Tuesday, July 14, 2009

climate change will cause civilization to collapse

Independent | An effort on the scale of the Apollo mission that sent men to the Moon is needed if humanity is to have a fighting chance of surviving the ravages of climate change. The stakes are high, as, without sustainable growth, "billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilisation will collapse".

This is the stark warning from the biggest single report to look at the future of the planet – obtained by The Independent on Sunday ahead of its official publication next month. Backed by a diverse range of leading organisations such as Unesco, the World Bank, the US army and the Rockefeller Foundation, the 2009 State of the Future report runs to 6,700 pages and draws on contributions from 2,700 experts around the globe. Its findings are described by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, as providing "invaluable insights into the future for the United Nations, its member states, and civil society".

The impact of the global recession is a key theme, with researchers warning that global clean energy, food availability, poverty and the growth of democracy around the world are at "risk of getting worse due to the recession". The report adds: "Too many greedy and deceitful decisions led to a world recession and demonstrated the international interdependence of economics and ethics."

india prays for rain as water wars break out

Guardian | The monsoon is late, the wells are running dry and in the teeming city of Bhopal, water supply is now a deadly issue. It was a little after 8pm when the water started flowing through the pipe running beneath the dirt streets of Bhopal's Sanjay Nagar slum. After days without a drop of water, the Malviya family were the first to reach the hole they had drilled in the pipe, filling what containers they had as quickly as they could. Within minutes, three of them were dead, hacked to death by angry neighbours who accused them of stealing water.

In Bhopal, and across much of northern India, a late monsoon and the driest June for 83 years are exacerbating the effects of a widespread drought and setting neighbour against neighbour in a desperate fight for survival.

India's vast farming economy is on the verge of crisis. The lack of rain has hit northern areas most, but even in Mumbai, which has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, authorities were forced to cut the water supply by 30% last week as levels in the lakes serving the city ran perilously low.

Across the country, from Gujarat to Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, the state that claims to be "the rice bowl of India", special prayers have been held for more rain after cumulative monsoon season figures fell 43% below average.

On Friday, India's agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, said the country was facing a drought-like situation that was a "matter for concern", with serious problems developing in states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In Bhopal, which bills itself as the City of Lakes, patience is already at breaking point. The largest lake, the 1,000-year-old, man-made Upper Lake, had reduced in size from 38 sq km to 5 sq km by the start of last week.

The population of 1.8 million has been rationed to 30 minutes of water supply every other day since October. That became one day in three as the monsoon failed to materialise. In nearby Indore the ration is half an hour's supply every seven days.

The UN has warned for many years that water shortages will become one of the most pressing problems on the planet over the coming decades, with one report estimating that four billion people will be affected by 2050. What is happening in India, which has too many people in places where there is not enough water, is a foretaste of what is to come.

NYTimes | JUBAISH, Iraq — Throughout the marshes, the reed gatherers, standing on land they once floated over, cry out to visitors in a passing boat.

“Maaku mai!” they shout, holding up their rusty sickles. “There is no water!”

The Euphrates is drying up. Strangled by the water policies of Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey and Syria; a two-year drought; and years of misuse by Iraq and its farmers, the river is significantly smaller than it was just a few years ago. Some officials worry that it could soon be half of what it is now.

The shrinking of the Euphrates, a river so crucial to the birth of civilization that the Book of Revelation prophesied its drying up as a sign of the end times, has decimated farms along its banks, has left fishermen impoverished and has depleted riverside towns as farmers flee to the cities looking for work.

The poor suffer more acutely, but all strata of society are feeling the effects: sheiks, diplomats and even members of Parliament who retreat to their farms after weeks in Baghdad.

Along the river, rice and wheat fields have turned to baked dirt. Canals have dwindled to shallow streams, and fishing boats sit on dry land. Pumps meant to feed water treatment plants dangle pointlessly over brown puddles.

