“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Peak Oil, Oil Speculators, Off-shore Hoarding

ICE, ICE, Baby
Special to the Star-Telegram

"There’s a few hedge fund managers out there who are masters at knowing how to exploit the peak [oil] theories and hot buttons of supply and demand and by making bold predictions of shocking price advancements to come, they only add more fuel to the bullish fire in a sort of self fulfilling prophecy." — National Gas Week, September 5, 2005 as reprinted in the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ report, "The Role of Market Speculation in Rising Oil and Gas Prices," June 27, 2006

Fiddling While We Burn

There it is in plain sight for everyone to see, exactly what I’ve been reporting for the past few years: Many individuals who are investing in oil and natural gas futures are going out in the media and trying to convince the American public that either we are out of oil or there is a serious supply shortage of crude against worldwide demand. The question is: Does it surprise you to discover that the US Senate investigated the rigging of the oil market by speculators in the summer of 2006 – and concluded that there was no supply and demand problem with oil? Did you know that their conclusion was that speculators were responsible for a 70 percent overcharge in the price of oil in the months leading up to the summer of 2006?

This from page 1 of the Executive Summary of that Senate investigation, there is this one troubling line: "Today, U.S. oil inventories are at an eight-year high, and OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) oil inventories are at a 20-year high."

That’s odd because, in 2006, just like today, the media reporting covered the serious international shortage of oil and justified oil’s high price. Even more troubling is that the House of Representatives held a hearing this past December, ominously titled "Energy Speculation and Price Manipulation." How did it pass under the radar that both the Senate and the House studied the issue of price manipulation in our energy markets and both concluded that it was unregulated, massive trading in one futures market that was really driving up the price of oil and natural gas? And given that conclusion, why has Congress done nothing about it?

Investors Make the News, Literally

A week ago Goldman Sachs issued a new investor note, suggesting that somewhere between six months to two years, the price of oil could go into a "super spike" and prices jump as high as $200 per barrel. It became the major story of the night. Ignored in the reporting frenzy was that many legitimate and well-respected oil analysts dismissed Goldman Sachs’ prediction as groundless.

Get ready for the next shock to your system. In the past month we have added 11.9 million barrels of oil into our stock reserves, giving us 32.3 million more barrels of oil than we had on hand January 1. On May 5, we found out that for the second time in as many years, Iran was storing its excess crude oil on tankers in the Persian Gulf, because it had run out of storage space in the desert and was awaiting buyers for its heavy crude. That same day Saudi Arabia cut the discount price for its Arabian Heavy crude to $7.45, hoping to entice more buyers for immediate delivery. We didn’t hear that news, either.

While researching my third article for BusinessWeek online about the world’s oil situation in 2008, I asked for the most current report from Oil Movements. Because the oil industry is not transparent, Oil Movements tracks every tanker at sea, from both OPEC and non-OPEC oil countries, along with their cargoes’ final destinations. Anne O’Shea responded immediately to my request with their report dated May 8, 2008. Just so you will know, oil shipments are up from a year ago in almost every class, including Middle East oil in transit and Non-OPEC in Transit. The only class of oil shipment that has declined is covered on page 3 of that report. That chart is labeled, "4-Week Changes in Westbound Oil at Sea."

That’s right, shipments of oil headed west have shown serious declines during the month of April, down 800,000 barrels per day in the week before the publication of the report. Now, let me give you the first line from under the Westbound Oil shipments chart: "In the west, a big share of any [oil] stock building done this year has happened offshore, out of sight."

Could this be true? Oil Movements, the unimpeachable source for finding the real world situation on oil transits, is saying that oil is being hidden offshore, not declared in inventories? Yes, that is exactly what they are saying.

That same week our refineries cut their production runs back to 85 percent, down from 89 percent a year ago, to trim more gasoline out of our stock reserves, to increase their profits per gallon.

National Short-Term Memory Loss

It’s amazing how quickly we forget our recent history. Congressional hearings in 2001, blasting certain Wall Street executives for using the media to sell the public on stocks in order to bid up the price – so their firm could divest of its shares without taking a beating. Meanwhile, other trusted advisors pushed stocks that were fundamentally worthless, because their affiliated banks had large loan agreements with those companies.

