News bytes: Diesel prices, Driving sans pants, Willie’s Place to be Petro

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Commodities speculation back in the spotlight 
The commodities futures positions limits problem is back in the TV news via a series on liberal populist host Ed Schultz’ “Ed Show” this week. The first spot in the series distilled the history of the elimination of position limits that I’ve written about some over the years, most recently in a discussion of the Griftopia book as oil/diesel prices continued their long rise, which began late last summer in an eery-seeming repeat of the 2007-08 situation.

As the book pointed out, as does the most recent show, crises in Arab countries and supply and demand considerations are often trotted out by experts in the lead of a huge speculative wave of money into the commodities markets, exploiting traditional speculators’ hedges to maximum profit via self-reinforcing, investment-driven price rises. Restoring position limits of some level was enabled by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill last year, but the Commodities Futures Trading Commission has yet to act on making the regulation due to a split on the board, detailed in the show from Monday. And in a choice moment, Schultz rehashes the agreement on the position limits fix held by, gulp, Bill O’Reilly and none other than Dennis Kucinich. This is one that crosses political lines, folks. . .

Watch the full Ed Show spot on commodities speculation here.

Willie’s Place to be a Petro
News today is that TravelCenter of America purchased the Willie’s Place property on March 1 with intention to turn it into a new Petro. Read the full story here. You’ll remember my reporting on the stop’s closure from a month or so back. If you missed it, revisit the news here, including interviews with regulars and a former waitress in the truckstop’s restaurant.  

Look Ma, no pants!
A Chicago intermodal hauler was stopped for erratic driving last week in Indiana by state police who “made a couple quick observations” about said driver, reported the Commercial-News of Danville, Ill. One of said observations was that he was wearing only boxer shorts and a t-shirt, but I don’t think he was in a situation akin to the one Overdrive 2010 Trucker of the Year Mike Crawford found himself in last year wearing a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants boxers in the truckstop coffee line, which was more of an honest mistake.

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The Chicago driver was arrested and later charged with driving while intoxicated and issued traffic citations and logbook violations.