“The old men say it’s the worst they remember,” said Sayid Diyia, 34, a fisherman in Hindiya, sitting in a riverside cafe full of his idle colleagues. “I’m depending on God’s blessings.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

metaphysical mistake

Guardian | Confusion by Christians between belief and reason has created bad science and inept religion

The question: Should we believe in belief?

The extraordinary and eccentric emphasis on "belief" in Christianity today is an accident of history that has distorted our understanding of religious truth. We call religious people "believers", as though acceptance of a set of doctrines was their principal activity, and before undertaking the religious life many feel obliged to satisfy themselves about the metaphysical claims of the church, which cannot be proven rationally since they lie beyond the reach of empirical sense data.

Most other traditions prize practice above creedal orthodoxy: Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians, Jews and Muslims would say religion is something you do, and that you cannot understand the truths of faith unless you are committed to a transformative way of life that takes you beyond the prism of selfishness. All good religious teaching – including such Christian doctrines as the Trinity or the Incarnation – is basically a summons to action. Yet instead of being taught to act creatively upon them, many modern Christians feel it is more important to "believe" them. Why?

In most pre-modern cultures, there were two recognised ways of attaining truth. The Greeks called them mythos and logos. Both were crucial and each had its particular sphere of competence. Logos ("reason; science") was the pragmatic mode of thought that enabled us to control our environment and function in the world. It had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external realities. But logos could not assuage human grief or give people intimations that their lives had meaning. For that they turned to mythos, an early form of psychology, which dealt with the more elusive aspects of human experience.

Stories of heroes descending to the underworld were not regarded as primarily factual but taught people how to negotiate the obscure regions of the psyche. In the same way, the purpose of a creation myth was therapeutic; before the modern period no sensible person ever thought it gave an accurate account of the origins of life. A cosmology was recited at times of crisis or sickness, when people needed a symbolic influx of the creative energy that had brought something out of nothing. Thus the Genesis myth, a gentle polemic against Babylonian religion, was balm to the bruised spirits of the Israelites who had been defeated and deported by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar during the sixth century BCE. Nobody was required to "believe" it; like most peoples, the Israelites had a number of other mutually-exclusive creation stories and as late as the 16th century, Jews thought nothing of making up a new creation myth that bore no relation to Genesis but spoke more directly to their tragic circumstances at that time.

Above all, myth was a programme of action. When a mythical narrative was symbolically re-enacted, it brought to light within the practitioner something "true" about human life and the way our humanity worked, even if its insights, like those of art, could not be proven rationally. If you did not act upon it, it would remain as incomprehensible and abstract – like the rules of a board game, which seem impossibly convoluted, dull and meaningless until you start to play.

Religious truth is, therefore, a species of practical knowledge. Like swimming, we cannot learn it in the abstract; we have to plunge into the pool and acquire the knack by dedicated practice. Religious doctrines are a product of ritual and ethical observance, and make no sense unless they are accompanied by such spiritual exercises as yoga, prayer, liturgy and a consistently compassionate lifestyle. Skilled practice in these disciplines can lead to intimations of the transcendence we call God, Nirvana, Brahman or Dao. Without such dedicated practice, these concepts remain incoherent, incredible and even absurd.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

a jes grew jack move...,

declassified the taliban

To the U.S. and the Soviets, Afghanistan has always been a pawn in a much bigger game. Both countries have used Afghanistan for their own gain since the late 1970’s.The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. A peace agreement between the two countries wasn’t signed until February 1989, when Afghanistan defeated the Soviet Union.

The Taliban's rise to power was a project of Pakistan's secret service the ISI. The ISI was the arm through which the CIA managed its campaign in Afghanistan. The Bank of Commerce and Credit International served as the trellis on which these relational vines grew. Tensions rose as the Afghan government accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban. The Taliban massacred thousands of innocent civilians.In 1998 the United States launched cruise missiles at Afghanistan, stating that its intent was to destroy the so called terrorist bases/training facilities used by Osama Bin Laden and his followers.

