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Brazil Invited to Join OPEC -- Please, Beware!

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How gracious of OPEC to invite Brazil to join its ranks, as was reported earlier this month by Veja, Brazil's weekly news magazine. A cautionary note: Please, Brazil beware!

Probably no existing organization casting worldwide influence has achieved the level of opprobrium among real people as that of the OPEC cartel. And by "real people," what is meant are those not affiliated with the oil industry, those not professional speculators pushing for ever higher oil prices, and those who are not oil industry flacks and their peak oil echo chamber. In other words, those who pay and whose lives are constricted by the OPEC cartel's market manipulation and willful disinformation.

Remember when joining a club, even when one is invited to do so, it is worthwhile -- no, imperative -- to know who your fellow club members are and what they purport to be. After all, you will begin to be judged in measure by their actions and governance.

Certainly none of us are perfect, and defects in varying degree abound. But when public policy and avowed government tolerance of egregious behavior is so at variance to one's own standards, its best to think twice before jumping aboard.

Consider the following. Earlier this month Fox New and le Figaro reported about an incident in Saudi Arabia, unquestionably OPEC's leading producer and leading voice. In Saudi Arabia, the mingling of men and women who are not related is prohibited. Two men visited with a widow of Syrian nationality, one Khamisa Sawadi, in the town Khamisa just north of Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh. According to their testimony they were there to deliver bread. They also claimed a relationship with the widow through tribal tradition and according to the testimony of one of the "perpetrators," as being a nephew of Mrs. Sawadi's late husband. Upon leaving the widow Sawadi's residence they were immediately arrested, as was Mrs. Sawadi. All were tried and sentenced to prison terms and worse.

The widow Sawadi was thereupon ordered to four months in prison and 40 lashes.The fact that she is 75 years of age, I repeat, 75 years, was dismissed as a mitigating circumstance in determining her punishment. And depressingly this was a punishment sanctioned by the Saudi government even though corporal punishment like flogging is inconsistent with Saudi Arabia's obligations under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which Saudi Arabia is a state party.

Now, good people of Brazil. No need for you nor anyone to be reminded that one is often judged by the company one keeps. And especially in energy, where Brazil has been a shining light to the world, being a pioneer in converting their automobile industry and distribution network to ethanol based fuels, setting an example for all of us, and for which we are deeply beholden. Brazil has shown the world that turning one's back on fossil fuels can be done and can be done successfully. It takes fortitude and courage which the Brazilian people have shown in amplitude in this undertaking.

So before associating yourself with OPEC think again, and again. We, the rest of us, want to continue dancing the Samba with abandon and dream of being in Brazil.

Please don't spoil it!