Daily Archives: May 24, 2007

The End of National Currency

Foreign Affairs | May/June 2007

Below is another position paper by the Council on Foreign Relations on how they plan to manipulate the world into accepting three global currencies based loosely on the EU, the NAU (North American Union) and the Asian Union.

“Monetary nationalism”, the audacous idea that nations should control their own their own destinies, their currencies and economies, is considered a sin. Yeah, well John D. Rockefeller said “competition is a sin” and proceeeded to monopolize the oil industry. So I guess that’s what they mean since they work for the Rockefellers’ interests over an above those of Americans and everyone else for that matter.

This reads like a globalist manifesto, claiming how wonderful the EU is and how much better people are off under its jackboot. Yes, the Nazis and the Communists have said similar things, but most of the people knew differently, though they were too afraid to voice their opinions.

And of course, the Asian system would be based on the Chinese monetary system, which may resemble a free-market, but the fact is that most Chinese are barely surviving under grinding poverty, harsh and dangerous work conditions, punitive taxation, rising inflation and apparently have very little in the way of rights under the Communist legal system. And you may be surprised to know that this “socialist” country offers little in the way of services to its citizens for all the taxes they are forced to pay. So yes, China is the model for the world according to the globalists. This is precisely what the aristocrats want for all of us commoners.

The bottom line is that they want to concentrate currencies into the Euro, the Dollar (which would become the Amero) and the Chinese Renminbi which would probably take on another name. And needless to say, the people of these countries would have absolutely no say over the matter. It is dictated by the incredibly arrogant and secretive Bilderberg banking elite and royalty who have no allegience to any country but only to themselves for the purpose of further concentrating the wealth of the world into fewer and fewer hands, just as we have seen happening in the past two decades. That is what is called a mercantilist dictatorship, one that is growing to a global scale day by day, into the all-powerful New World Order empire.

The only way to avert this totalitarian agenda is to take back control of national governments. For America, it means to support whoever is for national independence and sovereignty, sound money, the rights of the individual and non-interventionism. In our case, that means one and only one thing: support Ron Paul for 2008!

Don’t be fooled by the establishment puppets like Romney, Giuliani, Obama and Hillary. That bucket of writhing snakes all work for the Council on Foreign Relations which is nothing but a front for the aristocratic elite. They do not and will not represent the interests of the people, no matter what they say. It is all a pack of lies so stop voting for CFR puppets!

It is time to wake up America and defend your country to preserve your own freedom because I guarantee the elites want to enslave you and they can only do it if you let them.

PW
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The End of National Currency

By Benn Steil

Summary:  Global financial instability has sparked a surge in “monetary nationalism” — the idea that countries must make and control their own currencies. But globalization and monetary nationalism are a dangerous combination, a cause of financial crises and geopolitical tension. The world needs to abandon unwanted currencies, replacing them with dollars, euros, and multinational currencies as yet unborn.

Benn Steil is Director of International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and a co-author of Financial Statecraft.

But the world can do better. Since economic development outside the process of globalization is no longer possible, countries should abandon monetary nationalism. Governments should replace national currencies with the dollar or the euro or, in the case of Asia, collaborate to produce a new multinational currency over a comparably large and economically diversified area.

Europeans used to say that being a country required having a national airline, a stock exchange, and a currency. Today, no European country is any worse off without them. Even grumpy Italy has benefited enormously from the lower interest rates and permanent end to lira speculation that accompanied its adoption of the euro. A future pan-Asian currency, managed according to the same principle of targeting low and stable inflation, would represent the most promising way for China to fully liberalize its financial and capital markets without fear of damaging renminbi speculation (the Chinese economy is only the size of California’s and Florida’s combined). Most of the world’s smaller and poorer countries would clearly be best off unilaterally adopting the dollar or the euro, which would enable their safe and rapid integration into global financial markets. Latin American countries should dollarize; eastern European countries and Turkey, euroize. Broadly speaking, this prescription follows from relative trade flows, but there are exceptions; Argentina, for example, does more eurozone than U.S. trade, but Argentines think and save in dollars.