The year before Enron had been caught manipulating the California energy market, even forcing rolling blackouts across the northern part of their state apparently just for effect – to support their claim that there just wasn’t enough electricity to go around. Again, we now know that claim was untrue. It was Enron shutting down certain power generation plants, while placing bets on their unregulated energy futures market. The net cost to California consumers was almost $8 billion.

It didn’t end there. Amaranth Advisors, a hedge fund, literally was cornering the market on natural gas futures, to make it appear that there was a shortage of natural gas, when the Commodities Futures Trading Commission told Amaranth to liquidate its position on the NYMEX because its bidding had already moved natural gas prices far beyond the reasonable limits of supply and demand. Now, remember this name: ICE, short for Intercontinental Exchange – the "dark futures lookalike market."

Once the CFTC told it to back off its natural gas futures contracts, Amaranth simply shifted gears, got out of the NYMEX, placed its massive bets outside of government regulation in ICE and managed to drive natural gas futures to $8.50 per MBtu.

As the Senate investigation into the manipulation of the energy markets showed, "Amaranth – the day before they failed, natural gas was about $8.50; the day after it failed, it went to $4.46 MBtu." That’s right, one major hedge fund managed to double the price of natural gas simply by loading up on futures contracts; when the government told them their bets were unwarranted, they simply moved their monies to a futures exchange that was unregulated. Only when Amaranth failed did natural gas prices fall back to what was considered normal for supply and demand.

Sadly, like oil today, when this was happening we were being told that natural gas supplies were tight worldwide. That statement simply wasn’t true.

Dark Future

Likewise, British Petroleum was busted for manipulating the propane market in the winter of 2004 and fined $373 million. Of course, in Texas, under deregulation of our public utilities, our electric rates can be set using the futures market for natural gas, so the manipulation of the natural gas market spelled trouble for us. Consider this, by 2006, according to, electricity rates for us had climbed to 15 cents a kilowatt-hour due to the high cost of natural gas. But, that was the exact same time period that Amaranth was proven to be manipulating the market and sending natural gas futures through the roof. Two months later the hedge fund collapsed and natural gas prices fell. Therefore, most Texans paid higher electric bills for Amaranth’s manipulation of the natural gas market.

Professor Michael Greenberger of the University of Maryland, a former board member of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, testified in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on December 14 of last year. Under discussion that day was the manipulation of the energy markets and prices, but Professor Greenberger added these comments: "Three, four months from now, you’re going to have a hearing on the subprime meltdown, and you’re going to find that the very same legislation [deregulating energy] deregulated something called collateralized debt obligations, CDOs." That legislation, friends, directly ties the mortgage meltdown to the high price of energy today.

It was called H.R. 5660, the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000. At first this bill went nowhere in the House, not even up for debate. Then, a few months later, late one night a 242-page bill written by Wall Street lawyers, with the exact same name as the former House bill, was quietly added to an 11,000-page appropriations bill, and the Enron loophole was created. The power behind that bill was one Texas Senator, one Texas Congressman and their wives.

Next week: How the unregulated futures market pushes the price of oil, natural gas and gasoline far beyond those commodities’ market value, thanks to the creation of the Intercontinental Exchange. Worse, Congress knows this, but does nothing.

© 2008 Ed Wallace

Ed Wallace is a recipient of the Gerald R. Loeb Award for business journalism, given by the Anderson School of Business at UCLA, and is a member of the American Historical Society. He reviews new cars every Friday morning at 7:15 on Fox Four’s Good Day, contributes articles to BusinessWeek Online and hosts the talk show, Wheels, 8:00 to 1:00 Saturdays on 570 KLIF. E-mail:

Under discussion that day was the manipulation of the energy markets and prices, but Professor Greenberger added these comments: "Three, four months from now, you’re going to have a hearing on the subprime meltdown, and you’re going to find that the very same legislation [deregulating energy] deregulated something called collateralized debt obligations, CDOs.


  1. Well, I don't know much about all this. I was reading the other day, hoarding oil doesn't work well as the costs of holding it are so high. On the other hand things seem out of control. Another article said it can't last, the fall is near. Wish I knew something about the topic.

  2. It was mostly Republicans in the Senate who shot down the windfall profits tax, which would have squeezed some of the speculation out of the oil market and got us back to fundamentals.

  3. Just today I heard Dick Morris say the speculation was caused by the easy margins allowed on the future markets.

    These were addressed in the Senate Bill the GOP killed with a filibuster. Continued gridlock, the GOP fighting a rear guard action, for its' patrons.

