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In the Bosporus (or Bosphorus) Straits connecting the Black Sea on the North with the Sea of Marmara, the Dardanelles and hence the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean on the South, the Rumelian Castle (pictured in my previous post), built by the Ottoman Pashas in the early 1440s, was part of their plot to isolate Constantinople, before retaking it from the Christians in 1453. The Rumelian castle is located near the mid-point of the Bosporus on the Western European side and another similar castle was constructed for the same purpose across from it on the Asian side.
The 3 towers of the Rumelian were each named for one of the Pashas who invested in the castle, which was built in just over 4 months, a schedule those reconstructing the site of New York’s Word Trade Center could surely not comprehend.

When Vicki and I cruised the Bosporus in fall of 2009, some 55,000 ships a year were making a toll-free passage through the Bosporus, something the Pashas would have abhorred, many of them transporting Russian oil.

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As former GE CEO Jack Welsh said on Morning Joe today, the President should have formed an oil industry task force early on, set them up in the Executive Office Bldg. in continuous meetings with his govt. staff to solve the Gulf problems. Joe Scarborough suggested that the White House made a political calculation early on not to “own” the issue, and judging by the continuing focus on BP’s bumbling, they might have been right politically. But it’s not helping solve the Gulf problem, and a unified command is still needed. Meanwhile, the BP CEO is seen yachting and the President golfing, while “Rome burns”. The actions are wrong, the optics are wrong, and the problem remains unsolved.

From today’s “The Writer’s Almanac”:

It was on this day in 1977 that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline began to pump oil for the first time. It was the largest private construction project ever completed in United States history.

Oil companies had been drilling for oil in Alaska for years, without much luck. Then the company that would become Exxon decided to drill one more hole before giving up, and they struck what turned out to be the largest oil discovery in North America. The only problem was that the oil field was 800 miles away from the nearest harbor where oil tankers could pick up the oil and transport it to the rest of the world.

So the oil companies decided to build a pipeline to transport that oil across the state of Alaska, 48-inches in diameter, stretching 800 miles, zigzagging over three mountain ranges and crossing 34 major rivers, including the Yukon. Once it began pumping, about 1.9 million barrels of crude oil began flowing through the pipe every day, traveling at about seven miles an hour to the port of Valdez.

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