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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Al Qaeda's Hallucinogenic Chocolate Milk

The Libyan "protests"[1] continue to escalate.  Reuters is reporting that that the fighting in Zawiyah has resulted in fatalities.  The official Libyan newspaper puts the death toll at 23, and Al Jazeera is reporting it at 100 or more.  This, combined with the fact that the US is "examining all options, including imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, in its response to the Libyan government's attempts to crush the revolt"[2], combined to drive domestic April oil futures to a high of $103/barrel before finally settling at $97.28 (according to CNN Money).
Gaddafi himself has blamed the entire revolt on milk.  Milk and al Qaeda.  "Their ages are 17.  They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe," he said in a statement to Libyan state television yesterday.
The Swiss government has also frozen all assets he has on deposit in their nation.  After the "milk and Nescafe" comments, it seems a little unclear as to whether this move was done to prevent him from accessing his cash if he flees the country, or if it was done to comply with Swiss regulations regarding seniors with diminished capacity.
Algeria - Libya's eastern neighbor - seems to be the next player in the game titled "Islamic nations facing demands for democracy".  In an effort to get ahead of the curve, they have ended their 19-year state of emergency[3]. The protestors seem to be of the opinion that this is not really enough at all, but they aren't nearly as frisky as the Libyan protesters.  Not yet, anyway.  But Algeria is also an OPEC member nation, and holds (as of 2009) 1.1% of OPEC's oil reserves.  That means they have 0.8756% of the world's crude oil reserves.  They also export something on order of 747,000 barrels of oil per day.  This means that any and all concerns about protests and uprisings in Algeria will be the same concerns about protests and uprisings in Libya, albeit on a slightly smaller scale.
So watch the news, and see how long it takes for Algeria to drive the market down.
[1]  You know.  With the protest with the guns.  And the pitched battles.
[2]  As a side question, you have to wonder where we get off doing that.  I mean, if there was an uprising in the United States that left the government trying to retake everything west of the Rockies, and Canada attempted to impose a no-fly zone on us, we wouldn't take it well.
[3]  You could probably argue that after 19 years, it isn't so much a "state of emergency" as "the status quo".  But then you wouldn't be an Algerian despot.

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