FM newswire for May 3, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. A reminder not to take initial reports too seriously:  “CIA documents show US never believed Gary Powers was shot down“, The Times, 1 May 2010
  2. The Feds vs. Goldman“, Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 13 May 2010 — “The government’s case against Goldman Sachs barely begins to target the depths of Wall Street’s criminal sleaze”
  3. If you didn’t read this, it’s still timely:  “Wall Street’s Naked Swindle“, Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 15 October 2009 — “A scheme to flood the market with counterfeit stocks helped kill Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers — and the feds have yet to bust the culprits”
  4. Important evidence that our political candidates are often little more than cardboard cutouts, manufactured like PopTarts:  “The Double-Talk Express“, Rolling Stone, 5 April 2010 — “From tax cuts to torture, John McCain has flip-flopped on a host of issues — including his own immigration bill”

Feature story

The definitive report about oil spills is Oil in the Sea III — Inputs, Fates, and Effects“, National Academy of Sciences, 2003.  Here is a summary of one of their findings (from an article in Nature).  One ton equals aprox 7 barrels, so the Gulf leak is aprox 715 tonnes/day (perhaps more, estimates now are just guesses):

In a 2003 report, the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) calculated that petroleum extraction activities resulted in the release of about 3,000 tonnes of oil annually into North American waters between 1990 and 1999. The report’s best estimate was that moving oil around put another 9,000 tonnes into the ocean each year, although most of that leakage was due to oil being transported from overseas.

To put those numbers in perspective, the academy estimated that ‘consumption-based’ spills — including land-based river runoff from cities and the like — account for 84,000 tonnes each year. And now for the kicker: hydrocarbons bubbling out of natural seeps in the seafloor came in at 160,000 tonnes annually. That is more than 53 times the total for offshore extraction and about 4.5 times as much petroleum as was released when the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in Alaska in 1989. That said, the natural sources are far more diffuse and thus not necessarily as disruptive as concentrated slicks.

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