Saturday, 31 May 2008

OIL PRICES AND THE WORLD'S ECONOMIES

Ken Berwitz

To read our media, you would swear that the oil crisis is created by President Bush and has blown away only the USA's economy.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course (not that it stops media from stampeding every time they can attack Mr. Bush or the USA in some way).  So I thought you might be interested in seeing how other parts of the world have been impacted.

If you click here, you will be linked to an absolutely excellent analysis of what has happened around the world due to the runup in oil prices.  It comes to us from Andy McSmith, Jerome Taylor and Nigel Morris of the (UK) Independent.  And I assure you, it will provide a context and a perspective you are not getting from mainstream USA media. I'm excerpting just a small part of it below, but I urge you to read the entire piece:

Shocked! How the oil crisis has hit the world

By Andy McSmith, Jerome Taylor and Nigel Morris
Saturday, 31 May 2008

British pensioners who cannot afford to heat their homes. European hauliers and fishermen whose livelihoods are under threat. Palestinians forced to fill up their cars with olive oil. Americans asked to go down to a four-day week.

All around the world, in a multitude of ways, the soaring price of oil is hurting rich and poor alike. For the lucky ones, it is simply a matter of changing their lifestyle. But those most vulnerable to the price of oil have been driven on to the streets in angry protests, which raise a fundamental question: what can we do to survive in a world where a barrel of oil costs $127 (64)?

Great Britain

The rise in the oil price could not come at a worse time for Gordon Brown. After a week that has seen hauliers blocking roads and air passengers facing higher surcharges, yesterday it was the impact on fuel bills that came to the fore. The Prime Minister's attempt to ease the pain felt by pensioners and low-income families from rising fuel bills was dismissed as a "sticking plaster to hold back a catastrophe". It consists mainly of advice on coping with the cost of heating rather than extra money.

The number of Britons in "fuel poverty" 10 per

Europe

Luxembourg's Finance Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the commission of European Union finance ministers, issued a call to all EU governments yesterday to hold their nerve and avoid the temptation to use the tax system to relieve the misery of high oil prices. He reminded them that, when they met in Manchester in 2005, they agreed that such a move would encourage demand and send the wrong message to oil producers.

That is not what France's President, Nicolas Sarkozy, wanted to hear yesterday, after a week of protests by French truckers and fishermen left several motorways blocked and ports paralysed. M. Sarkozy suggested capping fuel taxes if the oil price rose further.

In the Netherlands, the protests caused less inconvenience, but made more noise when, at 11.45am on Thursday, lorry drivers across the country simultaneously blew their horns in protest at diesel prices. In Bulgaria, lorry and bus drivers launched a joint protest.

The protest spread to the seas yesterday, as fishermen across Europe went on a one-day strike, blocking ports. The biggest demonstrations were in Spain and Portugal where 10,000 protesters converged on Madrid. Some handed out free fish to underline their point that, with the current cost of fuel, they are practically giving their catches away. Passers-by pushed and shoved to get their hands on the free hake.

The United States

There are signs that the fuel crisis is persuading Americans to think about leaving the car in the garage. In March this year, the number of miles driven by American motorists was 11 billion fewer than in March 2007, according to the Transportation Department. That is the sharpest drop year on year that the department has ever recorded, and the first fall of any kind recorded in the month of March since 1979.

The US Energy Department projects that this year, domestic gas consumption will drop by 190,000 barrels a day and overall petroleum use by 330,000 barrels a day, the first annual fall since 1991.

South America

With some of the most prominent oil producers operating outside of the Middle East and a preponderance of left-wing governments insulating their populations from fuel price increases with heavy subsidies, South America has so far managed better than most with the fuel crisis.

In fact soaring oil prices have bulked up budgets to record levels in countries such as Venezuela. Badly scarred by the oil crises of the 1970s, many Latin American nations have since diversified their energy mix by encouraging the use of biofuels. In Brazil, the world's largest ethanol producer, biofuels account for more than half of transport needs. But while biofuels have kept petrol prices down, food prices particularly in Central American countries such as Mexico and Haiti have shot up as vast tracts of arable land are switched from producing food to fuel.