Of course, dollarizing countries must give up independent monetary policy as a tool of government macroeconomic management. But since the Holy Grail of monetary policy is to get interest rates down to the lowest level consistent with low and stable inflation, an argument against dollarization on this ground is, for most of the world, frivolous. How many Latin American countries can cut interest rates below those in the United States? The average inflation-adjusted lending rate in Latin America is about 20 percent. One must therefore ask what possible boon to the national economy developing-country central banks can hope to achieve from the ability to guide nominal local rates up and down on a discretionary basis. It is like choosing a Hyundai with manual transmission over a Lexus with automatic: the former gives the driver more control but at the cost of inferior performance under any condition.

As for the United States, it needs to perpetuate the sound money policies of former Federal Reserve Chairs Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan and return to long-term fiscal discipline. This is the only sure way to keep the United States’ foreign tailors, with their massive and growing holdings of dollar debt, feeling wealthy and secure. It is the market that made the dollar into global money — and what the market giveth, the market can taketh away. If the tailors balk and the dollar fails, the market may privatize money on its own.

New presidential directive gives Bush dictatorial power

Global Research | May 21, 2007

bush-hitler-blair-mussolini

New presidential directive gives Bush dictatorial power

National Security & Homeland Security Presidential Directive establishes “National Continuity Policy”

The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, signed on May 9, 2007 declares that in the event of a “catastrophic event”, George W. Bush can become what is best described as “a dictator”: 
 
“The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government.” 
 
This directive, completely unnoticed by the media, and given no scrutiny by Congress, literally gives the White House unprecedented dictatorial power over the government and the country, bypassing the US Congress and obliterating the separation of powers. The directive also placed the Secretary of Homeland Security in charge of domestic “security”.

The full text is below. A critical analysis on the directive can be found here.

This is another step towards official martial law (see “US government fans homeland security fears”), which suggests that a new “catastrophic event” 9/11-type pretext could be in the pipeline. 

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National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive

NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD 51

HOMELAND SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/HSPD-20

Subject: National Continuity Policy

Purpose

(1) This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes “National Essential Functions,” prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.

Definitions

(2) In this directive:

(a) “Category” refers to the categories of executive departments and agencies listed in Annex A to this directive;

(b) “Catastrophic Emergency” means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;

(c) “Continuity of Government,” or “COG,” means a coordinated effort within the Federal Government’s executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency;

(d) “Continuity of Operations,” or “COOP,” means an effort within individual executive departments and agencies to ensure that Primary Mission-Essential Functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies;

(e) “Enduring Constitutional Government,” or “ECG,” means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

(f) “Executive Departments and Agencies” means the executive departments enumerated in 5 U.S.C. 101, independent establishments as defined by 5 U.S.C. 104(1), Government corporations as defined by 5 U.S.C. 103(1), and the United States Postal Service;

(g) “Government Functions” means the collective functions of the heads of executive departments and agencies as defined by statute, regulation, presidential direction, or other legal authority, and the functions of the legislative and judicial branches;

(h) “National Essential Functions,” or “NEFs,” means that subset of Government Functions that are necessary to lead and sustain the Nation during a catastrophic emergency and that, therefore, must be supported through COOP and COG capabilities; and

(i) “Primary Mission Essential Functions,” or “PMEFs,” means those Government Functions that must be performed in order to support or implement the performance of NEFs before, during, and in the aftermath of an emergency.

Policy

(3) It is the policy of the United States to maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability composed of Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government programs in order to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and the continuing performance of National Essential Functions under all conditions.

Implementation Actions

(4) Continuity requirements shall be incorporated into daily operations of all executive departments and agencies. As a result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the assumption that no such warning will be received. Emphasis will be placed upon geographic dispersion of leadership, staff, and infrastructure in order to increase survivability and maintain uninterrupted Government Functions. Risk management principles shall be applied to ensure that appropriate operational readiness decisions are based on the probability of an attack or other incident and its consequences.

(5) The following NEFs are the foundation for all continuity programs and capabilities and represent the overarching responsibilities of the Federal Government to lead and sustain the Nation during a crisis, and therefore sustaining the following NEFs shall be the primary focus of

the Federal Government leadership during and in the aftermath of an emergency that adversely affects the performance of Government Functions:

(a) Ensuring the continued functioning of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government;

(b) Providing leadership visible to the Nation and the world and maintaining the trust and confidence of the American people;

(c) Defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and preventing or interdicting attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;

(d) Maintaining and fostering effective relationships with foreign nations;

(e) Protecting against threats to the homeland and bringing to justice perpetrators of crimes or attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;

(f) Providing rapid and effective response to and recovery from the domestic consequences of an attack or other incident;

(g) Protecting and stabilizing the Nation’s economy and ensuring public confidence in its financial systems; and

(h) Providing for critical Federal Government services that address the national health, safety, and welfare needs of the United States.

