“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, April 15, 2009

Mission accomplished. China's two biggest state-owned oil companies pursuing a joint venture in Iraq.

China's motivation in the area is not purely financial. The past few months has seen the country's state-owned commodities giants embark on a shopping spree among recession-hit Western rivals, including Rio Tinto, Oz Minerals and Fortescue. Trying to secure access to much-needed raw materials, the most significant deals have been for oil. China Development Bank is lending $35bn (£23bn) to tottering state oil companies in return for 400,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) for decades to come. A toehold in Iraq would provide yet more security.

The battle for Iraq's oil

Major oil companies and their state-owned counterparts are all jostling for a slice of the world's third-largest reserves. Sarah Arnott reports

Wednesday, 15 April 2009 Independent

Royal Dutch Shell is talking to two of China's biggest state-owned oil companies with a view to pursuing a joint venture in Iraq. Although Shell would not confirm details of the talks, a possible tie-up with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) is reported to focus on a bid to develop the Kirkuk field in the north of the country. "Discussions with potential partners are at a very early stage," a spokesman for Shell said yesterday.

The putative deal is just the latest move as both international oil companies and their state-owned counterparts jostle for position in the vast and underdeveloped Iraqi oil market.

The prize is huge. The country has proven reserves of 115 billion barrels, the third largest in the world after Saudi Arabia and Iran. "Iraq is a jewel for the international oil companies and always has been," said Manouchehr Takin, a senior petroleum analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies. "Not only does it have large proven reserves but there are also big estimates for undiscovered resources. People agree or disagree on the detail, but many think there may be even more yet to be found."

But the country's oil sector is inefficient and under-resourced after years of war, upheaval and sanctions against Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime. Of the 80 known oilfields, only 15 are developed – between them producing about 2.4 million barrels per day.

For Iraq itself, oil exports make up 95 per cent of government revenue and are the only way to fund the rebuilding of the shattered country. With the price of crude back down to $50 per barrel from last July's unprecedented $149, making the most of the nation's vast resources is an even more pressing priority.

Oil companies large and small have been lining up for a piece of the action since Saddam was deposed in 2003 and there have been some isolated deals, often not involving putting people on the ground. From 2004, BP, for example, was involved in the Rumeila field in the south, analysing geophysical data and providing guidance on ways to boost recovery rates. But the unclear legal position of the new government, and the dangerous security situation, counselled against more serious involvement.

The first attempt to bring in foreign expertise, in the form of two-year service contracts, collapsed last year and was superseded by the current plan for a series of 20-year service and investment deals. Thirty-two companies are bidding for the first round of contracts, which will cover six oilfields and two gas fields. According to the timetable, the first deals could be signed by the end of the year, although insiders are sceptical. A second round, launched in December, is looking for developers for another 11 fields and has attracted a further nine bidders in addition to the original 32.

But the contracts are not of the production-sharing type common elsewhere in the world. The winning bidder will not take over the operations entirely. Instead, it will establish a joint venture with whichever Iraqi state company is responsible for the field, working with them to expand and develop it. The proposal may not be the free-for-all the internationals dream of, but it is still a significant chunk of business. An estimated $50bn in investment is needed to meet Baghdad's target to raise output to six million bpd by 2014, and the collapsing price of oil has already changed the dynamic between the government and its potential partners.

Under the proposed arrangements, a proportion of the investment will come from the oil major and a proportion from the Iraqi state company. Assuming success, and production improved in line with targets agreed at the outset, the international company will recover its costs and receive a fee. In February, the contractor's stake was raised from 49 per cent to 75 per cent, and the production targets demanded by Iraq have also been lowered.

But even with softened terms, the attraction of the deals is more the foot in the door than the contracts themselves. "These are quite sophisticated arrangements, but they are very, very different from the contracts you might have elsewhere in the world, where the reserves can be booked in your accounts," a source at one major oil company said last night.

There are two problems that need to be overcome before any greater involvement. One is that deals with foreign oil companies are a thorny issue. Saddam's nationalisation of the industry in 1972 is one of very few aspects of his rule that is not criticised within Iraq, and any sense that the country's resources are being sold out to the West would be viewed as a gross betrayal.

The other is Iraq's internal politics. Since 2003, about 30 smaller oil companies have signed traditional production-sharing agreements with the government of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in the north, which has fewer than 10 per cent of the country's total oil reserves. But major companies including BP and Shell pulled out after Baghdad branded the deals illegal and threatened to ban any company pursuing such arrangements from bidding for work elsewhere in the country.

The row, which centres on whether the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has the right to make deals in its own right or must get them signed off by Baghdad, shows little sign of resolution. As well as holding up investment in the region itself, the stand-off is also scuppering the progress of the post-Saddam government's planned hydrocarbon law, which would provide a framework for rights and revenues, not to mention the involvement of foreign oil companies, for the country as a whole.

