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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Russia to lose up to $140b a year on sanctions, cheaper oil oil price to cost Russia $90-100b a year ; Cost of Western sanctions put at $40b -- Lower oil prices and Western financial sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis will cost Russia around $130-140 billion (Dh477 billion to Dh514 billion) a year — equivalent to around seven per cent of its economy — Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Monday.

His comments are the latest acknowledgement by Russian policymakers that sanctions restricting borrowing abroad by major Russian companies are imposing heavy economic costs. But in Siluanov’s view, the fall in oil prices is the bigger worry.

“We’re losing around $40 billion a year because of geopolitical sanctions, and about $90 billion to $100 billion from oil prices falling by 30 per cent,” he told a news conference.

“The main issue that affects the budget and economy and financial system, this is the price of oil and the...  (read more)

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Coastal storm, including snow, on the menu for some Thanksgiving travelers along East Coast

Star Tribune -- MINEOLA, N.Y. — A nor'easter is expected to develop Wednesday along the East Coast just as millions of travelers are heading to their Thanksgiving destinations.

"I would pack your patience," said Robert Sinclair Jr., of AAA New York.

The storm, forecast to dump rain along the coast and snow inland, could cause delays at Northeast airports and along its busy highways. Precipitation was forecast to sweep in from the south Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and exit the region Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for Weather Underground, said coastal cities are likely to mostly receive rain, although he cautioned Monday afternoon that meteorologists would be keeping a close eye on the rain/snow line.

"A small deviation in the track could change things dramatically," he sa  (read more)

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Driver cleared in GM ignition switch accident

General Motors has confirmed that a car accident involving a Texas woman is linked to the company's faulty ignition switch issue.

Candice Anderson pleaded guilty to criminally-negligent homicide in 2004 after she lost control of her Saturn Ion and hit a tree, killing her fiancé Gene Erickson.

An email sent by a GM lawyer on Sunday confirmed that Anderson's accident was counted by the company as an ignition switch accident, according to Dow Jones.

2.5 million vehicles were recalled by GM earlier this year due to this defect. The company determined that the ignition switch could be jostled from "run" to "accessory" while in motion thereby cutting power from the electric steering and air bags. Candice Anderson has lived with this Anderson's attorney wrongful conviction for too long  (read more)

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Fire drill in Tempe highlights natural gas dangers Arizona Republic -- The hood of a blue car slowly began melting as a loud fire slowly overtook the vehicle and firefighters stood watch nearby waiting for the fire to grow as the telltale 'raw egg' odor of natural gas became more potent.

The scene at a Tempe facility near Kyrene Road and Baseline Road had all the sights sounds and smells of a disaster but firefighters and paramedics from throughout the Valley were practicing to prepare for a rare event that became a reality in a Gilbert neighborhood earlier this year.

Monday's demonstration was the first of three annual hazardous materials evaluations that firefighters will participate in before the end of the year and tested firefighters on their ability to control natural gas fires. The burning car in Monday's exercise was ignited with natural gas but,...  (read more)

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Ohio gas prices down heading into holiday week

WFMJ -- COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio motorists are seeing lower gas prices as they prepare to travel for Thanksgiving this week.

The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Ohio was $ 2.74 in Monday's survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That's down 13 cents from a week ago and a quarter from last month at this time. Last year's state average heading into the Thanksgiving holiday was $3.25 per gallon.

Ohio's average is lower than the national average, which was $2.81 per gallon Monday. That's 8 cents less than a week ago and 26 cents less than last month at this time.

Analysts say gas prices will likely remain low through the end of the year.  (read more)

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Opec a shadow of its former self

Times LIVE-The Sunday Telegraph -- In 1976, Saudi Arabia's former oil minister, Ahmed Zaki Yamani, stormed out of the Opec gathering early when other members of the cartel would not comply with the wishes of his new master, King Khaled.

The 166th meeting of the group, in Vienna next week, is looking like it could end in a similarly acrimonious way, with Saudi Arabia and several other members at loggerheads over what to do about falling oil prices.

