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Journal Archives

US Running out of Room to Store Oil; Price Collapse Next?

For the past seven weeks, the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1 million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, especially at the country's main trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, the Energy Department reported last week.

If this keeps up, storage tanks could approach their operational limits, known in the industry as "tank tops," by mid-April and send the price of crude — and probably gasoline, too — plummeting.

"The fact of the matter is we are running out of storage capacity in the U.S.," Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Citibank, said at a recent symposium at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Morse has suggested oil could fall all the way to $20 a barrel from the current $50. At that rock-bottom price, oil companies, faced with mounting losses, would stop pumping oil until the glut eased. Gasoline prices would fall along with crude, though lower refinery production, because of seasonal factors and unexpected outages, could prevent a sharp decline.



White House official on Netanyahu speech: "Literally not one new idea"

Democrats have been quick to issue harsh responses to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress on Iran. An anonymous White House official gave a pretty stern, if anonymous, quote to CNN's Jake Tapper, telling him that the speech offered "literally, not one new idea," and was "all rhetoric, no action."
Jake Tapper

Sr. administration official: "Literally, not one new idea; not one single concrete alternative; all rhetoric, no action."

An anonymous senior White House official also slammed the speech in comments to the Jerusalem Post, saying that "simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan," and that the logic of Netanyahu's remarks was regime change in Iran
Michael Wilner ✔ @mawilner
Senior administration official tells me: "Simply demanding that #Iran completely capitulate is not a plan."

Michael Wilner ✔ @mawilner
Senior administration official tells #JPost: "The logic of the prime minister’s speech is regime change."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also immediately panned the substance of Netanyahu's remarks.

Within minutes of the end of the speech, she issued a statement saying that she had been "near tears throughout the Prime Minister's speech — saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations [leading Iran talks], and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation."



Photographer Captures What Male Entitlement Feels Like to Women Who Experience It

“Boundaries” is a project by photographer Allaire Bartel that aims to capture what it feels like to be a woman in an atmosphere of male entitlement.

The Pittsburgh-based photographer tells us that the project started last year during a mentoring program that had “boundaries” as the theme. At the time, there was a lot of discussion online about what it meant to be a woman in a man’s world, and plenty of stories of violence and abuse against women.

Bartel says she wanted to create a series of photos that interpreted the conversation in her own way — photos that could express the idea that the oppression of women isn’t only found in extreme isolated incidents that make the news (things like rape or abuse), but that the effects can be “felt in lesser forms during the day to day.”

She therefore captured a series of photos showing an average, young, professional woman in routing daily situations. “The concept of male entitlement is represented by male arms and hands performing a variety of actions that are overwhelmingly intrusive on her body and her life,” Bartel says.

“In each situation she maintains a blank expression, a visual choice that demonstrates how conditioned we as women have become to accept this atmosphere as excusable and even normal. A slightly hyper-real post processing style was implemented to emphasize that these actions, whether large or small, all perpetuate the idea that ‘woman’ does not mean the same thing as ‘human.'”



UN drugs body warns US states and Uruguay over cannabis legalisation

Source: The Guardian

The United Nations has renewed its warnings to Uruguay and the US states of Colorado and Washington that their cannabis legalisation policies fail to comply with the international drug treaties.

The annual report from the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board, which is responsible for policing the drug treaties, said it would send a high-level mission to Uruguay, which became the first country to legalise the production, distribution, sale and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes.

The UN drug experts said they would also continue their dialogue with the US government over the commercial sale and distribution of cannabis in Colorado and Washington state.

The possession and cultivation of cannabis became legal on 26 February in Washington DC. Voters in Oregon and Alaska have also approved initiatives to legalise the commercial trade in cannabis for non-medicinal purposes.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/03/un-drugs-body-warns-us-states-and-uruguay-over-cannabis-legalisation

Inside The Post-Minecraft Life Of Billionaire Gamer God Markus Persson

By Ryan Mac, David M. Ewalt and Max Jedeur-Palmgren

It’s 7 p.m. on a Monday in Stockholm, and Markus Persson sits on the terrace of his ninth-story office, sipping the speedball of alcoholic beverages, a vodka Red Bull. Three hours ago he committed to not drinking today, still in recovery from a 12-drink Thursday bender while nursing an ear infection. Yet here we are, embracing heavy-handed pours of Belvedere while surveying the workers in adjacent high-rises hacking away at their keyboards.

“He looks worried,” says Persson, pointing to a man in a building across the street rubbing his face and staring blankly into a computer screen.

After a few more seconds of looking at the man, Persson seems bothered by the scene and darts inside. For the better part of the last five years the 35-year-old Swede was that guy, a man who constantly stressed about his creation, Minecraft, the bestselling computer game of all time. Even calling it a game is too limiting. Minecraft became, with 100 million downloads and counting, a canvas for human expression. Players start out in an empty virtual space where they use Lego-like blocks and bricks (which they can actually “mine”) to build whatever they fancy, with the notable feature that other players can then interact with it. Most players are little kids who build basic houses or villages and then host parties in what they’ve constructed or dodge marauding zombies.

Truly obsessed adults, though, have spent hundreds of hours creating full-scale replicas of the Death Star, the Empire State Building and cities from Game of Thrones. The word “Minecraft” is Googled more often than the Bible, Harry Potter and Justin Bieber. And this single game has grossed more than $700 million in its lifetime, the large majority of which is pure profit.

“It doesn’t compare to other hit games,” says Ian Bogost, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who studies videogames. “It compares to other hit products that are much bigger than games. Minecraft is basically this generation’s Lego or even this generation’s microcomputer.”



Sen. Warren joins growing list shunning Netanyahu

WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren said late Monday that she will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address Tuesday to a joint meeting of Congress, joining a growing list of Democrats avoiding the speech.

Like others in her party, the Massachusetts Democrat cast her objections as a protest against House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who invited Netanyahu, more than a protest against the Israeli leader.

"It's unfortunate that Speaker Boehner's actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday's event more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East," she said in a statement to The Boston Globe.

Boehner announced the invitation to Netanyahu — who is deeply skeptical of the Obama administration's nuclear negotiations with Iran — the day after President Obama gave his State of the Union Address and asked Congress to hold off on additional sanctions on Iran while the negotiations were ongoing.



Scott Walker has a weird theory about unions and foreign policy. We made it a quiz

by Amanda Taub

Saturday morning, Wisconsin Governor and GOP Presidential hopeful Scott Walker said that he believes the "most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime" was when President Reagan fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers in 1981. "It sent a message not only across America, it sent a message around the world," Walker asserted, that "we weren't to be messed with."

That's right: Walker believes that Reagan's union-busting was more important than any other US foreign policy decision since 1967, the year Walker was born. And no, in case you're wondering, this wasn't an accidental gaffe: Walker has repeated this theory multiple times to different audiences. This was just the latest instance. In his book, Walker wrote that Reagan firing the aircraft controllers "not only stiffened the spines of members of Congress, it also stiffened the resolve of our allies, it also encouraged democratic reformers behind the Iron Curtain. It helped win the Cold War."

This is certainly an unusual theory of US foreign policy. But to give it the credit it's due, we've created a handy quiz to help you decide if you agree with Walker's theory.
(note, the poll at the link is worth taking....)

Was firing the air-traffic controllers really the most consequential US foreign policy decision since 1967?

Tuesday Toon Roundup 4: The Rest



Drug War




Tuesday Toon Roundup 3: Russian Murder

Tuesday Toon Roundup 2: Repubs

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