Monday, May 3, 2010

Oil Spill: Here's the Inside Scoop

The Gulf oil spill is much worse than originally believed.

As the Christian Science Monitor writes:

It's now likely that the actual amount of the oil spill dwarfs the Coast Guard's figure of 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day.

Independent scientists estimate that the renegade wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf could be spewing up to 25,000 barrels a day. If chokeholds on the riser pipe break down further, up to 50,000 barrels a day could be released, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register.

CNN quotes the lead government official responding to the spill - the commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen - as stating:
If we lost a total well head, it could be 100,000 barrels or more a day.
Indeed, an environmental document filed by the company running the oil drilling rig - BP - estimates the maximum as 162,000 barrels a day:
In an exploration plan and environmental impact analysis filed with the federal government in February 2009, BP said it had the capability to handle a “worst-case scenario” at the Deepwater Horizon site, which the document described as a leak of 162,000 barrels per day from an uncontrolled blowout — 6.8 million gallons each day.
Best-Case Scenario

BP is trying to perform a difficult task of capping the leak by using robotic submarines to trigger a "blowout preventer" 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. Here's a photo of the robot trying to activate the switch on April 22nd:

(courtesy of the US Coast Guard)

If successful, the leak could be stopped any day. Everyone is rooting for the engineers, so that they may successfully cap the leak.

Already, however, the spill is worse than the Exxon Valdez, and will cause enormous and very costly destruction to the shrimping, fishing and tourism industries along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Florida. It will be years before good estimates on the number of dead fish, turtles, birds and other animals can be made.

The Backup Plan

If the blowout preventer can't be triggered, the backup plan is to drill another well to relieve pressure from the leaking well.

Here's a drawing prepared by BP showing the plan (the drilling rig on the left will take months to drill down and relieve pressure from the leaking rig):

Here's a graphic from the Times-Picayune showing the same thing (and accurately showing that there are currently 3 leaking oil plumes):

BP will also attempt to drop concrete and metal "cages" over the leak sites, to try to buy time by collecting oil in the cages, and then draining oil away in a safer manner. In addition, BP is using chemical disperants to try to break up the oil plumes before they rise to the surface (the dispersants are highly toxic).

Worst-Case Scenario

As the Associated Press notes:
Experts warned that an uncontrolled gusher could create a nightmare scenario if the Gulf Stream carries it toward the Atlantic.
This would, in fact, be very bad, as it would carry oil far up the Eastern seaboard.

Specifically, as the red arrows at the left of the following drawing show, the Gulf Stream runs from Florida up the Eastern Coast of the United States:

[Click here for full image.]

In a worst-case scenario - if the oil leak continued for a very long period of time - the oil could conceivably be carried from the Gulf Stream into world-wide ocean currents (see drawing above).

I do not believe this will happen. Even with the staggering quantity of oil being released, I don't think it's enough to make its way into other ocean currents. I think that either engineers will figure out how to cap the leak, or the oil deposits will simply run out.

Changing the Climate

There is an even more dramatic - but even less likely - scenario.

Specifically, global warming activists have warned for years that warming could cause the "great conveyor belt" of warm ocean water to shut down. They say that such a shut down could - in turn - cause the climate to abruptly change, and a new ice age to begin. (This essay neither tries to endorse or refute global warming or global cooling in general: I am focusing solely on the oil spill.)

The drawing above shows the worldwide "great conveyer belt" of ocean currents, which are largely driven by the interaction of normal ocean water with colder and saltier ocean currents.

Conceivably - if the oil spill continued for years - the greater thickness or "viscosity" of the oil in comparison to ocean water, or the different ability of oil and seawater to hold warmth (called "specific heat"), could interfere with the normal temperature and salinity processes which drive the ocean currents, and thus shut down the ocean currents and change the world's climate.

However, while this is an interesting theory (and could make for a good novel or movie), it simply will not happen.

Why not?

Because there simply is not enough oil in the leaking oil pocket to interfere with global ocean currents. And even if this turns out to be a much bigger oil pocket than geologists predict, some smart engineer will figure out how to cap the leak well before any doomsday scenario could possibly happen.


By Gordon Duff -Veterans Today



Who would have believed it? Only days after a warning of an Israeli “false flag” bombing against the US “in the works” a massive car bomb is discovered in Time Square! Better yet, though no intelligence organization in the world could discover anyone claiming responsibility for this embarrassing failure, SITE Intelligence, a group rumored as the “voice of the Mossad” has placed the blame on the Pakistani Taliban.

This is the same group that has come up with numerous bin Laden “audio” tapes, seemingly, though tiny and nearly totally unstaffed, whenever it is convenient for Israel to point a finger at someone, magically Site Intelligence, run by former IDF soldier Rita Katz, whose father was executed as a spy by Saddam Hussein, makes another “unbelievable” intelligence find.

Site Intelligence finds are not only timely for Israel, when the world is focused on claims they have been planning a ‘dirty bomb’ attack to send the US to war against Iran, but always tend to support mysterious organizations run from the caves of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region.


After the demise of Iraq, victim of falsified intelligence, now eliminated as an Israeli competitor, all eyes turned to Pakistan, Islam’s only nuclear state. To establish footholds to destabilize Pakistan, a pro-Indian/Israeli government under President Karzai was installed in Kabul.

After 9 years, no evidence of any terrorist activity involved in 9/11 has been found in Afghanistan. The great “net” meant to catch Osama bin Laden and armies of Al Qaeda terrorists came up empty. Instead, we are told from reliable sources that Arab nations friendly to the US released criminals, transporting them to Afghanistan.

These “foreign fighters” actually little more than “extras” in a massive global theatre, kept the small US forces engaged for years, all without any purpose other than to establish that a terrorist organization must have been in Afghanistan because there certainly was one after 2002.


In addition to installing a government that would work directly with Israel and India to organize terrorist attacks on Pakistan, funding to destabilize the oil and gas rich republics of the former Soviet Union had to be raised.

