Tag: Huffington Post

Loving, caring dogs!

A lovely reminder of our fabulous dogs.

Before moving on to the story, can I just say that the link to this report was emailed to me by a follower of Learning from Dogs. It underlines something that I had no idea about when I first started up this blog in July 2009. The wonderful sense of community that develops between a blogger and his or her readers and followers.

So many of you that interact with this place feel like long-established friends, and are treasured.

Marg, thank you for sending me the link to the following. It’s a wonderful item that appeared on the Australian outlet of The Huffington Post.

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Dog Escapes Cage To Comfort Rescue Puppies During Their First Night In Kennel

“We’ve never really seen it before, where a dog sneaks out to some puppies and is so excited to see them.”

02/03/2016
Kimberly Yam, Associate Good News Editor, The Huffington Post

This concerned dog just wanted to make sure some young pups would be OK in a new place.

Maggie the dog was staying at the Barker’s Pet Motel and Grooming in Alberta, Canada, when she was caught on a surveillance camera sitting outside a kennel that held two 9-week-old rescue puppies named Hannah and Kari last week.

Barkers Pet Motel and Grooming last Saturday
Barkers Pet Motel and Grooming
last Saturday

The canine sneaked out of her own kennel to comfort them on their first night there, and after pet motel owner Sandy Aldred let Maggie into the pups’ cage, the older dog spent the entire night cuddling with the two new guys on the block, according to ABC News.

“We’ve never really seen it before, where a dog sneaks out to some puppies and is so excited to see them.” Aldred’s son, Alex, who also works at the pet motel, told ABC News.

Anna Cain, office manager at the pet motel, told The Huffington Post that Maggie, who is a former shelter dog herself, had been staying there while her owners were on vacation. The puppies were dropped off at the facility after they were rescued by Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society.

Barkers Pet Motel and Grooming last Saturday
Barkers Pet Motel and Grooming
last Saturday

The thoughtful dog, who recently had puppies of her own that were adopted out by a humane society, likely heard Hannah and Kari crying, according to a Facebook post from the motel. So Maggie squeezed her way out of her kennel after pushing aside a water bowl built into her door. She then went right to the pups’ cage.

“She paid them a lot of attention and you could see her little tail wagging. And she’d do the little bow down to them and poke them through the chainlink gate of their room,” Aldred told CBC News. “She just decided that was where she was going to stay until we came to get her.”

When Aldred returned to the kennels and let Maggie into the puppies’ cage, she supervised to see if all the dogs would get along. And of course they did.

“They were just all so happy to be together,” Aldred told CBC. “She was nuzzling them really gently and nudging them, and then she laid down and let them cuddle with her.”

The trio stayed together and were even found snuggling the next morning, ABC News reported. While Maggie’s actions are sweet, it’s not uncommon for dogs who have had puppies, to act compassionately like she did.

“It’s innate in a lot of female dogs, especially if they’ve had a litter in the past. It’s just in their nature,” Deanna Thompson of AARCS told ABC News. “We’ve seen it in a lot of dogs even with male dogs, when they hear other puppies crying they want to console them and make sure they’re feeling safe.”

Maggie and the pups have parted ways unfortunately as her owners have returned from their trip. There are pending adoption applications for both puppies, but for the time being, the pair are in the motel, Cain said.

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Other readers who know and love dogs will endorse my claim that it is not just crying puppies that are consoled by adult dogs; we humans as well experience a fair degree of compassion from our dogs!

Lovely story!

Cutest, or smartest? You decide.

Misa Minnie being promoted as the world’s smartest puppy.

After getting up at 3am to let Dhalia out for a pee and then waking to find that George had died, I wasn’t really in the mood for a deep and meaningful post for today.

So I have used an item emailed to me by our neighbours, Dordie and Bill, that seemed fun to share with you.

First, watch the video.

then want to know more?

Well you could drop into Misa’s Facebook page or read what appeared in the Huffington Post in the middle of January:

We’ve seen dogs doing tricks you wouldn’t believe — but we’ve never seen a dog look this cute while doing them.

Misa Minnie is a 1-year-old Yorkie pup who has been trained by her owner. At just 18 weeks old, she began performing a wide array of tricks and has now racked up more than 15,000 YouTube fans.

A video from last June resurfaced on Yahoo! this week showing Misa at 31 weeks mastering over two dozen commands.

Misa could easily get by on her looks alone — but with her talent, this little Yorkie really is the whole package.

See you tomorrow, I hope!

Picture parade thirty.

