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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Chevron profit rises 36 percent with oil price surge

Reuters
Apr. 29, 2011
By Matt Daily and Braden Reddall

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Chevron Corp (CVX.N), the second-largest U.S. oil company, reported a larger-than-expected 36 percent rise in earnings on Friday, as oil prices surged and refining improved along with global fuel demand.

Oil company profits have been boosted by the jump in crude prices above $100 per barrel last quarter because of a growing need for energy worldwide as well as unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

Chevron’s first-quarter profit rose to $6.2 billion, or $3.09 per share, from $4.6 billion, or $2.27 per share, a year earlier. That topped analysts’ average estimate of $3.00 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.


Revenue rose 23 percent to $58 billion.

That was despite a slip in oil and gas output of nearly 1 percent to 2.76 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Still, earnings from the upstream, or exploration and production, arm rose to $5.98 billion in the quarter on strong energy prices.

Gary Luquette, head of the North American upstream division, said Chevron is moving ahead with its original plans to drill development wells at Jack/St. Malo in the Gulf of Mexico, where its production schedule generally is unchanged.

“Should permitting delays persist further into the year, the number of wells available at start-up could be impacted,” Luquette told analysts on a conference call. “But we remain committed to previously communicated first oil dates.”

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110429/bs_nm/us_chevron 

Government Adviser Quits Post to Protest Japan’s Policy on Radiation Exposure for Fukushima Schools

Science Insider
Apr. 29, 2011
By Dennis Normile

TOKYO—A prominent Japanese radiation safety specialist has resigned his governmental advisory post in protest over what he calls “inexcusable” standards for school children in Fukushima Prefecture. The Yomiuri Online news web site reported in Japanese this evening that Toshiso Kosako, a radiation safety expert at the University of Tokyo, feels the standards are too lenient and that his advice has been ignored.

On 19 April, the ministry of education announced a “provisional idea” for schoolyards contaminated by radiation emanating from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The ministry cited a recommendation by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), based in Ottawa, Canada, that sets an acceptable level of between 1 and 20 millisieverts (mSv) per year for individuals. In its Application of the Commission’s Recommendations to the Protection of People Living in Long-term Contaminated Areas After a Nuclear Accident or a Radiation Emergency , ICRP recommendation reads:

The reference level for the optimization of protection of people living in contaminated areas should be selected in the lower part of the 1-20 mSv/year band.

Full Article Here – http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/04/government-adviser-quits-post-to.html?ref=hp

Anti-corporate activists claim Facebook is purging their accounts

Raw Story
Apr. 29, 2011
By Muriel Kane

Dozens of Facebook accounts with a political orientation have been removed or suspended in the last day, according to British activists.

Many of the pages are associated with UK Uncut, which has been at the forefront of protests against both draconian cuts by the British government and tax avoidance by major corporations. The group is known for its use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking services to organize its actions.

Guy Aitchison, who blogs at openDemocracy, told the Guardian, “I woke up this morning to find that a lot of the groups we’d been using for anti-cuts activity had disappeared. The timing of it seems suspicious given a general political crackdown because of the royal wedding.”

“There appears to be a political purge of Facebook taking place,” Aitchison wrote at his own blog on Friday.
“Profiles are being deleted without warning or explanation. In the last 12 hours, Facebook has deleted over 50 sites. It may well be that these groups are technically in violation of Facebook’s terms of agreement … but the timing – on the royal wedding and May day weekend – is deeply suspicious. We don’t know for certain, but this purge of online organising groups could be linked to the wider crackdown on protest by authorities in Britain.”


The crackdown to which he referred included the arrest on Friday of a professor and a street theater group who had planned a “zombie wedding” and a mock execution to coincide with the royal nuptials.

Facebook has since responded to the activist groups with an email stating that “Facebook profiles are intended to represent individual people only. It is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and
Responsibilities to use a profile to represent a brand, business, group, or organization. If you would like to continue representing your organization on Facebook, we can convert your profile to a Page.”

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/29/anti-corporate-activists-claim-facebook-is-purging-their-accounts/

Study links soaring oil and gas profits to lobbying, political expenditures

The Colorado Independent
Apr. 29, 2011
By David O. Williams

The nonprofit Checks and Balances Project today released an analysis of the skyrocketing profits of the nation’s top five oil and gas companies in the wake of near-record gas prices and compared those profits to lobbying expenditures and political contributions in 2010.