Opium production under the Taliban had been eliminated. The new government quickly began a resurgence of opium production and heroin processing. Aided by agents of the Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad, the governments of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan quickly fell under the influence of the 65 billion dollar a year Afghanistan drug empire.

Though the drugs may have been from Afghanistan, multiple intelligence agencies from Israel, India, Turkey and others, aided by military contracting firms contracted to the CIA, carried this plan forward.

Continual news stories tying Pakistan to failures to suppress terrorism or rumoring involvement in terrorism themselves flowed onto the world scene through western mainstream media, providing a clear footprint of a classic Mossad operation.


With the demise of Al Qaeda, an unnamed Taliban organization with a website only visible to one person on earth has now declared a mysterious and shadowy war against the United States, in New York City, a city under tight security but one with a very large Israeli/Mossad presence.

This was the same city where the “dancing Israeli’s,” celebrated 9/11 after filming the attacks. Their advance knowledge of the attacks has been one of the many puzzle pieces tying Israel to 9/11.

However, it wasn’t until the “crotch bomber” of last Christmas that the breadth of Israel’s penetration of US security was demonstrated with Abdulmohammed’s attack tying directly to Tel Aviv.

Anyone who visits New York is aware that security there, especially in Time Square is the highest of anywhere in the world. The intelligence organizations protecting New York, including the world’s best police force, leave only one organization as capable of this kind of effort, an organization with massive resources in the area, numerous Israeli/American assets and many residual relationships with Gulliani/Kerik/Bush era friends, friends conveniently “asleep at the switch” on 9/11.


Recent intelligence leaks from several agencies have warned of an impending “9/11 style” attack on a high value target in the US and Israel. Reports that a conventional bomb enhanced with nuclear material would be used.

With Iranian president Ahmandinejad and Secretary of State Clinton both scheduled to be in New York in the next 24 hours, and recent stories out of Israel trying to tie Iran to the Taliban, the issue of “timing” is a critical one.


The group blamed in the Site Intelligence/Israeli report, the Pakistani Taliban has been responsible for hundreds of attacks in Pakistan, killing thousands of citizens. However, reliable sources have tied this group directly to Mossad/RAW training camps inside Afghanistan and Balochistan. The Pakistani Taliban have long been allies of Israel and India with 2000 terrorist trainers inside Afghanistan arming Pakistani Taliban terrorist group.

This has been confirmed, not only in direct briefings with the Pakistani ISPR and ISI but US military intelligence sources as well, who dispute the number of terrorist trainers, not their presence.

Terrorist groups inside Balochistan, the remote Pakistan province said to be a haven for Mossad attacks against Iran, claim to be headquartered in Israel. These groups work directly with the Pakistan Taliban and are another indication of this current “stunt” turning back on non-Islamic planners.


With Iran taking the propaganda offensive to the United States, a nation increasingly distancing itself from, not only the idea of supporting an Israeli attack on Iran, Israel is under pressure to reestablish itself as America’s partner in a long discredited “war on terror” that has been a huge embarrassment to the US.

With over 90% of America’s terror arrests turning out to be innocent bystanders, some tortured for years, untold numbers “disappeared,” Bush era failures have soured public support for hunting terrorist leaders who have increasingly been either captured by Pakistan or have been found to be negotiating with US forces.

With the signature of this bombing being so close to that of the “crotch bombing,” an attack with Israeli fingerprints from Nigeria to Yemen to Amsterdam, the “superfast” accusation against a Pakistani group was no surprise.


With New York police discounting the Pakistan connection to the bombing immediately, Fox News has unleashed an attack on the Obama administration in a well orchestrated manner, accusing democrats of “failing to protect the American people.”

With both Site Intelligence and Fox News tied directly to Israel and the signature and timing of this attack showing clear Israeli fingerprints, Fox may be right.

America may be unable to protect itself from a nation still seen by most Americans as a close ally. No other nation has the capability of such an attack or the influence to orchestrate the news, an act already in motion.

If any finger is pointing anywhere, Fox News is telling us “Israel did it.”

Why Is Obama’s Organization Raising Money In Other Countries?

Digging through the Organizing for America website will find some interesting nuggets. Not the least of which is this little gem:

And here is the code from the back end:

American Samoa
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
British Virgin Islands
British Indian Ocean Territory
Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Cayman Islands
Central African Republic
Christmas Island
Comoros Islands
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Republic of the
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Cote D’ivoire
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
East Timor
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Faroe Islands
French Guiana
French Polynesia
French Southern Territories
Holy See (Vatican City State)
Hong Kong
South Korea
Marshall Islands
Moldova, Republic of
Netherlands Antilles
New Caledonia
New Zealand
Norfolk Island
Northern Mariana Islands
Papua New Guinea
Pitcairn Island
Puerto Rico
Russian Federation
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Serbia and Montenegro
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
St. Helena
St. Pierre and Miquelon
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Viet Nam
Virgin Islands (U.S.)
Wallis and Futuna Islands
Western Sahara

Enter the zip code where your event will take place: Select the type of event you are creating:

Here’s another question, this one for the media: Why has the media shown zero curiosity about Candidate Barack Obama’s illegal, overseas fundraising efforts? The election happened and there were questions right away and about Obama’s fundraising and even now, a year and a half later zero investigative reporting.

What are the chances the media will ask the administration about this? Probably near zero.

Silver City, New Mexico, United States (88061)

Click this link ......

The 800 LB Gorilla in the Financial Reform Bill

The lackluster Republican opposition to Senator Dodd’s Financial Reform bill is focused on whether or not the Democratic proposal allows for or prohibits additional bailouts. A secondary hot topic is the supposed derivative limitations. Frankly, these are both red herrings. They serve to mask an even larger danger that no one is talking about: a huge new government agency that will control all financial institutions in the US—and not just the "too big to fail" ones. It’s called the Financial Institutions Regulatory Administration (FIRA), and its authority absorbs and supersedes every other banking, thrift and stock market regulatory agency including the SEC—though it technically doesn’t actually eliminate any agency (as we might expect of government).

