Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rally Redux – More Of A GOOD Thing!

The protest march in downtown Los Angeles went from Broadway and Olympic to City Hall. Image Credit: Bob Chamberlin / LAT - Mar. 25, 2006

Rally Redux – More Of A GOOD Thing!

The last time all of the illegal immigrants hit the streets to protest the actions our country planned to take to reform the current state of immigration chaos, the Congress finally approved 370 miles of new border fence and 500 miles of road barriers.

Further, due to the "day without immigrants" protests back in May, citizens that were once ambivalent about masses of people wanting to set up shop in our country without permission, aligned themselves with the rest of the 70% of us who wanted to protect the sovereignty of our country.

This from The Washington Post -

More Immigration Demonstrations Planned
D.C. Rally to Draw From East Coast
By Karin Brulliard - Washington Post Staff Writer - Thursday, August 31, 2006; Page A12

After four months of relative quiet, immigration reform advocates are mobilizing a new round of protests in Washington and other cities to put pressure on a returning Congress and reinvigorate a Latino movement that awakened in massive demonstrations this spring.

The events will begin tomorrow in Chicago, where demonstrators plan to set out on a four-day march to the district offices of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R) in Batavia, Ill., and will continue with one-day rallies throughout next week in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles.

In the Washington region, activists are distributing leaflets, and Spanish-language radio is buzzing about a Sept. 7 rally that organizers hope will be the biggest yet. Organizers say their goal is 1 million protesters from up and down the East Coast for a rally on the Mall and a march to the White House.

"We want to make sure that Congress and this administration get a very clear message that the immigrant community is still paying attention to what's happening in the immigration debate and that we know that it's election time," said Jaime Contreras, chairman of the National Capital Immigration Coalition, the rally's organizer.

Local organizers said they are improving on spring rallies that were hastily planned amid a spontaneous groundswell of activism. To avoid a backlash against foreign flags, they are directing all protesters to carry U.S. flags. They are starting the rally at 4 p.m. so student demonstrators, who frustrated school administrators by walking out earlier this year, can participate. And organizers have nearly tripled their budget for portable toilets.

Some believe it could be risky. The spring protests roused supporters but also stirred fierce hostility, said Steven A. Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors lower levels of immigration. That kind of intensity might make members of Congress, which is approaching midterm elections, even less likely to touch the immigration issue.

"They want to energize the community . . . to put the issue on the agenda and make it clear that look, it's not going away," Camarota said. "By doing all that, they may also hurt the prospect of the legislation passing."

But organizers say the movement has not lost steam. Immigrants, they said, are enthusiastic about the coming protests, believing the demonstrations empower them and weaken support for an enforcement-only House proposal.
Other observers are uncertain. Carlos Aragon, general manager of Radio Fiesta (1480 AM), a Woodbridge station that has been broadcasting information about the Sept. 7 rally, said the event is a hot topic among listeners -- but they now sound more cautious.

"Nothing happened in regard to immigration in Congress," Aragon said. "People are just not sure if it will help."

This week's Chicago march will be followed by protests Sept. 4 in Phoenix and Sept. 9 in Los Angeles.

Unlike previous rallies that drew people from the Washington region, the Sept. 7 event will include participants from along the East Coast. Organizers said at least 100 busloads of marchers will roll in.

To encourage local turnout, organizers are intensifying the strategies they used in the spring. They are playing radio promotional spots each hour on some Spanish-language stations. Volunteers are distributing fliers at churches, soccer fields, Metro stations and construction sites.

With the responsibility of having a demonstration for out-of-towners upon them, local leaders are striving to plan a smoother -- and savvier -- event.

On a recent night, organizer Edgar Rivera led a planning meeting at the Alexandria offices of Tenants and Workers United. He listed all that will be different about this march: After rallying, demonstrators will proceed to the White House for the first time, he said.

Organizers will dispatch Spanish-speaking volunteers to Metro stations to direct demonstrators, Rivera told those gathered. And more high-profile speakers will be included -- maybe Jesse L. Jackson and a Catholic cardinal, he said -- but fewer politicians.

"It's the community that should be out there," Rivera said.

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THAT community can show up and protest in the streets all that they want. They can claim the southwest United States is part of AZTLAN, and that they have the same rights as those of us who ARE citizens.

The rally redux will be more of a good thing for the community of United States citizens.

The community that citizens belong to will just keep the pressure up on our ELECTED OFFICALS to increase the fence (maybe we should change the fence to a wall) and the road barriers along with the increase of fines levied on businesses that hire the undocumented, illegal alien. Then, maybe, the members of THAT community might go home or work to become members of the community of United States citizens.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

When Fascist-Terrorist Hatred Doesn't Add Up

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has become a new cult figure for Islamic radicals in Lebanon and beyond. Image Credit: AFP

We all had heard claims of great victory and advancement on behalf of the leadership in southern Lebanon soon after the IDF agreed to pull its troops back to Israel. The UN felt that it had aided in saving both Lebanon and thereby, Hezbollah through the negotiated cease fire.

20/20 hindsight can be very sobering. Now, even the cult leader of Hezbollah is having thoughts of ... "Miscalculation!"

Opinion from the New York Post -

By Amir Taheri, OpEd Contributor to the New York Post - August 29, 2006

WELL, what do you know: What was presented as a "Great Strategic Divine Victory" only a week ago is now beginning to look more like a costly blunder. And the man who is making the revisionist move is the same who made the original victory claim: Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah.

Banners and flags declaring victory for Hezbollah have been put up in Beirut. Image Credit: AGENTUR FOCUS/DER SPIEGEL

In a TV interview in Beirut Sunday, Nasrallah admitted second thoughts about the wisdom of capturing the two Israeli soldiers, an incident that triggered the war: "The party leadership never expected a response on such an unprecedented scale and volume [by Israel]," he said. "Had we known that what we did would lead to this, we would certainly not have embarked upon it."

For a roundabout way of eating humble pie, this was not bad for a man whom Western media have portrayed as the latest Arab folk hero or even (as one U.S. weekly put it) a new Saladin.

Why did Nasrallah decide to change his unqualified claim of victory into an indirect admission of defeat?

Two reasons.

The first consists of facts on the ground: Hezbollah lost some 500 of its fighters, almost a quarter of its elite fighting force. Their families are now hounding Nasrallah to provide an explanation for "miscalculations" that led to their death.

Throughout southern Lebanon, once a stronghold of Hezbollah, pictures of the "martyrs" adorn many homes and shops, revealing the fact that many more Hezbollah fighters died than the 110 claimed by Nasrallah. What angers the families of the "martyrs" is that Hezbollah fighters had not been told that the sheik was starting a war to please his masters in Tehran, and that they should prepare for it.

The fighters found out there was a war only after the Israelis started raining fire on southern Lebanon. In fact, no one - apart from the sheik's Iranian contacts and a handful of Hezbollah security officials linked to Tehran and Damascus - knew that Nasrallah was provoking a war. Even the two Hezbollah ministers in the Lebanese government weren't consulted, nor the 12 Hezbollah members of the Lebanese National Assembly. The party's chief policymaking organ, the Shura (consultative assembly), hasn't held a full session since 2001.

The "new Saladin" has also lost most of his medium-range missiles without inflicting any serious damage on Israel. Almost all of Hezbollah's missile launching pads (often placed in mosques, schools and residential buildings) south of the Litani River have been dismantled.

Worse still, the Israelis captured an unknown number of Hezbollah fighters and political officers, including several local leaders in the Bekaa Valley, Khyam and Tyre.

The second reason why Nasrallah has had to backtrack on his victory claims is the failure of his propaganda machine to hoodwink the Lebanese. He is coming under growing criticism from every part of the political spectrum, including the Hezbollah itself.

Last week he hurriedly cancelled a series of victory marches planned for Beirut's Shiite suburbs after leading Shiite figures attacked the move as "unmerited and indecent." Instead, every village and every town is holding typical Shiite mourning ceremonies, known as tarhym (seeking mercy), for the dead.

Nasrallah has tried to rally his base by distributing vast sums of Iranian money through his network - by the end of last week, an estimated $12 million in crisp U.S. banknotes. But if Nasrallah had hoped to buy silence, if not acquiescence, he is being proved wrong. Some Lebanese Shiites are scandalized that they are treated by Iranian mullahs as mercenaries, and see Nasrallah's cash handouts as diyah (blood money) for their dead. And a dead man whose family receives a diyah cannot claim the status of "martyr" and enjoy its prerogatives in paradise.

Much of southern Lebanon has been rendered uninhabitable by Israeli bombings. Image Credit: AGENTUR FOCUS/DER SPIEGEL

As the scale of the destruction in the Shiite south becomes more clear, the pro-Hezbollah euphoria (much of it created by Western media and beamed back to Lebanon through satellite TV) is evaporating. Reality is beginning to reassert its rights.

And that could be good news for Lebanon as a nation. It is unlikely that Hezbollah will ever regain the position it has lost. The Lebanese from all sides of the political spectrum are united in their determination not to allow any armed group to continue acting as a state within the state.

The decent thing to do for Nasrallah would be to resign and allow his party to pick a new leader, distance itself from Iran and Syria, merge its militia into the Lebanese army and become part of the nation's political mainstream.

In last year's elections, Hezbollah ended up with 12 seats in the 128-seat National Assembly, thanks to a series of alliances with other Shiite groups as well as Christian and Druze parties. As the scale of Nasrallah's blunder becomes clearer, it is unlikely that Hezbollah would be able to forge such alliances in the future.

To be sure, Nasrallah remains a powerful man. He has hundreds of gunmen at his disposal plus a source of endless supplies of money and arms in Iran. He can still have his political opponents murdered inside and outside Lebanon either by his goons or by hit men from Damascus and Tehran. But his chances of seizing power through a coup de force or provoking a civil war are diminishing by the day.