The Taliban banned the cultivation of drugs. In this movie, Ahmed Shah Massoud explains that. Massoud says the Taliban were just trying to corner the drug market. In 1999 and 2000 the UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1333 were adopted. These resolutions used sanctions against the Taliban on grounds that they offered sanctuary to Osama Bin Ladin and for their continued support of terrorism and the cultivation of drugs. Check it out.

potato famine disease striking home gardens in U.S.

Reuters | CHICAGO - Late blight, which caused the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s, is killing potato and tomato plants in home gardens from Maine to Ohio and threatening commercial and organic farms, U.S. plant scientists said on Friday.

"Late blight has never occurred this early and this widespread in the United States," said Meg McGrath, a plant pathologist at Cornell University's extension center in Riverhead, New York.

She said the fungal disease, spread by spores carried in the air, has made its way into the garden centers of large retail chains in the Northeastern United States.

"Wal-mart, Home Depot, Sears, Kmart and Lowe's are some of the stores the plants have been seen in," McGrath said in a telephone interview.

The disease, known officially as Phytophthora infestans, causes large mold-ringed olive-green or brown spots on plant leaves, blackened stems, and can quickly wipe out weeks of tender care in a home garden.

McGrath said in her 21 years of research, she has only seen five outbreaks in the United States. The destructive disease can spread rapidly in cooler, moist weather, infecting an entire field within days.

"What's unique about it this year is we have never seen plants affected in garden centers being sold to home gardeners," she said.

This year's cool, wet weather created perfect conditions for the disease. "Hopefully, it will turn sunny," McGrath said. "If we get into our real summer hot dry weather, this disease is going to slow way down."

victorian pop theosophy

Playing around with Google Books - vibrations occult octave - is even better and much less expensive than visiting a distant city and spending days wandering its flea markets and antiquarian bookstores..., gotta love those little swastikas around the seal of solomon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

domestic realpolitik

NYTimes | Vice President Joe Biden told us this week that the Obama administration “misread how bad the economy was” in the immediate aftermath of the inauguration.

Puh-leeze. Mr. Biden and President Obama won the election because the economy was cratering so badly there were fears we might be entering another depression. No one understood that better than the two of them. Mr. Obama tried to clean up the vice president’s remarks by saying his team hadn’t misread what was happening, but rather “we had incomplete information.”

That doesn’t hold water, either. The president has got the second coming of the best and the brightest working for him down there in Washington (think of Larry Summers as the latter-day Robert McNamara), and they’re crunching numbers every which way they can. They’ve got more than enough data. They understand the theories and the formulas as well as anyone. But they’re not coming up with the right answers because they’re missing the same thing that McNamara and his fellow technocrats were missing back in the 1960s: the human equation.

The crisis staring America in its face and threatening to bring it to its knees is unemployment. Joblessness. Why it is taking so long — seemingly forever — for our government officials to recognize the scope of this crisis and confront it directly is beyond me.

There are now five unemployed workers for every job opening in the U.S. The official unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, but that doesn’t begin to tell the true story of the economic suffering. The roof is caving in on struggling American families that have already seen the value of their homes and retirement accounts put to the torch.

At the present rate, upwards of seven million homes can be expected to fall into foreclosure this year and next. Welfare rolls are rising, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal. The National Employment Law Project has pointed out that hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers will begin losing their jobless benefits, just about the only thing keeping them above water, by the end of the summer.

the view

Umbrella View of Resource Depletion & Human Behaviour from Rembrandt Koppelaar on Vimeo.

northernmost tribute to MJ

The scientific community is not immune to the outpouring of support and gestures of tribute for the recently departed Michael Jackson. Here's video evidence of one such tribute that claims to be the northernmost Thriller dance, set to the title track of MJ's classic 1982 album. The dance moves come to you courtesy of researchers and hangers-on at the University of Alaska's Toolik Field Station in the Arctic Circle.

