War Resumes in Ukraine

Ukraine’s President Says All Ukrainians Who Reject His Government Should Die

Ukraine Violates Ceasefire Agreement w. Russia and OSCE, Re-Invades Its East

Eric Zuesse

On October 30th, the Novorossian press agency announced that on the prior day, Ukrainian troops had resumed their heavy shelling of towns in the former Luhansk and Donetsk Republics, two regions which had been joined together as a new nation Novorussia, and which had originally been Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk administrative districts, bordering with Russia.

This shelling went way beyond merely violating the ceasefire agreement, and the Ukrainian Government was now in open and public violation of it, and in public contempt of it. Ukraine had signed in Minsk Belarus an agreement on September 5th, the Minsk Protocol, along with the leaders of those two breakaway regions, and also with Russia’s Ukrainian Ambassador, and with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) as the monitor of compliance with this agreement. However, now, the Ukrainian Government is no longer pretending to be complying with it. On October 29th, Russia’s RIA Novosti press agency bannered, ”Kiev Withdraws From Delineation Agreement With East Ukraine: DPR,” and reported that “Kiev has withdrawn from the delineation agreement it signed with Donetsk authorities without any explanation, the deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said.” There was no announcement yet from the Ukrainian Government, however.

The reason for Ukraine’s evident unequivocal noncompliance had actually been stated on October 23rd by the country’s President, Petro Poroshenko, speaking in the Southeastern city of Odessa, the city where the Ukrainian civil war had started on May 2nd. It had started when far-right operatives who were paid by an Obama-Administration-connected Oligarch, Ihor Kolomoysky, herded dozens of separatist demonstrators there into Odessa’s Trade Unions Building and then lobbed Molotov cocktails and firebombs into the building and burnt these people alive. The Ukrainian Government refused to prosecute anyone for it, and the U.S. Government and other Western governments didn’t even request them to do so. However, this action, which was done unofficially by or on behalf of the new “pro-Western Government” that had only recently been very violently installed in Ukraine on 22 February 2014, was a massacre of regular Odessa civilians who did not like their new, coup-imposed, Government. And on October 23rd, Ukraine’s President went to the scene of the crime, Odessa, and, for the first time publicly, he endorsed it. This new regime had been imposed after an extraordinarily bloody U.S. coup (likewise uninvestigated and uncharged, with the full approval of the U.S. Government), and the people who were burnt alive in Odessa on May 2nd had been opposing it. They had been printing and distributing literature against it. That was their only offense, if such it be. (And that wouldn’t be any offense in any authentic democracy.) The people who were incinerated represented half of Ukraine. In Odessa and throughout the southeastern portion of Ukraine these were the vast majority of the residents, but after the coup, they lived in fear, and most of them just kept quiet. The people who were incinerated here were among the courageous and bold exceptions. The vast majority of Ukrainians in the entire southeastern half of Ukraine had voted for the man whom the coup overthrew. The fact that now, the leader of the coup-installed regime was even praising as heroes the perpetrators of the May 2nd massacre, would re-spark, and was probably intended to re-spark, and to cow, the mass-fear throughout the southeast, the fear that this new Ukrainian Government really did want them all dead, to such an extreme extent they would now try to finish the job that they had begun and suspended. This statement by Poroshenko was basically a pre-announcement that he would resume the bombing-campaign against the southeast.

In Poroshenko’s October 23rd statement in Odessa, he said that the May 2 massacre and burning of the Odessa House of Trade Unions was necessary “because we see now what happens if we had not stopped the attempt of the separatists.” Poroshenko called Odessa the “City of Bandera.” Stepan Bandera was a legendary hero to Ukraine’s nazis, because Bandera had worked with Hitler’s forces during World War II in order to rid Ukraine of Russians primarily, but also of Jews. He wanted a 100% Ukrainian-ethnic Ukraine. Poroshenko was now indirectly saying that hatred of Russians (such as are the vast majority of residents in Ukraine’s southeast) is a trait of the people in Odessa, and an admirable heroic one, for all true Ukrainians to feel proud of. Ukraine’s President was saying that this act of burning ethnic Russians who live in Ukraine, burning the people who had voted overwhelmingly for the previous, pro-Russian, President of Ukraine, people who rejected Ukraine’s new and rabidly anti-Russian Government, was an action of high honor to this “City of Bandera,” an act of Ukrainian patriotism.

There was no official English-language translation of that speech by President Poroshenko; but, within southeastern Ukraine, this statement by the nation’s President offended many people, because they didn’t think that such a massacre was a badge of honor at all. To the contrary. In fact, the May 2nd massacre had been the spark that had actually ignited Ukraine’s civil war, because it gave inspiration to Ukrainians in the southeast to separate themselves altogether from Ukraine’s new Government, since that Government clearly wanted them dead. And now Ukraine’s President publicly said as much.