(6) The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator. The National Continuity Coordinator, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National

Security Affairs (APNSA), without exercising directive authority, shall coordinate the development and implementation of continuity policy for executive departments and agencies. The Continuity Policy Coordination Committee (CPCC), chaired by a Senior Director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, shall be the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination.

(7) For continuity purposes, each executive department and agency is assigned to a category in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and

responsibilities in support of the Federal Government’s ability to sustain the NEFs. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall serve as the President’s lead agent for coordinating overall

continuity operations and activities of executive departments and agencies, and in such role shall perform the responsibilities set forth for the Secretary in sections 10 and 16 of this directive.

(8) The National Continuity Coordinator, in consultation with the heads of appropriate executive departments and agencies, will lead the development of a National Continuity Implementation Plan (Plan), which shall include prioritized goals and objectives, a concept of operations, performance metrics by which to measure continuity readiness, procedures for continuity and incident management activities, and clear direction to executive department and agency continuity coordinators, as well as guidance to promote interoperability of Federal Government continuity programs and procedures with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate. The Plan shall be submitted to the President for approval not later than 90 days after the date of this directive.

(9) Recognizing that each branch of the Federal Government is responsible for its own continuity programs, an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall ensure that the executive branch’s COOP and COG policies in support of ECG efforts are appropriately coordinated with those of

the legislative and judicial branches in order to ensure interoperability and allocate national assets efficiently to maintain a functioning Federal Government.

(10) Federal Government COOP, COG, and ECG plans and operations shall be appropriately integrated with the emergency plans and capabilities of State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to promote interoperability and to prevent redundancies and conflicting lines of authority. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall coordinate the integration of Federal continuity plans and operations with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency.

(11) Continuity requirements for the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and executive departments and agencies shall include the following:

(a) The continuation of the performance of PMEFs during any emergency must be for a period up to 30 days or until normal operations can be resumed, and the capability to be fully operational at alternate sites as soon as possible after the occurrence of an emergency, but not later than 12 hours after COOP activation;

(b) Succession orders and pre-planned devolution of authorities that ensure the emergency delegation of authority must be planned and documented in advance in accordance with applicable law;

(c) Vital resources, facilities, and records must be safeguarded, and official access to them must be provided;

(d) Provision must be made for the acquisition of the resources necessary for continuity operations on an emergency basis;

(e) Provision must be made for the availability and redundancy of critical communications capabilities at alternate sites in order to support connectivity between

and among key government leadership, internal elements, other executive departments and agencies, critical partners, and the public;

(f) Provision must be made for reconstitution capabilities that allow for recovery from a catastrophic emergency and resumption of normal operations; and

(g) Provision must be made for the identification, training, and preparedness of personnel capable of relocating to alternate facilities to support the continuation of the performance of PMEFs.

(12) In order to provide a coordinated response to escalating threat levels or actual emergencies, the Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions (COGCON) system establishes executive branch continuity program readiness levels, focusing

on possible threats to the National Capital Region. The President will determine and issue the COGCON Level. Executive departments and agencies shall comply with the requirements and

assigned responsibilities under the COGCON program. During COOP activation, executive departments and agencies shall report their readiness status to the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary’s designee.

(13) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall:

(a) Conduct an annual assessment of executive department and agency continuity funding requests and performance data that are submitted by executive departments and agencies as part of the annual budget request process, in order to monitor progress in the implementation of the Plan and the execution of continuity budgets;

(b) In coordination with the National Continuity Coordinator, issue annual continuity planning guidance for the development of continuity budget requests; and

(c) Ensure that heads of executive departments and agencies prioritize budget resources for continuity capabilities, consistent with this directive.

(14) The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall:

(a) Define and issue minimum requirements for continuity communications for executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President;

(b) Establish requirements for, and monitor the development, implementation, and maintenance of, a comprehensive communications architecture to integrate continuity components, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President; and

(c) Review quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities, as prepared pursuant to section 16(d) of this directive or otherwise, and report the results and recommended remedial actions to the National Continuity Coordinator.

