Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the oil and gas industry are creating earthquakes. New information from the Midwest region of the United States points out that these man-made earthquakes are happening more frequently than expected. While more frequent earthquakes are less of a problem for regions like the Midwest, a geology professor from the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Paul K. Doss, believes the disposal of wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) process used in extracting oil and gas has the possibility to pose potential problems for groundwater.

“We are taking this fluid that has a whole host of chemicals in it that are useful for fracking and putting it back into the Earth,” Doss said. “From a purely seismic perspective these are not big earthquakes that are going to cause damage or initiate, as far as we know, any larger kinds of earthquakes activity for Midwest. [The issue] is a water quality issue in terms of the ground water resources that we use.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used by the oil and gas industries which inject highly pressurized water down into the Earth’s crust to break rock and extract natural gas. Most of the fluids used for fracking are proprietary, so information about what chemicals are used in the various fluids are unknown to the public and to create a competitive edge.

Last Monday four researchers from the University of New Brunswick released an editorial that sheds light on the potential risks that the current wastewater disposal system could have on the province’s water resources. The researchers share the concern that Dr. Doss has and have come out to say that they believe fracking should be stopped in the province until there is an environ­mentally safe way to dispose the waste wastewater.

“If groundwater becomes contamin­ated, it takes years to decades to try to clean up an aquifer system,” University of New Brunswick professor Tom Al said.

While the USGS group which conducted the study says it is unclear how the earthquake rates may be related to oil and gas production, they’ve made the correlation between the disposal of wastewater used in fracking and the recent upsurge in earthquakes. Because of the recent information surfacing that shows this connection between the disposal process and earthquakes, individual states in the United States are now passing laws regarding disposal wells.

The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak.

“The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak,” Doss said. “A perfect case-in-point is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, that oil was being drilled at 18,000 feet but leaked at the surface. And that’s the concern because there’s no assurance that some of these unknown chemical cocktails won’t escape before it gets down to where they are trying to get rid of them.”

It was said in the study released by the New Brunswick University professors that if fracking wastewater would contaminate groundwater, that current conventional water treatment would not be sufficient enough to remove the high concentration of chemicals used in fracking. The researchers did find that the wastewater could be recycled, can also be disposed of at proper sites or even pumped further underground into saline aquifers.

The New Brunswick professors have come to the conclusion that current fracking methods used by companies, which use the water, should be replaced with carbon diox­ide or liquefied propane gas.

“You eliminate all the water-related issues that we’re raising, and that peo­ple have raised in general across North America,” Al said.

In New Brunswick liquefied propane gas has been used successfully in fracking some wells, but according to water specialist with the province’s Natural Resources De­partment Annie Daigle, it may not be the go-to solution for New Brunswick due its geological makeup.

“It has been used successfully by Corridor Resources here in New Bruns­wick for lower volume hydraulic frac­turing operations, but it is still a fairly new technology,” Daigle said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with U.S. states to come up with guidelines to manage seismic risks due to wastewater. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is the organization that also deals with the policies for wells.

Oil wells, which are under regulation, pump out salt water known as brine, and after brine is pumped out of the ground it’s disposed of by being pumped back into the ground. The difference between pumping brine and the high pressurized fracking fluid back in the ground is the volume that it is disposed of.

“Brine has never caused this kind of earthquake activity,” Doss said. “[The whole oil and gas industry] has developed around the removal of natural gas by fracking techniques and has outpaced regulatory development. The regulation is tied to the ‘the run-of-the-mill’ disposal of waste, in other words the rush to produce this gas has occurred before regulatory agencies have had the opportunity to respond.”

According to the USGS study, the increase in injecting wastewater into the ground may explain the sixfold increase of earthquakes in the central part of the United States from 2000 – 2011. USGS researchers also found that in decades prior to 2000 seismic events that happened in the midsection of the U.S. averaged 21 annually, in 2009 it spiked to 50 and in 2011 seismic events hit 134.

“The incredible volumes and intense disposal of fracking fluids in concentrated areas is what’s new,” Doss said. “There is not a body of regulation in place to manage the how these fluids are disposed of.”

The study by the USGS was presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America on April 18, 2012.

GM recalls 1.3 million cars over steering issues


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

General Motors (GM) announced on Tuesday a recall of 1.3 million Chevrolet and Pontiac cars in the US, Mexico, and Canada over problems with the power steering system.

Recalling these vehicles is the right thing to do for our customers’ peace of mind

The models, the 2005–2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007–2010 Pontiac G5 in the US, the 2005–2006 Pontiac Pursuit in Canada and the 2005–2006 Pontiac G4 in Mexico, were affected by a fault that causes the power steering in the vehicles to fail. The company says that cars can still be safely controlled even after the loss of power steering, although more effort to turn the car would be required.