Arab leaders never resign, even when they admit having made tragic mistakes. And Nasrallah is no exception. In reality, however, Lebanon has already moved into the post-Nasrallah era. And that is the only good news to come out of the mini-war he provoked.

Link Here>>


Austin Bay at the On Point Discussions section of the Strategy Page continues a review of this topic.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Let The Marco Era Begin!

Marco Andretti (19 years-old) notches his first win in a major open-wheel auto racing series Sunday in Sonoma (a road course). Father, Michael, and grandfather, Mario, were there for a special family affair. Image Credit: IRL

Marco was well on his way to becomming "Rookie-Of-The-Year" in the IRL after narrowly winning the Indianapolis 500 in May ... but it sure helps to win a race outright, and he did it in fine fashion. Marco Andretti sipped sparkling cider Sunday to celebrate becoming the youngest winner of a major open-wheel race ... ever!

The 19-year-old gambled twice on fuel, then benefited from a caution late in the race to hold off Dario Franchitti by 0.66 seconds and win the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway.

Marco won in front of his father, Michael, the co-owner of Andretti Green Racing, and his famous grandfather, Mario, winner of the 1969 Indy 500.

"Being able to bounce things off the two best in the business definitely helps," Marco Andretti said.

Let the Marco era begin!
(ht: AP)

Excerpts from the IRL -

Andretti: Unprecedented victory
Castroneves takes 1-point lead over Hornish heading to season finale
By Dave Lewandowski - - Sunday, August 27, 2006

SONOMA, Calif. – The Infineon Raceway staff scrambled to get a bottle of sparkling cider into Victory Circle when it appeared Marco Andretti would win the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

At 19 years, 5 months, 14 days, the IndyCar Series rookie became the youngest winner of a major worldwide open-wheel race. Hence the bubbly non-alcoholic beverage for the winner instead of the traditional champagne. Either way, it tasted sweet.

The 0.6557-of-a-second victory over Andretti Green Racing teammate Dario Franchitti was the culmination of a season of dedication and education and a lifetime of preparation for the third-generation Indy-style car racer.

Grandfather Mario Andretti, the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, and his father, Michael, an open-wheel racing champion, were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to console the youngster after he was passed on the frontstretch by Sam Hornish Jr. and finished second in the 90th Indianapolis 500 three months ago.

This day, they began celebrating when the No. 26 NYSE Dallara/Honda/Firestone appeared exiting Turn 10 on the demanding 2.26-mile circuit. It carried over with an emotional reunion in a confetti-strewn Victory Circle.

"I couldn't be happier," Mario Andretti said after hugging and being hugged by almost everyone in Victory Circle. "This is a perfect day, and he had a perfect weekend. That's what a big 'W' does for you.

"He drove well beyond his age, but he has all year.”

As it turned out, the main subplot on a beautiful day in the Sonoma Valley was the championship race. With one race remaining, Helio Castroneves (441) takes a one-point lead over Marlboro Team Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr. heading to the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 10. Reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon has 422 points, while Dixon, his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, is fourth at 420.

It's the closest 1-2 race since Castroneves and Dixon were tied through 15 of 16 races in 2003. Dixon went on to win the championship.

Andretti took the lead for good on Lap 51 when Dixon duck into the pits for tires and fuel under a caution period. A problem changing the left-front tire caused a delay, and the pole sitter lost valuable track position. Andretti had one challenge – on a restart following a brief caution for a spin by Bryan Herta’s No. 7 XM Satellite Radio car in Turn 7 on Lap 72.

But Andretti, who happily accepted the caution to conserve fuel, was able to remain in front of Franchitti, who recorded his best finish of the season.

“The guys were brilliant in the pits,” said Andretti, who clinched the Bombardier Rookie of the Year award. “They had a plan in the beginning. You know, everything worked.

“I couldn't be happier because we fulfilled all the goals that we set at the beginning of the year. Rookie of the Year at Indy, the series. We got our win. Definitely it's the best feeling all year for sure.”

Read All, Plus Reader Comments>>

Saturday, August 26, 2006

'Meating' Mel Gibson (the promotion of Rob Reiner)

Babbling, (and busted) Beards - Rob Reiner, Mel Gibson - Image Credit: Associated Press

'Meating' Mel Gibson (the promotion of Rob Reiner)

Rob Reiner just can not help himself. When a man is down you just don't kick him ... or do you?

Yesterday, Rob "First 5" Reiner, who is down because of the blistering defeat his pre-school initiative, Proposition 82, received back in June, took off after Mel Gibson who is suffering a personal defeat of his own.

This from TV's NBC 10 (Philadelphia) -

Reiner: Gibson Phone Apologies For Rant Not Enough
Filmmaker Says Gibson Needs To Understand Anti-Semitism
POSTED: 10:32 am EDT August 25, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- Mel Gibson is making phone calls to Jews in the entertainment industry to apologize for his anti-Semitic tirade -- but filmmaker Rob Reiner said he doesn't think he's going far enough.

According to -- the celebrity news Web site that broke the story of the actor-filmmaker's rant after an arrest -- Gibson is calling industry Jews who he worked with in the past to make the apologies.

But Reiner, who is Jewish, said, "It goes a lot deeper than that."

Reiner, who hasn't worked with Gibson and hasn't gotten a call, said, "It's not a matter of just apologizing for some words you said. It's to really understand why it is you are anti-Semitic and where those feelings came from."

Reiner said Gibson "is going to have to do some major soul-searching on that one."

Gibson was arrested last month in Malibu, Calif., on suspicion of driving under the influence.

According to, the arresting officer, James Mee, said that Gibson launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements, saying such things as "F-----g Jews" and that "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

According to the report, Gibson then asked Mee, who happens to be Jewish, "Are you a Jew?"

Gibson initially issued an apology that did not reference the tirade. Five days after the arrest, he released a second apology seeking forgiveness from the Jewish community.

Read the full statement

The actor-filmmaker pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge last week and was sentenced to three years probation.

He volunteered to do public service announcements on the hazards of drinking and driving, and to immediately enter rehabilitation.
Link Here>>

But "Meathead" wasn't content with this statement, he went on to be interviewed by Associated Press where he decided to take on Mel Gibson at more of a professional level.

This from the Associated Press via The Jerusalem Post -

Rob Reiner: Gibson's 'Passion' was anti-Semitic
By ASSOCIATED PRESS - Aug. 26, 2006 4:21

Mel Gibson's apology for making drunken anti-Semitic remarks is not enough to redeem him, actor-producer Rob Reiner said.

The actor also must acknowledge that "his work reflects anti-Semitism," particularly the 2004 hit movie "The Passion of the Christ," Reiner told Associated Press Radio.

"When he comes to the understanding that he has done that, and can come out and say, you know, `My views have been reflected in my work and I feel bad that I've done that,' then that will be the beginning of some reconciliation for him," Reiner said.

Some critics attacked Gibson's movie as portraying Jews as evil. Supporters said the movie was merely being faithful to Gospel accounts of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion.
Link Here>>

But we all know that, now film-director, Rob has troubles of his own. There is still that little matter of the gross misuse of public monies from the commission he use to head up before Governor Arnold woke up and removed him when things were getting a little hot in Sacramento during the lead up to the June elections.

This from the San Diego Union-Tribune -

Reiner/First 5: Still 'under review'
Posted by Chris Reed San Diego Union - August 21, 2006 05:35 PM

I got an e-mail late Friday afternoon from Sacramento assistant DA Lana Wyatt regarding the Sacramento DA's investigation -- if it's really an actual investigation, not a cursory pretense of one -- into the First 5/Rob Reiner mess and the agency's use of $23 million to help promote Reiner's latest initiative. "The matter is still under review in this office," Wyatt wrote.

I hope the book is thrown at Reiner and his accomplices. It's pretty clear there was a seamless transition -- of consultants as well as talking points -- from the taxpayer-funded part of the preschool for all "educational campaign" to the political campaign for the preschool for all initiative.

But I'm not optimistic -- even though I'm told by people who know her that Sacramento DA Jan Scully is tough as nails and not scared to take on supposed good guy Reiner. Why? As a Sacramento insider told me, people see the issue as "dead/boring" because Reiner's initiative, Prop. 82, was rejected. How many news stories have been written about the long wait for Scully to finish her investigation? As far as Nexis can determine, not a single one. This bears out the "dead/boring" thesis.

The story that so inflamed the L.A. Times and the Sacramento Bee the first three months of this year has been forgotten. I find this inexplicable. This is a scandal involving the grotesque misuse of public money for political purposes -- and now the media don't care if it just fades away?

Boo, hiss. Bring me the head of Michael Stivic.
Link Here>>

I would like to think that when, and if, Rob Reiner is taken down for his handling of public monies for political purposes , that we won't be hearing from a sober Mel Gibson "Grinding Meathead" as ol' Director Rob is grinding Mel now.

Maybe this is more about publicity than disgust ... after all, doesn't Director Rob have a movie coming out soon? Do you think it will make as much as "The Passion of the Christ"?



A connection has been found as to WHY Meathead would pop-off about ... anything ... at this particular timing (Mel Gibson just happens to be the biggest and most convenient target). Promotion and attention is the key - always "follow the money" when it concerns Rob Reiner.

It doesn't hurt the conspiracy that the film company is buying an operation that not only has Rob Reiner connected to its most valuable asset, but also has an Australian operation.

This from Animation Magazine -

Liberty Closes First Stage of IDT Buy
By: Ryan Ball - Friday, August 25, 2006

Liberty Media Corp. has officially taken control of all of the U.S. and certain international operations of IDT Corp.’s entertainment division during the initial stage of its acquisition plan. The move comes as IDT Ent. gears up for the release of its first theatrical CG feature, Everyone’s Hero, which arrives on the big screen on Sept. 15.