Whatever action Opec agrees to take to halt the sharp decline in the price of crude, experts agree that one thing is clear: the world is entering an era of lower oil prices that the group is almost powerless to change.

This new energy paradigm might result in oil trading at much less than the $100 (R1100) a barrel that consumers have grown used to paying over the past decade...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

While U.S. feasts on cheap oil, OPEC nations likely to squabble

The Columbus Dispatch -- Thanksgiving is a time of reflection on resources and relatives, even for one group of a dozen oil-producing countries that won’t observe the holiday this week.

The free fall in oil prices has led to billions of dollars staying in U.S. consumers’ pockets instead of pumped into their gas tanks just as the holiday spending season gets underway. Since June oil prices have fallen 30 percent. While OPEC nations aren’t about to cry poverty, the cartel will be working in the new week to stop the drop.

OPEC oil ministers meet on Thursday but not for a Thanksgiving feast. Instead, the powers that control almost 40 percent of world oil production will argue over how much oil they are pumping and if they should pump less of it. But like many extended family gatherings for the holiday, there will...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Falling apart: America's neglected infrastructure

CBS News -- Our roads and bridges are crumbling, our airports are out of date and the vast majority of our seaports are in danger of becoming obsolete.  (read more)

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Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels

NY Times -- For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.

Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show  (read more)

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GasBuddy Says: Give Thanks For Gas Prices 44 Cents Lower Than Last Year

GasBuddy Blog -- With the U.S. average price of gasoline at $2.80 today, the national average is at its lowest level since December 2010. Especially this week, Americans should be grateful that 80% of the nation’s gas stations are reporting prices under $3/ gal. today, compared to just 22% at this time in 2013.

“While many of us are convinced that gas prices automatically go up in advance of every travel holiday, our price tracking has proven that to be a widely-held misconception,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “In some years we’ve seen occasions, particularly during the Thanksgiving and Christmas travel periods, when prices remained flat or even posted a decline.”...  (read more)

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

'Counterfeit' tires pose consumer risk

Consumer Reports: -- What began as a routine tire test became a journey through a maze of deception, finger-pointing, and a lack of accountability that in itself could prove dangerous if the product should prove to be defective.

When it comes to safety and performance, Consumer Reports has long said that you shouldn’t skimp on tires. That’s what we discovered once again when we recently tested three sets of Chinese-branded all-season truck tires that cost as little as $89 apiece in our test size, 265/70R17. All three of these bargain-bin tires landed at the bottom of our Ratings, in part because of their performance in our winter-condition test, as well as so-so to poor tread life. The surprise came when the owner and distributor of one set of the tires alleged that the tires we tested were “gray market”—that  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

Flurry of B.C. court battles threaten to drive away investment

The Globe and Mail -- A flurry of court cases has tied up more than $25B worth of resource projects this year as FN, environmental groups and others battle pipelines, mines, a dam and a coal port – a situation that some observers fear will drive away investment

Executive VP/CPO for the Business Council of BC worries BC's reputation could suffer if the wave of litigation continues

“The No.1 reason why investors are reluctant to invest in BC is because of the FN land-uncertainty question

One of the reasons for all the legal action is that the government is not doing enough to protect the environment

One way to restore public confidence and cut down on the litigation would be for the province to get out of the agreement that authorizes the NEB to approve Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipeline proposa  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

NC motorists see lowest gas prices in 5 years

More North Carolinians are heading over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving, and they will find the trip won't cost nearly as much as it has recently.

AAA Carolinas says 1,345,000 North Carolinians are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home. About 1,210,500 of those travelers will drive, an increase of about 48,600 than last year. They will be enjoying the lowest gas prices in five years.

Gas prices in North Carolina are averaging $2.77, down 57 cents from Labor Day. Residents also are paying 46 cents less at the pump compared to last Thanksgiving.

