August 5, 2008

August 5, 2008
It's great to have you join me for another day in my life.

So how's your week going so far? I'm still on house rest by my doctor so things have been very slow. Unfortunately the virus Gary and I both caught has developed into bronchitis. We have both finished taking our ZPak (antibiotics) but are not feeling any better yet. It would just be great to be able to breath easily again. Hopefully things will get better in the next couple of days. Gary has had to go back to work even though he is still sick because he has run out of sick days and can't afford to lose the income.

I have been very good and resting up for an event with Divided We Fail that I hope to be able to make on Thursday. We will be attending a Jacksonville Chamber's event called HobNob. HobNob is a meet and greet for the local candidates and the people of Jacksonville. I last heard that about 35 local candidates were confirmed to come to the event, plus representatives from both Obama and McCain, with an introduction from the Mayor. The event is located at Metropolitan Park downtown on Thursday August 7th from 4:30-7:30 PM. This event is free, plus free food and drinks, as well as a straw poll. Divided We Fail will have a table there to collect voter and candidate pledges. We hope you come to the event! Feel free to wear your red shirt, but remember to be non-partisan in it. Or don't wear your shirt and come support your favorite candidate! Regardless, stop by our booth and say hello! So I hope if you are able to attend (and my health let's me make it to the event) that you will stop by and say hello.

Tropical Storm Edouard hit the Texas Gulf coast east of Galveston on Tuesday with strong winds and heavy rain, but did little more than soak the travelers who came to relax on the tourist town's beaches. The storm made landfall east of Galveston and west of the Louisiana border, between the small coastal town of High Island and Sabine Pass, and was weakening as it headed inland. Though forecasters had feared it could become a hurricane and both Texas and Louisiana had made emergency preparations, winds never reached hurricane strength of 74 mph. No major damage was reported. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was expected to drop in strength by early Wednesday to a tropical depression, meaning top sustained winds of less than 39 mph. At 2 p.m. EDT, the storm's center was about 35 miles east of Houston and heading slowly west-northwest towards central Texas. Wind speed had dropped from near 65 mph when it hit land to about 50 mph. Edouard skirted the Louisiana coast on its way to Texas, raising tides and pushing water into bayous and yards. Residents of low-lying areas south of the Intracoastal Waterway in Cameron were ordered to evacuate Monday but were expected to be able to return later Tuesday. Parish officials have been quick to order evacuations ahead of storms since Hurricane Audrey in 1957 killed about 500 people in Cameron. The storm hit at the height of tourist season in Galveston, but Edouard did not bring the 100-mph winds that punished the Texas tourist hotspot of South Padre Island when Hurricane Dolly tore off roofs and knocked down signs last month July 23. Since Dolly, South Padre has regained electric power but its four biggest full-service hotels remain closed as well as the convention center in the community about 260 miles down the coast from Galveston. Edouard did prompt offshore oil and gas companies to evacuate a few of the 717 manned platforms and 125 operating rigs in the Gulf. But Shell Oil Co. said the storm had no effect on its offshore operations and it would begin returning evacuated workers Tuesday. So it looks like we got lucky this time with no major damage or long term clean ups. Let's hope the rest of the season goes as well.

Well we can finally have some hope for slightly lower gasoline bills when we fill up at the pump. Oil prices sank as low as $118 a barrel Tuesday on the growing belief that an economic slowdown and high energy costs are curbing consumer demand for gasoline and other petroleum products here in the United States. The decline in price is giving Americans more relief at the pump. A gallon of regular gasoline on average fell another penny overnight to $3.871. Gas prices have fallen four straight weeks for the first time since December. Prices are off 5.9 percent from their July high as motorists cut back on their driving to save money. Natural gas prices rebounded somewhat after Monday's steep drop. A day after plunging as much as $5 a barrel in a dramatic sell-off, crude continued its downward trend Tuesday as traders sold oil contracts on the belief that prices are still too high in relation to demand and have further room to fall. Light, sweet crude for September delivery lost $1.27 to trade at $120.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier falling to $118, the lowest level since May 5. Crude has now fallen more than $25 since reaching a trading high of $147.27 on July 11. So let's hope the decrease in price trend continues so we can all afford to continue to live.

Some analysts say oil has the potential to jump back up. there are many factors that could keep oil from descending further, he said, including political tensions in Nigeria and the Middle East, the potential for a big hurricane along the Gulf Coast, and global demand that is still growing just not at the same pace that it had been. Tropical Storm Edouard did not severely disrupt oil and natural gas output in the Gulf of Mexico. Valero, for one, said its refineries in the region were operating at slightly reduced rates due to rain and high winds, but that they do not expect production to be materially affected. The dollar's gains against the euro also contributed to oil's decline Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.5467 from the $1.5587 it bought late in New York trading Monday, making oil and other commodities less attractive to investors seeking a hedge against inflation and dollar weakness. Investors ignored continued tension over Iran's nuclear program. Representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany agreed Monday to seek new sanctions against Iran after the country failed to meet a weekend deadline to respond to an offer intended to defuse the dispute. Monday, Iran announced that it has tested a new weapon capable of sinking ships nearly 200 miles away, and Tehran reiterated threats to close a strategic waterway at the mouth of the Gulf if attacked. Up to 40 percent of the world's oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passage along Iran's southern coast, and any move by Iran to close it to tanker traffic would send oil prices skyrocketing. So there are a ton of factors that will determine future crude oil prices. God help us all.

We also have more problems in China before the Olympics even start. The beating of two Japanese journalists by police in western China drew an official apology Tuesday, but Beijing also set new obstacles for news outlets wanting to report from Tiananmen Square in the latest sign of trouble for reporters covering the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee, which last week only partially succeeded in getting China to unblock some Internet sites after journalists raised a furor, said it would look into the new rules that require reporters to make appointments to do reports at Tiananmen. The Japanese government and the Foreign Correspondents Club of China condemned the roughing up of the Japanese newsmen who were covering an attack by alleged Muslim separatists on police in Xinjiang province. The separate incidents added to the impression that China is not living up to promises that foreign media would have unrestricted access during the games and has reverted to the tight controls that the communist government keeps over the press in normal times. In the latest restriction, the Beijing city government said on its Web site that Chinese and foreign journalists who want to report and film in Tiananmen "are advised to make advanced appointments by phone." It said that will help ensure orderly news gathering amid what are expected to be large crowds in the square on each day of the games, which start Friday. The notice did not specify when the rule takes effect, nor did it say what would happen to news crews if they tried to report from the square without an appointment. Phone calls to the Beijing government spokesman's office seeking clarification rang unanswered. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the new arrangement did not match the committee's understanding of access to Tiananmen and promised to look into the situation. So China isn't letting the world see the real them? Imagine.

Well that's about it for me today friend. I am headed off to dreamland soon hopefully. I hope you have a great day tomorrow.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab