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San-Ai Oil
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26 марта 2013, 19:46

Awkward! Keystone opponent to host Obama fundraiser in SF next week

San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer has made no secret of his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, a project President Obama is considering approving this year. But the fact that Obama may sign off on a pipeline that would ship heavy crude from Alberta's oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries isn't stopping Steyer from hosting the president at his Pacific Heights home April 3, in an event to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, will host the $5,000-per-person cocktail reception before a $32,500-per-person dinner to be hosted by fellow billionaires Ann and Gordon Getty at their home nearby. Read full article >>

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21 марта 2013, 04:00

Massive Keystone XL Protest Awaits Obama At Fundraiser

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will be met on a fundraising trip to San Francisco next month by hundreds of activists urging him to reject a permit for the Keystone XL, the controversial oil pipeline that's taken center stage in the fight to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Progressive group CREDO Action, organizing the demonstration with environmental advocacy groups 350.org and the Sierra Club, estimated 1,000 protesters will turn up at the president's San Francisco fundraising visit on April 3. Already, more than 600 people have pledged to come out, according to CREDO political director Becky Bond. "This is it," Bond told HuffPost Wednesday night. "The president says he wants to take meaningful action on climate change and this is the first and biggest decision he's going to make. ... We've produced more public comments and more phone calls to the White House, but we're skeptical that president is going to listen to those comments and we know they're not going to listen to the scientists." Obama's fundraising events, to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, include a $5,000-a-head cocktail hour at the home of Kat Taylor and hedge fund manager turned environmental activist Tom Steyer, as well as a $32,500-a head dinner at home of of Ann and Gordon Getty, according to SFGate. Environmentalists have said the pipeline threatens the global climate and the environment along the 1,700-mile route from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to oil refineries in Texas. But in its latest assessment of the project, the State Department -- which has purview over the pipeline's permitting process because the project crosses an international border -- downplayed environmental consequences. CREDO recently launched a campaign in which more than 50,000 Americans pledged to engage in civil disobedience if Obama approves the oil pipeline. Many of them were at the climate rally in Washington last month, which drew 40,000 protesters from across the U.S. in what was billed as the largest climate rally ever. CREDO'S pledge asks signatories to "engage in serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested," should it be necessary to stop the construction of the Keystone XL. The State Department is now accepting public comments on the pipeline. After that, it will advise Obama whether to move forward with the pipeline. "We are going to confront the president wherever he goes," said Bond. The fundraiser in San Francisco, Bond added, is "one of the few times where he's speaking to people who don't work for the White House and don't work in DC. This is our chance to deliver a strong message."

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21 марта 2013, 04:00

Massive Keystone XL Protest Awaits Obama At Fundraiser

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will be met on a fundraising trip to San Francisco next month by hundreds of activists urging him to reject a permit for the Keystone XL, the controversial oil pipeline that's taken center stage in the fight to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Progressive group CREDO Action, organizing the demonstration with environmental advocacy groups 350.org and the Sierra Club, estimated 1,000 protesters will turn up at the president's San Francisco fundraising visit on April 3. Already, more than 600 people have pledged to come out, according to CREDO political director Becky Bond. "This is it," Bond told HuffPost Wednesday night. "The president says he wants to take meaningful action on climate change and this is the first and biggest decision he's going to make. ... We've produced more public comments and more phone calls to the White House, but we're skeptical that president is going to listen to those comments and we know they're not going to listen to the scientists." Obama's fundraising events, to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, include a $5,000-a-head cocktail hour at the home of Kat Taylor and hedge fund manager turned environmental activist Tom Steyer, as well as a $32,500-a head dinner at home of of Ann and Gordon Getty, according to SFGate. Environmentalists have said the pipeline threatens the global climate and the environment along the 1,700-mile route from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to oil refineries in Texas. But in its latest assessment of the project, the State Department -- which has purview over the pipeline's permitting process because the project crosses an international border -- downplayed environmental consequences. CREDO recently launched a campaign in which more than 50,000 Americans pledged to engage in civil disobedience if Obama approves the oil pipeline. Many of them were at the climate rally in Washington last month, which drew 40,000 protesters from across the U.S. in what was billed as the largest climate rally ever. CREDO'S pledge asks signatories to "engage in serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested," should it be necessary to stop the construction of the Keystone XL. The State Department is now accepting public comments on the pipeline. After that, it will advise Obama whether to move forward with the pipeline. "We are going to confront the president wherever he goes," said Bond. The fundraiser in San Francisco, Bond added, is "one of the few times where he's speaking to people who don't work for the White House and don't work in DC. This is our chance to deliver a strong message."

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20 марта 2013, 20:06

Guest Post: How I Became A Trillionaire (And Some Thoughts On Inflation)

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog, Some thoughts on being a trillionaire and inflation. Reader gratitude is always appreciated here at oftwominds.com, but imagine my delight when correspondent Paul Wegzyn gifted me with $100 trillion. Wow--I'm a trillionaire! Since Paul was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, he presented me with my $100 trillion bill in person. Paul is holding up another form of paper money, a $100 Federal Reserve note: These photos illustrate the fundamentally arbitrary nature of fiat (paper) money. Why do we prefer the $100 greenback over the $100 trillion note issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe? The purchasing power of the Benjamin far exceeds the purchasing power of the $100 trillion bill. But the Benjamin is not immune to inflation; the dollar has lost about 95% of its 1900 purchasing power. Why hasn't this massive reduction in purchasing power impoverished us? All other things being equal, such a massive reduction in purchasing power means we can buy a lot less with our money. The answer is that our incomes rose even faster than inflation. If it now takes $20,000 to buy what $1,000 bought in 1900, and we earn $30,000, despite the horrendous decline in the purchasing power of the dollar, the purchasing power of our income has gone up by 50%. If wages rise along with inflation, then we don't experience any loss of purchasing power as zeroes are added to our fiat currency. If wages increase at a rate above that of inflation, we gain purchasing power. If wages increase at a rate below that of inflation, we lose purchasing power. It is generally accepted that official measures of inflation do not reflect the "real" decline in purchasing power. Nonetheless, it's instructive to ponder the consequences of understated official inflation on the purchasing power of income. Let's turn to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) inflation calculator. It now takes $1.35 to buy what $1 bought in 2000. Many wage-earners have received modest increases in their earnings over the past 12 years. Let's say someone received a cumulative wage increase of 15% since 2000. Measured in purchasing power, their income has declined by roughly 20% in a mere 12 years. If we use alternative measures of inflation, the decline is more on the order of 30%. Consider the rising costs of higher education and healthcare: These major lifetime expenses have skyrocketed far above the modest 35% official inflation rate since 2000. This raises another question: what causes money to lose purchasing power? The basic answer is that all fiat money--paper, electronic, credit-money, etc.--is ultimately a claim on a real-world income stream, resource, good or service. If we print/create ten times more money, we cannot print ten times more oil, cans of beans, concrete, etc., and so the nominal price of the real-world goods rises ten-fold. If the money supply rises along with the increase in production of goods and services, then inflation is close to zero. This was the case for much of the 19th century in Great Britain. If there is insufficient money in circulation to fund new enterprises and trade, the economy stagnates. The solution to this is credit: trade credit, loans, etc. Used wisely, credit leverages productive growth in a cash-starved economy. When credit is expanded in near-infinite quantities at low interest rates, however, borrowed money flows into unproductive mal-investments. These go bust and the debtor is left with the interest payments. As a result, massive expansion of credit also leads to stagnation as more income is devoted to debt service and capital accumulation dwindles. Since the Federal Reserve has been "printing money" by expanding its balance sheet, why aren't we experiencing higher inflation? Setting aside the possibility that the official statistics are rigged to suppress the real rate of inflation, there are several other factors at work: 1. If money is being destroyed by bankruptcies, writedowns, etc. at the same time it is being created, the money supply will only expand if the new money exceeds the money that has vanished. Indeed, if $10 trillion has disappeared from the net-asset ledger, then printing/creating $3 trillion isn't going to do anything but replace a portion of the destroyed money. 2. It depends on who gets the freshly created money. If all the new money/credit is flowing to the top 5% who already own most of the financial wealth, then it's difficult for demand from this small slice of society to create widespread inflation. If the interest rate is near-zero, then all those owning money are losing purchasing power, as official inflation is running at 3% and their yield on savings is less than 1%. As a result, those with money are seeking a higher yield. They are buying high-dividend stocks, rental housing, high-yield corporate bonds, etc. This generates asset bubbles in all asset classes that pay a yield above 1%. In other words, if the new money flows to the wealthy, then all it does is inflate asset bubbles. If the Federal Reserve created $1 trillion and distributed it in cash to 100 million households, it might increase demand for goods and services and spark inflation. But if the $1 trillion is only available to a handful of corporations and super-wealthy families, then it can't spark demand-driven inflation in anything but a handful of ultra-luxury goods. 3. It depends on the capacity to produce goods and services. The global economy is burdened with over-capacity: the capacity to produce steel, autos, flat-screen TVs, etc., far exceeds demand. Even if the Fed ordered 10 million new TV sets to be given away, this would not generate much inflation because existing factories could churn out the extra 10 million without even reaching full capacity. As for services--there is an over-supply of labor in virtually every sector, even ones that have traditionally been restricted: the demand for more lawyers is low, dentists' waiting rooms are often empty, and so on. In other words, a vast over-capacity also exists in most of the service sector. 4. It depends on values and priorities. Let's say the Fed created enough money to give each household $10,000 in cash--the famed "helicopter drop" of money. If most households saved the windfall or used it to pay down existing debt, very little of it would flow into the economy as demand for goods and services. The inflationary effect of all this new money would be essentially nil. We can use the velocity of money as a measure of this dynamic: 5. Cartels raise prices at will; this is not inflation. Cartels by definition have extinguished real competition (i.e. exposure to market discovery of price), and as a result they raise prices across their industry with impunity. In the U.S., healthcare, education, and defense (to name but three of many) are all cartels. As a result, costs in these industries never go down, they only skyrocket. This is not inflation due to an increase in money supply, it is a transfer of purchasing power and wealth from households to the cartels that superficially looks like inflation. If 95% of households are experiencing a loss of purchasing power and most of the new money and credit are flowing to the top 5%, you get asset bubbles, not demand-driven inflation. When 95% of the households are poorer in terms of purchasing power and financial wealth, where can demand-driven inflation arise in a global economy of massive manufacturing and labor over-capacity? The rise in costs within industries controlled by cartels (healthcare, higher education, defense, etc.) may look like demand-driven inflation, but are actually transfers of wealth and purchasing power from households to the government-protected cartels. Thank you, Paul, for the thrill of being a trillionaire, and for generously treating me to lunch.