Friday, July 10, 2009

mexico accused of torture in drug war

Washington Post | Under the Mérida Initiative, a $1.4 billion counter-narcotics package that President George W. Bush requested in June 2007, 15 percent of the money cannot be released until the secretary of state reports that Mexico has made progress on human rights. The requirements include the prosecution of suspected human rights offenders, the prohibition of testimony obtained through torture and regular consultations with independent human rights groups.

The State Department's Mérida human rights report will be delivered to Congress within weeks, according to a U.S. official involved in the process. The official described Mexico's human rights record as "a mixed bag" and said it remains unclear whether the report will be enough to satisfy the conditions to release the money.

"This is the hardest part" of Mérida, the official said.

At least $90.7 million allocated to Mexico to fight drugs cannot be released unless Congress accepts the State Department's findings. An additional $24 million is also subject to Mérida's human rights conditions in the supplemental budget package that President Obama signed on June 24. Part of the Mérida funding is for inspection equipment, police training and support for the Mexican military.

With the Mexican government and governors from U.S. border states clamoring for more assistance -- drug violence killed 769 Mexicans in June, one of the worst months since Calderón took office, in December 2006 -- the State Department is hoping that Congress will release the money despite human rights concerns, according to the U.S. official, who expressed frustration that the Mexican government has not provided more information about the army's progress, including the number of human rights cases that have been prosecuted.

"The military justice system in Mexico is very opaque; it is very hard to get a handle on how many cases have been brought and what has been their disposition," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The Mexican government has long opposed the human rights conditions included in the Mérida agreement, and U.S. officials expect a backlash if Congress refuses to release the money. Many Mexican human rights activists do not support the conditions, noting that they were imposed by a U.S government widely accused of torturing prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"It really takes a lot of cynicism, a lot of hypocrisy, for the United States to say, 'We will give you money to fight drug trafficking as long as you respect human rights,' " said José Raymundo Díaz Taboada, director of the Acapulco office of the Collective Against Torture and Impunity, which documents abuses in Guerrero.

At the same time, human rights groups have lobbied the U.S. government to send a blunt message by withholding the money. A letter that a consortium of U.S. and Mexican organizations sent to the State Department in January concluded: "Mexican authorities have in no way adequately met the human rights requirements established in the Mérida Initiative."

winning the ultimate battle: how humans could end war

New Scientist | OPTIMISTS called the first world war "the war to end all wars". Philosopher George Santayana demurred. In its aftermath he declared: "Only the dead have seen the end of war". History has proved him right, of course. What's more, today virtually nobody believes that humankind will ever transcend the violence and bloodshed of warfare. I know this because for years I have conducted numerous surveys asking people if they think war is inevitable. Whether male or female, liberal or conservative, old or young, most people believe it is. For example, when I asked students at my university "Will humans ever stop fighting wars?" more than 90 per cent answered "No". Many justified their assertion by adding that war is "part of human nature" or "in our genes". But is it really?

Such views certainly seem to chime with recent research on the roots of warfare. Just a few decades ago, many scholars believed that prior to civilisation, humans were "noble savages" living in harmony with each other and with nature. Not any more. Ethnographic studies, together with some archaeological evidence, suggest that tribal societies engaged in lethal group conflict, at least occasionally, long before the emergence of states with professional armies (see our timeline of weapons technology). Meanwhile, the discovery that male chimpanzees from one troop sometimes beat to death those from another has encouraged popular perceptions that warfare is part of our biological heritage.

These findings about violence among our ancestors and primate cousins (see "When apes attack") have perpetuated what anthropologist Robert Sussman from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, calls the "5 o'clock news" view of human nature. Just as evening news shows follow the dictum "if it bleeds, it leads", so many accounts of human behaviour emphasise conflict. However, Sussman believes the popular focus on violence and warfare is disproportionate. "Statistically, it is more common for humans to be cooperative and to attempt to get along than it is for them to be uncooperative and aggressive towards one another," he says. And he is not alone in this view. A growing number of experts are now arguing that the urge to wage war is not innate, and that humanity is already moving in a direction that could make war a thing of the past.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

goldman sachs stealing?!?!?!

