A hard reign’s gonna fall before gas prices do

Published 4:20 am Monday, August 7, 2006

By Staff
You know that $2 billion oil company windfall that could reach $8 billion?
Two Republican congressmen suggested Aug. 3 that someone at the Interior Department may have deliberately removed provisions from offshore drilling contracts to provide it.
They also say the department refuses to divulge documentation that could resolve the mystery over contracts and provisions dictating how much in royalty payments companies must pay the government on leases issued in 1998-99.
"We believe the department may have deliberately withheld crucial information" that could determine if the issue involves deliberate action, complained Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
Absent that provision those two years, leaseholders have not had to pay royalties and won't for years to come – although, as you might have guessed, oil and gas prices meanwhile soared well beyond the royalty trigger.
So, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the government has already missed $2 billion in royalties and stands to miss another $8 billion over the life of the leases.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: "Even before the bombs fell on Baghdad, a group of senior Pentagon officials (was) plotting to invade another country. Their covert campaign once again relied on false intelligence and shady allies. But this time, the target was Iran. In recent weeks, the attacks by Hezbollah on Israel have given neoconservatives in the Bush administration the pretext they were seeking to launch what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calls World War III."
– James Bamford in "The Next War," Aug. 10 Rolling Stone. His story on consultant John Rendon, "The Man Who Sold the War" in Iraq, won the 2006 National Magazine Award for
Bamford concludes that over the past six months, the administration has adopted almost all of the hardline stance advocated by the Pentagon war "cabal," backing up tough talk with $66 million for dissident groups to promote regime change inside Iran.
Bamford says convicted embezzler Ahmed Chalabi, whose Iraqi National Congress fed the administration faulty intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, is now suspected of dealings that furnished Iran with highly classified information on U.S. troop movements.
The CBS Evening News carried an exclusive report by correspondent Lesley Stahl that the U.S. government had "rock-solid" evidence that Chalabi passed extremely sensitive intelligence to Iran – evidence so sensitive it could "get Americans killed."
Larry Franklin, a former Bush administration official, pleaded guilty to passing classified information about Iran to a pro-Israel lobbying group, but Chalabi has not been indicted, let alone questioned by the FBI as part of an ongoing espionage investigation.
Last November, when Chalabi visited the United States for speeches and media events, the FBI could not interview him because he was under State Department protection.
Oh, and did you know that the State Department's Office of Iranian Affairs is overseen by Liz Cheney, Dick's daughter?
Her dad makes no secret of his desire to see Tehran fall.
On Inauguration Day 2005 he put Iran "right at the top" of "trouble spots" and suggested Israel "might well decide to act first" by attacking Iran.
The Israelis would "let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterward," Vice President Cheney said.
"The neoconservatives are now hoping to use the Israeli-Lebanon conflict to launch a U.S. war against Syria, Iran or both."
– arms expert and author Joseph Cirincione
"(Iran's nuclear program can) reach production-scale capability by the end of the year."
– Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, playing the fear card in May 2006 – even though the National Intelligence Estimate representing the consensus view of all U.S. spy agencies determined in 2005 that Iran was at least a decade away from nuclear production.
Kind of reminiscent of the page in the regime-change playbook by which President Bush in September 2002 cited a 1998 report by international nuclear inspectors to show Iraq "six months away from developing a weapon" – even though that arsenal had been verifiably dismantled under U.S. and U.N. supervision.
"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran."
– Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice
"I never subscribed to the idea that punk rock means you have to play fast and scream. To me, it means being a rebel, being an underdog, being outside and doing it yourself … this is all that I've ever done, and it's my job now to be the warrior, and to fight."
– Joan Jett, 45, in Newsday. She's releasing "Sinner" on her own Blackheart Records label.
Global warming watch: It's winter in South Africa. Johannesburg saw snow flurries Aug. 2 for the first time in at least eight years.
Stunned office workers pressed against windows to savor the spectacle.
Heavy snow fell in some towns that rarely experience such weather.
That'll show him: So what happened to former Ohio State basketball coach Jim O'Brien, who broke NCAA rules by giving $6,000 to recruit Aleksandar Radojevic, lied about it, then tried to cover it up, for which he was fired in June 2004?
Why, a judge ruled Aug. 2 that Ohio State must pay O'Brien $2.2 million, plus interest, for failing to follow terms of his contract.
"It is clear that this seemingly unfair result arises from the extremely favorable provisions of the contract," Ohio Court of Claims Judge Joseph T. Clark wrote in his decision.
Ohio State said it didn't owe him anything. O'Brien wanted at least $3.6 million.
Anniversary: Chandra Levy's disappearance, five years. The Washington intern, who had an affair with California Congressman Gary Condit, vanished in April 2001, sparking months of media frenzy. Her remains were found in a Washington park in 2002, but her killing remains unsolved. D.C. police repeatedly ruled out Condit as a suspect, but the controversy cost him his 30-year political career. The Democrat lost his 2002 re-election bid. In 2003, he moved to Arizona with his wife. Today he runs a couple of businesses, including a Baskin-Robbins.
Unlikely Fab fan of the week: Fiona Apple, who used to fall asleep to Abbey Road every night. The singer lists "John Lennon, by himself or with the Beatles," as the dead performer she would have liked to see.
30: Percent of 391 Major League Baseball players polled in July by Sports Illustrated who said the Detroit Tigers will win the World Series, just behind the White Sox's 32 percent, but ahead of the Red Sox (15 percent) and Mets (14 percent).
"When You Were Young," the first Killers single from the Las Vegas band's forthcoming second album, "Sam's Town," is said to be heavily inspired by Bruce Springsteen and vocalist Brandon Flowers is said to sound a lot like another Boss fan, Meat Loaf. That turn toward Asbury Park is hard to imagine after their neo-New Wave debut, but maybe they were "Born to Run."
Who knew Keith Richards had ever been in Arkansas?: But the Rolling Stones guitarist was busted 31 years ago in Fordyce for reckless driving and carrying a concealed knife.
Richards ran into Gov. Mike Huckabee at a Little Rock concert and was offered a pardon.
Who knew that an Arkansas governor played bass and covered Stones songs in his own band, Capitol Offense?
It's a good thing the Stones didn't know that when Bill Wyman quit.
No comment: United Airlines is sending 1,200 mechanics and other ground crew employees to NASCAR's Pit Crew U to enhance their efficiency.