Shannon Croll tells us the establishment excuse given for the new regulation scheme: "The Financial Institution Regulatory Administration proposes that a single U.S. bank regulator would combine parts of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision. Since regulatory supervisory duties are split between four independent agencies this allowed for Banks to shop for the supervisor of their choice; certain regulatory agencies have been known to be easier in the examination process than others."

While that may be true, this new proposal does much more that is dangerous and doesn’t even close that minor loophole—since insiders from the big banks will always control FIRA and secretly grant exceptions to their friends. The language in this bill is so general as to give FIRA virtually unlimited powers to expand into any area of regulation and control. The record keeping requirements it can mandate will make the IRS look benign. And, because this bill contains no specific limiting criteria, this agency will still be able to do almost anything with total discretion—including covering for the financial evils of the insider banks that brought on the financial crisis of 2008, just as the SEC did before. This is a con job folks and is just as big a leap into socialism as the Health Care reform bill was to medical freedom. The Republicans, as usual, are utterly failing to oppose it properly.

The closest thing I can come to describing the scope of this mega-agency (which could easily absorb all of the $50B premiums taken from the largest banks just for administrative costs) is to compare it to the creation of the huge umbrella agency over national security in the USA —The Department of Homeland Security. It’s just that big in both scope, cost, politicization, and potential bureaucratic inefficiency.

The reason I sought out a copy of the bill was to see for myself whether or not it allowed for future bailouts or not. Yes, there was non-binding language that indicated it was the intent of the bill: "To promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end ‘too big to fail’, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes."

But it is those "other purposes" that should worry us—and there are bailout provisions which I will cover later. In the name of protecting us from these Wall Street predators (which are real) it encircles us with new agencies that have the power to mandate all types of compliance and record keeping requirements that eliminate one’s liberty to do business without big brother watching over us.

What the bill actually does: The general powers of FIRA are huge:

1) power to collect any information from any other agency, including state government agencies—giving it superiority in scope in all investigations,

2) mandate companies who "pose a threat to the US financial system" (which could be widely applied to almost anything) to register with FIRA and submit to FIRA risk management policies--yet to be written. Later portions force the inclusion of all "private pools of capital".

3) mandate record keeping on all private financial entities with no limitations on what government may require.

4) monitor all financial services

5) promulgate regulations to establish heightened risk-based capital, leverage, and liquidity requirements that increase on a graduated basis for certain bank holding companies (totally arbitrary, with no guarantee that the real problem ones like Goldman won’t be let off the hook);

6) regulate derivatives and hedge funds (these are so complex, however, that loop-holes will surely abound)

7) control all banking and thrift institutions of whatever size

8) control issuance of Municipal securities

9) regulate all credit practices, and mortgages

10) control credit rating agencies

There is no doubt that certain controls are necessary to prohibit fraudulent practices (naked shorts, no capital backing, collusion, misrepresentation etc), but with virtually no specific language in the bill for us to determine if it will do as claimed, passage of this bill is simply a carte blanche grant of unlimited regulatory power.

The bill also creates a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) which has wholesale powers to regulate all sales claims, and business practices of any financial company of any size. "It shall be unlawful for any person to advertise, market, offer, sell, enforce, or attempt to enforce, any term, agreement, change in terms, fee or charge in connection with a consumer financial product or service that is not in conformity with this title." The actual regulations and rules, however, are not in the bill. They will be written later. This supposed consumer watchdog has the power to impose fines, and record keeping requirements on all business transactions.

An Office of National Insurance is created as well which appears to be a larger and more powerful FDIC, supposedly funded by $50B in fees from the "too big to fail" institutions. $50B is peanuts compared to the $500B –and still counting—in funds the FDIC has gone through in the past two years. It is in this provision that bailouts will still occur.

The reported on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s similar objection. McConnell "argued that the bill’s $50 billion industry-supported fund wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of future crises and that taxpayers would be left to foot the rest of the bill." However, "Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin sought to refute several arguments made by the senator, saying: ‘The legislation makes clear that if the $50 billion fund is insufficient, then the institutions themselves, the industry, will be assessed to make up the difference... There are no more taxpayer-funded bailouts. Period,’ Wolin said."

It certainly isn’t that cut and dried. As Andrew Cockburn wrote for CounterPunch: "More recently, there are reports that the bill will be stripped of a provision requiring a levy on the ‘too big to fail’ banks as an insurance fund in the event of possible future defaults. However, anyone who believes official trumpetings about ending mega-bank bailouts should take a look at the paragraph on page 1379: ‘During times of severe economic distress,’ it reads, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation [under the new direction of the Office of National Insurance] ‘shall create a widely available program to guarantee obligations of solvent insured depository institutions or solvent depository institution holding companies (including any affiliates thereof)...’ In plain English, this means that the next time they bring the system to ruin, the banks and bank holding companies will get bailed out by the taxpayers, just like this time. However disgruntled they may feel, the banks are not undone just yet."

I expect we have the same feigned cry of protest that the big banks put on in 1913 to make the public think they were against the passage of the Federal Reserve Act—which they had in fact conceived at the secret meetings on Jekyll Island. The public is being feted with horror stories about Goldman Sachs which, though true, are only being aired in order to create a demand for passage of this larger control agenda. The big banks will always have people they control named to the managment board of FIRA, just like the SEC before it. This is easy to do given that all recent Secretaries of the Treasury, which nominate these heads, have been former high officials of major Wall Street investment banks.

For arguments sake, let’s suppose that large scale bailouts won’t be forthcoming even if still permitted by the fine print as a "just in case" clause. Certainly, there would be a huge public outcry even though the PTB know the public can’t do anything about it even if it happens. The point is: the bailouts have already been done. The worst offenders of these huge speculative con-jobs that brought down the economy have already been made whole and are prospering like no other banks—not only because of their access to TARP funds and other off the books bailouts, but zero interest loans from the FED, to which they have applied to low risk carry trade investments that have reaped steady profits in the billions.

