Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Logical Fallacy of the Day

Unwarranted assumption fallacy - The fallacy of unwarranted assumption is committed when the conclusion of an argument is based on a premise (implicit or explicit) that is false or unwarranted. An assumption is unwarranted when it is false - these premises are usually suppressed or vaguely written. An assumption is also unwarranted when it is true but does not apply in the given context.

My List


Formal Fallacies

From the Washington Examiner

Editor's Note:  Here are my picks from the Washington Examiner over the last few days.  I've chosen "Safety First" as my lead article.   This is just one more example as to why we need to stop funding universities and colleges with grant money and student loans.  We are now -  and have been - turning out pampered, self-indulgent, arrogant  idiots who are ill-equipped for the real world.  And un-equipped for leadership, which I think the rest of the articles demonstrate.

LEAD ARTICLE: 

Safety first - By Noemie Emery

Academia has given us so much for which not to be grateful — identity politics, race/gender studies and sundry unpleasantries. But it has topped itself now with one even better — the right to be treated as something quite fragile, always endangered and almost too precious to live.  Last December, the Boston Globe informed us that "students at Harvard Law School, joining their counterparts at a pair of other leading universities, have asked that final exams be postponed for students who have been 'traumatized' by recent grand jury decisions" in New York and Missouri, explaining "we cannot walk away from our pain." In England, some female students suggested we move from clapping to hand waving to signal approval, as the sound of applause could be threatening.

Others pushed for "trigger alerts" on reading assignments containing unpleasant scenes (such as 'Macbeth', for example?) so that sensitive souls could steel themselves, or else avoid them completely. According to one story mentioned in the Harvard Law Review (sparsely sourced, admittedly), a male student at a small school in Oregon "was ordered to stay away from a fellow student (cutting him off from his housing, his campus job and educational opportunity)…because he reminded her of the man who had raped her months before and thousands of miles away.".....

White House ready to extend Iran deadline - U.S. officials trying to negotiate a deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear program have decided to continue the talks past Tuesday's deadline if an agreement cannot be reached by the end of the day, and as long as the "conversations continue to be productive" over the course of the next few hours.

Iran deal could be toothless - "[If] we can't get a good deal, we won't take one, pure and simple. I think we've all been clear about that."

Congress to sanction Iran if negotiations fail - "The sanctions are going to come, and they're going to..

Where the red line came from -- before it was crossed - Obama may have communicated his "red line" with Syria to pre-empt a Republican attack.

Democratic Jews have a home with Republicans - Recently I have been shocked at how Israel, once a bipartisan issue, has become so very partisan.

Inspector general to review State Department's record-keeping capabilities - The IG is launching a new investigation of the State Department's ability to archive official document.
Clinton's 'clean' server raising new questions about her email review process - Transparency advocates are questioning Clinton's review of each of the 60,000 messages.

Benghazi panel summons Clinton - Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a request to Clinton's personal attorney, David E. Kendall, requesting that Clinton appear before the committee no later than May 1 for a transcribed interview about the server and email.

Hillary Clinton withheld information from Congress. Now what does Congress do? - After much haggling, State turned over a large amount of Benghazi material - but certainly not all of it.

Chaffetz subpoenas two Secret Service agents - Chaffetz said he was forced to issue the subpoenas because the Homeland Security Department is trying to stymie its investigation into the incident of the two senior Secret Service agents who disrupted a suspicious package investigation at the White House.

Why heads aren't rolling at the Secret Service - "And that's the question that we're looking at today, where is the accountability in the agency?"

Veterans Affairs hospital chief draws $179k salary despite missing 80 days a year - DeWayne Hamlin missed about 100 days in the 14 months ending in June 2014.

Entitlement reform: Dead or alive? - Supporters of the "doc-fix" agreement argue that the structural reforms will be felt decades from now.

U.S. signed agreement with Mexico to teach immigrants to unionize - The agreements do not distinguish between those who entered legally or illegally.

Reid retirement follows call for probe of his role in visas-for-cash mess - The review by DOJ's top anti-public corruption staff is needed, according to Cause of Action's Daniel Epstein.

Reid cannot blame boxing career for his low conduct - Reid is now going to hang up his gloves, and will retire rather than seek re-election in 2016.

Democrats, Republicans want Obama to nominate permanent inspectors general - Nominations for only two of the 10 vacant inspector general positions are currently pending in the Senate.