GM is currently working on developing a fix for the problem, after having conducted an internal investigation for more than a year, beginning last January. In addition to GM’s investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also conducted an investigation on the Cobalt, which began in January 2010. The investigation was begun after more than a thousand complaints about the model were received by the agency, including reports of 14 crashes caused by the fault. GM contacted the NHTSA about the problem on Monday.

GM blamed the issues on an external supplier partially owned by Toyota, another company currently in the process of a major recall of more than eight million vehicles. According to GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz, the supplier, which was not named, had not met “all requirements for reliability and durability.” In his comments, given at the Geneva Motor Show, Lutz also said that financial responsibility for the recalls had yet to be determined.

Iconic London mural could be restored


Monday, September 20, 2010

One of London’s most well known murals could be restored after years of neglect if plans by a group of community activists gain public support. The Fitzrovia Mural at Whitfield Gardens on London’s Tottenham Court Road was created by two mural artists and commissioned by Camden Council in 1980, but the mural has since decayed and been vandalised.

Plans will be presented at a public meeting this Tuesday, to include details of the restoration and promote local public space in contrast to potential commercial developments and the focus of the London 2012 Olympics. If enough funds are raised from charitable trusts and public donations the mural could be restored during the summer of 2011.

Plans to be put forward by the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, and the London Mural Preservation Society, will present ways to fund not only the restoration work but also projects to raise awareness of conservation, heritage, and the residential and working community. The heritage and mural project hopes to involve many local people who could learn new conservation skills. Also planned are workshops with local children to involve them in their heritage, an exhibition by local artists, guided tours and a celebratory event at the end of the restoration project. In addition to this, a booklet would be produced containing collected oral histories of the people involved and a preservation trust to protect the mural in future years.

The playful painting was created on a Camden Council-owned building in 1980 by artists Mick Jones, (son of the late Jack Jones, trade union leader) and Simon Barber and is a mash up of scenes depicting problems faced by the neighbourhood over the preceding decade.

There is also a caricature of poet Dylan Thomas, who lived in Fitzrovia, and a mocking portrayal of then leader of the Greater London Council, Conservative politician Horace Cutler, who is pictured as a bat-like creature. Other characters include an anonymous greedy developer and a property speculator counting piles of cash.

Peter Whyatt of the neighbourhood association is jointly leading the project to restore the mural. Yesterday he told Wikinews he had a number of concerns about the possible success of the project.

“There are a great number of problems with getting this project off the ground and we also need to act pretty quickly for a number of reasons,” said Mr Whyatt.

“Firstly the mural is in a terrible state and deteriorating quickly. There is more graffiti being daubed on the site every month because one bit of graffiti attracts another bit. We really need to start the work in the next 12 months because going through another winter with the condition of the wall will causes more problems and inevitably more expense. We want to keep as much original artwork on the site as possible to keep the costs down. This is a big mural and it will be expensive to restore,” he continued.

“And that brings me to my second concern: cost. If we don’t get other community organisations on board to bid for money for this with us and to involve their beneficiaries and volunteers, it will be very difficult to secure the money needed. Money is very tight at the moment because to the current financial climate. We need to get support at this meeting on Tuesday and some firm commitments from people and organisations to get involved.

“Lastly there is a danger of a commercial development on the site. A public-private partnership to create a new art feature. Because of the existing mural’s subject matter – it mocks property speculators, and land developers, etc – a commercial scheme probably backed by a property developer would not want to restore the mural’s original message. They’d want some “good news” scheme, some greenwash idea that paints them in a positive light.

“However, despite these problems, Camden Council have offered to do a condition survey on the mural. This will save us a lot of money. But having said that there are five council departments to deal with to get permission for this restoration work, and they don’t always talk to each other.

“But if the public and local voluntary organisations show their support, we can make it happen,” Mr Whyatt concluded.

The mural restoration will be just one part of a year long project of heritage and conservation awareness-raising. “The project is not just about the mural but also wider plans to promote awareness of heritage and conservation in an area of London under threat from commercial development. In fact the bulk of the project is about the heritage and conservation and the mural is just one part of it, and the most visible because of its situation,” Mr Whyatt later added.

There will be a public meeting about the heritage and mural project at 7.30 pm tomorrow (Tuesday), at the Neighbourhood Centre, 39 Tottenham Street. The public can also comment about the proposals on the Fitzrovia Heritage and Mural website.

