Tag Archives: Gas

Thought We Were Just “Helping” Ukraine? Their New President Has Been On U.S. Payroll Since 2006

Petro Poroshenko is Ukraine’s new president, elected after a popular uprising that overthrew the former president Viktor Yanukovych and his regime.

The uprising was a reaction to Yanukovych’s decision to turn down offers to join the EU in favor of closer economic ties with Russia. The United States, close allies with the EU, enthusiastically supported the overthrow of Yanukovych and the election of Poroshenko, a pro-EU candidate.

Ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych at a news conference in Russia (Photo: AP)

But the more time goes on, the more it seems that the U.S. government may have played a bigger role in the Ukrainian uprising and aftermath than they would have us think.

Classified cables posted to the website wikileaks.org reveal that Poroshenko was on the payroll of the U.S. State Department as early as April of 2006. Poroshenko was one of the leaders of Our Ukraine or OU, a major political party in the country- the wikileaks cables refer to him as the U.S.’s “Our Ukraine insider”.

Another cable, from May 2006, reveals that the U.S. government knew Poroshenko to be corrupt:

“Poroshenko was tainted by credible corruption allegations, but wielded significant influence within OU; Poroshenko’s price had to be paid.”

Some of the most interesting communications between the U.S. and Poroshenko came in 2009, when Poroshenko told then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that he was very in favor of,

“the opening of a U.S. diplomatic presence in Crimea… He emphasized the importance of Crimea, and said that having U.S. representation there would be useful for Ukraine.”

New Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at a press confernce with Hillary Clinton last month (Photo: Reuters)

Crimea, as you know, is the disputed peninsula in the Black Sea which Russia occupied early on during the Ukrainian revolution.

These revelations, though not damning, are certainly suspicious at the very least. It’s very hard to imagine that Poroshenko won the Ukrainian presidency without any help from the U.S. after seeing that he has been providing the U.S. with insider information on Ukraine since 2006.

Some argue that Poroshenko’s work for the U.S. was an act of treason, since it’s extremely likely that some of the information provided by him was used to help oust Yanukovych back in February.

Combine these revelations with that the fact that Hunter Biden, Vice President Joe Biden’s son, was selected to the board of Burisma Holdings (Ukraine’s largest private gas producer) in May, just a month before Poroshenko was inaugurated into office, and things start to get really fishy.

Joe Biden and his son Hunter

Ukraine has Europe’s third-largest natural gas reserves at 42 trillion cubic feet, and the country’s pipelines are a major gas route between eastern and western Europe. It makes sense that the U.S. and the EU would do everything they could to hold onto it.

Click to enlarge

Read the original story from SGC News here.

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This Small Town Is Selling Gas Directly to the Public At No Profit to Fight Price Gouging

Somserset is a small town in southern Kentucky. Residents of the town have long complained of Somerset’s high gas prices.

“It’s a lot higher than the rest of the places that are 25 to 30 miles from here,”

says Jimmy Goggins, who lives in Somerset. Jenny Collier, who commutes to Somerset from out of town says that gas prices there are, “about 20 cents higher a gallon…or more.”

So Somerset decided to take a bold step: opening up the gas station that is currently used to fuel city-owned vehicles  to the public, and selling the gas to Somerset citizens.

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler

“They’re just simply ripping off the public, and they’re doing it because of greed,”

said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. The city will be purchasing their gasoline from a local refinery, pricing it 15-20 lower than what the local stations are charging now.

“We’re going to set a price, and if the companies want to equal that or go lower than that, we’ve achieved our objective… It is our economy, and we can’t allow anybody to continue to gouge us and take money away from us,”

continued Girdler. He also added that profit wasn’t the point, and that the city would likely only break even on the gas sales.

A gas pump at the city fuel station that will soon be open to the public

Somerset residents are predictably happy about the announcement. However, there are some who aren’t happy at all. A few days after the announcement, the  Kentucky Association of Grocers and Convenience Stores spoke out against the move.