Asia

Daily protests have erupted across Indonesia this week after the government removed subsidies on fuel, leading to an overnight price jump of 30 per cent. Despite being south-east Asia's largest oil producer, Indonesia has struggled to meet even domestic demand due to aging wells and declining investment. On Wednesday, Jakarta announced it would quit Opec because it was unhappy with the way the international oil cartel was dealing with the crisis. But Indonesia's poor have been left reeling by the removal of fuel subsidies and have taken to the streets.

Malaysia has told petrol stations to stop selling fuel to Singapore-registered cars. Singaporeans often take advantage of cheaper oil prices in Malaysia by driving over the border and filling up there. At the same time, airlines across the Asia-Pacific region are scrambling to cut flights and increase surcharges to boost their haemorrhaging cashflow.

This week Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific and Taiwan's China Airlines announced they were considering scaling back some long-haul routes whilst Korean Air said it would temporarily cut flights on 12 international routes over the summer. Much of the regional strain placed on Asia's oil reserves comes from China's near-insatiable consumption of energy. But in an indication of how the country is struggling to import enough fuel, at least three major Chinese cities brought in diesel rationing yesterday.

Africa

Africa is at the sharp end of the oil shock and the inter-related surge in food prices. With millions living on the tiny margin between subsistence and starvation, fuel costs can quickly become a matter of life and death. Governments already under pressure from food protests, and in some cases such as Mozambique violent riots, have now to contend with a new problem.

Middle East

Not even the region with the world's largest oil reserves has escaped the pressures. As major importers beg major producers such as Saudi Arabia to release millions more barrels on to the world markets those Middle Eastern countries unlucky enough not to be sitting on lakes of black gold are facing growing resentment from their own populations over fuel prices.

In Egypt, petrol prices have risen by as much as 40 per cent in a year. Yemen has been rocked by riots in the south, which is home to only a fifth of its 22 million population but produces 80 per cent of the country's oil. Young men and separatists, angry that very little of the nation's oil wealth has trickled down to ordinary people in the south, have been protesting since April, raising concerns that Islamic militants could exploit the unrest in the notoriously fractious country.

In Gaza this week, where fuel shortages have long been a major source of seething discontent due to rationing by Israel and Hamas, Palestinians were forced to fill their cars with olive oil instead of diesel.

Iran is acutely vulnerable to rises in fuel prices because, despite being the world's second largest producer, it is still forced to import about 40 per cent of its petrol because of a lack of refining facilities. Protests last year over fuel prices brought in rationing, which is still in place in Tehran and other major Iranian cities.

Australasia

As Kevin Rudd's newly elected government tries to stem a wave of discontent over prices at the petrol pumps, the airline Qantas announced this week that it was intending to slash hundreds of jobs, freeze executive pay and shut down some domestic rural routes.

Arctic

With the threat of the world's oil reserves one day running out, energy-hungry nations are frantically looking towards the more inaccessible areas of the world for new sources. This week, the five main powers bordering the Arctic Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States met in Greenland for a two-day summit to discuss their various claims of sovereignty over the Arctic Ocean seabed.

The summit was a bid to stop the Arctic becoming a flashpoint between the nations because of the natural resources it is thought to contain. Oil prospectors believe it could be home to a quarter of the world's undiscovered hydrocarbon reserves. In August, Russia upped the stakes by planting a flag under the North Pole. The five countries at the summit agreed to let the UN rule on conflicting territorial claims for the region's seabed.

Environmental campaigners, who were not allowed to attend the summit, are concerned that a new scramble for the Arctic has begun and are worried that future exploration could damage the area's sensitive ecosystems. They have called for a similar treaty to that which currently regulates the Antarctic, which bans all military activity and mineral exploitation.

I had to put that "Arctic" section in bold print, because it is so important to us. 

There is this wilderness in Alaska, you see, called the Alaska National Wildlife Reguge (ANWR), which may have enough oil to dramatically alleviate our domestic problems. 

