Daily Archives: May 8, 2012
U.S. Taxpayers Subsidize Afghan Insurgents
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.
- U.S. Taxpayers Subsidize Afghan Insurgents (nationalinterest.org)
API: Hispanic Employment Rate, Jobs Creation Hurt by Keystone Delay
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 email@example.com.
- Republicans say Obama is running out of excuses to delay Keystone pipeline (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Obama to get do-over on Keystone pipeline (cajunconservatism.wordpress.com)
Port Corpus Christi Gets New Director of Engineering Services (USA)
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.
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.
“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