November 29th, 2013
Imagine an oil auction were the winners would have to contend with the following:
Ecuador Receives 3 Offers in 11th Oil-Licensing Round
Analysts Say Contract Model Was Obstacle in Attracting Interest in the Auction.
If you’re surprised that they received three bids (as opposed to none), bear in mind that
China’s Andes Petroleum Co. submitted offers for blocks 79 and 83, while Spain’s Repsol Cuba submitted an offer for block 29.
Repsol Cuba, by definition, is a sucker for punishment.
More on China and Ecuadorian oil at Petroleum World.
November 29th, 2013
Cristina’s hitting the same old,
Argentina issue threats over Falkland oil
Argentina threatens fines and imprisonment for oil companies and their executives for any “illegal exploration” of hydrocarbons off the Falkland Islands
The Foreign Office added that hydrocarbons activities by companies operating on the continental shelf of the Falkland Islands are regulated by legislation of the Falkland Islands government, and in accordance with the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.
Cristina will resort to any distraction from her chaotic fiscal problems and deals with Iran.
I suggest she focus on this bit of old news instead, World’s oldest prehistoric toilet unearthed in Argentina.
November 28th, 2013
Meir Soloveitch writes in the WSJ about the origins of the Shearith Israel synagogue: God Delivered the Pilgrims—and My People
Thanksgiving always had particular resonance for one group of religious freedom-seekers.
As with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, the origins of Shearith Israel trace back to a small group of religious freedom-seekers and a treacherous ocean passage to the New World. In September 1654, 23 Jews set sail from Recife, Brazil, where the Portuguese Inquisition had made practicing Judaism impossible. Intending to return to Europe but captured by pirates mid-voyage, they gave themselves up for lost—until, as a congregational history puts it, “God caused a savior to arise unto them, the captain of a French ship arrayed for battle, and he rescued them out of the hands of the outlaws . . . and conducted them until they reached the end of the inhabited earth called New Holland.”
Once arrived safely in New Holland, better known as New Amsterdam, the refugees formed the first Jewish community in North America. From the start, they remained loyal to their faith: praying together, ensuring the availability of kosher meat, and observing their holidays. For these individuals, the symbolism of lighting the Hanukkah candles in the dark of winter must have been especially resonant, at one with the dawning presence of Judaism in the New World.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Shearith Israel—the name means “the remnant of Israel”—was importing its clergy from Europe. But by 1768, it was ready to hire its first American-born minister, Gershom Mendes Seixas. And it is here that the story of Shearith Israel becomes forever intertwined with the story of Thanksgiving—and of America.
Read about how it did here
November 27th, 2013
Cuba, Lacking Bank, Closes U.S. Consular Services
The Cuban government said Tuesday that it was shutting down nearly all of its consular services in the United States “until further notice” because it was unable to find a bank willing to handle its business. The decision threatens to disrupt a recent surge in travel between the United States and Cuba on the eve of the holiday season. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington said that it was informed by its bank, M&T Bank, in July that it would no longer be able to provide services to foreign missions.
Play me the world’s smallest violin. For decades, Cuba has defaulted and cheated on all debts, and is currently imprisoning foreign businessmen who tried to collect on unpaid bills.
But don’t feel bad for the communist regime,
The Castro regime will now issue all sorts of “threats” and “propaganda” in an effort to coerce the Obama Administration into compelling a private bank to do business with it.
$5 says they’ll find one.
November 27th, 2013
17 yr old El Ponchis is back in the US:
Mexico: Teen hit man freed, sent to U.S.
Mexican authorities set free a former teen cartel hit man on Tuesday and sent him back to the United States.
The release of Edgar Jimenez Lugo, a U.S. citizen known as “El Ponchis” or “The Cloak,” comes less than three years after a Mexican court found him guilty of torturing and beheading at least four people and kidnapping three others as an operative for the South Pacific Cartel.
On Tuesday, Mexican authorities said he had served his three-year sentence and had been sent back to the United States.