If FIRA makes good on its promises to start liquidating problem firms, who will be the beneficiaries of that liquidation process? The big banks, of course—because only they have the new liquidity to be offered first choice in buying up the good assets of the failing institutions. This is precisely how the FDIC is operating today. Slowly but surely, the good assets of all failing banks are being transferred to the stronger and the poor taxpayer is having to pick up the tab for the bad assets nobody wants. This is the process that is being institutionalized on an even larger scale in this phony reform bill. Result: the big get bigger and the small get smaller and can’t compete.

Also, it is important to note that the Senate version of Ron Paul's Audit the Fed proposal, it would not allow the GAO to look into the Fed's massive purchase of toxic assets, its hundreds of billions in foreign currency swaps with other central banks or its open market operations, among other restrictions.

In the end, we have to look at all these attempts to reform major corrupt institutions by Congress as futile or worse. Campaign Finance Reform didn’t stop the political payoff system and only restricted private political speech. Health Care Reform did nothing to stop all of the evils of the government and business subsidized insurance system, but it did destroy our liberty to choose. Likewise, Financial Services reform was written many months ago by insiders who will give it the appearance of reform, but it will do nothing by put a regulatory noose around those few financial institutions that remain in this country–who were not part of the problem.

story end
© 2010 Joel Skousen

The GM Bailout

This cartoon is a direct retort to a Mike Thompson cartoon recently ran in
the Detroit Free Press, about the "seven dirty words can't say in
Washington" about GM claiming to repay their loan from Uncle Sam. The
reality of their claim is that they are actually giving money back to
the government using government money in order to get even more
government money. So I made a cartoon mocking his.


Should a Stock Market Decline Stop the Goldman Prosecutions?

As of 2007, the bottom 50% of the U.S. population owned only one-half of one percent of all stocks, bonds and mutual funds in the U.S. On the other hand, the top 1% owned owned 50.9%.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Half of America has only 0.5% of the stocks and bonds

Source: Institute for Policy Studies

(Of course, the divergence between the wealthiest and the rest has only increased since 2007.)

As I noted in January:

Vincent Deluard - a strategist for TrimTabs Investment Research (25% of the top 50 hedge funds in the world use TrimTabs' research for market timing) - says:

We've never seen this before – such a huge rally, and the little guy is out.
In other words, the stock market rally is due almost entirely to hedgies, pension funds, banks and other institutional investors, and not every day investors.


TrimTabs notes that small investors pulled out $14 billion net from stock mutual funds from the beginning of last year through mid-December, on top of a net $245 billion withdrawn in 2008.

Given that, at the end of September, individuals held 80% of the $19 trillion in stock in U.S. companies, both private and public - according to the Federal Reserve (see this, for example)- recovery will not happen so long as the little guys are sitting on the sidelines.

TrimTabs notes that most of $592 billion taken out of money market mutual funds last year has gone into bond and bond-hybrid funds instead.

No wonder David Rosenberg is saying:

  • "People have been lured into two bubbles seven years apart, and for a lot of them it's over."
  • "The bulls say if the market is up this much without retail investors, just watch when they come in, but it isn't going to happen."
  • Investors who have not been spooked or angered by the market are probably too poor to buy anyway.

Many people say that keeping the stock exchange up is important to maintaining people's wealth. But since the bottom 50% of Americans don't have much skin in the game, and the giant prop desks are probably doing most of the trading, the stock market really doesn't affect most Americans very much.

After Hank Paulson initially asked for $700 billion to bail out the banks, Congress refused. Then the stock market tanked (and Paulson said there would be martial law unless TARP was approved), and Congress gave Paulson his bailout. They said they had to do it, because their constituents were being hurt by the stock market downturn.

As I pointed out last November, there are a lot of millionaires in Congress:

A report by University of California, Berkeley economics professor Emmanuel Saez concludes that income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression.

The report shows that:

  • Income inequality is worse than it has been since at least 1917
  • "The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007"
  • "In the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth."
As others have pointed out, the average wage of Americans, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1970s. The minimum wage, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1950s. See this.

On the other hand, billionaires have never had it better (and see this).

Of the 535 members of Congress, over 44% - 237 to be exact - are millionaires. Fifty have net worths of at least $10 million, and seven are worth more than $100 million. By comparison, around 1% of Americans are millionaires. There is no other minority group that is as overrepresented in Congress. See this.
Indeed, Herbert argues that the real reason that Congress approved the TARP bailouts is that their money was on the line. In other words, they had a lot of skin in the game, and so they voted to bail out their own assets. But they just pretended it was for the good of the American people.

Whether or not Herbert is right (Paulson did pull a bait-and-switch), the information discussed above makes for valuable background for looking at the Goldman prosecutions and the stock market.

Specifically, I'm already hearing Goldman defenders say, "See, when you go after Goldman, the market tanks! Back off, or it will hurt the American people!"

Don't believe it ...

The economy can only be stabilized if the people who committed fraud are prosecuted.

And given the primary dealers' alleged ability to manipulate the market (see below), Goldman itself could crash the market and blame it on the "investors".

Note: Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said in September that giants like Goldman are using their size to manipulate the market:

"The main problem that Goldman raises is a question of size: 'too big to fail.' In some markets, they have a significant fraction of trades. Why is that important? They trade both on their proprietary desk and on behalf of customers. When you do that and you have a significant fraction of all trades, you have a lot of information."

Further, he says, "That raises the potential of conflicts of interest, problems of front-running, using that inside information for your proprietary desk. And that's why the Volcker report came out and said that we need to restrict the kinds of activity that these large institutions have. If you're going to trade on behalf of others, if you're going to be a commercial bank, you can't engage in certain kinds of risk-taking behavior."

The giants (especially Goldman Sachs) have also used high-frequency program trading which not only distorted the markets - making up more than 70% of stock trades - but which also let the program trading giants take a sneak peak at what the real (aka “human”) traders are buying and selling, and then trade on the insider information. See this, this, this, this and this. (This is frontrunning, which is illegal; but it is a lot bigger than garden variety frontrunning, because the program traders are not only trading based on inside knowledge of what their own clients are doing, they are also trading based on knowledge of what all other traders are doing).