Busting 5 Myths About Demonic Possession


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Submitted by: Scott Petullo And Stephen Petullo, The Mystic Twins

Due to several movies in recent years about demonic possession and exorcisms, the subjects have gained in popularity.

Are they fictitious notions, merely part of a scary Hollywood storyline? 25 years ago, we thought so and naively assumed that in terms of spiritual energy, only God and positive energy existed.

But after studying metaphysics for over 25 years and performing what we call Spiritual Detox (which is similar to a depossession without the religious terminology, often of Latin origin, of a Catholic exorcism) on ourselves and many others, we are convinced dark energy and demons exist.

Misunderstandings about the subject abound. When we read that Roman Catholic priests in Poland are launching the world s first monthly magazine about exorcisms, we were hopeful that it would help clarify the issues.

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Unfortunately, we believe the magazine could do more harm than good. Here are four possession myths that the priests perpetuate in the process of discussing their new magazine.

1) The rise in the number of possessions is due to a rise in capitalism and the occult. Blaming capitalism or the occult for more possessions is like blaming death on living life or obesity on eating; it depends how you live and what and how much you eat.

If they experienced the occult (which only means hidden knowledge ) firsthand instead of relying on hearsay stemming from paranoid zealotry that dates back to the bloodthirsty Inquisition, they d discover that fortune-telling, including tarot cards, astrology, numerology and other forms, is not dangerous and there is no risk of possession from these ancient spiritual tools. In fact, scary movies pose more risk.

Ouija boards and channeling can attract mischievous entities, but they are easily avoided if one knows what they are doing, and we do not recommend novices use them. We advise avoiding black magic and spells, which present much more risk.

2) A depossession or exorcism should only be performed by a priest. There are many people who are not priests who regularly perform successful depossessions. One of the more successful people in this field is Sue Allen of the UK.

Religious exorcisms follow a traditional process that, at times, recklessly cast out demons. We and others who do similar deposession work believe this can be dangerous because the entity can wander off and possess someone else. Instead, we call in Angels of the Light to help escort the troublemakers to the Light.

3) Authentic exorcism is absolutely free of charge. What the priest means is that authentic exorcism by priests is free. There are many professionals who can remove lost souls or dark energy but since they do this for a living and don t have the support of a multi-billion dollar religious enterprise behind them, of course they need to charge for their services.

Unfortunately, there exist unscrupulous psychics who will tell a client bad energy is causing their misfortune, and that they can remove it for thousands of dollars, then do very little to fix the alleged problem. Avoid them.

4) Possession comes as a result of committing evil. Stealing, killing, and other sins. In our experience, we ve found it s the reverse; one does not always become possessed from sinning (though it s possible), but those who are stealing, lying, or killing commonly are possessed. We ve discovered that people can become possessed from drug use, alcohol abuse, extreme emotions, physical or sexual abuse, and surgery.

5) Mental illness is not the same as possession. We ve found that mental imbalances are often caused or made worse by entity attachment or possession, especially in very sensitive individuals. Sadly, many mental health experts ridicule the idea of possession, yet ironically, usually know little about the subject.

Copyright Stephen Petullo, Scott Petullo

About the Author: Scott Petullo and Stephen Petullo help people make the most of their spirituality. The free Direct Your Destiny e-book can help you get on the right path with time-tested,invaluable spiritual tips, methods, and insights. Includes 13 Spiritual and New Age Myths and 11 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Psychic.

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Nokia launches internet music store


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nokia Inc., the international mobile phone manufacturer headquartered in Finland, has launched their own online music and game downloading service to the public.

They are hoping to challenge other phone manufacturers who offer similar downloading services and also other online stores such as the Apple iTunes store.

Along with this announcement Nokia also revealed they will release new handsets that are better suited as multimedia players.

Nokia’s chief executive, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, said: “Looking into the future, we will deliver great devices, combined with compelling experiences and services, to make it easy for people to unlock the potential of the Internet.”

The service, named the “Nokia Music Store”, will charge between €6 and €10 for a game while a single music track will cost €1 and €10 for a whole album. The service will initially be available on Nokia’s N81 and N95 models, but the media is anticipating the service to become available on more models soon after launch.

EPA block massive West Australian energy project


Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The Western Australian (WA) Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has advised against the massive Greater Gorgon liquefied natural gas project off WA’s Pilbara coast. Proponents of the projects say Gorgon is one of Australia’s biggest export ventures, scheduled to provide up to 6,000 jobs and exports of up to $1.2 billion.

EPA chairman Dr Wally Cox said the Gorgon project operators (Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell), had made an effort on flora and fauna issues but in its present state, the Gorgon proposal was “unacceptable.” Gorgon LNG general manager Colin Beckett said that Gorgon was a world-class gas field and that the joint venture partners were confident that the decision would be reversed.

