Showing posts from May, 2010

Energy Sector's Unnatural Disasters

It has been more than a month since the April 20 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people. At the time of this write-up, British Petroleum made little headway with its much touted ‘top kill’ method to ‘kill’ or plug the leaking well from gushing oil. The method began on May 26 (only to be suspended for nearly a 16-hour period after the first ten hour of operation) with remote control submersibles pumping ‘drilling mud’ – a mixture of synthetic petroleum and clays – into the renegade well. BP engineers temporarily shutdown the ‘top kill’ operation when they saw that too much of the drilling fluid was escaping along with the oil.
To overcome the high pressure of the gushing oil and gas from the well, the mud will have to be pumped countercurrent not only at a higher pressure but also at a higher flow rate. Under 30,000 horsepower of hydraulic pressure, the mud is expected to push into the leaking drill hole, stopping it up. Once the leaking …

Senator Arlen Specter

Last Tuesday, the Democrats in the Pennsylvania buried Senator Arlen Specter's hopes to compete as a Democratic Senator for his reelection bid in November, 2010. By many counts the 80 year-old senator was a Houdini of Pennsylvania politics. He was twice a survivor of cancer and twice a survivor of such close political calls. His senatorial career began in the flush of the Reagan Revolution in 1980 and will come to a close after three decades in the Tea Party era. He has been a relentless interrogator of prospective judges and justices, a force for medical research, and a champion earmarker for his state. He promoted plurality and is considered responsible for an influx of women into the upper chamber.

In his long senatorial career (before switching to the Democratic Party in 2009 in the Obama era), a glorious one, which I must add, he came at odds with his conservative Republican party. He was more conservative than an average Democrat but more liberal and moderate than most Repub…

Book Review: Inside the Revolution

Book Review: Inside the revolution: how the followers of Jihad, Jefferson & Jesus are battling to dominate the Middle East and transform the world by Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale (2009)

Joel Rosenberg, son of a Jewish father and a gentile mother, is an evangelical Christian who studied at Tel Aviv University in Israel. He is popular amongst the Christian extremist talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. As expected, his book – Inside the Revolution – is swamped with evangelical and Christian Zionist overtones. People interviewed to writing the book include: Peter Goss, director, CIA (1997-2004)), Lt. Gen. (retd.) William Jerry Boykin, Deputy undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Special Warfighting (2003-07), L. Paul Bremer III, presidential envoy and first U.S. Administrator to Iraq (2003-04), Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, General Moshe Ya’alon, Chief of Staff, Israeli Defense Forces (2002-05), Dore Gold, Israeli Ambassador to the UN (1997-1999) and dissidents …

The Conservative South and the US Politics

For the past two weeks I have been on the road and air. The first week, I took a plane from Philadelphia to Greenville, South Carolina and stayed near Seneca, close to the campus of the Clemson University. I returned on Friday only to take another plane last Monday to fly to Cleveland, Ohio. I stayed in North Olmsted in the outskirts of the city, returning again to my home on Friday.

Geographically speaking, in the context of the huge size of the USA, South Carolina is actually not too far from Ohio. The two towns are only about 650 miles apart – almost on the same longitude (82-83 degree West). But beyond the commonalities, there are some striking differences in ways Americans in these two regions view things and act. Southerners appear to be a friendlier, hospitable and relaxing kind of people who are serious about life-work balance. They are not easily pushed to compromise their easy-going lifestyle for extra dollar. This healthy attitude is often missing in the north where people …

The European Veil Debate – is it the Prelude to Eliminationist Politics?

Belgium is all set to become the first European nation to ban the Burqa (the face-covering veil that is worn by some Muslim women). The move will affect an estimated 650,000 Muslims in Belgium – 6 per cent of the population. Belgium’s lower house of parliament banned burqa-type Islamic dress in public. But the measure may face a challenge in the Senate where Christian Democrats and Liberals questioned the phrasing of the law, which says no one can appear in public “with the face fully covered or partly covered so as to render unrecognizable.”
Belgium, like many northern European countries, has a cold climate with daily temperature minimums of 7 °C (44.6 °F) and maximums of 14 °C (57.2 °F), based on the averages for the years 2000 to 2006. The average temperature is lowest in January at 3 °C (37.4 °F) and highest in July at 18 °C (64.4 °F). It does not take a genius to see the hypocrisy in the bill. During the winter season most Belgians end up using some forms of headscarves and face…