IDT's entertainment division will be combined with Liberty subsidiary Starz Entertainment Group and will be attributed to the Liberty Capital Group. The transition will be complete once the sale of the Canadian and Australian operations is complete, which is expected to happen in the next several weeks.
Everyone’s Hero, previously known as Yankee Irving, is the story of a young boy who teams up with a talking baseball to return Babe Ruth’s stolen bat in order to save the World Series. Featuring a voice cast led by Rob Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg and William H. Macy, the movie was being directed by actor/director Christopher Reeve at the time of his death. Animation was produced at IDT Entertainment Animation's studio and distribution will be handled through IDT’s multi-picture deal with Twentieth Century Fox.
Read All>>

"The Handle Turns"

Friday, August 25, 2006

E85 Exotic Blisters Biofuel Conceptions

The Lotus Exige 265E - the most powerful road version of the Lotus Exige ever - and it runs on environmentally friendly Bio Fuel! The 265 stands for the horsepower, while the E stands for the environmentally favourable E85 fuel. Image Credit: HSPN Global News

Not one week since General Motors sets three land speed records using E85 out at Bonneville salt flats, British automobile manufacturer, Lotus, announces the first exotic street roadster that will run on the cooler running, more powerful E85.

For General Motors part, this from Paddock Talk -

GM and Partners Set Three New Land Speed Records at Bonneville Salt Flats
Posted by: ASkyler on Aug 22, 2006 - 04:47 PM

GM Performance Division and its partners from So-Cal Speed Shop set three new land speed records with Ecotec-powered vehicles last week during the 58th Annual Speed Week event at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah, including the first-ever Bonneville record using E85 ethanol. Ecotec-powered vehicles have now set eight records during the past four years with some form of GM involvement.

“The Ecotec is one of the most adaptable and durable four-cylinder engines in the marketplace, and it continues to prove its mettle on the hallowed Salt Flats,” said GM Performance Division executive Al Oppenheiser, whose team heads up GM’s efforts at Bonneville. “We even had one impartial member of the media call the engine ‘bulletproof’ last week, which is a testament to our powertrain organization.”

The team never looked back after setting two records on Aug. 13 in the G/FCC class (G Class/Unblown Fuel Competition Coupe) with the Bonneville Student Project Chevy Cobalt SS and the G/BFALT class (G Class/Blown Fuel Altered Coupe) with the Chevy So-Cal Cobalt SS during the first record return runs of the week.

Both cars were driven by GM Performance Division engineer Mark Dickens, and each vehicle upped its initial record in subsequent race runs throughout the week.

Running only on E85 ethanol, the Student Project Cobalt SS broke the previous 19-year-old record of 152.626 mph set by Doc Jeffries in 1987 with a speed of 156.073 mph, and then upped that record twice using E85 combined with nitrous oxide to its final mark of 172.680 mph in the G/FCC class (G Class/Unblown Fuel Competition Coupe).

The car either qualified or set a record in every E85 race run of the week, and was converted to run on the renewable fuel by three female engineering student interns – 19-year-old Heather Chemistruck from Virginia Tech University, 21-year-old Lauren Zimmer from Purdue University and 21-year-old Sandra Saldivar of New Mexico State University .

“The fuel classes at Bonneville are wide open, and that allows a person to run anything from nitro-methane to methanol to gasoline and whatever else is out there,” said Dickens. “We put E85 up against some of the absolute most extreme fuels available, and to be able to initially break the record using only E85 is quite an accomplishment.”
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The Lotus Exige 265E is probably the world’s quickest road-legal E85 bio-ethanol car. Not only is the engine important to the performance but also so is the aerodynamic package, which creates 41.2 kg (90.64 lbs) of downforce - 19.3 kg (42.46 lbs) at the front and 21.9 kg (48.18 lbs) at the rear - at 160 km/h (100 mph). This downforce ratio between front (47%) and rear (53%) is balanced and remains constant at the speeds of which the Exige 265E is capable. Image Credit: HSPN Global News

So, Lotus decided to announce its biofuel developments with one of the more nimble of its badged models, the Lotus Exige.

This from HSPN Networks -

Brittish, Racing and Very Green
By HSPN Global News covering Lotus - Published on 08/23/2006

The Lotus Exige 265E – the most powerful road version of the Lotus Exige ever – and it runs on environmentally friendly Bio Fuel! Lotus Engineering, the engineering consultancy division of Group Lotus Plc has developed a bio-ethanol E85 version of the Lotus Exige.

The research vehicle is a true Lotus (it weighs just 930 kg unladen) and is called the Lotus Exige 265E. 265 indicates the approximate horsepower and is consistent with the naming strategy of other one-off and limited run Lotus variants such as the Lotus Sport Exige 240R; the E indicates the environmentally favourable bio-ethanol E85 fuel (85% ethanol alcohol and 15% petrol / gasoline) that powers this extremely high performing sportscar.

Key to this performance is a slightly modified version of the 2ZZ VVTL-i supercharged and intercooled high revving 4-cylinder engine from the standard Lotus Exige S. This now gives an estimated set of performance figures that would thrash the majority of “Super-Unleaded” performance cars: 0-60 mph in 3.88 seconds, 0-100 mph in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 158 mph! In fact, the Lotus Exige 265E is probably the world’s quickest road-legal E85 bio-ethanol car.

Key changes have been made to the fuel system, the engine calibration and the four fuel injectors mounted on the inlet manifold have been enlarged. Two additional fuel injectors have been fitted at the supercharger inlet to increase the amount of fuel being injected in to the engine under higher engine loads and to further cool the charge air prior to combustion.

The beauty of ethanol is its ability to produce more power in the engine than with conventional petrol / gasoline fuel. The Lotus Exige 265E now produces 264 hp (197 kW, 268 PS) at 8000 rpm, and 184 lbft (249 Nm) of torque (at 5500 rpm), up by 46 hp (34 kW, 47 PS) or 21% and 25 lbft (34 Nm) or 16% over the standard petrol / gasoline Exige S. With the total weight of approximately 930 kg (unladen), the power to weight is approximately 283 hp / tonne (211 kW / tonne, 287 PS / tonne).

Ethanol has less stored energy per unit volume than gasoline so the fuel economy is less, however as E85 ethanol is 85% sourced from renewable bio matter, there is a net reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2).

Geraint Castleton-White, Head of Powertrain for Lotus Engineering explains the rationale behind the Lotus Exige 265E technical demonstrator: “We wanted to prove the point that green sportscars can also be very high performing sportscars. The fact that we have produced a research version of the Exige that is more powerful than the standard road car is a testament to the benefits of going green. We are also pleased that this vehicle demonstrates our engineering capabilities, our understanding of flex fuel vehicles and our knowledge of emerging fuel technologies. It also promotes bio-ethanol as a fuel of choice for the enthusiastic driver as well as the environmentally conscious driver.

Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive of Group Lotus explains the Lotus ‘Green Strategy’:

”Lotus Engineering is actively pursuing technologies that will improve the efficiency and environmentally friendliness of engines in the future. Carbon dioxide reduction is a priority, as is anything that can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We are one of the world leaders in powertrain engineering especially in the internal combustion sector and we are researching into all areas of alternative and conventional fuels to get greater efficiencies, power, performance and reduce net emissions and Bio Ethanol research is one area where we are expert. The problems that are facing the automotive industry at the moment are challenging, and these solutions fit with the Lotus culture and expertise.”

Mike Kimberley continues: “We have decided to develop a thorough understanding of the techniques and technologies of what alternative fuels can achieve, to produce vehicles that are both fun to drive and environmentally friendly. We are also working, globally, on hybrid and electric vehicles together with governments and universities and as an engineering organisation we have a duty and a desire to promote these ideas to a worldwide customer base.”

The Lotus Exige 265E is purely a research vehicle for Lotus Engineering and Lotus does not intend to put the car into production or sell aftermarket kits for Lotus Cars.

The Lotus Exige 265E in more detail:

The Lotus philosophy is all about performance through light weight. The Exige 265E is built to the lightest specification possible without resorting to expensive and rare materials normally found in the rarefied environment of Formula One or Aerospace Industries where weight reduction is often considered more important than cost. The performance improvements of using bio ethanol have been made through increasing the power of the engine without increasing the weight of the engine and therefore the overall weight of the car.

The Engine

The heart of the Exige 265E is a Roots-type supercharger (with a sealed-for-life internal mechanism meaning that it does not require the use of the engine’s oil) and air to air intercooler attached to the tried and tested 4-cylinder, 1.8 litre 2ZZ-GE VVTL-i engine. Using a development of the supercharger and intercooler package from the Exige S, the Exige 265E has peak power of 264 hp (197 kW, 268 PS) at 8000 rpm, 184 lbft (249 Nm) of torque (at 5500 rpm) up by 46 hp (34 kW, 47 PS) or 21% and 25 lbft (34 Nm) or 16% over the standard gasoline Exige S. Maximum engine speed is 8000 rpm (8500 rpm transient for up to 2 seconds).

Ethanol produces more power in the engine than with conventional petrol / gasoline fuel. This is due, in part, to the additional oxygen atom attached to the ethanol alcohol molecule so helping the combustion process in the cylinder to burn more effectively, efficiently and with more power.

The roof scoop ensures that the air-to-air intercooler works as efficiently and effectively as possible in all climates and environments. All charge air ducting has been kept as short as possible with large diameter pipes making sure that the bends in these ducts are not too tight, to the benefit of throttle response and efficiency. The Roots-type Eaton M62 supercharger is run from the crankshaft, and has an integral bypass valve for part load operation.

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First Flight Of The New Champ Car A Success

Close-up of Roberto Moreno in the cockpit of the new Panoz DP01. Photo Credit: Dan R. Boyd, USA LAT Photographic

Roberto Moreno is a pretty lucky driver.