Goldman also admitted that its proprietary trading program can "manipulate the markets in unfair ways". The giant banks have also allegedly used their Counterparty Risk Management Policy Group (CRMPG) to exchange secret information and formulate coordinated mutually beneficial actions, all with the government's blessings.

U.S. States Consider Starting Their Own Banks

ATLANTA, Georgia, Apr 30, 2010 (IPS) - At least eight U.S. states are considering proposals to start state-run banks in the wake of an economic crisis where many private banks ceased or greatly decreased their lending, literally shrinking the money pool available in state economies.

Economist Ellen Brown, author of "Web of Debt", has been writing commentaries on various websites and runs a Google Group that has been pushing the idea of state-run banks for a couple of years, efforts which she says have made a lot of state legislators aware that a state-run bank was even a possibility.

North Dakota is the only one out of the 50 U.S. states that is still operating with a fiscal surplus, and some economists argue it is in part due to the state-owned Bank of North Dakota - the only bank of its kind in the U.S. - which has been able to pump money into its own economy by making loans to farmers, small businesses and families.

Numerous states are beginning to consider the idea of starting their own bank, since the issuance of credit is one of the main ways that money enters the economy.

The George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations have pumped trillions of dollars into private banks through the federal bank bail-outs, with the hope that they will begin lending again. Yet any entity can start a bank, including a corporation, university, nonprofit, or even a governmental entity like a state, city, or county.

Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington each have proposals on the table in their respective state legislatures considering the formation of a state-run bank in one way or another.

In addition, current candidates for political office in eight states - California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington State - are pushing a state-run bank as part of their platform.

"I researched this for several months," State Sen. Hanson Clark of Detroit, Michigan, told IPS. "I spoke to the president of the Bank of North Dakota in early February. It's a way to get our economy going in the region and the state, to create more jobs. Time and time again business people would tell me they were ready to expand, do projects, but they didn't have financing."

"This is really a market-based approach to create jobs," Clark said, adding that he has drafted legislation but that he is not optimistic about its passage. "Even though we're in a dire economy, this legislature is so paralysed on doing the status quo."

Washington State Rep. Bob Hasegawa is more optimistic about the bill that he's introduced. "We had a hearing last Session. It was very well-received by the Committee. The Speaker of the House is a supporter. In the interim we will speak to stakeholders. Next session we'll have something to pass," he said.

Even a Republican in the Conservative-leaning state of Missouri is pushing a state-run bank in his legislature, at least for the purpose of lending money to the state and possibly to local governments.

"It strikes me as somewhat unique and interesting," said State Rep. Allen Icet.

"Missouri has bonds... indebtedness we have to pay. Like all sister states, we face financial challenges. We, the state of Missouri, could benefit by following the path of North Dakota by creating a state bank, thereby avoiding interest payments on bonded indebtedness," Icet said.

There are numerous advantages to a state running its own bank, each premised upon the little-known practice called fractional reserve lending. Put simply, private banks in the U.S. and many countries lend money that they do not have, but that they literally create as an entry in their accounting books at the moment the loan is made. In the U.S., banks are allowed to lend up to 10 times the amount of money they have on deposit with the Federal Reserve.

Therefore, by starting a bank, states can multiply the power of the money they have from tax revenues by 10, by making loans to farmers, small businesses, and others.

"The state bank partners with other banks. It serves as back-up capital of those banks, taking loans off banks' books, making room for more," Brown said.

Brown also noted that state-run banks could lend the state money, whereas private banks lend money to the state at six percent interest.

Currently, the U.S .Congress is holding hearings regarding the investment firm Goldman Sachs, which, among other things, apparently made investments that wagered against the success of their own clients.

"None of that was happening in North Dakota. They're trying to make honest loans, they're not trying to cheat the system. Their mission is to serve the state. Their function is to serve the farmers that develop agriculture and [to serve] alternative energy sources," Brown said.

"They're there to take the long view of what's good for the community," Brown said.


Brown - Web of Debt, 3rd ed. rev. (2008) - Synopsis

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Oil hits Louisiana coast, could reach Florida by Sunday

VENICE, La. — An oil spill that threatened to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez disaster spread out of control with a faint sheen washing ashore along the Gulf Coast on Thursday night as fishermen rushed to scoop up shrimp and crews spread floating barriers around marshes.

The spill was bigger than imagined — five times more than first estimated — and closer. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta, lapping at the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines. "It is of grave concern," said David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."

The slick could become the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife.

The spill, caused by an explosion on April 20, is estimated to be leaking as many as 210,000 gallons of crude a day. It could continue for weeks.

President Barack Obama stepped up federal efforts to help clean up the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, putting the Department of Defense at the ready and dispatching three Cabinet officers to the scene.

Biologists from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are scattered around Florida's coast, taking a "before" snapshot so they can better assess any damage should the spill reach here, according to David Palandro, the FWC's scientific support coordinator for oil spills.

They are taking water samples, checking the plankton population, testing the oysters in the Panhandle, Palandro said. "All this is to try to paint a picture of what's, quote unquote, 'normal,' " he explained.

Florida officials can deploy a system of booms to block oil from reaching the portion of the state's coastline that's most at risk, Palandro said, "but we're not sure where to put it yet." The spill is like a hurricane barreling through the gulf, he said: "We have a cone of uncertainty — and it's big."

Projections by NOAA suggest that the slick may reach Pensacola's sugar-white beaches by Sunday or Monday.

The oil that first hits the shore is likely to be "weathered," and thus less toxic, from having been in the gulf for several days, said Doug Helton, NOAA's chief oil spill response expert. But the oil that follows will likely be thicker, and as the spill continues it will be harder to protect the coast.

"We're going to do our best to minimize the damage," he said. "We're not going to prevent it from happening."

