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7 Dead-Serious Uber Controversies That Somehow Didn’t Sink the Company


Pablo Blazquez Dominguez—Getty Images

From high-speed chases to abductions to driver poaching, Uber is well-acquainted with the snafu

Uber is no stranger to confrontation. The ride-sharing firm is known for aggressive tactics that have helped fuel its explosive growth. Its very business model is based on disrupting old-school taxi services in cities across the globe.

Remarks made by Uber’s senior vice president for business, Emil Michael, have put the spotlight on the company once more. A Buzzfeed editor overheard Michael outlining “the notion of spending ‘a million dollars’ to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press—they’d look into ‘your personal lives, your families,’ and give the media a taste of its own medicine.”

Michael excused himself later, saying that he regretted his idea to investigate and embarrass critical journalists, and that his remarks “do not reflect my actual views.”

Here are seven other controversies that the company has been embroiled in over the years. None of them has seemed to really hurt it permanently. Uber will hit an annual revenue rate of $10 billion by the end of 2015, Business Insider reports.

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Uber fogot the charm, but not the offensive

By Debra J. Saunders Updated 9:23 pm, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When Uber hired one-time Obama whisperer David Plouffe, CEO Travis Kalanick wrote, “We are in the middle of a political campaign and it turns out the candidate is Uber. Our opponent — the Big Taxi cartel — has used decades of political contributions and influence to restrict competition, reduce choice for consumers, and put a stranglehold on economic opportunity for its drivers.”

Translation: This is war, and we’re going to use every weapon known to win.

So when I read that an Uber veep suggested that the ride-services giant should spend a million bucks to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists to dig up dirt on its critics in journalism, did I believe he meant what he said? Of course I did. That veep Emil Michael made that suggestion at a dinner with big-shots in journalism, and that dinner was supposed to punctuate Kalanick’s “charm offensive” with the media, well, that’s just dessert.

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Veggie Trike brings produce to Sacramento-area streets


11/19/2014 6:10 PM 11/20/2014 12:05 AM


“Fresh fruits and veggies! Fresh fruits and veggies!”

Like a jovial street merchant from days of old, a bearded Collin Samaan stood on Liestal Row between 17th and 18th streets Friday in Sacramento, vending healthy foods out of his newly christened West Sac Veggie Trike.

The pedal-powered produce-mobile has three wheels, one in front of Samaan’s bike seat and the other two behind him, supporting the bed of a miniature farm stand. In the back are stashes of persimmons, onions, Apple Hill apples, artisan garlic salts and even kiwis. A cooler holds carrots and rainbow chard, most of it harvested that morning.

Samaan’s haul comes from a handful of farms in the Sacramento area, including Abbott Organics, where he and wife Aimee Benner grow garlic and greens and where the tricycle lives when not in action. For the past six weeks, he’s brought seasonal goods like apple and pumpkin pies from Bodhaine Ranch in Camino and jars of honey from Arden’s To Bee Young Apiaries to the midtown spot, hoping to catch lunchers passing by.

During the summer months when days were longer, Samaan had been pedaling the tricycle, which weighs a few hundred pounds loaded, all over Sacramento and West Sacramento trying to sell produce on residential streets. It’s decked out with a megaphone that he uses to play gypsy jazz as he cruises by at 8 to 10 mph.

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Saudi Arabia Is Fighting an Oil War. But Who’s the Enemy?

By Joshua Keating

As my colleague Jordan Weissmann wrote Tuesday, there are a number of factors behind the continuing global slide in oil prices, including North American production, increased energy efficiency, Europe’s economic stagnation, and China’s slowing growth. But a big one is Saudi Arabia, which, to the dismay of fellow oil-producing nations, has resisted pressure to cut production in order to stabilize prices.

Ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna next week, there are some contradictory theories about why Saudi Arabia is content to keep oil cheap for the time being. One is that the Saudis want to nip the U.S. oil boom in the bud. American shale oil is more expensive to produce and needs high prices to remain competitive. As one analyst put it when the kingdom cut prices for U.S. customers earlier this month, “the Saudis have basically declared war on the U.S. oil producers.”

But there’s a competing narrative, or “conspiracy theory” if you prefer, that the Saudis are waging war in cooperation with the United States, against their mutual enemies Russia and Iran. “Saudi Arabia, which intends to manage OPEC, serves the interests of the G20 group,” a former Iranian oil minister told Reuters. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whose government is collateral damage in this war, also aired this view recently, saying, “What is the reason for the United States and some U.S. allies wanting to drive down the price of oil? To harm Russia.”

The U.S.-Saudi oil alliance is basically taken as a given in the Iranian and Russian media, and the idea got a recent endorsement from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as well. Saudi Arabia may indeed want to punish Russia for its support of Bashar al-Assad’s government, and will take any leverage it can get over regional archrival Iran. The U.S., meanwhile, wants to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine and to pressure Iran into agreeing to a nuclear deal.

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How Russia could derail US natural gas exports

By Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights NOVEMBER 19, 2014

Russia and China have signed two large natural gas deals in the last six months as Russia turns its attention eastward in reaction to sanctions and souring relations with Europe, currently Russia's largest energy export market.

