Bush’s Iraq War is officially over — guess who got the oil?

sinochem

Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China is now its biggest customer.

China already buys nearly half the oil that Iraq produces, nearly 1.5 million barrels a day, and is angling for an even bigger share, bidding for a stake now owned by Exxon Mobil in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields…

Before the invasion, Iraq’s oil industry was sputtering, largely walled off from world markets by international sanctions against the government of Saddam Hussein, so his overthrow always carried the promise of renewed access to the country’s immense reserves. Chinese state-owned companies seized the opportunity, pouring more than $2 billion a year and hundreds of workers into Iraq, and just as important, showing a willingness to play by the new Iraqi government’s rules and to accept lower profits to win contracts.

“We lost out,” said Michael Makovsky, a former Defense Department official in the Bush administration who worked on Iraq oil policy. “The Chinese had nothing to do with the war, but from an economic standpoint they are benefiting from it, and our Fifth Fleet and air forces are helping to assure their supply…”

Notably, what the Chinese are not doing is complaining. Unlike the executives of Western oil giants like Exxon Mobil, the Chinese happily accept the strict terms of Iraq’s oil contracts, which yield only minimal profits. China is more interested in energy to fuel its economy than profits to enrich its oil giants…

The Iraqi government needs the investment, and oil remains at the heart of its political and economic future. Currently OPEC’s second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi government depends on oil revenues to finance its military and social programs. Iraq estimates that its oil fields, pipelines and refineries need $30 billion in annual investments to reach production targets that will make it one of the world’s premier energy powers for decades to come…

But the kind of investment that is necessary has required contracting the services of foreign oil companies that are not always enthusiastic about Iraq’s nationalistic, tightfisted terms or the unstable security situation that can put employees in danger. Some like Statoil of Norway have left or curtailed their operations.

But the Chinese, frequently as partners with other European companies like BP and Turkish Petroleum, have filled the vacuum. And they have been happy to focus on oil without interfering in other local issues. “The Chinese are very simple people,” said an Iraqi Oil Ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to the news media. “They are practical people. They don’t have anything to do with politics or religion. They just work and eat and sleep.”

Just as the Chinese arriving in Iran speak Farsi with an Iranian accent, the managers of China’s enterprises in Iraq speak Arabic with an Iraqi accent. Getting along with commercial partners isn’t as difficult as Congress tries to make it. If you watch the world news on a Chinese channel like CCTV9 you’re as likely to hear American-accented English as a British [or actually Hong Kong] accent. It all depends on the focus.

The Chinese decided long ago their commercial policies didn’t have to depend on politics. Good, bad or indifferent as your own analysis may be – China’s business partners appreciate the difference. That’s been pretty much maintained as policy by private/shareholder-owned enterprise as state-owned. Even though state-owned business is now the minority of Chinese commerce.

But, I have to think Dick Cheney didn’t plan it this way. 🙂

SCOTUS says coppers taking DNA samples the same as fingerprinting and photographing

Police may take DNA samples from people arrested in connection with serious crimes, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 5-to-4 decision.

The federal government and 28 states authorize the practice, and law enforcement officials say it is a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes. But the court said the testing was justified by a different reason: to identify the suspect in custody.

“When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, “taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

Justice Antonin Scalia summarized his dissent from the bench…“Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,” Justice Scalia said from the bench…

There’s a bit more blah, blah, blah from Scalia. He voices the paranoia already part of the DNA of jerkwater populists who can’t get their brains around the United States as a union, a whole nation, instead of a confederacy.

Monday’s ruling, Maryland v. King, No. 12-207, arose from the collection of DNA in 2009 from Alonzo Jay King Jr. after his arrest on assault charges in Wicomico County, Md. His DNA profile, obtained by swabbing his cheek, matched evidence from a 2003 rape case, and he was convicted of that crime…

Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the “quick and painless” swabbing procedure was a search under the Fourth Amendment, meaning it had to be justified as reasonable under the circumstances. The search was reasonable, he said, given “the need for law enforcement officers in a safe and accurate way to process and identify the persons and possessions they must take into custody.”

Such identification, he said, “is no different than matching an arrestee’s face to a wanted poster of a previously unidentified suspect; or matching tattoos to known gang members to reveal a criminal affiliation; or matching the arrestee’s fingerprints to those recovered from a crime scene.”

An inevitable follow-on to this decision will be appeals and modifications to the law in the same vein as other nations ahead of the United States in considering and utilizing modern technology.

The UK high courts have ruled that DNA samples gathered as part of an arrest must be destroyed, the results expunged if the suspect is found not guilty of any offense at the time.

Just checking. Has America become a lot less racist?

The answer to the headline question is – how much time do you have?

Rock’n roll brought the phenomenon of mixed-race couples from the jazz world into mainstream young America. Everyone over 30 crapped their knickers. Mixed-race couples, married or otherwise, survived as families – only allowed to live in Black communities. That was the mid-1950’s.

The burgeoning civil rights movement added an educated and intellectual character to that mainstream. The unity between oppressed minorities and a nation of youth dragged into anti-war opposition by the VietNam War draft added another layer of good sense.

Still, the trade union I belonged to in the early 60’s still had a constitutional ban on union heads being Black or female.

Yup, times have changed. Before General Mills closed comments at the YouTube offering of this commercial sentiment ran about 93.5% positive and 6.5% negative, typically blatant about embracing racism. Our politicians have invented code words in place of what you still hear in barrooms and Tea Party executive board planning meetings.

A positive sign. Still, even though I expect the American flavors of bigotry to continue to diminish slowly as ever, I’d love to see the public ethic grow to where racists are at least publicly ashamed to advocate for their contemptible cause.

Bland Aussies want to link up with Dull and Boring

An Australian county called Bland hopes to link up with Dull in Perthshire and the tiny Scottish village’s official US twin, Boring in Oregon – in an attempt to create a triumvirate of tedium called Dull, Boring and Bland.

Even though residents of Bland in New South Wales are fed up with people ridiculing them, they want to cash in on humorous publicity by joining with the pair…

It was named after William Bland, whose life was anything but. The London-born son of an obstetrician was transported as a convict to Van Diemen’s Land in 1814 after killing a sailor in a duel in Bombay.

He was later pardoned, became a pillar of colonial life and founded the Australian Medical Association.

There must be a few extra jots of humor in a doctor’s association founded by someone convicted of manslaughter.

Fans, employees wig out at stadium to set record

Congratulations are in order for the Los Angeles Angels organization and the fans who attended Saturday night’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros. And no, we’re not congratulating them for losing to Houston two nights in a row (or the fans for sitting through it) but that is pretty darn impressive in and of itself.

Actually, we’re congratulating them for achieving their goal to set a new Guinness World Record for ‘most people wearing wigs.‘ In total, 32,682 people were counted wearing the red and white wigs handed out prior to the game for the designated ten minutes. That was more than enough to shatter the previous mark of 12,083 which had been set by an Australian rugby team.

Amazing isn’t it – what goals satisfy some folks?