Some of the best and worst things make the least sense, it would seem

Shot in the head less than a week ago, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords opened her eyes briefly for the first time Wednesday, with her husband, her parents and other members of Congress in the room.

“It was extraordinary,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, who was holding Giffords’ hand at the time. “It was a miracle to witness.”

The incident occurred shortly after President Barack Obama had visited Giffords in her hospital room. Less than an hour later, given permission to disclose the information by Mark Kelly, Giffords’ husband, Obama electrified a memorial-service crowd and a national television audience by revealing one of the most promising pieces of news about Gifford’s condition to emerge since an assassination attempt against her on Saturday.

Giffords was squeezing and stroking Gillibrand’s hand, as doctors previously said she had been able to do.

“She took a moment to focus, you could see she was focusing,” Gillibrand said. “And then Mark said … ‘Gabby, if you can see me, if you can see me, give us a thumbs-up … She didn’t only give a thumbs-up, she literally raised her entire hand. We were just — we couldn’t stop crying … It was just one of those moments that life brings you so rarely.”

But Giffords didn’t stop there, Gillibrand said. She reached out and grabbed her husband “and is touching him and starts to really choke him like she was really trying to hug him.” He asked her to touch his wedding ring, “and she touches his ring, then she grabs his whole watch and wrist and then the doctor was just so excited, he said, ‘You don’t understand … this is amazing what she is doing right now and beyond our greatest hopes.’ ”

[full story]

And no, my friends, wonders will never cease.

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside. (see photo gallery)From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

[full story]

No matter how bad the crazy gets, they can’t beat all of us.

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End the War or Drill Offshore: Which Will Yeild More Oil?

So I was thinking about drilling today (kinda been lonely lately) and drilling offshore specifically.

I recently had a post that illustrated how much oil, in barrels per day (BPD), that we could expect to gain by drilling offshore.

Here’s the pic.

Dril, Baby, Drill....You'll have to do it harder than that.

Dril, Baby, Drill....You'll Have to Do It Harder Than That

 I didn’t look it up then, but I wanted to make absolutely sure that these numbers were correct before making this comparison.  I am very confident the above number is correct.   It comes from here.

For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant. 

 My point here isn’t that offshore drilling won’t affect prices (we already know it won’t impact them at all for at least 10 years, and then by a couple cents), but the point that in 22 years, what we can expect to see is maybe 200,000 BPD in extra oil production.  I haven’t seen estimates for the cost of extraction, which with oil prices tumbling with the rest of the world’s economy could severely hamper extraction attempts, but that’s the general figure outside of ther forces.   As the report states…

Although a significant volume of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources is added in the OCS access case, conversion of those resources to production would require both time and money. In addition, the average field size in the Pacific and Atlantic regions tends to be smaller than the average in the Gulf of Mexico, implying that a significant portion of the additional resource would not be economically attractive to develop at the reference case prices.

Now the other part of the equation: How Much Oil Do the Wars In Iraq and Afghanistan consume?

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest oil consuming government body in the US and in the world

“Military fuel consumption makes the Department of Defense the single largest consumer of petroleum in the U.S” [1]

“Military fuel consumption for aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and facilities makes the DoD the single largest consumer of petroleum in the U.S” [2]

According to the US Defense Energy Support Center Fact Book 2004, in Fiscal Year 2004, the US military fuel consumption increased to 144 million barrels. This is about 40 million barrels more than the average peacetime military usage.

By the way, 144 million barrels makes 395 000 barrels per day, almost as much as daily energy consumption of Greece. 

These are 2004 numbers, before the war in Iraq really got going, and the cost got calculated….

If you make the calculation for peacetime vs wartime, and remove the 40,000,000 extra barrals a year, we end up at “normal” military use of ….285,000 BPD.

A difference of 110,000 BPD with basic wartime consumption.

And that was in 2004.

In the May 2005 issue of the Atlantic Monthly article Robert Bryce says that “The U.S. military now uses about 1.7 million gallons of fuel a day in Iraq. … each of the 150,000 soldiers on the ground consumes roughly nine gallons of fuel a day. And that figure has been rising.” This mean in Iraq each day 40 000 b/d of oil is consumed by the US military.

Yes, something is wrong with that figure. Compare it with the one given by the Defense Logistics Agency spokeswoman Lana Hampton. Accroding to an American Forces Information Service News Article she said the U.S. military is using between 10 million and 11 million barrels of fuel each month to sustain operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. This makes 330 000 – 360 000 barrel per day.