Despite years of discussion, and numerous different drafts, the law is still not on the statute books and attempts to revise it may require a revision of the Iraqi constitution governing the relationship between Baghdad and the KRG.

"There is a huge internal debate in Iraq about whether the government should make these types of deal," Mr Takin said.

Against such a background, the oil ministry is trying to get on with increasing production – and raising revenues for the state – within its existing remit. As well as the long-term services contracts, it has also put together a number of isolated deals, awarded without a competitive tendering process. Last autumn, Shell joined a $4bn joint venture to collect and market the 700 million cubic feet of gas flared from 19,000 square kilometres of oil field in the Basra region.

In August, CNPC – now in talks with Shell over Kirkuk – signed a $3bn deal to develop the Ahdab field in central Iraq, thus agreeing the first oil deal since the fall of Saddam. But as Baghdad and the KRG do not even agree whether Kirkuk is in Kurdistan or not, even the smallest steps are worth taking.


  1. The Chinese will really need a blue water navy? You think?

  2. It is very important to have 150,000 US troops in Iraq. Very important, and never forget the valuable contribution of the Kurds.

  3. The United States said Tuesday it is providing Lebanon with 12 unmanned military aircraft in the coming months

  4. from caroline glick

    Surviving in a post-American world

    Like it or not, the United States of America is no longer the world's policeman. This was the message of Barack Obama's presidential journey to Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Iraq this past week.

    Somewhere between apologizing for American history - both distant and recent; genuflecting before the unelected, bigoted king of Saudi Arabia; announcing that he will slash the US's nuclear arsenal, scrap much of America's missile defense programs and emasculate the US Navy; leaving Japan to face North Korea and China alone; telling the Czechs, Poles and their fellow former Soviet colonies, "Don't worry, be happy," as he leaves them to Moscow's tender mercies; humiliating Iraq's leaders while kowtowing to Iran; preparing for an open confrontation with Israel; and thanking Islam for its great contribution to American history, President Obama made clear to the world's aggressors that America will not be confronting them for the foreseeable future.

    Whether they are aggressors like Russia, proliferators like North Korea, terror exporters like nuclear-armed Pakistan or would-be genocidal-terror-supporting nuclear states like Iran, today, under the new administration, none of them has any reason to fear Washington.

    This news is music to the ears of the American Left and their friends in Europe. Obama's supporters like billionaire George Soros couldn't be more excited at the self-induced demise of the American superpower. CNN's former (anti-)Israel bureau chief Walter Rodgers wrote ecstatically in the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, "America's... superpower status, is being downgraded as rapidly as its economy."

    The pro-Obama US and European media are so pleased with America's abdication of power that they took the rare step of applauding Obama at his press conference in London. Indeed, the media's enthusiasm for Obama appeared to grow with each presidential statement of contrition for America's past uses of force, each savage attack he leveled against his predecessor George W. Bush, each swipe he took at Israel, and each statement of gratitude for the blessings of Islam he uttered.

    But while the media couldn't get enough of the new US leader, America's most stable allies worldwide began a desperate search for a reset button that would cause the administration to take back its abandonment of America's role as the protector of the free world.

    Tokyo was distraught by the administration's reaction to North Korea's three-stage ballistic missile test. Japan recognized the betrayal inherent in Defense Secretary Robert Gates's announcement ahead of Pyongyang's newest provocation that the US would only shoot the missile down if it targeted US territory. In one sentence, uttered not in secret consultations, but declared to the world on CNN, Gates abrogated America's strategic commitment to Japan's defense.

    India, for its part, is concerned by Obama's repeated assertions that its refusal to transfer control over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir provinces to Pakistan inspires Pakistani terror against India. It is equally distressed at the Obama administration's refusal to make ending Pakistan's support for jihadist terror groups attacking India a central component of its strategy for contending with Pakistan and Afghanistan. In general, Indian officials have expressed deep concern over the Obama administration's apparent lack of regard for India as an ally and a significant strategic counterweight to China.

    Then there is Iraq. During his brief visit to Baghdad on Tuesday afternoon, Obama didn't even pretend that he would ensure that Iraqi democracy and freedom are secured before US forces are withdrawn next year. The most supportive statement he could muster came during his conversation with Turkish students in Istanbul earlier in the day. There he said, "I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out, that we do so in a careful enough way that we don't see a complete collapse into violence."

    Hearing Obama's statements, and watching him and his advisers make daily declarations of friendship to Iran's mullahs, Iraqi leaders are considering their options for surviving the rapidly approaching storm.

    Then there is Europe. Although Obama received enthusiastic applause from his audience in Prague when he announced his intention to destroy the US's nuclear arsenal, drastically scale back its missile defense programs and forge a new alliance with Russia, his words were anything but music to the ears of the leaders of former Soviet satellites threatened by Russia. The Czech, Polish, Georgian and Ukrainian governments were quick to recognize that Obama's strong desire to curry favor with the Kremlin and weaken his own country will imperil their ability to withstand Russian aggression.

