Top Stories for Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Protests Continue in Ferguson in Wake of Grand Jury Decision

From AP, “Protestors Block Highways, Bridge in St. Louis”: “Hundreds of protesters angry about the Ferguson grand jury decision have disrupted traffic for several hours in downtown St. Louis by blocking major intersections, an interstate highway and a Mississippi River bridge connecting the city to Illinois…

Demonstrators also swarmed the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis, overturning barricades while chanting, “You didn’t indict. We shall fight.”

From CBS News, “Brown’s Mother: ‘How Could Your Conscience Be Clear?'”: “His conscience is clear? How could your conscience be clear after killing somebody even if it was an accidental death?” mother Lesley McSpadden said Wednesday in an emotional interview on “CBS This Morning.”

Wilson spoke to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday, saying, “I know I did my job right.” In the interview, Wilson said he feared for his life as he tried to defend himself against the 18-year-old, who was allegedly throwing punches at him while Wilson was inside his police vehicle. The altercation then shifted outside the vehicle, where Wilson said Brown charged at him after initially running away. That’s when the fatal shots were fired. While witness accounts heard by the grand jury differed, there were some that appeared to back up Wilson’s version of events.

Still, McSpadden said she doesn’t “believe a word” of Wilson’s account.

“I know my son far too well. He would never do anything like that. He would never provoke anyone to do anything to him and he would never do anything to anybody.””

OPEC Meets as World Oil Prices Plummet

From The Washington Post, “This week’s OPEC meeting most important in years”: “For most of the past four years, OPEC has had an easy time.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries hasn’t had to do much to keep oil prices over $100 a barrel. Disruptions in supply — most notably the Libyan civil war — and rising demand have kept the cartel’s coffers full. It has been, say Barclays’ commodities analysts, the culmination of OPEC’s “golden age.”

Is that golden age ending? High prices are often the seeds of their own destruction, providing incentives for new developments and alternatives. Now, over the past three months, global oil production has been outrunning consumption. The price of OPEC’s mix of crude oil has tumbled $32, or 30 percent, to the lowest level since 2012. And suddenly the 12-member group is bickering over who should cut oil output, and by how much, in order to prop up prices…

Saudi Arabia, which has played the role of swing producer balancing the market, has not trimmed its output as it often has in the past, instead cutting prices to hang onto market share while waiting for other countries to volunteer to share the burden. Meanwhile prices have continued to slide to about $75 a barrel for the U.S. benchmark grade of West Texas Intermediate…

There have been two main reasons for the recent surplus of crude oil: The economic stagnation in Europe and Japan has sapped demand and the steady increase in U.S. production of shale oil, up 4 million barrels a day over the past six years, has bolstered supply. That new incremental U.S. production is greater than the entire production of any OPEC country except Saudi Arabia.”

From The Telegraph, “World on brink of oil price war as Opec set to keep pumping”: “Oil slumped on Wednesday as expectations that Opec will cut production faded following dovish remarks by cartel kingpin Saudi Arabia, which could signal the beginning of a price war.

Speaking on the sidelines ahead of Thursday’s critical meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in Vienna, Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi said: “The market will stabilise itself eventually”.

His remarks were interpreted by the market as a signal that the cartel would keep its production ceiling at 30m barrels per day (bpd), which sent the price of crude lower…

Major Opec nations, Russia and US shale oil drillers now appear on the brink of a price war as these three giant producing blocs fight for a greater share of global demand. Although Opec states enjoy the lowest average production costs – in some cases around $2 per barrel – they have increasingly lost ground in North America, which remains the world’s largest consumer of oil.

Some Opec members now want producers outside the cartel, including Russia and the US, to shoulder some of the responsibility for balancing the market by essentially cutting their output. UAE energy minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said on Wednesday that Opec alone was not responsible for the stability of the oil market.”

Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg Undergoes Heart Procedure

From Reuters, “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg recovering after heart procedure”: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a heart procedure at a Washington hospital on Wednesday after reporting discomfort following routine exercise, a court statement said.

Ginsburg, 81, was resting comfortably after having a stent placed in her right coronary artery and is expected to be discharged from MedStar Washington Hospital Center within 48 hours, the statement said. A stent is a mesh tube used to improve blood flow in clogged arteries.

Ginsburg reported discomfort after routine exercise on Tuesday night, according to the court statement. She was at the Supreme Court on Tuesday and met with a Reuters reporter in her chambers just before she was to exercise. She appeared healthy and alert.

U.S. Air Power Constrained in Battle Against ISIS

From The New York Times, “U.S. Adds Planes to Bolster Drive to Wipe Out ISIS”: “The United States is shifting more attack and surveillance aircraft from Afghanistan to the air war against the Islamic State, deepening American involvement in the conflict and presenting new challenges for the military planners who work here in central South Carolina, far from the targets they will pick for those aircraft.

A dozen A-10 ground-attack planes have recently moved from Afghanistan to Kuwait, where they are to start flying missions supporting Iraqi ground troops as early as this week, military officials said. About half a dozen missile-firing Reaper drones will also be redeployed from Afghanistan in the next several weeks…

But while the Air Force personnel who help plan airstrikes against the Islamic State from here will have more firepower to bring to bear, they face an unusual enemy, a hybrid between a conventional army and a terrorist network, that has not proved to be an easy target for American air power…

More than 7,000 miles away at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, in the Persian Gulf, another group of analysts and targeting specialists focuses on so-called pop-up targets — convoys of militants or heavy weaponry on the move. These have been the top priority of the three-month campaign, even though only about one out of every four aircraft missions sent to attack them has dropped its bombs. The rest of the missions have returned to the base, failing to find a target they were permitted to hit under strict rules of engagement designed to avoid civilian casualties.”