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High Gas Prices: Protests, Segways and Prostitutes

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Shell Oil was the latest target of a Big Oil/gas prices protest. Members of the Harris County AFL-CIO led the protest on Friday, on a sidewalk in front of Shell's downtown office.

Richard Shaw, secretary-treasurer for the labor union, said the protest was prompted, in part, by John McCain's recent visit to Houston, and the protest was directed at McCain as much as Shell and other oil companies. Some of the protesters held signs that read, "Bush & McCain Heart BIG OIL."

The AFL-CIO has also launched this Web site, citing McCain's ties to oil companies, and his proposed plan that would give major oil companies $3.8 billion in tax cuts.

The protesters mainly yelled for change, but Shaw said his group hopes for investment in new sources of energy, with a focus on job creation for American workers.

"It's not like [Houston] would go broke on alternative forms of energy," Shaw said.

Charles Steele, president of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also showed up for the protest. His organization is boycotting Shell gas stations. Next month is British Petroleum, with boycotts of Texaco and Chevron to follow.

A Southern Christian Leadership Conference protest in Houston proves that the city is under the spotlight of high oil prices.

Forbes ranked Houston as a top ten "recession proof" city, and the best city for recent college graduates, due to high-paying, entry-level jobs in the energy industry.

But for the rest of us, $4 for a gallon of gas sucks. Here's a round-up of some recent articles highlighting how fuel prices are changing America.

Border agents fined a man about $400 for bringing cheap Mexican fuel across the border. Importing fuel is legal, but it must be declared as commercial cargo. Here's a family trying to save its trucking company by crossing the border for Mexican diesel, which sells for about $2 a gallon. Apparently, the Mexican government controls fuel prices, with tax dollars subsidizing costs. No word on whether the border fence will keep Texans away from Mexican fuel pumps.

This article claims that Segway sales are up, with a developing market for commuters. The Segway gets about 25 miles a charge, with a top speed of about 12 mph, so it’s hard to imagine many people in Houston using the Segway to commute. And you could probably get a kick-ass bicycle or scooter for the $5,000 you'd spend on a Segway. Matthew Creed, who owns Apollo Scooters in Houston, says interest in Segways is definitely up, but only a small percentage of people have asked about using a Segway for a daily commute. His scooter sales, however, are booming. He sold about 100 last year and 85 last month.

The "entertainment" dollar is probably the first to go in tight economic times, as evidenced by a struggling brothel industry in Nevada. Turns out, truckers make up a large percentage of brothel clientele, and drivers no longer have the money to spend on prostitutes. Some brothel owners are offering gas cards to attract cash-strapped customers. – Paul Knight

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