  4. Everyone has an opinion--

    Why the Oil Price Is High

    By Paul Craig Roberts

    11/06/08 "ICH" -- - How to explain the oil price? Why is it so high? Are we running out? Are supplies disrupted, or is the high price a reflection of oil company greed or OPEC greed. Are Chavez and the Saudis conspiring against us?

    In my opinion, the two biggest factors in oil’s high price are the weakness in the US dollar’s exchange value and the liquidity that the Federal Reserve is pumping out.

    The dollar is weak because of large trade and budget deficits, the closing of which is beyond American political will. As abuse wears out the US dollar’s reserve currency role, sellers demand more dollars as a hedge against its declining exchange value and ultimate loss of reserve currency status.

    In an effort to forestall a serious recession and further crises in derivative instruments, the Federal Reserve is pouring out liquidity that is financing speculation in oil futures contracts. Hedge funds and investment banks are restoring their impaired capital structures with profits made by speculating in highly leveraged oil future contracts, just as real estate speculators flipping contracts pushed up home prices. The oil futures bubble, too, will pop, hopefully before new derivatives are created on the basis of high oil prices.

    There are other factors affecting the price of oil. The prospect of an Israeli/US attack on Iran has increased current demand in order to build stocks against disruption. No one knows the consequence of such an ill-conceived act of aggression, and the uncertainty pushes up the price of oil as the entire Middle East could be engulfed in conflagration. However, storage facilities are limited, and the impact on price of larger inventories has a limit.

    Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi recently stated, “There is no justification for the current rise in prices.” What the minister means is that there are no shortages or supply disruptions. He means no real reasons as distinct from speculative or psychological reasons.

    The run up in oil price coincides with a period of heightened US and Israeli military aggression in the Middle East. However, the biggest jump has been in the last 18 months.

    When Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, the average price of oil that year was about $27 per barrel, or about $31 in inflation adjusted 2007 dollars. The price rose another $10 in 2004 to an average annual price of $42 (in 2007 dollars), another $12 in 2005, $7 in 2006, and $4 in 2007 to $65. But in the last few months the price has more than doubled to about $135. It is difficult to explain a $70 jump in price in terms other than speculation.

    Oil prices have been high in the past. Until 2008, the record monthly oil price was $104 in December 1979 (measured in December 2007 dollars). As recently as 1998 the real price of oil was lower than in 1946 when the nominal price of oil was $1.63 per barrel. During the Bush regime, the price of oil in 2007 dollars has risen from $27 to approximately $135. (see )

    Possibly, the rise in the oil price was held down, prior to the recent jump, by expectations that Democrats would eventually end the conflict and restrain Israel in the interest of Middle East peace and justice for the Palestinians. Now that Obama has pledged allegiance to AIPAC and adopted Bush’s position toward Iran, the high oil price could be a forecast that US/Israeli policy is likely to result in substantial supply disruptions. Still, the recent Israeli statements that an attack on Iran was “inevitable” only jumped the oil price about $8.

    Perhaps more difficult to understand than the high price of oil is the low US long term interest rates. US interest rates are actually below the rate of inflation, to say nothing of the imperiled exchange value of the dollar. Economists who assume rational participants in rational markets cannot explain why lenders would indefinitely accept interest rates below the rate of inflation.

    Of course, Americans don’t get real inflation numbers from their government and have not since the Consumer Price Index was rigged during the Clinton administration to hold down Social Security payments by denying retirees their full cost of living adjustments. According to statistician John Williams ( ), using the pre-Clinton era measure of the CPI produces a current CPI of about 7.5%.

    Understating inflation makes real GDP growth appear higher. If inflation were properly measured, the US has probably experienced no real GDP growth in the 21st century.

    Williams reports that for decades political administrations have fiddled with the inflation and employment numbers to make themselves look slightly better. The cumulative effect has been to deprive these measurements of veracity. If I understand Williams, today both inflation and unemployment rates, as originally measured, are around 12%.

    By pumping out money in an effort to forestall recession and paper over balance sheet problems, the Federal Reserve is driving up commodity and food prices in general. Yet American real incomes are not growing. Even without jobs offshoring, US economic policy has put the bulk of the population on a path to lower living standards.