AAA Carolinas President and CEO David Parsons says lower gas prices have encouraged more people to travel for Thanksgiving.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

China Needs 1,000 Nuclear Reactors to Fulfill Its Climate Pledge

Bloomberg News -- China, which does nothing in small doses, will need about 1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms as it takes up the fight against climate change.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

For Google's self-driving cars, learning to deal with the bizarre is essentia

Star Tribune -- In 700,000 miles of navigating roads, Google's self-driving cars have encountered just about everything -- including an elderly woman in a motorized wheelchair flailing a broom at a duck she was chasing around the street.

Apparently perplexed and taking no chances, the vehicle stopped and refused to go farther.

Through extensive testing covering nearly every street in Google's hometown of Mountain View, Calif., the company's 20 or so autonomous vehicles have developed an abiding sense of caution. Google researchers concede it will take more experience on the roads before the autos can learn to cope with every situation without becoming bewildered and shutting down, stranding passengers. When that happens now, researchers have to take the wheel and step on the gas.

One of the most surpri  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

'America loves you': Jay Leno surprises wounded veteran with new car

Today / NBC News -- Behind every salute and every handshake from a soldier, there's a great story. Jay Leno set out to share one of those stories, and went above and beyond to show his appreciation for their service — by giving a soldier a brand new car.

"We took all these wounded warriors and did sort of a lottery and reached in and picked a soldier at random (to) do something for him and hopefully it expresses what we want to do for all the soldiers," Leno said.

That soldier was Cpl. Ethan Laberge. Laberge had been on foot patrol in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber drove up and detonated himself, seriously injuring Leberge and killing two fellow soldiers who had been standing with him.

..Leno had just the thing for Leberge: a ride in a 2015 Dodge SRT Hellcat.

When Leno asked Leberge if he wanted to tak  (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

Robin Hooders" pay expired meters

usa today -- The self-styled "Robin Hooders" race to the rescue of the parking peasantry, pumping quarters into their expired meters and leaving behind cards informing them they have been saved from "the king's tariff."

Nobody, not even the king - in this case the quaint New Hampshire college town of Keene - disputes their right to use pocket change as political capital in what they view as a fight against government oppression.

But city officials say the not-so-merry band leaves behind more than cards with a cartoon Robin Hood and a suggestion to pay their good deed forward: stressed-out parking enforcement officers. And now the New Hampshire Supreme Court is deliberating if there is a line to be drawn between protecting free speech rights and protecting government employees from harassment.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

Toyota Unveils Hydrogen-Powered 2016 Mirai

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..caranddriver.comToyota has unveiled a mid-size car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells, joining some of its rivals as they mark a new foray into alternative powertrains.The world’s top seller of cars and trucks said this week the 2016 Mirai will be available starting in the fall of 2015. Toyota expects to make only 700 of the vehicles next year. The Mirai—a Japanese word that translates to “future”—will be rolled out at select dealers that have hydrogen fueling stations nearby.Toyota hopes the Mirai can attract drivers in the same way its Prius helped pave the way for hybrids and electric cars after launching in 1997. In five or six years, the automaker hopes to boost sales to the tens of thousands....  (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

EPA Delays Decision on Ethanol in Gas

ABC News -- Last year the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel for the first time, acknowledging that a biofuel law that both Republicans and Democrats had championed nearly a decade ago was not working as well as expected.

A final decision was due before the end of the year on the already-delayed standards, but the EPA said Friday the final rule will now come in 2015.

The ethanol targets are required by a 2007 law that tried to address global warming, reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the rural economy by requiring oil companies to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into gasoline annually. But lawmakers did not anticipate fuel economy would improve as much as it has in recent years, reducing overall demand for gasoline.

 (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

Safe home heating: Eight tips to stay alive this winter -- There is more to home heating than the price of natural gas or electricity. And what you don't know can be fatal.

There is more to worry about winter heating than the price of natural gas or electricity. And what you don't know can be fatal.