The Coast Guard worked with BP, which operated the oil rig, to set fires to burn the oil off the water's surface. The Coast Guard abandoned that plan after sea conditions deteriorated.

In the three months it could take to drill a relief well, the spill could easily eclipse the 11 million gallons that leaked from the Exxon Valdez in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989.

BP has already contacted Lee Fox, executive director of Save Our Seabirds of Sarasota, to be ready to roll when the slick shows up on a Florida coast. Fox, who oversaw the rescue of seabirds during the 1993 tanker spill in Tampa Bay, wrote a manual for how to handle oiled-up birds.

"They told us we'll probably be called up Sunday or Monday," said Fox, who lives in Wimauma. She has already packed a van full of medical equipment, towels and tubs, plus 75 cages and lots of Dawn dishwashing liquid.

"There is something in that Dawn detergent that cuts that oil right off of them," she said.

The spill has complicated Obama's plan to expand drilling. A spokesman said — at least for now — Obama remains committed to offshore drilling.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., meanwhile, filed legislation blocking the Interior Department from conducting seismic tests in the Atlantic as part of its plan to expand offshore drilling.

Pundit Rush Limbaugh, who has a home on Florida's Palm Beach, suggested that the explosion could have resulted from Earth Day eco-sabotage by one of the rig workers. Limbaugh also said a cleanup was unnecessary.

"The ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there," Limbaugh said. "It's natural. It's as natural as the ocean water is."

Obama dispatched Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson to help with the spill.

Napolitano announced the creation of a second command post in Mobile, Ala., in addition to the one in Louisiana, to manage coastal impact in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Salazar ordered an immediate review of 30 offshore drilling rigs.

Times staff writer Craig Pittman contributed to this report, which contains information from Associated Press and McClatchy Newspapers.

Oil spill disaster is now 'out of control'

A Northern Gannet found on Friday in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Louisiana, is given treatment
(Sean Gardner/Reuters)

A Northern Gannet found in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Louisiana, is given treatment

President Barack Obama will today visit the Gulf of Mexico coastline threatened by the giant oil spill, as experts warn that the spill from a ruptured oil rig might be growing five times faster than previously estimated.

The oil is gushing from BP's sunken Deepwater Horizon rig at 25,000 barrels a day and could reach 50,000 barrels a day, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earlier estimates had put the leak at 5,000 barrels a day.

Professor Ian MacDonald, an ocean specialist at Florida State University, said the new estimate suggested that the leak had already spread 9 million gallons of heavy crude oil across the Gulf. This compares with 11 million that leaked from the Exxon Valdez tanker when it hit a reef off Alaska in 1989.

Hans Gruber, a Miami University researcher, said that satellite images of the slick on Friday showed that it was three time bigger than estimated, covering an area of 3,500 sq miles (9,000 sq km), similar in size to Puerto Rico.

At the current estimated rate of leakage, it would take less than eight weeks for the huge spill to surpass the Exxon Valdez disaster.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that deteriorating conditions on the sea bed could result in a flow of 50,000 barrels a day, sufficient to produce one of America’s worst ecological disasters

Experts and officials said that their greatest fear was that a disintegration of pipes close to the rig could produce an “unchecked gusher” that would ravage America’s southern coastline.

High winds and rough seas hampered efforts to prevent the slick from reaching the coastline on Saturday, raising fears that there was no way to protect the fragile wetlands of Louisiana and its neighbouring states.

While the leading edge of the slick appears to be little more than a sheen, Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Governor, warned that the millions of gallons of crude being driven into shore by southeasterly winds formed a potential catastrophe.

"This spill threatens not only our wetlands and our fisheries, but also our way of life," Mr Jindal told reporters. "They originally thought we would see heavier oil hitting us today. They've pushed that back until tomorrow."

Environmentalists said it could take decades for the maze of marshes — more than 40 per cent of America's ecologically fragile wetlands — to recover if waves simply wash the oil over miles of boom set up to protect the coast.

"The surface area is huge," said Mark Floegel, a researcher with Greenpeace. "There probably isn't enough boom in the world to protect what needs to be protected."

Commandant Admiral Thad Allen of the US Coast Guard said the adverse weather conditions meant that a major shore impact was inevitable.

"There's enough oil out there, I think it's logical to assume that it will impact the shoreline. The question is when and where," he told reporters.

Meanwhile criticism of BP was intensifying for apparently underestimating the scale of the disaster.

The British oil giant faces questions over how much it knew about previous problems with “blowout preventers”, the giant underwater valves designed to shut down oil flow in the event of accidents.

The valves on the rig failed to work after it exploded on April 20. BP technicians have been unable to activate them even though they appear to be undamaged by the blast.

BP has calculated that it might take up to three months to sink a new well that could cut off the flow of the Deepwater Horizon’s oil.

The worst oil spill affecting US waters was caused by a 1979 blowout aboard the Ixtoc, a Mexican rig that discharged at least 130 million gallons, 600 miles south of the Texas coast. It took nine months to plug the leak.

Shanghai World Expo 2010 opening ceremony: spectacular fireworks display in China

Shanghai celebrated the opening of the 2010 World Expo with a lavish riverside display of fireworks, fountains and lasers that rivalled the launch of the Beijing Olympics in its extravagance

10 hours of sleep every day can help you hit 100!

Want to live to 100? Well, then get 10 hours of sleep a night, suggests a new study.

Sleep is a major factor in rejuvenating the body and activating the immune system.

In the study, boffins found that people who reach 100 are three times more likely to spend at least 10 hours a night in bed.

The study involved analysis of data from a 2005 Chinese survey. The sample was composed of 15,638 adults aged 65 and older, including 3,927 who were between 90 and 99 and 2,794 who were 100 or older, reports The Daily Express.

Dr Danan Gu, of Portland State University in Oregon, said: “About 65 percent of the sample overall reported that their sleep quality was good or very good, and the weighted average daily sleep time was about seven-and- a-half hours including naps.

“Surprisingly, the oldest adults aged 100 and above were 70 per cent more likely to report good sleep quality than younger participants aged 65 to 79.

