Friday, September 13, 2013

Fourteen (14) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA; Active Rigs At 178 Ties Record Low

Active rigs: 178 (ties record for LOW number of active rigs post-boom in the Bakken)

Fourteen (14) new permits --
  • Operators: Newfield (7), MRO (4), Whiting (2), Corinthian Exploration
  • Fields: Reunion Bay (Mountrail), Sanish (Mountrail), Sioux (McKenzie), Siverston (McKenzie), Westberg (McKenzie), Souris (Bottineau)
  • Comments: Newfield has permits for five Wisness wells on one pad; two wells on another pad; there are already three other Wisness wells in section 21 (two Petro-Hunt wells; one Newfield well)
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier; see sidebar at the right.

It looks like 22 permits were renewed, which is about as many as I've ever seen for one day.

Hess cancelled a well:
  • 19852, PNC, Hess, EN-Kiesel-155-94-1918H-3, Manitou

Number Of Active Rigs In North Dakota Ties Post-Boom Record LOW

The number of active rigs is down to 178 in North Dakota. That ties the post-boom record for low number of active rigs. (Early in the week I had suggested 179 was the record low; I see I was wrong based on the data in the sidebar at the right.)

Huge Story Is Actually Bigger Than Most Folks Realize

Back in early June, 2013, NDIC was predicting that North Dakota would hit 850,000 bopd by the end of the year. A link at that post will take you to this site in which that prediction was clearly stated:
Oil production from North Dakota's Bakken shale hit a new high in April and could exceed the state's forecast of 850,000 barrels per day by the end of the year, state regulators said on Friday.  -- June 14, 2013.
North Dakota blew through 850,000 bopd at the end of July, 2013, hitting almost 875,000 bopd, easily surpassign the 850,000 bopd number and doing it five months early.

I said at the time: I think the state will hit 850,000 bopd by the end of August (remember: reporting lags two months, so we won't see that figure reported until Halloween). 

The roughnecks and the frack teams beat that by a month. 

What I find most amazing is this: the prediction that we would hit 850,000 bopd by the end of the year was made just a couple of months ago; another indication how fast things are moving.

Again, Lynn Helms stated very clearly in early 2013, that we would be seeing some huge initial production numbers in the summer, 2013. He was very, very accurate.


On another note: this is nice to see. My data base says there were 276 new oil and gas permits issued in August, 2013. How many did the state say there were? 276. Whoo-ah!

How many for the month of September, as of September 12, 2013? 113.

Director's Cut Is Out: Production Surges By 6.4% Over Previous Month; Completions More Than Double Month-Over-Month; Frack Crews Outpacing Drilling For First Time In Bakken History

A huge round of applause to the roughnecks and the frack teams. 

  • June: 821,598 bopd
  • July: 874,460 bopd (new all-time record)
A 6.43% increase.  This is the biggest percentage increase in almost two years (maybe longer; that's only as far back as I've tracked) and we're in the maintenance phase of drilling; the boom is over. Or so they say.

This is where I track future production, just for the fun of it

Producing wells:
  • June producing wells: 9,096
  • July producing wells: 9,322 (new all-time record)
Wow, look at the permitting:
  • June permitting: 165
  • July permitting: 179
  • August permitting: 276 (all time high was 370 in October, 2012)
  • June: $86
  • July: $96
  • August: $94
From the narrative:
"The drilling rig count decreased slightly from June to July, but the number of well completions jumped 102 to 251, resulting in a 6.4% increase in oil production. That number of completions is almost three (3) times the threshold needed to maintain production."

"Completion crews outpaced drilling rigs for the first time this year."

"The average number of days to drill a well from spud to total depth remained steady at about 22, but the average number of days from total depth to initial production fell from 94 to 79."
Now you know why raw number of rigs is not all that significant. The rig count actually fell, but completions jumped from 102 in June to 251 in July. 

My vote: pay roughnecks for a full year of work, but drill and frack in North Dakota for only the best eight (8) months of the year.



Naysayers will argue; they will disagree. I would prefer that naysayers not read this part of the post.