(15) An official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall:

(a) Advise the President, the Chief of Staff to the President, the APHS/CT, and the APNSA on COGCON operational execution options; and

(b) Consult with the Secretary of Homeland Security in order to ensure synchronization and integration of continuity activities among the four categories of executive departments and agencies.

(16) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:

(a) Coordinate the implementation, execution, and assessment of continuity operations and activities;

(b) Develop and promulgate Federal Continuity Directives in order to establish continuity planning requirements for executive departments and agencies;

(c) Conduct biennial assessments of individual department and agency continuity capabilities as prescribed by the Plan and report the results to the President through the APHS/CT;

(d) Conduct quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities in consultation with an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;

(e) Develop, lead, and conduct a Federal continuity training and exercise program, which shall be incorporated into the National Exercise Program developed pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 of December 17, 2003 (“National Preparedness”), in consultation with an

official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;

(f) Develop and promulgate continuity planning guidance to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators;

(g) Make available continuity planning and exercise funding, in the form of grants as provided by law, to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators; and

(h) As Executive Agent of the National Communications System, develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive continuity communications architecture.

(17) The Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall produce a biennial assessment of the foreign and domestic threats to the Nation’s continuity of government.

(18) The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall provide secure, integrated, Continuity of Government communications to the President, the Vice President, and, at a minimum, Category I executive departments and agencies.

(19) Heads of executive departments and agencies shall execute their respective department or agency COOP plans in response to a localized emergency and shall:

(a) Appoint a senior accountable official, at the Assistant Secretary level, as the Continuity Coordinator for the department or agency;

(b) Identify and submit to the National Continuity Coordinator the list of PMEFs for the department or agency and develop continuity plans in support of the NEFs and the continuation of essential functions under all conditions;

(c) Plan, program, and budget for continuity capabilities consistent with this directive;

(d) Plan, conduct, and support annual tests and training, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, in order to evaluate program readiness and ensure adequacy and viability of continuity plans and communications systems; and

(e) Support other continuity requirements, as assigned by category, in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and responsibilities

General Provisions

(20) This directive shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved. Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate

support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions.

(21) This directive:

(a) Shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and the authorities of agencies, or heads of agencies, vested by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations;

(b) Shall not be construed to impair or otherwise affect (i) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, and legislative proposals, or (ii) the authority of the Secretary of Defense over the Department of Defense, including the chain of command for military forces from the President, to the Secretary of Defense, to the commander of military forces, or military command and control procedures; and

(c) Is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its

agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(22) Revocation. Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 (“Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations”), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.

(23) Annex A and the classified Continuity Annexes, attached hereto, are hereby incorporated into and made a part of this directive.

(24) Security. This directive and the information contained herein shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure, provided that, except for Annex A, the Annexes attached to this directive are classified and shall be accorded appropriate handling, consistent with applicable Executive Orders.

GEORGE W. BUSH

‘Headcams’ for traffic wardens

Telegraph | May 25, 2007

headcam

It is hoped the cameras will deter attacks on staff

Under extended powers, the wardens will also be able to hand out tickets for anti-social activities

Traffic wardens are to be given head-mounted video cameras as the latest hi-tech weapon in the war against illegal parking.

The size of a small cigar, the ”headcams” will be strapped to wardens’ helmets as they patrol Salford, Greater Manchester, from Monday.

NCP Services, which supplies parking attendants in the area, hopes the cameras will deter irate motorists from attacking and abusing staff.

Under extended powers, the wardens will also be able to hand out tickets for anti-social activities such as littering, fly-posting, graffiti and allowing dogs to foul the pavement.

A spokesman for NCP Services said the cameras, which cost £700 each, could be supplied to their wardens across the country. The footage will be downloaded daily and could be used in court, or to resolve disputes over tickets.

Surveillance drone fuels ‘Big Brother’ fears

Telegraph | May 23, 2007

drone

A Merseyside police constable tests the surveillance drone in Liverpool. Other forces could follow suit

The country’s first police ”drone” took to the skies yesterday, opening a new era of flying CCTV cameras and adding to concerns about the extent of Britain’s “surveillance society”.