07 марта 2013, 18:08

Al Gore sued over Current TV sale

Former Vice President Al Gore is being sued by a San Francisco media executive who claims it was his idea for Al Jazeera to acquire Current TV. The consultant, John Terenzio, says he identified Current TV as a potential acquisition target for Al Jazeera, and proposed the structure and strategies for the deal, according to the lawsuit, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. There was a "mutual understanding that Terenzio would be compensated if Current TV utilized his idea to consummate a sale to Al Jazeera," the plaintiff claims. But Terenzio says he was cut out of the deal when Gore, who initially opposed the idea, decided to go through with it after having a "change of heart." "Gore was adamant in his rejection of the proposal to sell his liberal, environmentally friendly network to the oil-rich Quataris who owned Al Jazeera," the lawsuit claims. "Apparently, Gore had a change of heart." Terenzio is seeking $5 million from Current, or 1 percent of the total $500 million the company received from Al Jazeera. THR has the full details.

03 марта 2013, 21:06

Value Your College Degree Now In 30 Minutes! I Mathematically Prove Ivy League To Be A Waste Of Money!

  Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece that essentially channeled BoomBustBlog. It was quite controversial, Why spend six figures on a business degree? Students would do better to train and network on their own. Imagine that you have been accepted to Harvard Business School. The ivy-covered buildings and high-powered faculty whisper that all you need to do is listen to your teachers, get good grades and work well with your peers. After two years, you'll emerge ready to take the business world by storm. Once you have that degree, you'll have it made. But don't kid yourself. What matters exponentially more than that M.B.A. is the set of skills and accomplishments that got you into business school in the first place. What if those same students, instead of spending two years and $174,400 at Harvard Business School, took the same amount of money and invested it in themselves? How would they compare after two years? If you want a business education, the odds aren't with you, unfortunately, in business school. Professors are rewarded for publishing journal articles, not for being good teachers. The other students are trying to get ahead of you. The development office is already assessing you for future donations. Administrators care about the metrics that will improve your school's national ranking. None of these things actually helps you learn about business. Consider what you could do instead with that $174,400. The first step should be to move to a part of the country that supports your interests. If that's film, move to Los Angeles. Technology, San Francisco. Oil, Houston. You could live decently in these cities for $3,000 per month. Over the course of two years, that still leaves you $100,000 to invest in yourself. Needless to say, I have addressed this in detail through many interviews, videos and articles over the last few months. Well, now, I offer the means to funamentally, arithmetically and convincingly prove the idealogy behind the assertion... The Education Bubble Deflator & Valuation Software is now out of beta and available for purchase, download and use. See the end of this article for instructions on accessing the model. Here I will offer a brief overview of the model and the key findings from a hypothetical student funding his undergrad, grad and PhD studies with a 6% Sallie Mae loan. The application is designed to help individuals value their college/university education by calculating and valuing the real cash flows generated by diplomas/academic studies in addition to calculating the real world costs of obtaining said assets.  We capture, quantify and illustrate the value of a diploma from higher education institutions across different disparate majors and give each a distinct eROI (Economic return on investment) figure for students pursuing these courses.  The app uses inputs of (1) expected salary of a student after completing a major, (2) the tuition payable for pursuing the major, (3) any loans that would be taken to finance the course fee, (4) a blended tax rate to compute disposable income, (4) interest rate for the loan, (5) household expenses that a person is likely to incur, (6) growth rates in salary, (7) Opportunity cost for pursuing a major full time, (8) and an adjustment for the unemployment rate to factor in the impact of unemployment.     The app also computes cash flows that a student is likely to earn over the life of his career after considering his installments for the loan repayment, household expenses, taxes and the opportunity cost for pursuing a course.   Key Findings The current weak economic environment has seriously dented the economic viability of pursuing a degree (Bachelors, Masters or a PhD) from some of the top universities in the US. The persistent decline in salaries being offered to graduates from these universities coupled with continued rise in cost of courses has resulted in a fall in economic return to students from these majors. In the US, the trend of increasing duration of student loans and higher aggregate student loans outstanding are a matter of immediate attention. These trends have increased concern over higher student loan default in the near future, resultantly seriously raising the need for evaluation of value of securitized assets based on such loans. In essence, it’s the mortgage bubble all over again. Return from Undergraduate Courses Almost all universities (listed below) offer very low returns over a student’s career life if aggregated as an “all majors” category. The high cost of courses and lowering of salary being offered upon completion of courses are major drivers for lower returns. [email protected]% p.a is negative for all schools on an aggregated basis and even on a specific, major by major basis.   Even when looked at on a more granular basis, we get the following... image005 copy As can be seen, the returns are middling at best, particularly when compared with other forms of investment over time. Resultantly the break-even year impractically far in most cases - after the year 2040 (assuming a start year of 2013). As a matter of fact, we have actually marked the cash flows from this person's education to market, benchmarking it against several other risk assets. From an undergraduate perspective, it's a dismal comparison for the most part. The returns are far lower compared with the 30-year average return on equities (5-6%) and 20-year return on commercial real estate (>7%) and 30-year return on Gold (4.5%). When taking individual majors into consideration, the numbers get even more interesting for diversity comes into play. The accompanying app shows the divergence in value not only between different majors within a school, but also the same majors between different schools, thereby actually valuing both the majors and the schools themselves!  image014 copy The model conveniently allows one to actually compare returns on a specific major between schools. This is invaluable in choosing schools. Most students and their parents select schools based on nominal affordabilty and/or repuation. Now you can compare schools based on actual economic performance upon graduation - the way it should have been done from the beginning!!!     Things Generally Look Much Better For Graduate Degrees, But..... The Catch 22!!! Return from Postgraduate Courses Postgraduate degrees offer a much better return compared with other asset classes than do undergraduate degrees. The break-even year is achieved much earlier, in most cases within 12-16 [email protected]% is positive in all the cases. The problem is that in order to pursue a master's degree you first must obtain an undergraduate degree which has a very high probability of putting you in the hole! Return from PhD Courses Similar to undergraduate courses, return from PhD courses is lower compared to postgraduate courses. The returns are also lower compared to 30-year average return on equities (5-6%) and 20-year return on commercial real estate (>7%) and 30-year return on Gold (4.5%). The break-even year is achieved after a very long time, after almost 26-28 years. Download Your Copy of the Education Bubble Deflator and Valuation Software Now!  The cost is 29.99 for 30 days of use, but the first 100 users will get a 1 year subscription. Subscribe to BoomBustBlog Pay for the software here - $29.99. Download the software model here -  College & University Education Valuation Model. Optionally, download the instructions if you're not comfortable with income and cash flows:  Education Bubble Deflator & Valuation Model Instructions This file must be opened in Libre Office Portable, a free lighteweight office suite that does not leave traces or changes on the client computer. You can download Libre Office Portable for free here: PortableApps 97 MB. A portable version of LibreOffice packaged in PortableApps.com Format, so you can take all your documents and everything you need to work from a USB, cloud or local drive. See PortableApps.com for more information. Discuss this software, its findings and collaborate with othes on Facebook. #666666; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">#bbbbbb; font-family: Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif; width: 400px;">    #666666; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">#bbbbbb; font-family: Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif; width: 400px;">       More on this topic... How Inferior American Education Caused The Financial Crisis & Prevents A Real Recover The American Education System Exposed For What ... - BoomBustBlog  Calculate The Value & ROI Of Your College Education Now With ... How To Profit From The Impending Bursting Of The  Education Bubble... Part 3 How To Profit From The Impending Bursting Of The Education Bubble... Part 1 How To Profit From The Impending Bursting Of The Education Bubble ... Part 2 Reggie Middleton Illustrates Pitfalls of American Education Using ...

25 февраля 2013, 22:02

Can Argo’s Best Picture Win Stop War with Iran?

Ruth HullActivist Post On February 24, 2013, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has thrown down the gauntlet to Congress, the President, the corporate oil vultures, the State of Israel, and the Military Industrial Complex by presenting the Best Picture Award to Argo, a movie showing that peace is the way to save lives in response to an act of war. On November 4, 1979, Iranian students stormed the American Embassy in Tehran and took Americans hostage. This was a violation of U.S. sovereignty. America was attacked where it was supposed to be secure under international law. But Jimmy Carter refused to take up the sword. Instead, he took up the dove and got everyone home, alive and safe. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; The takeover of the American Embassy was effectively an act of war – unlike any current actions of Iran involving the United States or its citizens. Iran has not taken over any of our embassies since 1979. It has committed no acts of war against the United States. Its peaceful nuclear energy plan (albeit an unhealthy and unsafe energy plan) is peaceful. (Source) In fact, if asked their opinion, most Americans living near nuclear power plants would gladly encourage the U.S. Government to dig up and ship all 104 of our operational nuclear reactors to Iran as a belated Christmas present. I live near San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) and Californians have been trying to get rid of that plant for decades as it is the most unsafe reactor in America. (Source) In 2013, Congress has been besieged with lies about Iran by hawks, eager to attack the country with the fourth largest oil reserves in the world, after “Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Canada.” Congressional warmongers are eager for war.In the face of all this genocidal drive towards another future wasteland of dead babies and innocent civilians as a ritual sacrifice to the U.S. Military Industrial Complex, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has boldly stood up and reminded the blood-thirsty Congressional and Executive Branch hawks of the success of Jimmy Carter’s path towards peace. As shown in Argo, while peace saved lives in 1979 and 1980, it did not save Jimmy Carter’s Presidency. Heroically, he put the lives of others before his own career. He could have taken credit for the rescue of six American from the Canadian Ambassador’s home instead of letting the Canadians have the credit. However, that would have risked Canadian lives in Iran. Carter was not about to risk lives to save his Presidency. Also clear from the movie was the attempted undermining of Carter’s peace plan by a shadow government with ties to the Pentagon. Moviegoers see that Tony Mendez, the CIA rescuer who conceived and carried out the plan for the Argo rescue, actually had to go against CIA superiors in order for the plan to succeed. If he had listened to his CIA bosses, the six Americans would have been captured and they and the Canadian diplomats could have been killed. This betrayal by the intelligence community is no surprise as a helicopter rescue plan was sabotaged by people in the Military Industrial Complex working against Carter and the hostages. The helicopter rescue idea was ridiculous, given the terrain and weather conditions in Iran. The military advisers had to know the helicopter plan would fail and embarrass the President even as they were working to sell the plan as a likely success scenario. Going against his bosses, Argo’s Mendez proved that he was one CIA agent who cared more about saving lives than about bringing down a President. For information on acts of treason happening behind the scenes, check out a documentary called, COVER UP: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair. Ask yourself, why the Iranian leadership would time the hostage release to coincide with the Inauguration of Ronald Reagan. Were they fans of Death Valley Days or did certain vice presidential candidate meet with Bonnie Sadr to work out a deal to delay the release of American hostages? This would have been an act of treason if it did occur. The movie Argo is a great reminder of an important period in U.S. history. The Canadian Government, initially given credit for the rescue as part of the cover story, was not happy with the release of information about who was really behind the rescue. But without the assistance of the Canadian officials in Iran, the six Americans might have been captured and killed long before Mendez arrived in that country and so the Canadians were still heroes. Mendez has stated that the facts of the rescue are stranger than fiction. Audiences will find themselves glued to the edge of their seats from the opening sequence to the closing credits in this thriller. The acting was excellent and some of the finest talent in the Screen Actors Guild was chosen to perform in this picture, part of the reason the movie also received the SAG Ensemble Cast Award, generally considered the prelude to the Best Picture Oscar. google_ad_client = "ca-pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 7/28/12 */ google_ad_slot = "9833874419"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; If you are in Congress or in the executive branch of the U.S. Government, this movie is a must-see as a tutorial of how to react in an international crisis. A President who cares about life does not take the country into war when a peaceful alternative can be arranged. Though Nobel Peace Prizes are often given out to the biggest warmongers of the year, Jimmy Carter actually earned his Award. Perhaps next year, Peace President Jimmy Carter can join Oscar winner Ben Affleck in handing out the 2014 Best Picture Award.Ruth Hull is an activist and writer whose career has included work as a criminal defense attorney, a licensed private investigator, and an educator. var linkwithin_site_id = 557381; linkwithin_text='Related Articles:' Enter Your Email To Receive Our Daily Newsletter Close var fnames = new Array();var ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';var err_style = ''; try{ err_style = mc_custom_error_style; } catch(e){ err_style = 'margin: 1em 0 0 0; padding: 1em 0.5em 0.5em 0.5em; background: FFEEEE none repeat scroll 0% 0%; font- weight: bold; float: left; z-index: 1; width: 80%; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz- initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial; color: FF0000;'; } var mce_jQuery = jQuery.noConflict(); mce_jQuery(document).ready( function($) { var options = { errorClass: 'mce_inline_error', errorElement: 'div', errorStyle: err_style, onkeyup: function(){}, onfocusout:function(){}, onblur:function(){} }; var mce_validator = mce_jQuery("#mc-embedded-subscribe-form").validate(options); options = { url: 'http://activistpost.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe/post-json? u=3ac8bebe085f73ea3503bbda3&id=b0c7fb76bd&c=?', type: 'GET', dataType: 'json', contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8", beforeSubmit: function(){ mce_jQuery('#mce_tmp_error_msg').remove(); mce_jQuery('.datefield','#mc_embed_signup').each( function(){ var txt = 'filled'; var fields = new Array(); var i = 0; mce_jQuery(':text', this).each( function(){ fields[i] = this; i++; }); mce_jQuery(':hidden', this).each( function(){ if ( fields[0].value=='MM' && fields[1].value=='DD' && fields[2].value=='YYYY' ){ this.value = ''; } else if ( fields[0].value=='' && fields [1].value=='' && fields[2].value=='' ){ this.value = ''; } else { this.value = fields[0].value+'/'+fields[1].value+'/'+fields[2].value; } }); }); return mce_validator.form(); }, success: mce_success_cb }; mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').ajaxForm(options); }); function mce_success_cb(resp){ mce_jQuery('#mce-success-response').hide(); mce_jQuery('#mce-error-response').hide(); if (resp.result=="success"){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(resp.msg); mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').each(function(){ this.reset(); }); } else { var index = -1; var msg; try { var parts = resp.msg.split(' - ',2); if (parts[1]==undefined){ msg = resp.msg; } else { i = parseInt(parts[0]); if (i.toString() == parts[0]){ index = parts[0]; msg = parts[1]; } else { index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } } } catch(e){ index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } try{ if (index== -1){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } else { err_id = 'mce_tmp_error_msg'; html = ' '+msg+''; var input_id = '#mc_embed_signup'; var f = mce_jQuery(input_id); if (ftypes[index]=='address'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-addr1'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else if (ftypes[index]=='date'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-month'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else { input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]; f = mce_jQuery().parent(input_id).get(0); } if (f){ mce_jQuery(f).append(html); mce_jQuery(input_id).focus(); } else { mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } catch(e){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } BE THE CHANGE! 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23 февраля 2013, 19:34

