Archive for June 2008
From Gearlog (and photos at the link):
Nothing too official here, but DigiTimes reports that ASUS is readying two more additions to its ever-expanding line of low-cost Eee PC notebooks. The proposed 904 and 905 models will be something of a hybrid of older editions, combining an 8.9-inch screen with the chassis and keyboard from 10.2-inch models.
According to ASUS vendors quoted by the site, the 904 and 905 will use Atom processors and will be priced similarly to the Eee 900 and 901. ASUS has yet to decide whether or not prices will come down on those models after the 904 and 905 are introduced.
We asked out lead laptop analyst, Cisco Cheng, to weigh in on these proposed new models. …
“An 8.9-inch screen is the ideal form factor for these UMPCs,” says Cisco. “If you take a look at the MSI Wind, the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, and Dell’s forthcoming Mini Inspiron, they all have close-to-full-size keyboards.
“The eeePC 900 has already moved to an 8.9-inch screen (from 7-inches) and the eeePC 901 has moved to the Intel Atom platform (from the previous Celeron Ms). The missing ingredient is that bigger keyboard. Doing this, however, will piss off many who have already bought eeePCs, but Asus has to do this to stay atop of the competition.”
Tree Hugger has a round-up of what, they say, are the best electric scooters (including some that are prototypes). Take a look. Oil will be at $170/barrel (at least) before the end of the summer.
You all know how germ-infested pencils are. Protect yourself and your family now!! (This post is especially for Steve, who understands the dangers of germs from common objects.) Via Pencil Talk.
As noted in the previous post, the White House hates the EPA—and, by extension, the environment it’s pledged to protect. Ian Talley and Siobhan Hughes report in the Wall Street Journal:
The White House is trying to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from publishing a document that could become the legal roadmap for regulating greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S., said people close to the matter.
The fight over the document is the latest development in a long-running conflict between the EPA and the White House over climate-change policy. It will likely intensify ongoing Congressional investigations into the Bush administration’s involvement in the agency’s policymaking.
The draft document, which has been viewed by The Wall Street Journal, outlines how the government, under the Clean Air Act, could regulate greenhouse-gas emissions …
Remainder of article is behind a subscription wall, but the complete article can be read here. It continues:
The Pentagon is refusing to clean up the sites they polluted. They are (they think) above the law. The report, by Lyndsey Layton in the Washington Post, begins:
The Defense Department, the nation’s biggest polluter, is resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up Fort Meade and two other military bases where the EPA says dumped chemicals pose “imminent and substantial” dangers to public health and the environment.
The Pentagon has also declined to sign agreements required by law that cover 12 other military sites on the Superfund list of the most polluted places in the country. The contracts would spell out a remediation plan, set schedules, and allow the EPA to oversee the work and assess penalties if milestones are missed.
The actions are part of a standoff between the Pentagon and environmental regulators that has been building during the Bush administration, leaving the EPA in a legal limbo as it addresses growing concerns about contaminants on military bases that are seeping into drinking water aquifers and soil.
Under executive branch policy, the EPA will not sue the Pentagon, as it would a private polluter. Although the law gives final say to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson in cleanup disputes with other federal agencies, the Pentagon refuses to recognize that provision. Military officials wrote to the Justice Department last month to challenge EPA’s authority to issue the orders and asked the Office of Management and Budget to intervene.
Experts in environmental law said the Pentagon’s stand is unprecedented. …
Continue reading. Some in the Pentagon need to go to jail. It is, of course, obvious that Bush could stop this nonsense with an order. But Bush won’t do it: he hates the EPA as well, and won’t even open emails from them.
Very funny story at the Carpetbagger Report. Search-and-replace betrayed the religious right.
Why would a poor country, racked by war and needing to rebuild, NOT rely on competitive bids to get the most from its one valuable resource, oil? Answer: the State Department made sure that the country awarded no-bid contracts to the big American oil companies. This makes me want to know all the more what went on in those secret energy sessions the oil companies had with Cheney. Were the oil companies pushing for an Iraq takeover? Were they offered the Iraqi oil fields after the US took over Iraq? We won’t know for a while, but it seems likely, especially since Cheney makes his money from Halliburton.
Here’s the story, by Andrew Kramer in the NY Times. It begins:
A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq, American officials say.
The disclosure, coming on the eve of the contracts’ announcement, is the first confirmation of direct involvement by the Bush administration in deals to open Iraq’s oil to commercial development and is likely to stoke criticism.
In their role as advisers to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, American government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting the contracts, advisers and a senior State Department official said.
It is unclear how much influence their work had on the ministry’s decisions.
The advisers — who, along with the diplomatic official, spoke on condition of anonymity — say that their involvement was only to help an understaffed Iraqi ministry with technical and legal details of the contracts and that they in no way helped choose which companies got the deals.
Repeated calls to the Oil Ministry’s press office for comment were not returned.
At a time of spiraling oil prices, the no-bid contracts, in a country with some of the world’s largest untapped fields and potential for vast profits, are a rare prize to the industry. The contracts are expected to be awarded Monday to Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron, as well as to several smaller oil companies.
The deals have been criticized by opponents of the Iraq war, who accuse the Bush administration of working behind the scenes to ensure Western access to Iraqi oil fields even as most other oil-exporting countries have been sharply limiting the roles of international oil companies in development. …
UPDATE: From Andrew Tilghman’s report on this story in TPMMuckraker:
Near the end of the story, the Times reports:
Advisers from the State, Commerce, Energy and Interior Departments are assigned to work with the Iraqi Oil Ministry, according to the senior diplomat. In addition, the United States Agency for International Development has a contract for Management Systems International, a Washington consulting firm, to advise the oil and other ministries. The agency’s program is called Tatweer, the Arabic word for development.
A Washington consulting firm? Actually, Management Systems International is a subsidiary of a massive Australian company, Coffey International Ltd. focusing on mining, oil and gas infrastructure projects.And guess who some of their clients are? Global oil companies including Cheveron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP.
So the company that touts big oil as clients is helping the Iraqi government negotiate with those companies — and getting paid by the U.S. government to do so.
But USAID and the consulting firm they hired don’t call that a conflict of interest, the call it “mentoring.”
“The legal department of the Ministry of Oil passed us a draft of the contract,” Samir Abid, a Canadian of Iraqi origin who is an employee of the Tatweer program, said in a telephone interview. “They passed it to us and asked for our comments because we were mentoring them.”