But the environmentalist lunatic-whackos (as opposed to environmentalists with rational, sincere concern for the earth), along with their hard-left pals (often one and the same, actually) have done, and will continue to do, everything in their power to prevent us from using our energy resources. 

The fact that only a minuscule portion of ANWR (far less than 1%) would be used for this is immaterial to these angry, bitter people.  The fact that it would be regulated up the wazoo to insure against environmental problems is just as immaterial. 

Basically, their position is that if, because of the drilling area, a caribou has to walk this way instead of that way in the middle of the wilderness, the entire ecological balance of the world will be destroyed.   Similarly, it's ok if Cuba and China drill in the Gulf of Mexico, but if we do it that will be the end of civilization.

They are NUT JOBS.

It is a very simple equation:  the more they succeed, the worse off we will be. 

free Newt Gingrich has an online petition going, I suggest everyone go read it and if you agree sign it. Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less. A Real Change Campaign to Lower Your Gas Prices I cant post the url but if you use your search engine and type in 'newt gingrich petition' you should find it with no problem. it is at the americansolutions dot com website. We the people have to force the government to do what we want. (05/31/08)


FLASH: OBAMA RESIGNS FROM HIS CHURCH

Ken Berwitz

In the tradition of Inspector Renault, Barack Obama is shocked - SHOCKED - to learn that hatred is being spewed from the pulpit of his church that he attended for almost 20 years. 

The hatred he would have you believe he was unaware of came from jeremiah wright, the pastor of the church he listened to for all those years, and now michael pleger, the radical Catholic priest he knew for just as long.

Anyone who believes that this is even one percent sincere is a world class sucker.

"Change we can deceive in"


PFLEGERANT RACISM

Ken Berwitz

Here, from its blog page, is the Chicago Tribune's editorial on Michael Pfleger's sermon at the church Barack Obama has attended for almost two decades:

Pfleger's vile sermon

You can read the Tribune's Saturday editorial regarding the news surrounding Rev. Michael Pfleger here.

When Barack Obama announced his campaign for president, you could anticipate that ugly racial stereotypes would rear up. You probably couldnt anticipate that some of his strongest supporters would promote the worst of it.

Thats what the nation saw as video surfaced of a sermon Rev. Michael Pfleger gave last Sunday from the pulpit of Obamas church in Chicago.

Pfleger talks of exposing white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head, and then theatrically mocks Sen. Hillary Clinton.

He stalks around the stage of Trinity United Church of Christ. He thunders: When Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really dont believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought, this is mine! Im Bills wife, Im white and this is mine! I just gotta get up and step into the plate and then out of nowhere came, Hey, Im Barack Obama, and she said, Oh, damn. Where did you come from? Im white! Im entitled! Theres a black man stealing my show!

Then he theatrically feigns tears and says, She wasnt the only one crying. There were a whole lot of white people crying.

His words at Trinity showed an astounding lack of decency and good sense. It wasnt a homily, it was a mocking, self-serving screed.

His act is getting old. A few months ago, Pfleger suggested that opponents of placing the Chicago Childrens Museum in Grant Park didnt want black children in their neighborhood. Take what position you want on the museum, but its divisive and destructive to claim that racism is the motivation for opposition.

Obama said Pflegers words were divisive and backward-looking.

Pfleger apologized for what he said at Trinity. I regret the words I chose Sunday, he said in a statement released by his church, St. Sabina. These words are inconsistent with Sen. Obamas life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Sen. Clinton or anyone else who saw them, he said.

If they offended? They offended. After everything that happened with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, how on earth does a priest, or any religious leader, take the pulpit and behave as Michael Pfleger did?

Yes, race is a factor in this campaign. Some voters will tell you point-blank that they wont vote for Barack Obama because he is black. But what has marked Obamas campaign is his great ability to inspire people to look beyond race. Its a shame that all of Obamas supporters havent done the same.

A few months ago, during the heat of the Wright debacle, Obama delivered a speech on race in America. It sought to empathize with black and white Americans. It sought not to nurse grudges and grievances, but to rise above them. It asked America to stop exploiting racial fears and stereotypes.