We interrupt your life to bring you a moment of beauty, part two.

Last week I published the first set of pictures sent across by John Hurlburt.  Here is the second set (but do look at the postscript).

John11

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John12

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John13

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John14

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JH15

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JH16

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John17

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John18

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John19

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John20

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Now a bonus.

I was reading Naked Capitalism earlier on Saturday and came across the link to a story in Huffington Post about a young man who jumped into a swollen river in Bangladesh to rescue a young fawn in danger of being swept away to it’s death.  This how that story opens:

Courageous Teen Risks His Life To Save Drowning Baby Deer

This is pretty incredible.

A wildlife photographer visiting Noakhali, Bangladesh, was able to witness — and document — an amazingly courageous teen risk his own life to save a drowning fawn, Caters News Service reports.

The boy waded into the fast current of a surging, swollen river in Noakhali, holding the deer above his head, even as he, himself, disappeared beneath the water at times.

The link in the last sentence takes you to the article as it appeared in The Daily Mail newspaper (online version).

Two of the photographs from that article.

PIC FROM HASIB WAHAB / CATERS NEWS (Pictured: DEER RETURNED SAFELY) - A brave boy fearlessly risked his own life - to save a helpless baby deer from drowning. The boy, believed to be in his early teens, defiantly held the young fawn in one hand above his head as he plunged through the surging river. During the ordeal onlookers were unsure whether the boy was going to appear again. When he finally made it to the other side the locals cheered as the deer was reunited with its family. The incident took place in Noakhali, Bangladesh, when the young fawn became separated from its family during torrential rain and fast-rising floods.
PIC FROM HASIB WAHAB / CATERS NEWS (Pictured: DEER RETURNED SAFELY) – A brave boy fearlessly risked his own life – to save a helpless baby deer from drowning. The boy, believed to be in his early teens, defiantly held the young fawn in one hand above his head as he plunged through the surging river. During the ordeal onlookers were unsure whether the boy was going to appear again. When he finally made it to the other side the locals cheered as the deer was reunited with its family. The incident took place in Noakhali, Bangladesh, when the young fawn became separated from its family during torrential rain and fast-rising floods.

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PIC FROM HASIB WAHAB / CATERS NEWS (Pictured: DEER) - A brave boy fearlessly risked his own life - to save a helpless baby deer from drowning. The boy, believed to be in his early teens, defiantly held the young fawn in one hand above his head as he plunged through the surging river. During the ordeal onlookers were unsure whether the boy was going to appear again. When he finally made it to the other side the locals cheered as the deer was reunited with its family. The incident took place in Noakhali, Bangladesh, when the young fawn became separated from its family during torrential rain and fast-rising floods.
PIC FROM HASIB WAHAB / CATERS NEWS (Pictured: DEER)

Here’s that article in The Daily Mail newspaper.

OK, I know I have a tendency to get a little sentimental but here’s my closing thought.  That is that while there are people in the world such as young Belal who will not hesitate to rescue a vulnerable creature then there’s hope for all of mankind.

Words fail me!

But there is a very good ending!

There was an item in a recent set of links from Naked Capitalism that caught my eye.

It was a link to a story on Huffington Post that I am taking the liberty of republishing.

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Left To Die In A Trash Heap, Abandoned Dog Gets Remarkable Second Chance

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 12/13/2013 5:19 pm EST

A moving video of the extraordinary recovery — and resilience — of an abandoned dog who was left to die in a trash heap is reminding us this week of the healing power of love, friendship and second chances.

On Nov. 15, when Eldad Hagar first laid eyes on Miley, an abandoned dog living among piles of trash on the outskirts of Los Angeles, his heart broke.

“When I got there, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Hagar, the co-founder of animal rescue organization Hope For Paws, told The Huffington Post of his first encounter with the pup. “It’s almost as if this place was struck by a tsunami.”

Miley, covered in mange and infections, was so lifeless and defeated that Hagar, who recorded the dog’s rescue on camera, says she “didn’t even have the energy” to run away from him as he approached her.

Mileytrash1

Hagar says he rushed to Miley’s side after he heard about the pooch’s plight from a local resident. The tipster told him that Miley had been living in the trash heap for at least a few months. It is believed that she was abandoned by her owners.

Though he knew that Miley wouldn’t be in good shape, Hagar says he was still shocked when he finally made contact with her. Her physical deterioration was “definitely one of the worst cases” he’d ever seen, he said.

He knew he had to get Miley to a hospital right away.

