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Saturday, October 25, 2014

‘Full credit or blame’ on gas prices

MSNBC -- It was just a couple of years ago that Republicans positioned gas prices one of the nation’s most important political issues. Mitt Romney, during his failed presidential bid, argued President Obama “gets full credit or blame for what’s happened in this economy, and what’s happened to gasoline prices under his watch.”

The argument was always a little silly. Gas prices were extremely low when Obama first took office in early 2009 because there was a global economic crisis underway, weakening demand and pushing prices at the pump much lower. Consumers were paying more in 2012 than 2009, but that was because the economy had recovered.

But if Romney was correct, and the president deserves “full credit” for the price of gas, Republicans must be awfully impressed with Obama right now.  (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Gas prices are tumbling, but that’s not necessarily a good thing

Washington Post -- The fall in oil prices to their lowest point since 2010 makes clear that a new era for world oil is at hand – one defined by the continuing surge in U.S. production. This is a big contrast with the era – now over – that began a decade ago, when the most important factor was the dramatic increase in the oil demand of rapidly growing China.

This growth in U.S. tight oil — a light crude that is trapped in dense, hard-to-reach rock — has come on fast. It only really got going around 2008, launched by advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the same technology that created the shale gas boom. The results have outstripped expectations, with U.S. crude oil output jumping 80 percent in just six years. That increase — almost 4 million barrels per day — is greater th  (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Average gas price in Ohio drops below $3 for the first time since 2010

Fox Business -- COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio's average gas price has dropped below $3 for the first time in nearly four years.

A gallon of regular gasoline in Ohio averaged $2.99 Friday, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. The last time Ohio's average gas price dropped below $3 was on Dec. 10, 2010.

AAA says it's typical for gas prices to drop during the last months of the year, but other factors have helped bring prices down. The auto group also attributes the falling gas prices to lower crude oil prices at home and abroad, an increase in U.S. refineries' crude oil supplies to make gasoline and a quiet hurricane season along the eastern coastline.

AAA expects gas prices to remain low through the end of the year.  (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Hot Wheels car gets boost from Ford

Autonet -- The Hot Wheels Rip Rod, designed and built by Mattel and Bandito Brothers, was a static showing at the 2013 SEMA show. It received a lot attention and some press, but at this year's SEMA show, it might just be one of the stars.

That's because it's coming to life with a new manufacturing partner - Ford. Specifically working with the Ford Racing team, they were able to use the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine and fit it into the Rip Rod and let the car do what it does best – let it rip  (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Honda CEO’s Pay Cut 20 Percent Following Fit Recalls -- In response to the FIFTH recall of the new Honda Fit the company’s board has cut CEO Takanobu Ito’s pay by a whopping 20 percent!
In addition to this, a dozen other executives face a 10-percent reduction in wages because of the quality issues. This is not a good time for Honda. The Fit’s call-backs are mounting and then there’s the potentially disastrous Takata airbag issue.
 (read more)

Submitted 3 hours ago By:

Friday, October 24, 2014

A World Without OPEC?

The New York Times -- Forty-one years ago this month, the Arab oil embargo began. The countries that were part of it belonged, of course, to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries — OPEC — which had banded together 13 years earlier to strengthen their ability to negotiate with international oil companies. The embargo led to widespread shortages in the United States, higher prices at the gas pump and long lines at gas stations. By the time it ended, the price of oil had risen to $12 a barrel from $3.

Perhaps more important than the price increases themselves was the new world order the embargo signaled. The embargo “set in motion geopolitical circumstances that eventually allowed [OPEC] to wrest control over global oil production and pricing from the giant international oil companies — ushering in  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Gas Prices Just Hit a Low for 2014

Money Brad Tuttle -- Around the country, drivers are paying the lowest prices of the year for gas.
Gas prices

$3 Per Gallon Gas, Here We Come

The summertime swoon for gas prices has continued into fall, and now it looks like the forecasts calling for lower and lower prices at the pump are right on track.