From the narrative:
"The percentage of gas flared is back up 2% to 30% almost all of which can be attributed to processing plant outages for mechanical repairs and electrical failures."
How many story lines can one find in that one sentence?
  • well completions more than double, and there's hardly an increase in flaring
  • crude oil production surges by 6.43% month-over-mont, and there's hardly an increase in flaring
  • flaring is still incredibly low compared to the high in 2011, when oil production was much lower
  • pundits will continue to say one-third of natural gas is flared in North Dakota, which is untrue
  • the slight rise in flared natural gas was not due to pace of drilling or completion activity
  • almost the entire increase, though minimal, was due to processing plant issues
  • infrastructure is improving
  • operators are drilling/completing wells where natural gas lines exist
  • operators have defined the limits and sweet spots of the Bakken
  • operators are defining the limits and sweet spots of the Three Forks
  • almost all acreage is now held by production; there is no urgency to place wells where it does not make sense
  • almost all acreage is now held by production; there is no urgency to place wells where there are no natural gas gathering systems
  • folks over at the TR&E board will now see that operators are less likely to drill on their acreage if natural gas processing systems are not in place
  • electrical failures? this to me suggests issues with the grid; and that brings me back to the additional transmission lines that need to be put in place, including the one going through the Killdeer Mountains
With regard to natural gas production:
  • June: 28 million cubic feet
  • July: 30 million cubic feet
  • Increase in natural gas production, month-over-month: 7.41%
  • 21 million cubic feet sold (assuming 70% of production was sold; 30% was flared)
According to The Director's Cut: $3.09/MCF = $3,090/million cubic feet x 21 million thousand = $65,000,000 of natural gas sold. Folks can check the math; I generally make a lot of simple math errors.

On the other hand, 27 million bbls of crude oil was sold for almost $100/bbl = $2.7 billion.

If 9 million MCF was flared, that means about $30 million flared.

As I've said before, I can't get my arms around these numbers. So, let's drop some of the zeroes. $2.7 million in crude oil; $30,000 in natural gas. $30,000 in crude oil; $30 in natural gas. I'm sure the math is off but that's good enough for me. It helps put things into perspective.

Romney, Bain, Global Warming -- What Do They Have In Common? Inconvenient Truths (And The Stories Will Annoy The Mainstream Media)

In fact, the mainstream media is not even mentioning them. One finds these stories buried in the blogs written by some folks not meeting the Senate definition of "journalists."

The Daily Caller is posting:
“The very wealthiest Americans earned more than 19 percent of the country’s household income last year — their biggest share since 1928, the year before the stock market crash,” the Associated Press reports. ”The top 10 percent captured a record 48.2 percent of total earnings last year … [and] in 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent compared with a 1 percent increase for the remaining 99 percent.”
To keep the success rolling, the administration taps a former Romney/Bain exec to be the President O'Bama's new top economic deputy:
President Barack Obama’s new top economic deputy is a former management consultant who worked for Gov. Mitt Romney’s Bain & Company investment firm.
The appointment of Jeff Zients as head of the National Economic Council is likely to annoy some union officials and some liberal groups who are focused on declining working-class wages and growing poverty, and it clashes with the populist anti-business invective used by Obama and his aides on the 2012 campaign trail to paint Romney as uncaring.
"Likely to annoy some .... "

Wow, that's an understatement.

By the way, speaking of annoying some folks, what is IceAgeNow talking about these days? From yesterday:
No doubt about it. The Earth’s climate is cooling!
One of the most prescient indicators clearly shows it, namely the Danish Meteorological Institute’s daily mean temperatures for the Arctic area north of the 80th northern parallel. They have been measured for over 50 years which shows a long-term average of 90 days with the air temperature above freezing.

The year 2013 has seen a dramatic departure from that routine. In 2013, the summer (above freezing temperatures) lasted for only 45 days, one half of the average number of days. Not only did the frost-free days start much later than on average this year, they also ended much earlier, see the figure below. In fact, the frost-free period seen this year was significantly shorter than in other year since 1958, when the recordings began.

For Investors Only -- A Nice Review Of The Majors Over Past Few Months; Other News

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here or what you think you may have read here. 

Yahoo!Finance/CNBC is reporting:
The movement in the price for Brent crude is somewhat different from the rise in the price of WTI. In mid-April, the spot price for Brent crude was around $97 a barrel, and it now stands at about $113 a barrel, a rise of about 16%. That change is much more in line with the best performers among the big oil companies.
The big gainers, both around 16%, are ConocoPhillips and France’s Total S.A. Chevron Corp. is up about 3.5%, BP PLC is up about 1.5% and Exxon Mobil Corp. is down about 1%. Because Brent crude has replaced WTI as the global benchmark, a gain of 16% to match the price hike in Brent crude is about as good as it gets.
Chevron and Transocean will settle with Brazil. Chevron is up about one percent. 

