February 1, 2013

Posted by orrinj at 5:46 PM

IT'S ALWAYS THE AMERICAN CENTURY:

Full Throttle Ahead: US Tips Global Power Scales with Fracking : The United States is sitting on massive natural gas and oil reserves that have the potential to shift the geopolitical balance in its favor. Worries are increasing in Russia and the Arab states of waning influence and falling market prices. (Der Spiegel, 2/01/13)



When the flows of energy change, the strategic and military calculations of the major powers do as well.

It is still unclear who the winners and losers will be. The Chinese and the Argentines also have enormous shale gas reserves. Experts believe that Poland, France and Germany have significant resources, although no one knows exactly how significant. Outside the United States, extraction is still in its infancy.

The outlines of a changed world order are already emerging in the simulations of geo-strategists. They show that the United States will benefit the most from the development of shale gas and oil resources. A study by Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, concludes that Washington's discretionary power in foreign and security policy will increase substantially as a result of the country's new energy riches.

According to the BND study, the political threat potential of oil producers like Iran will decline. Optimists assume that, in about 15 years, the United States will no longer have to send any aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf to guarantee that oil tankers can pass unhindered through the Strait of Hormuz, still the most important energy bottleneck in the world.
The Russians could be on the losing end of the stick. The power of President Vladimir Putin is based primarily on oil and gas revenues. If energy prices decline in the long term, bringing down Russian revenues from the energy sector, Putin's grip on power could begin to falter. The Americans' sudden oil and gas riches are also not very good news for authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

European industry is also likely to benefit from falling world market prices for oil and gas. But according to prognoses, without domestic extraction the Europeans' site-specific advantages deteriorate.

German chemical giant BASF has already invested a lot of money in the United States in the last two years. In Louisiana, for example, it has built new plants for the production of methyl amines and formic acid. "The local natural gas price is a criterion that affects the question of where we invest in new production facilities," says BASF Executive Board member Harald Schwager. At the moment, the United States has a clear advantage over Europe in this regard."

Posted by orrinj at 5:36 AM

GIVEN THAT YOU'RE PRODUCTIVE FOR TWO HOURS A DAY...:

Should people be off on Fridays? ((Vanessa Barford, 1/31/13, BBC News Magazine)

In the tiny African nation of The Gambia, public sector workers will now clock in at 8am and clock out at 6pm, Monday to Thursday. They'll still do a 40-hour week but have the luxury of Friday off.

President Jammeh wants the extra rest day to "allow Gambians to devote more time to prayers, social activities and agriculture".

...how does it make any sense to extend the workday?  Better to work them 5 days a week for just four hours.