    It is not a coincidence, for instance, that the day Obama returned to Washington, Georgia's Moscow-sponsored opposition announced its plan to launch massive protests in Tblisi to force the ouster of pro-Western, anti-Russian Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

    And as for Russia, like Iran, which responded to Obama's latest ode to the mullahs by opening a nuclear fuel plant and announcing it has 7,000 advanced centrifuges in operation, so Moscow reacted to Obama's fig leaf with a machine gun, announcing its refusal to support sanctions against North Korea and repeating its false claim that Iran's nuclear program is nonaggressive.

    Finally there is Israel. If Obama's assertions that Israel must support the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state, his declarations of support for the so-called Saudi "peace plan," which requires Israel to commit national suicide in exchange for "peace" with the Arab world, and his continuous and increasingly frantic appeals for Iran to "engage" his administration weren't enough to show Israel that Obama is sacrificing the US's alliance with the Jewish state in a bid to appease the Arabs and Iran, on Tuesday Vice President Joseph Biden made this policy explicit.

    When Biden told CNN that Israel would be "ill-advised" to attack Iran's nuclear installations, he made clear that from the administration's perspective, an Israeli strike that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power is less acceptable than a nuclear-armed Iran. That is, the Obama administration prefers to see Iran become a nuclear power than to see Israel secure its very existence.

    AMERICA'S BETRAYAL of its democratic allies makes each of them more vulnerable to aggression at the hands of their enemies - enemies the Obama administration is now actively attempting to appease. And as the US strengthens their adversaries at their expense, these spurned democracies must consider their options for surviving as free societies in this new, threatening, post-American environment.

    For the most part, America's scorned allies lack the ability to defeat their enemies on their own. India cannot easily defeat nuclear-armed Pakistan, which itself is fragmenting into disparate anti-Indian nuclear-wielding Islamist and Islamist-supporting factions.

    Japan today cannot face North Korea - which acts as a Chinese proxy - on its own without risking a confrontation with China.

    Russia's invasion of Georgia last August showed clearly that its former republics and satellites have no way of escaping Moscow's grip alone.

    This week's Arab League conference at Doha demonstrated to Iraq's leaders that their Arab brethren are incapable and unwilling to confront Iran.

    And the Obama administration's intense efforts to woo Iran coupled with its plan to slash the US's missile defense programs - including those in which Israel participates - and reportedly pressure Israel to dismantle its own purported nuclear arsenal - make clear that Israel today stands alone against Iran.

    THE RISKS that the newly inaugurated post-American world pose for America's threatened friends are clear. But viable opportunities for survival do exist, and Israel can and must play a central role in developing them. Specifically, Israel must move swiftly to develop active strategic alliances with Japan, Iraq, Poland, and the Czech Republic and it must expand its alliance with India.

    With Israel's technological capabilities, its intelligence and military expertise, it can play a vital role in shoring up these countries' capacities to contain the rogue states that threaten them. And by containing the likes of Russia, North Korea and Pakistan, they will make it easier for Israel to contain Iran even in the face of US support for the mullahs.

    The possibilities for strategic cooperation between and among all of these states and Israel run the gamut from intelligence sharing to military training, to missile defense, naval development, satellite collaboration, to nuclear cooperation. In addition, of course, expanded economic ties between and among these states can aid each of them in the struggle to stay afloat during the current global economic crisis.

    Although far from risk free, these opportunities are realistic because they are founded on stable, shared interests. This is the case despite the fact that none of these potential alliances will likely amount to increased support for Israel in international forums. Dependent as they are on Arab oil, these potential allies cannot be expected to vote with Israel in the UN General Assembly. But this should not concern Jerusalem.

    The only thing that should concern Jerusalem today is how to weaken Iran both directly by attacking its nuclear installations, and indirectly by weakening its international partners in Moscow, Pyongyang, Islamabad and beyond in the absence of US support. If Japan is able to contain North Korea and so limit Pyongyang's freedom to proliferate its nuclear weapons and missiles to Iran and Syria and beyond, Israel is better off. So, too, Israel is better off if Russia is contained by democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe. These nations in turn are better off if Iran is contained and prevented from threatening them both directly and indirectly through its strategic partners in North Korea, Syria and Russia, and its terror affiliates in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    For the past 16 years, successive Israeli governments have wrongly believed that politics trump strategic interests. The notion that informed Israel's decision-makers - not unlike the notion that now informs the Obama administration - was that Israel's strategic interests would be secured as a consequence of its efforts to appease its enemies by weakening itself. Appreciative of Israel's sacrifices for peace, the nations of the world - and particularly the US, the Arabs and Europe - would come to Israel's defense in its hour of need. Now that the hour of need has arrived, Israel's political strategy for securing itself has been exposed as a complete fiasco.