Gaining the pup’s trust was no easy feat, however. Hagar says he offered her food and sat with her in the pile of trash for an hour before she was finally ready to leave with him. Then he got her into his car to be brought to the vet.

“She was very lucky we rescued her when we did, because her condition would have continued to deteriorate until she would have died a miserable and painful death,” Hagar said.

After examining Miley, veterinarian Dr. Lisa Youn discovered that the pooch wasn’t just suffering from mange and bacterial infections, but parasites and malnutrition, as well.

“She was in so much pain,” Hagar said.

Mileytrash2

Over the next two weeks, Miley got intensive medical care and was treated with antibiotics, medicine for parasites and frequent medicated baths. Slowly but surely, her spirits began to lift.

It wasn’t, however, until Miley found a best friend that her recovery took a dramatic turn for the better.

Miley met Frankie the chihuahua after he was rescued from a sewer tunnel by Hagar and a friend. The tiny dog had almost drowned, Hagar said, because of a spell of heavy rain.

“He was so scared of everything,” Hagar wrote of Frankie in the video. “Miley took Frankie under her wing and they quickly became really good friends.”

Mileytrash3

Miley and Frankie, who are wonderfully affectionate with each other, are said to be doing well.

The “worst part is behind [them],” Hagar told the HuffPost, adding that Miley should be “100 percent” in a few months.

Watch the adorable duo playing with each other in the video above. To find out more about the work that Hope For Paws does, visit the organization’s website andFacebook page.

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That first YouTube video also had the following comment:

Published on Dec 12, 2013

Please make a small donation to Hope For Paws and help us start 2014 strong with many more rescues. A $5 donation from many people would make all the difference to so many animals: HopeForPaws.org
Hope For Paws took care of Miley’s vet care, but she is now fostered by our friends from The Fuzzy Pet Foundation. Please visit their website to fill an application to adopt her: fuzzyrescue.org
Little guest star – Frankie was also rescued by Hope For Paws (with help from Lisa Chiarelli), and is now being fostered by our friends from The Forgotten Dog Foundation. If you would like to adopt him, please fill an application here: theforgottendog.org
Thanks 🙂
Eldad

The Hope For Paws website is here.  Please, please make a small Christmas donation.  It makes such a difference.  Chapter Twenty-Three of The Book comes out in thirty minutes and, I hope, goes a long way to demonstrate the value of our relationship with dogs over thousands upon thousands of years.

Whoops!

Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.Aldous Huxley

Today’s post is a republishing of a recent essay on TomDispatch by Professor Michael Klare; professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College.  Once again, I am indebted to Tom Engelhardt for such permission.

However, before Michael Klare’s post let me interject this.

Tens of thousands marched to the White House on February 17th, to protest about the Keystone XL pipeline.  Hundreds of thousands more across the globe are in support of the campaign to prevent the XL pipeline from ever being commissioned.

To my mind, political leaders are expected to show wisdom, patience and care in terms of how they respond to public opinion.

So was this really the smartest thing for President Obama to be doing at the same time as the protesters were massing outside the White House!  From the Huffington Post:

Obama Golfed With Oil Men As Climate Protesters Descended On White House

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WASHINGTON — On the same weekend that 40,000 people gathered on the Mall in Washington to protest construction of the Keystone Pipeline — to its critics, a monument to carbon-based folly — President Obama was golfing in Florida with a pair of Texans who are key oil, gas and pipeline players.

Read more of this story here.

On to the TomDispatch guest essay, always introduced by Tom.

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Tomgram: Michael Klare, Will the Keystone XL Pipeline Go Down?

Posted by Michael Klare at 4:54pm, February 10, 2013.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Don’t miss Bill Moyers’s interview with TD Managing Editor Nick Turse on this week’s “Moyers & Company,” which you can watch by clicking here.  (And I don’t mind adding that, in introducing Turse, Moyers calls TomDispatch “the indispensible website if you want the news powerful people would prefer to keep hidden.”)  The focus of the interview is his new book, Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, which, miraculously enough, will be #35 on next week’s New York Times (extended) bestseller list — and well it should be.  If you want to know more about Turse’s work, check out Jonathan Schell’s powerful TomDispatch essay “How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam?” Keep in mind that, for a donation of $100 to this website, you can still get a personalized, signed copy of the book.  Just check out the offer at our donation page.  Or if, like so many others, you are planning to buy the book at Amazon and you go there via any TomDispatch book link like this one, we get a small cut of whatever you purchase at no cost to you. Tom]