    The crisis that looms for the US is the loss of world currency role. Once the dollar loses that role, the US government will not be able to finance its operations by borrowing abroad, and foreigners will cease to finance the massive US trade deficit. This crisis will eliminate the US as a world power.
    Paul Craig Roberts a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades

  5. Well. bob, that the inflation numbers were held down, through statistical methods, is common knowledge, here at the Bar.

    Core inflation is still low,
    Just factor out food and fuel, they being to inflationary to include.

  6. the easy margins allowed on the future markets.

    easy margins = volitile markets = danger = says Confu

  7. Social Security folk will just have to learn to eat grass.

  8. If the US citizens have lowered living standards and expectations, it makes assimilating Mexico all the easier.

    It's the per capita differental that the One America elite is trying to narrow. The top trickles down while the bottom rises.

  9. Read This

    Chief Judge on the aptly named 9th Circus Court of Appeals makes clown of himself.

  10. So a Reagan appointed Judge likes a little twist of bestiality when viewing his sex art.

    No children were depicted or described.

    Shaving a beaver, nothing wrong with that.

    Is it because he was a Reagan appointee that some would expect other types of artistic viewing from him?

  11. Uh, . . . Natural Gas is trading over $12.00.

    Kiddos, don't believe in fairey tales. Oil exports are down considerably from 2005. The North Sea is plunging. Mexico's Cantarell has fallen off a cliff. Venezuela is falling. (Imports from Mexico, and Venezuela are down 32%. Canada's exports are starting to fall. The Gulf of Mexico, and Prudhoe Bay are both falling. (Prudhoe will soon be a trickle.) Russia is rolling over. Saudi Arabia is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle, but their exports are down considerably from 2005. Nigeria is, seriously down. Angola is flattening out. China's importing more every year. So is India. Indonesia is now a Net Importer.

    Need I go on? World crude production is flat from 2005; and Consumption is rising substantially every year. (especially in Asia, Russia, China India Eastern Europe, and the Exporting countries.)

    Every field that has ever produced a million bpd is in decline.

    Don't listen when they talk about "reserves." It's all about "flow rate," and, ultimately, Exports. Google: ""

    Don't bet on it if you don't want to; but, for heaven's sakes, don't bet against it.

  12. westhawk speaks to some of the issues doug and I brought up at the old BC.

    Al Qaeda’s excellent sanctuary

    As we approach the seventh anniversary of the U.S. counterattack against al Qaeda, some Americans might find this recent statement by Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen a bit disturbing:

    The Admiral knows the next attack is coming, but the US military is stalemated.

    Building an Islamic Republic in Afghanistan instead of fighting Al Qaeda.
    Reconstruction before Victory

    Has not worked in Iraq, where massive resources were and are still being expended. It'll never work in Afghanistan, where the poppy is King, again.

  13. That the speculators have driven up the price, above what the current supply and demand numbers would justify, seems to be the point in dispute, rufus.

    Everything you say is most likely correct, but that is a different challenge than $140 oil. Flattening production is of longer term effect, the other a cabal of po;iticos and speculators, each using the market for their own advantage.

    One group earning billions, the other amassing power to further regulate and control the lives of others.

  14. The U.S. has thus found itself in a frustrating stalemate. What the Pakistani government, such as it is, must ponder is whether a catastrophic attack on the U.S. homeland, sourced from FATA, would result in an open-ended war by the U.S. against Pakistan. What U.S. leaders need to ponder is what that event would mean for the big-footprint operation in Afghanistan.

  15. The world will build about 70 Million Cars this year, Rat. Might retire 5 million (just guessing about that; don't really know.)

    The Market's warning us of bad times ahead. It's best we pay attention.

    Yes, Iran and Saudi arabia are sitting on quite a bit of old sour, heavy crude; but, the world has to build refineries to refine it. That will take awhile (years) In the meantime, Mexico, Venezuela, the U.S., the North Sea, will all be falling. By the time they come online we'll be another several million barrels down the slippery slope.

    People don't want to face up to it because they think they're facing the hangman. They're not. The market, despite the politicians, is doing pretty much all the right things. It'll smart for awhile; but, it won't "Kill" us.

  16. Is it because he was a Reagan appointee that some would expect other types of artistic viewing from him?

    No, it's because he's a judge. Who should know better. We don't need judges jerking off under the bench, posting disgusting crap, there was a day....long ago...

  17. Any country that can Do This doesn't have to worry about oil.

  18. Exactly right, rufus.

    But the energy issue was not faced forthrightly, when we entered a long-term military action in the Middle East.

