Thursday AM August 17th, 2006

Baker Institute plans 13th annual U.S.-Mexico Energy Forum...President of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas unclear whether the Fed is finished raising interest rates... JetBlue makes special fares available based on price of a barrel of oil at each day's market close...

The 13th annual U.S.-Mexico Energy Forum is set for mid-October in Tampico, Mexico, with business leaders, government officials and academia meeting to develop energy solutions for the border region. Soll Sussman is with the Texas General Land Office.

"We work on a wide range of energy issues at the border forum, and we emphasize natural gas as a fuel of choice because it's a good for the economic development for the region and it's also good for the environment, and we emphasize cross-border electric and natural gas trade and we encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency. One of the interesting things about the forum and something that we're really good at is that we bring together a really eclectic, comprehensive collection of people--everyone who's involved with energy from many, many different perspectives, and they get a chance to visit with people they might not ordinarily meet."

The Baker Institute is participating in the energy forum, which will address the future of energy policy, water and energy efficiency, border energy infrastructure and financing energy projects. Eduardo Elizondo is with the U.S.-Mexico Border Project at rice University.

"I think one of the key things is coming to the table—representatives from U.S. and Mexico, of course--and trying to see how best we can work together in collaborative projects and looking at the energy resources, if you will, and looking at it from a perspective that can benefit the Americas. You know, basically the situation that we have right now--energy crisis and so forth. I think it's important that we communicate and try to work out differences. Ed: Can you give us in idea of the types of people who will participate? Of course, the academic perspective, we have about three fellows here at Baker Institute that are very well known in energy, and they are going to be participating in this conference and attending and also presenting at the conference. And then, of course, as was said, usually the topics do change from year to year, so we're hoping to have—depending on how the future will look—some input to when we host the conference here in Houston in 2009, but again, it's hard to predict the future. But we will try to stay on top of things by looking at the current research that's being done, and what are some of the issues that are at the forefront."

The Houston-Tampico Sister City Association, founded in 2003 to promote business and education between Houston and Tampico, will host an opening reception for the forum. Participants from all ten U.S. and Mexican border states are expected to attend.


The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says it's not clear whether the Fed is finished raising interest rates or could resume hikes next month or in October. Richard Fisher, a member of the Federal Reserve's policy-making arm, says inflation is gaining momentum and the Fed "will not tolerate inflation.'' But he added, that doesn't mean the central bank needs "to take a sledgehammer to the economy.'' Fisher also told a meeting of real estate executives in Dallas that there's no recession in sight despite the slowdown in the housing market. He's believed to be the first member of the Federal Open Market Committee to speak publicly since last week, when the panel voted not to raise key short-term interest rates. There's been much speculation whether that represents merely a pause or whether the Fed is through raising rates after 17 consecutive increases over more than two years.


JetBlue Airways has made special Blue Barrel Fares available for travel from Houston based on the price of a barrel of oil at each day's market close, according to the Houston Business Journal. For example, on Tuesday the one-way fare was $73 based on the previous day's market activity. The fares are available though August 21st for New York City; Boston; Burlington, Vermont, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, New York; Pittsburg, Portland, Maine; Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C.


Houston-based Consolidated Graphics has purchased Ontario-based Annan & Bird Lithographers for an undisclosed sum. Consolidated now has operations in 26 states and the province of Ontario.


Houston-based Creekstone Partners has purchased an office building on Enclave Parkway in a $22.4 million deal. The six-story structure with four-level parking garage was built in 1999 as the headquarters for Cabot Oil & Gas. This is Creekstone's third local office acquisition in the past three months.


Houston-based oilfield services provider Baker Hughes has purchased a Siberian unit of BP's venture in Russia. It's the TNK-BP unit. Baker Hughes did not disclose the price.


Those who buy prepaid cell phones in bulk to resell for profit are raising terrorism suspicions for law enforcement officials. They're also causing big problems for wireless providers. Roger Entner of the consulting firm Ovum says such profiteering hurts cell phone companies. He says prepaid phones cost their makers around $80 to $100 to make. They then sell the phones for $20 to $70 in the hope that customers will continue to load more minutes onto the phone and make the company money. But Joe Farren--a spokesman for CTIA--the wireless association--says people are buying prepaid cell phones at discount stores and selling them across the border for profit. Three Dallas-area men were arrested last week in Michigan with about a thousand cell phones in their vehicle--most of them prepaid TracFones. Local prosecutors accused them of collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts, contending they were targeting a key bridge. But the FBI says it has no evidence to show the men had any direct link to known terrorist groups. The men told a magistrate they were simply buying the phones to resell them for a profit. A lawyer for the Texans is seeking to have their bail reduced on the basis of statements by federal and state authorities--who've downplayed any alleged threat, for Maruan Muhareb of Mesquite, Adham Othman of Dallas and Louai Othman of mesquite. The Othmans are brothers and Muhareb is their cousin. They're U.S. citizens of Palestinian descent. The prosecutor in Michigan has defended his decision to bring terrorism charges. He has has turned over to federal authorities the case of three men he charged with terrorism-related offenses. Prosecutor Mark Reene said he's asked a judge to dismiss the state charges, saying that the U.S. Attorney's Office had issued its own charges against the Texans. They're charged with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes. Bond is $750,000 for each man.


Austin is considering restricting the hours and location of mobile taco stands. It's an effort relieve tension between vendors and neighbors who complain about unsavory late-night crowds. Austin police say the stands draw crowds when the bars close and can be the scene of nuisance crimes as well as violent offenses. A subcommittee of the Austin Planning Commission yesterday recommended that vendors be required to stay at least 100 feet away from residences. The group also recommends limiting the stands' hours, depending on how far the stands are from residences. The stands are already required to close between 3 a.m. and 6 a-m. Apolinar Cadena, a taco stand owner who heads a group of vendors, says he thinks the proposed ordinance is acceptable. But he says vendors don't believe their businesses generate noise and bad behavior.


Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...