ExxonMobil reported first quarter 2011 profits of $10.7 billion compared to $6.3 billion in 2010, a 69.8-percent increase. The nation’s largest oil and gas company spent $12.45 million on lobbying in 2010 and made $928,959 in political contributions to Republicans and $109,500 to Democrats.

Chevron, which reported Q1 profits of $6.2 billion in 2011 compared to $4.55 billion in 2010, spent more on lobbying in 2010 ($12.89 million) but less on political contributions ($473,000 to Republicans and $122,000 to Democrats).

While citing a growing number of Republicans on the record backing an end to oil and gas subsidies – including House Speaker John Boehner – Checks and Balances points out key Republican committee members continue to block such efforts, including House Natural Resources Committee subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn of Colorado.

“These profit reports show big oil is making big bucks from high gas prices at the pump,” Denver-based Checks and Balances Deputy Director Matt Garrington said in a release. “Big oil spent $63 million lobbying Congress and $2 million in campaign contributions last year so politicians would hand out $4 billion every year in taxpayer-funded subsidies.”

Full Article Here – http://coloradoindependent.com/86377/study-links-soaring-oil-and-gas-profits-to-lobbying-political-expenditures?utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter

Syrian forces kill 62, U.S. tightens sanctions

Reuters
Apr. 29, 2011
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Suleiman al-Khalidi

(Reuters) – The United States imposed new sanctions on key Syrian government figures after security forces killed more than 60 people across Syria during demonstrations demanding the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

A medical source told Reuters that soldiers in Deraa killed 19 people on Friday when they fired on thousands of protesters descending from nearby villages in a show of solidarity with the southern city where Syria’s uprising broke out six weeks ago.

Syrian human rights group Sawasiah said it had the names of a total of 62 people killed during protests in Deraa, Rustun, Latakia, Homs and the town of Qadam, near Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave a similar death toll.


Friday’s bloodshed came after demonstrators across the country again defied heavy military deployments, mass arrests and a ruthless crackdown on the biggest popular challenge to 48 years of authoritarian Baath Party rule.

President Barack Obama imposed new sanctions against Syrian figures, including a brother of Assad in charge of troops in Deraa, the first reprisal for Syria’s violent crackdown.

Full Article Here – http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/30/us-syria-idUSLDE73N02P20110430?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

Exxon Mobil earnings soar 69 percent on higher gasoline prices

Dallas News
Apr. 28, 2011
By ELIZABETH SOUDER

Exxon Mobil Corp. earned 69 percent more money in the first quarter than in the same period last year largely because of higher oil and gasoline prices.

U.S. average regular gasoline prices on Thursday hit $3.89 a gallon, a dollar higher than last year. Along with Exxon, several other Big Oil companies also saw fat profit increases because of higher oil and fuel prices.

“We’re proud of our profit,” Exxon vice president of public affairs Ken Cohen said on a call with reporters. But, he said, as usual, strong oil company profit invites political scrutiny. He spent half an hour defending the industry against possible tax increases, saying Exxon pays more to the U.S. government than it earns within its home country.


Exxon’s first-quarter earnings rose to $10.7 billion, or $2.14 a share, from $6.3 billion last year, or $1.33 a share. Revenue rose 26 percent to $114 billion.

That’s better than Wall Street analyst expectations of $2.04 a share, according to The Associated Press.

Still, Exxon Mobil shares slipped 44 cents to close at $87.34.

Exxon officials said they made more money this year because oil and fuel prices increased strongly.

Cohen said oil prices are up because demand for crude is higher as the global economy gets stronger. Also, political instability in some African and Middle Eastern countries makes oil traders nervous about future supply, and they bid up the price.

Further, the falling value of the U.S. dollar makes oil more expensive. Cohen pointed out that the dollar has weakened lately as analysts fret about U.S. debt.

He said taxing the industry more won’t cause prices to drop, and could have the opposite effect. Instead, he said, allowing oil companies to drill in more places would boost supply and possibly cause prices to decline.

“Whether we tax or don’t tax Exxon will not affect gasoline prices,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, associate director of Rice University’s energy program. She said that historically, crude oil at the current level corresponds to gasoline at the current level.

Full Article Here – http://www.dallasnews.com/business/energy/20110428-exxon-mobil-earnings-soar-69-percent-on-higher-gasoline-prices.ece

Bahrain ‘torture service’ official to attend royal wedding

Guardian
Apr. 28, 2011
By Vikram Dodd

The former head of an agency accused of torture and human rights abuses is expected to be a guest at Friday’s royal wedding, the Guardian has learned.

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Ali al-Khalifa is a former head of Bahrain‘s National Security Agency (NSA) and will attend the wedding in his role as the current Bahraini ambassador to London.

