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The Rainbow Bridge over the Niagara River links the borders of Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, to Niagara Falls in New York.

Norbert Grisay/Hans Lucas via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Migrants head for US-Canada border, Canada flies fresh F-16 funds to Ukraine, Big Oil plans for a Big Crash, Toronto cans scan plan

191,603: While the immigration crisis at the southern US border has commanded significant attention in recent months, the northern border with Canada is becoming more popular with asylum-seekers, undocumented migrants, and human traffickers. In 2023, officials recorded 191,603 encounters with people crossing into the United States via Canada without papers, more than 40% higher than the year before but still less than one-tenth the volume along the US-Mexico frontier.

60 million: Canada pledged to send Ukraine $60 million in support for F-16 jet maintenance and ammunition. The move, part of a larger $500 million pledge made last spring, comes as congressional infighting, public fatigue, and election jockeying continue to hold up tens of billions of dollars worth of fresh support for Kyiv from the US.

30: Given where gas prices are these days you wouldn’t think it, but global oil giants like Shell, Exxon, Chevron, and Total are carefully preparing for the possibility of another oil price crash, beefing up their production at newer oil fields that are profitable even if oil prices plummet to $30 a barrel. As of this writing, that was less than half the price of a barrel, which is hovering around $75.

6: The Ontario government has canceled a pilot program in which people’s IDs would have been scanned at the entrances to six Toronto-area liquor stores. The program was meant as an experiment to find ways to boost security at liquor stores, but it immediately generated privacy concerns, since the data would have been held in government systems for 14 days.

A pipe yard servicing government-owned oil pipeline operator Trans Mountain in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier

Will Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion pay off?

Ian Anderson started work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion nearly 15 years ago. The now-retired former CEO of Trans Mountain Corporation saw the project to triple the flow of crude by twinning an existing 1,150 km pipeline between Alberta and Canada’s Pacific coast through political opposition, Indigenous protests, unfavorable court rulings, and the sale by its owner, Kinder Morgan.
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FILE PHOTO: Guyanese Military members line up before Britain's Prince Harry laughs arrives for an official visit of Georgetown, Guyana December 2, 2016.

Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Venezuela and Guyana border dispute

As if Europe’s colonial-era mapmakers haven’t already bequeathed us enough wars. Now the long-running border dispute between Venezuela and its eastern neighbor Guyana is heating up again.

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Industrial engineer and former lawmaker Maria Corina Machado holds up a Venezuelan flag as she reacts to the vote count after Venezuelans voted in a primary to choose a unity opposition candidate to face Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in his probable re-election bid in 2024, in Caracas, Venezuela October 23, 2023.

REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

Oil exports or no, Maduro won’t let Machado win

Just two weeks after sealing a historic election pact with the opposition, the Venezuelan government announced Monday that it would suspend “all effects” of opposition primaries, thereby jeopardizing a six-month pause of US sanctions on Caracas’ oil.

The decision comes just days after strongman President Nicolás Maduro called the contests a “fraud” — but he’s really afraid of the winner, popular opposition leader María Corina Machado. The election deal was supposed to lift a ban on her and other opposition figures holding office until 2030, but state harassment evidently continues. Fortunately for the ordinary Venezuelans brave enough to go out and vote in an opposition primary, organizers say they destroyed the voter sheets, making state retribution more difficult.

So, will the US keep buying Venezuelan oil? Washington said it would swiftly shut off the taps if Caracas doesn’t follow through with its democratic commitments, but as we wrote earlier, leverage is limited. If Maduro’s options are keeping oil revenue and losing power, or accepting sanctions he’s survived for a decade to stay in control, which do you think he will choose?

Risa Grais-Targow, Eurasia Group’s director for Latin America, says the US will likely find discretion to be the better part of valor under these circumstances. Before snapping back sanctions, she continues, “the US will still wait and see if Maduro takes steps toward allowing candidates to participate in the general election, even if the ruling yesterday seems to go in the other direction.”

A woman and her sons stand on the edge of Maracaibo lake in front of oil rigs in Maracaibo February 15, 2008.

REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia

Oil, gas, gold for (pseudo-) democracy?

The United States has temporarily lifted sanctions against Venezuela’s oil, natural gas, and gold sectors after Venezuela’s strongman President Nicolás Maduro agreed to a deal with the US-backed opposition on scheduling elections with international observers and allowing opposition candidates to run.

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U.S. Representative George Santos (R-NY) chats with his State of the Union guest and members of his staff as they prepare for the evening in Santos’s office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2023.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Hard Numbers: Santos chargesheet grows, Niger kicks out UN rep, GOP voters question McCarthy ouster, China reaps oil windfall

44,000: US Rep. George Santos (R-NY) — already under scrutiny for lying about his background — allegedly stole more than $44,000 from campaign donors by using their identities and credit card information, according to a new 23-count indictment. Santos is also alleged to have lied to the Federal Elections Commission by claiming he loaned his campaign $500,000 at a time when he only had around $8,000 in the bank.

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Iranian oil minister Gholamhossein Nozari talks to journalists


What’s OPEC’s game plan?

In a strange turn of events, OPEC+ – a bloc of 23 oil-producing states including Russia – has banned reporters from Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal from covering its next meeting in Vienna on Sunday.
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Oil, entitlement, & how MBS is changing Saudi Arabia
Oil, Entitlement, & How MBS is Changing Saudi Arabia | GZERO World

Oil, entitlement, & how MBS is changing Saudi Arabia

What is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman really doing to modernize Saudi Arabia? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer asks Princeton University's Bernard Hayel.

MBS, as he's known in the West, is "basically banking on the bulk of the population that's under 30, [who think] he's a rock star because of the things he's doing."

Meanwhile, "anyone over 40 hates him because he's taking away entitlements" and changing the modus operandi of the country.

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