Some news and the afternoon open thread.
The New York Times reports High-priced oil adds volatility to power scramble. Eight years ago, oil was trading at $16 a barrel. Yesterday, oil hit $96.70 a barrel.
The prospect of triple-digit oil prices has redrawn the economic and political map of the world, challenging some old notions of power. Oil-rich nations are enjoying historic gains and opportunities, while major importers — including China and India, home to a third of the world’s population — confront rising economic and social costs.
Managing this new order is fast becoming a central problem of global politics. Countries that need oil are clawing at each other to lock up scarce supplies, and are willing to deal with any government, no matter how unsavory, to do it.
In many poor nations with oil, the proceeds are being lost to corruption, depriving these countries of their best hope for development. And oil is fueling gargantuan investment funds run by foreign governments, which some in the West see as a new threat.
The Houston Chronicle reports Floods spare Mexico’s oil fields, not oil workers. “Although onshore oil fields in and around flood-ravaged Tabasco state escaped major damage, some of the people working at those wells have been left in the lurch. Many oil workers are based in the flooded state capital of Villahermosa and have lost their homes. Meanwhile, flooded streets and washed-out roads make getting to and from the oil fields a logistical nightmare… Onshore production in Tabasco and neighboring Veracruz and Chiapas states amounts to about 471,000 barrels per day, or 16 percent of the country’s daily output.” One Halliburton engineer who was forced from his home has spent the last few days bringing food to other Halliburton employees. As long as the oil starts flowing soon… that’s all most of the U.S. really seems to cares about.
The Washington Post reports Rains bring Mexico’s poverty to surface. “When the Grijalva River turned vicious over the weekend, when it slipped over its banks and ran wild across the state of Tabasco, its brown waters exposed a socioeconomic divide far deeper than its channel.”
The rich and middle class of this city live north of the river… By early Friday, the Grijalva, which runs fast and deep through downtown Villahermosa, and other rivers were cascading over their banks and hitting hardest in poor, low-lying areas such as Gaviotas Sur…
Even as downtown Villahermosa was drying out Tuesday, fast currents of water — pushed by the strength of the nearby river — were sloshing carcasses of chickens and cows through the squalid neighborhoods still drowning in 10 feet of water in Gaviotas Sur. It may be weeks before all the water is gone, local officials say, and years before the region recovers economically.
And the floods may get worse. Earthtimes reports that today, the Rain returns to flooded Tabasco, Chiapas in Mexico.
McClatchy Newspapers report that the U.S. is to release 9 Iranians it seized in Iraq. “The U.S. military soon will release nine Iranians it’s holding in Iraq, including two held since January on suspicion that they’d funneled weapons and financial support to Iraqi Shiite Muslim militias. A military spokesman described the decision to release the nine as routine and cautioned against reading greater meaning into it. He didn’t explain why it took 10 months to decide that the two weren’t terrorists.”
The Washington Post reports a new study has found Being overweight isn’t all bad. “Being overweight boosts the risk of dying from diabetes and kidney disease but not cancer or heart disease, and carrying some extra pounds actually appears to protect against a host of other causes of death, federal researchers reported yesterday. The counterintuitive findings, based on a detailed analysis of decades of government data about more than 39,000 Americans, supports the conclusions of a study the same group did two years ago that suggested the dangers of being overweight may be less dire than experts thought.”
So, what else is happening?