Think of it as a prospective irony: In a spirit of pure, blind partisanship, the drill-baby-drill folks in the Republican Party may have done themselves in.  After all, their obsession with the Benghazi incident led them to launch a preemptive strike against the president’s choice for secretary of state, Susan Rice, for her statements on what happened when the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were murdered there.  They sent her nomination down in flames.  In the process, it’s just possible that they took out something far dearer to them.  Though it didn’t get much attention during her disastrous nomination moment, we did learn that Rice and her husband had made significant investments in companies connected to the Canadian tar-sands industry and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is to bring the resulting crude (and carbon-dirty) oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast.  They reportedly had $300,000-$600,000 in stock in TransCanada, the company building the pipeline.  In addition, “about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel,” including Enbridge, a company which hopes to build another tar-sands pipeline.  Had she been secretary of state, she might have had one of the great conflicts of interest of our time (or a major divestment problem).

Congress seems desperate to see that pipeline built.  More than half the Senate — 44 Republicans, including key Rice opponent John McCain, and nine Democrats — signed a letter to that effect, but it matters little.  Because of the international border Keystone XL crosses, only two people stand between us and its construction, the secretary of state and President Obama, who alone will make the final decision on whether the project should proceed. The president’s second choice for secretary of state, who recently swept through the nomination process, is of course former Senator John Kerry, a “climate hawk” who has already said that he will be deeply involved in the State Department’s review of the pipeline.  (It’s worth noting that TransCanada, trying to cover all its bases, hired one of Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign staffers as a lobbyist, along with “heavyweights” from past Obama and Hillary Clinton presidential runs, and that Kerry does have to divest himself of holdings in two Canadian energy companies which have supported the pipeline.)

No one, of course, can know what the new secretary of state and the president will decide.  They are, however, already being pushed hard by a growing coalition of environmentally oriented groups, fearful of what it would mean to get all those tar sands out of the ground and (as carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere.  In addition, this coming Sunday, February 17th, an enormous “forward on climate” rally is to take place in Washington.  Originally organized by 350.org and TomDispatch regular Bill McKibben but now involving dozens of groups, it is expected to draw worried protestors (including this writer) from all over to demonstrate on the National Mall.  The goal is, in part, to push President Obama to make the necessary decision on the Keystone pipeline.  It’s remarkable that one man has the power to shoot this project down.  As another TomDispatch regular, Michael Klare, explains below, should he do so, the tar-sands industry might never recover.  That would lend a genuine hand to our over-heating planet, which means there has seldom been a situation where demonstrations to pressure a president were more in order. Tom

A Presidential Decision That Could Change the World 
The Strategic Importance of Keystone XL 
By Michael T. Klare

Presidential decisions often turn out to be far less significant than imagined, but every now and then what a president decides actually determines how the world turns. Such is the case with the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if built, is slated to bring some of the “dirtiest,” carbon-rich oil on the planet from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.  In the near future, President Obama is expected to give its construction a definitive thumbs up or thumbs down, and the decision he makes could prove far more important than anyone imagines.  It could determine the fate of the Canadian tar-sands industry and, with it, the future well-being of the planet.  If that sounds overly dramatic, let me explain.

Sometimes, what starts out as a minor skirmish can wind up determining the outcome of a war — and that seems to be the case when it comes to the mounting battle over the Keystone XL pipeline. If given the go-ahead by President Obama, it will daily carry more than 700,000 barrels of tar-sands oil to those Gulf Coast refineries, providing a desperately needed boost to the Canadian energy industry. If Obama says no, the Canadians (and their American backers) will encounter possibly insuperable difficulties in exporting their heavy crude oil, discouraging further investment and putting the industry’s future in doubt.

The battle over Keystone XL was initially joined in the summer of 2011, when environmental writer and climate activist Bill McKibben and 350.org, which he helped found, organized a series of non-violent anti-pipeline protests in front of theWhite House to highlight the links between tar sands production and the accelerating pace of climate change. At the same time, farmers and politicians in Nebraska, through which the pipeline is set to pass, expressed grave concern about its threat to that state’s crucial aquifers. After all, tar-sands crude is highly corrosive, and leaks are a notable risk.

In mid-January 2012, in response to those concerns, other worries about the pipeline, and perhaps a looming presidential campaign season, Obama postponed a decision on completing the controversial project.  (He, not Congress, has the final say, since it will cross an international boundary.)  Now, he must decide on a suggested new route that will, supposedly, take Keystone XL around those aquifers and so reduce the threat to Nebraska’s water supplies.

