Politics & economics - Jan 24
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McCain: U.S. can't be held hostage for oil
Foster Klug, Assoicated Press via Yahoo!News
WASHINGTON - A top Republican lawmaker said Sunday that America must explore alternate energy sources to avoid being held hostage by Iran or by "wackos" in Venezuela - an apparent reference to Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's populist president.
Sen. John McCain, a potential presidential contender in 2008, said recent action by "Mr. Chavez" and by Iran's leaders make it clear that the United States will be vulnerable as long as it remains dependent on foreign energy.
(XX January 2006)
McCain joins other conservatives who see oil dependence as a threat ato national security. -BA
Iraq's Oil Bust
Scott Johnson and Michael Hastings, Newsweek
Oil exports were supposed to pay for the reconstruction. Instead they've been stifled
...Only three years ago, before the United States led the invasion of Iraq, the Bush ad—ministration dreamed of liberating the country on the cheap. Billions in untapped oil reserves would pay for reconstruction and nation-building. But hundreds of billions of American tax dollars later, Iraq's oil still isn't flowing at prewar levels. And in a country where 90 percent of the government's $35 billion in revenues comes from petroleum, the old promise has come to seem a curse. "Some people wish we didn't have all this oil," says National Assembly Speaker Hajim al-Hassani, "because it has brought us all these problems."
(30 January 2006 issue)
Thousands throng streets as Bolivian leader sheds tears but talks tough at inauguration
Jonathan Rugman and Dan Glaister, Guardian
...With foreign investment dwindling in the face of Bolivia's lurch leftwards, Mr Morales has been under pressure from the business elite - many of them descendants of the colonial Spanish - to reassure multinationals including BP and British Gas their money is safe. Several firm threaten to sue Bolivia in the face of a big rise in gas extraction fees imposed by the last government. President Morales says he "guarantees investors will recoup their money and make a profit" but will not back down on his pledge to renationalise gas reserves worth a potential $250bn.
His first foreign tour steered clear of Britain and United States but notably took in China. "We are going to guarantee Chinese investment. What's better than state investment? We should have a petro-Americas, a partnership between state enterprise and business. Our land has been looted for 500 years and we are going to assert our right of ownership."
It is an approach that strikes a chord with the millions in Bolivia, where three-quarters of the 8.5-million population are Indian and two-thirds survive on less than $2 a day. Many see in Mr Morales a leader in the mould of Mr Chávez. The Bolivian president has signalled that the Chávez model of tapping energy wealth to fund public spending is one he will follow. Yet despite formidable gas reserves, But Bolivia's revenue does not compare with to Venezuela's oil wealth and the moderating influence of President da Silva of Brazil - a major trading partner - may instil a willingness to compromise.
(23 January 2006)
Great Russian freeze spreads west
Severe cold weather gripping large parts of Russia has now spread west, causing chaos in Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states and Scandinavia.
Officials in those countries say there is growing pressure on energy supplies, with power shortages as Russia cuts deliveries to fight the freeze at home.
Dozens have died of the cold, with temperatures as low as -33C recorded.
Forecasters have said that the freeze will last several more days, and could intensify in places.
(21 January 2006)
'Blue' states tackling energy on their own
Justin Blum, Washington Post
Democratic-leaning states increasingly are regulating energy use and emissions, working around a GOP-controlled federal government that state officials say has not done enough.
The states are creating energy efficiency requirements for light bulbs and household appliances, limiting power plant and automobile output linked to global warming, and requiring the use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
(22 January 2006)
Related: Building a Better Light Bulb -- at a Cost (Washington Post).
Ukraine gas dispute -- Has Putin gone nuts?
William Engdahl, GlobalResearch.ca
It’s more useful to assume that the answer is ‘no.’ Then we must ask what is Russia doing with its gas price policy demands and supply cut-off to Ukraine?
It’s clear that the move is one part of a complex series of Russian moves in the ongoing Grand Chess Game. That game is between Washington as sole global superpower, and Russia as a reconstructing nuclear power--one with a vast resource wealth needed by its Eurasian neighbours from China to Germany and beyond. Russia, which holds far the world’s largest known reserves of natural gas, is playing its own energy card with Ukraine as the current field of that battle.
The Ukraine drama is clearer if we look at it in the context of a series of very quiet but dramatic moves recently by the Putin government in the realm of energy and national military preparedness.
(22 January 2006)
Also by Engdahl: China lays down gauntlet in energy war.