Daily Archives: May 8, 2012

U.S. Taxpayers Subsidize Afghan Insurgents

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 May 8, 2012 @ 9:22 am
by Malou Innocent

Less than a week after President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan and proclaimed, “We broke the Taliban’s momentum,” the chairs of the Senate and House intelligence committees offered a candid assessment of the U.S. mission. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), alongside Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “I think we’d both say that what we found is that the Taliban is stronger.” Their observations are the type of unvarnished truth that our military and civilian leaders typically avoid. U.S. and NATO officials meeting in Chicago later this month should take heed, especially since American taxpayer dollars are helping to fund the insurgents we’re fighting.

In a not-much publicized report last August from the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, researchers found that after the illegal opium trade, the largest source of funding for the insurgency was U.S. contracting dollars. It found that Afghan companies under the Host Nation Trucking program use private security contractors who then turn around and pay insurgents and warlords who control the roads we must use. Although the Commission on Wartime Contracting report did not mention how much was funneled to the insurgency, a similar protection racket was also uncovered a couple of years ago.

Task Force 2010, assembled by General David Petraeus, examined the connections between insurgents and criminal networks on the one hand and Afghan companies and their subcontractors for transportation, construction, and other services on the other. The task force estimated that $360 million in U.S. tax dollars ended up in the hands of insurgents and other “malign actors,” including criminals, warlords, and power-brokers.

The $360 million “represents a fraction of the $31 billion in active U.S. contracts that the task force reviewed,” Associated Press reporters Deb Riechmann and Richard Lardner explained. As Brussels-based International Crisis Group observed in a depressingly frank June 2011 report:

Insecurity and the inflow of billions of dollars in international assistance has failed to significantly strengthen the state’s capacity to provide security or basic services and has instead, by progressively fusing the interests of political gatekeepers and insurgent commanders, provided new opportunities for criminals and insurgents to expand their influence inside the government. The economy as a result is increasingly dominated by a criminal oligarchy of politically connected businessmen.

Is it any wonder why pouring massive piles of cash into a broken and war-ravaged system resulted in failure? Those who follow the news from Afghanistan will see how rent-seeking inadvertently strengthens that country’s twin evils: corruption and insecurity. As journalist Douglas A. Wissing writes in his eye-opening new book, Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban, in addition to foreign development advisers preoccupied with their own career advancement, development money itself was not countering the insurgency but rather paying for it. Combined with an enemy whose strategy was always about exhaustion, the result has been catastrophic.

Wissing writes, “I learned that the linkage between third-world development and US national security that foreign-aid lobbyists peddled to American policymakers was a faith-based doctrine with almost no foundation in research.” Year after year, the American public was spoon-fed government reports that lacked honesty about why our top-down security and development programs were constantly failing. Buildings were poorly constructed. Projects were bereft of proper oversight. Schools were built without teachers to staff them. Road construction contracts financed insurgent racketeering operations.

The undistorted evidence of a European-based think tank, a bipartisan congressional commission, and a report from military experts, assembled by the war’s former commander, leads to one conclusion: the war is inadvertently throwing American taxpayer dollars at insurgents killing American troops. What about this self-aggrandizing system is making Americans safer? Moreover, what about the safety of the Afghans whom planners in Washington swore to protect from the Taliban? In spite of the tripling of U.S. troops since 2008, a recent report by the U.N. mission concluded that 2011 was the fifth straight year in which civilian casualties rose.

As Feinstein said to CNN on Sunday, “The Taliban has a shadow system of governors in many provinces. They’ve gone up north. They’ve gone to the east. Attacks are up.” After over a decade of inadvertently funding the enemy and alienating the local people, Americans should not be surprised with such a dire outcome. If anything, they should be surprised that their elected leaders are finally telling the truth.

Cross-posted from the Skeptics at the National Interest.

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API: Hispanic Employment Rate, Jobs Creation Hurt by Keystone Delay

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President Barack Obama’s decision to delay approval of the Keystone Pipeline project is hurting job creation opportunities in the United States, particularly among Hispanics, said officials with the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday.

The Keystone Pipeline will not only help lower oil prices for U.S. consumers, but have a ripple effect spreading outward from Nebraska and neighboring states to create jobs and help small businesses.

This job creation will be helpful in particular for the U.S. Hispanic population, the unemployment rate for which is one to two points higher than other demographic groups in the United States.

The Los Angeles Times reported in 2010 that the unemployment rate among U.S. Hispanics rose because of their disproportionate unemployment in industries and regions significantly impacted by the economic downturn.