    Energy is not universal. bob's nuclear power plants will not lessen the demand for oil. Oil is not an electrical generating fuel.

    We've run the numbers before, the number of new cars, compared to the junkout rate. The trillions of dollars invested in that oil guzzling fleet make it interal to the US economy. We both know that a crash course of ethanol distillery construction would be needed, to replace the oil imports, just from the war zone.

    About 1.75 million barrels per day

    If the War on Terror was really an energy war, we are further behind than ever, with the average citizen now taking an economic blow, six years into the conflict.
    With no Plan B, to a challenge we have often discussed, but against which no effective action was ever undertaken.

    A hole in the center.

    With no current politico willing to show the courage of the teenagers from VMI, at New Market.

    The US needs to be producing around 65 million gallons of ethanol each day, today. Just to eliminate our dependency on MidEast oil, right around 100 million gallons if we want to be rid of Hugo, as well.

  19. "Reconstruction before Victory"

    Reconstruction/Economic Development are necessary components of successful counterinsurgency campaigns, which are not won by simple attrition.

    For all the complaining you've done in re the US focus on the conventional aspects of what is an unconventional war, I'm surprised at your backsliding toward an exclusive emphasis on whack-a-mole.

  20. He did not break any laws, bob.

    He just does not measure up to your moral code. But it's a Brave New World we are handing over to the children.

    Exemplified by that Reagan appointed Federal Judge.

    Which does what, exactly to the vote McCain, for the Judges, argument. If Ronnie could have misjudged the Judge so badly ...
    Why expect that McCain would do better, as a judge of character.

  21. Not whack-a-mole, trish.

    In Iraq we should be leaving now, now that the Iraq Forces have proven capable of internal security.
    In Mosul, Basra and Baghdad.

    In Pakistan, where the enemy has sanctuary, the US is not engaged in a COIN operation.
    It is playing whack-a-mole

    The Enemy was no pursued and destroyed, in detail. Not in Afghanistan nor in Pakistan.

    If any Nation State was responsible for the September 2001 attack upon US, it was Pakistan.
    The Taliban just an extension of the ISI, at the time.

    This becomes even more evident when one sees the depth of support the President General gave to the Taliban, in both countries, but especially in Pakistan, post Tora Bora.

  22. There is a serious intensity to airport security here and abroad that has occurred over the last ten days.

  23. It's a crapshoot on judges to be sure, but we know what Obama would put in, which the odds are would be worse. No, the judge probably didn't violate any laws, but he's not fit to rule on that particular case, and will be taken off the case, and made a hell of a fool of himself.

    Our magistrate judge here, who just retired, got married kinda late, his wife worked for UPS for awhile, got caught importing drugs in a drug ring, turned state's evidence, got off light, went on to be elected to the city council. Then voted out. The judge is actually a good judge, a democrat, and fun to talk to, but it is 'unseemly' to say the least. People ought to have some confidence in the judiciary, it doesn't help to have the judges wife running drugs through UPS. I never felt quite the same about him after that. Though he was a fair judge.

  24. I want one of those in the pickup mode, Rufus. I'll hang on with what I've got till then.

  25. Deuce, you must have run up some serious flyer miles by now, seems you're always on the move, in the air.

  26. It is the whack-a-mole policy the US is pursuing, in Pakistan, that I disdain.

    As to Afghanistan, the poppy is King.

    When poppy cultivation drops below the 2001 production level, then some progress against the Taliban can be made. But as of now, poppies are funding the Enemy. And production of poppies continues to increase. It is not hard to connect those dots.

    We all know than an aerial deforestation program could eradicate those poppy fields. We do have air supremecy, in Afghanistan. So the current generation of Agent Orange could cripple the Taliban and their infrastructure.
    But it is not used.

    Anything less is an excuse to prolong the conflict, there.

  27. Monroe Marine kicked out of Corps for videotaped puppy tossing incident

    Actions of USMC Lance Cpl. David Motari and another Marine caused international uproar

    By Justin Arnold and Yoshiaki Nohara
    Herald writers

    HONOLULU, HI – A Marine from Monroe is being tossed out of the service as punishment for his role in a video that showed him throwing a puppy off a cliff in Iraq.