At Barclay's CEO-Energy conference, PSX said it would increase dividend in 2013. The company currently pays 2.2% and is currently trading up about 1.5%.

Chesapeake layoffs rattling employees:
The Oklahoma City television station K-FOR-TV reports that sources say as many as 2,000 jobs may be cut. Chesapeake has about 12,000 employees.
This week's layoffs occurred in the creative department and corporate development, according to a person at the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The person also said that there were layoffs in the government relations department two weeks ago.
Lawler's email hinted that there may be more layoffs to come.
The natural gas export industry will surge:
The development of the U.S. natgas export market is still in its infancy, and the idea of shipping stocks abroad remains a very touchy domestic issue. Still, Dominion's export terminal is seen by observers as the latest signpost on the ever-winding road to U.S. energy independence.
The move is more symbolic than substantive at this point—Dominion's export limit is a modest slice of U.S. production, which is expected to top 65 billion cf/d by January. Yet analysts say the facility, as well as the tentative embrace of natural gas broadly by U.S. officials, is clearly a harbinger of things to come.
The size of the deal was not as important as the short interval between this export license approval and the previous license approval. Once bureaucrats get a template for approval in place, things can move quickly. I recently renewed my passport. Because I was in no hurry to get it back, I did not pay extra for expedited processing. I got my new passport (and first passport card) in about two weeks turnaround time. I was quite impressed. Again, once a bureaucratic process is in place to get things done, things can move very quickly in the US.

Again, for investors, and this is a nice "case study" in "real time": shorting HK. An analysis by Forbes. Again, in case you missed it at the top, this is not an investment site. Do do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here or what you think you may have read here.

Around The Horn -- Early Morning Trading

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here or what you think you may have read here. 

The Yahoo!Finance link to price of oil is still broken; oil is down a dollar in early trading. The overall market is having another good day.

KOG is up slightly; right at $11.00. Enterprise value is N/A. Market cap is $2.91 billion; debt is $1.45 billion. 1.45 + 2.91 = $4.36 billion. There are 266 million outstanding shares. $4.36 billion/266 million = $16.40.

Oasis down one percent.  Enterprise value is $5.10 billion. Market cap is $4.02 billion; debt is $1.20 billion. 1.2 + 4.02 = $5.22 billion. There are 94 million outstanding shares. $5.22 billion/94 million = $55.00.

Disclaimer: I often make mathematical errors. Go to source.

CVX, COP, XOM: all up slightly.

EOG down; profit taking, I assume.

CHK. Up about half a percent.

SD: flat.

AMZG up 3 percent; closing in on a new high.

TPLM up about a percent; also closing in on a new high.

UNP flat to slightly down.

I don't follow BNSF (BRK) much any more; BRK follows the market in general.

ENB, EEP both up slightly; in a trading range. 

SRE finally moving up a bit.

TransCanada flat to up slightly.

CLR down but still above $100.

WLL down about a percent.

No More Elephant Fields? Say What? $1.5 Trillion Oil Find Off-Shore US

Bloomberg is reporting:
The project known as BAHA, undertaken in 1996 by Texaco and its partners, Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Amoco Corp. and Mobil Corp., was a dry hole. That normally would’ve made it a flop. Instead, BAHA’s discovery of oil-rich sands where none were thought to exist was the first step in unlocking a $1.5 trillion trove of crude that’s revived the prospects of a body of water many thought had long ago given up most of its fossil-fuel riches. 
Peak oil? What peak oil?

Best story line: BP is not involved in this well. 

Trader Joe's: Joins IBM, GE, UPS, Others; Moving Folks To ObamaCare Exchanges

About six months ago I started talking about this: for investors, ObamaCare was going to be wonderful. Companies would move as many employees as possible off their health-care programs and unto the federal program. The cost of health care for these companies (all things being equal) will drop. The cost of health care will be spread across the nation, across all taxpayers, whether they are investors or not.