Also on October 30th, was published to the Web an announcement which the Russian Foreign Ministry had privately communicated to the Ukrainian Government the prior day, headlined ”Russian Foreign Ministry statement on the implementation of the Minsk agreements on a settlement in Ukraine and elections in its southeastern regions.” This private “statement,” being made public now a day later, formally rejects “the ultimatum issued by Kiev and some Western capitals that elections not be held in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.”

Ukraine’s President Poroshenko demands that elections there be delayed, and be held under the auspices of his Government, not of any separatist one. The elections, as per the Minsk agreement, are planned to occur on November 2nd. Poroshenko demands that they be postponed. Russia rejects that. And Poroshenko has already begun his renewed invasion.

Now the second round of the war starts, presumably after both sides have received new training and new armaments from their respective sponsors: the U.S. and its allies, for the Ukrainian Government; and Russia, for the separatist government.

Obviously, the separatist government does not want to be invaded again. But perhaps some way can be found to pin the blame for the war’s resumption on them. Perhaps the news media on one of the sides will be inclined to find some way to do that. In any case, the war will resume with many public disputes, just as it has been surrounded with many public disputes, up till now.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Is Ebola Airborne? A Literature Review

Video by Ian Goddard:

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Saturday Night Live On Ebola

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Globalization = Permanent Instability

Globalization continually creates imbalances that fuel a perpetual instability that gradually impoverishes every sector other than global capital.

Globalization has two guaranteed consequences: permanent instability and endless boom-and-bust cycles. As noted in Forget “Free Trade”–Focus on Capital Flows, the key engine of globalization is mobile capital: capital that can borrow money for next to nothing in one nation and then move that capital to other nations where yields are higher and opportunities for exploitation riper.

This mobility of capital is an enormous benefit to the owners of the capital, but it creates extraordinary instability for those who are not as mobile. When mobile capital encounters anything that reduces profits–higher taxes and rising labor costs, competition or restrictive regulations–it closes factories and fires its workers in that locale and shifts to another locale with greater opportunities for high returns.

The workers left behind have limited means to replace the lost wages, and the local government often has few resources to repair any damage left by the exploitation of resources. The advantage of mobility is reserved for capital, and to the relatively limited cohort of workers who can immigrate to other nations to find work.

This illustrates two key ontological characteristics of financialized globalization: perpetual instability and a never-ending cycle of boom and bustas capital sparks rapid development in one locale and then moves elsewhere once profits decline.

The scale of global capital is difficult to grasp; trillions of central bank-issued dollars, euros, yen and renminbi are sloshing around the global economy, seeking low-risk profits.

Capital has no loyalty to anything but its own expansion, and the damage it leaves in its wake is of no concern to the owners of capital.

There are even less visible consequences to the globalization of markets, capital and labor. Once goods and services are priced globally, local supply and demand no longer set the local price. As my colleague Mark G. has observed, consumer prices can rise even if there are deflationary surpluses in the local economy because price is set by global supply and demand. As a result, measuring inflation and deflation locally is meaningless in a globalized economy.

This financialized globalization of goods, services, credit and currencies continually creates imbalances that fuel a perpetual instability that gradually impoverishes every sector other than global capital, which being mobile, can exploit the imbalances for its own profit.

Correspondent Mark G. recommended a recent article by China-based economist Michael Pettis, How to link Australian iron with Marine le Pen:

“In a ‘globalized’ world, no country, not even the US, can protect itself from the consequences of imbalances elsewhere. The global economy is a system in which certain types of imbalances are impossible. I especially focus on the requirement that global savings and global investment always balance, but there are others. Because an imbalance at the global level is impossible. if there are imbalances in one country or region, there necessarily must be the opposite imbalances in another, and the more open an economy, the more likely it is to respond to imbalances elsewhere.

It is impossible, in other words, to understand any non-autarchic economy in the world except in the context of global imbalances.

As I say in my book, The Great Rebalancing: Trade, Conflict, and the Perilous Road Ahead for the World Economy, in a globalized world anything that affects the relationship between savings and investment in one country–and nearly everything affects that relationship — must have the opposite effect on the rest of the world. There is no way of escaping the fact that imbalances generated in one country become a problem for everyone.”

Here is Mark’s commentary:

The logically following converse of Pettis’ point is that only economies enjoying autarchy in any category of economic activity can ever hope to reach reasonable price stability in those activities, and then only if these activities are also made non-tradable by local practice. Restated, “free trade” between large central states is a prescription for perpetual instability at all levels.

Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage is only advantageous if you enjoy an advantage in a particular field. Otherwise it is merely a road map to rapid impoverishment. The only localized response–even at continental level–is to embark on a series of successive financial bubbles. This is pretty much what we’ve seen everywhere in the world for the last three decades.

