Iraq
Wikipedia refers to the Iraq war as follows: "The Iraq War, or the War in Iraq (also referred to as the Occupation of Iraq, the Second Gulf War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States military), was a conflict that occurred in Iraq from March 20, 2003 to December 15, 2011, though sectarian violence continues since and has caused hundreds of fatalities." Well said. Again, call this campaign anything you want, but realize this was and is part of the global War on Terror. If you believe this invasion was disastrously stupid, then please tell me how you think the last 10 years of fighting terrorism would have been better with Saddam Hussein still in power in Iraq. What follows below is discussion around how to monitor the developments in Iraq as they fight to establish a country that is friendly with itself and its neighbors.

OPEC Has a Crippling Problem: Its Members Can’t Stop Pumping

7/30/17
from The Wall Street Journal,
7/30/17:

Eight months after a landmark deal to cut oil output to force prices up, big budget obligations drive members to keep producing.

OPEC, the once powerful oil cartel, is struggling to hold the line in a make-or-break fight to limit oil production, prop up crippling low prices and prove its relevance. Why? Its members are addicted to oil. Eight months after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced a plan for its 14 members and 10 allied countries to withhold almost 2% of the world’s oil every day to boost prices, seven of the 11 OPEC members that pledged to cut appear to be producing more oil than promised. Crude prices have actually fallen, by 7.6% to $52.52 a barrel, since the beginning of the year—half what the cartel called a fair price just three years ago and a level that some say is here for the long term. Previously, low production costs meant OPEC members profited even when oil prices fell. These days, members have ramped up government spending to keep populations happy and cover military expenses, and don’t have a cushion to let oil revenues slip. Their strained budgets can be covered only through increasingly high prices per barrel, and if prices are low they need to produce more. The inability to control output poses a potentially existential threat to OPEC’s influence. The longer prices remain low, said Helima Croft, the global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets and a longtime watcher of the cartel, “the harder it is to make the case to the most cash-strapped producers that they are ‘better together.’ ”

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