Weekly Bull/Bear Recap: Feb. 11-15, 2013

Submitted by Rodrigo Serrano of Rational Capitalist Speculator Weekly Bull/Bear Recap: Feb. 11-15, 2013 Weekly Market Performance ->) S&P 500: -0.1% ->) Dow Industrial Average: -0.2% ->) Nasdaq: -0.1% Markets on Watch ->) FTSE MIB (Italy):  -0.8%;  ->) 10-yr BTP Yield: -3.8% ->) IBEX 35 (Spain): -0.3%;  ->) 10-yr Obligaciones Yield: -3.5%   Bull +  Obama’s State of the Union Speech (SOTU) will inspire confidence throughout the middle class.  Improvements in infrastructure and education, as well as retraining the labor force to compete in today’s dynamic global economy, are sound economic policies that will reignite the American competitive spirit and consequently the economy.  Meanwhile, the U.S. energy boom quietly proceeds.   + The U.S. job market continues to heal as per high-frequency indicators such as Weekly Jobless Claims.  The 4-week average for New Jobless Claims is near its lowest level of the recovery.  Firms are confident in the outlook and are not cutting staff.   + U.S. housing data continues to look up, according to individual city figures.  Additionally, commercial real estate price trends show improvement.    + Consumer confidence in the U.S., which had been a growing thorn for the bulls, is finally starting to turn.  University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment survey rises to its highest reading in 3 months with a preliminary February reading of 76.3 vs. a final January reading of 73.8.  Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort Index is carving out a bottom, printing its highest reading in a month.  Improving confidence is percolating to weekly sales metrics.  Redbook reports that consumption in February has started off on a strong note.  Growing confidence is also finding its way into financial markets.   +  While January U.S. Industrial Production came in negative, the result came after two very strong months and shouldn’t heighten concern of a reversal of fortune for the sector.  Moreover, other indicators point to stabilization and possibly the beginnings of a new inventory-build.  The New York Empire Manufacturing survey, prints its first positive number in more than half a year in February.  Within the report, confidence in improving future conditions remains constructive. +  Internationally, G-7 officials affirm their commitment to “market-determined” exchange rates.  Major governments understand that weakening their respective currencies will disadvantage their trading partners.  Cooler heads will prevail.  Meanwhile, financial conditions in the Eurozone have clearly improved.  Along with an overall pace of slower contraction in the EMU, the worse has likely passed.  Stabilization is developing.     Bear - Yes Obama’s speech had great ideas on boosting economic growth, if you believe that more government intrusion into the private sector (by picking winners and losers) and higher taxes are sound policies.  Overall, political paralysis looks set to continue; nothing will get done.    - From a valuation and earnings perspective, U.S. risk markets are significantly overbought.  Additionally, buybacks (usually financed by debt) have in the past represented turning points in equity returns.  Furthermore, BofA’s proprietary sentiment indicator is screaming “sell.”  All this is taking place, while the sequester budget cuts are close to becoming reality. - Redbook’s report of strong February U.S. consumption growth isn’t confirmed by Walmart’s “sales disaster” in February.  Higher payroll taxes and rising gas prices will be too much for the consumer to bear in the coming months.  Furthermore, oil looks set to continue its rise (pressuring gas prices higher), when looking at recent   developments in the Middle East. - Small Business, the engine of job creation in America, remains in a multi-year slump, notching a feeble 88.9 in January vs. 88.0.  The average during recovery/expansion is roughly 97.  Without this important cohort of the American economy, job creation will remain tepid. - Fed officials lack confidence in implementing policy.  Large disparity of opinions among Fed Presidents is detrimental to investor confidence and implies a lack of Fed control of current economic and financial conditions.  San Fran Fed’s Janet Yellen (Bernanke’s right hand dove) and St. Louis Fed’s James Bullard further convince investors that easy monetary policy is here to stay.  Meanwhile, Esther George of the Kansas City Fed, Richmond Fed’s Jeffrey Lacker, and Philly Fed’s Charles Plosser all caution of market disruptions once the Fed is obligated to tighten monetary policy, thereby limiting the Fed’s ability to unwind monetary largesse and risking longer-term inflation.  Sandra Pianalto of the Cleveland Fed believes the FOMC should elect to reduce their scheduled purchases through year-end.  - The ugly European data continues: French, German, and Italian (remember that they have elections coming up) Q4 GDPs all print below expectations; meanwhile, Spanish Industrial New Orders for January print worse than expected at -3.1%.  Worse, Europe is supposed to be restructuring its economy, with Germany becoming more of an importer; the latest German Trade data is disappointing in this respect.  In the U.K. a disappointing January Retail Sales report (4th consecutive decline) fans fears of a triple-dip recession. 

16 февраля 2013, 04:45

Weekly Bull/Bear Recap: Feb. 11-15, 2013 (And G-20 Preview)

From Rodrigo Serrano of Rational Capitalist Speculator, This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week.  It is not geared to push an agenda.  Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases.   Bull +  Obama’s State of the Union Speech (SOTU) will inspire confidence throughout the middle class.  Improvements in infrastructure and education, as well as retraining the labor force to complete in today’s dynamic global economy, are sound economic policies that will reignite the American competitive spirit and consequently the economy.  Meanwhile, the U.S. energy boom quietly proceeds.   + The U.S. job market continues to heal as per high-frequency indicators such as Weekly Jobless Claims.  The 4-week average for New Jobless Claims is near its lowest level of the recovery.  Firms are confident in the outlook and are not cutting staff.   + U.S. housing data continues to look up, according to individual city figures.  Additionally, commercial real estate price trends show improvement.    + Consumer confidence in the U.S., which had been a growing thorn for the bulls, is finally starting to turn.  University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment survey rises to its highest reading in 3 months with a preliminary February reading of 76.3 vs. a final January reading of 73.8.  Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort Index is carving out a bottom, printing its highest reading in a month.  Improving confidence is percolating to weekly sales metrics.  Redbook reports that consumption in February has started off on a strong note.  Growing confidence is also finding its way into financial markets.   +  While January U.S. Industrial Production came in negative, the result came after two very strong months and shouldn’t heighten concern of a reversal of fortune for the sector.  Moreover, other indicators point to stabilization and possibly the beginnings of a new inventory-build.  The New York Empire Manufacturing survey, prints its first positive number in more than half a year in February.  Within the report, confidence in improving future conditions remains constructive. +  Internationally, G-7 officials affirm their commitment to “market-determined” exchange rates.  Major governments understand that weakening their respective currencies will disadvantage their trading partners.  Cooler heads will prevail.  Meanwhile, financial conditions in the Eurozone have clearly improved.  Along with an overall pace of slower contraction in the EMU, the worse has likely passed.  Stabilization is developing.     Bear - Yes Obama’s speech had great ideas on boosting economic growth, if you believe that more government intrusion into the private sector (by picking winners and losers) and higher taxes are sound policies.  Overall, political paralysis looks set to continue; nothing will get done.    - From a valuation and earnings perspective, U.S. risk markets are significantly overbought.  Additionally, buybacks (usually financed by debt) have in the past represented turning points in equity returns.  Furthermore, BofA’s proprietary sentiment indicator is screaming “sell.”  All this is taking place, while the sequester budget cuts are close to becoming reality. - Redbook’s report of strong February U.S. consumption growth isn’t confirmed by Walmart’s “sales disaster” in February.  Higher payroll taxes and rising gas prices will be too much for the consumer to bear in the coming months.  Furthermore, oil looks set to continue its rise (pressuring gas prices higher), when looking at recent   developments in the Middle East. - Small Business, the engine of job creation in America, remains in a multi-year slump, notching a feeble 88.9 in January vs. 88.0.  The average during recovery/expansion is roughly 97.  Without this important cohort of the American economy, job creation will remain tepid. - Fed officials lack confidence in implementing policy.  Large disparity of opinions among Fed Presidents is detrimental to investor confidence and implies a lack of Fed control of current economic and financial conditions.  San Fran Fed’s Janet Yellen (Bernanke’s right hand dove) and St. Louis Fed’s James Bullard further convince investors that easy monetary policy is here to stay.  Meanwhile, Esther George of the Kansas City Fed, Richmond Fed’s Jeffrey Lacker, and Philly Fed’s Charles Plosser all caution of market disruptions once the Fed is obligated to tighten monetary policy, thereby limiting the Fed’s ability to unwind monetary largesse and risking longer-term inflation.  Sandra Pianalto of the Cleveland Fed believes the FOMC should elect to reduce their scheduled purchases through year-end.  - The ugly European data continues: French, German, and Italian (remember that they have elections coming up) Q4 GDPs all print below expectations; meanwhile, Spanish Industrial New Orders for January print worse than expected at -3.1%.  Worse, Europe is supposed to be restructuring its economy, with Germany becoming more of an importer; the latest German Trade data is disappointing in this respect.  In the U.K. a disappointing January Retail Sales report (4th consecutive decline) fans fears of a triple-dip recession.   And Citi's Steve Englander on What To Worry About This Weekend... Blistering criticism of Japan from US, continental Europe and Asia. The G20 statement may mention looking at spillover effects form policies and that would be viewed as buffer against competitive depreciation, but it is unlikely that there would be significant follow-though as too many G20 countries would be caught in that net. The Japanese FM said he encountered no criticism of Japan at the G20 meeting but officials from other countries will likely argue that Japan was in the spotlight. We think the currency war theme is so well discussed that the downside to USDJPY is limited, even if other countries are blunt in their comments.   More leaks on BoJ governorship. In low liquidity periods rumors on the BoJ governorship could push JPY sharply in both directions. There have been rumors supporting each of the candidates, so there is more than a little spinning going on. Muto scares USDJPY bulls less today than he did earlier in the week, so it is possible that any quick shift would be short lived.   ECB comments. The ECB has been trying to find a formula to be above the currency war fray but still convey that they are not going to let the EUR appreciate to a point where it is a first order hindrance to recovery. Successive comments have been more and more blunt. ECB and German officials carry more sway than French or Italian on this score.   UK comments that unwind criticism of Japan. The UK has not intervened but it has done everything else to weaken it currency. Japan has not intervened and Japanese official comments are arguably no worse than anything that BoE officials said this week. Note that UK comments on JPY will have an impact on GBP and their comments on GBP will have an impact on JPY, as they will be seeing as extending the scope for verbal intervention.   Cyprus, Italian elections, Spanish scandals, weak growth – EUR punching above its weight this week and weekend news flow could be unfriendly.   AUD and CAD – left behind as investors focus on weak domestic economies and ignore the pickup in global growth. Economic surprise index for Canada and Australia are both very negative. AUD positioning is already very short, Canadian positioning moderately so. An informal survey that we conducted this week suggested that sentiment with respect to was more negative than either positions or price would expect. Recovery in Asia and the US may come to the rescue of these currencies but there is short term downside risk.

