Take a bite out of Big Oil with an efficient small car

sheila likes her new ride

Here’s an unsurprising fact: Big Oil is making huge profits. Here’s one that might catch your eye: car owners are spending nearly as much gassing up as they paid to buy their car.

Crunching a few numbers, the Union of Concerned Scientists spells out in a new report how consumers could be saving thousands through buying a fuel-efficient vehicle. Oh, and buying oil company stock is basically futile.

…Whenever someone pumps their tank at a gas station, if they’re spending $50, $33 will go directly to oil companies. If the driver bought the car in 2011 and drives it for 15 years…they would be spending more than $22,000 on gasoline, $14,000 of which goes directly to oil companies.

Gas stations aren’t making that much money off drivers filling up their tanks – only about 81 cents of an average $50 fueling go to the local gas station owner. “In the end, gas stations make more money off the bottled water, beef jerky, and other things you buy inside than off the fuel you buy outside,” said Joshua Goldman, the report’s author and policy analyst for UCS’s Clean Vehicles program.

Drivers owning shares in oil company stock are not going to make back their money spent at the gas pump…Spending more on fuel-efficient vehicles like a hybrid is worth it over the vehicle’s lifecycle cost, the Union of Concerned Scientists says. For example, a Ford Fusion SE Hybrid may cost $3,500 more than its base conventional gas model, but consumes $9,000 less in gasoline over its lifetime.

Something that motorheads figured out long ago. Even just buying a small, well-designed car and driving it sensibly makes a difference.

My extended family never has fit the consumption targets the big automakers used to delight in. I’ve had my pickup truck 20 years, now. My wife just parked her 30-year-old Volvo and replaced it with a Ford Fiesta 5-door. Even without the turbo eco-boost configuration, her mixed-drive commute is already beyond 39mpg consumption numbers.

How driven by sectarian hatred can American religions be?


This man’s church would prevent him from giving comfort to people who lost so much

A Lutheran pastor who participated in an interfaith prayer service in Newtown, Conn., in the days after the Sandy Hook massacre has apologized after being criticized by the leader of his denomination for violating its prohibition against joint worship with other religions.

The Rev. Rob Morris, a new pastor who lost one of the members of his congregation in the shooting, defended himself in an open letter published by the church, saying that before the tragedy, he had spent hours with his congregation educating them about the differences between Lutheran teaching “and the teachings of false religions such as Islam or Baha’i,” both of which had clergy members at the interfaith service. He also noted that, in his own prayer at the service, he had spoken about Jesus and quoted from the Bible.

“I believed my participation to be, not an act of joint worship, but an act of community chaplaincy,” he wrote.

But he also apologized.

“To those who believe that I have endorsed false teaching, I assure you that was not my intent, and I give you my unreserved apologies,” he wrote…

Mr. Morris, serving his first year of ministry as pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, attracted attention within his denomination when he gave the benediction at the high-profile memorial service on Dec. 16 that was attended by President Obama, the families of the dead, and clergy members from many religions, including the Muslim and Baha’i faiths.

Then, the purity and obvious superiority of obedient sheep belonging to this particular congregation of nutballs is detailed, blah, blah. If you want to waste time on it, click the link and read the article.

I’m posting this to explain one more time to my friends and readers why I so often describe the mouthing of ancient curses and platitudes by representatives of one or another fundamentalist religion to be as worthless as toilet paper made of sandpaper. It denies the purported purpose of the fabric. It causes hearts to bleed instead of heal. This defies any stated purpose for virtually all religions. Meaning they ain’t worth the paper they’re writ large upon.

Jihadi leader lives openly in Pakistan – no one wants $10 million reward offered by the United States

Lahore, Pakistan — Ten million dollars does not seem to buy much in this bustling Pakistani city. That is the sum the United States is offering for help in convicting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, perhaps the country’s best-known jihadi leader. Yet Mr. Saeed lives an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighborhood here.

“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” said Mr. Saeed, a burly 64-year-old, reclining on a bolster as he ate a chicken supper. “My fate is in the hands of God, not America.”

Mr. Saeed is the founder, and is still widely believed to be the true leader, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people, including six Americans, were killed. The United Nations has placed him on a terrorist list and imposed sanctions on his group. But few believe he will face trial any time soon in a country that maintains a perilous ambiguity toward jihadi militancy, casting a benign eye on some groups, even as it battles others that attack the state.

Mr. Saeed’s very public life seems more than just an act of mocking defiance against the Obama administration and its bounty, analysts say. As American troops prepare to leave Afghanistan next door, Lashkar is at a crossroads, and its fighters’ next move — whether to focus on fighting the West, disarm and enter the political process, or return to battle in Kashmir — will depend largely on Mr. Saeed…

His security seemingly ensured, Mr. Saeed has over the past year addressed large public meetings and appeared on prime-time television, and is now even giving interviews to Western news media outlets he had previously eschewed…

Still, he says he has nothing against Americans, and warmly described a visit he made to the United States in 1994, during which he spoke at Islamic centers in Houston, Chicago and Boston. “At that time, I liked it,” he said with a wry smile.

During that stretch, his group was focused on attacking Indian soldiers in the disputed territory of Kashmir — the fight that led the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate to help establish Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1989…

“When there are no Americans in Afghanistan, what will happen?” said Mushtaq Sukhera, a senior officer with the Punjabi police who is running a fledgling demobilization program for Islamist extremists. “It’s an open question.”

A shift could be risky for Mr. Saeed: Some of his fighters have already split from Lashkar in favor of other groups that attack the Pakistani state. And much will depend on the advice of his military sponsors.

For their part, Pakistan’s generals insist they have abandoned their dalliance with jihadi proxy groups. In a striking speech in August, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said the country’s greatest threat came from domestic extremism. “We as a nation must stand united against this threat,” he said. “No state can afford a parallel system of governance and militias.”

Unfortunately, that last statement by General Kayani although truthful guarantees nothing. No one is confident that Pakistan’s military – and especially the ISI, their answer to the CIA – is at all interested in building anything more than bank vaults filled with looted gold. The blood of their fellow Pakistanis means nothing.

Microsoft and Symantec disrupt another cyber crime ring

Software makers Microsoft and Symantec said they disrupted a global cyber crime operation by shutting down servers that controlled hundreds of thousands of PCs without the knowledge of their users.

The move made it temporarily impossible for infected PCs around the world to search the web, though the companies offered free tools to clean machines through messages that were automatically pushed out to infected computers.

Technicians working on behalf of both companies raided data centers in Weehawken, New Jersey, and Manassas, Virginia, on Wednesday, accompanied by U.S. federal marshals, under an order issued by the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

They seized control of one server at the New Jersey facility and persuaded the operators of the Virginia data center to take down a server at their parent company in the Netherlands, according to Richard Boscovich, assistant general counsel with Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit.

Boscovich told Reuters that he had “a high degree of confidence” that the operation had succeeded in bringing down the cyber crime operation, known as the Bamital botnet

The servers that were pulled off line on Wednesday had been used to communicate with what Microsoft and Symantec estimate are between 300,000 and 1 million PCs currently infected with malicious software that enslaved them into the botnet.

The companies said that the Bamital operation hijacked search results and engaged in other schemes that the companies said fraudulently charge businesses for online advertisement clicks…

Now that the servers have been shut down, users of infected PCs will be directed to a site informing them that their machines are infected with malicious software when they attempt to search the web.

Microsoft and Symantec are offering them free tools to fix their PCs and restore access to web searches via messages automatically pushed out to victims.

Bravo!