Market-Ticker | Something really ugly popped up on Daily Kos yesterday late in the afternoon.....

...GS, through access to the system as a result of their special gov't perks, was/is able to read the data on trades before it's committed, and place their own buys or sells accordingly in that brief moment, thus allowing them to essentially steal buttloads of money every day from the rest of the punters world.

Two things come out of this:

1. If true, this should be highly illegal, and would, in any sane country result in something like what happened to Arthur Andersen...

(2. ... is way off point....)

God help Goldman if this is true and the government goes after them. This would constitute massive unlawful activity. Indeed, the allegation is that Goldman alone was given this access!

God help our capital markets if this is true and is ignored by our government and regulatory agencies, or generates nothing more than a "handslap." Nobody in their right mind would ever trade on our markets again if this occurred and does not result in severe criminal and civil penalties.

This is precisely the sort of thing that a Unix machine, sitting on a network cable where it can "see" traffic potentially not intended for it, could have an interface put into what is called "promiscuous mode" and SILENTLY sniff that traffic!


Folks, I have no way to know what the code in question does, but if there's anything to this - anything at all - there is a major, as in biggest scam of the century - scandal here - something much, much bigger than Madoff or Stanford.

What would this mean, if it was all to prove up?

It would mean that Goldman was able to "see" transaction order flow - bid, offer, and execute messages - before they were committed in the transaction stream. Such a "SNIFF" would be COMPLETELY UNDETECTABLE by the sender or recipient of the message.

The implication of this would be that they would be able to front-run any transaction where the data was visible to them, thereby effectively "stealing pennies" from each transaction they were able to front-run.

Again: I have absolutely nothing on the content of the allegedly-stolen code nor can I validate the claim made that Goldman had "special network access." Nothing. All I have to go on with regards to "market manipulation" (which such a program would be, writ large!) is the statement of the US Attorney that I cited in my earlier Ticker.

california - the shape of things to come

Market-Ticker | So California is now issuing "registered warrants" - a fancy name for IOUs.

This is occurring as a consequence of the cash flow finally catching up with them, and it serves as a warning to not only other states but also to The Federal Government - you can only lie about how much money you really have for so long; eventually you will start bouncing checks!

Major banks have said they will "accept" them through Friday. How much of this "deadline" is a pressure tactic to try to force the legislature to solve the budget problem is unknown, but this much is known about their "acceptance" - if you deposit one of these things it is a recourse deposit - that is, not only is it subject to holds but in addition if the state defaults on it the bank will come back at you for the full face value.

Is that possibility really the stuff of fancy? No.

The simple fact of the matter is that tax revenues have cratered as our economy "resets" to a more sustainable level. Nowhere is this more evident than in California, where the idiocy parade has been in full swing for more than two decades.

It is time for both California and the other states (as well as our federal government) to cut the crap, admit the truth - that this so-called "prosperity" of the last 10 years was nothing more or less than a scam built upon leverage and lies, and cut budgets back to 1990 levels immediately.

The problem isn't that tax receipts are too low, it is that expectations are unreasonably high, the so-called "economic growth" was in fact false and fueled by fraud, and like it or not the economy is going to contract to a sustainable level, which is almost certainly somewhere around 30-40% smaller than it was in 2007/2008.

Yes, this means things will get worse - plenty worse - before they get better. But there is no way out of this mess that avoids going through the center of it and recognizing the truth, whether we like it or not.

The longer we delay recognition and acceptance the worse the damage to our economy will be.