Republicans vie in the Putin primary - Vladimir Putin clearly neither respects nor fears Obama, but this is hardly unique in the world.

From the American Council on Science and Health

ACSH on Law and Order? We work with the NY Attorney General on supplement reform. - Persistence pays off. We have been beating the drum about the supplements industry for years. Now, two of us are working with the NY State attorney general to reform the industry. See the press release. Read more.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives are becoming method of choice for many women - Long-acting reversible contraceptive use is way up recently, according to the CDC. That's the good news, since they're very effective in preventing pregnancy. But they don't protect against STDs - for that, you need barrier methods. Read more.

Being obese while pregnant associated with risk of health complications for mother and baby - Obesity not only decreases the likelihood that a woman can become pregnant, but also increases the risk of pregnancy complications. An expert discusses these complications, as well as why the doctor-patient discussion surrounding obesity must change. Read more.

A phase-I study of poliovirus-mediated remission of lethal brain cancer shows striking results - An ongoing, early-stage trial of viral-induced immunological suppression of a highly lethal brain cancer has yielded remarkable results in a small study. And the virus perhaps curing glioblastoma: none other than polio! Read more.

 Federal GMO labeling bill back in Congress - The "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act" is once again being considered in Congress. This bill would preempt efforts by state legislatures to require labeling of GE ingredients and create a "Non-GMO" labeling certification process. Read more.

 Indiana Gov. allows clean needle exchange, at last, to stem HIV epidemic - Gov. Pence of Indiana just decided to combat an HIV outbreak in a rural county via the harm-reduction tactic of needle exchange. We applaud him, while wondering why he gave the epidemic a 3-month head start? Read more.

Your winter may become a bit more pleasant. Goodbye stomach flu? - There is no one who hasn't had a norovirus ("stomach flu") infection at some point. To say that it is unpleasant is an understatement, and it can be deadly in the undeveloped world. But, help may be on the way in the form of a new vaccine. Read more.

New study on cereal fiber shows only weak link to health benefits - According to today's news headlines, cereal can help you live longer. But actually, this new study on the health benefits of cereal fiber proves ... nothing. Observational studies like this can't show causality - just links. Read more.

US Oil Production Largest In More Than 100 Years

Benny Peiser’s Global Warming Policy Foundation Reports It's Official: Researchers Reveal Huge Expansion In World's Trees

Did you know that the Earth is getting greener, quite literally? Satellites are now confirming that the amount of green vegetation on the planet has been increasing for three decades. This will be news to those accustomed to alarming tales about deforestation, overdevelopment and ecosystem destruction. --Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal, 5 January 2013

The world's vegetation has expanded, adding nearly 4 billion tonnes of carbon to plants above ground in the decade since 2003, thanks to tree-planting in China, forest regrowth in former Soviet states and more lush savannas due to higher rainfall. Louis Verchot, a research director at the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research, said Liu's findings were 'by and large what we would expect in the warmer and wetter world that results from climate change'. --Mark Prigg, Daily Mail, 31 March 2015

2014 was a record-breaking year for US oil production. Spurred by the shale revolution, US crude outputincreased by a record 1.2m barrels a day to 8.7m b/d last year, according to a report published by the Energy Information Administration on Monday. That is the largest volume increase since 1900, the year the agency began keeping records. --Financial Times, 30 March 2015





 

Ever since the oil price decline began in earnest back in July 2014, popular discourse has suggested US shale plays would be in deep trouble. However, assumptions about a wholesale decline in activity now appear to be exaggerated at best. Tom Morgan, Analyst and Corporate Counsel at Drillinginfo, says making assumptions based on headline data miss one crucial point – efficiency gains. “No one in the industry is pretending that a lower oil price doesn’t bite. Yet, technological progress over the last decade, especially in terms of horizontal drilling is reaping benefits when times are hard. Over the last three years, efficiency of shale explorers has increased by 25%; so in effect three years ago the profitability of $100 per barrel oil is the same profitability at $75 per barrel.” --Gaurav Sharma, Forbes, 30 March 2015

Global oil prices may stay low for the next 10 or 20 years, according to Stanford economist Frank Wolak. The primary reasons for continuing low prices include the slowing demand for oil in the industrialized world and ever-advancing technological change in the extraction and use of oil, wrote Wolak in a new policy brief for the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. --Clifton B. Parker, Stanford University, 30 March 2015