But the move has implications beyond Europe. In the department of everything is connected, U.S. natural gas producers may be seeing their dream of substantial liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports suffer fatal injury because of Russian exports to the Chinese market, a market that was expected to be the largest and most profitable for LNG exporters. Petroleum geologist and consultant Art Berman--who has been consistently skeptical of the viability of U.S. LNG exports--communicated in an email that Russian supply will force the price of LNG delivered to Asia down to between $10 and $11, too low for American LNG exports to be profitable.

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A look at who loses as oil prices keep plunging


McClatchy Washington BureauNovember 19, 2014

WASHINGTON — The rapid plunge in oil and gasoline prices means huge savings for American consumers, but the steep downward swing may ultimately prove dangerously disruptive to energy-producing countries and companies.

If prices remain low for a protracted period, which seems likely, it’ll send shock waves across the energy sector. For oil-producing countries, that could mean budget shortfalls. For energy companies, the lower profits may force mergers and consolidation that will cost thousands of jobs.

Oil prices have tumbled in recent months from their peak at about $105 a barrel in June to their current lows, below $75 on Wednesday. The Energy Information Administration projected last week that gasoline prices would stay under $3 a gallon throughout next year. A gallon of regular unleaded averages $2.86, the motor club AAA said Wednesday, about 25 cents lower than a month ago.

For American consumers, who used 135.4 billion gallons of gasoline last year, that’s a big savings – nearly $34 billion on an annualized basis.

But for companies and countries that depend on oil prices for their income, it’s a trend that makes them nervous.

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Within 2 years, a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions are likely to be priced

By David Roberts on 19 Nov 2014

Original source:

It often surprises people to hear that big companies like Exxon use a “shadow carbon price” when assessing future investment opportunities (in other words, they assume a price on carbon even where/when there isn’t one). After all, if you only pay attention to the headlines, it sounds like the big story on climate change is that nobody’s doing anything and we’re all doomed. Why would Exxon think carbon will be priced any time soon?

Well, it turns out that carbon is getting priced, not in the big, dramatic, simple way climate hawks would prefer, but incrementally, piecemeal, country-by-country, region-by-region, still inadequately but in a way that’s starting to add up.

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India and Fiji to work together to tackle climate change, says PM Narendra Modi

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 - 9:29am IST | Place: Suva (Fiji) | Agency: ANI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday observed that climate change posed as a common challenge before Fiji and India and pledged to tackle this issue by working together with the island nation in areas of clean energy such as solar and wind.

"We have spoken of vast opportunities, but we also share many common challenges. For you, climate change is not a matter of debate, but a basic question of existence. India, too, is a nation of a long coastline and more than 1000 islands, a nation that is nurtured by monsoon rain and the Himalayan glaciers.We, too, are facing the searing impact of climate change. And, we spend more than 6 percent of our GDP in adapting to its consequences. Now, each of us must shoulder our own responsibilities. We cannot side aside and take no action. Technology has made it possible. We don't have to seek old pathways to prosperity.

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Senate Defeats Bill on Keystone XL Pipeline in Narrow Vote


WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats, by a single vote, stopped legislation that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the most fractious and expensive battles of the Obama presidency.

The vote represented a victory for the environmental movement, but the fight had taken on larger dimensions as a proxy war between Republicans, who argued that the project was vital for job creation, and President Obama, who had delayed a decision on building it.

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Beyond Senate defeat, ill omens for Keystone


Never mind the cliffhanger defeat for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Even if the Senate had passed the bill Tuesday, hints are mounting that President Barack Obama has hardened his stance against the $8 billion project and would veto any legislation greenlighting it, whether it comes from the current Democratic Senate or next year’s Republican Senate.

The past two weeks offer the strongest evidence to date that Obama may reject the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline: He made a groundbreaking global warming deal with China — the latest sign that he is building a serious climate change legacy. He has been more dismissive than ever of GOP arguments that Keystone would be a major job creator. And he has lost much of the political urgency for considering the pipeline — the most vulnerable red-state Democrats lost on Election Day, so there’s less reason to cater to endangered centrists begging for a “yes” vote on Keystone.

Obama’s former aides, and others closely following the six-years-and-running Keystone drama, insist he still has plenty of wiggle room to rule either way when he finally renders a verdict, which could come in early 2015. The administration’s official stance is that it’s still awaiting the outcome of the State Department’s review of the project’s merits.

But the latest remarks from the White House, and the president himself, have been increasingly bullish against the pipeline — and especially against attempts by Congress to force his hand. Some of his recent comments also mirror the arguments of green activists who allege that the pipeline would mainly be a boon for Canada’s oil export market.

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The greening of Barack Obama

He didn’t set out to be an environmental president. He is now.


For Barack Obama, it wasn’t easy being green — until, suddenly, it was.

