Oil Drill Ban Costs Govt Billions; al-Qaida Targeted Brooklyn Bridge

Sunday, 01 May 2011 03:43 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Oil Drilling Moratorium Costing Government Billions
2. Chinese Firm Aiding Iran's Chemical Weapons Program
3. RIP: Last Typewriter Factory Closes
4. WikiLeaks: Al-Qaida Targeted Brooklyn Bridge
5. Calling Animals 'Pets' Termed 'Derogatory'
 

1. Oil Drilling Moratorium Costing Government Billions

The Obama administration's moratorium on offshore drilling is depriving governments of billions of dollars in royalties, lease bids, and taxes — and the lost revenue will grow significantly if no new drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico are sold this year.

In the wake of the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, the administration issued the moratorium on May 6. It suspended work on 33 wells in various stages of construction, halted new lease sales, and suspended permitting for leases already offered.

As a result, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects a decline of 240,000 barrels a day in oil production in the Gulf this year. "That represents billions of dollars in potential revenue that could help close the federal deficit," according to Rob Bluey, director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation.

The moratorium was lifted on Oct. 12, but since then oil companies have complained of a "permitorium" — a deliberate slowing of the permitting process.

This year could be the first since 1965 in which the federal government did not sell leases in the Gulf.

Oil companies pay the federal government an 18.75 percent royalty on the oil produced. In 2008, the offshore industry paid $8.3 billion in royalties, and another $9.4 billion for bids on new leases. Last year those bids brought in just $979 million.

In 2009, royalties, lease bids and rent payments totaled more than $6 billion, according to the forecasting firm IHS Global Insight.

"Federal, state and local taxes related to the offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf totaled $13 billion," Bluey notes. "That $19 billion pot of money could go a long way toward deficit reduction."

In addition, opening areas now closed to exploration and production, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the eastern Gulf of Mexico, would bring in an estimated $150 billion by 2025.

"At a time when voters are calling on the federal government to balance its budget, revenue from oil companies would be one way of helping out [and] the oil produced would reduce the price of gas at the pump," Bluey concludes.

"The Obama administration should immediately begin to issue new permits for the Gulf of Mexico and explore other untapped domestic resources."

Editor's Note:



2. Chinese Firm Aiding Iran's Chemical Weapons Program

A newly disclosed cable sent by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reveals that a Chinese company is transferring equipment and technology to a secret plant in Iran that is part of the Islamic Republic's chemical weapons program.

The cable, dated July 24, 2009, is a WikiLeaks document obtained by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. It shows that Clinton instructed the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to take action against the Chinese firm, Zibo Chemet.

China is party to an agreement forbidding sales of vital equipment for chemical weapons programs.

The cable reads in part: "We have new information indicating that Zibo Chemet transferred technology for the production of glass-lined reactor equipment to Iranian customers, significantly enhancing Iran's ability to produce indigenously chemical equipment suitable for a chemical warfare program."

Glass-lined reactor vessels are resistant to the chemicals they contain. The glass lining prevents raw materials used to produce weapons such as nerve gas from eating away at the container's inner surface and evaporating, Haaretz explained.

Clinton's cable asked the embassy to pass information about the transfer to the Chinese government and demand that it take action to halt the sales.

It also disclosed that the United States blacklisted Zibo Chemet in April 2007 over suspicions that it supplied similar equipment to North Korea and Syria as well as Iran.

"Clinton's cable shows that as the international community anxiously follows the progress of Iran's nuclear program," Haaretz observes, "Iran continues to develop conventional and unconventional weapons, including chemical ones."

Editor's Note:



3. RIP: Last Typewriter Factory Closes

The first practical typewriter was invented in 1867, and Mark Twain was the first author to submit a typewritten manuscript to a publisher. But now, reports of the typewriter's death are anything but greatly exaggerated.

The last factory manufacturing mechanical typewriters closed this past week, the venerable device driven into obsolescence by the computer and word processor.

The factory operated by Godrej and Boyce in Mumbai, India, stopped production in 2009, and its inventory has dwindled to just a few hundred machines, most of them Arabic-language models. No more will be made.

"Although typewriters became obsolete years ago in the West, they were still common in India, until recently," according to the Daily Mail.

Milind Duckle, general manager of Godrej and Boyce, told the Mail: "From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us. Until 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year. But this might be the last chance for typewriter lovers."

As recently as the 1990s, the company produced some 50,000 typewriters a year, according to India's Business Standard.

Godrej and Boyce began manufacturing typewriters about 60 years ago. The company is part of the Godrej Group, which makes a wide range of products in India including appliances, furniture, and electronic equipment.

While the mechanical typewriter is history, several companies still make electronic versions, the Telegraph reports, including Swintec in New Jersey.

Editor's Note:



4. WikiLeaks: Al-Qaida Targeted Brooklyn Bridge

Members of al-Qaida plotted to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge by cutting its suspension cables, according to a file released by WikiLeaks.

The plot came to light in 2003, when Iyman Faris, a naturalized American citizen from Kashmir, was arrested and interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, according to the file released on Wednesday.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told The New York Times that he "climbed down and looked at the room where the cables came together, after the Faris plot," and found it was possible to "cut or physically weaken the center cables of the bridge."

But Kelly said Faris observed increased security on the bridge after 9/11, and sent a message to al-Qaida that read: "The weather is too hot."

Other high-ranking al-Qaida operatives also mentioned bridges as potential targets, the Jerusalem Post pointed out.

Abu Zubaydah, considered a senior lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, told Guantanamo interrogators that the terror group planned to attack American "symbols," such as the Statue of Liberty and "major hanging bridges."

Editor's Note:



5. Calling Animals 'Pets' Termed 'Derogatory'

Just when you think you've heard everything: A group of academics insists people should stop referring to their dogs, cats, hamsters, and other domesticated animals as "pets."

Instead, they should be called "companion animals" — and their owners are "human carers."

The call comes from the editors of the Journal of Animal Ethics, a new academic publication edited by Prof. Andrew Linzey, a theologian and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in Britain.

Its first editorial argues that "derogatory" language about animals can affect the way they are treated.

The eggheads also have a pet peeve over the use of the word "wildlife." Instead, they favor the term "free-living."

"Despite its prevalence, 'pets' is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers," the editorial states.

"Again, the word 'owners, whilst technically correct in law, harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint."

Other vocabulary no-nos: "critters" and "beasts."

Linzey and his co-editor, Prof. Priscilla Cohn of Penn State University, hope to stamp out the use of such phrases as "sly as a fox," "drunk as a skunk," and "eat like a pig," the Telegraph reported.

No mention of "eager beaver," "silly goose," "gentle as a lamb" — or for that matter, "chicken."

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Editor's Note:



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