14 февраля 2013, 01:34

Chevron Report Reveals Disturbing Details Leading To Refinery Fire

SAN FRANCISCO -- Government investigators said Wednesday a decades-old pipe that leaked and fed a massive fire at a Chevron refinery in California was corroded, and the company knew it should have been replaced. The report issued by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and California Division of Occupational Safety and Health found the 8-inch steel pipe was installed in 1976 and ruptured due to corrosion. The report confirmed previous findings by both the agencies and the company. The fire created a large plume of black smoke, sending more than 15,000 nearby residents to hospitals complaining of eye irritation and trouble breathing. The cloud also engulfed 19 Chevron employees, who escaped severe injuries. "The corroded pipe should have been replaced when opportunities arose years earlier," Rafael Moure-Eraso, board chairperson, said in a statement. San Ramon-based Chevron said some of the report's findings were consistent with its own, and the company is inspecting every pipe susceptible to the same type of corrosion. "While we do not agree with some of the characterizations in the (report), we are committed to discussing the findings from our investigation and our corrective actions with the investigating agencies," Sean Comey, a company spokesman, said in an email. Cal-OSHA has fined Chevron nearly $1 million after finding willful, serious violations. Chevron is appealing those citations. The report said there was wall thinning in the pipe because naturally occurring sulfur reacted with the steel, creating a specific type of corrosion. The study found the oil processed in that unit of the refinery was high in sulfur and especially damaging to the pipe. If the pipe had been replaced with one higher in silicon, which protects against sulfur-related corrosion, the leak would likely not have occurred, the report said. The chemical board said its investigation into what caused the fire and the safety procedures involved is ongoing.

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09 февраля 2013, 00:23

Howard Energy Partners to build Eagle Ford cryo plant

Howard Midstream Energy Partners LLC, San Antonio, will build a 200-MMcfd cryogenic natural gas processing plant in Webb County, Tex., and already has begun building an import and export railroad hub for oil field services and products, including condensate and NGLs.

05 февраля 2013, 02:42

Peru Seeks To Save A Little Fish With Big Impact

CALLAO, Peru — The ocean off Peru boasts the world's richest fishing grounds, but Taurino Querevalu is returning to port empty again after a hunt for Peruvian anchovy, cursing his empty nets and an increasingly stingy sea. A little more than a decade ago, Querevalu's 8-ton wooden boat rarely returned with an empty hold as it does on this day motoring back to Lima's port of Callao, the low-slung clouds above as gray as the sea mirroring them. "There used to be fish for everybody," the 48-year-old trawler captain laments, leaning on the rail as a stiff breeze buffets his leathery brow. "You'd run into immense schools." Querevalu's frustrated search for the silvery, stiletto-sized fish reflects a voracious, growing global demand for the protein-rich fish meal, and oil, into which nearly Peru's entire anchovy catch is converted. It also reflects unremitting cheating by commercial fleets on quotas and other regulations designed to protect the species. Not only has overfishing of the Peruvian anchovy, or anchoveta, battered the industry that makes Peru far and away the world's No. 1 fish meal exporter, it has also raised alarm about food security in a nation that had long been accustomed to cheap, abundant seafood. The drop in the anchoveta population has over the years affected the food chain, as stocks of hundreds of bigger wild fish and marine animals that eat it have also thinned. Anchoveta thrives in the cold, plankton-saturated Humboldt Current along the coast of Peru and Chile and accounts for about a third of the global fishmeal industry used to fatten farmed seafood and livestock, from salmon in Norway to pigs in China. Like other small "forage fish" that account for more than a third of the world's wild ocean fish catch, nearly the entire anchoveta catch gets ground up into feed and rendered into oil. It is the "the most heavily exploited fish in world history," according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization. Peru's government ordered deep cuts in what the country's 1,200-boat commercial fleet could catch in October after anchoveta stocks plummeted to about 5 million metric tons – at the low end of what fishermen would bring in during previous years. While the small fish reproduce rapidly, their overall population is now less than half its volume a decade ago, said Patricia Majluf, a top Peruvian marine scientist. The government slashed the permitted commercial catch by two-thirds and set rules meant to put more fish on dinner tables in a country whose rural provinces are afflicted by some of the world's highest rates of child malnourishment. Yet the commercial fleet has continued to cheat, said Paul Phumpiu, Peru's vice minister of fisheries. "They have no social conscience," he told reporters Monday in announcing new fines of nearly $3 million on commercial companies for illegally harvesting more than 18,000 metric tons of juvenile anchoveta during the three-month fishing season that ended Jan. 31. "This resource isn't only for the enrichment of a few. It's for the benefit of all of us," Phumpiu said in an earlier interview. "It's a paradox, having a resource so rich that it feeds other parts of the planet but barely reaches Peruvians." Peru's commercial fishing industry blames climatic problems for the anchoveta's slide. But independent experts say years of overfishing, lax enforcement and cheating on quotas and fines have hurt the population. They also accuse the industry of rampant underreporting of its catch and of endangering stocks by harvesting juveniles. Majluf said a one-year fishing ban should be imposed to rebuild the population. Officials balked at that idea, instead setting the lowest quota ever for the commercial trawler fleet at just 810,000 tons for the fishing season that just ended. The government will soon assess anchoveta stocks and determine the quota for the next, mid-year season. Phumpiu said Peru also is boosting the number of its inspectors, from 60 to 260 to begin with, along the 1,860-mile (3,000-kilometer) coastline and increasing fines for unauthorized catches. Skeptics doubt the new restrictions will work. For one thing, an estimated 400,000 tons of anchoveta caught annually goes unreported. "That's the entire (annual) catch of Spain, or Italy," said Juan Carlos Sueiro, a Cayetano Heredia University economist. It's value: about $200 million. There are also huge loopholes. Anchoveta quotas only apply to boats in the commercial fleet that works within Peru's 200-mile territorial waters. Those vessels have been responsible for about 94 percent of the catch. But when boat-by-boat quotas were imposed in 2008, trawlers under 32 tons were exempted. Unrestricted, their numbers swelled. "Everybody around here got into fishing. Farmers sell their cattle and get into fishing. Engineers and doctors, they have their profession. But on the side, they buy boats," said Juan Ponce, administrator of the artisanal, or small-time, fishing pier in Pisco, a three-hour drive south of Lima. With so much overfishing, particularly of anchoveta, fresh fish of all sizes are now scarcer than ever for Peruvians, and seafood prices have risen since 2009 at a rate four times that of other foods. People "buy more chicken than fish because chicken is cheaper," said Pedro Diaz Sanchez, a wad of bills in his hand thickening as he sells hake by the crate at Lima's Villa Maria del Triunfo fish market. In fact, whole anchoveta hasn't been available for years. Rendering factories now pay roughly twice as much for anchoveta as wholesalers who cater to human consumption. Peru earns about $2,000 a metric ton for fishmeal and $2,800 a ton for fish oil, a popular ingredient in nutritional supplements, and prices have more than doubled over the past decade. Local supplies of fish also are hurt by laws that subsidize exports. "It's cheaper to export fish to Africa than to haul it to Huancavelica," said Carlos Paredes, a San Martin de Porres University economist, referring to a highlands Peruvian province where 55 percent of children under age 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition. The powerful fishing industry has fought efforts to trim quotas and raise taxes, while some commercial fleet owners challenge in court a backlog of millions of dollars in fines. Last year, fishermen in the northern port of Paita blocked highways and sacked city hall to protest a quota on hake that they considered too low. Two people died in clashes with police. Hoping to forestall similar unrest, and to get more fish to local markets, the government in September mixed new restrictions on the big anchoveta fleet with incentives for smaller boats. It barred the big, commercial trawlers from within 10 miles of the coast. Previously, the first five miles had been off-limits. Then it created a new category of "medium-sized" boats – between 10 and 32 tons – with exclusive rights to the 5-to-10-mile corridor. The artisanal fleet of boats of less than 10 tons was given exclusive rights to the first five miles, where most anchoveta spawn. The government decreed that the small and medium-sized boats would only be permitted to catch fish for human consumption. But there is blatant cheating amid an almost complete absence of government policing. At Pisco's artisanal pier on a recent morning, workers removed six tons of anchoveta from the turquoise-hued wooden trawler "El Tio" as pelicans and boobies picked at the scraps. The oily fish were loaded onto a flatbed truck that navigated Pisco's dusty streets before disappearing through a eucalyptus grove into an illegal fishmeal factory, one of 15 that Sueiro says operate up and down the coast. Ponce, the pier administrator, said dozens of the 300 boats at his pier similarly sell anchoveta illegally, especially in these slow days of the Southern Hemisphere summer when people aren't catching much else. "The anchoveta is the only resource available year-round," said Ponce. Sueiro, the economist, fears it could one day disappear as an industry, as other fisheries have. "Twenty years ago we caught nearly 3 million tons of sardines (a year)," he said. "Now, they don't even capture a ton. Commercially, no one in Peru lives off sardines anymore." ___ Frank Bajak on Twitter: http://twitter.com/fbajak Franklin Briceno on Twitter: http://twitter.com/franklinbriceno

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05 февраля 2013, 00:21

Three decades on, survivors of worst Pemex blast still want answers

SAN JUAN IXHUATEPEC, Mexico (Reuters) - As Mexico waits for news of what caused a deadly blast at the headquarters of state oil giant Pemex last week, survivors of the worst explosion in the company's history three decades ago still wonder what exactly happened then and what became of their friends.