Environment Minister Mark McGowan said there was a definite process to be followed. The Minister says he will make a final decision on the Gorgon proposal after considering the EPA report – and any subsequent report from the Appeals Convenor. The EPA recommendations on the Gorgon proposal are subject to a two-week appeals period.

The EPA’s Dr Cox said that joint venture had “not been able to demonstrate that impacts from dredging, the introduction of non-indigenous species and the potential loss of fauna could be reduced to acceptable levels.”

In September 2003 the WA government provided “in-principle agreement” to the Gorgon joint venturers subject to a number of conditions. Dr Cox said that the Environmental Review and Management Programme had further highlighted the terrestrial and marine conservation values of Barrow Island and the adjacent waters.

Flatback turtles in particular would be put at risk from the proposal with two of the most important nesting beaches located adjacent to the proposed LNG processing plant site and the materials off-loading facility,” Dr Cox said. “There is very little science available on the life-cycle, behaviour and feeding habits of Flatback turtles and as a consequence it is not possible at this time to identify management measures that would ensure ongoing survival of this Pilbara Flatback turtle population.”

Dr Cox also said that the Proponent had not been able to demonstrate that risk could be reduced to satisfactory levels in the areas of: Impacts on the marine ecosystem from dredging; The introduction of non-indigenous species; Potential loss of subterranean and short range endemic invertebrate fauna species. “As a result, the proposal in its present form cannot meet the EPA’s environmental objectives and is considered environmentally unacceptable,” Dr Cox said.

Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”


Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Buffalo, New York —A proposed hotel that was supposed to be built at the corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, New York is apparently off the table. The former proposal was going to be called The Elmwood Village Hotel and would have consisted of 72 rooms and cost between $7 to $10 million American dollars to build.

Today several unknown individuals were seen removing a sign that was dedicated to the “Elmwood Village Gateway,” which signifies the beginning of the Elmwood Village at the formerly proposed project’s location.

Nearly an hour later the men replaced the sign with a different and unexpected sign: “For Sale: 5 commercial parcels and 1 carriage house, By: Owner.” Those 5 “parcels” are 1109-1121 Elmwood and 999 Forest Avenue, which is located in an illegal alley, according to the City of Buffalo, behind the 5 other properties on Elmwood. Hans Mobius owns all properties named in the sale.

Sam Savarino, CEO of Savarino Companies never owned the properties and has repeatadly told Wikinews in exclusive interviews that he still had a “contract to buy the properties” and on October 2, 2006 told Wikinews in an exclusive interview that he “extended” the “agreement to purchase the property[s] and will have it under contract for what we hope is a sufficient period of time.”

“He [Mobius] is undoubtedly concerned because he has lost some tenants and is a bit impatient. I think he has properly portrayed the situation,” said Savarino in an exclusive interview with Wikinews.

Savarino also says that there may be “legal issues” to work out now, before anything else can move forward, regarding the proposal.

“There are some legal complexities that must be sorted out before anything can happen there,” added Savarino.

The welcome sign was; however, not removed entirely. The sign was placed, facing the same direction of north, on the side of the Forest Plaza Art Gallery, a new art gallery located on the corner of Forest and Elmwood.

Nancy Pollina, owner of Don Apparel which was located at 1109 Elmwood, but closed on October 14, 2006 considers this a possible “victory” in regards to the lawsuit filed against the hotel to stop it from being built, alleging that several laws were broken, including not performing an Environmental Impact Study before the proposal was approved by the city, during its approval and the proposal was “rushed.” Patricia Morris, who operates Don Apparel with Pollina, Angeline Genovese and Evelyn Bencinich, owners of residences on Granger Place which abut the rear of the proposed site, Nina Freudenheim, a resident of nearby Penhurst Park, and Sandra Girage, the owner of a two-family residence on Forest Avenue less than a hundred feet from the proposed hotel’s sole entrance and exit driveway, were also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They filed the suit with a lawyer representing them, Arthur J. Giacalone, on April 25, 2006 in New York State Supreme Court, but the case has never gone to a courtroom.

Giacalone believes that a press release issued in July regarding the project was nothing but a statement to “save face,” but that the placement of the for sale sign might be a way of convincing Savarino to speed up the sale of the properties.

“I thought all along that Savarino’s July press release might be no more than an effort to save face. But we have no way of knowing. Similarly, Mobius might have put the for-sale sign up in an attempt to pressure Savarino into closing the deal. There’s no way to tell,” said Giacalone in an exclusive interview with Wikinews.