Once dubbed the "Super Sub" a couple of seasons back (when he was regularly substituted in CCWS team cars because of drivers needing relief due to injuries, contract problems, and etc.), Roberto is now the official Champ Car World Series test driver on the new Panoz DP01 car slated to be the chassis all the teams will be using starting next season.

Roberto Moreno pilots the DP01 in the first running test of the chassis. Photo Credit: Dan R. Boyd, USA LAT Photographic

This report from the CCWS website -

CCWS - Friday, August 25, 2006

SEBRING, Fla. (August 25, 2006) - The week is just beginning for this year's Champ Cars in Montreal with first-round qualifying taking place at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Friday, but 1,500 miles to the south, the week for next year's brand-new American-built Champ Car has just come to a close.

The new Panoz DP01 Champ Car wrapped up its first week of on-track testing today, completing a program that covered more than 600 miles in searing conditions at Sebring International Raceway. The test team, which included engineers from Champ Car, Cosworth, Pi Research and Elan Motorsports along with Hewland and Performance Friction Brakes, oversaw a rigorous program that had the new car on-track from Monday to Friday under 90-degree temperatures each day.

The car spent the week in the capable hands of two-time Champ Car racewinner Roberto Moreno, who piloted the new machine through every lap of the week despite not having been in a Champ Car since 2003.

"It was nice to be back in a Champ Car and nice to have that kind of power at your fingertips again," Moreno grinned. "I couldn't be happier with this car. The new aero package is really nice and I think it will be great for the guys once the teams get ahold of it. We are really sticking well in the mid-speed corners and the car is really balanced well aerodynamically and we haven't even thrown anything at it from a standpoint of trying to gain mechanical grip. I think that the team has done a great job with this car."

The tough Central Florida weather meant that the testing program had to be ramped up slowly as engineers took care not to overheat the car and its components. But the DP01 passed every test with flying colors and the aero tools worked as expected in cooling all of the vital systems on the new car.

"It was a tough week to test but we got a lot of work done and are very pleased with what we accomplished," said Champ Car Technical Director Scot Elkins. "We turned lap times that were competitive for the conditions and we are pleased with the amount of setup progress we have made. We are right on target with our development of the DP01 and are looking forward to the next phase of the program."

The DP01 will now travel to Champ Car Headquarters in Indianapolis where it will go through its first technical inspection before heading back to Sebring for a second round of testing September 5-7.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Language As A Key To Success & Acceptance

Solia Acencio, 23, left, and Saira Tenas, 22, right, both from Guatemala, make a fruit salad at Cuna del Sol restaurant yesterday. Image Credit: Allison Shelley - THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Imangine that!

A restaurant owner decides to have his employees enroll in English language and speaking classes, and the event is noted in a major Washington D.C. area publication.

Shouldn't this calculation and behavior be the norm? It was only back in May when we had people marching in the streets claiming that America was actually part of Aztlan, which was really part of Mexico, and should be returned, at least culturally, back to Mexico.

During the marches throughout the country, one read that many marchers gave as a reason to being in the streets - "We are marching to insist that we (non-citizens) have rights!"

I guess speaking English, and making money in America, is a little more important.

This from The Washington Times -

A few phrases in English put diners at ease
By Ayla Kremen - THE WASHINGTON TIMES - August 19, 2006

With a hint of nervousness showing on her face, Grace Gonzales, 27, approached the table.

"Can I get you something to drink?" she asked, scanning the table for looks of approval from her classmates, the other employees at Cuna del Sol, a Guatemalan restaurant in Manassas.

Jose Tenas, the owner of the restaurant, has enrolled seven members of his staff in English classes for the past week to help them better serve English-speaking customers.

"Learning English is very important because I like to give good service to my customers," he said. "I have a lot of American customers right now, and we need to learn how to serve them."

The class was designed by Stephanie Williams, the director of the Spanish and English Regional Language Academy and Training Center, to introduce restaurant employees to common English phrases to help them do everything from greeting customers to taking their checks.

"We have been focusing on the minimum language that the waitresses need to start interacting with their English-speaking customers," Miss Williams said yesterday. "The idea was to break down the [language] barrier and to make the customer feel comfortable."

Miss Williams said she was a waitress in college, so she also understands the everyday challenges faced by her students at Cuna del Sol.

She said her arrival to Prince William County about 16 years ago, when Hispanics also started coming, gives her insight into the challenges the influx of immigrants pose to this once-rural community. The Hispanic population in the county has more than doubled since 2000, according a recent census report.

Miss Williams' work helping Hispanics in the region includes jobs as a court interpreter and liaison during the notorious Lorena Bobbitt trial, she said.

In the class, the waitresses often participated in role-playing exercises, which Miss Williams included to make them feel more relaxed.

"They've gained confidence, and it's really their first time using English in some cases," she said. "One or two of them were kind of embarrassed and looked around and laughed, but I really think they're doing quite well."

After completing the course yesterday, the women agreed that they now feel more comfortable speaking English.

Yasmin Tenas, 21, said before the classes some of the waitresses who knew little English would hide in the back of the restaurant because they were too afraid to talk to customers.

"Now they have more confidence and have lost their shyness because they now know how to greet and work with" English speakers, she said.

Miss Williams said many people are unaware that Hispanic immigrants frequently come to the United States with little more than a sixth-grade education, which gives them limited language skills, even in their native Spanish.

"After taking this course, I've had more success as a waitress, and I feel encouraged to continue to learn [more] English," wrote a waitress in her course evaluation.

Miss Gonzales said she and some of the other waitresses will continue to take classes.

"Learning English will give us more opportunities," she said. "We can now go further and have another career if we want to."

Link Here>> (free subscription)

So, learning English gives more opportunities and people can go further to reaching ones dreams here in America ... unlike NOT being able to dream and achieve those dreams south of the border due to the lack of cultural and economic opportunity.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hollywood Takes A Stand - It's Not What You Think

Nicole Kidman in a rare black and white portrait. Image Credit: cinema-stars

Nicole Kidman took out a full-page ad in Los Angeles Times yesterday (it also ran in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter). The content of which is the type of statement we havn't seen in the entertainkment industry since WWII. The statement reads as follows:
“We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.
We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs.”

Image of full-page ad endorsement roster. Image Credit: Nu Image

83 Members of the Hollywood community of artists joined Nicole Kidman in support of this statement and all are to be commended in their courage in the endorsement of the obvious. Islamo-Fascist terror must be met with a very strong and un-mistakable response.

Monday, August 14, 2006

GM, E85, & Bonneville: Records Drop As The Corn Pops

The GM sponsored ECOTEC Cobalt, filled with E85, getting ready for a run on the salt. Image Credit: Land Racing

With the cooler burning, higher octane E85 fuel filling the tanks of the cars GM brought along to Bonneville, the bet on the fiber fuel pays off.

On the first day of time trials, GM proves the strength of their FlexFuel effort as their teams post two new records.

Unfortunately, not all went GM's way on the day as the SOCAL GM HHR pickup had a tumble at the 5 mile mark as it was going approx 240 mph. Reports on the flat stated that the driver is OK and was out of the vehicle on his own.

The ECOTEC Cobalt staged for a record run. The GM sponsored car ran 220 mph in a warm-up run yesterday on its own 212 mph record. Today, the Cobalt went thru the 2 mile mark at 216 and should have the record in the G/BFALT class. Image Credit: Land Racing

This from Paddock Talk -

GM Sets Two Land Speed Records at Bonneville Salt Flats on First Day of Record Runs
By ASkyler on Aug 14, 2006 - 02:47 PM - Paddock Talk

Two Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt SS race cars set land speed records yesterday at the Bonneville Salt Flats on the first possible day for record runs during the 58th Annual Speed Week event.

The Bonneville Student Project Chevrolet Cobalt SS, based off a naturally-aspirated Cobalt SS and converted to run on E85 ethanol for 2006, set a 156.073 mph record in the G/FCC class (G Class/Unblown Fuel Competition Coupe), while the Chevy So-Cal Cobalt SS set a 218.392 mph record in the G/BFALT class (G Class/Blown Fuel Altered Coupe).

Both cars were driven by GM Performance Division engineer Mark Dickens, who in the span of 35 minutes on Sunday joined the exclusive Bonneville "200 MPH Club" with his record in the Chevy So-Cal Cobalt and also became the first-ever driver to set a record using E85 ethanol.

"When Speed Week was cancelled last year because of rain after only two days, it was tough on the whole team," said Dickens, referring to the torrential rains that forced cancellation of the 2005 event. "From our perspective, the first two days this year have already atoned for last year, and we still have five days left."

Three female student interns - 19-year-old Heather Chemistruck from Virginia Tech University, 21-year-old Lauren Zimmer from Purdue University and 21-year-old Sandra Saldivar of New Mexico State University - were among the many excited Bonneville team members as they helped convert the Student Project Cobalt to run on E85 for 2006 and are also part of the car's pit crew.

"Setting a record at a place with as much history as Bonneville is the opportunity of a lifetime," said Chemistruck, the lone returning member of the inaugural four-woman Bonneville Student Project Cobalt team from 2005. "I'm so glad GM Performance Division gave me another chance to help make history."

Both Cobalts qualified on Saturday afternoon during the opening day of racing - the Student Cobalt with a speed of 156.695 mph and the Chevy So-Cal Cobalt with a speed of 220.517 mph.

Once a car makes a qualifying run that beats the previous record holder's time, the car is immediately impounded until the next morning when it can return to the course for a record run. The combined average between the qualifying and record return runs are what establish a new record.

The Student Cobalt broke a 19-year-old 152.626 mph record set in 1987 by Doc Jeffries, while the other Cobalt bested the previous GM Performance Division record of 212.684 held by GM engineer and fellow "200 MPH Club" member Jim Minneker in a Saturn ION Red Line.