Bloomberg is now reporting that another company, Trader Joe's, is moving its part-time employees over to the ObamaCare exchanges.
Employees with fewer than 30 hours a week will no longer be given health coverage as of Jan. 1, and will receive $500 to help them buy insurance elsewhere, the Monrovia, California-based company said in a statement. 
The move makes Trader Joe’s the latest U.S. employer to cut benefits or reduce hours in response to the 2010 act, which requires companies to offer affordable coverage to full-time workers starting in 2014. Trader Joe’s, the owner of about 400 stores, said most of the affected employees will find a better deal on the health-law exchanges, where buyers may be eligible for federal subsidies.  
And as noted, the health care exchanges will provide better deals than Trader Joe's provided.

Many, many story lines.

I track ObamaCare cost shifting here. When I hit 50 companies, universities, municipalities etc., I plan to quit tracking. At 50, we will have reached a tipping point -- though, when IBM announced they were moving retirees off their health care program, one could argue that was the tipping point.

Feel-Good Story About Real Estate Investments In The Bakken

The Dickinson Press is reporting:
Building permit valuations last year in the Bakken’s three hub communities — Williston, Minot and Dickinson — totaled more than $1 billion with millions of dollars in additional activity taking place in other Oil Patch communities like Watford City, Stanley and Tioga. And Zarling says the pace of development shows no signs of slowing down soon. Dawa Solutions Group will host a conference later this month in Bismarck focused on providing the most recent Bakken-related development information to real estate developers, investors, construction companies and service providers.
Wow, some more good reporting, again from The Dickinson Press. An overview of large developments in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Specifically: Sioux Falls, SD; Bemidji, MN; Grand Forks, Bismarck, and Fargo, ND.

Phillips 66 CEO Presents At Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference Highlights

At SeekingAlpha.

  • running the company
  • infrastructure development around the shales
  • opportunity for chemicals clearly are growth avenues for PSX
Distributions are fundamentals of who PSX is
  • plan to increase the dividend every year for next ten years
  • will increase dividend in 2013
A $3 billion share repurchase program underway

  • acquired 2,000 railcars
  • acquired two John Jack ships
  • acquired one unit train
  • acquired one loading facility
  • unloading facilities at Bayway, Ferndale under construction
  • looking at a new unloading facility, Santa Maria, CA
Storage facilities (PSXP = PSX's MLP)
  • building a 500,000 bopd tank at Los Angeles to import crude for LA refineries
  • PSX thinks diesel demand will grow 2.5 times; gasoline demand will also grow globally
  • Asia is not core to PSX portfolio; of 15 refineries, 11 are in the US
  • looking to build more rail to bring Canadian crude to California
  • ultimately Bayway will be "on a diet" of Bakken and Eagle Ford crudes
  • geographic coast markets of Latin and South America will offset declines in US (400K bopd)
Much more at the link.  I only note what I'm interested in. Lots on chemical, of course, which I am not interested in for the blog.

Great Graphic Of "True" Global Warming; Idle Rambling On Physics

RedBull provides the graphic.

A Note To The Granddaughters

In my junior year in high school, I was introduced to two things that stuck with me throughout life:
  • how to make chemistry "fun" for students
  • the periodic table
Mr Ceglowski was my chemistry instructor, one of many wonderful teachers I had in Williston, starting with my second grade teacher, whom I remember well. I do not remember my first grade teacher. We attended first grade in the Williston High School, but starting in second grade we moved over to Wilkinson Elementary. I could run home from Wilkinson in about ten minutes, under the 15-minute requirement for "nuclear attack" exercises. Nowadays, children learn to get under their desks when the tornado sirens go off; in the 1950's we ran home to our "fallout shelters" in anticipation of a nuclear attack from the USSR.

But I digress.

I was talking about "fun" in chemistry class. Mr Ceglowski would bring up a huge, CRT television during the World Series. I say "up" because his chemistry room was on the second floor on the north side of the building, windows overlooking the football field. That must have 1967. I don't recall the teams.

According to wiki, The 1967 World Series matched the St. Louis Cardinals against the Boston Red Sox in a rematch of the 1946 World Series, with the Cardinals winning in seven games for their second championship in four years and their eighth overall. The Series was played from October 4 to October 12 in Fenway Park and Busch Memorial Stadium. [There is some serendipity, coincidence, or irony noting that two of the three loves of my life called Boston and St Louis home; one of the three was a huge St Louis fan.]

The second thing I took away from Mr Ceglowski was knowledge of the periodic table and "shells." He obviously took a lot of continuing education courses in chemistry and physics to stay abreast of advances.

