Business & Technology

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Oil gusher forces State Dept. into awkward diplomacy with Cuba

Add this to every other sort of headache the Gulf of Mexico spill has caused: It’s now an international relations problem too. As Brendan DeMelle reports, the State Department has sent diplomatic notice about the spreading oil threat to Mexico, the Bahamas, the Marshall Islands, and even Cuba, a nation with which we do not have formal diplomatic relations: The State Department communicated with Cuba yesterday in a “good neighbor” gesture, according to Charles Luoma-Overstreet, State Department spokesperson for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Mr. Luoma-Overstreet told me that, under the terms of the Cartagena Convention, the nations have a duty to …

Electrifying car buyers

GM bets Volt will move Californians to buy American

Chevy hopes the Volt takes California by storm.Photo: Todd WoodyIf you happened by an empty parking lot near San Francisco’s waterfront baseball park Tuesday morning, you would have seen some people  putting a low-slung black sedan through its paces on a makeshift track outlined by fluorescent orange pylons. What was remarkable was not so much that the car — the Chevrolet Volt — was electric, but that it hailed from Detroit. Toyotas, Hondas, BMWs, and Mercedes rule the road in the Golden State’s coastal metropolises, where sightings of American sedans are about as rare as a California condor. Like Ford, …

Will we get fooled again?

BP: The gulf between image and reality

The devastating and escalating events in the Gulf of Mexico underscore an amazing collection of problems: reliance on polluting energy, absence of a coherent national energy plan, the problems with lax government oversight, and dozens of others. Perhaps most clearly, it shows the gulf we should have seen years ago between the image of BP and the reality of BP. This spiraling disaster might literally have never happened if BP had made a real and deep commitment to changing more than its logo. Almost 10 years ago, BP — the largest corporation in the UK — spent an extraordinary amount …

we're not gaffe-ing, we're crying

The three stupidest things said about the BP oil spill

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig went down in the Gulf last month, there have been two unstoppable gushes: one from the ocean floor and the other from the mouth of BP’s top executive, Tony Hayward. Here are three of his worst: 1. “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” — Tony Hayward, May 13, 2010 2. “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” — Hayward, May 18, …

Battle of the carbon titans

As summer approaches, so do the action-fantasy movies. Last week, the venue was not the local cineplex, but another location noted for outlandish egos, special effects, and scripts that require substantial amounts of imagination to fill in the gaps — Washington D.C. Two titans of the wars to tackle climate change and modernize the nation’s energy supply released their blockbusters to mixed reviews. First, the U.S. EPA released rules under existing law (doesn’t everyone love a good sequel?) that would mandate carbon cuts from the largest facilities — those responsible for about 70 percent of U.S. carbon emissions — after …

rice rack

Boost your support for urban agriculture with a rice-growing bra

AFPEager to show your full support for urban farming, ladies? Then try this over-the-shoulder rice-paddy holder: a bra that double-A’s a pot to grow rice, complete with irrigation system (the watering hose is a belt that holds seedlings). The concept was inspired by the recent boom of interest in boob food security. It’s not Victoria’s secret that the maker, Japanese lingerie company Triumph, has a history of busting out unique bras. Its line-up has frequently stayed abreast with environmental issues, having offered bras with a place to keep reusable chopsticks, with solar panels, and with the ability to hold the …

A Green Cure for the Blues

Home Star: Let’s move past the talk and get to the action

Now that it has passed the House of Representatives with flying colors (246 to 161), we are thisclose to making Home Star a reality. This is the plan, supported on both sides of the aisle, that would give U.S. homeowners rebates for energy-efficiency improvements that cut energy consumption. Most importantly, Home Star will put many of the country’s construction folks and blue-collar wage earners back to work, so let’s get it passed in the Senate and on President Obama’s desk already! The bill has unique bipartisan support and is backed by one of the largest coalitions to hit Washington in …

A new oil rush endangers the Gulf of Mexico and the planet

The oil spill viewed from NASA’s Terra satellite on May 17.Photo: NASA’s Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team Cross-posted from TomDispatch. Yes, the oil spewing up from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in staggering quantities could prove one of the great ecological disasters of human history. Think of it, though, as just the prelude to the Age of Tough Oil, a time of ever increasing reliance on problematic, hard-to-reach energy sources. Make no mistake: we’re entering the danger zone. And brace yourself, the fate of the planet could be at stake.  It may never be possible to pin …

Good news, for a change

Nestle to save orangutans, tropical forests, and our climate

Photo courtesy Frank Peters via FlickrFinally … some good news! Today, Nestle, the world’s biggest food and drinks company, announced that it will cease using products that drive the tropical rainforest destruction. This is great news for our environment in what has otherwise been a bleak few weeks. President Obama continues to dig in (or drill in) and stand firm behind his plans to increase offshore oil drilling despite the BP Deepwater oil disaster and continues to work to lift the ban on commercial whaling. In the midst of it all, Nestle’s recent act is a refreshing act of leadership. …

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