Obama's climate history

Barack Obama and John McCain campaign for president pledging to pass cap-and-trade legislation. During his June speech on the night of the final Democratic primary, Obama says historians will remember, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” After his general election victory, the president-elect declares that there are few challenges facing the U.S. “more urgent than combating climate change” and that “delay is no longer an option.”

Obama spends about $80 billion on green energy through the economic stimulus package and announces the first fuel economy increase in decades, requiring new cars and trucks to reach 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016. The Democrat-controlled House passes the Waxman-Markey climate bill, 219-212. U.N. climate talks fail to reach a new treaty in Copenhagen, though Obama and other world leaders reach a “first-step” stopgap to maintains momentum.

BP oil spill overwhelms Obama’s energy agenda, prompting his first-ever Oval Office address to the country. Senate fails to even vote on climate-change legislation, and Republicans win control of the House in November, knocking out more than two dozen Waxman-Markey supporters.

Al Gore publishes 7,000-word essay in Rolling Stone magazine slamming Obama, saying he had “thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change.” Clean energy stimulus winner Solyndra files for bankruptcy.

Obama’s reelection campaign embraces a GOP energy talking point, calling for an “all-out, all-of-the-above” policy. He touts U.S. oil production at its highest level in eight years. Obama finalizes another suite of fuel economy standards for new vehicles to hit 54.5 mpg by 2025.

He telegraphs his second-term climate agenda during his second inaugural address, State of the Union and a June speech at Georgetown University. EPA proposes a rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants and says it will craft a similar regulation affecting the nation’s existing power plants — a much more ambitious effort.

Obama signs deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The U.S. pledges to cut emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. China agrees to stop carbon dioxide emission increase by 2030.

Final rule on new power plants due in January, and final rule on existing plants due in June. International negotiations set to wrap up by end of year in Paris.

During his earlier years in office, Obama never pushed the environment to the forefront of the national agenda. The economy took precedence. Then health care. At one point, toward the end of Obama’s first term, environmentalists counted the months between presidential uses of the term “climate change.”

But now, Obama is aiming to make global reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions one of the signature achievements of his presidency — with his “historic agreement” with China last week just the start of a series of administrative actions aimed at combating climate change.

What changed, according to political and environmental sources close to the president, was Obama’s awareness that the environment is one of the few areas where a president can act unilaterally and to broad effect. Rallying nations and individuals alike to curb greenhouse-gas pollution is one mountaintop that Obama can climb, with or without Congress.

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The Grand Oil Party Takes Washington by Storm

Michael T. Klare on November 18, 2014 - 11:39AM ET

This article originally appeared at To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from

Pop the champagne corks in Washington! It's party time for Big Energy. In the wake of the midterm elections, Republican energy hawks are ascendant, having taken the Senate and House by storm. They are preparing to put pressure on a president already presiding over a largely drill-baby-drill administration to take the last constraints off the development of North American fossil fuel reserves.

The new Republican majority is certain to push their agenda on a variety of key issues, including tax reform and immigration. None of their initiatives, however, will have as catastrophic an impact as their coming drive to ensure that fossil fuels will dominate the nation's energy landscape into the distant future, long after climate change has wrecked the planet and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.

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Timeline: History behind Halliburton, Baker Hughes

Posted on November 18, 2014 at 2:50 pm by Rhiannon Meyers in Deals, Oil field services

Halliburton and Baker Hughes, the two oil field services giants that announced they could become one company in the near future, each have long histories tied to the beginnings of the oil industry in Texas and Oklahoma.

Both were founded by famous oil men who helped Houston become the energy capital it is today. And both have experienced the boom and bust periods of oil’s turbulent history.

Check out our timeline below of the three companies that eventually became two of the biggest names in the oil and gas industry.

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Lower oil prices here to stay, strategist tells Denver audience

By Aldo Svaldi
The Denver Post

POSTED:   11/18/2014 05:33:14 PM MST1

Of the many things market watchers were tracking closely this year, a collapse in oil prices wasn't among them.

"Oil prices will go down in the history books as the big surprise for 2014," Darrell Cronk, deputy chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank, told a gathering of clients at the Denver Art Museum on Tuesday afternoon.

The decline offers a mixed blessing. It will benefit consumers by freeing up money that otherwise might have gone to fill gas tanks or heat homes.

But it will make it tougher for oil and gas producers to earn a profit, and their shares have been hammered accordingly — not good news in petroleum states such as Texas, North Dakota and Colorado.

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In Compromise Plan, Limited Fracking Is Approved for National Forest in Virginia


Drilling for oil and natural gas will be mostly off-limits in the largest national forest in the East, whose streams bring drinking water to Washington and Richmond, Va., the federal government said Tuesday.

But in a reversal of an earlier proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing throughout the forest, the controversial technique can go forward on privately controlled land in the George Washington National Forest, which rises in the mountains west of Charlottesville, Va.

The decision was a compromise that allowed some fracking while closing 90 percent of the forest to fracking and conventional drilling, which the earlier proposal would have permitted. In an unusual outcome, groups on all sides — industry, environmentalists and the governor of Virginia — claimed victory in the compromise management plan, years in the making.

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