, except that it is now crowded, with massive semi-trucks permanently hogging the center lanes, whereas in 1970 it was a near-empty futuristic investment that allowed cars to zoom along unchecked at 70mph. (Again, our sector of the 99 is a model three-lane stretch, not nearly as bad as the nightmarish two-lane, cross-traffic sections to both the north and south.) A contemporary culture that cannot finish a forty-year-old planned three-lane freeway from Sacramento to Bakersfield has no business borrowing tens of billions to attempt a new high-speed rail corridor. It is characteristic of our present generation to dream and talk wildly of the non-essential as penance for neglecting the very doable and necessary. An alien who landed at a UC campus in 1971 and studied the students and faculty might not be surprised on his return to California in 2011 that things are what they are, given that cohort has finally came of age and taken over the reins of governance. An entire generation that had once defined itself in opposition to “them” has problems when “them” are mostly buried. (Prof. Hanson, a great scholar of ancient history (his books are great reading and teach lessons about Greece and Rome that are relevant today), is an incisive observer or our life and time in America, especially as seen in bellwether California. Even if you are inclined to think he (and I, too) is a geezer whining about the good old days, I defy you not to find overwhelming truth in this commentary. –Larry.)

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