Earlier this week, AAA noted that the national average for a gallon of regular stood at $3.29
and that we were on the brink of matching the cheapest mark thus far in 2014 ($3.27, hit on February 9). Well, as of Wednesday, AAA data indicated the national average hit $3.267, a new low for the year.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Islamic State was making $1 million a day from oil sales before airstrikes began

The Washington Post (VIDEO) -- The Islamic State sells oil from territory it controls in Syria and Iraq to Turkish middlemen, Iraqi Kurds and even the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Obama administration’s point man on terrorist financing.

Before the United States began targeting refineries in militant-occupied areas of Syria last month, the Islamic State was making about $1 million a day from oil sales, Treasury Department Undersecretary David S. Cohen said Thursday.

Its total income of “millions of dollars per month” from oil kidnapping ransom and extortion in occupied areas and the speed with which it has amassed funds, make the Islamic State unlike any other terrorist entity the United States has confronted, Cohen said.

The group also differs from other organizations, including...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

The World's New Biggest Ship? Maybe. Niftiest Ship? For Sure

BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK -- What’s most impressive about the Pieter Schelte isn’t its size, though, it’s what the megaship can do.

The Pieter Schelte is a cross between a ship and a giant very dexterous robot. Its job is partly to lay undersea pipelines for oil and gas and partly to install and remove offshore drilling platforms. All of this means that platforms can be built onshore then delivered to their location; when they’re no longer needed they can be taken to a new location or brought back to shore for disassembly.

To that end it has eight arms on its bow that can clamp to the supporting struts of an oil platform, holding it perfectly still even in 11-foot waves, using its “active motion compensation system.” Its massive lift system can pop an oil platform off its supports as if picking a 48,000-ton flower.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Kelley Blue Book says new car purchasing is a 'bumpier road' for women

GasBuddy Blog -- When it comes to car shopping, women are driven by features – engaging in extensive research to find the best fit – while from the outset many men are revved about a particular car brand, according to a study just released by Kelley Blue Book, the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry.           One-in-five men know the exact vehicle he wants, while women are twice as likely to be undecided about what vehicle they desire, the study revealed. Additionally, 58 percent of men are confident in the car-buying arena, versus 38 percent of women. As a result, women take longer to make a purchase (a median of 75 days, compared with men’s 63 days), because they are spending more time than men doing research in an effort to build confidence and knowledge. ...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saudi Arabia raises stakes in oil war with steady production, price cut

The Washington Times -- Consumers are enjoying a break from high gas prices, which have fallen below $3 a gallon in many areas, but the drop has precipitated a cold war among oil producers that has all the intrigue, suspense and looming destruction of a Tom Clancy novel.

Premium crude prices since June have plunged by 25 percent, landing Wednesday at levels near $80 a barrel in New York. That makes it painful or uneconomic for producers in Russia, Venezuela and Iran, for the pioneering shale oil drillers in America’s heartland and for Canada’s oil sands extractors.

The key player in the unfolding drama is Saudi Arabia. Despite uncomfortably low prices even for the wealthy kingdom, Saudis last week made it clear that they will not curb oil production in an effort to stabilize the market.

 (read more)

Submitted Oct 23, 2014 By:

Safety Records Show Pipelines Best Method for Transporting Oil

The New American Magazine -- America’s energy needs are so enormous that more than 18 million barrels of crude per day course through more than 500,000 miles of pipelines, either from sites such as Bakken, or ports on the East and Gulf Coast importing oil from foreign sources. Enbridge Energy Partners, the largest importer of crude into the United States, runs more than 50,000 miles of pipeline and has moved 13 billion barrels through its system over the last 10 years. Its “incident” rate (to count as an “incident” it must involve an explosion or fire, a release of five or more gallons of crude oil, an injury requiring hospitalization, a fatality, or property damage in excess of $50,000) is a minuscule .0007 percent. Put another way, 99.9993 percent of its oil arrives at its destination without incident.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 23, 2014 By:

Mini Cooper gas mileage overstated, U.S. regulator says

CBC -- The U.S. government has told BMW to reduce the gas mileage estimates on the window stickers on four of its Mini Cooper models after an audit found the figures were overstated.