It was a great speech.

Pfleger should read it.

As far as the editorial goes, my only objection is to the requisite fawning over Barack Obama.  I dispute that Mr. Obama has some magic way of bringing people beyond race - not when he gets over 90% of the Black vote against a White Democrat with virtually the same positions on racial issues.  The only way that makes sense is if you think it only counts when White people vote along racial lines, not Black people - in other words, you buy into Affirmative Action Racism (AAR).  I also don't think Mr. Obama's speech was as great as media keep assuring me.

Now, what about Pfleger? 

How many times is Barack Obama going to pull this on us - i.e. tell us that vile racists like pfleger, whom he has known all these years, and whose positions on issues are certainly known to him, were, in reality not known to him at all -- until it meant that he'd lose votes over them?

-First we had jeremiah wright, who preached his hate-soaked Black liberation theology to Obama for almost 20 years.  Incredibly Mr.Obama, a regular attendee of the church, said he didn't know wright preached such filth -- until it became so embarrassingly dishonest that he had to admit the truth.  And then he suddenly denounced wright.

-Next we had unrepentant domestic terrorists william ayers and his wife bernardine dohrn, who Mr. Obama was just fine with for a decade but now is appalled by.

-And most recently we have michael pfleger, who Barack Obama has known for about as long as he has known jeremiah wright.  We are supposed to believe that, only now, he realizes how vile pleger's message is.

Are you old enough to remember the Peanuts comic strip?  Remember the beginning of every football season, when Lucy promises to hold the ball for Charlie Brown, convinces him she is really going to do it, and then pulls the ball away at the last moment which causes him to fall flat on his butt?

That is what Barack Obama is doing to you.  His BS about not knowing who/what these people are, one after the other after the other, is Lucy with the football. 

You either keep winding up flat on your butt or you eventually realize you're being made a compete fool of.  

Your choice.


JOHN HINDERAKER EXPOSES BLATANT ANTI-MCCAIN PRO-OBAMA MEDIA BIAS

Ken Berwitz

The conclusion - that media are biased against John McCain and in favor of Barack Obama - should be so obvious to you by now that it would seem redundant to give additional examples of it.

But John Hinderaker, the superb writer at the superb web site, www.powerlineblog.com, shows us just how blatant it is and just how one-sided media are when it comes to critiquing Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama. 

Here it is (the bold print is mine):

Reporters vs. McCain, Up Close

Earlier today I participated in a conference call with Senator Jon Kyl and Randy Scheunemann of the McCain campaign. The purpose of the call was to respond to the Obama campaign's attacks on statements McCain made yesterday:

I can tell you that it [the Surge] is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet, and it's long and it's hard and it's tough and there will be setbacks....

I've been on a lot of similar calls in the past, generally with a "blogger" group. This time, most of the journalists on the call were from the conventional media--the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, NBC News, and others. Senator Kyl and Scheunemann made what struck me as a reasonable pitch: McCain's error was a slight one, in that troops are being drawn down and they are projected to reach pre-surge levels in July; they are not yet, however, "drawn down to pre-surge levels."

Whether this is a significant error or a case of "nit-picking" over verb tenses as McCain's spokesmen characterized it is, I suppose, a judgment call. But on the most liberal judgment, McCain's error can't be one millionth as significant as this blindingly obvious fact: McCain supported the surge, predicting that it would reduce violence, while Obama opposed the surge, predicting that it would cause violence to increase. McCain was right. Understandably, Obama wants to focus on what McCain's campaign calls nit-picking in order to distract voters from the fact that he was indisputably wrong on the most important foreign policy issue that has arisen during his brief Senate tenure.

What was striking about the call was how eager the conventional reporters were to lend the Obama campaign a hand. Virtually every question they asked during the press conference dripped with hostility toward McCain. The tone can't fully be conveyed by a cold transcript, but I think you'll get the picture. Here are some of the questions the reporters asked, verbatim:

QUESTION: Randy, I'm a little confused here, because if the question is a change of -- a question over the tense of the statement, why is he not wrong?

