The news if Full of Energy Considerations this Week: Or, I should say, the Politicization of Energy, which in my view should be an economic activity (fat chance):

Former Soviet Union:
♦ A Mercantilism Too Far: Russia has agreed that Transneft, the state-owned oil pipeline network, and Gazprom, that incredible growing state-sponsored natural gas corporation, will be allowed to Bear Arms in protection of its assets.  Many oil installations have armed security to protect property: it’s not that.  It’s reflecting upon the incredibly wide-ranging disposition this force will have across Russia and, no doubt, in foreign states such as Armenia, Ukraine, and Belarus, who might well be agreeing to have standing armies on their territory.  It gives a different character to military activity in places like Chechnya and a greater potential threat to Georgia.  It will be interesting to see how these states and some collective security organizations will handle this: for instance, GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) could come up with a policy quick: and I think they’d better. 
♦ For those really interested in Russian pipeline deals–which are very significant: Robert Amsterdam has a 12-part series written by Grigory Pasko.  Most people don’t realize that distribution is as important as original location of reserves. . . at least read part 1.

Latin America:
Mercosur, the Latin American trading bloc, has been trying to entice Venezuela to join: but now Venezuela’s President Chavez is throwing in more conditions, including early ratification of their membership in Brazil and Paraguay.  Venezuela needs Mercosur more that Mercosur needs Mr. Chavez: it would help Venezuela develop a more diversified economy, but Mr. Chavez is not a great help in attracting world business.

Afghanistan:
Rule of law conference for Afghanistan in Rome.
♦ BBC updates “Plan Colombia“, where Afghanistan’s antinarcotics officers learn from Colombian officials.  Civilian and military casualties continue to escalate.

Iran:
♦ Still pressure on Iran about nukes: Still accusations of interference in Iraq.
♦ Petroleum woes are forcing Iran to mandate change in automobile fuels.  Switching to natural gas, though, does not change the problems of subsidizing fuel, nor will it alleviate many of the problems of price and scarcity.  It will give flexibility, provided: distribution of both fuels is universal throughout the country.  And this argues more infrastructure development, which is also a problem for Iran. 

Iraq:
♦ Two articles by the persistently-trucking Ben Lando on Iraq’s oil law: Suddenly the law delegating federal versus regional controls was approved and out of committee on July 3.  The same debate over its provisions has not been settled and yet it has moved forward a step.  (?)  However, the vote on it, scheduled July 4, did not occur in the absence of a quorum. 
In the meantime, the bill that defines regional revenue versus federal revenue is still not settled (I’ve been following this debate, and I think this must be a spin-off to the regional control bill, but I can’t tell for sure–because for one thing, al-Jazeera is reporting the bill is about revenue). 
♦ Furthermore, the government’s legislation on the role of Iraq’s National Oil Company and the role of its Oil Ministry are both also still in committee.  The bill on Control is supposed to face legislative voting next week–don’t hold your breath.  Sixty-one Iraqi oil experts have written a letter to Iraq’s Shoura, protesting the language, original and amended, of the bill that has passed.   And perhaps more to the point, the politicians aren’t happy either.
♦ In the meantime, Australia’s Defense Minister has said that Australia is there “for the oil“, rapidly contradicted by the Prime Minister, who says that Australia is there “for the democracy.”  Can we all agree that oil is a factor here?  And then, once admitting it, agree that military engagement has been counterproductive in terms of ensuring supply in the short term, and, given blown-up infrastructure, the medium-term?  And then, given that Iraq is still fooling around with their oil bill, while the rest of us are clueless on results, can we say that we are still putting some faint hopes in a democratic approach? 
♦ Another death-dealing suicide bomber kills 105 people in Amirli, just on the edge of the region controlled by “The Surge.”
♦ An artificial, political deadline looms: General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker must report on Iraq’s political and military progress mid-September.  A fiery wordstorm in D.C. to accompany the real firestorms in Iraq.
♦ Many of the alleged perpetrators of the foiled British car-bombings are doctors, and many from Iraq.

Energy:      See also Iraq and FSU above. 
♦ Prices: up again, more than two dollars this week per barrel: Brent crude, USD 73.80; West Texas Intermediate: USD 71.73. 
♦ U.S. Congresspeople who just happen to be Presidential Candidates make suggestions/campaign promises on new U.S. Energy bill.  Since the U.S. uses more energy than anyone, this is of world interest–the bill, I mean.
♦ U.S. Air Traffic controllers may get the technology and the go-ahead to more precisely route air flights, leading to large fuel saving for the airlines.  Well, yeah. 

The Two FridasThe Arts:
For the centenary of her birth: An exhibition that will turn ‘Fridamania’ into a deeper appreciation of Frida Kahlo’s work, in Mexico City’s Palacio de las Bellas Artes.  Senora Kahlo’s work stays in the public venue, almost always accompanied by biography.  This show, reviewed by Elizabeth Malkin, gives her audience a chance to reflect upon the work, and not the melodrama that so frequently becomes the first consideration–instead of the last.

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