This was a very high-profile case at the time, and parts of El Ponchis’s interrogations were shown on TV.
He’s certainly not the only one; earlier this year a 13 yr old hit man was executed. Prior to his release, El Ponchis had requested police protection, which was denied, and he was deported to the US.
In a somewhat lighter mode, Paco Almaraz had the burnt-out El Ponchis (in Spanish).
November 26th, 2013
Remember how Correa made the country default on its debt “because he could”? Well, here’s the price:
How China took control of Ecuador’s oil
Shunned by most lenders since a $3.2 billion debt default in 2008, Ecuador now relies heavily on Chinese funds, which are expected to cover 61 percent of the government’s $6.2 billion in financing needs this year. In return, China can claim as much as 90 percent of Ecuador’s oil shipments in coming years, a rare feat in today’s diversified oil market.
After 2009, terms changed in new Chinese loans, documents show. A 2010 deal for another $1 billion credit line from China Development Bank cut the premium that PetroChina would pay for Ecuador’s oil, and granted PetroChina approval to resell the crude in any market.
In early 2011, Ecuador got another $1 billion loan, and authorized PetroChina to collect money from any other companies that owed PetroEcuador if Ecuador failed to meet repayment terms.
This is close to 11 percent of Ecuador’s gross domestic product.
There’s also the decades-long Chevron lawsuit, which has turned many private companies away from dealing with Ecuador. Last September, Chevron won a major arbitration victory when the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague unanimously ruled that
all such “collective” or “diffuse” forms of environmental relief had been settled and extinguished by the 1995 settlement agreement between Ecuador and Texaco. Accordingly, they reasoned, even if individual third parties were later given standing to seek such relief, they had, by that time, no rights left to assert. The only party that possessed such rights in 1995 — the government — had settled all those claims.
Today is the last day of the Chevron racketeering suit against Steven Donziger.
But back to the report on China,
Chinese firms serve as middleman in most of the Ecuadorean oil sales, while keeping a strategic option to divert barrels to China if needed. As China’s trade grows in the region, U.S. relations have soured with Venezuela and Ecuador, whose leaders are outspoken U.S. critics.
The US needs to become totally independent of foreign oil, right now. Until it does, all foreign policy is at someone else’s mercy.
November 26th, 2013
From The Libertarian,
Che Guevara in 10 (Not So) Great Quotes. The veil comes off,
6)“Hatred is the central element of our struggle! Hatred so violent that it propels a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him a violent and cold-blooded killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus.”
Read the rest.
November 25th, 2013
The royal Danes go full Addams,
November 25th, 2013
Honduras held its presidential election yesterday, and the Ruling National Party Appears Headed For Win in Honduran Vote
Leftist Coalition Has Yet to Concede Defeat in Presidential Elections
If Mr. Hernández is ratified as the victor, it would be a major setback for Mr. Zelaya and his wife, who had formed the Libre party as a protest vote against the country’s traditional politics, dominated for decades by two political parties, the conservative National Party and the center-right Liberal Party.
Mary O’Grady is not optimistic:
Turmoil Is Expected After Honduras’s Election
A Central American democracy is in trouble thanks to Obama’s foreign-policy choices.
The Obama administration tried to force Honduras to violate its constitution and restore Mr. Zelaya to power. All of the country’s institutions refused.
That crisis remains a rare moment in Central American history when a U.S. president joined Fidel Castro and his allies in an effort to strong-arm three legitimate branches of a friendly government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even stripped the members of the Honduras Supreme Court of their U.S. visas. Just as rare, the rule of law prevailed.
Yet the bullying by Washington took its toll. The newly elected president, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, was keenly aware that Honduras was out of favor with the U.S. and other left-wing governments in the region. He set about to placate them. One of his most controversial decisions was to grant amnesty to Mr. Zelaya, who ought to have been tried for his high crimes and misdemeanors.
As the Diplomad puts it, The USA is now basically irrelevant to events in Latin America. Another triumph of the Obama foreign policy team.
And yet, compared to Saturday’s deal with Iran, it pales by comparison.