A day after a senior police officer warned of an ”Orwellian situation” with cameras on every street corner, Merseyside constabulary launched a remote-control helicopter to track criminals and record antisocial behaviour.

The micro-drone is only 3ft wide, weighs less than a bag of sugar and can record images from a height of 1,600ft.

It was originally used for military reconnaissance but is now being tested by police.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had a test flight yesterday and will be operational from next month for a three-month trial.

If the experiment works, other forces will follow suit -furthering Britain’s reputation as a ”Big Brother society”.

This country has more CCTV cameras than the rest of Europe put together and in the past week, two police chiefs have voiced their concern over the levels of surveillance.

Tony McNulty, the police minister, recently told MPs that the Government was exploring using the drones for a “range of policing and security applications”.

It is expected that they will be widely used to monitor crowds and potential security threats in London during the 2012 Olympics.

UAVs are already deployed by the military for surveillance and identifying targets. The drones have the advantage over piloted police helicopters because they can circle a target for many hours without refuelling.

Their small and relatively quiet engines also make them far more discreet and cheaper to operate.

Alistair Fox, of MW Power, which supplies the drone in Britain, said it was classified as a toy therefore not subject to civil aviation requirements or other licensing restrictions.

He added: “It is much easier to control than an ordinary remote-controlled helicopter – it is pretty much forward, back, left, right and record.”

It can be flown by remote control or using GPS navigation systems.

But although the technology is tried and tested, there are safety concerns.

Military UAVs are prone to crashing on take-off and landing and many have been lost over battlefields. The Home Office has stressed that public safety would be an “overriding concern” as the technology develops and use expands.

Simon Byrne, the assistant chief constable of Merseyside, dismissed fears that the drones would mean excessive intrusion. “People clamour for the feeling of safety which cameras give,” he said.

At the weekend, Ian Redhead, the Hampshire deputy chief constable, said Britain could face an ”Orwellian situation” with cameras on every street corner. Colin Langham-Fitt, acting chief constable of Suffolk, said: “There should be a debate about the ongoing erosion of civil liberties in the name of the fight against terrorism and crime.”

Ron Paul: Stop Dreaming

The Ron Paul Revolution is here and it is rapidly taking America by storm. The time is right and his time has finally come. We are ready to accept a leader who is honest, passionate, humble and true to our founding documents and to our ideals of freedom, non-intervention, economic prosperity, peace and justice. Stop following the herd of mindless braying sheep on the Right and the Left. Support the only candidate who is pro-American in the best sense of the term. And if you are for Ron Paul, put your money where your mouth is.

PW

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWfIhFhelm8&eurl=]

http://www.ronpaul2008.com

Gas Prices Hit An All-Time High

WCBS TV | May 20, 2007

Lundberg Survey: National Average Price For A Gallon Of Regular Is $3.18

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.18, according to the latest Lundberg Survey. As CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports, that is the highest average cost per gallon ever in the United States – even adjusting for inflation.

These days, every trip to the gas station is an experience in sticker shock. A gallon of regular gas costs $3.24 in New York. It’s $3.45 in Milwaukee, and $3.59 in Chicago.

This weekend alone, from Friday to Sunday, the average price of gas went up another 5 cents per gallon.

A gallon of mid-grade gasoline averaged $3.29, and premium cost $3.40, according to the latest Lundberg Survey of seven-thousand gas stations across the country.

The price hikes are giving oil companies another banner year. First quarter profits for Exxon-Mobil totaled nearly $9.3 billion. Royal Dutch Schell picked up more than $6.9 billion. The number was $4.7 billion for Chevron.

In a December interview with CBS News, Shell’s president defended the industry’s high profits.

“The profits are high because the crude price is high, and the cost of producing that crude has not materially changed,” John Hofmeister said. “Future investments cost more money.”

Oil executives downplay the amount of fuel that can be produced from home grown sources like ethanol.

“I think independence is naive,” Hoffmeister told CBS News.

U.S. inventories are at record lows for the pre-summer season – a sure fire formula for higher prices in the future. But many consumers are hurting right now.

To cope with climbing prices, commuters like Denise von Wilke are looking for every possible way to save. She drives more slowly and car pools with a co-worker for her 47-mile trip to work.

Von Wilke also uses the Internet to find bargains. She says she can find the lowest gas prices in all of New Jersey from her desk.

