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Unaffordable fuel prices take away livelihood: unaffordable commute cost led German man to give up job, torch own BMW in protest

To protest unaffordable fuel prices, man in Germany sets his BMW on fire

(quote)

A man who said he had to give up his job because he couldn't pay for the gasoline required for his commute set fire to his own BMW car in front of the German city of Frankfurt's most iconic skyscraper Friday to protest soaring fuel costs. Police said the man, who identified himself only as Michael, parked the car in a grassy area near the tower, poured a canister of gasoline over it and set it alight. Lettering painted on the car said "Gas Profiteering" and showed the address of his protest site on the internet.

By the time police and fire crews arrived, the car had been gutted. Police detained the man, 30, who lives in neighboring state of Bavaria. They said the damage, including the loss of the car, totaled about 10,000 euros ($15,700 dollars). The man had said he had wanted to burn the car in Berlin, but it had been too far to drive.

He said he had left his job 23 days earlier because he had had to pay 250 euros ($394) a month for fuel to drive to his place of employment located 80 kilometers (50 miles) from his home. Police spokesman Karlheinz Wagner said the protester would probably be charged with pollution and would receive a hefty invoice from the fire brigade. "The guy was quite lucky because the gas tank did not explode," he added.

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Original Source: Deutsche Welle

Alarming charts: oil price spike since 2003 - petroleum is vital to industrialized civilization, the global economy as a whole

Oil prices chart 1996-2008

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Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics. The industry is usually divided into three major components: upstream, midstream and downstream. Midstream operations are usually included in the downstream category. Petroleum is vital to many industries, and is of importance to the maintenance of industrialized civilization itself, and thus is critical concern to many nations.

Oil prices increase since 2003

From the mid 1980s to September 2003, the inflation adjusted price of a barrel of crude oil on NYMEX was generally under $25/barrel. During 2004 the price rose above $40, then $50. A series of events led the price to exceed $60 by August 11, 2005, briefly exceed $75 in the middle of 2006, fall back to $60/barrel by the early part of 2007, then rise steeply to $92/barrel by October 2007 and $99.29/barrel for December futures in New York on November 21, 2007[1] Throughout the first half of 2008, oil regularly reached record high prices. On February 29, 2008, oil prices peaked at $103.05 per barrel,[2] and reached $110.20 on March 12, 2008,[3] the sixth record in seven trading days.[4] [5] The most recent price per barrel maximum of $140.05 was reached on June 26, 2008.[6]

(unquote)

Images courtesy of Wikipedia

Original Source: Wikipedia

EU Energy Commissioner & ICE: speculators not driving oil prices. Billionaire investor Soros: price could soon fall back sharply

An oil facility near Kuwait City. World oil prices have risen in Asia after militants blew up a Nigerian oil pipeline, intensifying concerns about tight global crude supplies

(quote)

Intercontinental Exchange is cooperating with regulators in their efforts to restrict oil trading, but the Atlanta-based company insists that speculation is not the reason for soaring prices.

The company, commonly known as ICE, operates a number of commodities trading exchanges, including a major oil futures exchange based in London.

They also made it clear they don't believe that's happening. "There is no evidence that regulators or researchers have found demonstrating that excessive speculation is driving crude oil prices," said Sarah Stashak, an ICE spokeswoman.

A sharp drop in attacks on pipelines has enabled Iraq to increase oil exports from northern oil fields. Iraq's oil exports have risen above 2 million barrels a day for the first time since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003

The cost of a barrel of crude oil has edged closer to its all-time high after OPEC president Chakib Khelil warned that oil prices “will not come down”. Ahead of a meeting with EU officials in Brussels today, he said that the cartel had done all it could to ease prices.

His comments pushed up benchmark crude in London by $1.24 to $137.15 a barrel - it hit an all-time high of $137.69 a barrel on June 6. The spot price - the cost of buying a barrel of oil for delivery that day - has risen close to $140.

security officers at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna

European Union Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, said he was “not convinced” speculators are to blame and repeated his call for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to pump more oil and scrap production quotas. But OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla el-Badri said: “The market is currently hijacked by speculators,” including hedge funds. “There is no shortage of supply as I said before.”

Many analysts now expect crude prices to shoot up towards $200 a barrel as the growth in global demand for energy outpaces the supply.

OPEC's Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri addresses the media on the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels

However others, including billionaire investor George Soros, have warned that the price could soon fall back sharply, and that the price looks like a bubble.

Julian Jessop, of Capital Economics, said: "I've no doubt that there is some speculative froth in the market... it's impossible to prove if it is contributing $5 or $50 to the price.

"More recently [since April] speculative positions have been flat or falling, while prices have been rising sharply," he added, saying speculative activity could not explain the recent sharp increase in price from $100 to almost $140 a barrel.