Thank you, Mark, for summarizing the consequence of central bank-funded mobile capital and the imbalances and boom-bust cycles this free money for financiersgenerates globally.

Of related interest: A Thought Experiment in American Autarky (January 17, 2014)


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Top Experts Agree: Ebola Can Spread Via Aerosols

It’s Insane that Frontline Healthcare Workers Still Aren’t Wearing Respirators

WND reports:

A U.S. government agency has warned preliminary data shows Ebola is aerostable, meaning it can survive in the air and potentially be transmitted via airborne means.

The document was released in a federal government announcement seeking research proposals from private firms for Ebola treatment and diagnosis tools, including for the rapid disinfection of an “aerosol” version of the virus.

***

Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Department of Defense’s Combat Support Agency for countering weapons of mass destruction.

The agency report states “preliminary studies indicate that Ebola is aerostable in an enclosed controlled system in the dark and can survive for long periods in different liquid media and can also be recovered from plastic and glass surfaces at low temperatures for over 3 weeks.”

Scientists from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases found that Ebola can be transmitted by aerosol.

A study by a British government defense lab found:

All three filoviruses under investigation [Ebola is a type of filovirus; the study involved two strains of Ebola and one strain of Marburg] could be detected after 90 min in a dynamic aerosol ….

This week, even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) admitted that Ebola can travel through the air in aerosols. CDC scientists had previously admitted this in 1999.

Two top national infectious disease experts, a top public health expert and many others agree.

So why aren’t the frontline healthcare workers treating Ebola patients wearing respirators?  It makes absolutely no sense.

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57 Candidates and Nothing On

I was lucky to attend a debate among the candidates for Congress from Virginia’s Fifth District just before game 7 of the world series. This was the kind of event you can write about while drinking beer and yelling at a television with your family. In fact, I’m not sure there’s any other way you could write about it.

Here are our choices for the House of Misrepresentatives:

The incumbent Robert Hurt, a fairly typically horrendous Republican, if a bit less of a warmonger than his Democratic predecessor, didn’t make a fool of himself at all on Wednesday evening. On the contrary, he disgraced himself by not showing up. Of course, the debate was in the left-leaning corner of a district gerrymandered to keep him in Washington for life, barring a mass movement of a few thousand people for one of his opponents. He would have answered most of the evening’s questions as badly or worse than anyone else there, and that’s saying something. One of the questions, submitted by me on a 3×5 card, was this:

Roughly 53% of federal discretionary spending goes to militarism. How much should?

I doubt very much that Hurt would have answered the question clearly and directly had he been there.

Ken Hildebrandt, an Independent Green who spoke often if vaguely about cutting the military, answered my question by offering arguments that UFOs had visited Roswell. Asked about climate change, he argued that chem-trails from airplanes are manipulating our weather. Pretty much all the other questions he answered: “Hemp.” Hildebrandt is a bit of a mixed bag. He wants progressive taxation but no gun laws. He wants single-payer health coverage but calls it “public option” and claims that life expectancy in the United States is in the 40s. (During the whole debate, neither the moderator nor any candidate ever corrected another’s factual errors, and the opportunities were plentiful.) Hildebrandt wants to stop subsidizing Lockheed and Boeing, but has nothing to say on a lot of topics, seems to think the two men sitting next to him would be about as good in office as he would, runs for office every two years as a routine, has a wife running in the next district, and — less peacefully than one might wish — calls the incumbent a “monster.”

Behind Curtain 2 is Paul Jones, a Libertarian. He said he’d cut military spending in half immediately, that it’s not defensive. “Who’s going to attack us?” he asks. “It’s ludicrous! The reason they would attack us is that we’re over there all the time. . . . Nobody ever wins a war.” Not bad, huh? He wants to end the surveillance state too. Of course, you had to be there to hear him mumble it all. But here’s the downside. He wants that $500,000,000,000 to all go into tax cuts. He also objects to the term “discretionary spending.” It’s all discretionary, he says, no matter what some politician says (such as in a law putting Social Security out of his government-shrinking reach). Also he’d like to cut most of the rest of the government too, including eliminating a bunch of departments — although, unlike Rick Perry, he didn’t attempt to name any of them. He also wants to pay off the debt, use the free market for healthcare (while assisting the poor) and get immigrants to start paying taxes (huh?). He claims no laws can keep guns from criminals or the mentally ill. He claims that India produces more greenhouse gases than the United States.

Last up is Democrat Lawrence Gaughan. He was the most professional, articulate presence. He said he agreed with the other two gentlemen a lot, but it wasn’t clear what he meant. He said he agreed “100%” with Jones on military spending. So, does he want to cut it by 50% right away? Will he introduce a bill to do that? He criticized Hurt for supporting the new war in Iraq. He called the Pentagon a “Department of Offense.” But he said repeatedly that he would cut $1 trillion in military spending, which obviously meant $1 trillion over some number of years, probably at best 10 years, which would mean $100 billion a year. He claimed that the Democratic Party opposes war. And he claimed that his pro-war predecessor Tom Perriello is working with President Obama to reduce overseas bases. (All of this with a very straight face.)