    The good news is that no doubt sooner rather than later, Obama's similarly disastrous bid to denude the US of its military power under the naive assumption that it will be able to use its new stature as a morally pure strategic weakling to win its enemies over to its side will fail spectacularly and America's foreign policy will revert to strategic rationality.

    But to survive the current period of American strategic madness, Israel and the US's other unwanted allies must build alliances with one another - covertly if need be - to contain their adversaries in the absence of America. If they do so successfully, then the damage to global security induced by Obama's emasculation of his country will be limited. If on the other hand, they fail, then America's eventual return to its senses will likely come too late for its allies - if not for America itself.

    Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

  5. How could that adorable egg-rolling family be Anti-Americans?
    Ms Glick is deranged.

  6. The Obama DHS hit job on conservatives is real(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.

    Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

    (U) Disgruntled Military Veterans

    (U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

  7. Well, doug, the two of the most major terror actions in the US, outside of 9-11-01, were the OK City bombing, done by US military veterans and the Beltway sniper saga, also having a US military vet as the driving force behind the terror.

    There is ample cause for concern, from a historical perspective, of radicalized veterans.

    All the way back to The Bonus Army, a group of World War I veterans seeking expedited benefits, established a Hooverville in Anacostia in the District of Columbia in 1932, led by former Army sergeant Walter W. Waters and former brigadier general Smedley D. Butler. At its maximum there were 15,000 people living there.[4] The camp was demolished by units of the United States Army, commanded by General Douglas MacArthur and Major George S. Patton.[5] (wiki)Radicalized vets, are they a real danger to civil rule?

  8. desert rat said...
    Well, doug, the two of the most major terror actions in the US, outside of 9-11-01, were the OK City bombing, done by US military veterans and the Beltway sniper saga, also having a US military vet as the driving force behind the terror.

    Both had Islamic connections...

  9. and how many Islamic hijackings, bombings etc have been stopped?

    so many, so never heard of, so real...

  10. WIO,

    How many OCCURRED, but were reported as, and called by the FBI, among others, as random acts of violence?

  11. "Radicalized vets, are they a real danger to civil rule?"
    Is "civil rule" by an Anti-American Marxist Domestic Terrorist Sympathizer a GREATER threat to the USA?

  12. Count the US bodies, killed in the US.

    As far as the perps go, the Muslims lead, US military veterans, a distant second.

    Leftist radicals, hardly worthy of mention.

    There in being the priorities of any anti-terror program. Domestic terrorists, either Islamic or neo-Nazi, those that actually put the rubber to the road, are military vets, historically speaking.

    We have been awaiting the surge of Islamic radicals, emerging from US prisons for 6 years, it has failed to materialize.

  13. (left out Muzzie Terrorist denier)

  14. THOUSANDS of bombings recorded by the FBI by BHO's buddies, Weather Underground and other Leftist/Marxist hate America groups.

  15. Hispanics, esp hispanic gang members, have killed far more than Muslims and "right wingers" combined.

  16. I doubt, doug, as you infer, that the Justice Department under Mr Bush failed to inform the US people of the ongoing threats, that they were stopping, by intentially misinforming the public. The Bush Team used every occasion that availed itself, to take credit for breaking up conspiracies.

    The Fort Dix however many, and others of little import were announced over the years, touted as success.

    If there are unknown domestic terror events that were stopped, and the public is not aware, the failure is with those that were in charge of maintaining morale, not with those that identify the threat, accurately from the data sets provided.

    The conspriacy you guys alledge, would have to be greater in scope and scale than the Fed Reserve, which hides in plain sight.

    There'd be evidence of the conspiracy of silence.

  17. Dolphins, Protectors of Chi-ComsDolphins Block Idiot Somali PiratesThe Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China's fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China's.

    The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness befor the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Those bombs that the Leftists planted, they did not produce much of a body count, not by comparison to Sgt McVeigh's efforts.

    The hispanic gangs, doug, on that score I agree. They too are a major threat source to the civilian population of the US.

  20. "I doubt, doug, as you infer, that the Justice Department under Mr Bush failed to inform the US people of the ongoing threats, that they were stopping, by intentially misinforming the public. The Bush Team used every occasion that availed itself, to take credit for breaking up conspiracies."
    Facts are facts:
    The LAX Israeli killings were reported as non-muslim, non terrorist related.

    Dittos the running down of Jews in San Fran.

    Attack on Jewish organization in the Northwest, etc etc.

  21. But, that we have spent $1 trillion USD to empower the Chinese in Iraq, pure Russell Company magic.

  22. Cite evidence that Timmy Mac was a "right winger."

  23. Those are two incidents, with, I think 3 dead. Not much of a conspriacy, just a difference in the perception of motive, doug.

    Both Muzzies, not Leftist, regardless. I'm not sure if the perps of those two incidents were domestic products or foreign imports, to tell the truth

  24. 25. Brock:

    Freedom projects as far as the freedom fighter can project force greater than the would-be tyrants and criminals, and no further.