According to a U.S. Department of Labor report, the unemployment rate among Latinos in the United States averaged 11.5 percent in 2011; the most recent unemployment report in February 2012 shows improvement for all Americans, including Latinos, who have seen their unemployment rate decline to 10.7 percent in February from a high of 13.1 percent in November 2010.

In 2011, 5.8 percent of Latinos were self-employed compared to 7.2 percent among whites, partly due to lower educational attainment and less access to financial wealth.

The entry rate of Latinos into self-employment compares favorably to that of non-Latino Whites and their entry rate is even higher compared with whites in low-barrier sectors, according to the Department of Labor report. However, Latinos tend to have lower success rates with their new businesses and exit self-employment at a higher rate than whites.

People of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity represented 15 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2011, or nearly 23 million workers. By 2020, Latinos are expected to comprise 19 percent of the U.S. labor force, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

API ‘Disappointed’ in Keystone Delay, Impact on Jobs

“We’re disappointed that the current administration doesn’t see how this project doesn’t add up,” said Hispanic Leadership Fund President Mario Lopez during a conference call with reporters, noting that the project appears to be delayed for political reasons.

“Four years ago, Obama promised to push unemployment lower and lead us out of the depression,” Lopez said. “Approval of the Keystone pipeline would demonstrate to all Americans and to Latinos across the country that he cares about jobs and domestic energy.”

API has committed significant resources to support all aspects of the Keystone project.

“The earth hasn’t moved and the geology hasn’t changed,” said API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin, adding that the Keystone pipeline project is “as ready as it can get.”

Durbin said that imports of Canadian oil sands supply to the U.S. Gulf Coast would not create a supply glut, but would displace oil imported from other countries.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com.

Rigzone

Port Corpus Christi Gets New Director of Engineering Services (USA)

Port Corpus Christi Gets New Director of Engineering Services

Port Corpus Christi announced yesterday the promotion of David Krams to Director of Engineering Services under the supervision of the Deputy Port Director of Engineering, Finance and Administration.

Krams’ experience at the Port and in private practice made him well qualified for the responsibilities as the new head of the Port’s Engineering Department. Krams will replace Greg W. Brubeck, who officially retires July 31, 2012 after 23 years of service to the Port. “I am looking forward to working with David during this two month transition period. David is most qualified to become the next Director of Engineering Services.” said Brubeck.

David Krams joined the port in 1994, after first working as a consulting engineer in the Corpus Christi area for ten years, specializing in underwater engineering related to marine and waterfront facilities. Prior to his promotion as Director of Engineering Services, Krams was the port’s Senior Project Engineer, who in 2009, was promoted to Manager of Channel Development responsible for the Corpus Christi Ship Channel – Channel Improvement Project, a Federal navigation planning project to widen and deepen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel from -45 feet to -52 feet and to extend the La Quinta Ship Channel. Krams also serves as the project manager for the La Quinta Multi-purpose/Container Project to be served by the La Quinta Ship Channel Improvements.

David Krams is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering from Texas A&M University – College Station. Krams is a resident of Corpus Christi since 1972, active in the local community, serving on various local executive and regular boards and committees.

Greg W. Brubeck joined the staff of the Port in 1989 as an Engineer Planner and was subsequently promoted to Deputy Director of Engineering and later to Director of Engineering Services. A Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas, Brubeck received his BSME from the United States Naval academy in 1969 and MSCE from Texas A&M University in 1980. A retired Commander, Mr. Brubeck proudly served twenty years in the United States Navy as both a Naval Aviator and Civil Engineer Corps Officer.

Mr. Brubeck has been a resident of Corpus Christi since 1986. In addition to several work related professional organizations, Mr. Brubeck is active in the local community and is a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi Class XX, a Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Corpus Christi, a Past President of the Coastal Bend Post of the Society of American Military Engineers, and Past Board Member of the Navy–Army Federal Credit Union. Mr. Brubeck was born in Indiana and was raised in several States and in the Far East and Europe in the family of a career United States Army Corps of Engineers officer prior to becoming a Texan.

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Desperately avoiding Obamanomics and Obamacare

Mitt Romney can’t let Barack Obama get away with it

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By Dr. Milton R. Wolf
The Washington Times
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The intertwined strands of evil DNA – Obamanomics and Obamacare – will determine the outcome of the 2012 election, and Barack Obama knows it. That’s why he desperately wants to talk about something else. Anything else. A failed stimulus. Shovel-ready jobs that even President Obama later admitted don’t exist. Auto takeovers. Bank bailouts. Mythical green jobs. And a historic American credit downgrade. Obamanomics has become the science of downward-sloping graphs.