Choose California - and America.

the great disruption

Australian Broadcast Corp | First of all let's just think about the shock that's coming. Now this is a giant global Ponzi scheme, right? We are paying out our capital as dividends, while we are saying to our children, Thank you for your investment, right? We're going to take it now and leave you the poorer. That's what a Ponzi scheme is, it's about taking your capital and paying it out, right? Investors' money being used to give the delusion of growth, delusion of success, and then they collapse. That's what's going to happen to us if we keep on going. So what is going to happen is that we're going to bump up against the limits, back to our 1.2 size economy in a 1.0 sized earth, up against the limits you bounce off and you come back. Any system does this. Whether it's bacteria in a petrie dish, whether it's a rainforest, whether it's a global economy, a system up against the edges of its limits go bang and bounces back, and bang and bounces back. But it only has a number of ways it can go. First of all it can break down to a simpler system, to a simpler organism, which was James Lovelock's view, we'll end up with a couple of hundred million people in small groups in a much simpler society. It can evolve into a more complex system which can exist in that world, or it can collapse. Right?

Now obviously there's only one of those we'd like to do and today's about what we're going to do about the future, so I think we should think about evolving as part of that process. But all the evidence in history is we don't evolve until we have the crash. All the evidence of history is that we don't respond until we have a crisis and we soon have the global financial crisis and a whole range of different other examples of World War II and appeasement and so on. We'll respond when the crisis hits, so the very important issue is when the crisis hits. New York Times' Tom Friedman referred to this moment recently as 'When Mother Nature and Father Greed hit the wall at once'. Lovely quote. 'When Mother Nature and Father Greed hit the wall at once'. Right? Referring to the great disruption which is what I refer to as being this time when we are forced to change because the system stops working for us and therefore we have no choice but to adapt and to respond.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

apocalypse teevee

What would you do in the wake of a global catastrophe? How would you find the very basics of survival: food, water and shelter? THE COLONY is a controlled experiment that attempts to determine exactly what it would take to survive and rebuild a functioning new society when the world we’ve grown accustomed to has been destroyed. The 10-part series, produced for Discovery Channel by Original Productions, producers of DEADLIEST CATCH, premieres on Tuesdays at 10PM beginning July 21.

In THE COLONY, a group of 10 volunteers whose backgrounds and expertise represent a cross-section of modern society, are isolated for two months in an urban environment in downtown Los Angeles and tasked with creating a livable society. With no electricity, no running water and no communication with the outside world, all they have to work with are their skills and whatever tools and supplies they scavenge from their surroundings.

Their world -- a 50,000 sq. ft. abandoned warehouse infested with rats and pigeons on three-and-a-half acres near the LA River – was designed by experts in homeland security, engineering and psychology using elements from both real-life disasters and models of what the future could look like after a global catastrophe. Throughout the series, these experts comment on the challenges the Colonists would face in the context of real-world disasters as they work together to build the necessities of survival and society, such as a water filtration system, a battery bank for electricity, a solar cooker, a shower system, greenhouse – and even some comforts of home (a coffee maker!). Certain elements, such as tools and sparse food items, were strategically placed to represent what might be viably available in an urban post-disaster landscape, based on actual event data recorded during past real-life catastrophes.

As part of the experiment, a hostile gang of looters and thugs challenges their resources and security, prompting the Colonists to devise a safety plan to protect themselves. Throughout the two-month experiment, their emotions are put to the test as they work through their feelings of isolation, desperation and interpersonal relationships with each other.

Learn more about THE COLONY online.

we bring fear

MotherJones | There are two Mexicos.

There is the one reported by the US press, a place where the Mexican president is fighting a valiant war on drugs, aided by the Mexican Army and the Mérida Initiative, the $1.4 billion in aid the United States has committed to the cause. This Mexico has newspapers, courts, laws, and is seen by the United States government as a sister republic.

It does not exist.

There is a second Mexico where the war is for drugs, where the police and the military fight for their share of drug profits, where the press is restrained by the murder of reporters and feasts on a steady diet of bribes, and where the line between the government and the drug world has never existed.

The reporter lives in this second Mexico.

Until very recently, he liked it just fine. In fact, he loves Mexico and has never thought of leaving. Even though he lives about 20 miles from the border, he has not bothered to cross for almost 10 years.