The discrepancy, which varies from one to four miles per gallon depending on model, was discovered in testing at the Environmental Protection Agency's lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

The reductions affect the 2014 Mini Cooper three-door and Mini Cooper three-door S models with manual and automatic transmissions. The biggest discrepancy was in highway mileage, but city and combined mileages also must be reduced.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 23, 2014 By:

Oil will tumble to $70 says new 'bond king'

CNN -- The meltdown in the oil market is not over yet.

Jeffrey Gundlach believes Saudi Arabia loves 'turning the screws' on rival Iran.

That's the message from Jeffrey Gundlach, the star bond investor who predicts oil will plunge another $10 (it's $80 a barrel now).

While another decline in oil prices would bring smiles to American consumers -- think around $2.70 a gallon at the pump as a national average -- it could spell trouble for the boom in shale projects boosting the U.S. economy.

"I think it's going to $70 and if it does, it's bye, bye fracking. Goodbye all of the great job creation from fracking because fracking becomes too expensive if you can buy oil at $70 a barrel," Gundlach said on Wednesday at's Inside Fixed Income Conference.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 23, 2014 By:

Will EV automakers follow Tesla's lead and offer a 'battery swap'?

GasBuddy Blog -- Tesla has announced that its first 'battery swapping' station will open in California before year's end.Somewhere between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Tesla is planning to bring its first battery swapping station online, reports, which will offer drivers of the Model S a 90-second way to “refuel” their vehicle.  Intriguing to say the least... Will those automakers producing electric vehicles be pressured to follow Tesla's lead?  ...  (read more)

Submitted Oct 23, 2014 By:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Here's why credit and debit cards with chips are safer.... -- CLEVELAND, Ohio -- These three letters might be unknown to you now, but that is likely to change soon: EMV.

EMV is shorthand for the technology that will make credit and debit cards safer in the future. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, which collaborated to adopt cards with more secure technology two decades ago.

EMV cards are also known as chip cards, because they contain computer chips that are used to authenticate each transaction.

The technology has been thrust into the news in the last 10 months, ever since Target's disastrous retail breach that exposed 40 million credit and debit card numbers to hackers.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

Warming Earth heading for hottest year on record

Yahoo - AP -- Earth is on pace to tie or even break the mark for the hottest year on record, federal meteorologists say.
That's because global heat records have kept falling in 2014, with September the latest example.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that last month the globe averaged 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit (15.72 degrees Celsius). That was the hottest September in 135 years of record keeping.
It was the fourth monthly record set this year, along with May, June and August.
NASA, which measures temperatures slightly differently, had already determined that September was record-warm.
The first nine months of 2014 have a global average temperature of 58.72 degrees (14.78 degrees Celsius), tying with 1998 for the warmest first nine months on record,
 (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

Exploding airbags: NHTSA urges car owners in warm climates to take 'immediate action'

GasBuddy Blog -- The government is urging nearly five million drivers to take “immediate action” to protect themselves against “defective” airbags – airbags that a safety expert says can explode in the vehicle and harm passengers. “This message comes with urgency,” says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as it urges owners of “certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.” The message is especially urgent for drivers in warm climates like Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NHTSA said....  (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

Ford cuts price of Focus Electric again

Detroit News -- For the second time in two years, Ford Motor Co. has cut the price of its Focus Electric car in the hopes of boosting sales.

The starting price for the vehicle has dropped $6,000 to $29,995, including shipping and delivery. The new price went into effect Oct. 13 for all remaining 2014 model-year Focus Electrics, as well as upcoming 2015 model-year cars, the Dearborn automaker said. Ford reduced its price by $4,000 last year.

“We hope by reducing the price we’re giving customers another reason to consider the Focus,” said spokesman Aaron Miller, adding it puts the electric car at a “very competitive price point.”

Focus Electric represents a small fraction of total Focus sales.