    Lance Cpl. David Motari, 22, of Monroe, a veteran of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being discharged from the Marine Corps as a result of an investigation into the incident, Maj. Chris Perrine of Marine Corps Base Hawaii said Wednesday evening. Motari's unit is based in Hawaii.

    The 17-second video video showing Motari throwing the puppy went viral on the Internet March 3, and led to international headlines and death threats to Motari's family in Monroe. Reached at her home Wednesday, Motari's mother declined comment.

    While it was careful for three months not to publicly confirm Motari's identity as the puppy thrower, the Marine Corps on Wednesday not only named him, but also deplored his conduct.

    "The Marine Corps conducted a thorough investigation as soon as it learned of the event and acted as swiftly as possible," a statement said. "The actions seen in the Internet video are contrary to the high standards we expect of every Marine and will not be tolerated. The vast majority of Marines conduct their duties with honor and compassion that makes American people proud."

    The video was broadcast on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Countless people posted their opinions about the video online. Internet-fueled rage quickly turned into death threats against the Marine’s family. Many even called his mother’s workplace in Monroe, demanding that she be fired.

    The controversy highlighted a new and growing problem for the U.S. military. Young tech-savvy warriors who head into combat zones abroad have begun posting raw, disturbing images on the Internet, without knowing how easily they can stir outrage or hurt others, including loved ones in the states. The military is scrambling to control the risk.

    Motari has received a non-judicial form of punishment and is currently being processed for separation from the Marine Corps for his role in the video.

  28. Heads up: Friday, June 13th, is the the United States Army's 233rd birthday. Which the Colombian command generously honored today - and which should be recognized by all red-blooded Americans by watching Stripes, for the hundredth time.

    If you aren't watching it for the hundredth time - if you don't know Bill Murray's motor pool speech by heart - well, Homeland Security needs to add you to their database.

    (Patton's speech is an acceptable substitute for citizens of a certain age.)

  29. 45 years of flying Bob. Many, many gamma rays.

  30. If it is unseemly for a local magistrate, to have his wife involved in a "drug ring", what about a President's wife?

    One who setup medical charities, and then stole the drugs.

  31. Top 3 countries with the most reserves - % increase of reserves from '96 - '06:

    Saudi Arabia - +1%
    Iran - +33%
    Iraq - +3%


  32. After Hugo announced that this is not the "Time for Revolution"?

    Is it local heat?

  33. That's unseemly as well, more so. I don't like McCain, I'll probably vote for him. The Scoop Jackson democrats are all gone. Alas.

    It's unseemly to say the least to have a candidate for President who so causually shrugs off his own hard drug use in his youth. Which was more than experimentation. The country is going to hell.

    Romney was my guy.

  34. Top 3 oil producing countries - % increase/decrease from '00 - '06:

    Saudi Arabia: +11%
    Russia: +33%
    USA: -12%

  35. Bob Barr

    The next step in the reconstruction of the Republic.

    Vote for Change.

  36. Anything less is an excuse to prolong the conflict, there.

    Thu Jun 12, 01:06:00 AM EDT

    I had an interesting discussion last autumn with a contractor just returned from Afghanistan whose job is just that - spraying poppies.

    Nothing we'd like better, than to prolong the conflict.

    Might wanna have Congress look into that. Unless...Congress is in on it! That would suck, wouldn't it?

    Who you gonna call?

  37. Top 3 oil consuming countries - % increase/decrease from '00 - '06:

    USA: +4%
    China: +36%
    Japan: -8%

    That's an interesting one, Japan. Wonder what they're doing? Hybrids?

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. This would be funny

    If it weren't quite so sad.

  40. Internally generated, within Colombia, by Colombians?

    And generated by the Government or the local (FARC) insurgents?

    Or are there Bolivaristas involved, directly?

  41. For the sixth time in as many weeks, armed robbers have attacked a visiting jewelry salesman, this time stabbing a vendor and taking 600 karats of diamonds when he stopped at a service station in southeast Houston, authorities said.


    Investigators believe Tuesday's hold-up was committed by members of a violent South American gang targeting jewelry dealers traveling in the Houston area. At least five similar holdups, netting the gang more than $3.5 million, have occurred since late April.


    Before Tuesday, the most recent attack occurred May 15 when three masked men made off with almost $1.5 million in diamonds after they pistol-whipped a traveling jewelry dealer at a Waffle House restaurant on Westheimer near Hayes.

