A short one this morning, an excerpt from Robert Hubbell’s latest newsletter regarding the news that both OPEC and Russia intend to reduce oil production.  We all know that means higher prices at the pump, and while this should not be the highest priority on people’s minds as we head into the November mid-term elections, it probably will be.  People ought to be more concerned with the environment, the state of democracy, and human rights, but nope … they are more focused on how much it costs them to drive their gas-guzzling SUVs all over the place because, as one ‘friend’ told me, “it’s my happiness that matters most.”  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Putin’s War Tax on Americans

Saudi Arabia gave Russia a huge gift on Wednesday by coordinating a two million barrel per day reduction in oil production among OPEC oil producers. The effect of Saudi Arabia’s decision is to thwart the efforts by the Group of 7 nations to place a cap on the market price of Russian oil. Saudi Arabia’s decision will drive up oil prices, which Russia will use to fund its war against Ukraine. See NYTimes, The E.U.’s plan faces a new hurdle, as oil producers led by Saudi Arabia aim to keep global prices high.

          To state the obvious, neither Saudi Arabia nor Russia is a friend of the US or western democracy. Indeed, both are dictatorial, murderous regimes that ruthlessly suppress their people and seek to destabilize global peace and security. And both are darlings of the GOP and Fox “News.” Tucker Carlson claimed on Tuesday that Joe Biden blew up Nord Stream gas pipelines—an act of sabotage that occurred as Russian submarines and warships were spotted lurking near the points of attack on the pipelines.

          And, of course, the GOP’s mob boss welcomed Saudi Arabia’s blood money at his Bedminster golf course only weeks before the twenty-first remembrance of the victims of the Saudi-assisted terrorist attacks on 9/11. Trump provided a feeble excuse for “sports-washing” the Saudi involvement, saying, “Nobody’s gotten to the bottom” of responsibility for the terror attacks—a blatant lie.

          The effort also seems intended to meddle in US and European politics. It is only a matter of time before Republicans begin blaming Joe Biden and Democrats for the increase in gas prices—rather than acknowledging that the increases are directly attributable to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to prop up Vladimir Putin. Don’t let Republicans peddle that lie without challenge. Saudi Arabia has just imposed a “Putin war tax” on all Americans.

A Few Thursday Thoughts

Just a few things on my mind this afternoon …

This is a paragraph taken from an article in Foreign Affairs magazine about Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro …

“Days ahead of Brazil’s October 2 presidential election, the country is facing the most serious challenge to its democracy since its inception 37 years ago. President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, triumphed in 2018 amid a wave of anti-establishment sentiment but is now trailing in the polls in his showdown against former President Luiz Inácio da Silva, or Lula, as he is universally known. Confronted with probable defeat, Bolsonaro has made unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and publicly insists that the only way the opposition can prevent him from winning a second term is by stealing the election. His rhetoric is finding favor among his supporters: of the roughly 50 million Brazilians who say they will vote for Bolsonaro, about one-quarter are so radicalized that they have told pollsters the president should not recognize the result if he loses.”

Does this somehow sound familiar to you?  Yeah, I thought it might.

“Bolsonaro was one of the last leaders in the world to congratulate Biden after he won the U.S. presidency. Indeed, as an avowed Trumpist, Bolsonaro has frequently suggested that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen.”

This is an election I will be keeping an eye on, for it may be yet another nation, one relatively new to democracy, falling prey to populism, to an egocentric, malicious leader.

This morning I received this text message …

“Hello how  are you doing? I’m Ethan William 50 years  old and I’m a Business man but my pastor preached to us on this week Sunday about helping the needy, and it really touched so that’s why I’m here to help other for a little out of what I have, I’m texting you to see if you need some money to payoff bills or do some other things.Kindly reply me back on [phone number] I will be glad to help you out – [phone number]”

I was not only angry, but furious.  Why?  Because this person or group is preying on those who may be so desperate that they will grasp at any straw that is proffered.  Picture that you are a minimum wage worker struggling to pay the rent and feed your family and then one morning you get this text.  Okay, most everybody reading this will understand that this is a scam, that if you respond, you will be promised a monetary gift … just give them your bank account information and … POOF … like magic your account will be cleaned out!  But about half the people in this country may not understand that, may in fact read the text and think that their god has provided this saint to help them pay the rent that’s due in two days.

I promptly reported it as a scam, then deleted the text, but it angers me that some people, rather than seek an honest way to make a living, prey on those who are neediest.  For Pete’s Sake … they should go try to scam the corporate CEOs who can afford to lose a few million dollars and still be able to buy food!

The Nord Stream pipeline is a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea that runs from the Russian coast near St. Petersburg to north-eastern Germany.  On Monday, Danish and Swedish authorities detected underwater explosions in the Baltic Sea that breached the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines designed to carry gas from Russia to Germany.  The first explosion was recorded early Monday southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm, said Bjorn Lund, director of the Swedish National Seismic Network. A second, stronger blast northeast of the island that night was equivalent to a magnitude-2.3 earthquake.  All indications point to Russia as the instigator of the blasts.  Russia has a long history of using gas interruptions as a geopolitical tool. The Kremlin, predictably, denied any responsibility and blamed the U.S. government — as it has previously done for everything from the spread of AIDS during the 1980s to the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014 by a Russian missile battery.

But never fear … a solution is near {tongue-in-cheek} … and from none other than the twice-impeached former president of the United States on his social media site, Truth Social where there isn’t any truth to be found …

“U.S. “Leadership” should remain “cool, calm, and dry” on the SABOTAGE of the Nord Stream Pipelines. This is a big event that should not entail a big solution, at least not yet. The Russia/Ukraine catastrophe should NEVER have happened, and would definitely not have happened if I were President. Do not make matters worse with the pipeline blowup. Be strategic, be smart (brilliant!), get a negotiated deal done NOW. Both sides need and want it. The entire World is at stake. I will head up group???”

I don’t know whether to laugh or throw up.