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Politics headlines - Oct 22

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Politics

Sudan war ends, conflict over oil continues

Noel King, Inter Press Service via allAfrica-dot-com
Khartoum -- For geological engineer Farouq Kam, Sudan's 21-year civil war didn't really end in January when the country's Islamist government signed a peace agreement with rebels from the Christian and animist south. It just took on a more subtle hue.

"The war is not over...It is not necessarily going to be fought in the bush of southern Sudan anymore. But another war has just started, with other tools. And that is the war of tricks," he told IPS. At the heart of this conflict, lie Sudan's coveted oil resources.

January's peace deal stipulates that oil wealth is to be shared by government officials and former rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) from the south. This area will now enjoy autonomy under the guidance of a regional government; the rebels also form part of a national transitional government.

However, control of the key Ministry of Energy and Mining, which deals with oil production and revenue, was awarded to President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP). This decision outraged many in southern Sudan, where most of the oil resources are located; they saw the move as a precursor to being denied their share of oil revenue.
(20 October 2005)


Iran 'has proof' of British role in bombings

Agency France Presse
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran said it has proof that Britain was involved in a double bomb attack last week that killed six people and injured more than 100 in the restive southwestern city of Ahvaz.
The British embassy in Tehran immediately rejected the allegations, which came amid mounting tensions between Tehran and London over suspected Iranian meddling in Iraq and the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

"Information obtained by the concerned organs show that Britain is the main accused in the recent events," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told state television.
"The information shows that Britain is seeking to create insecurity in our country by interfering in our internal affairs," he added, warning that the consequences "could be worrying for the British."

Britain said the allegations were baseless. "We reiterate our total rejection of these accusations as well as our condemnation of these terrorist attacks," a senior british diplomat told AFP.
(20 October 2005)


Reenergize America - a Democratic blueprint (2nd draft)

Meteor Blades, Jerome a Paris and Devilstower; Daily Kos
Almost three weeks ago, Jerome a Paris put together the first draft of what we hope to transform into a bold, consistent, easy-to-understand Democratic energy agenda. Readers were asked to offer your own ideas, and your response was gratifying. Today, we're presenting the Second Draft, in which we've added some of your ideas, further honed ours and polished some of the language, with your assistance.

...After decades of foot-dragging by leaders in both parties, it's heartening to know that Democratic leaders are coming to understand just how crucial a visionary energy agenda is for our nation's future.

A truly progressive approach cannot, however, be merely a scheme to garner votes in '06 and '08. As long-time advocates for a new energy paradigm at a time when scarcely anyone was listening, the three of us are eager to see rapid changes in government policy, private sector innovation and personal behavior when it comes to energy. However, setting unrealistic timelines is a certain recipe for failure. We don't want Democrats to make promises that can't be kept or establish goals that can't be met. We don't believe in the scattergun approach, nor do we believe in magic bullets.

...To Reenergize America, we support four principles:

* Boost energy security to strengthen our national security.

* Reject current energy policies that weaken America

* Promote energy efficiency, diversity and conservation to protect Americans and the environment.

* Invest in renewable energy to create jobs and enhance America's technological leadership
(18 October 2005)
A well-thought-out energy platform, much of which could appeal to non-Democrats. As one commenter said, "Even as a Conservative I could get behind I think every one of these programs." Jerome a Paris wrote two previous posts on the subject in September: A Proposal for a Serious Energy Policy (Sept 12) and Building together an effecive Dem energy policy. -BA


Daily Kos a hotbed of peak-think

Various, Daily Kos
The liberal Democrat blog, Daily Kos, seems to teem with posts on energy policy. If you ask for the posts tagged with "Energy", you find items like:
Joe Lieberman's Radical Energy Plan Analyzed
Countdown to 100$ oil (14) - Greenspan acknowledges peak oil
For Gov. Schweitzer - Syn Fuels and Sinful Fuels
-BA
(October 2005)


Slippery oil
Despite big profits, the industry seeks special help

Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A so-called energy bill passed by the House of Representatives is a brazen attempt to shower unneeded federal aid on the oil industry, which was enjoying record profits even before hurricanes Katrina and Rita demolished the Gulf Coast.

Its author is Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican friend of Big Oil from Texas, who is chairman of the House Energy Committee. The premise of his measure is a false one -- that environmental restrictions have prevented the oil industry from building new refineries. The bill would give refiners tax breaks to build new plants and would fast-track the permit process, to the detriment of taxpayers and local communities.

Only one refinery permit has been issued over the past 25 years, but that is because refiners chose to increase capacity by expanding existing facilities. Refining capacity now is very tight, and Big Oil actually prefers to keep it that way because it boosts their profits, even as it encourages shortages.

According to an analysis by the Denver Post, the refiners' gross profit margins on each barrel of gasoline have more than tripled in the past year and were rising steadily even before the hurricanes damaged oil infrastructure in and around the Gulf of Mexico.

At the same time, four of the top five oil companies -- ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips -- reported hefty jumps in first-half profits this year. Net income for ConocoPhillips was up 65 percent; Shell 39 percent; ExxonMobil 38 percent, and BP 31 percent.

A provision to weaken the federal New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act has been stripped from the bill, but it still contains a number of other noxious proposals, including one that would push back deadlines for compliance with ozone cleanup nationwide.

Using high fuel prices as a pretext to gut environmental laws is as unconscionable as it is sneaky. The Senate should deep-six Mr. Barton's scheme.
(19 October 2005)


Violence, politics muddy Iraq's oil future

Mariam Karouny and Ghaida Ghantous, Reuters
BAGHDAD/DUBAI - Thursday's bombing of Iraq's northern crude pipeline, less than 24 hours after it reopened, underlines Baghdad's struggle to to revive its vital revenue-earning oil industry.