    Pax Romana followed the roads its Legions marched, and withdrew when the Legions withdrew.

    Pax Brittanica followed the wind and musket, and retreated when the locals got muskets too.

    Philadelphia sounded its bell but was built with its cannons, and the 20th C. Pax Americana extended to all parabolic arcs. It will withdraw when we put our nukes aside, just as all Peaceful umbrellas have retreated before when force of favor is less that force of tyranny.


    This is stupidity of the grandest order, for it is failure not of intellect but of willingness to see the world for what it is; to see people for what they are. This is betting our lives, and all our civilization, on the delusion that Homer and Shakespeare were wrong in their diagnosis of what ails the world.

  25. when i served, i remember in between a mixed training event, a few soldiers donning "ZOG" t-shirts. my own barracks roomate was a self proclaimed neonazi. black islam also was in the ranks, occasionally expressing the typical characteristic hatreds.
    these people are the true parasites on our society, much more so then fus's zionist accusations or his bad mouthing of fine people like John McCain (calling him McNutz).

    the majority of those who were/are serving are some of americas finest. The point is, most of these "radicals" mentioned above, were assholes before they served.

  26. "just a difference in the perception of motive, doug."
    Yeah, the compassionate justice of the feds, seeing no evil, vs the Lowly Kaffir on the street.

  27. Slim,
    FBI reports 2-300 out of 23,000.

  28. Timmy was a subscriber to the storyline of the Turner Chronicles, he had stayed at Elohim City and had contacted Andreas Karl Strassmeir in a search for a safe house to use, after the attack.

    Timmy was a militiaman, through and through.

    There is further strange coincidence involving Elohim City. Several members of a group known as the Mid West Bank Robbers or the Aryan Republican Army regularly stayed there and one of them even shared a room with Andreas Strassmeir.

    The Aryan Republican Army was formed in 1993 and their primary objective was to rob banks to fund attacks on federal buildings. Peter Langan, their leader would later claim that they had links with Timothy McVeigh.

  29. Tax Day Tea PartyGodspeed and good luck today On February 15th, 2009, all of us were going about our lives. Many of us were feeling the pinch via the bad economy, most of us were reaching the boiling point with regards to frustration with a Government that appears to be completely out of control.

    On February 19th, Rick Santelli, via national news television, said what millions of Americans wanted to say, and he said it in a way that represented a rally call. Whether or not Rick really meant what he said is not relevant, what IS relevant is that fact that so many of us heard it, and were ready to react.

    So here we are… just under two months later and looking at a Historic day ahead of us. Today we’ll be protesting nationwide in almost 800 cities. Many of these protests will see thousands of Americans pour into the streets, some will see tens of thousands.

    Our estimates show that we’ll easily be in the six figures when all is said and done.

    Tomorrow, April 16th, will represent a new day for the freedom movement. New leaders will come into play, new coalitions will form, new tax groups will be born, and a new energy will surround us all across the country. Tomorrow, a completely new face will be put on a movement that has suffered at the hands of attempted top down control and old school political hacks over the years. The individuals and groups that have attempted to control the freedom movement have literally been shoved out of the way by tens of thousands of Americans, and it happened in just nine weeks.

  30. Nickols also worked with muzzies, in the Phillipines, to learn how to detonate the ammonium nitrate. Previous to his trip there, the two conspiritors could not get their bombs to ignite and detonate.

    They'd tried to blow up some stumps, and failed.

    Is there a neo-Nazi - muzzie connection? I've thought so, based on the available data sets, but the FBI says not.

    So there's not.

  31. Liberals’ Dirty ShameLiberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning .2009

    When the myth that the Patriot Act targeted libraries — it didn’t — was all the rage, liberals manned the parapets.

    But when the Obama administration approves the constitutionality of banning politically relevant books before the Supreme Court, where’s the outrage? Yes, there are some sober, responsible editorials. But the soapboxes stand unmanned by the self-appointed paragons of freedom.

    But perhaps they’re right to be silent. It’s not as if anyone is trying to ban Hustler.

  32. Jim David Adkisson was indicted on two counts of felony murder and six counts of attempted first-degree murder.

    Coverage of the church shooting that occurred at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday July 27, 2008 in Knoxville.

    Church shooter pleads guilty; Letter releasedTuesday, Feb. 10, 2009

    It was a simple plan, he wrote, borne out of hopelessness but rooted in patriotism. “The future looks bleak,” the ex-soldier lamented. “I’m absolutely fed up! So I thought I’d do something good for this country — kill Democrats ‘til (sic) the cops kill me.”

  33. Linda Lee Kraeger was brilliant in so many ways.

    Brilliant not only for her intellect, but in seeing the light in people and calling it forward. Brilliant in her laughter and in her humility, said the Rev. Mitra Jafarzadeh of Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Farragut.

    "We have come here to remember Linda Kraeger, to celebrate her life, to honor her time with us and to mourn her passing," said Jafarzadeh on Sunday afternoon at the church.