British sources confirmed he had been invited and a spokesperson for the Bahraini embassy in London said he was expected to attend.

Khalifa was head of the agency from 2005 to 2008. The pressure group Human Rights Watch alleges that in 2007 detainees in Bahrain suffered torture including electric shocks and beatings.

On Thursday an invitation to attend the wedding was withdrawn from the Syrian ambassador to London because of concerns over domestic repression and human rights abuses. Libya is also excluded.


Bahrain has in recent months been wracked by protests and its government has been accused of unleashing a violent crackdown on dissent.

The concerns led to Bahrain’s crown prince declining to attend the wedding after originally being invited. However an invitation remains open to Khalifa, who became Bahrain’s ambassador to London in 2008.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/apr/28/bahraini-linked-to-torture-royal-wedding

France ‘illegally’ detains uprising migrants

Al Jazeera
Apr. 28, 2011

Human rights groups have questioned the legality of the French police’s arrests of migrants from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

French police said they carried out the latest round of arrests on Wednesday night, detaining immigrants who were sleeping rough in parks in Paris and Marseille and drawing condemnation from rights groups.

Police said 60 more immigrants, mostly Tunisians with some Egyptians and Libyans, were arrested earlier on Tuesday in and around Paris, for “breaking residency laws”.

In Marseille, about 15 immigrants were arrested as non-governmental organisations intervened to try to house them, Bernard Eynaud of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said.

Alexandre Leclève, a spokesperson for La Cimade, a French NGO that advocates migrants’ rights, told Al Jazeera that the detention of the migrants was “completely illegal”.

Normally, migrants without residency papers are placed into detention centres, and must appear before a judge within 48 hours.

However because many of the recent North African migrants have been given Italian documents, granting them residency rights in France, Leclève said they are being handled outside the framework of the standard procedure.

“It’s a way of side stepping the law,” he said.

His organisation will be taking legal steps to challenge the measures taken by the French authorities.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Muammar Gaddafi long co-operated with European countries to prevent the flow of migrants from crossing the Mediterranian Sea, a crossing which many North African youths believe will bring them a brighter future.

Full Article Here – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/04/2011428191651858227.html

Syria: ‘Day of rage’ planned in face of crackdown

BBC News
Apr. 28, 2011

Syrian activists are calling for further popular protests in the face of a security crackdown that they say has left hundreds dead.

Among those reported to be joining the appeal to stage a “day of rage” were the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

Demonstrations expected after Friday prayers would express solidarity with the city of Deraa, a focus of unrest.

There has been growing international criticism of the Syrian regime’s response to protests.


EU officials are due to meet in Brussels on Friday to discuss sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while the UN Human Rights Council is expected to hold an urgent meeting in Geneva on Syria.

Human rights activists in Syria say at least 500 people have died in six weeks of protests against the government of President Assad’s regime.
 
‘Chant for freedom’

A notice on the Facebook page Syrian Revolution 2011 called for a “Friday of Anger”.

“To the youths of the revolution, tomorrow we will be in all the places, in all the streets,” it said.

“We will gather at the besieged towns, including with our brothers in Deraa.”

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13234557?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Belarus closes 2 independent newspapers, sends opposition leader to jail for 2 years

Associated Press
Apr. 27, 2011

MINSK, Belarus — Belarus’ authoritarian government further tightened the screws on dissent Wednesday by shutting down two independent newspapers and sending another opposition leader to prison for two years.

The Information Ministry said the daily newspapers Nasha Niva and Narodnaya Volya were closed after receiving two or more warnings in the past year over their political coverage.

Opposition leader Dmitry Bondarenko was found guilty in court of organizing an election-night rally in December to protest the results of the vote that extended the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.


“This is no more than a reprisal against political opponents,” Bondarenko told the court in his final statement.
Police violently dispersed the rally, which drew tens of thousands of protesters. Some 700 people were arrested, including seven presidential candidates.

Seven opposition figures have already been sentenced to jail terms of two to four years for their part in the protest. Ten more, including presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, are still on trial.

The two newspapers had received warnings over their coverage of the bombing of the Minsk subway and for reporting suspicions that the government was behind the April 11 blast, which killed 14 people. The suspicions were so widely circulated that Lukashenko felt compelled to deny them in a televised address.

Full Article Here – http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/opposition_leader_sentenced_to_2_years_in_jail_in_authoritarian_belarus_after_organizing_rally/2011/04/27/AF9z8bwE_story.html?wprss=rss_europe