Here are eight heating safety tips, courtesy of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Consumer Reports:

>Have the furnace inspected and if necessary tuned up every fall. And ask for an inspection of the chimney or PVC exhaust piping now used to vent high-efficiency furnaces.

>Never use an oven to heat the house. Most household ovens are not vented, and incomplete combustion can produce carbon monoxide, an orderless killer.

> Make sure chimneys and vent pipes for fireplaces and wood stoves are in good shape, not clogged and will not leak...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cold triggers tire sensors: don't ignore your TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) !

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..bostonglobe.comWhile much of the country was blanketed with snow this week and more may be  on the way in the Great Lakes... maybe the last thing you want to worry about is your tire pressure.  After all, if you've been buried in places like Buffalo, it may be some time before you even find your vehicle, let alone drive it. 

Once you turn the heat on and get behind the wheel, don't be surprised if there's a light on your dashboard that you're not familiar with. When it comes to our cars, steep temperature drops can trigger a sign of winter that we don’t welcome: a yellow or orange low tire pressure warning light.When your light comes on, your car is simply telling you that you need more air in your tire and this time of year, the warning is usually related to steep drops in temperature. What should you do?  Don't ignore it. ...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 21, 2014 By:

Takata executive warns about ability to fix deadly air bag flaw

Reuters-Yahoo -- WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - An executive from Japan's Takata Corp told U.S. senators on Thursday the supplier is urgently trying to ramp up replacement parts for millions of vehicles fitted with potentially deadly air bags, but said it may not be able to move quickly enough.

The U.S. auto safety regulator also warned of the risks of moving to a nationwide recall, as senators have urged, saying such a move could divert replacement parts from humid regions where the defective air bags are more likely to rupture upon deployment, shooting metal shards into cars.

At least five fatalities have been linked to the defect so far, mostly in the United States.

 (read more)

Submitted Nov 21, 2014 By:

GasBuddy Outsmart the Pump Sweepstakes Winner Announced

GasBuddy Blog -- If you think gas prices have been low lately, imagine paying $0 at the pump for the entire year. That’s what Brenda Price of Lilburn, Georgia will be paying as GasBuddy’s “Outsmart the Pump” summer sweepstakes winner.

Price and her husband Allen Price are retirees and active volunteers at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the poor and disadvantaged in the community. When asked what they plan to do with the winnings, the couple said they plan to volunteer even more, now that gas costs won’t be much of a concern.

“I couldn’t believe we won!” Brenda Price said. “You never think something like this could actually happen to you. We are very blessed. It’s overwhelming.”...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 21, 2014 By:

Iran Vows to Guard Oil-Market Share as OPEC to Review Output

Bloomberg -- Iran will protect its share of global crude sales under all circumstances, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, as OPEC members prepare to meet next week to review production levels.

The Persian Gulf nation can double oil exports in two months if sanctions against are removed, Zanganeh said, according to the ministry’s news website Shana.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will gather on Nov. 27 in Vienna to assess its collective output amid a supply glut and a 30 percent drop in prices this year. Iran’s crude output has languished under international economic sanctions that deter foreign energy investors and limit its exports to approximately 1 million barrels a day.

“Under no circumstance will Iran decrease its share of the global market, not even by one barrel,”...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 21, 2014 By:

TransCanada Energy East faces new hurdle with demands from Quebec

Bloomberg News -- TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East pipeline is facing another obstacle in Quebec as the province sets conditions for the project linking the oilsands to the East Coast.

Quebec is requiring TransCanada meet seven conditions before allowing construction of the pipeline, according to a copy of a Nov. 18 letter by David Heurtel, the provincial environment minister, to TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling obtained by Bloomberg News and first revealed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Nov. 20.

Mounting criticism from environmental groups is stalling plans for pipelines to expand markets for Canada’s rising heavy crude supplies. Quebec’s conditions risk delaying Energy East and are the latest setback for TransCanada, after the defeat of a U.S. Senate measure this week to ex  (read more)

Submitted Nov 21, 2014 By: