October 13, 2008

Venezuela Squeezed by Lower Output, Lower Prices; Only UK Paper Seems to Care

Matt Drudge learned long ago that jumping across the pond in the late evening and perusing the British press is a way to get a head start on the news, and in some cases to get news that the American press is ignoring.

The situation with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is an example of the latter.

If it happens, call it The Caracas Crackup — The UK Telegraph is reporting that the inevitable inefficiences of a state-run enterprise and falling oil prices appear to have the potential to do serious damage to Venezuela’s economy:

Venezuela’s daily oil production has fallen by a quarter since President Hugo Chavez won power, depriving his “Bolivarian Revolution” of much of the benefit of the global boom in oil prices.

To win allies and forge an anti-American front, Mr Chavez sells oil to friendly countries at low prices. Ironically, the only big customer buying Venezuelan oil at the full market price is the United States, which the president routinely denounces as the “Empire”.

….. The state oil company, PDVSA, produced 3.2 million barrels per day in 1998, the year before Mr Chavez won the presidency. After a decade of rising corruption and inefficiency, daily output has now fallen to 2.4 million barrels, according to OPEC figures. About half of this oil is now delivered at a discount to Mr Chavez’s friends around Latin America. The 18 nations in his “Petrocaribe” club, founded in 2005, pay Venezuela only 30 per cent of the market price within 90 days, with rest in installments spread over 25 years.

The other half – 1.2 million barrels per day – goes to America, Venezuela’s only genuinely paying customer.

It doesn’t take a math genius to calculate that the US is providing Chavez about 75% of his oil-related cash flow. Venezuela’s take from the US’s 50% of the pie at full price is over three times what it gets from the other 50%, for which it only receives 30% up front.

It’s also not difficult to see that, at a current price of about $80 a barrel, the country’s 800,000 barrel a day decrease in output is costing it $64 million daily, or over $23 billion a year. This is a staggering sum in a country whose gross domestic product, according to this quick Google Search on “GDP of Venezuela,” is $186 billion.

A serious effort to revive offshore drilling in the US could greatly add to Venezuela’s misery if oil prices don’t head back up, and soon. Even if the country could find substitute buyers at its non-US terms, a 50% reduction in US imports from Venezuela would lead to a dangerous revenue drop of over 25%.

This is all the more reason to drill offshore and elsewhere, even before considering the many billions of dollars that would come in annually to cash-strapped Uncle Sam and the state from royalties on production.

The potential damage to Chavez may be a heretofore overlooked reason why the opposition to US offshore drilling among many Democrats is so fierce.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Glenn Beck’s Obama National Anthem

Filed under: Marvels,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:06 pm

The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH, PUNK” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein ObambiObama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters, Previously Unaccomplished Nonsupporter of Kin) finally has a song befitting his self-grandiosity.

Now THIS is entertainment:

Things I’d Like to Post About Today ….. (101308, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 10:19 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

  • First and foremost — Heartiest congrats to Maggie Thurber for her Americans For Prosperity “Blogger of the Year” award. This smackdown of the Toledo Blade for its clear belief that “Americans who want to work have a right to a job where they live” (otherwise it wouldn’t have asked the question and invoked FDR) exemplifies why the award is richly deserved. Side question: What’s the Blade going to have to say if it ever has to lay off employees?
  • Grand Kenyan Story 1 — “The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH, PUNK” (Barack O-bomba Overseas HusseinObambiObama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters, Previously Unaccomplished Nonsupporter of Kin) sure seems to have an affinity for the Islamofascist ruler in his father’s home country.
  • Grand Kenyan Story 2 — Vic Wulsin appears have her own Kenyan connections lined up in case, or more likely when, she loses the Second District congressional election in November. When was the last time “college chancellor” was a “ceremonial position”? I didn’t link to the underlying Cincinnati Enquirer story because the paper wouldn’t link to, or even mention their source, Weapons of Mass Discussion. It seems to me that the Enky’s editors have been more arrogantly dismissive of the right side of the blogosphere — going way, way back (second item at link) — than any other major Ohio newspaper.
  • Now that Sarah Palin has been found to have supposedly committed an “abuse of power” for doing her job by a bunch of partisan hacks who promised “an October surprise” even before the investigation began, I eagerly await the prosecutorial referral. Oh, there’s no indication that one will occur? How quaint.
  • Jen Brunner, Ohio Secretary of State, went into full 1992 Barbie Doll mode last week, and said “Matching Databases Is Harrrrrd!” — and a US Appeals court negligently let her get away with it. Zheesh — From here, it seems that few dozen appropriately supervised temps (at most) could easily get through the backlog in two weeks. Her spokespersons also seem to have “hangups” about talking to people who question their statements. One such example is here.
  • While I’m on that topic, someone needs to explain to me why, assuming appropriate Board of Elections outreach initiatives, there is EVER any reason for anyone other than the person registering to vote to be the one who submits a voter registration card. I can’t come up with one. The whole idea is a pre-packaged recipe for fraud, as is open-season early voting.
  • Right Michigan notes that those who are pushing an embryonic stem cell initiative are touting jobs it will create in the Wolverine State, while contracting for many of its campaign-related services elsewhere. That’s a relative tempest in a teapot compared to the real problems with the initiative, which are these — First, embryonic research kills embryos. Second, it’s becoming more obvious with virtually each passing day that anything embryonic research claims it can do, ethical baggage-free adult stem cell research is either already doing better, or on the verge of it.
  • NY Times columnist and former advisor to a now-bankrupt company Paul Krugman has won the Nobel Prize for “his analysis of how economies of scale can affect trade patterns and the location of economic activity.” Given others under consideration who did not win, I’m starting to wonder if the Nobel Committee on Econ hasn’t succumbed to the Bush Derangement/Conservative Derangement Syndrome that has long since made the Peace Prize a sad parody of what was formerly, well, noble (e.g., Jimmy Carter, the man who gave Islamofascism a home). I can assure you that Krugman did not receive his prize for this public punditry from “The Ascent of E-Man” in 1999 — “The retreat of business bureaucracy in the face of the market was brought home to me recently when I joined the advisory board at Enron…. (which is an illustration of) “the end of the corporation as we knew it.” Nor is Krugman, who was a paid advisor to Enron at the time he wrote the related article and did not disclose the relationship to his editors, in line for any kind of ethics prize.
  • “Awwwwwww, poor babies” story of the day — “No Internet access for 9/11 defendants at Gitmo.” Maybe Jimmy Carter can visit and bring his laptop.

Positivity: Brain tumor survivor Taylor Parks returns

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Salem, Virginia:

Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 12:28 pm

Taylor Parks went back to school this fall.

That might not seem like a big accomplishment for most 14-year-olds, but in Taylor’s case, it’s a miracle.

Four years ago in the middle of his season as a Little League pitcher, the fourth-grader was benched with severe headaches, flu-like symptoms and sensitivity to light. He was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumor. Most of it was successfully removed – and then Taylor went into a coma for eight months.

When he work up, he had missed his birthday, his whole fifth-grade year at Glenvar Elementary in Salem, Va., and other ordinary milestones in his family’s life.

Scans showed cancer cells seeded around the periphery of his brain. His condition got worse, and hospice was called in.

Through it all, his family’s faith sustained them.

“I never believed I was going to lose him,” said his mother. Now the youngest son of Alicia and Kenny Parks is attending classes at Glenvar Middle School half days, usually five days a week. Taylor especially likes physical education, where he is able to swing at a ball and be around some of the friends he grew up with.

It’s different though. The the tumor and resulting treatment stole Taylor’s sight, hearing and ability to talk. His family believes some of those senses and abilities are coming back.