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman listens to speech of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah at opening session of oil summit in Jeddah. World oil prices have risen in Asia after militants blew up a Nigerian oil pipeline

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Photos courtesy of AFP/File/Yasser al-Zayyat, AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani, AFP/File/Joe Klamar, AP Photo/Yves Logghe, AFP/Marwan Naamani, Reuters/Susan Baaghil (Saudi Arabia), and Reuters/Saudi Press Agency/Handout

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown listens to Saudi King Abdullah speech at the opening ceremony of the Jeddah Energy Meeting June 22, 2008

Original Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution and Telegraph UK

Saudi King Abdullah (C) walks with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown (R) and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (L) at the opening ceremony of the Jeddah Energy Meeting June 22, 2008

Image Gallery: Yahoo News: Oil Industry

Sounds familiar? In 80s, massive oil shortage, prices soared; economies into recession; prices flattened out, in 1985, collapsed

Gasoline prices over $5 per gallon are displayed at a Shell station in San Mateo, California, June 23

(quote)

The world's thirst for oil is growing so quickly humanity will consume more of it this decade than over the previous hundred years. Production can't possibly keep up. And the consequences will be dire. "This surge of demand will soon begin to send shock waves through the American economy and transportation system," wrote one expert. The American interior secretary agreed.

A massive oil shortage was coming in the 1980s. Everyone knew that. But before the predicted crisis could arrive, the world was hit with one that wasn't predicted: The Iranian revolution of 1979 turned a major American ally into a major American enemy. Oil prices soared. Economies slipped into recession.

Banner: Beer now cheaper than Gas! Drink, don’t drive!

Experts were certain the age of scarcity had arrived ahead of schedule. "The cardinal issue is how vicious the struggle for energy supplies will become," the head of the CIA told a Senate committee. In the summer of 1980, the journal Foreign Affairs captured the dismal mood in an article headlined "Oil and the Decline of the West."

Then a funny thing happened. The price of oil stopped rising. Instead, it fell. And fell some more. High prices had encouraged oil companies to explore like never before and producers to open their spigots. Supply gushed onto the market.

In 1985, the price of oil collapsed.

(unquote)

Images courtesy of AFP/Getty Images/File/Justin Sullivan, Speciality Sites 24-7

Original Source: Montreal Gazette

Former Bush Aide McClellan Testifies. Writes in book senior White House officials misled US about reasons for invading Iraq

“Ideals of candor, transparency and integrity,” ... should outweigh “loyalty to an individual officeholder.” - Scott McClellan

former White House press secretary Scott McClellan testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday

(quote)

WASHINGTON — Scott McClellan, President Bush’s former press secretary, told the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that he had been unfairly vilified by Bush supporters for his recent book criticizing former White House colleagues over the Iraq war and their involvement in leaking the identity of an intelligence officer. Mr. McClellan, however, offered little new information in his testimony on those issues beyond what he wrote in the book, “” (PublicAffairs), which was published in May and last week topped the nonfiction best-seller list in The New York Times.

In the book, Mr. McClellan says senior White House officials misled the nation about the reasons for invading Iraq and maneuvered him into lying to the public about their roles in the leak case. The book, with Mr. McClellan’s lacerating criticism of his former colleagues, has generated a rich discussion about the obligations of political loyalty, and his appearance Friday on Capitol Hill provided another stage for that debate. The man who once regularly and seemingly by rote defended Mr. Bush in the White House press room was attacked by the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, who grilled Mr. McClellan as ferociously as any reporter had in his three years as press secretary. Committee Democrats, on the other hand, were much gentler, treating Mr. McClellan as if he were an author promoting a book in an interview.

In his opening statement, Mr. McClellan said that in contemporary Washington politics, “vicious attacks, distortions, political spin become accepted.” He added that “there is no more recent example of this unsavory side of politics than the initial reaction to my book,” in which he said his motives for writing it were unfairly attacked.

He said he wrote the book out of loyalty to the “ideals of candor, transparency and integrity,” which he said should outweigh “loyalty to an individual officeholder.”

Scott McClellan arrives in the hearing room as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill

Mr. McClellan has seemed especially angry about having been ordered by senior White House officials to tell reporters that I. Lewis Libby Jr., the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, had no role in leaking to reporters the name of the intelligence operative, Valerie Wilson. Mr. Libby was subsequently convicted of lying and obstruction of justice for testifying to a grand jury and to investigators that he had not told reporters about Ms. Wilson’s work at the C.I.A. At the Friday hearing, called as part of the Congressional investigation into the leak of Ms. Wilson’s name, Mr. McClellan recalled being ordered by Andrew Card, then the White House chief of staff, to publicly declare that Mr. Libby, known as Scooter, had not been involved in disclosing Ms. Wilson’s identity to reporters.

“I was reluctant to do it,” Mr. McClellan told the committee. “I got on the phone with Scooter Libby and asked him point-blank, ‘Were you involved in this in any way?’ And he assured me in unequivocal terms that he was not.”

