OIL and STUFF and all those deals. There is no such thing as rich country to poor country dole out. Or "I will save your ass from the fires of hell" superhero pledge by a superpower to a tiny struggling nation, without some kind of agreement. Nothing in this world is free. And oil and other natural resources are an imperative in those deals. They say, for example, most internet hackers are based in Nigeria. Or maybe they also hack heads there literally, right? So we "help" them.
Truth is, Nigeria is ranked #15th among world's top oil producing nations. Nigeria is also the United States' largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Many also say Mexico is where illegals and bangbangers emanate from. Fact: Mexico is the 11th largest producer of oil in the world and has the 17th largest oil reserves in the world, and it is the fourth largest oil producer in the Western Hemisphere behind the United States, Canada and Venezuela.
Meantime, most of Mexico's oil go to the US and since the country's diggings have slowed (maybe drying up?) it is still a major market for America. US Gulf Coast refiners have been cashing in on rising fuel demand from Mexico, shipping record volumes to a southern neighbor that has failed to expand its refining network to supply a fast-growing economy. I mean, they got Apple and General Motors factories and plants out there. Hence, Mexico needs strategic energy supplies from the US to continually provide business worth more than $15 billion a year to refiners such as Valero, Marathon, and Citgo.
CHINA, TAIWAN. Some perceive that the One China Policy still works. If it is still being practiced, then it's passe. Since 1949, when Kuomintang revolted against the mainland and retreated to Taiwan (then Formosa), relations have been muddled until two high-level talks in 2008 took place. Among others, the two "Chinas" negotiated/compromised on issues of direct maritime shipping, chartered cargo flights, direct postal service, and co-operation in ensuring food safety.
Meantime, cross-strait investments have greatly increased in recent years. Predominantly, this involves Taiwan-based firms moving to, or collaborating in joint ventures, in Mainland China. The collective body of Taiwanese investors in Mainland China is now a significant economic force for both Mainland China and Taiwan. In 2014, trade values between the two sides reached $198.31 billion, with imports from Taiwan to the mainland counted up to $152 billion. In 2015, 58 percent of Taiwanese working outside Taiwan worked in Mainland China, with a total number of 420,000 people.
Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese multinational electronics contract manufacturing company headquartered in Taiwan, maintains six of its largest factories in mainland China. Foxconn is the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, and the third-largest information technology company by revenue.
CLIMATE CHANGE and OIL. Oil and energy companies have become more politically aggressive and desperately upfront as ever in denying climate change--despite the obvious lessons of Katrina and Sandy, and elsewhere. These 1 Percent Oil Gods took out GOP renegade Bob Inglis, muted the McCains and got Mitch McConnell with whip money as support to his candidates. And so the environment has rang loud as a partisan war. I don't believe so. It's just that Congress lobbying focused on instilling fear of losing primaries than pro-climate voters. Meantime, without Republican help, Democrats in Congress have managed to log major victories in their own fight, such as the 2015 renewal of key tax credits for the solar and wind industries. Obama also kicked up the Clean Power Plan. But a true victory can only happen if and when a bipastisan Congress wills itself to act, especially in the GOP-dominated Trump era. One sign of hope is last year's creation of the the Climate Solutions Caucus, a group of 20 House members equally divided among Democrats and Republicans.
People support is utmost of course if we chuck partyline hatred in favor of unity. Some Democrats claim that the Republican mass is blinded into acceding to whatever the Right says. Wrong. A 2016 poll conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason University found that three in four registered voters believe the Earth is warming, and more than half believe humans are causing it. The poll's biggest shift occurred among conservative Republicans: The number of those saying the climate is changing jumped by 19 percent from two years earlier.
Even the powerful Charles Koch has begun to see the light, says a Rolling Stone article. A top executive at Koch Industries said, "Charles has said the climate is changing. So the climate is changing. I think he's also said, and we believe, that humans have a part in that." In the issue of the environment, it is not wise to be a hardliner. We have to reach out to the opposite fence and work things out. Those who stick it out to their spot is as guilty as those whom they blame as the culprit.
