oil auction in iraq


Here’s a little more about the recent auction of oil development contracts in Iraq. People are putting a happy face on it, but it doesn’t sound like it went too well.

Critics said the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq said was driven by oil, but United States oil majors were largely absent from an Iraqi auction of oil deals snapped up instead by Russian, Chinese and other firms.

Iraqi officials said this proved their independence from U.S. influence and that their two bidding rounds this year for deals to tap Iraq’s vast oil reserves, the world’s third largest, were free of foreign political interference.

Maybe it proves their independence, although I doubt it. Maybe it proves the war wasn’t about oil, but yeah, right. To me, this whole episode simply proves that the Iraq war was just as botched as we said it was from the beginning. After seven years, oil production is still crawling along, it’s hard to find investors, and we didn’t even manage to deliver a few plums to American oil companies. Bad enough we fought this war at all, but we made an even worse disaster than we had to. Good going, Bushies. Way to secure your legacy.

friday night roundup

Here’s a simple strategy to win in Afghanistan. What could possibly go wrong?


More about Blackwater:

Notice how carefully phrased the denial is:

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Blackwater, said Thursday that it was never under contract to participate in clandestine raids with the C.I.A. or with Special Operations personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.

So did they do it without a contract? Or under contract to someone else?


Here’s a new stealth drone operating out of Afghanistan. The Wikipedia article points out the most salient question: what’s it doing there?

The fact that the UAV is deployed to Afghanistan, in spite of the Taliban not possessing radar, has led to speculation that the aircraft is being used to spy on Pakistan or Iran.

And finally tonight, this:

return of the headlines

Trying to get back in the swing of things here….

There’s been a lot of buzz about this story lately:

But this article provides some context that’s missing everywhere else:

The report appeared in November 2008, and was intended for use in “long range planning guidance.” It was not meant to predict anything. Media sensationalists latched on to the comments about “rapid collapse” scenarios in the JFCOM speculative study and totally missed the point that this was a “what if?” scenario for planning purposes, not a prediction. JFCOM’s long-range planners thought Pakistan and Mexico were “worst cases” of rapid collapse. Okay, this is fodder for wargaming and long-range planning excursions. No doubt a Mexican collapse would have huge effects on the US. However, the direct comparison to Pakistan was a huge stretch.

Read the report yourself, if you want. The Mexican collapse scenario appears in exactly one paragraph out of 56 pages:

Been a long time since we visited the former Soviet periphery. Here’s a quick look around:

I’m sure this is nothing to worry about:

If there’s any water on the moon, this is the place to look. Too bad we have to hitch a ride from India to find out.

Here’s some early evidence that Obama won’t do what you want without you making a stink about it (and maybe not even then- time will tell.) This is a draft of a plan that has lots of process ahead of it, but he didn’t have to move it forward at all:

And finally, here’s what you’ve been waiting for: PIRATES!

world news

I’m busy packing tonight, so here’s a quick crawl through the post-soviet periphery and a couple other things.

pirates and space – a quickie

Still no pirates in space yet, sad to say.

And your space roundup today is all hands-on. No pretty pictures from Hubble or exciting new discoveries, just the work of making it all happen. Or not, as the case may be.

And as long as I’m here:

news news news

Starting with the mayhem, of course:
Jilted lover accidentally blows up building
Man allegedly steals communion wafers from priest

The Stuart News reported that Ricci was being held down by six or seven offended parishioners when deputies arrived at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Jensen Beach. Police say two parishioners, ages 82 and 61, received minor injuries in the scuffle.

Enviro-ish stuff:

Faced with rising sea levels, the Maldives seek new homeland

Were these countries to be evacuated, the legal status of the global warming diaspora would be unclear. The same goes for that of a submerged country’s sovereignty. No nation in recorded history has peacefully relocated its entire population and remained intact, and, as National Geographic pointed out in 2005, environmental refugees are not recognized by international law.

Not So Green: Voters Nix Most Environmental State Ballot Measures
Critical Mass Transit: Major mass-transit initiatives did well in U.S. election

IEA stokes doubts over world’s climate fight
Peak Oil: You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide From Higher Oil Prices

Wood War Bike
Metro, BTA support bike tax concept

And what’s a day without pirates? Things are heating up off of Somalia:
Royal Navy in firefight with Somali pirates

Pirates caught redhanded by one of Her Majesty’s warships after trying to hijack a cargo ship off Somalia made the grave mistake of opening fire on two Royal Navy assault craft packed with commandos armed with machineguns and SA80 rifles.

In the ensuing gunfight, two Somali pirates in a Yemeni-registered fishing dhow were killed, and a third pirate, believed to be a Yemeni, suffered injuries and subsequently died. It was the first time the Royal Navy had been engaged in a fatal shoot-out on the high seas in living memory.

By the time the Royal Marines boarded the pirates’ vessel, the enemy had lost the will to fight and surrendered quietly. The Royal Navy described the boarding as “compliant”.

And here are three pirate stories from other parts of the world:
Pirates release 10 hostages kidnapped near Cameroon
Pirates Attack Sailboat in Venezuela
Pirates target slow barges (Singapore)

post-soviet blues

Russia to move missiles to Baltic

Ukraine reverses ban on Russian TV channel
South-East Ukraine Refused to Disconnect Russia’s TV Channels

Ukraine Hasn’t Breached International Laws When Supplying Weapons to Georgia

Georgia’s Saakashvili sacks military chief
Georgian Cluster Bombs Killed Civilians: Report
Ossetians fiercely resisted Georgian invasion

“The Georgians were in their tanks with the hatches down, driving on streets which they did not recognize,” said Vitaly, a 32-year-old policeman-reservist who was wounded during the recent fighting. “We live in this city all of our lives; we know every alley, every sewer, every hiding place. They could have been here for 10 years and they could not crush the resistance.”