Repeated sabotage -- combined with poor project management and political instability -- has hampered Iraq's aim to ramp up output to 3 million barrels per day, last seen in 1990.

Production has been stuck near 2 million bpd and a significant increase is not expected soon.
(20 October 2005)


Chavez and Chirac affirm 'common vision', deeper ties

AFP via Tocqueville Connedtion
PARIS - Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Jacques Chirac of France met in Paris on Wednesday and agreed to further develop their already close ties. The meeting, which officials of both countries hailed, was expected to raise hackles in Washington, which is particularly at odds with the leader of oil-rich Venezuela.

During their hour-long meeting "the two presidents examined bilateral economic relations and in particular looked at issues concerning, oil, energy, infrastructure and tourism," Chirac's spokesman Jerome Bonnafont said.

"They decided to set up an organised mechanism for dialogue to further develop economic and industrial cooperation between the two countries," he added.

It was the third time the two had met this year.

French oil giant Total has a strong presence in Venezuela and could double its output from 200,000 to 400,000 barrels a day after several billion dollars were invested, Chavez said in Paris in March.
(19 October 2005)


Imperial candor

billmon, Whiskey Bar
I just got finished reading the full transcript of the talk given by Larry Wilkerson (Colin Powell's chief of staff) at the New America Foundation on Wednesday. There is some truly scary stuff in there -- going way beyond the "cabal" comment that's been the soundbite of choice for the corporate media. Like this rather ominous look at the real U.S. energy plan:

We had a discussion in policy planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields in the Middle East, internationalize them, put them under some sort of U.N. trusteeship and administer the revenues and the oil accordingly. That’s how serious we thought about it. We had a discussion in policy planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields in the Middle East, internationalize them, put them under some sort of U.N. trusteeship and administer the revenues and the oil accordingly.

Wilkerson isn't specific about the timing, so he may be referring the contingency planning that was ordered up by Kissinger and DoD Secretary James "cover up" Schlesinger during the 1973 oil embargo. But it sounds a good deal more recent to me -- I don't remember anything in the '73 episode about a U.N. fig leaf . . . I mean, a U.N. trusteeship.

To my admittedly jaundiced eye, this would appear to be planning for aggressive war -- without even the notional justification of weapons of mass destruction, pre-emption, etc. The fact that it's almost as hairbrained a scheme as the invasion of Iraq, politically if not militarily (a U.N. endorsed version of Lebensraum??) isn't much comfort. If that's what the "good guys" -- i.e. the realists -- talk about behind closed doors, then what's the diffference between them and the neocons, other than the fact that the realists have fewer principles?
(19 October 2005)
Mentioned by Big Gav at Peak Energy - Australia.


The new US 'Oil Imperialism'

Al Jazeera
America needs 22 million oil barrels a day to keep its economy on the road, so it is trying to guarantee a constant presence on the Iraqi territory laying on massive oil reserves, which makes it the world’s second largest oil reserves.
Long before the September 11 attacks, Bush's administration made plans for oil and war on Iraq. Days after this administration was incepted, a conflict has taken place inside the White House between the neo-conservatives at the Pentagon, on one side, and a combination of "Big Oil" executives and U.S. State Department "pragmatists" on the other. ...
(21 October 2005)


Arctic map vanishes, and oil area expands

Felicity Barringer, NY Times
WASHINGTON - Maps matter. They chronicle the struggles of empires and zoning boards. They chart political compromise. So it was natural for Republican Congressional aides, doing due diligence for what may be the last battle in the fight over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to ask for the legally binding 1978 map of the refuge and its coastal plain.

It was gone. No map, no copies, no digitized version.

The wall-size 1:250,000-scale map delineated the tundra in the biggest national land-use controversy of the last quarter-century, an area that environmentalists call America's Serengeti and that oil enthusiasts see as America's Oman.

The map had been stored behind a filing cabinet in a locked room in Arlington, Va. Late in 2002, it was there. In early 2003, it disappeared. There are just a few reflection-flecked photographs to remember it by.

All this may have real consequences. The United States Geological Survey drew up a new map. On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee passed a measure based on the new map that opened to drilling 1.5 million acres of coastal plain in the refuge.

The missing map did not seem to include in the coastal plain tens of thousands of acres of Native Alaskans' lands. On the new map, those lands were included, arguably making it easier to open them to energy development.
(21 October 2005)


Oil-drilling blues

Editorial, SF Chronicle
THE NATION'S coastal waters may have dodged oil drilling for another year, but watch out for next year.

For 25 years, more than a dozen coastal states have banded together and won a yearly moratorium on federal offshore-drilling permits. None wanted oil derricks blowing out, spewing crude across fishing grounds, tourist beaches and harbors.

What has changed is both economics and politics. Oil prices have shot to historic highs, pushing Washington to consider the once-unthinkable notion of offshore drilling.

By itself, a rise in energy costs wouldn't change the equation. But Republican forces are offering a deal-changing sweetener: Let each state break away from the overall moratorium and tap into oil revenues that the U.S. Interior Department collects from new drilling. Hungry for money, states such as Virginia, Georgia and Florida are inching closer to taking the bait.

This divide-and-conquer strategy is deal-making at its worst. The chief salesman in the House is a Tracy Republican, Richard Pombo, who heads the chamber's resources committee. He's the dark knight of the environment who wants to gut endangered-species protections and is now clearing the way for open-water drilling.
(21 October 2005)

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