QUESTION: Back to this point about pre-surge level, I mean, isn't this thing -- I know you're casting this as sort of this nitpicking, as Senator Kyl said, I believe. But isn't this significant, because Senator McCain's whole argument here is that he knows -- like you say, he knows the facts on the ground, he knows every detail of this, he's been to Iraq five times since Senator Obama last went?

You guys were counting the specific days since Obama's last trip. I mean, this isn't some small distinction, it seems to me.

QUESTION: Yes, first on the question of verb tenses, and it seems to be more important than you might suggest. If Bush had said, "The mission will be accomplished," and had not said, "Mission accomplished," those are two completely different things with completely different meanings.

Secondly, on McCain's points about everything being quiet in Mosul, the Obama campaign is saying that there were two suicide bombings there yesterday or in the vicinity. Do you regard that as all quiet in Mosul?

QUESTION: No, but it's not just a matter of simply verb tenses. I mean, if you say something "will be accomplished," things can change in Iraq, as we have seen. Just because a decision is made, decisions have been made all along for the past five years that have had to be postponed, revised.

We don't know what is going to happen between now and when the troop numbers are drawn down to the level that has been promised. A lot can happen. Verb tenses can be quite important. It's not just a matter for nitpicking things.

QUESTION: But the way you're trying to spin it, something "will" happen and something "has" happened are two completely different things. And that is not nitpicking to point that out.

QUESTION: Hey, sorry about the background noise here and sorry to return to verb tenses. But when he said that it is quiet in Mosul, just to follow up Michael, was that also a verb tense issue? Or is that just something that changed yesterday?

It's no secret that the press is running interference for Obama, but it was interesting to see it in action. You can read the AP's story on the controversy, including today's phone call, here. The Washington Post's story, which purports to fact-check McCain and gives him three "Pinocchios," is here.

This was Obama's parting shot:

"Today, Sen. McCain refused to correct his mistake," Obama said in remarks prepared for a rally Friday in Great Falls, Mont. "Just like George Bush, when he was presented with the truth, he just dug in and refused to admit his mistake."

Really? And when has Obama admitted that he was mistaken when he said that the surge would fail and would cause an increase in violence in Iraq? Do you suppose these same reporters will ask that question when they are next on a conference call with Obama's campaign? No, I don't think so either.

.

That is one big, deep tank the Obamedia are in. 

The most vicious and unprofessional of them all, however, was (as usual) keith olbermann of msnbc.  I watched olbermann for a few minutes last night, and he had a ballistic fit over Mr. McCain's misstatement about pre-surge levels.  olbermann has yet to have a ballistic fit over any gaffe, any lie or any association of Barack Obama's. 

As big and deep as the tank is for the Obamedia, olbermann is at the very bottom of that tank.


PEACE PARTNER UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

This delightful little insight into home life in Gaza comes to us from Agence France Presse, via www.littlegreenfootballs.com.  Please read it and think about how you would feel about living next door:

Palestinian Work Accident Watch

Sat, May 31, 2008 at 10:50:37 am PDT

Another mysterious blast at the residence of a terrorist; do you think maybe theyre hiding explosives in their houses? Palestinian killed in Gaza house blast: medics.

GAZA CITY (AFP) - A Palestinian was killed and another 16 were wounded on Saturday in an early morning explosion at a house owned by a Hamas member in Gaza City, medics and witnesses said.

Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services, confirmed the incident, adding that medics had not yet identified the person who died.

Witnesses said the house belonged to Nadir Abu Shaaban, a member of the Islamist Hamas movement which has ruled Gaza for nearly a year.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, won't you be mine......and I'll be sure to drive you to the hospital if one of my, er, home appliances accidentally goes off.

This is another story about the folks Israel is supposed to negotiate with to live in happiness and harmony.  Remember that the next time you hear about "the peace process"

free It goes to show how totally clueless our own government is. Can you imagine if during WWII we would have been trying to set up another nazi country. well that is exactly what we are doing by setting up palestine. these people want to kill us and we want to help them have another country. we are insane. (05/31/08)


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