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They Are Still At It

The Miami Herald reports that U.S. approves drilling plans without study

WASHINGTON — Despite President Barack Obama’s promises of better safeguards for offshore drilling, federal regulators continue to approve plans for oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico with minimal or no environmental analysis.

The Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service has signed off on at least five new offshore drilling projects since June 2, when the agency’s acting director announced tougher safety regulations for drilling in the Gulf, a McClatchy review of public records has discovered.

Three of the projects were approved with waivers exempting them from detailed studies of their environmental impact — the same waiver the MMS granted to BP for the ill-fated well that’s been fouling the Gulf with crude for two months.

It is time for Ken Salazar to discover the joys of family life back in Colorado, because he doesn’t seem to understand that people are upset about the lack of oversight on offshore wells. Replacing the head of the Minerals Management Service obviously wasn’t the answer, so we need a Secretary of the Interior who finds the answer. At a minimum we need to find someone who understands what a “six-month moratorium” means.

The heads of the major oil companies have already admitted the obvious, that none of them has the resources to deal with a run-away well, so wells shouldn’t even be in the pipeline until those resources are available.

June 19, 2010   13 Comments

Helping Their Owners

MSNBC reports that U.S. buys Russian choppers for Afghan military

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government is snapping up Russian-made helicopters to form the core of Afghanistan’s fledgling air force, a strategy that is drawing flak from members of Congress who want to force the Afghans to fly American choppers instead.

In a turnabout from the Cold War, when the CIA gave Stinger missiles to Afghan rebels to shoot down Soviet helicopters, the Pentagon has spent $648 million to buy or refurbish 31 Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters for the Afghan National Army Air Corps. The Defense Department is seeking to buy 10 more of the Mi-17s next year, and had planned to buy dozens more over the next decade.

OK, the Mi-17 is an upgraded export version of the Soviet Mi-8 “Hip” and it is the standard helicopter in that area. All of the Central Asian nations fly it, the Indians and Pakistanis fly it, and the 6th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, just down the road from me flies them [it was very weird the first time I saw one down here]. They are cheap, tough, easy to fix, and familiar to everyone in that area. They are also specifically designed to fly in the dusty, mountainous conditions found in Central Asia, which can’t be said of US manufactured helicopters.

US defense contractors manufacture and sell the most sophisticated aircraft in the world, but the Afghan Army Air Corps needs something they know how to fly and know how to fix, or we are going to be stuck there another decade. They don’t need Formula One, they need pick-ups with no options.

June 19, 2010   2 Comments

Day Nine

World CupGroup D:

Germany 0-1 Serbia
Ghana 1-1 Australia

Group E:

Netherlands 1-0 Japan
Cameroon 1-2 Denmark

At this point the Netherlands are the only one of the teams I watch who are in good shape to make it to the knock-out, with Switzerland close behind.

Team Group Points Matches Goals
Played Won Tied Lost For Against Difference
United States C 2 2 0 2 0 3 3 0
England C 2 2 0 2 0 1 1 0
Germany D 3 2 1 0 1 4 1 3
Australia D 1 2 0 1 1 1 5 -4
Netherlands E 6 2 2 0 0 3 0 3
Switzerland H 3 1 1 0 0 1 0 1

June 19, 2010   Comments Off on Day Nine