Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oil Contracts Lubricate Iraqi Pullout, We Cry For You, Argentina...

David Brooks
Dana Milbank
Jesse Jackson
Fareed Zakaria

American troops are pulling out of Iraqi cities, the Iraqi's are celebrating this as a victory against an occupying aggressor, and as icing on the celebration cake they are bombing and blowing up more of their fellow countrymen. I hope this tradition doesn't follow our soldiers home, I'd hate to have to blow up my neighbors next Fourth of July, those thieving bastards... 

As American influence begins to diminish, the Iraqi's are also trying to manage handling the  contracts of their oil fields, with varying degrees of success,as reported in the NY Times: "Iraq's long-awaited licensing round to develop some of its massive oil reserves has run into trouble as international oil and gas companies rejected all but one deal, demanding more money for their efforts than the government was willing to pay.

Following Tuesday's initial bids, of the six oil and two gas fields on offer, Iraq had only struck a deal with a BP-led consortium for Rumaila, the largest oil field available. Bids on the others came in far above the maximum fee the government was willing to pay for every extra barrel of oil produced. But as the auction closed, Iraq's oil ministry said it had received seven revised bids from oil companies, not made public, which have been sent to the cabinet for consideration."
Every major player in the world is trying to rip off those naive Iraqis, and the choosing of the contracts were televised and treated like we do the NBA draft...

A little over a year ago Russia had a short-lived war with Georgia over the Georgian states of South Ossetia and Abkazia. Russia had been helping their economy by building storage facilities, an air force base, and in return the two states declared their independence from Georgia. Russia took their side in the debate and pretty much stomped on Georgia, prompting John McCain to announce during his presidential campaign that "We are all Georgians now," and his opponents to say "WTF?"

NATO recently had military exercises in this region, and in response, Russia has announced that it, too, will have military exercises here. In preparation, Russia has gotten the UN to remove the unarmed observers that have been stationed in the area since 1992, as al Jazeera reports: "The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) mission to Georgia has shut down after 17 years, prompting Tbilisi to warn that the absence of the group's observers would increase security risks in the region.

Before last year's war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, OSCE monitors patrolled in the disputed area and the organisation helped co-ordinate efforts which brought an end to the fighting."
This has led one Russian source to admit: "Observers!? We don't need no stinking observers!..."

Imagine that Hillary Clinton won the election. What role would Bill have had in the administration? Yeah, she probably would have sent him to Haiti, too...Now imagine a more authortarian couple has worked their way into politics in South America, oh, let's say Argentina, where they like their heads of state like they love their dictators, bold and sassy. The NY Times reports on those lovable, wacky Argentines with the Germanic last names: "Néstor Kirchner, the former president of Argentina, resigned his post as leader of the Peronist Party on Monday, a day after he and his supporters suffered a crushing defeat in national congressional elections.

The resignation was a stunning admission of defeat for a combative and often stubborn politician who is widely viewed to be deeply involved in running the government led by his wife, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Combined with their loss of both houses of Congress, Mr. Kirchner’s defeat appears to have dashed any dreams the couple had of extending their political dynasty, and put Argentina’s presidency up for grabs in the 2011 elections." Of course, this could have all been carefully arranged to take the pressure off of Governor Mark Sanford's ex-lover, a Karl Rovian response if ever I've seen one...

Finally, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously that comedian Al Franken has won the Senate seat over Norm Coleman, and that his certificate should be given. Will Norm Coleman admit that he is a sore loser, or will he take it to Federal courts? From TPM: "The big question now is what comes next. Will Coleman concede, or will he take another path -- as national GOP leaders like Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) have urged -- and take this to federal courts, where he might try to get an injunction against Franken receiving a certificate of election? And if Franken does get his certificate, will the Senate GOP attempt to filibuster its acceptance?

Coleman's core issue during the litigation has been that more rejected absentee ballot envelopes that his campaign has identified should have been counted, and that the 14th Amendment requires the state to adopt a less strict standard for admitting these votes in. The rationale here is that various counties were lax in enforcing certain legal requirement, and therefore deficiencies in other ballots must be excused.

His campaign picked out about 4,400 out of 11,000 total outstanding ballots -- and has made the interesting claim that they don't know what's in these envelopes. It's very clear to any rational observer that both sides engaged in cherry-picking in selecting rejected ballots. And their claim was always a tough legal road to take.

The other possibility that they've floated throughout this process at various times is that it's impossible to truly know who won this election, and therefore the result should be thrown out ("set aside," in their words). CSPAN is delighted with the Franken win, it is planning on televising all committee meetings that he will participate in, hoping his humor will raise their ratings...

late night jokes:

It's been reported that Governor Sanford's mistress was a reporter for an Argentinean news channel. Did you know that? That's true. Yeah, this makes Sanford just the latest Republican to claim he got screwed by the media." --Conan O'Brien

"Earlier today, Sanford apologized to his Cabinet for having the affair with an Argentinean woman. And in response, his cabinet member said, 'An apology is not good enough. We want photos. That sounds hot.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Here's the latest in Iran: Opposition groups have announced that, from now on, they're going to hold their protest rallies online. All their protests will be online, yeah. Protestors say they're going to overthrow the Iranian regime, then they're going after that YouTube cat that plays the piano." --Conan O'Brien

"Yesterday, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford -- you know this guy? It's the guy that went to, like, on the Appalachian Trail and then he ended up cheating on his wife in Argentina. Anyway, he met with his wife, Jenny, for the first time since admitting his affair with the woman in Argentina yesterday. It did not go very well. The first thing he asked was, 'Did I get any emails while I was away?' ... Then he said, 'Hey, if it's any consolation, I got you a shot glass at the airport.'" --Jimmy Fallon

"Celebrity birthday, Ross Perot, do you remember Ross Perot, ran for president a couple of times? 79 years old today, and still vital, vibrant and going strong. As a matter of fact, he received 9% of the vote in Iran." --David Letterman

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