So now we are looking at a calculated difference of somewhere between 110,000 BPD on way low-end and 360,000 BPD on the high end.

We look quickly at history again…

According to a Rand Corporation report “1.88 billion gallons of fuel were consumed within the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility during Operations Desert Shild and Desert Storm (ODS/S), between August 10, 1990 and May 31, 1991.” [5]. This makes 44.8 million barrels, or 150 000 barrels a day. Note that ODS/S lasted 295 days.

[sourced here with additional sources]

…and we see that the easy, quick, and successful war in Iraq used at least 150,000 BPD.

Given all these numbers, and both wars, and a surge, I think it is very easy and accurate to say that our wars are currently consuming more than 200,000 BPD IN ADDITION to the regular, defensive operation of military forces.

So which is the quicker way and more effective way to get more oil? 

Peace.

Unsurprisingly. 

I know of no wise people in history who ever recommended consumption as a cure to addiction.  I know of many who speak of restraint and humility as a reliable course of therapy.

“They Hate Us For Our Freedom”

This is perhaps the stupidest idea ever put forth in the arena of foreign relations.

May I quote someone?

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over ablack, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action.

Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.  Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim, which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.

Do not therefor, do injustice to yourselves.

There’s other parts of the speech i don’t agree with, obviously, but the basic premise is a fairly strong argument against the idiocy displayed by those who would profess that the title of this post is true.

The Spirit of the Olympics Shining Through The Fog of War

Olympic shooters hug as their countries do battle – CNN.com

BEIJING, China (CNN) — Sharpshooters from Russia and Georgia embraced Sunday after earning medals for their countries, which have been teetering on the brink of war since the Beijing Summer Olympics kicked off last week.

Russia’s Natalia Paderina and Georgia’s Nino Salukvadze hugged after winning Olympic silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the women’s 10-meter air pistol competition.

The rivals kissed each other on the cheek after standing on the medal podium with China’s Guo Wenjun, who won the gold medal in the event.

Waving flower bouquets high, the women smiled broadly at the audience.

“If the world were to draw any lessons from what I did, there would never be any wars,” Salukvadze, 39, said afterward, according to media reports. The reports described the two as friends.

This is good to see…if a bit ironic.  I mean…sharpshooters?!

Iran, CNN, Fearmongering, and Nukes. Lots and Lots of Nukes

This was going to start off as a post about Iran’s recent test firing of some missiles.

It starts with the CNN story of the firing, was going to mention the US response to the 40-year anniversary of the ABM treaty (from a couple weeks ago) and was going to finish with a mention that Iran had photoshopped one of their released “proof” photos to add a missile.

My main point was going to be that it was simple dick-waving. I was going to mention during the ABM article dissection that Israel (which is/was mentioned in the original CNN article) didn’t sign it and has nukes and isn’t afraid to use them in defense. So, all in all, it was a stalemate and dick-waving. Not much to see here.

Then I reloaded the CNN article.

A subtext of a lot of my media coverage over the last, oh, 10 years or so, has been their penchant of blood and guts. They have a desire to forment war, at least a little bit. I’m not alleging anything more nefarious here than news sells eyeballs. So helping the news along isn’t beyond the pale, generally. There is an incentive.

It’s sometimes hard to find. Sometimes easy. This article is now going to include all of that stuff before, but since there are now two (2) different CNN articles, both with quite different tones, I’ll point that out as well.

See if you can spot the difference. These are screenshots. I’ll try and archive the originals as well. Right now this proof only exists in the memory of my computer and some others out there that have been sitting on this story for a couple weeks.

Here is the original article.

This was how the article originally appeared

This was how the article originally appeared

[full size]

Things to note here

Title:
Iran test fires missiles in riposte to U.S., Israel

Bullet Points:

  • Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards test fire nine long and medium range missiles
  • Officials say war games are in response to U.S. and Israeli threats
  • Drill conducted in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormouz

Paragraph 2 and 3:The Islamic Republic News Agency and Press TV reported that the naval forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Wednesday test-fired a Shahab-3 missile during war games in the Persian Gulf.

The exercises come a month after Israel conducted a military drill in the eastern Mediterranean involving dozens of warplanes, and the latest Iranian activities prompted concern from Israel and condemnation from the United States.

So in this version we have a pretty simple action/reaction narrative going (bolded). We do something, they do something, etc. etc.

Now on to the updated version. This one is much punchier.

How the article looked after the update.

How the article looked after the update.