“Participants who were 100 years of age and older were less likely to sleep for five or fewer hours a day but they were almost three times more likely to sleep for 10 hours or more.

“Men were 23 per cent more likely than women to report sleeping well.”

When humans sleep, their cells regenerate and they also remove toxins and activate immune system cells.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows disastrous legacy of Halliburton and the real cost of the oil era

(NaturalNews) Oil is a dirty business. It's not just the politics of oil, which are dirty enough by themselves -- it's also the environmental toll of the substance. Even when used correctly, its chemical byproducts cause air pollution and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But the real mess comes when things go terribly wrong -- much like what happened recently when the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank to the ocean floor off the coast of Louisiana. This set in motion a chain of disastrous events that are only now beginning to unfold.

Nearly 50% of the seafood consumed by Americans comes from the Gulf of Mexico, by the way. That explains why seafood contains such an alarmingly high concentration of mercury as well as industrial chemicals -- because the Gulf of Mexico is America's toilet where every toxic chemical, heavy metal and pharmaceutical that's flushed down the drain ends up getting dumped. No wonder the Gulf of Mexico is home to one of the planet's largest ocean "dead zones" -- over 6,000 square miles of dead water where fish can't even survive (

And that was before the oil spill. Now, thanks to a creeping oil slick that's approaching shorelines throughout the gulf, the breeding grounds for a huge number of marine species is now threatened. Species from pelicans to shrimp are likely to be devastated by this oil slick.

It's already being called a "mega-disaster" by environmentalists. "The magnitude and the potential for ecological damage is probably more great than anything we've ever seen in the Gulf of Mexico," said Nancy Rabalais in a Washington Post interview ( She heads the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie, La. "Once it hits the shoreline, it'll get into everything."

"Ninety-seven percent of commercial fish and shellfish in the Gulf depend on estuaries and wetlands during their life cycle," said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Those wetlands are about to be covered with a thick brown slime that will make reproduction of seafood species virtually impossible.

Oil continues to spill out of the sunken rig wreck at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day. So far, there's little hope of stopping it. Observers are already characterizing this spill as "worse than the Exxon Valdez spill" in 1989.

Everything you've read here so far is being widely reported in the mainstream media. The story that follows, however, is much more difficult to find.

The Halliburton link and Washington hypocrisy

It was only a few weeks ago that Obama proudly announced he would expand offshore drilling, breaking one of his many now-worthless campaign promises. The lack of outcry from Democrats over this announcement was nothing short of bizarre: If Bush had announced an expansion of offshore drilling, he would have been widely (and rightly) condemned for it by the left. But when Obama announces the same thing, it's apparently okay with Democrats.

Back on the Republican side of things, the company Halliburton -- yes, the same one that rakes in billions of dollars in profits rebuilding things in the Middle East after the U.S. military blows them up -- is the company that completed the "rig cementing" just 20 hours before the rig exploded. A federal study, meanwhile, shows that most rig blowouts are caused by problems with rig cementing. So now it appears that Halliburton may be implicated in this environmental disaster. (

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that a lawsuit filed by a rig technician who was injured in the explosion claims Halliburton made crucial mistakes in cementing the well, "increasing the pressure at the well and contributing to the fire, explosion and resulting oil spill." (

Hurricane Season and the BP Oil Rig Disaster

One thing you don’t hear much mention of in all the coverage of the BP oil rig blowout that is now pouring 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, just a few dozen miles off the coast of Louisiana, is the 2010 hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1, but which can start significantly earlier.

This is, after all, an El Nino year, so storms could be more frequent and stronger than usual. In 2007, recall, the first storm of the season was Tropical Storm Andrea, which reached a size strong enough to merit a name on May 7, just a week later than today.

Why does this matter? Because any attempt to use booms or chemicals keep the oil away from the Gulf Coast would be completely impossible in the event of a major storm entering the Gulf. The combination of high winds, storm surges and high waves would push the oil slick way inland up the bayous and onto the shelter islands that protect 40 percent of America’s wetlands. (Even a moderate wind and a chop on the water near shore was defeating the booms put in place on Friday, and rendering any attempt to burn off the oil impossible.)

It could do worse, too. The strong winds in hurricanes, sweeping across the surging waves they have created, suck up a considerable amount of surface water and blow it inland. This time, however, those winds could also end up picking up a considerable amount of the oil slick floating on the sea's surface, which would be deposited as rain well inland, damaging croplands and forests, too.

Why is nobody talking about this? A Google search for the words “hurricane season” and “BP Oil leak” turned up lots of references to the “devastation of Hurricane Katrina” but nary an article in a major news story about what effect this year’s hurricanes might have on the clean-up effort from what is likely to be a bigger oil disaster than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

So far, it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be no quick shutdown of the blown-out BP well, meaning that it could keep spewing out its contents into the Gulf, probably at an increasing rate, for several months. That would put it well into the middle of this year’s hurricane season, making it almost certain that at least one hurricane or tropical storm will pass right over the area and push that giant oil slick ashore.

And that’s not to mention what effect an untimely hurricane might have on any attempts to shut down the well. The most likely strategy is drilling several new wells that could both relieve the pressure on the current well, and also that could be used to pump mud or concrete or some other heavy, thick compound into the leaking well to try and stop it up. A major hurricane could wreak havoc with the new drilling rigs, particularly if only smaller ones are available for the job on short notice. A hurricane could also thwart efforts to drop a large tent over the leaking well--another scheme that is being contemplated, that would presumably funnel the rising crude oil into pipes that could deliver it to tankers for removal.

So far, all the talk has been about the urgency of getting booms in place to keep the oil slick from coming ashore, which it is starting to do now. But the real urgency should be to try to shut the thing down securely before the first hurricane hits, and to get as much of the already floating oil either chemically treated, burned off or skimmed before that hurricane arrives and blows it all ashore.