Oil has been at the epicenter of the geopolitics of the Middle East for longer than the living memory of most people on earth today. Petroleum still powers 97 percent of air and ground miles. Every sensible forecast shows that the world’s staggering 33 billion barrel per year appetite for crude will be greater in the coming decades, not less. The U.S. now has the ability to position itself not only to influence but, in due course, to even dominate oil markets. Given the unraveling of the Middle East, if ever there were a propitious moment to reset American oil doctrine, it is now. --Mark P Mills, Forbes, 30 March 2015

 

 

Book Review - Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler

Review for “Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler” by Allan Ryskind, written for Conservative Book Club by bestselling author, Dr. Paul Kengor.

hollywood traitors
Few subjects have been as addled, muddled, and befuddled as the issue of communist penetration of the American film industry. Thanks to liberals and their control of Hollywood, media, and academia, the typical take is that Hollywood in the 1940s was graced by a bunch of good-hearted “progressives” looking to make nice movies and a better world until Joe McCarthy, “HUAC,” and a swarm of red-baiting vultures descended upon some really sweet people fighting for the New Deal, for civil rights, for better government, for “social justice,” and planting daisies all along Sunset Boulevard.……… Most of the 10 were extremely vigorous in their Party work on behalf of the Kremlin right up until late 1947 when they were called to testify before Congress. Some, such as Bessie, had literally traveled abroad and took up arms for the communists. The left could not have been more wrong about these guys, a scandalous historical error that predominates among liberal thinking to this day. The only one of the 10 ever to (as Ryskind put it) “renounce Communism completely” was Dmytryk.

Allan Ryskind has provided an important contribution to our knowledge and the truth about the Hollywood Ten and the seriousness of communist involvement during film the industry’s Golden Age. Now comes the real test of truth: Will the American left give a damn? - See more at:
 

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness

Its ideas would send the West back 100 years and keep poor nations impoverished and wretched
 
Ross McKitrick
 
A few years ago, a journalist asked me for my thoughts on the importance of “Earth Hour” – which was reprised this past weekend. What I told him applies today, perhaps even more so.
I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.
 
Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as on the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.
 
Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of safe hot water.
 
Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.
Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the Third World should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the West developed.
 
The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that. Instead, I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness.
 
By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation, it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining and enjoying the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.
 
People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there, too.
I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.
 
Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply. If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations. No thanks.
 
I like visiting nature, but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.
Ross McKitrick is Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute.

No, the Culinary Is Not Political

Though celebrity chefs spin their wheels to try to make it so

Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier March 31, 2015

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio probably doesn't cook much these days. Having built his reputation preparing expensive entrĂ©es for his well-heeled customers at Craft Restaurants, Colicchio is now cooking up liberal food policy to expand the government's ever-encroaching role in how we eat……. Colicchio co-founded Food Policy Action, a PAC that scores lawmakers on how liberal they vote on food issues. Far from reflecting a consensus of top food and nutrition experts, the FPA scorecard represents a narrow view of some of the nation's most ideologically divisive activists.
 
The group grades House members and senators on whether they "promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers . . . and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production."
 
The implication is that members of Congress who don't agree with Colicchio and his leftist cohort oppose healthy food and the reduction of hunger and are indifferent to degradation of the environment…….Colicchio's comparison of the food movement with social and political struggles of the past: "At some point, we need to take this social movement and turn it into a political movement,"  "It's what happened in other social movements as well, whether it was civil rights or whether it was marriage equality."......To Read More....

Rogue Catholic bishops plan to grow schismatic challenge to Rome

By Stephen Eisenhammer

Two renegade Catholic bishops plan to consecrate a new generation of bishops to spread their ultra-traditionalist movement called "The Resistance" in defiance of the Vatican, one of them said at a remote monastery in Brazil.  French Bishop Jean-Michel Faure, himself consecrated only two weeks ago by the Holocaust-denying British Bishop Richard Williamson, said the new group rejected Pope Francis and what it called his "new religion" and would not engage in a dialogue with Rome until the Vatican turned back the clock.

Williamson and Faure, who were both excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church when the former made the latter a bishop without Vatican approval, are ex-members of a larger dissenting group that has been a thorn in Rome's side for years.  Their splinter movement is tiny - Faure did not give an estimate of followers - but the fact they plan to consecrate bishops is important because it means their schism can continue as a rebel form of Catholicism.

