Monday, October 03, 2005

Don't Forget About Poland

Much has been made lately about the rising price of gas here in this country. But let's not forget that oil prices are rising all around the globe, which is causing stress and anxiety amongst some populations that don't have much disposable income in the first place. The WaPo has a good, rangy article surveying this landscape (where gas prices vary wildly depending on whether the government subsidizes or taxes the gas). I recommend giving a full read, but here are a few tidbits (with an illuminating graphic):

Rising fuel prices are stoking popular anger around the world, throwing politicians on the defensive and forcing governments to resort to price freezes, tax cuts and other measures to soothe voter resentment.

The latest example came this weekend in Nigeria, where President Olusegun Obasanjo promised in a nationally televised Independence Day speech that the cost of gasoline would not increase further until the end of 2006, no matter what happened in global oil markets. He acted after furious demonstrations shut down whole sections of major cities around the country over the past several weeks.

Antagonism over the strains inflicted by escalating energy costs is a phenomenon that stretches from rich nations in Western Europe, where filling up a minivan costs upward of $100, to poor countries in Asia and Africa, where rising oil prices have driven up the cost of bus rides and kerosene used for cooking.

Although prices vary widely around the globe, with many governments keeping fuel costs below market levels and others maintaining stiff taxes on petroleum products, the mood in many parts of the world can be summed up in the lamentations of Julia Seitsang, a mother of 10 who lives in Windhoek, the capital of the southern African country of Namibia.
The impact is particularly hard on people in nations like Namibia, where the average annual income is $5,000 and gas costs about $5 a gallon. They have watched helplessly as the prices of crude oil and petroleum products, which are set in global markets, have soared over the past two years, first because of the powerful demand generated in large part by China's rapidly growing economy and more recently because of the gasoline shortages generated by Hurricane Katrina. But in many wealthy countries as well, discontent among ordinary citizens is compelling politicians to respond.

In the European Union, there was a brief attempt by the 25 member governments to maintain a united front against consumer demands for tax cuts, rebates and other subsidies to offset rising fuel prices. Many of those governments depend on taxes that add as much as $5 to a gallon of gas.

But the unity cracked last month as Poland and Hungary approved fuel tax cuts and Belgium promised a rebate on home heating fuel taxes. In France, where a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline fetches up to $6.81 in Paris, thousands of farmers and truck drivers staged brief street demonstrations two weeks ago, and the government offered them a $36 million package of gas tax breaks and rebates.
Nigeria, a major oil producer, offers perhaps the most disturbing illustration of the depth of antipathy that can arise when fuel costs increase. In Nigeria, rising petroleum prices have dramatically fattened the budgets of the government and the bottom lines of oil businesses but caused a powerful backlash against President Obasanjo and, say some motorists, against democracy itself.

Since Obasanjo's election in 1999 heralded the end of military rule, he has overseen years of steady decreases in government fuel subsidies at the urging of the World Bank. Prices have increased 44 percent, up to $1.74 per gallon, in just the past two months -- a bargain to Americans, perhaps, but not to impoverished Nigerians.

Many motorists have taken to filling up tanks only partway, a few dollars at a time, as money becomes available. Mohammed Ali, 26, a government contractor, said it costs $25 to fill the tank of his black Honda coupe. On this afternoon, he put about $3.50 worth in the tank.


At 3:05 AM, Blogger gastips said...

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If you want any Gas Saving Tips feel free to visit gas prices in michigan

See ya soon.. :)

At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Essential oils, roots and herbs can be used in a variety of ways to promote healthy living and stress headache. They are used to create natural remedies for treating ailments common to both people and animals, to add flavor to food, to make perfumes and to create environmentally friendly cleaning products.

You do not have to own a garden to tap into the benefits of plants, roots and herbs. A few herb pots located by a sunny window are enough to get you started. Then, all you need are some essential oils and you are ready to go.