Officially, America is in the third year of recovery from the Great Recession, but try convincing voters of that. The average unemployment rate in Mr. Obama’s first three years was 9.3 percent. Surely, somehow that must be the fault of President George W. Bush, whom Democrats mocked in 2004 as delivering a “jobless recovery” even though the average unemployment rate in his eight years was 5.3 percent.

The real unemployment rate, when you include the underemployed and those who’ve simply given up looking for jobs that just aren’t there, is almost 15 percent. Since Obamanomics was unleashed – increased taxes, increased regulations, wildly increased spending and weak-dollar monetary policy – a million fewer jobs exist in America, median household income has dropped nearly 10 percent, housing prices have hit an almost 10-year low, gas prices have doubled, a record number of Americans are on food stamps, and the federal debt races toward $16 trillion (around $140,000 per taxpayer).

The only way out of this abyss is, of course, private-sector economic growth. In the aftermath of the recession of the early 1980s, for example, President Reagan’s economic strategy was exactly the opposite of Mr. Obama‘s: lower taxes, lower spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), reduced regulations and strong-dollar monetary policy. That produced an average GDP growth rate of 7.1 percent. Now, three years into Obamanomics, America’s GDP growth rate has slowed to a crawl: 2.2 percent.

The administration would like you to think we’ve turned the corner, but calling our current economic status a recovery is like calling the product of a Kim Kardashian wedding a marriage. Technically, it meets the definition, but, come on, nobody’s buying it.

As if the quagmire that is Obamanomics weren’t enough, the president dropped an anchor that not only sabotages his own recovery but threatens our nation’s long-term economic survival: Obamacare.

So thoroughly disastrous is Mr. Obama’s signature accomplishment that many Democrats are openly hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule Obamacare unconstitutional so it becomes less of an issue in the presidential election. Imagine that. Mr. Obama and the Democrats fiddled with Obamacare as America’s economy burned, and now they hope we will forget. We won’t.

The Obamacare house of cards is collapsing. Its price tag has doubled. Americans remain adamantly opposed to it. And the unkeepable promises have vanished like vapor on the wind: It would allow you to keep your current insurance and doctor and lower your monthly health insurance premiums. It would reduce the deficit and create millions of jobs. Lies all.

So what’s a president to do when his stimulus has failed and his health care takeover is even worse? Avoid them at all costs. Talk about anything else. Student loans. Birth control. Hooded sweatshirts. Heck, even talk about eating dogs.Anything besides the two issues that define his presidency and threaten our republic.

It’s Obamanomics and Obamacare, the intertwined strands of evil DNA, stupid.

Mitt Romney should avoid the temptation of chasing Mr. Obama down every side-issue rabbit hole. At every opportunity, he should drag him back to the main path. Whenever Mr. Romney is asked a question, whether in debates or by reporters or even at town-hall meetings, his answer should always include at least one of those two words: Obamanomics and Obamacare.

Question: Mr. Governor, should a woman’s access to birth control be a right?

Answer: The most effective way to assure access to products or services is to make them affordable through free-market competition. That’s how stores like Wal-Mart and Target provide birth control for just $9 a month. And the most moral approach is for people to freely choose to participate or not. Unfortunately, Obamanomics adds crushing burdens on American companies that drive up prices and therefore limit access. And Obamacare unbelievably forces women in churches to choose between their government and their God. American women are victimized by both Obamacare and Obamanomics.

That’s easy enough.

The 2012 election will be the most consequential of our lifetimes, probably of our children’s and our children’s children’s lifetimes. We will choose between Mitt Romney’s opportunity society and Barack Obama’s government-centered society. Voters deserve an election that addresses rather than avoids the important issues that will determine the difference.

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The History of Mud Testing

Jan 18, 2011
Marie Brannon

Before Baroid offered commercial mud testing services to the petroleum industry, mud men experimented with various techniques to test drilling fluids

Drilling mud was first tested for commercial purposes by the Baroid Division of the National Lead Company in 1929 in Houston, Texas. They also produced the first commercial mud testing products. Before 1929 drillers dug clay out of any nearby bank or used native earth.

From Mud Buckets to Precise Instrumentation

Between the discovery of Spindletop in 1901 and the appearance of Baroid in 1928, there were nearly three decades of rotary drilling. The old-timers tested their mud by “rule of thumb”. They knew two kinds of mud: thick and thin. New workers learned from the veterans how to pick up a handful and determine just the right thickness needed.