His parents, grandparents Fred and Alta Dixon and Joe and Alice Parks and older brothers, Josh, who is 23, and Liberty University senior Shane, 22, are convinced all the community support, prayers and lots and lots of physical and other therapy are helping to bring back his abilities.

“Taylor started to school going from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, the third week of September,” his mom explained. “We will get together in about six weeks and reassess. We may increase his hours more then.”

Taylor’s days are filled with other kinds of learning, too. He goes to physical and occupational therapy for several hours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and to Mona’s Ark on Fridays for an hour.

This Saturday, Taylor and other young people and adults with special needs will be welcoming the community to Mona’s Ark for Llama Fest 2004. The annual event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If there’s rain, it will be held the following Saturday, Oct. 11.

The llama show is a fund raiser for those who need special help, like Taylor.

People who attend can not only hug a llama, but walk with one, purchase crafts Taylor and others made from llama wool, get massages, bid on items in a silent auction and buy tickets for raffle items.

Taylor has been reaching outside himself at Mona’s Ark for a year. Photographs that show Taylor touching and feeding a llama, with a little help from his PaPaw Dixon, or the teenager taking a bite of a meal himself are evidence of major milestones in themselves, his mother explained.

“A year-and-a-half ago were not even able to touch Taylor’s face due to his tactile sensitivity,” she said.

In another photograph made in August at Mona’s Ark, Taylor holds a bunny on his lap, another way to help him get over that sensitivity to touching or being touched. There’s a photo of Taylor carding llama wool, too, with the help of brother Shane.

He’s advanced in other ways, too. While once he was bedridden in the hospital bed in the family’s former dining room that became Taylor’s room, he can get up from the sofa and propel himself through the house in search of what he wants.

Taylor also bowls, with help from his dad, Kenny, and friends.

He lost his sight almost overnight. “One day he had 20-25 vision, and practically nothing the next day,” his mother explained.

Now, she believes Taylor has some sight.

“The eye doctor, Dr. Facciani with Vistar in Salem, gave Taylor his ‘best guess’ glasses after shining a light in Taylor’s eyes. About three months ago, Taylor reached across to pick up something. An ophthalmologist at the University of Virginia didn’t give us much hope his sight would return. Every time the doctors say Taylor can’t do something, he does it.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

AP Gets It Right in One Article, Wrong in Another, About Historical Extent of Market Drop

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:08 am

DownGraph.jpgGiven that the topic of this post is the Associated Press, I guess I should be pleased to report that one of its two reports tonight about the dive in the stock market last week is correct.

In one article (“Gov’t eyes plan to take ownership stakes in banks”), AP’s Harry Dunphy and Tom Raum correctly said that “the Dow Jones industrial average just completed its worst week ever, plummeting more than 18 percent.” This is sadly true, at least if you “only” go back to 1921 (even I will give AP a pass for not wanting to dig through the muck of 1920, 1907, 1903 and 1901, which the New York Times was using as “hey, it’s not that bad” benchmarks as Black Tuesday approached in 1929):

NYToct25of1929onPrevCrashes

But in a different AP item (“Investors face more uncertainty as bailout widens”), reporters Stephenson Jacobs and Joe Bel Bruno incorrectly claimed that “Wall Street suffered through its worst five-day period in history,” which is most assuredly wrong.

Here is the factual layout:

MarketDropsOct1929and2008

(Sources: Dow Jones for DJIA in 1929 [interactive model]; Yahoo! Finance for NASDAQ and the S&P 500 [except for Friday's close, which can currently be seen at nasdaq.com]).

You can see that while no single week’s drop in October 1929 was as bad as last week’s, there were two five-day periods — the ones ending in Black Monday and Black Tuesday — that were worse. Black Tuesday’s was clearly much worse. It should also be noted that the Dow eventually fell to about 44.

No one interested in the country’s long-term well-being is happy about what happened in the markets last week, but some historical perspective is in order, along with hope that the worst of the current slump is over. Whether it is likely depends on how much of the economy the markets fear will be taken over by the government — both before and after the presidential election.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.