Ever since the president postponed the decision on whether to proceed, powerful forces in the energy industry and government have been mobilizing to press ever harder for its approval. Its supporters argue vociferously that the pipeline will bring jobs to America and enhance the nation’s “energy security” by lessening its reliance on Middle Eastern oil suppliers. Their true aim, however, is far simpler: to save the tar-sands industry (and many billions of dollars in U.S. investments) from possible disaster.

Just how critical the fight over Keystone has become in the eyes of the industry is suggested by a recent pro-pipeline editorial in the trade publication Oil & Gas Journal:

“Controversy over the Keystone XL project leaves no room for compromise. Fundamental views about the future of energy are in conflict. Approval of the project would acknowledge the rich potential of the next generation of fossil energy and encourage its development. Rejection would foreclose much of that potential in deference to an energy utopia few Americans support when they learn how much it costs.”

Opponents of Keystone XL, who are planning a mass demonstration at the White House on February 17th, have also come to view the pipeline battle in epic terms. “Alberta’s tar sands are the continent’s biggest carbon bomb,” McKibben wrote at TomDispatch. “If you could burn all the oil in those tar sands, you’d run the atmosphere’s concentration of carbon dioxide from its current 390 parts per million (enough to cause the climate havoc we’re currently seeing) to nearly 600 parts per million, which would mean if not hell, then at least a world with a similar temperature.” Halting Keystone would not by itself prevent those high concentrations, he argued, but would impede the production of tar sands, stop that “carbon bomb” from further heating the atmosphere, and create space for a transition to renewables. “Stopping Keystone will buy time,” he says, “and hopefully that time will be used for the planet to come to its senses around climate change.”

A Pipeline With Nowhere to Go?

Why has the fight over a pipeline, which, if completed, would provide only 4% of the U.S. petroleum supply, assumed such strategic significance? As in any major conflict, the answer lies in three factors: logistics, geography, and timing.

Start with logistics and consider the tar sands themselves or, as the industry and its supporters in government prefer to call them, “oil sands.” Neither tar nor oil, thesubstance in question is a sludge-like mixture of sand, clay, water, and bitumen (a degraded, carbon-rich form of petroleum). Alberta has a colossal supply of the stuff — at least a trillion barrels in known reserves, or the equivalent of all the conventional oil burned by humans since the onset of commercial drilling in 1859.  Even if you count only the reserves that are deemed extractible by existing technology, its tar sands reportedly are the equivalent of 170 billion barrels of conventional petroleum — more than the reserves of any nation except Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The availability of so much untapped energy in a country like Canada, which is private-enterprise-friendly and where the political dangers are few, has been a magnet for major international energy firms. Not surprisingly, many of them, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell, have invested heavily in tar-sands operations.

Tar sands, however, bear little resemblance to the conventional oil fields which these companies have long exploited. They must be treated in various energy-intensive ways to be converted into a transportable liquid and then processed even further into usable products. Some tar sands can be strip-mined like coal and then “upgraded” through chemical processing into a synthetic crude oil — SCO, or “syncrude.” Alternatively, the bitumen can be pumped from the ground after the sands are exposed to steam, which liquefies the bitumen and allows its extraction with conventional oil pumps. The latter process, known as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), produces a heavy crude oil.  It must, in turn, be diluted with lighter crudes for transportation by pipeline to specialized refineries equipped to process such oil, most of which are located on the Gulf Coast.

Extracting and processing tar sands is an extraordinarily expensive undertaking, far more so than most conventional oil drilling operations. Considerable energy is needed to dig the sludge out of the ground or heat the water into steam for underground injection; then, additional energy is needed for the various upgrading processes. The environmental risks involved are enormous (even leaving aside the vast amounts of greenhouse gases that the whole process will pump into the atmosphere). The massive quantities of water needed for SAGD and those upgrading processes, for example, become contaminated with toxic substances.  Once used, they cannot be returned to any water source that might end up in human drinking supplies — something environmentalists say is already occurring.  All of this and the expenses involved mean that the multibillion-dollar investments needed to launch a tar-sands operation can only pay off if the final product fetches a healthy price in the marketplace.

And that’s where geography enters the picture.  Alberta is theoretically capable of producing five to six million barrels of tar-sands oil per day.  In 2011, however, Canada itself consumed only 2.3 million barrels of oil per day, much of it supplied by conventional (and cheaper) oil from fields in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.  That number is not expected to rise appreciably in the foreseeable future. No less significant, Canada’s refining capacity for all kinds of oil is limited to 1.9 million barrels per day, and few of its refineries are equipped to process tar sands-style heavy crude. This leaves the producers with one strategic option: exporting the stuff.