In regards to the lawsuit, Giacalone thinks it may now be in “limbo.”

“The lawsuit still sits in limbo,” added Giacalone.

White House accepts judicial review of NSA eavesdropping


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The US President George W. Bush agreed to sign a bill that would allow for a limited judicial review of the National Security Agency‘s controversial eavesdropping program, said the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R). A White House spokeswoman also confirmed the same.

Sen. Specter said that the bill will clear the way for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to “consider the program as a whole and to make a decision on it.”

Under the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”, NSA conducts surveillance on international and domestic phone calls without FISA court authorization, an action the text of the FISA act calls a Felony. The Bush administration maintains that the program is legal, arguing that FISA is an unconstitutional violation of the President’s “inherent powers” and/or that FISA was implicitly overridden by other acts of Congress. Revelation of the program by a New York Times newsreport triggered a controversy over the legality of the program and the scope of Congressional oversight.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently considering two bills proposed respectively by Sen. Specter and Sen. Mike DeWine (R) over the issue. The Specter bill provides for retroactive amnesty for NSA’s actions and brings the program under the FISA court, whereas the DeWine bill provides a legislative foundation for the program.

Sen. Specter said that the bill will allow greater flexibility in emergencies by updating legal language to reflect recent technological developments such as cell phones, allowing NSA a seven day period for obtaining retroactive warrants and allowing “roving wiretaps” which target an individual rather than a particular phone connection. He added that the bill will require government officials to explain why they suspect intercepted communications involve terrorism and creates penalties for misuse of the powers.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat said that the proposed bill is an “interesting bargain” in which the President “is saying ‘if you do every single thing I tell you to do,’ I will do what I should have done anyway,”.Sen. Charles Schumer (D) is reported to have proposed a different bill.

Scientology protest group celebrates founder’s birthday worldwide


 Correction — March 19, 2008 The next protest is scheduled for April 12, 2008. The article below states April 18 which is incorrect. 

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Internet group Anonymous today held further protests critical of the Church of Scientology.

The global protests started in Australia where several hundred protesters gathered at different locations for peaceful protests.

In a global speech, the Internet protest movement said Scientology “betrayed the trust of its members, [had] taken their money, their rights, and at times their very lives.” The protesters welcomed the public interest their protests have led to, and claimed they witnessed “an unprecedented flood of Scientologists [joining] us across the world to testify about these abuses.” The group said it would continue with monthly actions.

In a press statement from its European headquarters, Scientology accused the anonymous protesters of “hate speech and hate crimes”, alleging that security measures were necessary because of death threats and bomb threats. This also makes the Church want to “identify members” of the group it brands as “cyber-terrorists”.

Wikinews had correspondents in a number of protest locations to report on the events.

Anonymous states that the next protest is scheduled to take place on April 18, which happens to be the birthday of Suri, the daughter of Tom and Katie Cruise.

Contents

  • 1 Location reports
    • 1.1 Adelaide, Australia
    • 1.2 Atlanta, Georgia
    • 1.3 Austin, Texas
    • 1.4 Boston, Massachusetts
    • 1.5 Brussels, Belgium
    • 1.6 London, England
    • 1.7 Manchester, England
    • 1.8 New York, New York
    • 1.9 Buffalo, New York
    • 1.10 Seattle, Washington
    • 1.11 Sydney, Australia
    • 1.12 Portland, Oregon
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources

Bush plans to roll out new Iraq strategy this week


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

U.S. President George W. Bush plans to announce his new strategy for Iraq sometime this week, according to a senior administration source quoted by the BBC.

That strategy will reportedly include a troop increase and will focus on securing Iraq rather than training Iraqi forces. Bush will reveal the strategy in a speech “within days,” according to the BBC. Its theme will be sacrifice. Other news agencies have yet to confirm the BBC report.

The announcement comes as Democrats are preparing to start back to work on Thursday in Washington as the new majority, having won many of their new seats by vowing to pull troops out of Iraq.

Bush’s new strategy would also prove to be a rebuke of the long-heralded Iraq Study Group report, which he commissioned. It nudged the president toward a policy of negotiations with countries like Iran and Syria, previously seen as enemies, and eventual withdrawal.

Bush met with advisers during December to decide how to proceed in Iraq. Before taking a vacation in Crawford, Tex., his spokesman said the announcement of a new strategy would come sometime after the New Year. Some have speculated that meant he would include in his State of the Union address to Congress expected later this month.

However, the timing of a speech this week may be pointed toward Capitol Hill anyway, as Democrats said they plan to largely sideline Bush’s Republican party from the first 100 hours of lawmaking as the new legislature convenes.