    Kraeger, 61, was one of two people killed July 27 when a man walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Kingston Pike in Knoxville and opened fire on the congregation with a shotgun.

    Greg McKendry, 60, also died, and seven people were injured.

    Police charged 58-year-old Jim David Adkisson of Powell, who is accused of opening fire on the congregation at 10:18 a.m. that morning as they watched a performance of "Annie Jr."

  34. The Liberals Dirty Shame link is not quite correct, doug, like, I mean it's verbotten, or somethin'

  35. Just click the damn thing, and see

  36. I read something better about Mussolini elsewhere, that he started out far different than Hitler.

  37. Hustler was around when I was at Fort Hood, doug.

    The memorable phrase, from Hustler that has stayed with me through the years:
    "In the Pink".

    Now-a-days I see women wearing tight sweat pants with the word:
    "Pink" embrodiered across their ass. I just have to smile.

    Perception, perspective and versions of reality. I'm sure those women do not percieve pink the way I percieve pink,
    spread across a Hustler centerfold, or maybe they do.

  38. Phil Spector Mug Shot Jury Convicts Celebrity!Phil Spector breaks a prosecutorial losing streak on rich and famous murderers.

  39. "I'm sure those women do not percieve pink the way I percieve pink,
    spread across a Hustler centerfold, or maybe they do.
    To me, they represent yet another small part of the demise of our culture, what do they represent to you?

  40. The core authority for the banning of that Hillary movie and the ability of the Government to control the political messages.


    Yet McCain was considered a more than adequate candidate for President, by many, here.

  41. Question:
    Is is safe to store large quantities of ammo in your house?

  42. Kid got hitched up on the radio to a local girl here in the Air National Guard.
    ...she runs the Armory, I should as her!

  43. The women with pink on their ass?

    I usually feel sorry for their niavete.

    The decline of the culture?
    From when did the decline commence, but some time before my birth, eally.

    Hustler has been part of the culture my entire adult life.

    That girls are now wearing Hustler ads on their ass, a sign of how pervasive sexual liberties have become. While the EB is banned in many public libraries and motels, bobal reports.

    But free sex is an age old issue, recall if you will duece's list of the bastards from history that became famously productive people. Almost all the product of loose morals, if judged by the Ozzie & Harriet Standard.

  44. As long as the house does not burn.

    Keep it in a dry and cool area, though dry is more important than cool.

    Don't leave it directly on the floor.

    Should last for years.

  45. Kid has some Chzek (sp) stuff from 1953.
    Says no misfires in hundreds of rounds.
    Just bought $2,600 of rounds for one of his many collectibles!

  46. Houses DO burn, from time to time.
    That was the first thing that came to my mind.
    Seems like outside the house storage would be best when available.

  47. Humidity can kill 'em, over time, as can electrolysis.

    I believe that is why we elevated the ammo on wood platforms, off the concrete floors. To break the electrical connection to the ground.

  48. maui-tea-partyI'll be there.
    al-Bob will represent.
    What about the rest of you "Patriots?"

  49. oh, yeah:
    He said the old ammo had lead in the primers, which kept them from degrading.
    Now illegal for non-military.

  50. So many children are born outside of a marriage relationship, that it is a cryin' shame. Putting huge stress upon the unwed mothers and then the children.

    Families that start off so dysfunctional, they can barely be described as families, at all.

    In that reality I see a cultural decline, but how that relates to advetising the ripeness of one's vagina, by embroidery.

    I'm not totally sure, but does remind me of the females at the Baboon house

  51. "So many children are born outside of a marriage relationship, that it is a cryin' shame. Putting huge stress upon the unwed mothers and then the children.

    Families that start off so dysfunctional, they can barely be described as families, at all.
    Brought to us by friendly funding by the feds.
    ...with our dollars.

  52. Somehow, the attraction gets lost in the Species Change.

  53. Is Hugh Heffner responsible for my breast fetish, or is it in my Jeans?

  54. Pretty damn discouraging, the steepness of that decline.

  55. Pre-foreclosure filings, which are an indicator of future completed foreclosures, rose 5.8% from February to 225,131. The first quarter saw 604,590 pre-foreclosure filings, up 15% from the fourth quarter and 17% from a year earlier.

    California, which is considered the epicenter of the housing crisis and has been one of the hardest-hit markets, saw foreclosures soar 59% last month. The total is still down from September, when the state's index peaked and state legislature adopted a law to slow foreclosures.

    Florida's foreclosures rose by a third, while Arizona's jumped 45%. Both have also been among the hardest-hit states regarding home-price declines.

    Late last month, data from the National Association of Realtors showed existing-home sales jumped 5.1% in February, the most in five years, driven by foreclosure sales that are sending prices plunging. That report came a week after a government report that said home construction rose for the first time during February for the first time in eight months.