According to the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), the group who sanctions Speed Week, the Student Cobalt is the first vehicle to set a record at Bonneville running on E85 ethanol.

The Student Cobalt is also equipped with a nitrous oxide system for 2006, but the crew was determined to set a record using only E85 first to help showcase the inherent performance benefits of the fuel.

"The fuel classes at Bonneville are wide open, and that allows a person to run anything from nitro-methane to methanol to gasoline and whatever else is out there," said Dickens. "We're putting E85 up against some of the absolute most extreme fuels available, and to be able to break a record using only E85 is quite an accomplishment."

To take advantage of E85's performance attributes, the students converted the Cobalt to run on the renewable fuel by changing the fuel cell liner, fuel filter, and engine calibration.

"E85 has a higher octane rating than gasoline and burns cooler, which allows for increased power," said GM Performance Division executive Al Oppenheiser, whose team heads up GM's efforts at Bonneville.

When asked what they were going to do with the car after the SCTA confirmed the Student Cobalt's record, Zimmer replied with, "We're going back to the pits to make it go faster."

The Chevy So-Cal Cobalt SS was long overdue for a record considering it stunned the crowd in 2004 with an unofficial 243.127 mph pass, earning it the nickname "243 Cobalt." However, because production had not begun on the Cobalt, it was ineligible to qualify for a record attempt. Last year, it was not able to set a record before the rain cancelled the event.

To end the record-setting Sunday, the Student Cobalt again qualified to make a record return run today in the same G/FCC class with a speed of 159.407 mph. Ironically, the Cobalt's nitrous oxide system they had planned on using for yesterday's qualifying run had a minor glitch, and the car still ran a better speed on only E85 than its earlier record.

Around 7 a.m. or so Mountain Time, Dickens will attempt to break the record the Student Cobalt set on Sunday, and the team has ensured the nitrous will be firing on all cylinders.

"We've already broken the record using E85 alone, now it's time to have a little fun by applying a conventional performance enhancer to see how high we can boost our record," said Chris Twarog, GM Performance Division engineer and Student Cobalt crew chief.
Link Here>>

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Allmendinger Makes It A Hat Trick +1 In Denver

Paul Tracy hitches a ride with AJ Allmendinger following his crash with Sebastien Bourdais that eliminated both of them from a podium finish. Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott, USA LAT Photographic

After wins this season at Portland, Cleveland, and Toronto, AJ Allmendinger takes the win in Denver with very good driving and tactics. The same can not be said for his teammate Paul Tracy.

On the last lap of the race, Sebastien Bourdais with "push-to-pass" left to use, passed Paul Tracy for an apparent second place and points ... Tracy did not let go and crashed into Bourdais knocking out both cars.

AJ, however, gets a big jump in points toward the championship - from 45 points behind to just 32 points with four races left in the season.

Excerpts from Champ Car World Series -

by Eric Mauk - CCWS

Years from now, Champ Car World Series fans are going to look at the box score of today’s Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone, see A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) winning by a cavernous 20.588 seconds, and figure that the race was a ho-hum affair.

They couldn’t be further from the truth.

Today’s 97-lap battle on the Denver streets featured more plot twists than a M. Night Shamalyan film, with a climax that was as unexpected as anything Hollywood’s finest film makers could come up with. But while last-lap fireworks wreaked havoc throughout the finishing order, nothing could touch the man at the front as Allmendinger hung a 20-second margin of victory on the field to take his fourth win of the year. The Californian led a race-high 45 laps on his way to the win and vaulted into second place in the championship with four races remaining on the 2006 schedule.

Allmendinger beat Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to the line to score the win, with Junqueira and CTE Racing – HVM rookie Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing – HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) taking the second and third spots on the podium respectively. Junqueira and Clarke appeared content to settle for top-five finishes but were promoted to the podium when Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) crashed in the final turn of the final lap as Bourdais tried to pass Tracy for second place. The incident dropped Tracy to sixth and Bourdais to seventh, allowing Allmendinger to slice 12 key points off of Bourdais’ series lead, which stands at 32 of 10 events.

The day started much as it ended, with Tracy and San Jose foe Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) tangling in Turn One. Tagliani, starting fifth, came up the inside of Turn One and clipped Tracy’s rear wheel, ending Tagliani’s day with suspension failure and dropping Tracy from fourth to 15th. Bourdais held the lead over Allmendinger and Wilson but all eyes were on the rampaging Tracy, who needed just 10 green-flag laps to climb from 15th to sixth.

Bourdais led the first 20 laps of the day before handing the reins to Junqueira, who was the only driver in the field to run a full stint on his first set of tires. Junqueira paced the next 11 laps before handing things back to Bourdais on Lap 32. But after building a four-second lead on the first stint, the second showed that the winds of change were blowing. Allmendinger used three quick laps to erase Bourdais’ lead, closing on his rear wing just before the second and last caution flag flew for a much-needed track cleaning.

Allmendinger chased Bourdais around the 1.657-mile Denver street course for the next nine laps after the restart, closing in and making the pass on the inside of Turn One on Lap 48. Meanwhile, Tracy completed his charge from the back of the field, setting his sights on Bourdais after slipping by Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) for third. Tracy tried to get Bourdais for second and ran a bit wide, not only failing to complete the pass but also allowing Wilson to re-take the third spot. Allmendinger took full advantage of the wars being waged behind him to build a nine-second lead, setting the stage for the final third of the race.

Suffering a fuel pickup problem, Tracy fought gamely to hold on to the second spot while Bourdais closed on the Canadian. Tracy held him off until the final lap, when Bourdais tried to go on the outside of Tracy in the final two turns. Tracy slid to the right in the middle of Turn Eight and clipped the Frenchman, sending both drivers into a spin and out of the race.

Junqueira and Clarke raced through the carnage to take the podium spots – the first and Clarke’s young career - while Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year points leader Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing – HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top five.

Read All & Driver Quotes>>

The National Guard Deployment - S2 Mile Marker Mystery Tour, follow-on #3

National Guard and U.S. Border Patrol have their effective, yet seperate tasks. Image Credit: The Washington Times

With the vote of congress to fund 370 miles of fence and 500 miles of road barriers notwithstanding, the deployment of the National Guard becomes a "counter-chip" on the table to the "underground railroad" efforts that are in play around our southern border.

The calculation and mission of the deployment, however, is not really instructed to help dismantle the underground railroad efforts of groups aligned to help with the successful crossings of the people they are trying to detect.

Humane Borders, motivated by faith, offers humanitarian assistance to those in need through more than 70 emergency water stations on and near the U.S.-Mexican border. Image Credit: Humane Borders

These group efforts include the Government of Mexico supported - Grupo Beta (described here at MAXINE, as Mexican-Spanish for 'plan-b', in that 'plan-a', a working economy and culture in Mexico, doesn't seem to be panning out), Border Angels (a U.S. based 'open-borders' socialist organization - see website), Humane Borders (a faith-based illegal alien 'humane' aid organization), and aid stations placed on land managed by and with the permission of the U.S. National Park Service; the Bureau of Land Management; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.; and various State Government agencies of States along the southern border (including, I suspect, the aid stations along 15 miles of San Diego County Road S2).

"Migrants don't know who we are, they are afraid of us," Enrique Morones (Founder - Border Angels) said. For that reason he makes regular visits to Casa Migrante in Tijuana, a shelter for men who have attempted to cross the border and were caught and those waiting to cross. He tells the men about the water stations and he asks if they have seen them. "They say yes but they think it's a trap and won't go near," Morones said. In an effort to reassure those crossing, a small wooden cross is secured to each rescue station. "The reason for the cross is because most migrants are Catholic and they may feel safe using and drinking the water," Morones said. Caption Credit: Vida en al Valle - Image Credit: La Prensa-SanDiego

Excerpts from The Washington Times -

Standing guard
By Jerry Seper - THE WASHINGTON TIMES - August 13, 2006 - NOGALES, Ariz.

Sgt. Steven W. Jacobs of the Virginia National Guard, one of thousands of guardsmen from 30 states deployed along the southwest border with Mexico, says he arrived here with "no idea" of how vulnerable America is.

"I believe 95 percent of the people in this country have no clue of what it's like down here," says Sgt. Jacobs, a bear of a man with a vise-grip handshake. "I know I had no idea how many people come over this border every day and the weird things they do to get across.

"They'll do anything to get into the United States, often coming over with just the clothes on their back," he says. "And it's not just here; this happens all along the border. I was very surprised at what I saw when we first arrived, but I am here to protect my country, and I will stay as long as they need me."

Sgt. Jacobs, who lives in Fort A.P. Hill, Va., is among 350 Virginia National Guard soldiers and airmen deployed along the border as part of "Operation Jump Start." President Bush's $760 million plan calls for National Guard troops to be sent over the next two years to the U.S.-Mexico border from California to Texas. The goal: allowing the U.S. Border Patrol to move more agents into frontline positions.

Sgt. Jacobs and Spc. Jessica Jessee, also of Fort A.P. Hill, are assigned to an entry-identification team responsible for a popular corridor for illegal immigration along the border just west of here.

Members of the team work 24 hours on and 24 hours off to fight this invasion of illegal aliens while facing temperatures that rise above 100 degrees, fearsome thunderstorms that send rivers of water down nearby gullies and swarms of always-present flies.

Using binoculars, night-vision equipment and global positioning systems, the team seeks to spot anyone trying to enter the country illegally and to report their position to the Border Patrol. About a third of the National Guard force is assigned to entry-identification teams.

"It's a long, hard shift, but we have been very successful," Spc. Jessee says. "We do the best we can to keep tabs on what is going on in our area, and the Border Patrol has responded quickly to our calls."

On the hilltops just south of the border, Mexican spotters train equally sophisticated equipment on the Guard, directing smugglers of aliens and drugs to safer areas.