But now, things have changed. He knows about the humanitarian treaties signed by the United States and he thinks given these commitments, he and his boy will be given asylum. He has decided to tell the authorities nothing but the truth. He has failed to realize one little fact: No Mexican reporter has ever been given political asylum.

Suddenly, he sees a checkpoint ahead and there is no way to escape it.

Men in uniforms pull him over.

He discovers to his relief that this checkpoint is run by Mexico's migration agency, and so, maybe, they will not give him up to the Army.

"Why are you driving so fast?"

"I am afraid. There are people trying to kill me."

"The narcos?"

"No, the soldiers."

"Who are you?"

He hands over his press pass.

"Oh, you are the one, they searched your house."

"I have had problems."

"Those sons of bitches do whatever they want. Go ahead. Good luck."

He roars away. When he stops at the port of entry at Antelope Wells in the bootheel of New Mexico, US customs ask, as they always do, what he is bringing from Mexico.

He says, "We bring fear."

so much for the pickens plan...,

CNBC | Plans for the world's largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle have been scrapped, energy baron T. Boone Pickens said Tuesday, and he's looking for a home for 687 giant wind turbines.

Pickens has already ordered the turbines, which can stand 400 feet tall—taller than most 30-story buildings.

"When I start receiving those turbines, I've got to ... like I said, my garage won't hold them," the legendary Texas oilman said. "They've got to go someplace."

Pickens' company Mesa Power ordered the turbines from General Electric [GE 11.01 -0.47 (-4.09%)] (parent company of CNBC)—a $2 billion investment—a little more than a year ago. Pickens said he has leases on about 200,000 acres in Texas that were planned for the project, and he might place some of the turbines there, but he's also looking for smaller wind projects to participate in. He said he's looking at potential sites in the Midwest and Canada.

In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system, Pickens said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York. He'd hoped to build his own transmission lines but he said there were technical problems.

Wind power is a big part of the "Pickens Plan," which was announced a year ago Wednesday. Pickens has spent $60 million crisscrossing the country and buying advertising in an effort to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil.

"It doesn't mean that wind is dead," said Pickens, who runs the Dallas-based energy investment fund BP Capital. "It just means we got a little bit too quick off the blocks."

new curbs on speculative oil trading?

NYTimes | Reacting to the violent swings in oil prices in recent months, federal regulators announced on Tuesday that they were considering new restrictions on “speculative” traders in markets for oil, natural gas and other energy products.

The move is a big departure from the hands-off approach to market regulation of the last two decades. It also highlights a broader shift toward tougher government oversight under President Obama.

Since Mr. Obama took office, the Justice Department has stepped up antitrust enforcement activities, abandoning many legal doctrines adopted by the Bush administration.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said it would consider imposing volume limits on trading of energy futures by purely financial investors and that it already has adopted tougher information requirements aimed at identifying the role of hedge funds and traders who swap contracts outside of regulated exchanges like the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“My firm belief is that we must aggressively use all existing authorities to ensure market integrity,” said Gary Gensler, chairman of the commission, in a statement. He said regulators would also examine whether to impose federal “speculative limits” on futures contracts for energy products.

Much of Mr. Gensler’s announcement was focused on precise issues well within his agency’s authority, suggesting that he was serious about seeking changes. But his proposals could encounter fierce opposition from big banks and Wall Street firms, which are each big traders in the commodity markets and manage big investment funds focused on commodities. Oil prices hit a record high of $145 a barrel last summer, then plunged to $33 a barrel last December and have since bounced back to more than $60.

Much of the wild swings over the last year were caused by chaos in the global financial system, as banks and much of Wall Street came perilously close to collapse last September and the global economy fell into the most severe recession in decades.

But a growing number of critics have blamed those who are betting on the direction of energy prices for some of the extreme volatility.

“It is the regulatory authority’s business to make sure the markets work,” said Edward L. Morse, head of research at LCM Commodities, a brokerage in New York. “If there’s a lesson of that last few years, it’s that the markets haven’t been functioning as well as they should have been.”