    Write to Kerry E. Grace at

  56. The first quarter statistics for the Rim Country real estate picture did not produce the uptick we were hoping for, although there is continued optimism that we will see a steady increase in the number of homes being sold.

    Real estate offices are seeing increased foot traffic as buyers are gathering information on available properties and the number of people searching the Internet is increasing.

    The statistics presented below were derived from information reported to the Central Arizona Board of Realtors and does not include unreported or for sale by owner transactions.

    Payson-Star Valley

    For the first quarter of 2009, Payson and Star Valley reported the sale of 42 homes.

    The average selling price was $265,273 with an average of 197 days on the market.

    This compares to the first quarter of 2008 when 57 homes sold at an average of $356,887.

    Average days on the market were 184.

    Total value of all homes sold in the first quarter in 2009 was $11 million.

    First quarter 2008 saw transactions worth $20 million.

    In the first quarter, homes sold at an average of 11.1 percent below listed price.

    Payson and Star Valley currently have 524 homes on the market.

    This is up from the 459 homes we had listed at the end of the year.

    The total value of homes on the market is $258 million.


    No surprise that the purchase of vacation homes has suffered even more than the primary market.

    Pine-Strawberry saw seven home sales in the first quarter of 2009 for a total value of $1.6 million.

    This was down from 21 sales in the comparable period in 2008 with a total valuation of $6 million.

    The average first quarter selling price was $223,214 compared to $282,342 in 2008.

    Average days on the market were 176 and homes sold at an average of 8.6 percent below the listed price.

    Pine and Strawberry currently have 125 homes on the market, which is down from the 129 homes on the market at year end.

    The total value of the homes on the market in Pine-Strawberry is $40 million.

    Barring some unforeseen circumstance, we would expect second quarter statistics to show improvement over the first quarter, however, without a crystal ball, we will have to wait and see if the government incentives stimulate the housing market.

    Ray Pugel is a designated broker for Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty. Contact him at (928) 474-2216.

  57. Remember, doug, the Brit in Afghanistan who called the battle there a British "Civil War"?

    Just another part of the Pakistan-London pathway to progress.

  58. 11 Pirates Are Seized in Raid by French Navy
    New York Times - ‎1 hour ago‎

    French forces detained 11 suspected pirates during an assault on what they described as a pirate “mother ship” in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Somalia Wednesday, less than 24 hours after ...

  59. Well, duece, does Toomey have any chance of winning in the General Election, if he were to clinch the nomination?

    Conservative launches challenge to Pa.'s Specter The Associated Press - ‎41 minutes ago‎
    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pat Toomey, who as a little-known congressman nearly defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2004 primary, announced Wednesday that he will mount another challenge when Specter seeks the Republican nomination for a sixth term next ...

  60. By JOHN KELL
    An investor group that includes a number of Saturn dealers said it has approached struggling auto maker General Motors Corp. to acquire and operate the principal assets of Saturn, adding the division would benefit as an independent entity.

    If successful, the new company would outsource Saturn production, initially to GM, and eventually sell "smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles" from a range of companies.

    Saturn is among the properties GM has said it is looking to pare as it focuses on its primary brands, including Chevrolet and Cadillac, while trying to stem red ink and deal with an industry sales depression.

    Private-equity firm Black Oak Partners LLC said it was working with Saturn retailers to acquire Saturn Distribution Corp., the group that franchises with Saturn retailers. The entity didn't disclose any monetary offer and an official declined to comment, though it did say informal talks began last month. A spokeswoman from GM wasn't available to comment.

    In a statement, group spokesman John S. Pappanastos said, "GM will be relieved of liabilities related to retailer franchise agreements and avoid the downstream financial fallout on their other brands that would result from closing Saturn retail facilities."

  61. I've found the below gentleman's writings on the US to be pretty good. It helps to be 'outside looking in' to get some perspective. Worth reading the whole article in my opinion but here is the first bit:

    Obama must prepare the United States now for the tax pain to come


    From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

    April 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

    Barack Obama delivered yesterday a major speech on his economic plan so masterful that it silences reasoned dissent on his administration's progress thus far.

    Yet there was a flaw, imbedded in the second half of his address, that could plague his second term.

    Yes, it is beyond hubris to be talking about a second term 12 weeks into the first one. But the President is sowing policy seeds that will not bear fruit for a decade. By his own admission, mistakes made now will matter for years to come.

    And political necessity is forcing Mr. Obama to make one very large mistake: He is failing to warn Americans that he will have to raise taxes once this recession ends. That failure could cost him dearly down the road.

  62. I've found Sarko to be an insightful, straight talker:

    PAPER: French president portrays Obama as weak and meek...