"They've got their own spotters watching us, trying to catch us when we're not looking," Sgt. Jacobs says.

'Significant dent'

Alien smugglers, he says, sometimes send people along the border to see how the Guard troops react and how quickly the Border Patrol responds. But he says his team has put a "significant dent" in the number of aliens crossing into his sector, with the daily count dropping from 150 to fewer than 20.

Watches all along the border have reported similar declines since the National Guard's arrival, says Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar, who notes that last week apprehensions were down by 45 percent since the start of Operation Jump Start.
Operation Jump Start was designed to free up Border Patrol agents for expanded enforcement duties along the 1,951-mile southwest border.

National Guard troops are building roads and fences, adding cameras and sensors, conducting aerial reconnaissance and providing medical aid and communications support. Guard troops also perform administrative duties, gather intelligence from border cameras for agents to act on, assist at highway checkpoints, serve on entry-identification teams and work as mechanics at Border Patrol stations, repairing well-worn trucks and cars.

The operation is expected to give the Border Patrol time to recruit and train 6,000 new agents to bring its field strength to 17,000.

"Probably the biggest thing we bring in terms of numbers and capability to the game are the additional eyes and ears of the initial-entry teams," Gen. Blum says. Border Patrol agents, he says, gain "greater situational awareness of what is going on in places where they could not go, or could not see, or could not hear what was happening before."
Trooping to border

In May, Mr. Bush sent Congress a request for $1.94 billion in emergency funding for border security. Besides money to pay for 6,000 new Border Patrol agents over the next two years, the president sought $770 million for the temporary deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops.

Thirty of the 54 states and territories with National Guard units have sent troops to the border, where they are quartered in motels and hotels. Maryland sent 120 National Guard troops to Arizona for 60 days earlier this month.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Ralph Basham, who oversees the Border Patrol, says the National Guard met the president's commitment of 6,000 troops by currently deploying 6,199 soldiers and airmen on the border. The troops are "forward deployed," he says, meaning they directly support the Border Patrol through surveillance, intelligence gathering, entry identification, engineering and other duties.

"The deployment of the National Guard has made a powerful impact on the security of our southern border," Mr. Basham says. "Fewer people are crossing our border, and this decline far exceeds any changes in border crossing due to seasonal migration patterns.

Although the troops are not involved directly in law enforcement, Mr. Basham says their presence led to the apprehension of 2,296 illegal aliens and the seizure of 64 vehicles, 14,496 pounds of marijuana and 220 pound of cocaine. The agency is "on track" to meet Mr. Bush's objective of doubling the number of Border Patrol agents by the end of 2008, he says.

The National Guard's priority target is Arizona, though troops are deployed along the border from California to Texas. The Arizona-Mexico border is the nation's most heavily traveled corridor for illegal immigration, accounting last year for about half of the 1.15 million illegal aliens detained nationwide. It also is a major drug-smuggling route into the United States.

'Eye-opening' service

All of the 6,199 Guard troops stationed in the border states volunteered for the mission. Among them is Spc. Travis Arnold of the Wisconsin National Guard, who also served a year in Iraq. He says he plans to help secure the border for two years.

"This certainly has been an eye-opening experience," Spc. Arnold says. "Immigration is not a huge issue in Wisconsin. It was the sheer number of people coming over that border that surprised me the most. I had no idea how many people jump that fence every day."

'Glad to be here'

Maj. Fay Ludens, a National Guard spokeswoman, says the troops "are glad to be here."

"Nobody is here who didn't want to be here," says Maj. Ludens, a member of the South Dakota National Guard who retires this month after 23 years. "I think we have all learned a lot about the Border Patrol and how the Border Patrol and the National Guard can work together.

"This call-out was a way for us to do something in the United States, helping our own."

Border Patrol spokesman Sean King says the Guard's presence in Nogales alone enabled that field office to free up 40 agents for enforcement duties along the border, a 10 percent staffing increase per shift. The increased manpower, he says, allows the office to put agents in areas "not now patrolled."
Gen. Blum, the Guard's bureau chief, describes Operation Jump Start as a law-enforcement operation rather than a military one. He says the Guard's role is to provide military support to civilian law enforcement, as directed by the president and the secretary of defense.

"We are not doing Border Patrol law-enforcement work," Gen. Blum says during a press conference in Washington. "We're doing everything else that other badge-carrying Border Patrol people used to have to do. We are replacing them so that they can get badges back to the border."

Read All>> (free subscription)

All efforts to secure our borders and have others respect our national sovereignty are appreciated, no doubt.

It would make a little more sense, however, to try and dismantle some of the infrastructure that has been put in place (supported by the efforts of Governmental and individual groups listed above) over the last decade to allow successful illegal immigration to take place.

At the very least, the efforts of our Government to support successful illegal immigration should stop if we are willing to put up fences and deploy our military in an effort to stop illegal immigration and secure our borders.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bourdais matches Allmendinger Point By Point

Sebastien Bourdais receives the Bridgestone Pole Award from Al Speyer - Photo Credit: Lesley Ann Miller, USA LAT Photographic - Copyright © 2006 Champ Car World Series, LLC.

It wasn't as if AJ didn't try to grab the pole. In the morning practice session, he scrubbed a wall and had to have repairs made to his car.

In qualifying, Tracy was the first one to post a competitive time. After that, Bourdais grabbed the pole then came along Allmendinger, but that time wasn't to remain.

Excerpts from CCWS -

by Eric Mauk - CCWS

DENVER(August 12, 2006) - The Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone has been the private playground of Newman/Haas Racing over the last four years as the Illinois-based team has won in each of its last three starts in Denver, winning two of those races from the Bridgestone Pole Position.

Things were no different on a cloudy Saturday in the Mile High City as NHR star Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) used a dominant performance to earn his sixth Bridgestone Pole Position by setting a new track record around Denver's 1.657-mile street circuit. Bourdais needed just three laps to assume the pole, seemingly put it out of reach on his sixth pass, then cemented himself in the top spot with a new circuit standard of 59.096 seconds (100.941 mph) on his 15th and final lap of the day.

The pole was the sixth of the year for the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford points leader and the 24th of his four-year series career. It is his second Denver pole and the third in four years for the Newman/Haas squad, the other coming courtesy of Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in 2003. The pole win also gave Bourdais another championship point, widening his series lead to 32 over second-placed Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

Bourdais will be joined in the front row by first-round qualifying leader A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who was one of the few drivers to use the standard Bridgestone Potenzas in posting his top qualifying time., Allmendinger put up his best time on the regular Bridgestone tires, stopping the clocks at 59.350 seconds (100.509 mph) on his sixth trip around the Denver course. His Forsythe Championship Racing squad bolted on his last set of red-walled Potenzas for a second stint, but the Californian settled for second after being unable to run down the streaking Bourdais.

Wilson ended up third on the day, vaulting into the top three on his second set of tires, getting around the nine-turn layout in 59.878 seconds (99.623 mph). He took the third spot ahead of 2005 polesitter Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who were the only other drivers in the field to break the one-minute mark in final qualifying.

Tracy rebounded from an incident in first-round qualifying to snare the fourth position on the grid, carding a time of 59.903 seconds (99.581 mph). The Canadian star was one of the first drivers on track when the emerald banner waved over Saturday's final round of qualifying and held the pole briefly after posting his best time on his sixth orbit of the Denver track. But despite the fact that he used each of his 15 qualifying laps for one of the few times all year, he was unable to improve on his second stint.

Team Australia's Tagliani earned his best starting position of the year after a lap of 59.919 seconds (99.554 mph) netted him the last spot in the top five. The veteran had never started better than seventh in any of his previous four Denver starts, and his top-five grid position is his first since the 2005 Molson Grand Prix of Toronto.

Bourdais had already scored a time that would have been good enough to score the pole on his sixth lap, but the Frenchman decided that in this case, valor would trump discretion as he rolled off Pit Lane to protect his lead. He was moved to do so when Allmendinger bolted on the red-walled Potenzas for his final stint, but while the young American was unable to lower his time, Bourdais shaved more time off his best effort, establishing what will now stand as the Denver track record.

The end of the session did yield some excitement as spots six through 10 all changed hands in the waning moments. Sophomore Andrew Ranger (#27 MSR Houston Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) matched a season-best by taking the sixth spot on the grid, dropping Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Mario Dominguez (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to eighth and ninth respectively, after the two veterans posted their best times of the day on their 15th and final laps of the day. Junqueira jumped into the seventh spot between Ranger and Servia while Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing - HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top 10.

The Champ Car rookie contingent struggled on the tricky Denver layout as the six members of the class of 2006 will all grid in the last three rows for Sunday's event. Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year points leader Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) showed the way, and will start 11th after posting a time of 60.405 seconds (98.753 mph).
The fifth running of the Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone will take place tomorrow, with 97 laps of racing beginning at 1:45 local time. The race can be seen live nationwide on SPEED, and fans can also follow all of the action via the Race Director feature on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, Fans can see highlights from the first two rounds of qualifying for the Bridgestone Pole Position on SPEED tonight, in a 30-minute show that airs at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.
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AJ Allmendinger Continues To Run At The Front In Denver

AJ Allmendinger - Photo credit: Lesley Ann Miller, USA LAT Photographic - Copyright © 2006 Champ Car World Series, LLC.

Ya' don't say ... hey, AJ, you're at it again!

First session qualifying in Denver added to the historic rise of AJ Allmendinger in this year's drive toward the CCWS championship.

It was only a few weeks ago when AJ, with little or no points, was fired by RuSPORT and picked up as a teammate to Paul Tracy at Forsythe Racing. Since then, Allmendinger has piled up points in bunches to come within 45 points of the two-time CCWS champion, Sebastien Bourdais.