"We follow the popes of the past, not the current one," Faure, 73, told reporters on Saturday at Santa Cruz Monastery in Nova Friburgo, in the mountain jungle 140 km (87 miles) inland from Rio de Janeiro……To Read More…..

A Response to Richard Dawkins

by Dennis Prager October

He and his supporters have a right to their atheism, but not to intellectual dishonesty about it. This past Friday, CNN conducted an interview with Richard Dawkins, the British biologist most widely known for his polemics against religion and on behalf of atheism. Asked “whether an absence of religion would leave us without a moral compass,” Dawkins responded: “The very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible.”

This is the crux of the issue for Dawkins and other anti-religion activists — that not only do we not need religion or God for morality but that we would have a considerably more moral world without them. This argument is so wrong — both rationally and empirically — that its appeal can be explained only by (a) a desire to believe it and (b) an ignorance of history.

First, the rational argument. If there is no God, the labels “good” and “evil” are merely opinions. They are substitutes for “I like it” and “I don’t like it.” They are not objective realities. Every atheist philosopher I have debated has acknowledged this……To Read More…..

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Logical Fallacy of the Day!

Base rate fallacy


Base rate fallacy, also called base rate neglect or base rate bias, is a formal fallacy. If presented with related base rate information (i.e. generic, general information) and specific information (information only pertaining to a certain case), the mind tends to ignore the former and focus on the latter. [1]

My List


Formal Fallacies



 

Former Intelligence Officer: The Utter Stupidity of Hillary's Actions

She was plucked like a ripe plum!

Joe A. Gilbertson

As a former member of the intelligence community I felt a deep shadow fall over me as I read about Hillary Clinton's use of an outside email service instead of the more secure and private State Department system. She did this for obvious reasons, to keep her communications out of official channels and away from the prying eyes of her political enemies (the Republicans...).

One might sympathize with a politician in her situation. However, the Secretary of State of the United States of America is the number two intelligence target IN THE WORLD, behind only her boss, the President. To tap into her communications guarantees lavish rewards and promotions to the intelligence team who does it.

All eyes are on her, like vultures, waiting. Yes, it really works this way. An email system such as the one described is considered "easy pickings." After seeing the details in the press, my first conclusion is this:
  • Russians and the Chinese were reading her emails. In real time.
  • I'm not saying maybe or perhaps
  • They were.
The Russians and Chinese have sophisticated intelligence services, with sophisticated spotting, assessing, targeting capabilities. They have thousands of people who work these issues. Ms. Clinton may say that she didn't talk about classified matters, and she may think this is correct. But any intelligence professional knows its impossible to "talk around" a topic effectively (despite what you might see in spy movies...). With a high value target like Ms. Clinton, an intel service will have teams of analysts and psychologists analyzing every word she says, with absolutely clear context ......To Read More….

Islamic State: Coalition forces kill 9,500 fighters; 400 soldiers to be deployed to train Iraqi troops

ABC News Australia

Coalition forces have killed more than 9,000 Islamic State fighters, and the forces will soon be joined in Iraq by 400 more soldiers to train local troops, the Australian military says.  Australia is one of several Western nations that have joined the fight against the Islamic extremist group.  Chief of Joint Operations in the Australian Defence Force Vice Admiral David Johnston said the effort was working.

"In the past we had seen territory captured and then lost; that means that it had to be recaptured," Vice Admiral Johnston said. "That's occurring less now, and increasingly both in the north, the operations up and towards Tikrit and the west I think is still more contestable than other parts of Iraq.  "But when territory is captured, it now tends to be held in a better manner than it was in the past."……… It is estimated Islamic State has 31,000 fighters, of whom 18,000 are foreigners ……..
"The Islamic State is using its propaganda to generate large numbers of volunteers who really become poorly trained cannon fodder in taking the fight in Syria and Iraq," he said.  "I think that it's highly likely that if one was silly enough to be recruited for that type of activity that you face a high likelihood of being killed on the battlefield."……To Read More…..
 