And that’s where the problems really begin. Alberta is an interior province and so cannot export its crude by sea. Given the geography, this leaves only three export options: pipelines heading east across Canada to ports on the Atlantic, pipelines heading west across the Rockies to ports in British Columbia, or pipelines heading south to refineries in the United States.

Alberta’s preferred option is to send the preponderance of its tar-sands oil to its biggest natural market, the United States. At present, Canadian pipeline companies do operate a number of conduits that deliver some of this oil to the U.S., notably the original Keystone conduit extending from Hardisty, Alberta, to Illinois and then southward to Cushing, Oklahoma. But these lines can carry less than one million barrels of crude per day, and so will not permit the massive expansion of output the industry is planning for the next decade or so.

In other words, the only pipeline now under development that would significantly expand Albertan tar-sands exports is Keystone XL.  It is vitally important to the tar-sands producers because it offers the sole short-term — or possibly even long-term — option for the export and sale of the crude output now coming on line at dozens of projects being developed across northern Alberta.  Without it, these projects will languish and Albertan production will have to be sold at a deep discount — at, that is, a per-barrel price that could fall below production costs, making further investment in tar sands unattractive. In January, Canadian tar-sands oil was already selling for $30-$40 less than West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the standard U.S. blend.

The Pipelines That Weren’t

Like an army bottled up geographically and increasingly at the mercy of enemy forces, the tar-sands producers see the completion of Keystone XL as their sole realistic escape route to survival.  “Our biggest problem is that Alberta is landlocked,” the province’s finance minister Doug Horner said in January. “In fact, of the world’s major oil-producing jurisdictions, Alberta is the only one with no direct access to the ocean. And until we solve this problem… the [price] differential will remain large.”

Logistics, geography, and finally timing. A presidential stamp of approval on the building of Keystone XL will save the tar-sands industry, ensuring them enough return to justify their massive investments. It would also undoubtedly prompt additional investments in tar-sands projects and further production increases by an industry that assumed opposition to future pipelines had been weakened by this victory.

A presidential thumbs-down and resulting failure to build Keystone XL, however, could have lasting and severe consequences for tar-sands production. After all, no other export link is likely to be completed in the near-term. The other three most widely discussed options — the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, British Columbia, an expansion of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver, British Columbia, and a plan to use existing, conventional-oil conduits to carry tar-sands oil across Quebec, Vermont, and New Hampshire to Portland, Maine — already face intense opposition, with initial construction at best still years in the future.

The Northern Gateway project, proposed by Canadian pipeline company Enbridge, would stretch from Bruderheim in northern Alberta to Kitimat, a port on Charlotte Sound and the Pacific.  If completed, it would allow the export of tar-sands oil to Asia, where Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sees a significant future market (even though few Asian refineries could now process the stuff).  But unlike oil-friendly Alberta, British Columbia has a strong pro-environmental bias and many senior provincial officials have expressed fierce opposition to the project. Moreover, under the country’s constitution, native peoples over whose land the pipeline would have to travel must be consulted on the project — and most tribal communities are adamantly opposed to its construction.

Another proposed conduit — an expansion of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Vancouver — presents the same set of obstacles and, like the Northern Gateway project, has aroused strong opposition in Vancouver.

This leaves the third option, a plan to pump tar-sands oil to Ontario and Quebec and then employ an existing pipeline now used for oil imports. It connects to a terminal in Casco Bay, near Portland, Maine, where the Albertan crude would begin the long trip by ship to those refineries on the Gulf Coast. Although no official action has yet been taken to allow the use of the U.S. conduit for this purpose, anti-pipeline protests have already erupted in Portland, including one on January 26th that attracted more than 1,400 people.

With no other pipelines in the offing, tar sands producers are increasing their reliance on deliveries by rail.  This is producing boom times for some long-haul freight carriiers, but will never prove sufficient to move the millions of barrels in added daily output expected from projects now coming on line.

The conclusion is obvious: without Keystone XL, the price of tar-sands oil will remain substantially lower than conventional oil (as well as unconventional oil extracted from shale formations in the United States), discouraging future investment and dimming the prospects for increased output.  In other words, as Bill McKibben hopes, much of it will stay in the ground.