Yesterday, AJ gained another point, by besting Bourdais by .049 seconds (.079 mph). By being fast on the first day, AJ guarantees himself a spot on the front row (again) for Sunday's race through the streets of Denver.

Excerpts from Champ Car World Series -

CCWS - Friday, August 11, 2006

DENVER (August 11, 2006) - Looking to get back to his winning ways and keep his title hopes alive, Forsythe Championship Racing's A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) got on top early and cemented his status late to lead first-round Champ Car qualifying at the Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone.

Allmendinger made a quick early lap around the 1.657-mile Denver street course to get to the top of the time charts, then strapped on his red-walled alternate Bridgestone Potenzas to turn an even-faster lap, allowing him to take the top spot in Friday's qualifying for Round 10 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Concerned with avoiding traffic on the tight street course as well as outracing an ominous cloud bank that threatened to douse the Denver course, competitors rolled off Pit Lane as son as the green flag flew on the session, going against standard protocol that sees the veterans wait while the younger drivers cut the first laps.

But rain and traffic were the least of the worries in the session as a pair of early red flags thwarted early runs. Allmendinger rocketed to the top of the speed sheets early, getting in a fast lap of 60.725 on his last orbit prior to the first red flag, which was brought out by his teammate Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Last year's polesitter in Denver, Tracy bounced into the Turn Five fence after sliding through the corner, incurring damage to his rear wing that would end his session after just four laps.
Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the first to make a move once the green flag wave, moving from fourth to third and then to second on three successive laps. The run ended there as two-time defending Denver champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) turned his best lap of the day, swooping into the second slot with a time of 60.763 seconds (98.172 mph) on his sixth lap.

Allmendinger answered Bourdais' challenge by lowering his top time to 60.714 seconds (98.251 mph), but it turned out to be a gain just for gain's sake as Bourdais would be unable to post a lap quick enough to top either of Allmendinger's top two times. Bourdais made three more laps to try to unseat the American star, before calling it a day with three minutes left on the clock.

The final battle on the day was for the final spot on the qualifying podium as Wilson saw his third-place berth wrested away from him by Team Australia's Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) with two minutes left in the session. Tagliani carded a quick time of 60.988 seconds (97.809 mph) to drop Wilson back to fourth, but Wilson had one more shot to fire. The Brit, who is second in the championship points, ran his best lap of the day in trying to reclaim third, but came up a scant .003 seconds short and would end his day in the fourth position.
The final grid for Sunday's Champ Car World Series event will be set by final qualifying in a session that gets underway at 2 p.m. Mountain time [today].
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Practice 3 UPDATE:

Sebastien Bourdais nabs quickest time away from Paul Tracy by .283 seconds. AJ brushes the wall and will require a fix to the front suspension arms. One more practice and then qualifying begins.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

GM, E85, & Bonneville: The Corn Is Going To Grow Tall ... In Utah

After setting a new land speed record in the 2.0-liter (G)/Blown Gas Lakester class at 179.381 mph in October 2004, GM, in a ongoing effort to develop its Ecotec “crate” motor, will race the Lakester again at this year’s Bonneville National Speed Week—August 13-19. Image Credit: SO-CAL SPEED SHOP, POMONA, CA (July 20, 2005)

Ahhhh, speed week at the flats!

The place where more land speed records have been set, broken, and re-set than any other place in the world.

Auto drama and performance on display at the 58th meeting in Bonneville and a new record hope is being planned by General Motors.

This time, the stars are a cool retro car named the Ecotec Lakester and a fuel mix known as E85. Some corn (along with some records) is goin'a get popped before the week is through.

Excerpts from Paddock Talk -

GM Returns To Bonneville Salt Flats Looking To Finish What It Started With E85 Ethanol
Posted on Paddock Talk by: ASkyler on Aug 08, 2006 - 04:13 PM

With anticipation at a near-fever pitch, GM Performance Division returns to the historic Bonneville Salt Flats this week, intent on making up for lost time and focused on becoming the first team to set a record using E85 ethanol.

After only two days of speed trials last August, a violent storm swept through northern Utah , leaving standing water on the immense natural speedway and causing officials to cancel the final four days of the event. Until that point, GM Performance Division had set just one record in the G/BGL class (G Class/Blown Gas Lakester) with its Ecotec Lakester, which makes 2006 a redemption year of sorts for the team.

“The rain-shortened schedule prevented us from achieving the goals we set for all our entries last year, but we still gained valuable experience, which will certainly carry over to next week,” said GM Performance Division executive Al Oppenheiser, whose team heads up GM’s efforts at Bonneville . “We have some unfinished business to take care of out at Bonneville.”

Highlighting GM’s vehicle lineup at this year’s 58th Annual Speed Week event on Aug. 12-18 is a Chevrolet Cobalt SS race car engineered in part by three female students, which will attempt to set records using both E85 ethanol and gasoline in the G/FCC (G Class/Unblown Fuel Competition Coupe) and G/GCC (G Class/Unblown Gas Competition Coupe) classes, respectively.

If the Student Project Cobalt SS is successful, it will be the first vehicle to set a record at Bonneville using E85, according to the group that sanctions Speed Week, the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).

“E85 burns cooler and has a higher octane rating (108) than gasoline, which allows for increased power,” said Oppenheiser. “It’s essentially an environmentally friendly racing fuel, and with GM being a flex fuel vehicle leader, it only makes sense that GM Performance Division would expand that leadership by attempting to set the first E85 record at Bonneville.”

Rounding out the GM vehicle lineup for 2006 are three vehicles built in partnership with So-Cal Speed Shop – the radically redesigned 2006 Chevy So-Cal HHR, the Chevy So-Cal Cobalt SS race car and the Ecotec Lakester, which set a 189.205 mph speed record in the G/BGL class last year and is a modern-day replica of the famous So-Cal belly tank Lakester.

The Ecotec Lakester will again try to up the ante and best its own record in the G/BGL class at this year’s event, but this time, it’s 200 mph or bust for driver Mark Dickens.

“We know the car is capable of setting a 200-plus record, and we really won’t be satisfied unless we achieve that goal this year,” said Dickens. “Last year, we made a pass at 203 mph, so now it’s just a matter of actually putting it into the record book.”

The Bonneville Salt Flats has been the home of speed since the first organized trials were conducted there in 1914. It’s a speedway like no other; hand-crafted by Mother Nature and made of crystallized salt that stretches to the horizon. The grassroots racing environment is very demanding with a “run what you brung” mentality that’s distinctly American, and a deep foundation of tradition permeates the senses.

This year, GM Performance Division will provide regular updates on its record progress to the GM FYI Blog (, giving visitors an inside look at the Bonneville experience.

“We consider the Ecotec engine to be this century’s small-block V-8 of four-cylinder engines,” said Oppenheiser, referencing the iconic Chevrolet V-8 engine introduced more than 50 years ago. “Highly adaptable and interchangeable, the Ecotec is extremely robust and provides racers with a great way to field an inexpensive, highly competitive race car. Plus, it’s very hard to argue against an engine that keeps winning races and setting records as much as the Ecotec.”

And ultimately, Bonneville is about just that, setting records. Given the four vehicles GM Performance Division is bringing to the Salt for 2006, there’s no reason to walk across the state line into Nevada and bet against them, unless you have inside information from Mother Nature.

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2006 Chevrolet So-Cal HHR, So-Cal Cobalt SS, Cobalt SS. Image Credit: General Motors

Sunday, August 06, 2006

E85 - From California Dreamin' to Golden State Joke

GM EV1 - World's most energy efficient production vehicle is also, by necessity , the ideal platform for advanced vehicle technology development as illustrated by cutaway showing host of new technologies it incorporates. Image Credit: General Motors

California --- land of milk and honey, designer agriculture, Sequoias, Hollywood, "from the desert to the sea", "Silicon Valley", the sixth largest economy in the world, and car-cars-cars.

One would think that since our state has such a "cutting edge" image throughout the Planet that we would be getting our arms around this issue of vegetable matter fuels --- E85. But NooOOOOoo, California, "The Golden State", currently has only four (4) fuel stations that offer a "FlexFuel" option (where E85 Ethanol fuel mix can be purchased) and only one (1) of the stations is open to the public (the other three are for use with U.S. Government vehicles and/or employees).

This glaring failure isn't because California hasn't tried in its efforts to bring alternative energy sources and cleaner air to the State, but more a matter of intent, application, and taxes. The government can not get out of its own way.

Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal via the Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA.) -

How California failed in efforts to curb oil addiction
By Jeffrey Ball, The Wall Street Journal - Wednesday, August 02, 2006

OAKLAND, Calif. -- In a government parking lot by the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, California is about to launch its latest attempt to get cars to run on something other than oil.

Chevron Corp., the California-based oil giant, plans to install a small tank here soon with enough corn-based ethanol to power about 35 General Motors Corp. cars capable of burning both ethanol and gasoline. California, the nation's biggest auto market, has about 10,000 gas stations. This will be its fifth ethanol pump.

For a quarter century, California has pursued petroleum-free transportation more doggedly than any other place in the U.S. It has tried to jump-start alternative fuels ranging from methanol to natural gas to electricity to hydrogen. None has hit the road in any significant way. Today, the state that is the world's sixth-largest economy finds itself in the same spot as most of the planet: With $75-a-barrel oil, and increasing concern about the role fossil fuels are playing in global warming, 99 percent of its cars and trucks still run on petroleum products.

At a time when President Bush is advocating alternative fuels, particularly ethanol, as an antidote to what he calls America's "addiction" to oil, California's experience offers a reality check. Perfected over a century, gasoline is convenient, reliable, and, even at current prices, relatively affordable. Challengers start with big disadvantages: inadequate infrastructure, their own performance problems, and higher costs. Moving alternative fuels into the mainstream would require hard political and economic choices -- choices that even California hasn't been willing to make.