They argue that Somerset’s government is being economically anti-competitive, and also says they are out of line using public facilities to try to compete with the private sector.

For me, the integral question here is this: why are Somerset’s gas prices so high? I tried to look into this question, but so far only local Kentucky news stations have covered this story, and none of them go into detail about this question.

I did however find this comment from reddit user Bitvapors, who claims to be from Somerset:

“This is my town. They haven’t started yet, I don’t think, but gas prices around here are well over $.25/gal higher than surrounding towns and counties, so it’s a big deal.

All the shell stations around here are owned by one man and most of the other stations are serviced by his tankers, so he can pretty much charge whatever he wants.

We’ve been gouged for years, so I hope like hell he’s foaming at the mouth over this.”

Read more from WDRB Kentucky here.

Images courtesy of WDRB Kentucky.

Our Resources Are Running Out. How Much Is Left For the New Generation? (Infographic)

Our modern society here on Earth depends heavily on just a handful of resources. These resources include fossil fuels like oil and coal, as well as raw minerals like copper, lead and zinc. With the rapid advancement of technology and industry worldwide in the last half century or so, our demand for these raw goods has skyrocketed.

This cool infographic lists some of our most widely-used resources, showing how much of each was left in 2010 and where the remaining resources are located.

For the top graph, the longer portion in the middle of each bar predicts the number of years until the resource runs out if it keeps being used at current rates.

However, most resources are being used more each year than the year before, so the shorter outer portion of each bar predicts the number of years left if our demand and production continues to increase. Click the image to see the full size version.

Russia Annexes Crimea and Gets Kicked Out of G8; Ukraine Preparing for War

Here’s a quick timeline of the most recent events in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

On Sunday (March 16), residents of Crimea voted on a referendum of whether to leave Ukraine and join Russia- the measure passed by upwards of 90%. It is important to note, however, that all signs point to a pretty illegitimate vote.

For one, the ballot didn’t even include an option to stay with Ukraine- the two options were to leave Ukraine and join Russia, or leave Ukraine and become independent.

Secondly, it’s obvious that there was plenty of intimidation involved- Russian soldiers and armed “unmarked militia” (that pretty much everyone agrees are pro-Russian forces) patrol the streets of Crimea. This blog from Jon Lee Anderson at The New Yorker describes some of the intimidation tactics he saw employed by the “thugs” in the streets of Crimea.

Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside an Ukrainian military base in the village of Perevalnoye

Lastly, some of the actual results are simply ridiculous. For example, 123% of the major Crimean city of Sevastapool cast votes on the referendum. Mykhaylo Malyshev, chair of the committee overseeing the vote, announced on the evening of the 16th that 1,250,426 people had voted, but said that figure did include Sevastopol’s electorate. Including that city, he said, 1,724,563 total people voted.

The difference between these numbers (474,137) should be the number of votes cast in Sevastapool, right? Well, last year’s census put the voting-age population of Sevastapool at 385,462…very suspicious to say the least.

The next day (March 17), Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh responded to the results of the referendum by saying,

“Crimea was, is, and will be our territory.”

Ihor Tenyuhk (Photo: Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)
Ihor Tenyuhk (Photo: Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)

When asked if Ukrainian troops would fight to defend Crimea, he replied carefully, saying,

“The armed forces will execute their tasks… Ukrainian forces will stay [in Crimea] until all their tasks have been completed.”

While Tenyukh said that Ukraine would “do everything possible to prevent war”, he noted,

“the threat of war is real…We are strengthening our defense capacity. Ukraine is ready to defend its territory.”

Then earlier today (March 18), Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a treaty which effectively annexed Crimea, making it a part of Russia.

Putin speaking in front of Russian parliament earlier today (Photo: BBC)
Putin speaking in front of Russian parliament earlier today (Photo: BBC)

Putin said the moves corrected a “historical injustice”, as well as saying that Crimea has “always been a part of Russia”.