By 1913, drillers were aware of gelation. Since the well was often shut down for lunch break or other delays, the mud would gel during the break, and the workers called this “getting logy”. They discovered that if they started the pumps occasionally during shutdowns, it would keep the circulation free.

They also could tell if the mud was gas-cut by observing the froth or foam in the mud pit. During the winter of 1913, the Bureau of Mines conducted the first engineering studies by sending J.A. Pollard and A.G. Heggem to Oklahoma oil fields to test the properties of drilling mud. The resulting report was published in 1916 and holds the distinction of being the first ever technical bulletin on the subject.

In early field tests, samples of clay were mixed by hand in an ordinary wash basin. Circulation tests were made by adding two quarts of red paint into the drill pipe at the surface and timing the period required for the color to appear in the mud pit. One record of such a test provided a time of two hours and 33 minutes for circulation in a hole that was slightly more than 3,300 feet deep.

Heavy Drilling Muds

Early on, researchers discovered that all “thick” muds did not weigh the same. It was believed that heavier muds could be useful in drilling against gas pressures, so the California Department of Petroleum and Gas conducted some tests with five-quart containers.

These were calibrated so that one gallon fluid would fill exactly 4/5 of the inside and was marked with a ridge. They also had scales that would accurately record weights up to 30 pounds showing a difference in just one ounce. This was the prototype for the first piece of mud-testing equipment ever produced, by Baroid in 1929.

Between 1917 and 1922, when college degrees were first awarded in the field of Petroleum Engineering, mud testing began to receive serious attention from both scholars and manufacturers. The specific gravity (weight) of drilling mud was tested using oilfield hydrometers that were adapted for this use.

Several different terms and scales were used to express results, including pounds per cubic foot or pounds per gallon. They also developed a specific gravity scale. In 1921, petroleum geologist Dorsey Hager said “Mud-laden fluid has a specific gravity of from 1.15 to 1.3, and weighs from 72 to 81 pounds, as against 62.5 pounds per cubic foot of water. It exerts a pressure of 0.499 to 0.564 pounds per square inch, as against 0.434 for pure water”.

Gradually, oil men realized that not only weight but viscosity should be considered. Standard Oil Company of California engineers used a McMichael viscometer to test mud. It measured the friction of a liquid against a disc suspended from a calibrated wire, in a cup of liquid which was rotating at a constant speed. The ancestor of the Marsh funnel was the Engler viscometer, originally developed by Dr. Charles Engler in Germany in 1884 for use in the railroad industry.

Testing the Viscosity of Drilling Mud

Various rotary viscometers were also in use to test the viscosity of oil. The Napier and Cockrell types were early predecessors of the Stormer, Fann and Baroid devices. Napier and Cockrell apparatus was in use for more than fifty years and utilized paddle wheels revolving in oil or other fluids. There is no record that these were used to test mud, but they were described in oil engineering texts of the time and may have been used in this manner.

In 1930, Baroid introduced the first mud bucket and scale as a test instrument. These were given away as free samples, but by 1934 they began to equip vehicles for field testing. These cars carried a Marsh funnel, a Stormer viscometer, a portable mixer, an electric hot plate, screens, graduates, a Mudwate Hydrometer, a Wulff pH tester, a balance, and a mortar and pestle. Around 1936 they added a mud balance that had been developed by Phil Jones of the Union Oil Company of California.

References:

“The History of Mud Testing”, Baroid News Bulletin October 1960

Shale Shakers and Drilling Fluid Systems, by American Association of Drilling Engineers, Gulf Publishing Company, 1999

Oil Field Practice, by Dorsey Hager, McGraw-Hill, 1921

Read more at Suite101: The History of Mud Testing

Obama’s Second Term Transformation Plans

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May 8, 2012
By Steve McCann

The 2012 election has often been described as the most pivotal since 1860.  This statement is not hyperbole.  If Barack Obama is re-elected the United States will never be the same, nor will it be able to re-capture its once lofty status as the most dominant nation in the history of mankind.

The overwhelming majority of Americans do not understand that Obama’s first term was dedicated to putting in place executive power to enable him and the administration to fulfill the campaign promise of “transforming America” in his second term regardless of which political party controls Congress.   That is why his re-election team is virtually ignoring the plight of incumbent or prospective Democratic Party office holders.

The most significant accomplishment of Obama’s first term is to make Congress irrelevant.  Under the myopic and blindly loyal leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats have succeeded in creating an imperial and, in a second term, a potential dictatorial presidency.