California launched its alternative-fuel drive as an energy-diversification effort following the 1979 global oil shock. When oil prices fell back, the state shifted its emphasis to fighting air pollution. Since then, California has rolled out mandates and subsidies for alternative-fuel demonstrations along with broader rules forcing the oil and auto industries to clean up their conventional fuels and internal-combustion engines. The assumption was that the one-two policy punch would induce the industries to shift away from oil.

But the market hasn't responded the way California intended. The oil and auto industries got the state to kill or water down the alternative-fuel mandates, arguing that making the technologies viable would require big public subsidies -- something most Californians didn't support. Meanwhile, the industries made their conventional products clean enough to meet the state's pollution limits.

The upshot: The alternative-fuel push has helped scrub California's air, but it has done so by forcing improvements in fossil fuels and the cars that burn them. It hasn't curbed California's oil consumption, because it hasn't meaningfully deployed alternative fuels.

California's experience shows that there are "somewhat viable types of alternative fuels available out there in the event that somebody wanted to move towards them," says James Boyd, who has been pushing for oil alternatives for more than two decades as a California environmental and energy regulator. Though politicians since Richard Nixon have called for diversifying America's energy mix, he says, "we've never had a serious effort."

Oil and auto companies say they're justified in resisting government mandates to roll out alternative technologies when they're not convinced consumers will buy them. Donald Paul, Chevron's chief technology officer, says California regulators essentially tell industry officials, "We know what the answer is. You guys just spend the money and everything will work fine." He adds, "History has not shown that that works very well."
The question today is whether the resurgence of high oil prices and the rise of global-warming concerns will give alternative fuels sustained backing. Already, ethanol, the brew now generating the biggest buzz, is hitting many of the same roadblocks that slowed California's past alternative-fuel attempts.

GM and Chevron are bickering over the ethanol demonstration project that is set to include the pump in Oakland and one near Sacramento. It's a chicken-or-egg dispute. GM, which for years has been building "flexible-fuel" vehicles that can burn ethanol but typically don't, wants Chevron to install a lot of ethanol pumps. Chevron, which estimates that installing a single ethanol pump and related equipment costs more than $200,000, wants to go slow to make sure first that consumers will buy the fuel.

When California started searching for potential petroleum alternatives following the 1979 oil shock, it concluded that methanol was particularly promising. The alcohol already was being made for industrial use. And it was derived from natural gas, which was cheap and was believed to be domestically plentiful.

The state began experimenting with a handful of 1979 Honda Civics that had been converted to run on gasoline mixed with up to 15 percent methanol. The idea was to use the methanol to make the gasoline go farther -- "Hamburger Helper," as state officials called it.

Soon California ratcheted up its experiment to include several hundred Ford Escorts that had been tweaked to run on a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent methanol, or M85. The state installed 18 methanol pumps at gas stations near state offices, divided up the cars into fleets, and told state employees to give them a whirl.

Operational problems soon arose, in part because alcohol fuels like methanol contain less energy than gasoline. The Escorts went only about 60 percent as far on a tank of fuel as their gasoline counterparts.

In the late 1980s, the auto industry came up with a technology designed to solve such problems: a "flexible-fuel" vehicle, able to run on either straight gasoline or an alternative fuel, which at the time was a blend of up to 85 percent methanol.

Legislation worked out in Washington gave auto makers a big incentive to crank out flexible-fuel vehicles. In 1988, with the support of California officials, Congress passed a law giving auto makers extra credit under the nation's fuel-economy standards for every such vehicle the companies built. The credits allowed the auto makers to build thirstier conventional vehicles. But they didn't require that the buyers of the flexible-fuel vehicles actually use an alternative fuel. Most of them filled up with gasoline.

That was rational at a time when global oil prices were once again falling. In California, alternative-fuel proponents shifted to a priority that had more enduring political support: cleaning up the state's notoriously dirty urban air.

California continued to search for oil alternatives. In 1990, as California regulators were putting the finishing touches on new clean-air rules, GM unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show a bubble-shaped car that ran on electricity and thus emitted no pollution. It was called the Impact.

State officials were enthralled. The California Air Resources Board, the state's clean-air cop, mandated that 10 percent of all new cars sold in California be "zero-emission vehicles" by 2003.

Meanwhile, California told its investor-owned utilities to do what they could to encourage the rollout of both electric and natural-gas-powered cars. The utilities were eager for the potential new market that the alternative-fuel cars presented. By the early 1990s, they were spending tens of millions of dollars each year installing natural-gas fueling stations around the state and testing new technology for natural-gas and electric vehicles. They applied to state regulators for permission to pass along those costs to customers through higher rates.

The oil industry formed a coalition that sent letters to commission members and legislators opposing what it dubbed a "hidden tax" to subsidize alternative fuels. The California Public Utilities commission ruled that, while utilities might be able to spend ratepayers' money to roll out alternative fuels in the utilities' own fleets, they couldn't spend that money to try to commercialize alternative fuels more broadly.

As a result, California utilities closed or sold 54 natural-gas stations that they had installed for customers' fleets, says Brian Stokes, manager of clean-air transportation for PG&E Corp.'s Pacific Gas & Electric Co., a big California utility. They also stopped subsidizing customers' purchases of electric and natural-gas vehicles. Though natural-gas and electric-charging stations still exist throughout California, and PG&E is working to promote their expanded use, the state's decision severely impeded their growth, he says. "To the extent that policy could have provided a sustainable market, it was nipped in the bud," he says.

The auto industry also opposed the electric-car mandate, arguing that the California measure was forcing a technology that wasn't road-ready.

In response, California officials repeatedly softened the rule. They ended up letting the industry comply largely with a compromise technology: hybrid cars. Hybrids have an electric motor and batteries, but instead of having to be plugged into a socket for their power, their batteries are recharged continuously during normal driving -- driving that still requires a conventional engine under the hood. Hybrids have lower emissions and get better mileage than conventional cars, but they still burn fossil fuel.

Yet the auto industry protested the move toward hybrids too. In 2001, GM sued California to block the zero-emission vehicle rule. Its suit, later joined by DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler unit, argued that by shifting their focus from electric cars to gasoline-burning hybrids, California regulators had turned their clean-air rule into a veiled attempt to improve fuel economy. And fuel economy, the auto companies noted, is something only the federal government has the legal power to regulate.

GM and Chrysler later dropped their suit when California officials further softened their rule.

Around 2000, a series of gasoline-price jumps hit California. State officials ordered a study of whether oil companies were gouging drivers at the pump. The study concluded the jumps were due not to gouging, but to market forces: Global demand for oil was growing faster than global supply. A follow-up report called for California to cut its oil use 15 percent by 2020, in part by using more ethanol and other "biofuels."

That marked a turning point in California's energy agenda. No longer was the state's goal simply to reduce the pollution produced when fossil fuel is burned. Now, as in 1979, it was to reduce the amount of fossil fuel burned in the first place.

Since then, oil companies have helped quash efforts in the California Legislature to codify that oil-use-reduction target into law.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who met Monday with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss ways to reduce global-warming emissions, says he supports the oil-use-reduction goal. "I think it's a good idea," the former body builder said in a recent interview, likening it to a dieter's resolution. "If I don't say that I want to lose 10 pounds by summer, it's not going to happen by itself." He added, "Of course the fat in your body is screaming, 'Don't attack me. I love myself.' So the oil companies are screaming, 'This is terrible.' "
For years, gasoline in parts of the country with particular smog problems has contained 10 percent ethanol, the result of a federal rule ordering refiners to put an oxygen-rich additive in the gasoline they sell in those areas to help curb pollution. Yet studies show that while ethanol added to gasoline in low concentrations helps reduce certain emissions, such as carbon monoxide, it tends to increase some other emissions. In particular, it raises the gasoline's "vapor pressure," leading more gasoline fumes to seep out of a car's fuel system. California effectively restricts ethanol concentrations in its gasoline to 6 percent.
Early this year, GM launched an advertising campaign to tout the use of the corn-based fuel in those vehicles. Its tagline: "Live green. Go yellow."

Last fall, GM approached Alan Lloyd, then secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, and proposed an ethanol demonstration. Mr. Lloyd suggested involving Chevron, since it is based in the state. In discussions that followed, Chevron officials "wanted a very limited number" of ethanol stations, and GM wanted more, Mr. Lloyd says.

David Barthmuss, a GM spokesman, confirms that account. "Until oil companies see there's money to be made in ethanol, they're going to lobby for petroleum," he says. "E85 is asking them to give up 85 percent of what they make." He says GM hopes to persuade Chevron and other oil companies that if they put in E85 pumps, the auto industry will build the vehicles to make those pumps profitable.

Chevron recently announced a new business unit that will focus on trying to make ethanol and other biofuels viable. But Chevron's Mr. Paul says the company has learned from California's history not to rush into potential oil alternatives. "If you're going to roll out a very large infrastructure and put what could be a lot of money into it, you don't want something that you're going to have to throw away," he says.

Today there's just one E85 station in California that is open to the public. It sits beside a highway interchange in San Diego. It was opened three years ago by Pearson Ford, a San Diego Ford dealer that was convinced alternative fuels would be the next big thing. The station offers gasoline and diesel, natural gas, propane, electricity, biodiesel and E85.

What it sells, though, is mostly gasoline and diesel. On a recent morning, it was offering E85 for $3.10 a gallon, about 6 percent less than the $3.30 per gallon it was charging for regular gasoline. But, because a gallon of E85 contains about 25 percent less energy than a gallon of gasoline, the E85 actually cost more per mile. Only a handful of cars pulled up to the E85 pump.

"I would like nothing better than to turn all my pumps over to alternative fuels," says Mike Lewis, the station's co-owner. "But I'm not willing to carry the alternative-fuel flag into bankruptcy."

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