Industry officials are painfully aware of their predicament.  In an Annual Information Form released at the end of 2011, Canadian Oil Sands Limited, owner of the largest share of Syncrude Canada (one of the leading producers of tar-sands oil) noted:

“A prolonged period of low crude oil prices could affect the value of our crude oil properties and the level of spending on growth projects and could result in curtailment of production… Any substantial and extended decline in the price of oil or an extended negative differential for SCO compared to either WTI or European Brent Crude would have an adverse effect on the revenues, profitability, and cash flow of Canadian Oil Sands and likely affect the ability of Canadian Oil Sands to pay dividends and repay its debt obligations.”

The stakes in this battle could not be higher.  If Keystone XL fails to win the president’s approval, the industry will certainly grow at a far slower pace than forecast and possibly witness the failure of costly ventures, resulting in an industry-wide contraction.  If approved, however, production will soar and global warming will occur at an even faster rate than previously projected. In this way, a presidential decision will have an unexpectedly decisive and lasting impact on all our lives.

Michael Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left, just published in paperback.  A documentary movie based on his book Blood and Oil can be previewed and ordered at http://www.bloodandoilmovie.com. You can follow Klare on Facebook by clicking here.

Copyright 2013 Michael T. Klare

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The expression of being between a rock and a hard place comes to mind!

Let’s do …. nothing!

The restorative effect of doing …. nothing.

A week ago I published a post called On quietness.  It was predominantly comprised of a republication of a much earlier item written by Jon Lavin.

However, in the way that things happen, shortly after that post (last Friday’s one) was published I came across this TED video of Andy Puddicome.

I’ll say no more – enjoy the video.  (Beautifully delivered in ten minutes, by the way!)

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in strange positions.)

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 “Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually it’s … about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going.” (Andy Puddicombe)

The TED profile of Andy P. offers this:

Andy Puddicombe
Andy Puddicombe

Why you should listen to him:

Andy Puddicombe wants you to take a break — not just from work, but from your own mind, which is so full of anxieties about the world and anxieties about its own anxieties. To help you do that, Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, co-founded Headspace, a project to make meditation more accessible to more people in their everyday lives. Puddicombe also writes prolifically for the Huffington Post and the Guardian, on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living.

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So as someone who seems to have real trouble relaxing, I mean real relaxation in the letting go sense, I’m flirting with the idea of committing 10 minutes of meditation each day.  Andy offers a charmingly easy way of doing this, as you will discover if you go to his website Headspace.  Here’s a quote from the ‘What is Headspace‘ page.

Here at Headspace we’re on a mission to get as many people in the world as possible to take 10 minutes out of their day, to practice a simple and easy-to-learn meditation technique.  And if you like the way it makes you feel, then we’d love to show you how to make that a life-long skill.

This is meditation for modern life – simple, scientifically-proven techniques, that you can use every day to experience a healthier and happier mind.

Those articles published by the Guardian as referred to above may be found here: The Guardian, if you want to browse around some more.

Stay tuned as to the outcome of me and meditation; I’ll share with it you via Learning from Dogs.  Let’s face it, dogs are very good at chilling out for ten minutes!  Oh dear, something else to learn from our doggies!

P1120193

Why?

“Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone care?”

These words are spoken by Simon Sinek just before the three-minute mark in the video that follows.  As Wikipedia explains,

simono-sinek

Simon O. Sinek (born October 9, 1973) is an author best known for popularizing a concept of The Golden Circle.

He joined the RAND Corporation in 2010 as an adjunct staff member, where he advises on matters of military innovation and planning. His first TEDx Talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” is the 7th most viewed video on TED.com.

His 2009 book on the same subject, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009) delves into what he says is a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision-making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.

He has commented for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, FastCompany, CMO Magazine, NPR and BusinessWeek, and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, BrandWeek, IncBizNet.

This new year that we are now in is going to require millions of us to think and do differently.  As Einstein so famously quoted, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“.  More than ever before we need different results and that means thinking and doing differently.

Enjoy the video.

The albino Hummingbird

Just a mid-week diversion.

Today has been one of those days where the best laid plans, etc. just conspired to steal away the time for writing tomorrows Post for Learning from Dogs (today at the time you are reading this!).  So I was incredibly grateful to John H. for sending me an email with a series of remarkable photographs of a very rare albino Hummingbird.

A quick web search revealed that this has already been widely reported, for example in the edition of Huffington Post published on the 31st January last.  Here’s what they wrote,

Stunning photographs of an extremely rare albino ruby-throated hummingbird have been captured in a backyard in Staunton, Va.