In response to a question from Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, the chairman of the committee, Mr. McClellan said it would be wrong for President Bush to pardon Mr. Libby before his term ends as president. Last year, Mr. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence, voiding a 30-month prison term.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of Doug Mills/The New York Times

Original Source: New York Times

Related Articles:
* at The Public Record;
* House Judiciary Committee Democratic Chairman John Conyers’s opening statement at Congressional Hearing;
* On June 9, Dennis Kucinich read 35 Articles of Impeachment into the record on the House floor for 5 hours.

Oil prices soar, leaders gather for Saudi Arabia summit, Opec president says output increase would be "illogical and irrational"

The summit in Saudi Arabia will discuss opening up Middle East oilfields to energy majors such as BP

(quote)

Oil prices surged as some members of the Opec producers' cartel rejected demands to increase output ahead of tomorrow's meeting in Saudi Arabia to discuss soaring fuel costs. The president of Opec, Chakib Khelil, said yesterday that it would be "illogical and irrational" for it to increase output.

On Thursday oil prices fell sharply - around $5 a barrel - after Saudi Arabia announced a production hike of 200,000 barrels a day and China increased fuel prices by dropping subsidies.

Saudi Arabia had said it will boost oil production next month

But yesterday, New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for July delivery, jumped $4.27 to $136.20 a barrel at one stage and in London Brent North Sea crude for August rose $3.46 to $134.46.

Venezuela initially refused to attend the meeting, but energy minister Rafael Ramirez reportedly changed his mind at the last minute after blaming speculators and the falling dollar for the high prices. Meanwhile, Iran said raising output would not curtail prices.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest producer and the de facto leader of Opec, called the summit in the hope of easing the strains on consuming economies caused by soaring oil prices.

skyrocketing oil prices

In what appeared to be a mistake on Thursday, the country's London embassy website said it was boosting its daily oil output by 200,000 barrels. The statement was later withdrawn and it was thought the release was intended for tomorrow.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, America's energy secretary Sam Bodman and senior ministers from other countries, including China, will be at the Jeddah summit. Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, and Tony Hayward, his opposite number at BP, are among the senior businessmen attending.

The summit will also discuss opening up Middle East oilfields to energy majors like BP, and foreign investments from sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf.

(unquote)

Images courtesy of Reuters, BBC News, and Luis Vasquez/Gulf News

Original Source: Telegraph

Charm of diplomatic optimism: EU, Britain, France, Germany, Russia & China, direct talks with Iran; Bush quick to condemn Iran

Mr Solana was on a charm offensive in Iran

(quote)

They are not usually used to the limelight. In fact you might imagine them blinking as they emerge into the sunshine. The political directors of the foreign policy departments of the great powers are the archetypal bureaucrats - more used to influencing policy behind closed doors, than appearing before the glare of television lights.

But in the stylish residence of the German ambassador to Iran, they took their place alongside the EU foreign policy envoy Javier Solana, in what was, not for the first time in Tehran, a rather bizarre news conference. The aim was to demonstrate the unity of the international community, in the face of Iran's nuclear programme. In the event, it showed rather the opposite.

Mr Solana's mission was to bring a new package of incentives, designed to encourage Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium - the process the West fears could be used to make a nuclear bomb.

Ahmadinejad says Iran's nuclear intentions are peaceful

Diplomatic optimism

But while he was in the process of delicately explaining his offer to various Iranian officials, US President George W Bush jumped the gun, and announced that Iran had already rejected the package "out of hand".

In fact, as Mr Solana quietly explained later on, Iran has agreed to take away the ideas and think about them.

It was more than just a misunderstanding on Mr Bush's part.

What was so striking was the difference in tone. President Bush was quick to condemn the Iranian government at the earliest opportunity.

Mr Solana came full of diplomatic optimism, with a mission to charm and persuade the Iranians of the merits of this proposal. Not that anyone ever expected any miracles.

The package brought to Tehran by Mr Solana includes a series of proposals designed to help Iran develop a civilian nuclear programme. There are economic incentives as well. All available to Iran if it suspends the enrichment of uranium.

Solana is aware that a deal with Iran is not close

Direct talks

Mr Bush was quite correct that the Iranian government spokesman did announce, just as the talks were beginning, that Iran was not willing to accept that condition. It is something that Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or one of his officials probably repeats almost every day of the year. So it was not exactly a surprise.

And that was not the only flaw in this initiative.

The countries represented alongside Mr Solana were Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. Nobody from the US.

Washington does not hold direct talks with Tehran. Yet if there is a solution to this crisis, surely relations between Iran and the United States are pivotal.

Is it really credible to believe, as this offer proposes, that the US would co-operate in helping to build a nuclear reactor in Iran, while the many other arguments between the two countries remain?

Would the US Congress really vote money for the project, while American generals complain of Iranian weapons being used against their troops in Iraq, and Israel complains of Iranian rockets being delivered to Hamas and Hezbollah?

Equally, for any deal to be attractive to Iran, it would surely have to include the lifting of American economic sanctions, much more important than the relatively light UN embargo.

(unquote)

Photo courtesy of AFP and AP

Original Source: BBC News

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