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02 февраля 2013, 20:15

Why It Pays To Be Scandalous

By Lisa Richwine and Sue Zeidler Feb 1 (Reuters) - Provocative commercials for this year's Super Bowl broadcast have scored points before the opening kickoff, with eyeball-fetching teasers nearly as important to advertisers as the longer spots for the actual game. Even the prospect of bad publicity has not tempered the promotions. Coca-Cola and Volkswagen entries generated complaints about racial stereotyping. A teaser for Mercedes-Benz showcasing a supermodel's body has already drawn the ire of some media watchdogs. SodaStream scored a publicity touchdown with an ad that will not even appear during the game. The debates have prompted millions of online views, thousands of social media comments and headlines questioning whether the pitches were offensive - all this before the full audience of 100 million viewers who will watch the San Francisco 49ers play the Baltimore Ravens have seen the ads. That degree of attention can boost the value for ads beyond the $4 million-plus that agencies pay for some of the 30-second spots. Advance buzz gets people talking and, better yet from a marketer's perspective, searching for the promotions online. "It's almost a game around the game," said Ammiel Kamon, executive vice president for Kontera, which tracks online brand and content marketing. He says the strategy has been honed in earlier campaigns. The pre-game scandals have already benefited some companies - including one whose ad was not even accepted. SodaStream, which makes a home carbonation machine, turned its pre-game dustup with CBS into a marketing victory, said Ronald Goodstein, professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. SodaStream revealed that CBS rejected a Super Bowl commercial showing bottles of Coke and Pepsi, two of the game's biggest sponsors, combusting spontaneously as they were being delivered to a store at the moment someone used a SodaStream product. The company issued a statement saying the ad was declined "because the two Big Soda brands are clearly identified," setting up the image of a David and Goliath battle, with the little guy fighting soda giants. SodaStream posted the ad on its website and said it will run on other TV networks. "They're getting a lot more out of it than their money's worth," said Goodstein. "If you can create a controversy that enhances the brand to the target audiences, then go for it." The bright lights of controversy don't always flatter the advertisers. Coke generated complaints and a CNN debate by pundits when Arab-American groups sharply criticized its ad as racist. The commercial shows an Arab pulling a camel through the desert as cowboys, Las Vegas show girls and a crowd of marauders like those in "Mad Max" race by to reach a gigantic bottle of Coke. Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, complained that U.S. media portrayals of Arabs are too often stereotypical: "Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers?" The soft drink giant called the group on Thursday to apologize and held what it called a "productive conversation" but said it would still show the commercial. The Super Bowl provides TV's largest audience, so advertisers must be at the top of their game. "A certain degree of risk-taking is probably necessary to stand out in the Super Bowl," said Charles R. Taylor, professor of marketing at Villanova School of Business. Mercedes made a pitch for younger viewers by featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton in a car-wash teaser, the camera slowly panning her scantily-clad body. The carmaker released the video online, and Upton tweeted it to her 697,000 followers, generating headlines and a rebuke by the Parents Television Council. "We knew it would be polarizing," said Mercedes USA spokeswoman Donna Boland. "If it's not polarizing then people aren't going to talk about it." Volkswagen's spot, featuring a white American man speaking in a Jamaican accent, drew some complaints but won endorsements from national officials, who said it was a celebration of reggae music and the country's hospitable culture. Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer for Volkswagen of America, said pre-release testing yielded positive reactions from Jamaican viewers and others. Online polls show overwhelmingly people liked the ad, he said. The carmaker didn't expect a controversy, he said, but admitted it "has created more interest. I think that's a good thing." News coverage of the ad should help it stand out among the long passes and crushing tackles, said Claudia Caplan, chief marketing officer of RP3 Agency in Bethesda, Maryland. "In a way, that was the best thing that could have happened," Caplan said. "Otherwise, it would have died with a whimper."

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31 января 2013, 09:54

Chevron Finally Punished For Massive Richmond Refinery Fire

SAN FRANCISCO — Chevron was fined nearly $1 million by the state on Wednesday in connection with a fire last year at the company's San Francisco Bay area refinery that sent a cloud of gas and black smoke over residential areas. Investigators found "willful violations" in Chevron Corp.'s response before, during and after the Aug. 6 fire in Richmond caused by an old, leaky pipe in one of the facility's crude units, said Ellen Widess, chief of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. "Our ... investigation showed that Chevron had repeated warnings and recommendations from its own metallurgists and pipe inspectors about the condition of this pipe," Widess said. "Chevron was in a unique position to really know the hazards that they deal with from their dynamic technologies and processes, many of which are proprietary. They alone were in position to have addressed these hazards." The agency filed 25 citations against oil giant, and said the $963,200 in fines were the largest allowed by state law. The company said it planned to appeal some of the violations. Among the findings, the agency said the company didn't follow recommendations of its own inspectors and scientists made in 2002 to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately ruptured and caused the fire. "Chevron had pervasive violations in its leak repair procedures throughout the refinery," the agency found. "Investigators identified leaks in pipes that Chevron had clamped as a temporary fix. In some cases the clamps remained in place for years, rather than replacing the pipes themselves." Cal-OSHA also cited Chevron for not following its own emergency shutdown procedures when the leak was first spotted, and said the company exposed workers to harm by not ensuring they wore proper safety equipment when going back into the burnt out crude unit following the blaze. No workers were seriously injured in the incident. Eleven of the violations have been classified as "willful" because investigators found that Chevron had not taken actions to eliminate dangerous conditions for employees, including replacement of the pipe that ruptured. The investigation also cited the company for failing to file in writing its mandated "thorough review" of a new type of pipe that it wants to use in replacement of the old one that failed. Company spokesman Sean Comey said Chevron disagreed with some of the violations. "Although we acknowledge that we failed to live up to our own expectations in this incident, we do not agree with several of the (Cal-OSHA) findings and its characterization of some of the alleged violations as `willful,'" he said in an email. "Chevron intends to appeal." Smoke and gas from the fire prompted thousands of people to seek medical treatment, with many complaining of eye irritation and breathing problems. The fire was caused by a decades-old pipe that the company had neglected to replace, even after inspecting areas near the segment that failed less than a year earlier. Chevron has paid $10 million in connection to nearly 24,000 claims from residents and to nearby hospitals and local government agencies in Richmond and Contra Costa County, the company said in a report filed earlier this week. Most of that money went to the hospitals to pay for medical exams and treatments following the incident. While the fines may not be a major deterrent for a company that earned an estimated $25 billion in 2012, the agency said industry is often more sensitive to a violations classification, such as "willful," than monetary penalties. "There's a huge stigma to willful violations with all industries," Erika Monterroza, a Cal-OSHA spokeswoman. Chevron's El Segundo refinery and its oilfield near Bakersfield are also under investigation by Cal-OSHA. ___ Follow Jason Dearen on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JHDearen

30 января 2013, 02:32

Oh, No. David Brooks Thinks Social Security and Medicare Are State- and Local-Government Programs. Or Thinks We Do. Seriously. -- APPENDED (twice)