[full size]

Things to note here

Title:
Iran Gen.: Our finger is always on the trigger

Bullet Points:

  • Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards test fire long and medium range missiles
  • NEW: Iranian general: “Our finger is always on the trigger”
  • NEW: U.S.: Iran is “as serious… a problem as any we face today
  • Missile tests were part of Iranians war games in the Persian Gulf

Paragraph 2 and 3:

“We want to tell the world that those who conduct their foreign policy by using the language of threat against Iran have to know that our finger is always on the trigger and we have hundreds and even thousands of missiles ready to be fired against predetermined targets,” Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of the Revolutionary Guard ground forces, said on state TV.

We will chase the enemies on the ground and in the sky and we are able react strongly to enemy’s threats in shortest possible time.”

So here we have a slightly different narrative (bolded).

Note how any mention of outside influence is relegated to a minor point of the story. This is how you war-monger in print.

————-

The articles then move a bit towards each other in content. With the updated one including the following.

There are worldwide worries that Israel, which is concerned by Iran’s plans, is pondering a unilateral strike.

Israel’s recent aerial military exercise was in part an effort to send a message that it has the capability to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

The distance involved in the exercise was roughly the same as would be involved in a possible strike on the Iranian nuclear fuel plant at Natanz, a U.S. military official said.

In 1981, Israel attacked a nuclear facility in Iraq. Israel also struck a site in Syria that some say was a nuclear reactor under construction.

One Israeli Cabinet member, Shaul Mofaz, recently said it “will attack” Iran if the nuclear program was not halted.

So that’s where we are there. This is a confrontation between Israel (not a signatory of the NPT (Nucular [sic] Non-Proliferation Treaty) and has nukes) and Iran (signatory of the NPT and has a large number conventional missiles).

So here’s how we marked the 40 year anniversary of a treaty meant to end the spread of such things…

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States, marking the 40th anniversary of the fraying nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), said on Tuesday it was concerned that countries like Iran had “violated” the pact.

Garold Larson, deputy U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, also urged the NPT’s near-global membership to deter violators from withdrawing from the treaty in the future.

Speaking to a U.N. seminar in Geneva celebrating the 40th anniversary of the NPT, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, Larson said the past two decades had witnessed the proliferation and misuse of nuclear technology.

“The United States remains very concerned that parties like Iran have violated their commitments and thereby undermined the treaty,” he said.

Larson did not refer to U.S. intelligence findings that Syria covertly tried to build an atomic reactor with North Korean help at a site bombed by Israel last year. Syria denies the accusations.

Investigators from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said after a four-day visit to Syria last week that they had examined the site but that more checks were needed.

Unlike Syria, Israel has not signed the NPT. It is widely believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.

So, we take a swipe at one group and look the other way from the other

And as we look over the horizon half-way around the world…we see this…

10320641h21253011

A photo of Iranian missiles being test-fired yesterday was “apparently digitally altered to show four missiles rising into the air instead of three,” according to Agence France-Presse.

The image, which the wire service says it obtained from a website controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, appeared in newspapers and blogs across the world, including USA TODAY and On Deadline.

The Lede blog says “the second missile from the right appears to be the sum of two other missiles in the image.”

[full post]

So the general idea here is that we are supposed to be deathly afraid, so afraid that we’ll allow for another “pre-emptive” attack, on Iran because of their fearsome arsenal.

Which has been photoshopped to look scarier.

Riiight.

I spent the vast majority of my life 15-minutes away from being vaporized by Crazy Ivan’s nukes launched from super-secret subs and tropical paradii.

Iranian editing skills don’t scare me. In the slightest.

Some of The Reasons I Can’t Vote for McCain

The Associated Press: McCain outlines vision of Iraq victory

“By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won,” he told an audience of several hundred here in the capital city of a general election battleground state.

I though we were going to be done with the “it is the way I say it is, reality be damned” attitude. Bush and the Neocons tried that “we make reality” thing, and we’ve seen the horrific results.

If he was saying, “By 2013, I expect oil to cost $201.30.”, then maybe I would believe in his prognostication skills. And for some reason I still don’t personally understand how it is my freedom being defended in Iraq (i.e. the frontline of the War on Terror). We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iraq was completely incapable of posing a mortal threat to the U.S. A mortal threat is the ONLY type of type for which pre-emption is even a slight, remotely possible useful strategy. Self-defense only works after the guy pulls the gun, not while he’s looking at the catalog.