Ever since I've been trying to keep up with physics in a very general sort of way. It is very, very difficult but lots of fun.

How far have we come? Two weeks ago I introduced our ten-year-old granddaughter to the "Standard Model" -- the "periodic table" for quarks, leptons, and bosons. I don't know when the current model was standardized, but it's taken a lot of years to put it together, and now it seems so "simple."

I've never understood the "chronology" of the development of quantum. I read physics books specifically to see if I can put the story together. As of one month ago, the best I had come across was Louisa Gilder's The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn.

But I think I found one better: Ray Monk's biography of Robert Oppenheimer, c. 2012. It appears the chapter on "Cambridge" will put the history of the development of quantum together very nicely.

Robert Oppenheimer arrived at Cambridge in 1925 just as quantum was "exploding." It reminds me a lot of James Watson arriving at the same university some years later just as scientists were figuring out DNA. Both Oppenheimer and Watson, at very young ages, happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Highlights From Halcon's Barclay's CEO Energy Presentation

From SeekingAlpha.

Three core areas.

Significant spot up in the Bakken/Three Forks, accounts for about half of HK's daily production.

Utica/Point Pleasant: waiting on infrastructure. No production to speak of yet.

Eagle Ford: newest play.

Williston Basin:
  • quite a bit of acreage
  • involved in several increased density test operated by others, a couple by HK
  • moving from 600K EURs to 750K EURs (high end)
  • have not been able to bring costs down
  • completions actually cost more
  • just starting to do pad drilling
  • echoes: CLR -- pad drilling can save $400K/well; $1 - $2 million/pad
  • Fort Berthold: 660 foot spacing (getting closer to the 500-foot spacing I opined about a long, long time ago)
Slick water completions:
  • "The slick water fracks we're doing up in Williams County about double production reserves and IPs on those wells, so that's going to be quite a change."
  • "Over the next five or 10 years, you're going to see a lot more in these shale plays. There's just a lot of smart people working them."

Friday Morning News, Views, And Links -- Part II -- Canadian Natural Gas Down To $1.60;

Canadian natural gas prices will be depressed through October -- hey, that's only two or three more weeks.
Gas shipped from the Alberta AECO hub traded at $1.59 per million British thermal units below the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub price today compared with an average discount of 54 cents over the past year. On Sept. 6, the discount reached $1.72 per MMBtu, the widest since November 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Down to $1.60. In Asia, $15.

Friday Morning Links, News, And Views -- Part I

Active rigs: 182

RBN Energy: the fourth in a series on the economics of an oil and gas well. This article gets into NPV which is seen in almost every oil and gas corporate presentation.
WSJ Links

A banned and best-selling author. Ellen Hopkins writes in verse about issues like teen pregnancy and drug abuse. Teen readers can't get enough.

US set to pass Russia in liquid fuels. The U.S. is set to pass Russia in the production of liquid fuels such as crude and ethanol this quarter, a top energy watchdog said.

I thought we were through with this under this administration. Guess not: US in new push to find undocumented workers. Department of Homeland Security has notified about 1,000 businesses across the country they must submit employment documents in a fresh crackdown on employers suspected of hiring illegal immigrants.

If nuclear disaster strikes, steer clear of Japan's playbook.

Tokyo's slow response to Fukushima is challenging the nuclear industry's credibility.

Wow -- this is huge: states face decision day on saving trains. A number of states must decide whether to drop expensive Amtrak routes or pay for them after federal subsidies end Oct. 1, a defining moment for a mode of transportation that shaped the U.S. This only affects Amtrak's shorter routes outside the Northeast Corridor -- those under 750 miles. It does not appear to affect long-haul Amtrak, but there are some confusing aspects of the program not adequately explained in the article.

Another wow! DC mayor vetoes "living wage" bill. Washington Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed a bill that would force Wal-Mart and other large retailers to pay their employees a 'living wage' of at least $12.50 an hour. Wal-Mart had told the mayor they would leave the city rather than pay the wage.

California moves to scrap "no child left behind" testing. California lawmakers approved a bill that would scrap the state's current student-testing program, despite an Obama administration threat to pull federal dollars from the state. If the Obama administration does not pull Federal funding, look for other states to follow suit, probably all across the south, starting with Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

And yet another wow! EU factory output dives. Output from factories in the euro zone fell to the lowest level in more than three years, raising new questions about the bloc's ability to keep a modest economic recovery alive. Not one mention of the high cost of energy due to the high cost of "going green" was mentioned. Look for more articles coming out of the EU over the next year talking about the need to go back to coal.