If you want a real disaster scenario, imagine this: a big hurricane -- say Category 4 or 5 -- enters the Gulf and heads straight for New Orleans again, and blows out the levees again. Last time, there was a fairly toxic stew of water covering much of the city. This time it would be water mixed with millions of gallons of crude oil.

The Katrina disaster would look like a picnic by comparison.

Hmmmm. No wonder neither BP nor the government is talking about hurricanes.

They really don’t have much they can do except cross their fingers.

The idea that the president’s expanded offshore drilling plan is still on the table is simply appalling.

Oil spill threatens to spread to East Coast

GULFPORT, Mississippi (AP) – Scientists fear if the oil spill isn't contained and the underwater well continues to spew unstopped, it could grow so large that it may be sucked with the currents around the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.

Duke University biologist Larry Crowder said Saturday if that happens, the scope of the disaster would not only affect the gulf states but portions of the United States Eastern Seaboard.

The gulf's waters come through the Yucatan Strait between Mexico and Cuba, then circulate in what's called the Loop Current, before sweeping south along Florida's west coast. It then moves up the East Coast before ending in the North Atlantic.

Satellite images show the surface area of the gulf oil spill has nearly tripled in size in just a day.

VENICE, Louisiana (AP) – A sense of doom settled over the American coastline from Louisiana to Florida on Saturday as a massive oil slick spewing from a ruptured well kept growing, and experts warned that an uncontrolled gusher could create a nightmare scenario if the Gulf Stream carries it toward the Atlantic.

President Barack Obama planned to visit the region Sunday to assess the situation amid growing criticism that the government and oil company BP PLC should have done more to stave off the disaster. Meanwhile, efforts to stem the flow and remove oil from the surface by skimming it, burning it or spiking it with chemicals to disperse it continued with little success.

"These people, we've been beaten down, disaster after disaster," said Matt O'Brien of Venice, whose fledgling wholesale shrimp dock business is under threat from the spill.

"They've all got a long stare in their eye," he said. "They come asking me what I think's going to happen. I ain't got no answers for them. I ain't got no answers for my investors. I ain't got no answers."

He wasn't alone. As the spill surged toward disastrous proportions, critical questions lingered: Who created the conditions that caused the gusher?

Did BP and the government react robustly enough in its early days? And, most important, how can it be stopped before the damage gets worse?

The Coast Guard conceded Saturday that it's nearly impossible to know how much oil has gushed since the April 20 rig explosion, after saying earlier it was at least 1.6 million gallons — equivalent to about 2 1/2 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The blast killed 11 workers and threatened beaches, fragile marshes and marine mammals, along with fishing grounds that are among the world's most productive.

Even at that rate, the spill should eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident as the worst US oil disaster in history in a matter of weeks. But a growing number of experts warned that the situation may already be much worse.

The oil slick over the water's surface appeared to triple in size over the past two days, which could indicate an increase in the rate that oil is spewing from the well, according to one analysis of images collected from satellites and reviewed by the University of Miami. While it's hard to judge the volume of oil by satellite because of depth, it does show an indication of change in growth, experts said.

"The spill and the spreading is getting so much faster and expanding much quicker than they estimated," said Hans Graber, executive director of the university's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing. "Clearly, in the last couple of days, there was a big change in the size."

Window of opportunity for solar heating fraudsters

UK regulations for solar thermal installers may not be strong enough to weed out cowboy companies, experts say


Not all solar heating installers offer a credible service. Photograph: Rex Features

Following an undercover investigation in the May edition of Which? magazine, claiming that 10 out of 14 solar thermal installers exaggerated the technology's potential energy savings, experts are questioning the UK government's attempts to regulate the industry before a feed in tariff for renewable heat comes into place next year.

Consumer watchdog Which? asked 14 companies earlier this year to quote for the installation of a solar thermal system at a property in south-east England. The investigation revealed that a number of solar heating installers, such as Everest and Ideal Solar Energy, used high-pressure sales tactics and hugely over-stated the potential benefits of installing a solar thermal system.

An independent expert calculated the proposed system would cut 10% from the Which? household's annual gas bill. Ideal Solar Energy quoted savings of 50%, while Everest quoted a 43% cut. Everest also wildly exaggerated cost savings, claiming the homeowner would save £35,000 over 20 years.

The UK government's Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says its quality assurance scheme for small-scale renewable energy, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), will prevent false claims from being made when a renewable heat subsidy, the Renewable Heat Incentive, becomes available in April next year.

MCS accredited installers must be members of a consumer code of practice under the scheme. MCS also offers consumers routes for any complaints over pressure selling and "over promising" on likely outputs, according to DECC.

However experts in the solar industry question the robustness of the MCS installer accreditation and warn that cowboys will slip through the MCS's regulatory net.

Few customers would fall for a salesman who tries to sell a simple electric kettle for £700 with the promise that it'll cook all your meals and do your dishes

Chris Laughton, managing director of the Very Efficient Heating Company and a fellow of the Institute of Domestic heating and Environmental Engineers, claims the MCS accreditation is "predominantly a paperwork exercise". He points out that the MCS accreditation does not require the installer to have any specific professional qualifications.

One redeeming feature of the MCS scheme, according to Laughton, is that it provides a standard method for working out the average energy produced by a renewable technology, which if used properly should allow customers to get a accurate estimate of their energy generation potential plus or minus 15%.

Tobi Kellner, information officer at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, calls for the government to educate consumers about what to expect from solar heating. The MCS customer complaints system will not work, he says, if customers do not realise they've been duped.

"Few customers would fall for a salesman who tries to sell a simple electric kettle for £700 with the promise that it'll cook all your meals and do your dishes. But with solar water heating systems, many customers just don't know what's realistic in terms of price as well as benefits from the system."

In anticipation of the government's Renewable Heat Incentive scheme offering UK energy consumers financial incentives to generate renewable heat from 2011, Kellner says now would be the right time to roll out a government campaign explaining to people what to expect from the technology.

He explains, in simple terms, "a solar water heating system … costs £2,000 to £5,000 and you'll save £200 to £300 every year for 20 years."