Naturally, the Ukrainian foreign ministry responded, saying,

 “We do not recognise and never will recognise the so-called independence or the so-called agreement on Crimea joining the Russian Federation.”

A few hours later, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced in an interview with Europe-1 radio that the other members of the G8 (a forum for the 8 leading industrialized countries) had decided to suspend Russia’s membership.

Fabius did, however, say,

“We are continuing dialogue with the Russians, despite the fact that we do not agree with them.”

BONUS: After the US announced (relatively inconsequential) sanctions against some Russian officials including the freezing of their American visas, Putin’s top aide said:

“The only things that interest me in the US are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.”

Props for being a Tupac fan at least!

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Ukraine Latest: Crimea Votes to Join Russia, Russia Sinks Their Own Ship

Earlier today (3/6/2014), the parliament of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea at the center of the current situation with Russia, voted to secede from Ukraine to become part of Russia.

The issue will be put to a referendum in 10 days, when the citizens of Crimea will decide whether or not to approve their parliament’s decision.

Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, immediately denounced the move as having no legal basis in Ukrainian law, saying,

“Crimea was, is and will be an integral part of Ukraine.”

Arseniy Yatsenyuk (Photo: Sergei Chuzavkov- AP)

While European Union leaders echoed this sentiment, calling the move unconstitutional, there doesn’t seem to be anything they can do about it without provoking violence, as Crimea is currently occupied by the Russian military.

On Wednesday, Russian sailors pulled an old anti-submarine vessel out of a junkyard and sank it in the strait that connects the Black Sea to the Donuzlav Lake, preventing Ukrainian ships docked nearby from being able to go to sea.

Russia’s scuttled vessel (Photo: AP)

While the European Union has presented plenty of tough rhetoric, they are hesitant to actually do anything.

Why? Well, because Russia is one of their biggest trading partners, and also provides a substantial portion of the EU’s gas and oil- putting economic sanctions on them would hurt the EU indirectly.

So despite that President Barack Obama called Russia’s intervention a “violation of international law,” and said that,

“the resolve of the United States and our allies and the international community will remain firm,”

it seems that he might actually be on his own with this one.

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New Plasma-Fueled Rocket is 165 Times Faster than Speed of Sound!

Most of us only learned about three states of matter while in school: solids, liquids and gases. But there is a fourth state as well- it’s called plasma.

You’ve probably seen a plasma globe before, but lightning, our Sun and all stars, and even the gas you see in a neon sign are all every-day examples of plasma as well.

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Plasma is basically a gas with such high energy that the molecules begin to ionize- that is the positively and negatively charged components of the gas molecules break away from one another.

Because of this ionization, an electromagnetic field can be used to focus the plasma in a specific direction.

Although using plasma for propulsion was first proposed in 1977, it is just now becoming a reality with the advent of new technologies.

Artist-rendering of the VASIMR Rocket (click to enlarge)

The VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) Plasma Rocket, which is now being tested out by NASA, uses a renewable energy source (radio waves in the form of light which are plentiful in space) to heat Argon gas until it reaches its plasma state.

The rocket then uses an electromagnetic field to focus the plasma, creating a propulsion system.

VASIMR Propulsion System (click to enlarge)

Developers estimate that the VASIMR Rocket will be able to travel at speed up to 126,000 mph (that’s 35 miles every second). The speed of sound is a sluggish 761 mph.

Because of its speed and use of renewable energy sources, the VASIMR greatly increases the limitations of our exploration, allowing us to explore parts of space that we never could before.

But what has NASA scientists most excited is the VASIMR’s application for Mars missions. Currently, the journey to Mars requires too much fuel to make a return trip feasible.

However, since the VASIMR can make this trip in just 39 days (almost 6 times faster than current methods) and employs renewable energy, it makes round-trip missions to Mars a reality.

Read the full story here.

VASIMR7
The surface of Mars