Across the country, the lowest price for regular fuel was $2.87 in Charleston, South Carolina, and the highest was in Chicago at $3.59 a gallon, according to the Lundberg Survey.

Higher fuel costs are driving many Americans to mass transit. The American Transportation Association reports more than 10 billion trips on trains and buses last year – the highest use of public transportation in 49 years.

Lindsey Williams – The Energy Non-Crisis – Part 1 of 8

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbakN7SLdbk]

Oil profits soar as consumers keep pumping fuel

Globe and Mail | May 21, 2007

gas_sign

North American refiners will easily outpace their stellar first-quarter results during the rest of the year, analysts suggest

To the dismay of motorists fuming about high pump prices, North American oil companies are enjoying record returns in their petroleum refining and marketing operations, despite some losing revenues from refinery shutdowns.

Three of the leading four gasoline marketers in Ontario saw their combined profits from the so-called downstream side of the business jump by 69 per cent in the first quarter of 2007, compared with the same period in 2006, Spencer Knipping, a petroleum market analyst with the provincial government, said in a report last week.

And since then, margins and pump prices have climbed sharply across the continent. Analysts suggest the North American refiners will easily outpace the stellar first-quarter results throughout the rest of the year.

With this weekend’s start of the summer driving season, North American motorists were seeing record prices in many markets, particularly in the Midwest and the West Coast, including $1.30 a litre in Vancouver.

Though many analysts expect a slight easing over the next month or so, they warn that disruption in crude oil markets or among refiners would quickly send pump prices to new highs, with the exception in Canada of a one-week spike after hurricane Katrina in 2005.

And that spells fat profits for the companies that refine and market gasoline and diesel fuel.

Mr. Knipping calculated that three companies – Petro-Canada, Imperial Oil Ltd. and Suncor Energy Inc. – earned $481-million from petroleum products in the first quarter, up from $285-million in the first three months of 2006. He could not include Royal Dutch Shell PLC because it no longer breaks out its Canadian operations.

And that combined increase came despite flat downstream revenues at Imperial Oil, where a fire at its Nanticoke refinery shut down production for a month – an outage that contributed to a widening gap between Canadian and U.S. wholesale prices.

Since then, “refining margins have remained quite high, in fact they have gone up,” Mr. Knipping said. Last week, the spread between crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices in New York City – the benchmark for the North American market – stood at $32.57 (U.S.), up from an average of $12.93 in the first quarter.

“So profits are likely to go up … We’re getting into the higher demand driving season so we’re going to see higher prices and possibly margins will continue to rise.”

Cathy Hay, an analyst with MJ Ervin & Associates, noted that consumers have shown no signs of cutting back on their driving going into the summer season. Despite record and near-record prices, demand in the United States is still about 1.5 per cent higher than it was this time last year. Recent Canadian demand figures are not available.

“I don’t see people changing their behaviour,” she said, adding she still intends to spend her summer weekends “driving to the lake at $100 a crack” in fuel costs.

However, Alison Hermansen, vice-president for travel services for the Canadian Automobile Association, said Canadians are beginning to adjust to the high pump prices when planning their summer holidays.

“It’s looking like a really strong summer travel season, but with people staying closer to home,” she said.

But while demand growth has softened, few expect prices to ease more than slightly in the coming weeks. Inventories remain well below average after strong demand in the first quarter, plus falling imports and a spate of refinery accidents forced companies to draw down stocks at a time when they would be typically building them to prepare for the busy summer months.

Some experts warn prices could set new records this summer, especially if another active hurricane season threatens Gulf Coast refineries that are still recovering from Katrina and Rita two years ago.

“With the hurricane season approaching, continued tight refinery conditions – both in the United States and elsewhere – low gasoline inventories and increased demand for summer travel, upward pressure on gasoline prices will remain in place,” Guy Caruso, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, told a congressional committee.

The refining winners

Fadel Gheit, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York, says companies that operate exclusively in the refining and marketing side of the business are primed to double or triple their earnings in the coming quarters.

Those companies include Valero Energy Corp., which has a major refinery in Quebec City, Marathon Oil Corp. of Houston, and Tesoro Petroleum Corp. of San Antonio.

“It’s going to be an enormous year,” Mr. Gheit said. “It’s a perfect storm where everything that could push margins up has taken place.”