  63. The Good Old Days of Plentiful Pumpkins:

    60. Eggplant:

    dan said:

    “after the Nagasaki bomb, the US had no others”

    A minor quibble: We actually had one plutonium core left for another Fatman bomb at the time of Japan’s surrender. We had many empty Fatman bomb cases. These bomb cases were called “pumpkins”. Some of these pumpkins were converted into conventional weapons and dropped on Japan shortly before Japan surrendered. Some of these remaining pumpkin bomb cases and the plutonium core were used in later nuclear weapons tests.

  64. The U.S. and Japan proposed lists of North Korean companies, banks and missile-related equipment to be targeted by United Nations sanctions that are to be enforced for the first time since they were imposed in 2006.


    The U.S. and Japan compiled their lists from the national sanctions they have imposed on North Korea. Targeted companies include the Korea Putang Trading Corp., Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corp. and Korea Complex Equipment Import Corp.


    The action at the UN came as the North Korean government ordered a team of four U.S. monitors to leave the Yongbyon nuclear site as part of the regime’s decision to end cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

  65. The only thing Toomey will do is make another Northeast State, blue.

    Specter will give the Republicans 85% of they want. A Democrat will give them 0%.

    Obviously with that choice, the Republicans will probably snatch the doughnut.

  66. As I survey the political landscape of the upcoming 2010 elections,”Cornyn wrote in a letter released by his office Tuesday, “it’s clear we need more candidates that fit their states. While I doubt Arlen could win an election in my home state of Texas, I am certain that I could not get elected in Pennsylvania.


    The Bible is the great source of wisdom, and this passage from the Gospel of Matthew is quite relevant to the modern Republican Party:

    Matthew 25:14-30 (Contemporary English Version)
    The Parable of the Three Servants

    14The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. 15The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.

    16As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. 17The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more.
    Brother's Eye

  67. Peter Chalk, maritime security expert with RAND Corporation, says there's another reason why not to provide weapons to the crew.

    "If you had crew members who were armed, it's almost certainly going to encourage greater lethality on the part of the pirates, who may be far more willing to open fire as they board a vessel, in the expectation that they could be met with crews armed with assault rifles. So it is generally thought that to preserve human life, to keep the instance of violence as low as possible, and also for legal reasons, that it's better not to arm crew members," he said.

    In an effort to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, the international community has sent navy ships to patrol the area. The task force includes vessels from the United States and the European Union.
    Somali Coast

  68. Sam said...
    Peter Chalk, maritime security expert with RAND Corporation, says there's another reason why not to provide weapons to the crew.

    "If you had crew members who were armed, it's almost certainly going to encourage greater lethality on the part of the pirates, who may be far more willing to open fire as they board a vessel, in the expectation that they could be met with crews armed with assault rifles.

    Pirates already shoot rpg's and automatic fire at ships...

    What pirates NEED to be met with is death...

    Wrapped in a pig's skin and fed to sharks...

    The Motherships? Attacked, looted and sunk...

    The home bases? Clusterbombed and sprayed with pig's blood from the sky...

    It's ISLAMIC piracy folks..

    hit em in the nuts.... f**k the up...

    Or be a bunch of dhimmis...

  69. Tea Party an outstanding, over whelming success!


  70. Capt' Barack Obumble

    Pirate of the Potomac

  71. Well Bob, let's have the details.

  72. The man credited with sparking the protests is CNBC television commentator Rick Santelli, who called in February for a "tea party" to oppose government bailouts for mortgage defaulters.

    The clip of Santelli's angry outburst has been viewed on YouTube more than a million times.

    The protests stand out for the use of Web-savvy marketing, something barely seen in McCain's unsuccessful presidential bid.
    Tax Day

  73. For the middle of a work day, the turn out was great, I thought. Over a thousand in Coeur d' Alene, of all ages too, though most on the over thirty, er, forty side. In other words, mostly tax-payers:) Honor guard by the Kellogg, Idaho Junior High Marching Honor Guard, only one left in the state, they said. Prayer by a preacher, a few more or less rousing speeches by the organizers, some recruiting going on for various conservative political causes, decent weather, ended with the storming of a yacht bearing a British flag, re- enacting the event from Boston days. Many a sign, lots of flags, very well controlled, nice people. My sign (Rat gets all the credit) drew considerable interest and appreciation, including that of the nice looking girl in my pic, who consented to have her picture taken. Since I had made (Kinko's made) a few extra, I passed a few out to folks that wanted a sign.

    I am beginning to perceive that the Department of Homeland Security's recent paper about single issue "right wing extremists", which we all qualify as being, was aimed and timed to disincline folks to attend these April 15th events.

    Nearly all, but not totally all, signs were of an economic nature. It was April 15th after all.

    I have a whole laundry list of issues, and I know from visiting with a few others, every one else did as well.

    1,000 or more is a large crowd for CdAlene, for a first time event, in the middle of a workday.

    TV crew from Spokane was there, too.

    And I've heard the Party in little ol' Moscow drew quite a few folks too.

    Successful event all around.

    --Took some photos of the area around the old mill, Sam, and across the river where your grand dad lived. We were looking around in the area, at the new developments.

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