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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kyoto Protocol Failures

I remember a slew of jokes that were circulated at least half a decade ago about how the U.S. was refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol. The thing has existed since 1997, and about 180 countries have signed and ratified the Protocol. Well, the first joke is that the U.S. did in fact sign the Kyoto Protocol. There's just no way in hell we're choosing to ratify it, which means that all of the objectives and consequences of the protocol are non-binding to the U.S. and the signature was merely symbolic.

And you know what? It's a damned good thing we didn't ratify it. Because most of the countries who did ratify it are failing and it's going to cost them over $46 billion as penalties.

Twenty nations including Japan, Italy and Australia are likely failing to meet the goals/restrictions on greenhouse-gas pollution set for their countries. The problem is that because they ratified the Kyoto Protocol and are likely going to fail to meet their requirements, the nations are required to buy permits for every excess ton of the heat-trapping gas released between 2008 and 2012.

For just those twenty nations, a London-based research group named New Carbon Finance estimates that the damage will be about 2.3 billion excess tons of greenhouse-gas emission, resulting in their forced purchase of as many permits.

Given the going rate of these permits right now, the estimated financial damage for these twenty nations will be 36 billion euros ($46 billion).

Add to that the fact that out of those 130-odd nations that signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, only 37 are on track to meet their pledges. And while the other failing nations aren't as large as the twenty that will result in the $46 billion penalties, the fact that there's more than 70 other countries who are failing and will be paying for their failure to meet these expectations simply does not bode well for the environmental movement at all.

In fact, a few countries are out-and-out admitting that these goals are rather impossible.

In Italy's case, ``It's obvious the goals are not possible,'' Corrado Clini said today at an energy conference today in Rome. Italy will need 421 million permits over the five-year period, and Spain, 405 million, the research firm said. That would cost each country more than 6 billion euros, using the current price of CERs, though both governments have said they may share the costs with local industry.

Point Carbon, an Oslo-based emissions-market analysis company, estimates Italy will need 325 million permits and Spain 395 million.

Italian government and corporate officials are increasingly criticizing the Mediterranean nation's looming emissions costs. Kyoto is ``pure folly,'' Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of Eni SpA, the nation's largest oil company, said Nov. 10 on an Il Sole 24 Ore Radiocor report.

Italy is among countries that may go the Canadian route of choosing not to buy the permits they need to meet their targets, said Steven Knell, a London-based energy analyst at the economic consulting and research firm Global Insight Inc.

``It is unlikely that Italy would formally drop out of the Kyoto, however non-compliance is a distinct possibility,'' Knell said. ``The cases of non-compliance may well pile up as many states are well off the mark.''

Italy's Clini said the government and industry would purchase the permits together and not withdraw from the treaty. ``We won't pull out of Kyoto,'' Clini said. ``At this point, we're in it.''

Australia, which only ratified Kyoto in 2007, will need credits to cover 20.6 million tons a year, at an estimated annual cost of 325 million euros, based on the CER price. Japan, which New Carbon Finance predicts will need 587 million credits, says new energy-efficiency policies will help the nation meet its target.

To add insult to the environmentalists' injury, one only needs to speculate about the planned conference in Copenhagen scheduled for next year to discuss what can only be described as "the next phase" and making even more-ambitious promises to reduce greenhouse-gas pollution in these countries.

Plain and simple, if they couldn't manage THESE unattainable goals - the prospect of meeting to negotiate even MORE-unattainable goals is laugh-out-loud preposterous.

So the next time one of your friends makes a joke about the Kyoto Protocol and the arrogance of the United States - remind them that if we HAD gone along with it, we'd likely be also paying an assload of money for our inevitable failures.

And then get some new friends.
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Monday, November 03, 2008

Pre-Election Scams and Shoutouts

Well, tomorrow is the big day when America once again votes for a giant douche or turd sandwich to rule the country (or at least partially-rule it, if that whole checks-and-balances thing still exists). Just like with all elections past, you can rifle through a list of groups/demographics/minorities and for each one, find a litany of propaganda or ads or outright lies meant to rouse them in a direction to vote at the polls or even the direction of whether they vote in the polls.

Take the youth of America - which would be the college-aged youth (the ones who are allowed to vote). You can either scare their vote one way or another with fears of the future with your opponent in charge (youth fear the future the most because they have to suffer through it the longest), or you can work the angle of getting them to vote or to not vote. Youth are hard to scare away from voting itself - because they've never done it before and don't realize how much insanity goes on once they're in the game. They tend to vote Democratic, which is why you'll find both candidates trying to appeal to the youngsters, but usually only the Democrats "____ing the Vote" to encourage these political fledglings to flap their wings rather than stay in the nest and die when winter comes.

The elderly are probably the easiest to scare (but the least afraid of the future since they never know how much of it they'll have to sit through in-between Matlock reruns), other than war-hardened veterans. Hence, they tend to vote Republican, because those are the values they grew up with and the familiar is always preferable to change.

I could go on, but I don't need to. I'll let these stories of assholes affecting voters take care of that for me, as you sit back and read about it all. (Don't worry, there's a reward at the end! Freebies!) Try to realize both that these ploys and scams are horrible things to do to the average voter, but also that the average voter is also dumb enough to sometimes fall for them - so who's really the worse side of the equation?

You Will Be Arrested

Complaints have surfaced in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Philadelphia where fliers have circulated, warning voters they could be arrested at the polls if they had unpaid parking tickets or if they had criminal convictions.