Since February, the industry has seen rising demand, though the growth has finally slowed. There have been strikes in Europe affecting imports, and unplanned refinery shutdowns reducing supplies in already tight markets.

Texas-based Valero – North America’s largest refiner – reported its highest quarterly profit in company history for the first quarter, with earnings of $1.1-billion, up 30 per cent from the corresponding period in 2006.

Oil refineries rack up record gross profits

Denver Post | May 19, 2007

Reduced output has Coloradans paying 15 cents a gallon more at the pumps than the rest of the U.S., and prices are expected to keep rising.

Record profit margins for oil refiners and a series of refinery shutdowns in the West have Colorado motorists paying soaring gasoline prices as the summer holiday season fast approaches.

At least four refineries that provide gas to Colorado are closed or running at diminished rates because of repairs and maintenance. Yet refinery owners are making record profits on the conversion of crude oil to gasoline.

Gross profit margins at the nation’s refineries hit an all-time high of $37.48 a barrel on Friday, or nearly $1 a gallon, according to an analysis of commodities prices by petroleum analyst Bryant Gimlin of Fort Lupton-based Gray Oil Co.

Before this month, the previous record high for refinery profits was $31.71 in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“At the first of the year, refiners were stating that the heavy maintenance schedule was to enable full production prior to summer demand,” Gimlin said. “Yet it seems they have learned running at reduced rates is very good for (profit) margins. That’s nice work if you can get it.”

Gross refining margins are calculated by subtracting refiners’ crude-oil purchase price from their wholesale gasoline selling price. The refiners’ net profits are lower than gross margins because of additional costs such as operating expenses, payroll, marketing, distribution and taxes.

An oil industry official attributed high prices to tight supplies and high demand and said profit levels are justified.

“The recent price increases reflect supply and demand,” said John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute, in testimony last week to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

“The same is true for past price increases that have been thoroughly investigated by government agencies who would not have hesitated to take the industry to task if illegal or improper activity had been discovered,” he said. “Invariably, these agencies have explained price spikes by supply/demand conditions that had nothing to do with manipulation of supplies or illegal agreements among companies.”

High refinery profits and reduced output are key factors in Colorado’s average gasoline price of $3.28 a gallon for self-service regular Friday, 15 cents higher than the national average of $3.13.

“If you lose refinery production for any length of time, it can have a significant impact on gasoline prices,” said Joanne Shore, senior oil market analyst with the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The refinery outages have made tight supplies even tighter, while consumer demand for fuel remains strong.

Some analysts earlier this month had predicted that gas prices would level out in May, but they show no signs of retreat.

Now, the prevailing opinion is that prices may peak around the Memorial Day weekend, drop slightly during midsummer, then rise again as Labor Day approaches.

James DiGeorgia, editor of the Gold and Energy Advisor newsletter, said he believes prices may reach as high as $4 a gallon this summer.

Denver filling station owner Mark Elmore said he was hit with wholesale price increases of 18.5 cents per gallon during a two-day span last week.

“We retailers cannot absorb this type of price increase on a daily basis,” he said. “The Denver market will exceed $3.50 a gallon before too long.”

Colorado’s average gas price has risen for 15 consecutive weeks, corresponding with a series of refinery outages.

Refineries often close or reduce output during the spring for planned maintenance and conversion to summer fuel blends. But unplanned outages can wreak havoc with retail markets.

Colorado is experiencing shortages from both planned and unplanned refinery shutdowns. Among them:

Valero Energy’s McKee refinery in northern Texas closed after a fire in February. The facility, which supplies 17 percent of Colorado’s gasoline, is slowly returning to production but was running at just 59 percent of capacity late last week.

The refinery is expected to achieve 88 percent of its normal production by the end of June.

A Sinclair refinery near Rawlins, Wyo., lost about one-third of its production from a mechanical problem last week. The unit supplies 6 percent of Colorado’s gas.

The refinery may be back on line this week.

Frontier Oil Corp. closed its Cheyenne refinery last week for a planned, $105 million maintenance project.
The facility will be closed for another week and then gradually will return to full production by the end of June.

Frontier refineries in Cheyenne and El Dorado, Kan., supply a combined 25 percent of Colorado’s gas.

ConocoPhillips last week closed a portion of its Borger, Texas, refinery for maintenance through the end of June. The facility supplies 15 percent of Colorado’s gasoline.

