“Very different, very diverse…”

Item #1

How “very different, very diverse” can an album be that’s the work of an 18 year old pop tart? Especially when it premieres on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show…

Do the music world a favor and stick to whale songs, Panettiere.

Item #2

Biggest oil price drop in 17 years

Crude falls $6.45 a barrel – 2nd largest price drop in dollar terms – as Fed chief indicates inflation and high fuel prices will cut into U.S. demand for oil.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Oil prices plummeted by the second-largest margin on record Tuesday as investors feared a further decline in U.S. demand after hearing comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Light, sweet crude fell $6.44 to settle at $138.74 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. …

On Tuesday morning, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that high energy prices have helped to limit the purchasing power of U.S. households. High energy costs will remain a drag on the U.S. economy for the rest of the year, Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday. That could result in businesses pushing a greater percentage of their high fuel and commodity costs through to consumers, he warned.

Every week my dad’s roofing company gets another letter in the mail from yet another vendor saying that due to the rising price of petroleum they have to charge more to ship everything, and the cost of making a lot of the materials has increased as well, ex. asphalt shingles.

So if a year ago he charged you $20 for your roof– $11 of which went to materials, $2 to labor, $3 to taxes, $3 to insurance, and $1 to profit– you sure as heck had better believe he’s going to raise his prices when materials go up to $15, or else what does he not get to pay for anymore? His workers? His taxes? His insurance?

Oh wait, that’s right. He’s supposed to not make his profit any more so that we can force the country to become less oil dependent… and he can still be $3 short on the bills… or pay his laborers less… and still be short on the bills…

Immediately following Bernanke’s speech, prices dropped more than $9, sinking below $136 a barrel, before recovering some. … Gasoline prices in the U.S. maintained record highs at $4.109 a gallon Tuesday, according to a daily survey from motorist group AAA.

It was $4.11/gal at the Speedway by my folks’ place yesterday morning, then some time between 11 and 1 it jumped to $4.23. Then first thing this morning the area pumps were back down to between $4.11 and $4.19/gal. Let’s keep up that trend, folks…

Item #3

Pricey gas: Fewer cops, more potholes

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com)  — In what seems to be a perverse reaction to high gas prices, some cities are cutting back on public transit – at a time when their citizens need it most.

… The Montana Highway Patrol, after failing to find enough police recruits, is using $300,000 that had been set aside for more officers to pay the gas bill instead. Sheriff’s departments in Maryland and Florida have also reportedly cut patrol routes or officers.

“It’ll mean more speeding, more drunk drivers, and more fatal crashes,” [said Ronald Reucker, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.] Less lucky are city bus departments. …

“We’re planning on laying off some staff and cutting some routes that are poor performers,” said Jerry Masek, a spokesman for the Greater Cleveland Regions Transit Authority. “People will still have service, but not as much.”

…Cleveland has seen its bus fuel bill go from $5 million a year in 2003 to a projected $21 million in 2008. Out of a total budget of $230 million, that’s a lot of cash.

“You just can’t absorb that without doing something,” said Masek. He… said a combination of fare hikes could spare some neighborhoods. “[Riders] would rather pay more than lose service,” he said. “No matter how much we raise fares, it’s still cheaper than driving.”

And undoubtedly easier on your car, especially if the road repair crew is in a situation like New Jersey’s. It’s not the cost of driving those big dump trucks that’s straining the budget at the New Jersey Department of Transportation. It’s the price of paving.

What many people don’t know is that asphalt is made largely from oil. It’s the heavy oil at the bottom of a barrel that can’t be refined into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel or other lighter products. And it’s risen in price right along with gasoline. The price for the main component in asphalt has jumped nearly 90 percent since last year. …



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