Spiral of violence cripples Russia’s Ingushetia
Russia replaces Ingushetia leader

Kazakhstan starts transporting oil by Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline
EU energy chief toTurkey for Nabucco pipeline talks

news headlines

It just keeps getting busier on the piracy front. Too bad no one’s getting any good pictures.
French troops save 2 hostages from Somali pirates
Hong Kong ship with 22 crew seized near Somalia
Panama-flagged Oil tanker escapes Somali pirate attack

Here’s some all-purpose mayhem for you:
Knifed 666 times each and eaten

Police believe the teenagers were cooked in the flames before their flesh was devoured…. Their private parts had also been cut off in the sickening ritual in a rural area of Russia.

Nigerian militants launch new attacks in “oil war”
Peak Oil, or Just Peak Oil Prices?

So the question is—what does $90 oil do to all the revolutionary changes that were so urgent when oil was flirting with $150? Has the gasoline-fueled, air-conditioned American way of life that was under siege two months ago gotten an eleventh-hour reprieve? Or, like those quiet few minutes in the middle of a hurricane, is the recent oil-price tumble just the calm before the rest of the storm hits?

Receding Waters Leave Toxic Mix
Bear vs. Bike: Cyclist Hits 300-Pound Black Bear

The Future of America’s Space Corps
NASA PAO Wants Everyone To Know Who Pays The Bills Back Home
Nasa selects Mars climate mission
NASA awards $485M Mars project delayed by conflict

The price of the probe increased by $10 million, its launch was postponed by two years, and the science-gathering mission will be cut in half to one year, an official said. NASA chose the University of Colorado’s proposal to study the Martian atmosphere from 20 other ideas to study Mars that were trimmed to just two before a conflict of interest was declared.

UFO sightings connected to Large Hadron Collider experiment?
UFO link to orange lights
UFO mystery in Mill End

This one’s for the incomparable Trevor Blake, so he knows that people are still paying attention:
Quote of the Day: Bucky Fuller on How We Live

“Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time.
Our living rooms are empty seven-eighths of the time.
Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time.
It’s time we gave this some thought.”

Hackers block Qaeda’s 9/11 terror on tape

Georgia Offers Fresh Evidence on War’s Start
DID SAAKASHVILI LIE? The West Begins to Doubt Georgian Leader

And finally, one more post-Soviet hotspot to keep an eye on:
Russian fleet kicks off exercises in Baltic Sea
Wikipedia: Kaliningrad Oblast

news- weekend post-soviet edition

My day trip to a country that doesn’t exist

You won’t find Transdniestr on a European map because officially it doesn’t exist. In reality, however, it does, and here in Chisneau a babushka was selling bus tickets to where I wanted to go.

“Tirsapol! Bender!” she called out, naming Transdniestr’s two biggest cities.

It was a promising start but when I asked for a ticket to Tiraspol the babushka demanded my passport, flicked through its pages and handed it back. “No ticket,” she said, shaking her head. “You need invitation.”

Russian troops withdraw in western Georgia
Second Georgian policeman killed in Abkhazia
Tbilisi claims ethnic cleansing of Georgians

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria said the incident occurred late Friday after Ossetian paramilitaries set fire to ethnic Georgian homes in two South Ossetian villages, Koshka and Disevi.

“Then they poured kerosene on several residents of the villages and told them to leave,” Bokeria told the Associated Press.

EC: Kosovo heading for EU

He said that in the next two or three months dicussions would begin on Kosovo at the European Commission (EC), stressing that the province was part of this process, even though it had still not signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA).

Oil flow resumes at BTC pipeline after technical failure in Turkey

OK, more cheerful stuff tomorrow. Unless I have too much fun tonight, in which case, you should be cheerful for me.

news news good for the heart the more you read the more yo

Somalia: Who`s to blame for piracy spiraling out of control?
Canada Navy to escort Somalia food aid ships

Saakashvili ex-ally demands probe of Georgia war
Documents: Russia impeding South Ossetia monitors
UN raises number of uprooted in Georgia to 192,000

Moscow eyes Afghanistan in fear
Technical failure halts oil flow at BTC pipeline
West warns Serbs over quitting Bosnia power company


Russia says it must stake claim to Arctic resources
As sea ice melts, open water encircles the Arctic

In early September, two normally ice-clogged sea routes in the Arctic Ocean were open at the same time. It’s the first time in recorded history that this has happened.

Watch a dust devil spin in Martian arctic
US space woes felt by Europe
China counts down to space launch
Mike Griffin’s Exclusive Off The Record China Briefing
NASA Talking Points: The Urgency of NASA’s Need for Legislation to Continue to Purchase Soyuz Crew Vehicles From Russia

NASA needs Congress to provide legislative extension allowing purchase of Russian Soyuz crew vehicles to support astronauts on the International Space Station by October 2008 or else NASA will have no choice but to de-crew all U.S. astronauts from the International Space Station in 2012.

NASA needs this legislative extension by October 2008. The development and utilization of the International Space Station has been a cornerstone of U.S. space policy and international leadership since President Reagan first announced the program in 1984. We need the help of Congress to capitalize on our Nation’s $50 billion investment in space leadership.

Industry to Congress: Renew the Expiring Clean-Energy Credits
Bye-Bye, Miss American Pyro: Eco-vandal pleads guilty to 1999 arson at Michigan State University