For therapeutic purposes, only the purest oils will do. It is possible to be fooled into thinking that you are purchasing a pure oil. Often, a lesser quality blend of several oils is used to mimic the properties of the pure oil. Blended oils are acceptable for fragrance purposes such as for perfuming a room, but pure oils are a "must" for medicinal purposes.

A reasonable guide to the purity of an essential oil is its price. Pure essential oils are generally more expensive. Common oils such as lavender and geranium are much cheaper than frankincense and carnation oil. It is advisable to become familiar with essential oil prices and then rely on this knowledge when purchasing oils from unfamiliar sources. Keep in-mind that you will generally get what you pay for. A price list from a reputable dealer is a valuable resource when purchasing essentials oils.

Usually, pure essential oils cannot be applied directly to the skin and must be mixed in a base oil to reduce their strength. Base oils such as almond oil or wheatgerm oil are commonly used for this purpose. Base oils are generally derived from seeds, nuts or vegetables and allow you to create essential oil remedies that can be massaged into the skin.

So, what do you need to get started with essential oils and natural remedies?

Without a doubt, Lavender is one of the most useful and desirable oils. Not only does it work wonders on cuts, bruises and burns, it also aids sleep and helps with relaxation.

The Tea Tree and Eucalyptus oils are useful for treating a variety of respiratory ailments. These are excellent for the treatment of colds and coughs. They can be massaged into the chest or burned in an oil burner to help clear the airways and prevent congestion. Tea Tree oil is a natural antiseptic and can be dabbed on cuts, bites and stings. It is often used to treat spots and pimples and when diluted with water, acts as a mouth gargle (keep in-mind it should never be swallowed).

Another basic antiseptic is Geranium oil. With its distinctive perfume and pain relieving properties, it is a necessary inclusion when starting out.

Peppermint oil should also be purchased as it treats digestive complaints and may be used in preparations for freshening breath.

For fragrant perfumes and establishing ambience in a room, buy some Patchouli and Ylang-ylang oils. Often combined in scented candles and air fresheners, a few drops of each in an oil burner creates a wonderfully perfumed home. Orange oil mixed with Cinnamon oil is a lovely winter alternative that evokes seasonal, holiday smells. Besides their perfume qualities, all four of these oils have other properties. Patchouli treats eczema and dandruff. Ylang-ylang is reputed to relieve stress, palpitations and high blood pressure. Orange is used in natural remedies for depression and nervous tension and Cinnamon is excellent for warts and viral infections.

The herbs, Thyme and Rosemary can be grown in pots and used when needed. To create essential oils from herbs, stew some large amounts in pure water, collect the steam and cool it. The oil will rise to the top of the drained water and can be collected with an eyedropper. Alternatively, a "flower still" can be purchased to make the job easier. Thyme and Rosemary are both antiseptics and can be used in skin care preparations. They are also delicious when used in cooking.

Lemon oil and fresh lemons will purify water and, when mixed with honey, are effective remedies for colds and flu. Lemon and white vinegar are highly efficient cleaning agents that can be used for domestic cleaning tasks without damaging the environment. Use white vinegar as a natural disinfectant or mix it with water to clean windows and wooden floors. It is also handy to keep a bottle of white vinegar in your car if you swim in the ocean. It will bring instant relief from jellyfish stings.

Citronella oil is perfect in summer to keep the insects at bay. Another natural repellent is Garlic. Fleas will not bite a dog that has been eating garlic, so a few garlic capsules in the dog food are a cheap solution to your pet's flea problem. A soft collar soaked in Citronella will also do the job.

Garlic also helps to promote a healthy immune system when the weather turns cold and viruses begin to circulate. In fact, most of the oils and herbs listed above are effective in helping to prevent many common winter illnesses.

Whether you are looking for remedies or nature friendly products to use around the house, the oils and herbs suggested above should help get you started. You will be ready to make some healthy changes in your way of life!

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