Op-ed: Obama is lost in the Mideast bazaar.
The survival of the Syrian regime was a "red line" for the Russian ruler—a true red line. The dictatorship in Damascus had been forged four decades ago, when Soviet power was on the rise. Syrian armies and factories, the intelligence services and the architecture, were all in the Soviet mold. The sun may have set on the old Soviet empire, but on the shores of the Mediterranean, with a derelict naval base in Tartus waiting to be revived, Syria offered Russia the consolation that it could still play the game of the great powers. In the Syrian mirror, Mr. Putin sees a version of his own battle with Chechen insurgents.
Now it is dusk, and the hapless Barack Obama has lost his old swagger. He had feigned intimacy with "the East," he had thought that he was at ease with that big Islamic world. Instead, he was befuddled by what awaited him, and now he finds himself at the mercy of a Russian skilled in the ruses of the bazaar.
Grant the Russians the consistency of their position on Syria. From the outset of the civil war two years ago, Moscow insisted that it would not stand idly by and accept a repetition of what had happened in Libya. The deranged Moammar Gadhafi was a man the Russians knew and favored. By their lights, they had let him down when they let slip through the cracks of the U.N. machinery a proposal that called for the protection of Libyan civilians. The proposal gave NATO the warrant that led to the destruction of the Libyan dictatorship.
No such ambiguity this time around. Russia was determined to see its client regime in Damascus to victory. If Soviet decay and American resolve had all but banished Moscow's influence from Middle Eastern lands, Vladimir Putin was eager for a Russian return—all the more so if the restoration came on the cheap.
New York Times

Boehner seeks Democrats' help in averting a government shutdown.

Listing demands, Assad uses crisis to his advantage. The US is now negotiating Syria. LOL.

Voyager 1, launched back in 1977, is exiting the Solar System.
By today’s standards, the spacecraft’s technology is laughable: it carries an 8-track tape recorder and computers with one-240,000th the memory of a low-end iPhone. When it left Earth 36 years ago, it was designed as a four-year mission to Saturn, and everything after that was gravy. 
But Voyager 1 has become — thrillingly — the Little Spacecraft That Could. On Thursday, scientists declared that it had become the first probe to exit the solar system, a breathtaking achievement that NASA could only fantasize about back when Voyager was launched in 1977, the same year “Star Wars” was released.
“I don’t know if it’s in the same league as landing on the moon, but it’s right up there — ‘Star Trek’ stuff, for sure,” said Donald A. Gurnett, a physics professor at the University of Iowa and the co-author of a paper published Thursday in the journal Science about Voyager’s feat. “I mean, consider the distance. It’s hard even for scientists to comprehend.” 
In its heyday, Voyager 1 pumped out never-before-seen images of Jupiter and Saturn. But it stopped sending home pictures in 1990, to conserve energy and because there was no longer much to see. A companion spacecraft, Voyager 2, also launched in 1977, has stopped sending back images as well. Voyager 2 is moving in a different direction but is also expected to exit the solar system.  
To keep the project funded, I assume NASA will use Voyager 1 to look for signs of "universal warming."

  LA Times

Kerry, Russian counterpart, upbeat on Syria. Rope-a-dope.

First world problem: vegans want Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes, too.
If there ever were an actual, bona fide first world food problem, this would be it.  
In the petition, Caldwell asks Starbucks to please make a vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte. He explains that he and his girlfriend visit their local Starbucks up to four times a week and that many of the drinks can be made vegan, but not the Pumpkin Spice Latte. 
The Starbucks website lists the latte ingredients as: "Signature espresso blended with the unmistakable spices of fall -- cinnamon, nutmeg and clove -- smooth with steamed milk, topped with delectably sweetened whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices."
"There is currently no vegan option for this drink mix, which is a total bummer," wrote Caldwell in bold. 
Caldwell needs to get a life. He/she could start by visiting the refugee camps on the Lebanon border.

The Drudge Report

Obama will choose another Harvard male to replace Ben.  Having just re-read Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong, this was predictable. Reuters is reporting that Ms Yellin will not be selected.