And above all else about his “2013 or Defeat” stragedy (yes, that is spelled correctly) is that the Iraqis adamantly want us out by 2011.

Later, as he drove to the airport on his “Straight Talk Express” campaign bus, McCain was peppered by reporters with questions about the timetable. He and his aides insisted there was a difference between ending the war and bringing troops home and, as they criticize the Democrats, announcing a withdrawal upfront without regard for the military endgame.

“It’s not a timetable; it’s victory. It’s victory, which I have always predicted. I didn’t know when we were going to win World War II; I just knew we were going to win,” McCain said.

When this guy talks about World War II in the present tense, like he was there…it’s because he was. How old is this dude again?

The Vietnam veteran added: “I know from experience, you set a day for surrender — which is basically what you do when you say you are withdrawing — and you will pay a much a heavier price later on.”

Yes, much like how when we finally pulled out of Vietnam, Communism swept the world and now we are on our knees in front of the Global Communist Domination of SouthEast Asia, and there are Vietnamese blowing themselves up here nearly every day in their quest to kill the U.S.

Oh, wait…you mean we are at peace with them, and have good relations?

(CNN) — Visitors to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam are struck by its frenetic pace, by the modern skyscrapers, by stores bulging with goods and by streets teeming with industrious Vietnamese.

At night young men and women cruise the neon-lit streets of the former Saigon on shiny Honda motorbikes, gathering in coffee bars, discos and restaurants where they are serenaded by the beeps and chirps of their cell phones.

[full story]

I wonder if McCain forgot all about that stuff and has some sort of alternate history in mind when he used Vietnam as a good reason to stay in Iraq.

And speaking on 9/11….

In particular, he sees a world in which the Taliban threat in Afghanistan has been greatly reduced.

He added: “The increase in actionable intelligence that the counterinsurgency produced led to the capture or death of Osama bin Laden, and his chief lieutenants. … There still has not been a major terrorist attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.”

We’ve already killed about 7 number threes, so this has happened already. I wonder if McCain was napping. The fact that he’s still talking about the Taliban points to serious issues regarding how bad Bush sucked…and why McCain sticking with Bush’s war policy is retarded at best.

There is one place McCain divides from Bush however…

McCain also pledged to halt a Bush administration practice of enacting laws with accompanying signing statements that exempt the president from having to enforce parts he finds objectionable.

You mean the Bush administration practice of wiping its ass with the Constitution? Yea, we should certainly stop doing that…I’d have more respect for the “Maverick” if he intended to prosecute them for those indiscretions, but my guess is a pardon is much more likely. And that’s why I can’t vote for him.

How China Could Leverage Tibetans

This is one of the better of a series of articles I’ve been following on China’s idiotic response to the Tibet situation.  The author does a good job in pointing out how China could get a whole lot of whuffie for dealing fairly with Tibet, and it would make a huge move to quell the disquiet surrounding China’s rise to a world power.

Why Beijing Needs Tibet’s Help | Newsweek International Edition | Newsweek.com

Recent events in Tibet have underscored the fact that more than a Half Century of Chinese occupation—and forcible attempts to change Tibetans into Han Chinese—aren’t working and never will. Resistance to Beijing’s imperialism hasn’t come just from the “Dalai Lama clique,” as Chinese officials put it, but from all 6 million Tibetans.

Thus Beijing’s problems won’t simply go away when the 14th Dalai Lama dies; he’s now 72 and very durable. But that’s a good thing, for China’s leaders are going to need his help to peacefully resolve the crisis. The Dalai Lama remains committed to nonviolence and a solution that would benefit both sides. And he’s the only person capable of persuading his people to accept such a deal.

As a ninja who wouldn’t mind seeing my monkish friends enjoying their lives instead of being arrested and/or executed, I’m all for this one.

This idea, on the other hand, is retarded.

Far from heeding international calls for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, China has accused Tibet’s exiled god-king of colluding with Muslim terrorists to destabilise the country before the Olympic Games.

State-run newspapers have issued prominent leading articles that are part of a campaign to portray the Dalai Lama as the mastermind of the deadly riots that have rippled through Tibet and ethnic Tibetan communities.

In Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, yesterday local TV issued the No 7 list of those most wanted in connection with the riots on March 10 in which Chinese officials say 22 people were killed, including a baby boy burnt to death in a garage and one paramilitary police officer.

[full story]

C’mon China, “goodwill” is bankable.  The U.S. has proved that without a doubt in the 21st Century (albeit in the negative).  See chart, weep.