The final problem is that, in an effort to reduce the economic concentration of power, the administration is concentrating political power in Washington. If the problem is that talent is fleeing blighted localities, it’s hard to see how you make that better if decision-making and resources are concentrated faraway in the nation’s capital. This is not to make a partisan point. The Republicans do not have a better approach. It’s simply to say that the liberal agenda is not very good at addressing the inequality problem it seeks to solve. The meritocracy is overwhelming the liberal project. --- The Great Migration, David Brooks, New York Times, Jan. 25 Brooks is right; that is not to make a partisan point.  It is to make a nonsensensical point. A point that Brooks makes again in his column in today's Times, if in different words. It is, in any event, an inaccurate point.  Okay, I admit it: I’ve become obsessed with David Brooks.  Or, more specifically, with the fact that a New York Times columnist who is regularly referenced by other big-name political columnists and bloggers, operates under a formula in which everything even remotely connected to politics/ideology--and I do mean everything, best as I can tell--falls within one or another breathtakingly broad factual category.  The placement into one or another of these categories depends not on whether the category placement is even remotely accurate as a matter of logic or even (sometimes) actual fact, but instead on which category whatever he’s talking about must fit in order to advance his preference for the decentralization of … well … everything, I guess, other than corporate power.  But especially of government functions. This is so even when he’s arguing in favor of stronger centralization of government functions and of more government functions, but doesn’t realize it.  As, for example, his invocation of the public’s overwhelming support for Social Security and Medicare as … yup! … evidence that “Americans are still skeptical of Washington,” and so “[i]f you shove a big government program down their throats they will recoil.”  An accurate statement if the Americans you’re talking about are the ones who want the government to stay out of their Medicare!  Otherwise, though, there isn’t much evidence that there’s been an 80-year-long recoiling from Social Security and a 45-year recoiling from Medicare, and a populist push to privatize those programs or, to borrow a phrase from Mitt Romney (specifically when talking about emergency disaster aid and Medicaid, but, clearly, he had other programs in mind, too--like almost all federal programs that don’t directly aide, say, the oil and gas production companies--send them back to the states.  From which they didn’t come, in the first place.The two indented paragraphs above come at the end of a column summarizing a new book called The New Geography of Jobs, by Enrico Moretti, with whom Brooks expressly agrees, point after point, paragraph after paragraph.  Until he adds a point of his own, the one he identifies as the final problem.  The one that Brooks thinks cannot be solved by federal money and decisionmaking, because that money would be concentrated in--by which he means, originates from--Washington, and because decisionmaking about how to turn this dynamic around, so that localities other than the big tech and finance centers prosper too, would, if the liberals have their way, be concentrated in Washington.  Brooks sums up the problem. Sort of: The highly educated cluster around a few small nodes. Decade after decade, smart and educated people flock away from Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J. In those places, less than 15 percent of the residents have college degrees. They flock to Washington, Boston, San Jose, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. In those places, nearly 50 percent of the residents have college degrees. As Enrico Moretti writes in “The New Geography of Jobs,” the magnet places have positive ecologies that multiply innovation, creativity and wealth. The abandoned places have negative ecologies and fall further behind. This sorting is self-reinforcing, and it seems to grow more unforgiving every year. One small study caught my eye. Robert Oprisko of Butler University found that half of the jobs in university political science programs went to graduates of the top 11 schools. That is to say, if you have a Ph.D. from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and so on, your odds of getting a job are very good. If you earned your degree from one of the other 100 degree-granting universities, your odds are not. These other 100 schools don’t even want to hire the sort of graduates they themselves produce. They want the elite credential. Brooks is good at using other people’s fact-based arguments.  He just isn’t good at figuring out what they mean.  Or at least what they don’t mean.  Butler University is in Indianapolis, Ind. Presumably, Oprisko and all his colleagues live nearby.  The University of Michigan has a large branch in Flint.  The members of its political science faculty probably live within a relatively small radius of Flint.  So this wasn’t a good example of Moretti’s point, an all-too-valid one that highlights a huge national truth.  A truth that surely cannot be solved by removing whatever funds and help the federal government might offer.  The federal government is not keeping Flint and the other, similar localities around the country, from doing things that might change the economics dynamic so that their young people will be better educated and will want to return there after receiving their degrees.  The federal government is being concertedly demonized as a beast, and starved--the result of the Republican dominance of Washington policymaking for so long.  And, for the same reason, the federal government’s entire fiscal policymaking apparatus has been prevented from attempting to deal with the problems Moretti discusses (and Brooks purports to discuss) by the capture of the public policymaking dialogue by people who want to end or prevent the federal-government’s role in, among many other things, the very sort of problem-solving that Brooks says is needed, except by … who?  Or by what?  Corporations? Local governments? Rush Limbaugh? Brooks, as is typical of him, doesn’t say.  He just says, as always, that “centralized”--by which he means, federal government--power is bad. He doesn’t like it.  Too much like Europe, you know.  Very bad. Brooks didn’t write a Sunday column this week.  I figured he just didn’t want me to mock another of his mindless rants about liberal/Obama government/centralized-headquarters-controlled operations that would undermine creativity and initiative--such as student-loan programs and public universities--so he took the day off.  But instead it turns out that he didn’t write a Sunday column because he was too busy attending various luncheons, dinners, and other meetings at this decade’s National Review review this past weekend about what the hell went WRONG last November, and what the hell can BE DONE to avoid such unfortunate turns of fortune from recurring repeatedly in the coming, say, century. Brooks recounts pieces of arguments of speakers at the conference, and he concludes, surely accurately, that the Republican Party can’t win unless it develops what he calls a “Second GOP,” lead by new politicians who are not anti-government. These folks would develop federal programs that would address the country’s and individuals’ actual problems.  The quest for actual solutions, in other words, would trump anti-government ideology.  It’s just that, as standard bearers for the GOP, albeit the Second one, they would have to pretend that federal programs, like Social Security and Medicare, aren’t big government programs.  Or even small government programs.  They would pretend, I guess, that federal government programs aren’t federal government programs. State programs, maybe? Local-government programs? Chamber of Commerce programs?This would work, remember, because most Americans “recoil” from big (i.e.., federal) government programs. Which is why they “cherish” Social Security and Medicare.  Just so you don't think I've removed a sentence or clause from its context, here’s the full paragraph: Americans are still skeptical of Washington. If you shove a big government program down their throats they will recoil. But many of their immediate problems flow from globalization, the turmoil of technological change and social decay, and they’re looking for a bit of help. Moreover, given all the antigovernment rhetoric, they will never trust these Republicans to reform cherished programs like Social Security and Medicare. You can’t be for entitlement reform and today’s G.O.P., because politically the two will never go together. The Second GOP, Brooks says, “would be filled with people who recoiled at President Obama’s second Inaugural Address because of its excessive faith in centralized power, but who don’t share the absolute antigovernment story of the current G.O.P.”  People who, for example, live in Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J., and would be outraged if the Obama administration offered programs and federal financing to try to assist their cities in upgrading their education and infrastructure systems enough that they again become attractive to companies and startups and young professionals. Some of whom, recall, cherish Social Security and Medicare because of their lack of centralized power.What exactly does Brooks think is an example of Obama’s excessive faith in centralized power?  The operative word here is, example. Even just one or two specific ones, please.  He doesn’t say; after all, generalization and sweeping categorization is his stock in trade. But if he can, and does, eventually provide an example, he might, while he’s on a role, consider identifying a couple of decentralized-power success stories, and explaining why Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J., don’t seem to have had similar options.  Or maybe he can persuade the Second GOP to explain it. Without making too many of us recoil.   ---UPDATE: Reader Jack and I exchanged the following comments in the Comments thread below: Jack: Beverly Believe me when I say that I share your feelings about Brooks. He is one of the worst of the sycophants of the upper crust, and he is little more than the crumbs that make up that crust. However, the nearly total lack of response to your long post in the past several hours is the best response of all. He is not worthy of criticism. Posting anything he writes is like disposing of feces with your bare hands. Don't dirty yourself by acknowledging that you've actually read some of his deceitful meanderings. When you see his column in print take that page and clean some crap off the sidewalk so that at least that page will serve a useful purpose. If you must write about him then do so in a brief letter to the managing Editor of the Times and note that the Times should find a more fact based apologist for the takers in our society. Don't multiply his words through the process of criticism. It serves no useful purpose because criticism is meant to correct or improve a point of view. He has no capacity for either. Me: My instinct is to just say, “But, Jack, you don’t understand.  This is an obsession!”  But I think it’s not a trivial matter that a very high-profile, self-styled “center-right” (as opposed to just plain rightwing), political columnist--someone whom politicians and other political journalists read and take seriously--keeps pushing a flatly nonsensical supposedly-factual, but generic “narrative”--over and over and over again--while never actually identifying specifics to support his claim of fact: that Obama and the congressional Dems are pushing for federal programs that would undermine creativity and initiative because they would be federal programs rather than state or local programs--or something--and that ongoing government programs such as student loan programs and state university systems do the same because they are government rather than private programs--or something.   These are representations of fact, not statements of opinion.  They either are unpinned by empirical evidence or they are not.  And of course they are not.  So why does the New York Times allow him to keep asserting these things, in column after column, without finally asking him to identify specifics that support his generic claims of fact?  Yes, he’s an opinion columnist.  But these things aren’t opinion; they’re either fact-based or they aren’t, and if they aren’t, why is he allowed to use the Times as his forum to keep saying that they are, without ever actually identifying any empirical evidence to support them, or even specifying rather than merely implying) what programs he’s talking about.   Two weeks ago, New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait wrote a delicious article there titled “David Brooks Now Totally Pathological,” hilariously deconstructing Brooks’s then-most-recent column in which he angrily blamed Obama for the Republicans’ fiscal-cliff and debt-ceiling embarrassments because Obama didn’t cave to them.  But that column of Brooks’s was, clearly, just opinion.  Hilariously and flagrantly ridiculous opinion.  It wasn’t a misrepresentation of fact. Quite the opposite; it acknowledged that the Republicans lost the substantive and political endgame on both.  It just said it was Obama’s fault.  Which is true. Chait’s article is … a don’t-miss. ----FOLLOW-UP: In response to Jack’s reply to me in the Comments thread in which he criticized the New York Times as basically a shill for the wealthy, I wrote: I like the New York Times, generally. That's where Paul Krugman's column and blog are published, after all. And I'm not suggesting that the editors should censor their columnists' opinions. But when a political columnist repeatedly makes sweeping conclusory statements of fact without ever actually specifying the supposed factual basis for the claims, and when it's patently clear that no factual basis for the claims exists, it does seem to me that that crosses a line. … I want to be sure that my criticism of the Times on this is not misunderstood.

30 января 2013, 02:07

Oh, No. David Brooks Thinks Social Security and Medicare Are State- and Local-Government Programs. Or Thinks We Do. Seriously.