The Suncor refinery in Commerce City lost partial production for 16 days in January and two days in February after planned maintenance and a power outage.

The refinery is Colorado’s biggest supplier, producing about 32 percent of the state’s gas.

“Suncor’s plant is running full out and we’ve finally started to build back a little (reserve) inventory,” said spokesman Steve Douglas.

“Our take is that the supply situation in Colorado remains tight,” he said. “There continue to be unplanned refinery outages across the country, but hopefully, we won’t see anything significant that further affects this region.”

Confessions of a Ron Paul Junkie

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8rsMhQUFkA]

Rachel’s a hopeless addict, and wants to admit to her problem and get help. Maybe you are too? For a support group near you go to http://ronpaul.meetup.com/

Big Oil Screws America

OpEd News | May 16, 2007

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This article is for all of the people that don’t believe that Big Oil is sticking it to them and that the “trouble” with the price of gas is that “the refineries are breaking down” and have “choked” the gasoline flow to your gas eating SUV’s. Let me ask you all a question. Why are these refineries breaking down when Exxon/Mobile just pulled off the largest profits of any corporation at any time in the history of the world? Some estimates have profits as high as 377 billion dollars. That’s just PROFITS my friends, it isn’t taking into account operating costs.

Besides Exxon/Mobile there is a host of other oil companies that recorded windfall profits last year. If there is a meltdown at the refineries, than it is a criminal meltdown. The reason I call it criminal, is after gouging all of the profits they could possible manage to squeeze out of every human being on the face of this planet, they have the nerve to tell us that they didn’t bother to put some of it these profits back into their infrastructure to keep the flow of gasoline going.

I believe that they actually planned this to add another reason why gas prices must rise. If not then they are criminally culpable for letting the refineries fall into such a state of disrepair that over thirty of them stop refining at the same time. Why hasn’t the government stepped in to see exactly why Big Oil hasn’t insured the flow of oil to the nation? Isn’t in our national interests to keep the economy from gas price spikes that wreck havoc with inflation? Why do you believe that they get away with such irresponsible business practices? Could it be the same oil companies that are stopping the pumping of Iraqi oil with the help of our oil-connected administration are pulling another fast one for additional windfall profits?

What a great deal! The oil companies now deliver LESS oil at a higher price and make more money! How’s that for a racket! That’s like getting a huge pay raise, working less, and making the same or more. What happens when they pull more refineries off-line and the price goes to five bucks a gallon? They can keep the same profits and deliver less product.

I know, I know, supply and demand. Sure, that is a good argument. Still, time and time again the Big Oil has used excuse after excuse on why the price of oil just has to rise. Even when only 1/5 of the oil reserves in Iraq, light sweet crude, is being pumped (and slowly at that) OPEC has put arbitrary limits on Iraq and Iran, limiting the oil they can pump. They have convinced the world that we are running out of oil. We are not. Just like the refineries that are breaking down conveniently before the summer dive season, another “crisis” will drive prices up again next year just before Memorial Day exactly as in past Memorial Days.

Speaking of memorials, let me remember Jerry Falwell who devoted his life to bigotry and name-calling in the name of Jesus, may you rot in hell. The same exact sentiment I have for Ken Lay, who by the way, was one of the “architects” of the Iraqi oil scam before he was convicted of another fraud. Just keep on believing what the mainstream media is telling you about the oil supply. While you are believing them, don’t cast me as an oil fan. I just don’t like paying for Big Oil’s lies. I drive a Jeep with a four-cylinder engine, not a Hummer or a Lincoln Navigator that they can’t keep enough of in Bush’s hometown of Crawford, Texas. Seems that oil profits are so good there that to get a Lincoln Navigator, you have to wait in line.

So either check the facts out for yourselves or slam me for telling you the truth. Check out the price hikes and problems with the oil supplies before every Memorial Day. Check out how many people that belong to the think tank “Project for a New American Century” are from Big Oil. See how many Republicans AND Democrats are taking campaign funds from Big Oil. Read Greg Palast’s book “Armed Madhouse” and then tell me that something doesn’t stink. You can fall for it, but I’m not. I’m going to write my Nazi Senator Lindsay Graham and tell him to look into this (right). If you have a decent Senator or Congressman, I would advise you to do the same. I smell anti-trust here. Don’t you smell something rotten?