NEWS. China unveils $1 trillion plan to shake up the economic order that was once dominated by the West. In stark contrast to President Trump's "America First" mantra, Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" plan aims to remake global commerce in China's image. The Chinese give jobs to world's workforce and also lay out a massive alternative energy program to help cushion climate change. Somewhere somehow someone earns big. That is fine--as long as the rest earn some and benefit as well. So why complain? Enjoy!
LO MEIN WORLD. All these while we are whining.  Along the jungle-covered mountains of Laos, squads of Chinese engineers are drilling hundreds of tunnels and bridges to support a 260-mile railway, a $6 billion project that will eventually connect eight Asian countries.  Chinese money is building power plants in Pakistan to address chronic electricity shortages, part of an expected $46 billion worth of investment.  Chinese planners are mapping out train lines from Budapest to Belgrade, Serbia, providing another artery for Chinese goods flowing into Europe through a Chinese-owned port in Greece.  The massive infrastructure projects, along with hundreds of others across Asia, Africa and Europe, form the backbone of China’s ambitious economic and geopolitical agenda.  Etc Chinese etcetera.
ENVIRONMENT and STUFF. And hey what about the environment, right? Climate-change deniers abound. Fact: Fifteen of the 16 hottest years ever recorded have occurred in the 21st century. Check these out as well: Drought-fueled wildfires in Southern California; rising sea levels in New York, Norfolk, Virginia, and Miami Beach; melting glaciers in Alaska; bleached coral reefs in the Virgin Islands. Etc etcetera. Earth's warming, and the shitty weather it causes, is outpacing the once-brilliant findings scientists used to predict our future.
Long before G7 met in Paris last year to address the problem, Germany has already been powering up to 87 percent of the country using renewable sources. Meantime, China leads in pushing global green energy investments. Beijing committed renewable investment plans totaling $286 billion to Europe, up 5 percent from $273 billion in 2014. America should also focus on this matter, especially after Katrina and Sandy. I believe that US' 20+ percent consumption of oil can still be lowered irrelevant of plants and factories continually fed with oil. Such a discipline should also start with the people, per household. I still find it weird that some people criticize the big guys in re environment yet they'd kick up that SUV 10 miles away just to score a can of coconut oil or earth-friendly condoms or drive the distance equivalent to 75 human steps to throw garbage located in the same apartment compound.
OIL FACTS. I am perplexed to know that not many are aware that the United States is not a major oil exporter. Or are people biting all the "alternative facts" these days so easily? Enough with the links! America is not even in the Top 20 of countries that export the highest dollar value worth of crude oil (2015 data). Top 3 are Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq. Despite the US being #3 in oil production (8.45 million oil barrels/day), we are #2 in oil imports ($132.6 billion a year or 16.5 percent of total global oil imports). Of course, the US is also #1 in oil consumption, a whopping 20+ percent of earth's oil consumption a year.
Ergo, whatever we have isn't enough to quench our insatiable thirst for more oil. Yet unlike China that is #1 importer of oil and #5 in production, they got jobs. Oil goes to manufacturing. And then when they got the money, they started spreading investments all over the globe, as their factories and plants stay chugging. They got the money, they got the honey.
Meantime, US crude oil production fell by 6 percent in 2016 to below 9 million b/d. Yet, with OPEC compliance at a reported 90 percent and above, and with oil prices range bound at $51-57, US oil output should rebound this year. At nearly $54, oil prices in 2017 to be about $10 higher per barrel than they were last year. President Trump is expected to roll back regulations that would have hampered new output in the years ahead. What would that mean? Two controversial pipeline projects, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access, could be back.
US oil and gas industry is expected to boost spending this year by about 35 percent, and rig counts continue to climb. Since the OPEC production cut deal end-November, our oil rig counts have increased by 125, and at 602, are at their highest levels since October 2015. The feeling is that OPEC and its non-OPEC partners will agree to another cut starting in July.