The astonishing images showcase the delicate bird’s features like white feathers, a pink bill, pink legs and red eyes.

and later in that article,

Located just 30 miles from the Shank family home, they first heard about the bird on an email list-serve for the bird community, Shank explained. After they got permission, they drove over to the residence where the bird was first spotted and began shooting photos.

Of the 330 hummingbird species found around the globe,the ruby-throated hummingbird is one of the most common in North America.

But experts say the fair-feathered variety are more easily visible to predators and susceptible to disease thanks to the genetic mutation. These weaknesses help make the albino bird all the more rare.

The still shots were taken by Kevin Shank and four of his sons who publish Nature Friend magazine.  Here are some of those remarkable pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just beautiful.  Thank you, John.

Better than pills

I’m talking about dogs, of course!

 

Perfect!

 

 

Don’t know where today has gone but my plans to write a long, thoughtful piece have evaporated much like the snow that fell over the week-end.

So I am taking the liberty of reproducing a piece on About.com showing the health benefits that come from being close to dogs and cats.

When thinking of ways to reduce stress in life, usually techniques like meditationyoga and journaling come to mind. These are great techniques, to be sure. But getting a new best friend can also have many stress relieving and health benefits. While human friendsprovide great social support and come with some fabulous benefits, this article focuses on the benefits of furry friends: cats and dogs! Research shows that, unless you’re someone who really dislikes animals or is absolutely too busy to care for one properly, pets can provide excellent social support, stress relief and other health benefits—perhaps more than people! Here are more health benefits of pets:

Pets Can Improve Your Mood:
For those who love animals, it’s virtually impossible to stay in a bad mood when a pair of loving puppy eyes meets yours, or when a super-soft cat rubs up against your hand. Research supports the mood-enhancing benefits of pets. A recent study found that men with AIDS were less likely to suffer from depression if they owned a pet. (According to a press release, men with AIDS who did not own a pet were about three times more likely to report symptoms of depression than men who did not have AIDS. But men with AIDS who had pets were only about 50 percent more likely to report symptoms of depression, as compared to men in the study who did not have AIDS.)

Pets Control Blood Pressure Better Than Drugs:
Yes, it’s true. While ACE inhibiting drugs can generally reduce blood pressure, they aren’t as effective on controlling spikes in blood pressure due to stress and tension. However, in a recent study, groups of hypertensive New York stockbrokers who got dogs or cats were found to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn’t get pets. When they heard of the results, most of those in the non-pet group went out and got pets!

Pets Encourage You To Get Out And Exercise:
Whether we walk our dogs because they need it, or are more likely to enjoy a walk when we have companionship, dog owners do spend more time walking than non-pet owners, at least if we live in an urban setting. Because exercise is good for stress management and overall health, owning a dog can be credited with increasing these benefits.

Pets Can Help With Social Support:
When we’re out walking, having a dog with us can make us more approachable and give people a reason to stop and talk, thereby increasing the number of people we meet, giving us an opportunity to increase our network of friends and acquaintances, which also has great stress management benefits.

Pets Stave Off Loneliness and Provide Unconditional Love:
Pets can be there for you in ways that people can’t. They can offer love and companionship, and can also enjoy comfortable silences, keep secrets and are excellent snugglers. And they could be the best antidote to loneliness. In fact, research shows that nursing home residents reported less loneliness when visited by dogs than when they spent time with other people! All these benefits can reduce the amount of stress people experience in response to feelings of social isolation and lack of social support from people.

Pets Can Reduce Stress—Sometimes More Than People:
While we all know the power of talking about your problems with a good friend who’s also agood listener, recent research shows that spending time with a pet may be even better!Recent research shows that, when conducting a task that’s stressful, people actually experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a supportive friend or even their spouse was present! (This may be partially due to the fact that pets don’t judge us; they just love us.)

It’s important to realize that owning a pet isn’t for everyone. Pets do come with additional work and responsibility, which can bring its own stress. However, for most people, the benefits of having a pet outweigh the drawbacks. Having a furry best friend can reduce stress in your life and bring you support when times get tough.

Sources:

Evenson RJ, Simon RW. Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and DepressionJournal of Health and Social Behavior. December 2005.

Siegel JM, Angulo FJ, Detels R, Wesch J, Mullen A. AIDS diagnosis and depression in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study: the ameliorating impact of pet ownership. AIDS Care. April 1999.


Want more? Then go to this article on The Huffington Post published last December