The final problem is that, in an effort to reduce the economic concentration of power, the administration is concentrating political power in Washington. If the problem is that talent is fleeing blighted localities, it’s hard to see how you make that better if decision-making and resources are concentrated faraway in the nation’s capital. This is not to make a partisan point. The Republicans do not have a better approach. It’s simply to say that the liberal agenda is not very good at addressing the inequality problem it seeks to solve. The meritocracy is overwhelming the liberal project. --- The Great Migration, David Brooks, New York Times, Jan. 25 Brooks is right; that is not to make a partisan point.  That is to make a nonsensensical point.  A point that Brooks makes again, in his column in today's Times, if in different words. It is, in any event, an inaccurate point.   Okay, I admit it: I’ve become obsessed with David Brooks.  Or, more specifically, with the fact that a New York Times columnist who is regularly referenced by other big-name political columnists and bloggers, operates under a formula in which everything even remotely connected to politics/ideology--and I do mean everything, best as I can tell--falls within one or another breathtakingly broad factual category.  The placement into one or another of these categories depends not on whether the category placement is even remotely accurate as a matter of logic or even (sometimes) actual fact, but instead on which category whatever he’s talking about must fit in order to advance his preference for the decentralization of … well … everything, I guess, other than corporate power.  But especially of government functions. This is so even when he’s arguing in favor of stronger centralization of government functions and of more government functions, but doesn’t realize it.  As, for example, his invocation of the public’s overwhelming support for Social Security and Medicare as … yup! … evidence that “Americans are still skeptical of Washington,” and so “[i]f you shove a big government program down their throats they will recoil.”  An accurate statement if the Americans you’re talking about are the ones who want the government to stay out of their Medicare!  Otherwise, though, there isn’t much evidence that there’s been an 80-year-long recoiling from Social Security and a 45-year recoiling from Medicare, and a populist push to privatize those programs or, to borrow a phrase from Mitt Romney (specifically when talking about emergency disaster aid and Medicaid, but, clearly, he had other programs in mind, too--like almost all federal programs that don’t directly aide, say, the oil and gas production companies--send them back to the states.  From which they didn’t come, in the first place. The two indented paragraphs above come at the end of a column summarizing a new book called The New Geography of Jobs, by Enrico Moretti, with whom Brooks expressly agrees, point after point, paragraph after paragraph.  Until he adds a point of his own, the one he identifies as the final problem.  The one that Brooks thinks cannot be solved by federal money and decisionmaking, because that money would be concentrated in--by which he means, originates from--Washington, and because decisionmaking about how to turn this dynamic around, so that localities other than the big tech and finance centers prosper too, would, if the liberals have their way, be concentrated in Washington.  Brooks sums up the problem. Sort of: The highly educated cluster around a few small nodes. Decade after decade, smart and educated people flock away from Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J. In those places, less than 15 percent of the residents have college degrees. They flock to Washington, Boston, San Jose, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. In those places, nearly 50 percent of the residents have college degrees. As Enrico Moretti writes in “The New Geography of Jobs,” the magnet places have positive ecologies that multiply innovation, creativity and wealth. The abandoned places have negative ecologies and fall further behind. This sorting is self-reinforcing, and it seems to grow more unforgiving every year. One small study caught my eye. Robert Oprisko of Butler University found that half of the jobs in university political science programs went to graduates of the top 11 schools. That is to say, if you have a Ph.D. from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and so on, your odds of getting a job are very good. If you earned your degree from one of the other 100 degree-granting universities, your odds are not. These other 100 schools don’t even want to hire the sort of graduates they themselves produce. They want the elite credential. Brooks is good at using other people’s fact-based arguments.  He just isn’t good at figuring out what they mean.  Or at least what they don’t mean.  Butler University is in Indianapolis, Ind. Presumably, Oprisko and all his colleagues live nearby.  The University of Michigan has a large branch in Flint.  The members of its political science faculty probably live within a relatively small radius of Flint.  So this wasn’t a good example of Moretti’s point, an all-too-valid one that highlights a huge national truth.  A truth that surely cannot be solved by removing whatever funds and help the federal government might offer.  The federal government is not keeping Flint and the other, similar localities around the country, from doing things that might change the economics dynamic so that their young people will be better educated and will want to return there after receiving their degrees.  The federal government is being concertedly demonized as a beast, and starved--the result of the Republican dominance of Washington policymaking for so long.  And, for the same reason, the federal government’s entire fiscal policymaking apparatus has been prevented from attempting to deal with the problems Moretti discusses (and Brooks purports to discuss) by the capture of the public policymaking dialogue by people who want to end or prevent the federal-government’s role in, among many other things, the very sort of problem-solving that Brooks says is needed, except by … who?  Or by what?  Corporations? Local governments? Rush Limbaugh? Brooks, as is typical of him, doesn’t say.  He just says, as always, that “centralized”--by which he means, federal government--power is bad. He doesn’t like it.  Too much like Europe, you know.  Very bad. Brooks didn’t write a Sunday column this week.  I figured he just didn’t want me to mock another of his mindless rants about liberal/Obama government/centralized-headquarters-controlled operations that would undermine creativity and initiative--such as student-loan programs and public universities--so he took the day off.  But instead it turns out that he didn’t write a Sunday column because he was too busy attending various luncheons, dinners, and other meetings at this decade’s National Review review this past weekend about what the hell went WRONG last November, and what the hell can BE DONE to avoid such unfortunate turns of fortune from recurring repeatedly in the coming, say, century. Brooks recounts pieces of arguments of speakers at the conference, and he concludes, surely accurately, that the Republican Party can’t win unless it develops what he calls a “Second GOP,” lead by new politicians who are not anti-government. These folks would develop federal programs that would address the country’s and individuals’ actual problems.  The quest for actual solutions, in other words, would trump anti-government ideology.  It’s just that, as standard bearers for the GOP, albeit the Second one, they would have to pretend that federal programs, like Social Security and Medicare, aren’t big government programs.  Or even small government programs.  They would pretend, I guess, that federal government programs aren’t federal government programs. State programs, maybe? Local-government programs? Chamber of Commerce programs?This would work, remember, because most Americans “recoil” from big (i.e.., federal) government programs. Which is why they “cherish” Social Security and Medicare.  Just so you don't think I've removed a sentence or clause from its context, here’s the full paragraph: Americans are still skeptical of Washington. If you shove a big government program down their throats they will recoil. But many of their immediate problems flow from globalization, the turmoil of technological change and social decay, and they’re looking for a bit of help. Moreover, given all the antigovernment rhetoric, they will never trust these Republicans to reform cherished programs like Social Security and Medicare. You can’t be for entitlement reform and today’s G.O.P., because politically the two will never go together. The Second GOP, Brooks says, “would be filled with people who recoiled at President Obama’s second Inaugural Address because of its excessive faith in centralized power, but who don’t share the absolute antigovernment story of the current G.O.P.”  People who, for example, live in Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J., and would be outraged if the Obama administration offered programs and federal financing to try to assist their cities in upgrading their education and infrastructure systems enough that they again become attractive to companies and startups and young professionals. Some of whom, recall, cherish Social Security and Medicare because of their lack of centralized power.What exactly does Brooks think is an example of Obama’s excessive faith in centralized power?  The operative word here is, example. Even just one or two specific ones, please.  He doesn’t say; after all, generalization and sweeping categorization is his stock in trade. But if he can, and does, eventually provide an example, he might, while he’s on a role, consider identifying a couple of decentralized-power success stories, and explaining why Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J., don’t seem to have had similar options.  Or maybe he can persuade the Second GOP to explain it. Without making too many of us recoil.  

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26 января 2013, 03:04

Environmentalists Sue California Over Controversial Fracking Policies

SAN FRANCISCO –- An environmental group has filed suit against the state of California for doing what it deemed an insufficient job of regulating the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." In a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court earlier this week, the Arizona-based Center For Biological Diversity charged that the agency tasked with regulating energy production, the California Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has "[issued] permits for oil and gas well operations...without tracking, monitoring or otherwise supervising the high-risk, unconventional injection practice." "State regulators aren't complying with existing law, which requires the disclosure of the chemicals and total volume of water being used as well as the completion of a thorough engineering study," the Center For Biological Diversity's Kassie Siegel told The Huffington Post. Fracking, the process of pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into a well to access oil and natural gas, has been taking place in California since the 1950s. But recent breakthroughs in the area of horizontal drilling, which allow energy producers to target specific layers of rock with never-before-seen accuracy, have significantly increased both the prevalence of the practice and environmental concerns about its side effects. The new lawsuit seeks to compel DOGGR to regulate fracking under the California's underground injection control laws, a set of rules that would likely subject energy producers to significantly more safety precautions and public disclosure. But energy insiders claim the state has already been sufficiently regulating the practice. Zierman defended the practice, saying, "We have been doing fracking safely in California for a many decades," Rock Zierman, CEO of California Independent Petroleum Association, told HuffPost. "I don't think this lawsuit acknowledges that." DOGGR reports it has yet to encounter any instances in California where fracking fluid, which environmental group Food And Water Watch noted often contains up to ten carcinogenic chemicals, has leaked out and contaminated the surrounding environment. In a statement to the Huffington Post, DOGGR declined to comment on the pending litigation, but pointed to a draft proposal released late last year that, if enacted, would create a new set of rules specifically governing fracking. Those draft regulations, which will go through year-long period of public comment and revisions, would require companies engaged in fracking to take a number of safety precautions, many of which are already standard operating procedure in the industry. The rules would also force companies to disclose the specific chemicals used in fracking on the industry-run website FracFocus.org. Critics of DOGGR's plan have complained that the disclosure requirements don't go nearly far enough in informing the public about fracking. Not only do they allow companies to withhold information based on trade secret protection, but they also lack a requirement to notify nearby landowners before fracking occurs. "DOGGR is more interested in keeping the oil industry happy than protecting the public," Siegel charged. A recent survey by California's largest energy industry group, the Western States Petroleum Association, found that 628 of the state's 47,000 active wells employ fracking.