    Strike Again

  42. The Libertarians are going to have to reach out to the minorities. Pretty lily white group there. Didn't see one minority in the house. When they legalize drugs, we'll just buy from Afghanistan to fill the need.

    More seriously, if we spray every poppy in Afghanistan, we're going to have to do something to replace the income to the farmers, or they'll join the fight. If they haven't already. About as disheartening situation as one can imagine.

  43. The farmers are part of the enemy, bob

    Part and parcel

  44. Short answer: FARC.

    Long answer: Chavez thrives on a "good" headline in the Evil Empire's press. Which is almost any headline at all. That's the kind of crazy motherfucker he is.

  45. Charolais were big around here for awhile quite some time ago.

    The farmers may be the enemy, but what they need is another crop that pays as much, or, that's to say, some money.

  46. I thought it was funny, and I'm the target. A farmer's a farmer, spray all the dirty bastards. They need a bath anyway.

  47. I wonder why organic goat meat is in such high demand?

  48. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez eliminated a financial transactions tax and cut paperwork for some importers in a bid to jump-start growth and rein in Latin America's highest inflation rate.


    The government will direct $500 million from a new windfall tax on the oil industry passed earlier this year to the new $1 billion development fund announced yesterday, the president said. The other half of the money will come from a fund created with China.


    The slowdown in growth was spread over almost all parts of the private sector. Manufacturing expanded 1.4 percent in the period, down from 6.8 percent in the same period a year earlier.

    Slowing Economy

  49. Bob, do you do much with livestock?

  50. They should be growing corn.

  51. If they were producing steel, say as the Germans did, ther'd be no hesitation in destroying their production capacity.

    Or at least there was not in the last war the US won.

    We are spending $3 billion each week, if were just a function of money, there'd be no war on terror.

    Yhese folk need to understand "with US or against US" and to be against US is to feel deep and prolonged pain, followed by death.

    Or we're not fighting a war

  52. Never owned a cow. In earlier days, all the farms around here had a few cattle, and the hills along the rivers had cattle grazing. The hills here many of them have a kind of wash board look from the years of cattle grazing. When the feed lots in the mid west got going big time, wheat farming and cattle went their separate ways. My neighbor has a few, but it is a rare thing here now. Oddly enough, I took a picture of some cattle at the U of I farm today. Not sure what kind they are.

  53. They should be growing corn.

    Thu Jun 12, 02:10:00 AM EDT

    I hope you don't mean the Afghans.

  54. Located to the east of Kandahar City, rustic Daman District is home to farmers and nomadic tribes.


    'It's a good thing that the government will build a clinic here,' said Abdul Jamil, a resident of Daman district. 'We had so many health problems and we couldn't get to the city hospitals in time because of a lack of transportation.

    Our seniors, mothers and children were faced with many health problems during the summer and winter. This clinic will help us a lot.'

    Daman District

  55. That's the problem, they're not making tanks. Scattered poppy farms all around. Like trying to kill all the thistles around here, if the thistles were being planted by men each year. Some of these plants I read are developing a resistance to Roundup, at least. Be nice to be able to genetically alter them out of existence.

    Spray the farmers? Well, maybe that's a good idea, the way I feel about hard drugs. I could be convinced.

  56. if we spray every poppy in Afghanistan, we're going to have to do something to replace the income to the farmers, or they'll join the fight. If they haven't already.

    - bob

    On occasion, it's almost gratifying to be here.

  57. This comment has been removed by the author.

  58. I'm not sure, but I think maybe corn wouldn't do so well there. The image I get is it's kind of high up, cold a lot, dry and stoney.

  59. They have no way to move bulk crops to market, sam.

  60. I always remember, back in the days of JFK, he and Jackie played host to the then King and Queen of Afghanistan, and the King was quoted as saying the only good thing about Afghanistan was the shooting, by which he meant the game bird hunting.

  61. Rufus:
    Don't China and India kind of screw up the free market in Oil with their subsidized gas?

    I have to believe consumption will be going down here, what with lots of folks disposing their SUV's for 4 cylinders, Airlines retiring planes and cutting routes, and etc.

    But w/all them Chinamen and Indians using more by the millions...

  62. Vandenburg used to put on some great shows for us Californicators, esp with evening/night launches

  63. I'm with dRat. Disposing of this useless Islamic state will be a good thing. The CIA might lose some of its illicit funding, but they're useless too, and I'm in favor of disposing of them as well.