What does that say? Russian oil coming in. How do we suppose to get the $1 trillion infrastructure to work and open up new jobs without oil? And without plants and factories cranking up exports, how do we fix the trade deficit? This is not just an issue to Trump's White House and Republican Congress, I believe. This is an American issue. We have strong environmental lobbying yet our magnificent oil consumption remains unabated. No, this is not 1859 anymore or shortly after the oil discovery in the Oil Creek area of Titusville, Pennsylvania--that kickstarted America's march to superpowerhood. These are the times of contradictions. We need to look at us in a mirror and figure out what's wrong, really.
ALL THAT OIL. Years ago, China was only consuming around 6 percent of the world's total oil supply, annually. The US is almost steady at 20 percent, #1 globally. China is now using up 11.7 percent, #2 worldwide, which is a no brainer. Those plants and factories that also catapulted them into a manufacturing giant, following their entry to WTO in 2001, needed humongous supply of oil. Whatever reserves they got (China is #4 in oil production) weren't enough, they had to import. However, China is still ranked #2 at 6 million barrel of crude oil importation per day behind America's 9 M barrels. Lotsa oil!
Of course the Chinese government are aware that their bad Pollution Index graph are due to their industry not really their people's reliance to fossil fuel. For example, main transports in China are still public utilities, trains and bicycles. Most of these infrastructure/s were started at the time of Mao Zedong. More importantly. Beijing has embarked, especially in the last decade or two, on a massive investment campaign all over the world. In a way, they have spread out factories to other countries, opening up jobs out there and most importantly, the Chinese also helped developed oil deposits of these nations so they may less rely on imports. And this is the key: China has embarked on a $360 billion alternative energy campaign through 2020--renewable power sources like solar and wind. It's still business, of course. The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries via renewable power sources.
What's interesting is, such a plan or program is the opposite tack of what Donald J. Trump's Cabinet, mostly inhabited by climate-change doubters, is poised to pursue. And do you know that Russia's oil magnates owe a lot of money from the Chinese? Since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, energy relations between China and Russia have been generally marked by cooperation and a regard for mutual geopolitical and strategic interests. However, due to some pricing tilt/s and speculations in the oil market, some frictions ensued. But that'd be another story.
ALL THAT MEDIA. If we go by sheer deduction, ALL media outlets are controlled by the Establishment. All newspapers and TV networks and radio stations are dependent on advertising money and investments from people (who usually support a politician or political party). There are outlets that are “independent” but they don't get wide exposure as do major outfits. Sadly, some of them are simply internet “nuisances.” Ergo, why believe in media, right? No. I believe that thinking is defeatist and negative--and only makes the power that moves “media” win. Makes them control the flow of “information” to serve their greed.
I still “believe” in media because I believe in writers and journalists who make media alive. I kickstarted and nurtured my journalism in a world that wasn't as free as America. In the 1980s at a time of dictatorship, the Philippines was ranked #1 by Amnesty International in terms of journalists killed. I had many friends and colleagues that got wasted. I survived it. What does that say? Journalists write irrelevant of a controlled media. Irrelevant of the 1 Percent/Establishment. There is still a heated fight in the newsroom between editors and board members, reporters and marketing chiefs. As in there is a fight in Congress between those who accede to 1 percent lobbyists and whips and those who don't. There is a fight between good and evil wherever we go. But life is not black and white. It is not good here and evil there. It is muddled. We gotta weed through the brush to know the truth.
Bottomline, it is NOT what is fed us in the news that matter—it is us. Do we believe it? Do we allow these “alternative facts” sway us? Are we ourselves controlled? It's no brainer. Social media is as dirty and bogus as mainstream media if we follow (today's) equation. But we are here, aren't we? We are wallowing in Facebook and saying what we gotta say. First Amendment Royale! I molded my journalism in a society where writers were tortured and killed because they wrote stuff. Anti stuff. But I dug in. Because I believed. People like us who post political stuff everyday should ponder and dig in as do journalists—irrelevant of New York Times or CNN or Fox or Facebook. Because we are not driftwood in the river—we are the river.