During the first two years of the Obama administration when the Democrats overwhelming controlled both Houses of Congress and the media was in an Obama worshipping stupor, a myriad of laws were passed and actions taken which transferred virtually unlimited power to the executive branch.

The birth of multi-thousand page laws was not an aberration.  This tactic was adopted so the bureaucracy controlled by Obama appointees would have sole discretion in interpreting vaguely written laws and enforcing thousands of pages of regulations they and not Congress would subsequently write.

For example, in the 2,700 pages of ObamaCare there are more than 2,500 references to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  There are more than 700 instances when he or she is instructed that they “shall” do something and more than 200 times when they “may” take at their sole discretion some form of regulatory action.  On 139 occasions, the law mentions that the “Secretary determines.”  In essence one person, appointed by and reporting to the president, will be in charge of the health care of 310 million Americans once ObamaCare is fully operational in 2014.

The same is true in the 2,319 pages of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act which confers nearly unlimited power on various agencies to control by fiat the nation’s financial, banking and investment sectors.  The bill also creates new agencies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, not subject to any oversight by Congress.   This overall process was repeated numerous times with other legislation all with the intent of granting unfettered power to the executive branch controlled Barack Obama and his radical associates.

Additionally, the Obama administration has, through its unilaterally determined rule making and regulatory powers, created laws out of whole cloth.  The Environmental Protection Agency on a near daily basis issues new regulations clearly out of their purview in order to modify and change environmental laws previously passed and to impose a radical green agenda never approved by Congress.  The same is true of the Energy and Interior Departments among many others.

None of these extra-constitutional actions have been challenged by Congress.   The left in America knows this usurpation of power is nearly impossible to reverse unless stopped in its early stages.

It is clearly the mindset of this administration and its appointees that Congress is merely a nuisance and can be ignored after they were able to take full advantage of the useful idiots in the Democrat controlled House and Senate in 2009-2010 and the Democrat Senate in the current Congress.

Additionally, Barack Obama knows after his re-election a Republican controlled House and Senate will not be able to enact any legislation to roll back the power previously granted to the Executive Branch or usurped by them.  His veto will not be overridden as there will always be at least 145 Democratic members of the House or 34 in the Senate in agreement with or intimidated by an administration more than willing to use Chicago style political tactics.

The stalemate between the Executive and Legislative Branches will inure to the benefit of Barack Obama and his fellow leftists.

The most significant power Congress has is the control of the purse-strings as all spending must be approved by them.  However, once re-elected, Barack Obama, as confirmed by his willingness to do or say anything and his unscrupulous re-election tactics, would not only threaten government shutdowns but would deliberately withhold payments to those dependent on government support as a means of intimidating and forcing a Republican controlled Congress to surrender to his demands, thus neutering their ability to control the administration through spending constraints.

Further:

This administration has shown contempt for the courts by ignoring various court orders, e.g.  the Gulf of Mexico oil drilling moratorium, as well as stonewalling subpoenas and requests issued by Congress.  The Eric Holder Justice Department has become the epitome of corruption as part of the most dishonest and deceitful administration in American history.   In a second term the arrogance of Barack Obama and his minions will become more blatant as he will not have to be concerned with re-election.

Who will be there to enforce the rule of law, a Supreme Court ruling or the Constitution?  No one.  Barack Obama and his fellow-travelers will be unchallenged as they run roughshod over the American people.

Many Republicans and conservatives dissatisfied with the prospect of Mitt Romney as the nominee for president are instead focused on re-taking the House and Senate.   That goal, while worthy and necessary, is meaningless unless Barack Obama is defeated.  The nation is not dealing with a person of character and integrity but someone of single-minded purpose and overwhelming narcissism.   Judging by his actions, words and deeds during his first term, he does not intend to work with Congress either Republican or Democrat in his second term but rather to force his radical agenda on the American people through the power he has usurped or been granted.

The governmental structure of the United States was set up by the founders in the hope that over the years only those people of high moral character and integrity would assume the reins of power.   However, knowing that was not always possible, they dispersed power over three distinct and independent branches as a check on each other.

What they could not imagine is the surrender and abdication of its constitutional duty by the preeminent governmental branch, the Congress, to a chief executive devoid of any character or integrity coupled with a judiciary essentially powerless to enforce the law when the chief executive ignores them

Conservatives, Libertarians, the Republican Party and Mitt Romney must come to grips with this moment in time and their historical role in denying Barack Obama and his minions their ultimate goal.   All resources must be directed at that end-game and not merely controlling Congress and the various committee chairmanships.

Graphic adapted from the work of Richard Terrell of Aftermath

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