 

Barry University Officials in Florida authorize Pro-ISIS Club: JUST CHANGE THE NAME

Pamela Geller 24 Comments

University and college campuses are critical weapons in the left’s arsenal to destroy America. It’s not just the obvious horror of ISIS or CAIR or the MSA being welcome on college campuses. It’s that voices who oppose their savagery and carnage are banned.  My colleagues and I are rarely invited to speak, and when we are, the blowback is deafening, even violent. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was uninvited from Brandeis, if you recall.  It’s not just terror groups and hate preachers welcomed on US college campuses; Jewish students are routinely harassed and bullied on campus by Muslims and their leftist lapdogs…….Read More ›

 

NBCI Breaks Fellowship with PCUSA over Sodomite Definition of Marriage

Posted on Michael Ware 4 Comments

One of the most difficult thing for a Bible-believing church is to perform discipline on a sinning member. To say to a person that you have loved and worked with, that they are showing themselves to be non-believers. That they can no longer participate in the means of grace of communion, and fellowship is heart-breaking. But, there are two very important reasons that this must be done.

“The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a coalition of approximately 34,000 churches representing an estimated 15.7 million African Americans and Latinos, has cut ties with the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) after a majority vote was reached among the denomination’s regional presbyteries to redefine marriage.”
 
The most important thing that we must recognize is that both Christ and Paul command discipline. It matters little what we think it will accomplish or how it makes us feel, we must obey our master. Christ tells us how and when this is to be done in Matthew 18. When we follow these steps, we are calling our brother to repentance and protecting the purity of Christ’s bride. Which is the second reason that Christians must preform this duty……..To Read More….

Climate Poker: Most Governments Delay UN Climate Pledges

Benny Peiser’s Global Warming Policy Foundation Reports
Earth Hour Interest Declining Worldwide
 
Editor’s Note:  I have to agree.  Normally when Earth Hour approaches I turn on every light in my house, inside and out.  I missed it this year because I didn’t know about it until it passed.  As Martha Stewart says: “ It’s good thing”!

 I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity. The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. --Ross McKitrick

The United States will submit plans for slowing global warming to the United Nations early this week but most governments will miss an informal March 31 deadline, complicating work on a global climate deal due in December. Other emitters such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, Canada and Australia say they are waiting until closer to a Paris summit in December, meant to agree a global deal. Late submissions complicate the Paris summit because it will be far harder to judge late INDCs. --Alister Doyle and Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, 29 March 2015


Less than a week before the United Nations deadline for countries to file greenhouse-gas pledges necessary to keep a global climate change deal on track, it looks like most of the world is missing in action. Ahead of the March 31 target, only the European Union and Switzerland have unveiled plans, representing about 10 per cent of global emissions. The United States has promised to hit the deadline. The rest of the world’s major economies, including China, India, Australia and Japan, are unlikely to complete submissions in time, according to environmental groups tracking U.N. climate talks. --Alex Nussbaum and Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 25 March 2015


India wants a global agreement that will address intensified efforts to tackle climate change between 2015 and 2020 and has questioned the single-minded focus on finalising a global compact for the post-2020 period, which is to be inked in Paris in December. Industrialised countries are required to provide financial support, which was agreed in 2009 and 2010 to be to the tune of $100 billion a year, and were also committed to provide technology to developing countries to address climate change. India's demand has the broad support of developing countries. --Urmi Goswami, The Times of India, 30 March 2015


This Saturday, the world marked the one of the biggest environmentally-friendly initiatives – Earth Hour. However, while a record number of countries and cities participated in the 2015 campaign, people in many part of the world showed less interest in saving the planet than ever before. The Earth Hour campaign registered a massive decline in interest. Although participation continues to be high, the meaning of Earth Hour has begun to blur. Media coverage in the country focused more on saving electricity than on saving the planet. --Dubai Chronicle, 30 March 2015

In 2007 we were told on all sides that, by the end of the summer melt in 2014, the entire Arctic would be “ice free”. Polar bears were disappearing. The mighty Greenland ice cap was melting. Even as late as 2013 the National Geographic warned that the great expanse of Hudson Bay was warming so fast that it would soon reach “tipping point”, changing its ecosystem forever. How have all those predictions turned out? In fact last year’s Arctic ice melt was the smallest in nine years and its thickness is now back to its level in 2006. Several studies show that across most of the Arctic, polar bears have never done better. --Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph, 29 March 2015

Cold snaps like the ones that hit the eastern United States in the past winters are not a consequence of climate change. Scientists at ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology have shown that global warming actually tends to reduce temperature variability. --Reporting Climate Science, 27 March 2015


The geopolitics of oil go round and round

By Marita Noon

Many complicated factors contribute to the global price of a barrel of oil, but two of the leading components are supply and risk-and both have the potential to escalate in the days ahead. The current region-wide sectarian war could easily bump oil prices up dramatically. And, the expected nuclear deal with Iran could drop them-dramatically.