Through September, Ford sold a little more than 1,500 Focus Electrics and is on pace to have its best-selling  (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

EIA: crude oil inventories surge again, gasoline supply drops

GasBuddy Blog -- The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

Crude oil inventories increased by 7.1 million barrels to a total of 377.7 million barrels. At 377.7 million barrels, inventories are 2.1 million barrels below last year (0.6%) and are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 1.3 million barrels to 204.4 million barrels. At 204.4 million barrels, inventories are down 11.1 million barrels, or 5.2% lower than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-0.1mb); Midwest (-1.3mb); Gulf Coast (+0.9mb); Rockies (-0.3mb); and West Coast (-0.5mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling invento  (read more)

Submitted Oct 22, 2014 By:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Consumer Reports sheds light on 'secret warranties' that may cover costly repairs

GasBuddy Blog -- Consumer Reports found car owners can save a significant amount of money if their vehicle qualifies for what carmakers typically call service actions or customer service campaigns—effectively secret or hidden warranties that are rarely announced to the public.Two examples: Owners of 2006 to 2009 Honda Civics may qualify for a free engine block, or even a whole new engine, if their car has been leaking coolant from a crack in the block. Chrysler minivan owners may notice that the front wheel bearings on models from 2008 to 2010 are subject to premature wear, so dealers will replace them for free during a vehicle’s first five years or 90,000 miles.Consumer Reports found these “secret warranties” usually originate when automakers discover that some component or system in a given model is failing at a greater rate than expected. They learn about the problems from numerous sources, including complaints to their customer-service departments and reports from dealers. Other tip-offs are an unu  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

It Looked Like a Stabbing, but Takata Air Bag Was the Killer

The New York Times -- ORLANDO, Fla. — Hien Tran lay dying in intensive care this month after a car accident, as detectives searched for clues about the apparent stab wounds in her neck.

An unlikely breakthrough arrived in the mail a week after she died from her injuries. It was a letter from Honda urging her to get her red Accord fixed, because of faulty air bags that could explode.

“The air bag,” said Tina Tran, the victim’s twin sister. “They said it was the air bag.”

Ms. Tran became at least the third death associated with the mushrooming recalls of vehicles containing defective air bags made by Takata, a Japanese auto supplier. More than 14 million vehicles from 11 automakers that contain the air bags have been recalled worldwide.  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

A year later, cleanup still going for ND oil spill

AP via Yahoo Finance -- One year after a pipeline rupture flooded a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota with more than 20,000 barrels of crude, Tesoro Corp. is still working around the clock cleaning up the oil spill — one of the largest to happen onshore in U.S. history.

Cleanup costs have soared from the company's original estimate of $4 million to a forecast of more than $20 million, and it may be at least another year before work is completed, the company and state officials said. The oil-sopped parcel of land, about the size of seven football fields, is no longer usable for planting at present.

"It's a big cleanup and it's become part of our life," farmer Steve Jensen said Monday. "The ground is still saturated with oil. And they're out there seven days a week, 24 hours a day."

Jensen discovered the  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

Michigan politicians attempt to keep Tesla out of state

GasBuddy Blog -- Michigan is the latest state to join several others that are interested in derailing consumers from buying electric cars directly from Tesla, the California-based automaker that has won praise for its vehicles.

HB 5606, a bill on Governor Rick Snyder's desk awaiting a possible signature or veto contains language that would bar Tesla's direct sales method and instead require franchised dealers, possibly adding thousands to the cost of each vehicle sold.

General Motors issued a statement supporting HB 5606, a bill that saw its language adjusted sneakily to target Tesla, and was passed 38-0 in Michigan's Senate on October 2, then passed by Michigan's House 106-1 with the new language.

It has several Michigan based businesses very concerned as suppliers to Tesla, such as Inteva Products, who sent a letter to the governor opposing any legislation that prevents Tesla from direct sales, said Karen Manardo, global m  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By:

Studies: Parents set bad examples for driving teens via USA Today -- Parents often subscribe to a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. But studies show parents are unknowingly sabotaging their teen drivers by not practicing what they preach.

Since it's National Teen Driver Safety Week, here are four examples:

Texting and Driving. Parents figuratively beat teens over the head with the "never text and drive" message, yet many do it on a regular basis. A 2012 study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions found 91% of teens reported seeing their parents talk on cellphones while driving. Some 59% witnessed their parents sending a text while driving.

Talking on cellphones. Ninety percent of teens say they've talked on cellphones while driving, and 78% admitted to sending text messages while driving. Parents tell teens to ...  (read more)

Submitted Oct 21, 2014 By: