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Archive for August 2nd, 2008

Nigeria ablaze

Posted by Charles II on August 2, 2008

Steve Bloomfield, London Independent:

Oil spills have polluted their rivers and land, making fishing and farming impossible. Flares, burning constantly, have filled their air with soot. Billions of dollars have been pumped out of their land with nothing in return. Even the jobs the oil industry promised have gone elsewhere, to well-paid foreigners and Nigerians from less marginalised parts of the country. For those who live closest to the oil fields, the best they can hope for is casual labour: when there is a spill or a pipeline bursts, locals are employed for pennies to clear it up….

In the past few years, shadowy militant groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) have taken advantage of rising anger towards the oil industry. They kidnap foreign oil workers and attack oil installations. ….

At five cents a barrel, getting oil out of the ground is 10 times cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia. But the cost of doing business in Nigeria is getting higher. Mend’s attacks on oil installations, including one on a Shell offshore field in June, have cut the country’s oil production by at least 20 per cent. As a result, Angola has now overtaken Nigeria as Africa’s largest oil producer.

Mend claim they are fighting for a fair share of oil revenues to be spent on the Delta….

Within a decade, the United States expects to extract around a quarter of its oil from the Gulf of Guinea. They see it as a safer option than the Middle East, and it has played a large part in the thinking behind the establishment of the US’s Africa Command – a plan for a series of permanent military bases on the continent. …

In reality, the money is controlled by one man, President Obiang Nguema, a dictator …

Now there’s a recipe for a stable oil supply: give one man a nickel a barrel, while leaving everyone else unemployed and desperate.

Posted in Africa, Oil, world news, wrong way to go about it | 4 Comments »

T. Boone Pickens Has Got To Like This

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 2, 2008

Why? Because he’s heavily invested in natural gas, for one thing.

Tech Blorge passes on this little tidbit concerning the Chevy Volt and GM’s plans to have compressed natural gas be one of the alternate power sources for it:

Imagine driving the first part of a trip on electricity alone, then seamlessly transitioning into extended range using compressed natural gas, all refuel-able at home. That’s what Larry Burns at GM has in mind when he says:

In the near term, we can use compressed natural gas (CNG) in internal combustion engines. Mid term, we can leverage natural gas to create electricity for the Volt and future variants. In the long term, natural gas could be an excellent source for making hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles, either at the filling station or in people’s homes.

Burns even mentions there may be a possibility of integrating natural gas into existing combustion engines, creating dual fuel engines still using the older technology. That could but a new solution in the hands of lots of consumers who will struggle to afford the Chevy Volt’s ever-escalating price tag (likely $40,000 or more).

This actually makes a lot of sense. While compressed natural gas takes up slightly more space than does gasoline, you need less of it as it’s a backup to the battery and not the main power source. It’s also considerably cheaper than gasoline — about the equivalent of $2.50-a-gallon gas in most of the country, and even cheaper in places like Utah, where it’s heavily subsidized. It’s also less polluting than gasoline, largely because of its superior energy to carbon ratio. So making T. Boone Pickens happy just might help make us all happy — or at least ease the transition to full-on electric vehicles.

Posted in automobiles, energy, environment, global warming | 5 Comments »

I Was Wondering How They Got Sonia Pitt To Take The Fall For Molnau

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 2, 2008

Looks to me like they may have pulled strings to get her this gig:

Sonia Pitt, the MnDOT emergency response executive fired for taking an unauthorized, state-paid trip to Washington during the Interstate 35W bridge disaster, is now working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Pitt, 44, of Red Wing, confirmed Wednesday that she is working for Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) at its headquarters in Arlington, Va. Her job title is “Transportation Security Specialist.” Pitt declined to discuss her job responsibilities, her length of employment with the federal agency or her salary.

But of course, now that the cat’s out of the bag, what was given is now taken away:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has fired Sonia Pitt, the former MnDOT emergency response executive who lost her state job for failing to return to Minnesota in the days after the I-35W bridge collapse.

Pitt was hired two months ago to work in Washington as a security specialist for the agency’s Transportation Security Administration.

[…]

Thursday was the first time the TSA had contacted the Minnesota agency about Pitt’s dismissal, said MnDOT spokeswoman Lucy Kender.

“All I can say is, they called us this afternoon for the first time regarding this issue, about Sonia Pitt’s termination status,” Kender said.

Granted, this really could just be standard employee vetting. But vetting like this is supposed to be done before the person is hired, not after. She may well have been waved into the gig thanks to the influence of her boyfriend Daniel Ferezan, the guy with whom she was vacationing when the bridge fell down. (He’s a bigwig with the Federal Highway Administration, by the way.) My own wild-assed guess is that word got out a couple of weeks ago about the first Strib piece being in the works, and so an “investigation” was started by TSA after the fact to provide a cover story.

I reckon the Pawlenty machine apparently must figure that there’s not much danger of Pitt’s writing a tell-all book about her experiences, so she’s expendable. Either that, or there may be another payoff we don’t know about yet waiting in the wings for her.

Posted in 'starving the beast', abuse of power, Carol Molnau, infrastructure, Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, TSA, WTF? | 5 Comments »

Organic Pizza — From Pizza Hut?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 2, 2008

Apparently so:

With the introduction of The Natural, Pizza Hut will be the first national chain to offer a pizza made with natural, yet familiar ingredients, such as natural pepperoni and Italian sausage, that doesn’t compromise on taste and satisfaction. The new Natural pizza also features:

— Multi Grain Crust: Multi-grain crust baked from a blend of traditional pizza dough and five different whole grains, sweetened with a touch of honey and infused with olive oil. The new crust delivers eight grams of whole grains per slice, earning it a seal of approval from the Whole Grain Council.

— Organic Sauce: The Natural crust is topped with an original sauce made from organic, vine-ripened tomatoes and natural mozzarella cheese. The Natural is so good that it’s easy to forget it is free from artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.

— Natural Toppings: Enjoy the new Rustica recipe with sliced Italian Sausage, marinated Roma tomatoes and fire-roasted red peppers. Or, choose from among other natural toppings including pepperoni, mushrooms, pineapples, green peppers, red onions and diced tomatoes.

The move to natural products doesn’t end with the pizza — it even extends to the box. The Natural pizza will be served in boxes made from up to 75% recycled material — great news for anyone looking to add some “green” to their order.

This summer Dallas and Tampa residents can rediscover pizza by getting a first taste of The Natural before it is introduced to a national audience. A medium one-topping pizza is $9.99. The Natural Rustica pizza is $11.99.

Shockingly enough, the early reviews indicate that it’s really pretty good. Then again, well-done chicken sausage, whether on a pizza or not, is always pretty good. Now let’s see Pizza Hut take it one step further, by using produce from local suppliers when possible. instead of relying on salmonella-tainted stuff trucked in from across the border.

Posted in Good Things, sustainability | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

 
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