Oil price predictions today play like a game of roulette, or a carnival barker of days gone by, round and round it goes, where she stops, nobody knows.

A few weeks ago, addressing the need to open up access to mid-Atlantic oil resources, I wrote:

"With the current oil abundance, it may seem like an odd time to be going after more. However, the legal wheels that could allow limited access to the vast, untapped oil resources move very slowly. Today's market conditions will fluctuate between now and 2035 when the global demand for energy is expected to spike. Not to mention the increasingly volatile situation in the Middle East, where new coalitions are already being formed: Iran and Iraq, Saudi Arabia and South Korea-just to name two. If one more beheading takes place or a bomb hits the right (or wrong) target, the region could erupt, and the entire energy dynamic would change. Considering the variables, American energy security is always something worth pursuing."

Well, now the "entire energy dynamic" has changed.

First, the obvious: war in the Middle East.

Middle East unrest has historically sent oil prices soaring. With the recent regional conflicts involving ISIS, however, prices have continued to drop due to OPEC's increased supplies, led by Saudi Arabia, in response to the new American energy abundance that changed the entire energy dynamic.

That dynamic has just changed again.

Referencing ISIS and the growing terrorism throughout the region, Jordan's King Abdullah said in December, "this is our world war three." At the time, pundits reacted with something akin to "well, maybe." But that was then. Now, Saudi Arabia, backed by King Abdullah-who has declared "Jordan is fully committed to the Arab military effort in Yemen"-and an Arab coalition including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, and Kuwait, plus Morocco and Pakistan, who've expressed interest in joining, with intelligence and logistics support from the U.S., is bombing Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have received training, weapons, and advisors from rival Iran.

As a result of the offensive, CNN Money reported: "Oil prices bounced higher on Thursday as Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes in Yemen, raising concerns that a regional conflict could disrupt supplies." It added, "Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil producer, and investors fear its involvement in the unrest could have a negative impact on production."

In one story, the Financial Times (FT), pointed to Yemen's limited oil production and stated: "The attack is not expected to cause any major disruption to supplies." And, in different coverage: "even as some observers raised concerns, others were more muted due to the size of Yemen's oil output."

Obviously, no one knows where "she'll stop." But the factor of "risk" which according to Richard Mallinson, geopolitical analyst at the London-based consultancy Energy Aspects, the markets had "since last year turned away from paying attention to," is back. The FT quotes him as saying: "The reality is that geopolitical risk is as high as it has been in a long time." Increased risk means higher prices.

It gets more complicated.

The Obama administration continues to negotiate with Iran with the intent of crafting a nuclear deal that will, ultimately, lift the sanctions against the oil-producing county-which would allow it to increase oil exports. Because of the sanctions, Iran's oil exports have been cut in half-resulting in a "severely strained economy." Iran has large amounts of oil already in storage and, according to the FT, "will fight for its market share."

Iran wants the sanctions lifted immediately. If that happens, the FT reports there will be "an injection of hundreds of thousands of barrels a day into the oil market already struggling with a crude overhang"-which "could depress prices further." Increased supply means lower prices.

Energy economist Tim Snyder explains it this way: "The Iranians will be free to put another 1 million barrels of crude oil production on the world market. The Iranian production will represent a doubling of the current oversupply vs. world demand and will put additional downward pressure on the world crude oil price."

Frequently calling us "the great Satan," Iran continues to hate the U.S. Falling oil prices could serve as a death knell to America's oil abundance (not to mention countries, such as Venezuela, that depend on oil revenues). However the low prices would, overall, be good for western economies-but bad for Iran and its friend, Russia.

The way to better benefit the Iranian economy, once sanctions are lifted, is to raise oil prices-which Iran can do through the war in Yemen.

Perhaps Saudi Arabia jumped the gun in its attacks in Yemen. Perhaps, Iran thought it would have the deal with the P5 +1 group (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany) signed before the unrest pushed up the prices.

With Iran calling the shots in Yemen, it (not the friendly-to-the-west president) could control the Bab el-Mandeb strait and the million barrels of crude oil that pass through the strait each day, not to mention, the goods that transit the strait coming from the Far East. CNN Money notes: "Adding to the uncertainty is Yemen's strategic location on a shipping route linking the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean." Each day, upwards of 3.8 million barrels of oil and refined petroleum products flow through the Bab el-Mandeb strait to the Red Sea-making it one of the world's key oil chokepoints. Blocking the strait could cause a major disruption in global crude oil prices.

But there is more.

Iran can impede the flow of traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, which is the world's most important oil chokepoint with 17 million barrels of oil a day (representing more than 30 percent of the world's seaborne-traded oil) flowing through it.

With the ability to disrupt both straits, Iran would have the ability, if the sanctions are lifted due to the Obama administrations' eagerness for a deal, to potentially escalate the price of oil to $200 a barrel-which would, not only change the geopolitics, but world economies as well. (Remember, Iran didn't support OPEC's November decision to keep production high and prices low.) Iran would be controlling a large part of the worldwide flow of oil and the high prices would boost, not only its economy, but Russia's as well-while the limited access punishes Saudi Arabia and the high prices could badly damage Western economies. And, neither Iran nor Russia has to increase production to benefit-but if they do, their economic return becomes even greater.

Will Iran sign the deal and have its sanctions removed, allowing it to inject millions of barrels of oil into an already glutted global market? Whether or not it signs the deal, Iran can still penalize the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and as a result the rest of the world-making Yemen a spot on the map we should all care about.

Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows. "Considering the variables, American energy security is always something worth pursuing."

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc.and the companion educational organization, the Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations' combined efforts serve as America's voice for energy.

 

Monday, March 30, 2015

What is an Islamic Scholar Studying?

By Rich Kozlovich

There was an interesting exchange on Pam Geller’s Atlas Shrugs by two participants corresponding about what the term Islamic scholar means.  I’ve wondered about this myself since so many of those who are the most irrational and virulently violent have been referred to in the western media as “Islamic Scholars”.  Here is a paraphrased summary of that conversation with some thoughts of my own.   

The thread starts out saying how confusing the term Islamic scholar is.  Well, what does that mean?  It does seem to be oxymoronic since the Koran is supposedly complete, inviolable, never to be investigated, criticized or taken apart.  So what are they studying and just exactly what kind of methodologies are they using?  What system do they utilize to award Ph.D.’s?
 
Perhaps merely attending some Koranic school or other qualifies, provided that school teaches justification for finding more and better ways to kill unarmed civilians with bombs, or cutting off the heads of those who can’t fight back, or burning prisoners alive while trapped in an iron cage.  I would have to assume they also teach that attacking the weak, harmless, helpless and hopeless is less dangerous than attacking armed troops, especially since they keep losing those battles with enormous losses. 

And why are they using western academic credentials to claim legitimacy while declaring everything western as so evil it needs to be destroyed?   So, is it possible the term Islamic scholar is an oxymoron since there is no western style investigation permitted regarding the Koran as it’s a complete & inviolable work, not to be investigated, criticized, and taken apart?” Yet there has been a centuries old argument among “Islamic scholars” over which Koran is the legitimate, the Median or the Mecca version.  Typically these “scholarly” arguments have been augmented and reinforced by murder, mayhem and destruction especially since over the centuries there have developed a number of different versions. 
 
Is it possible this “scholarly” infighting is merely an excuse to kill people with whom they disagree?  Especially since the Koran allows Muslims to murder, rape, steal, enslave and generally commit mayhem by calling it Jihad.   They not only perpetrate these actions against those who fail to appreciate the alleged wonders Islam can bring to the world, but also those who profess to be Mulsim but disagree on who should be in charge and which sect is the right sect.  What the Koran calls duties, responsibilities and obligations - the rest of the world calls crimes.  So why is that scholarly?

One of the correspondents made an interesting comparison based on real life actions of "Islamic scholars".  Being an "Islamic" scholar is like being a murderer or a thief who spends a lot of time studying how to murder and steal more effectively and then acting on those studies and calling it "research".  After years of this “research” this “scholar” can then write a paper on how effective he’s been at murdering and stealing from helpless people in order to be awarded a Ph.D.  
 
There is one final thought.  Is it possible Islam isn't a religion at all, but a group of political criminal organizations masquerading as a religion?  Just a thought!