Ah yes, the old standby to scare people away of "you might be arrested" - which not surprisingly is being pushed towards African-American neighborhoods. I find it funny that what I've heard about in the past of "you'll be arrested if you have outstanding warrants" is now at the level of "unpaid parking tickets". The scary thing is that they're using this brand of lie outside the realm of "black people" and spreading it into the more-culturally-diverse group of "college students", even if they're doing it wrong.

Other reports of intimidation efforts in the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania include leaflets taped to picnic benches at Drexel University, warning students that police would be at the polls on Tuesday to arrest would-be voters with prior criminal offenses.

See, it's one thing to say "you'll get arrested if you show up to vote and have unpaid parking tickets" because the number of people who that could apply to is a large number. But shrinking that number down to the subset of those with a criminal record and young enough to still be in college is kind of a dumb move.

In New Mexico, two Hispanic women filed a lawsuit last week claiming they were harassed by a private investigator working for a Republican lawyer who came to their homes and threatened to call immigration authorities, even though they are U.S. citizens.

"He was questioning her status, saying that he needed to see her papers and documents to show that she was a U.S. citizen and was a legitimate voter," said Guadalupe Bojorquez, speaking on behalf of her mother, Dora Escobedo, a 67-year-old Albuquerque resident who speaks only Spanish. "He totally, totally scared the heck out of her."

Now we move on to the Hispanic population and the fears of being deported. Frankly, the one has so little to do with the other! Illegal immigrants do in fact have a history of using fraud or just plain lying in order to be able to register to vote or participate in elections - but I'm not sure if the number is so huge that it's worth alienating the demographic just to prevent extra votes for their demographic in the form of illegal immigrant voters. Of course, the ones who'd have a problem with illegal immigrants voting would be the Republicans (who suck LESS in the battle over illegal immigration) and since Hispanics tend to vote Democratic anyway, maybe they should keep on alienatin'!

Feel free to insert a quip of mine regarding the fact that the woman plans on voting but speaks only Spanish.

My Opponent Is Pure Evil

So if you can't scare the voters into thinking they could be arrested, there are worse fates that could arise given how you vote and which grotesque destroyer of all things good and holy you let slither its way into the Oval Office on Election Day. Sure, the word of the year is "terrorism" when it comes to your opponent being a hateful pile of malevolence. It's impossible to forget which candidate's middle name is "Hussein" - although judging by an incredibly-annoying Facebook application, it seems to be a common one (or that all Facebook Democrats want to convert to Islam and terrorism). It's hard to ignore the words "domestic terrorist" regarding a man who may or may not be a friend of one candidate and worked for a certain organization that may or may not have been supported by a candidate.

But why stop there? There were once far worse things than terrorists...

In Pennsylvania, e-mails appeared linking Democrat Barack Obama to the Holocaust. "Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, Nov. 4," said the electronic message, paid for by an entity calling itself the Republican Federal Committee. "Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake."

In his Jewish neighborhood, Stalberg said, fliers were recently left claiming Obama was more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israel, and showed a photograph of him speaking in Germany.

I'm really not sure how one can make the leap from Barack Obama to Holocaust, especially since I haven't seen this e-mail. Let me check my mudslinging records. Well, aside from the fact that he DID speak in Germany . . . Barack Obama has been called a Socialist many times, and "Nazi" did stand for the "National Socialist Party", so I guess it's not too far of a jump from that to the murder of millions of Jews... Though I could be wrong. I'm pretty sure the McCain-Palin team has proved to me that Obama lacks the EXECUTIVE experiences necessary to really pull off a Final Solution. But does saying Obama would fail to even be a Hitler put him in a good light or bad light? I mean, Hitler did manage to rule a country, even if he did drive it into the ground and make it a laughingstock. I forget the point.

Scheduling Conflict

Hey, sorry voters, but it turns out there's just too many of you who want to vote, so there's no need to show up all on one day - we'll spread this voting thing out so come back tomorrow to cast your vote! Sounds stupid? Well someone tried it anyway...

Over the weekend in Virginia, bogus fliers with an authentic-looking commonwealth seal said fears of high voter turnout had prompted election officials to hold two elections — one on Tuesday for Republicans and another on Wednesday for Democrats.

They're actually hunting down the people responsible for this one and I think they'll be prosecuting. It is illegal to intentionally mislead voters about where an election is being held or when voting polls are open. So far these were just little attack ads or misleading voters about the SITUATION where the election will be held - not about the location itself or hours of voting. This one steps it up to a scary degree - scary because (of course) some people were BELIEVING IT. And Virginia isn't the only place where the misleading has reached illegal proportions...

In Nevada, for example, Latino voters said they had received calls from people describing themselves as Obama volunteers, urging them to cast their ballot over the phone.

The issue is that nobody really does anything about it, because it's mostly done during the 11th hour and there's just such a history of it.

This has gotten a bit long, so I'll head out and prepare myself for both the process of voting tomorrow and the process of getting assaulted all day by other voters who want to know who I voted for. And then the insanity of getting the hell out of downtown tomorrow evening before everything goes to hell with the Obama Party being held here in Chicago.

Don't forget to go out and vote tomorrow. Unless you're voting for the other guy. Then you should probably stay home.


Here are a list of places giving away freebies to people who vote tomorrow:

Starbucks: free tall coffee

Krispy Kreme: free donut

Ben & Jerry's: free small ice cream

More to come as I hunt them down!
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