That combination of comments makes Gaughan by far the best Democratic or Republican candidate in this district in living memory, but a bit of a question mark in terms of follow through. Hildebrandt said he wouldn’t have compromised on “public option.” Gaughan said that he both favored “public option” (clearly meaning to say “single payer”) and would have sought a “more bi-partisan solution.” Wow. Gaughan is not even in DC yet and he’s talking as if we’re bothered by “gridlock” more than bad healthcare. He wants to tax corporations and billionaires. He mentions “the 1%” a lot. But he favors a “leaner, more efficient government.” Hildebrandt mentioned publicly financed elections. Gaughan said he wanted to “get the money out of elections” without saying how. He wants immigrants to have a path to citizenship, and he wants to “tighten borders.” He sees the top problem as the concentration of wealth and power, but he sees the root cause of that as low voter turnout (what?). He’s for background checks on guns and recognizing the reality of climate change, but one doesn’t sense a major push for radical transformation. He talks about saving the climate by creating a better America, not a better planet.

Gaughan said he wasn’t taking money from the Democratic Party in Washington. That makes him different from Perriello, who proved very obedient to his “leaders.” No doubt the DCCC isn’t offering money because they don’t think any Democrat has a chance in VA-05. If we were to elect Gaughan, he might not lead Congress toward peace and justice, but he’d come a lot closer to actually meriting the praise that liberal groups gave Perriello, and he just might be answerable to the people who elected him rather than the party that didn’t buy his ticket to Washington. A liberal Democratic Party elections group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is basing its national elect-Democrats work out of Charlottesville, but none of the candidates they’re backing are from Virginia.

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Google Survey: Majority of US Citizens Think US Gives Too Much to Israel

The majority of US citizens, according to a Google Consumer Survey (cited here), think the US gives too much aid to Israel:

Today 6 in 10 Americans believe the U.S. gives too much aid to Israel

Surveying Americans about U.S. aid to Israel requires putting it into proper perspective. Given Israel’s position as the leading single U.S. foreign aid recipient (by a wide margin), as in 1989 asking the foreign aid question requires embedding relevant data to obtain a bona fide response.  When such data is included, the majority of Americans (60.7 percent) believe U.S. aid to Israel is excessive.  The major response, that aid to Israel is “Much too much” is 33.9 percent of Americans.  Some 26.8 percent believe it is “too much” while 25.9 percent believe it is “about right.” Only 13.4 percent of Americans believe U.S. aid to Israel is not enough.

The policy and political implications of this finding are stark.  Elected officials passing ever larger aid packages and supplemental spending for Israel simply cannot claim they are representing the majority interests of their constituents.  American presidents proclaiming the U.S.‐Israel bond is “unbreakable” cannot claim such a bond is willingly underwritten by U.S. taxpayers.  The finding also shines yet more light on Israel lobby organizations as the major factor coming between most constituents and their representatives and quietly working to ensure that Israel’s majority share of the U.S. foreign aid budget continues.

The survey also finds that, in particular, younger US citizens are strongly opposed to the amount of US aid that goes to Israel, and, crucially, finds that “Only the Wealthiest Americans believe U.S. aid is ‘about right’”:

The only category of Americans (47.6 percent) who believed U.S. aid for Israel is “about right” is the segment earning $150,000 or more (although even 42.9 percent in that category thought aid was too high).  The next lower income category, $100,000‐149,000 is the most vehemently opposed to aid, with 79.5 percent believing it is too high (42.9 percent responding “much too much” and 36.6 percent “too much.”)

While the Google report says the findings are “stark”, they are precisely consistent with the findings of the recent study out of Cornell and Northwestern universities, the largest study of its kind to date, which looked at nearly 1,800 individual US policy issues and found that the average US citizen has zero impact on those policies, while the wealthiest citizens essentially get exactly what they want, meaning they dictate US policy (and they largely comprise the US government).

This Google survey simply singles out one of the policy issues, which together illustrate that the USA is not a democracy, but a society in which people are allowed to choose which of two corporate-backed figureheads they want as the face of an oligarchy that dictates government policy in its own interest.

It is also worth noting here that 1) the top ten recipients of US aid (with Israel as #1) all, like the US itself, have torture regimes, 2) US law “prohibit[s] U.S. foreign aid to nuclear weapons states such as Israel that are not signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”, and 3) Obama, while repeatedly insisting the US is a “nation of laws”, requested more military aid for Israel than any president ever (among many other blatantly illegal acts).

Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

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No More Wars on Anything

Searching new articles on ye olde internets the past couple of days for the word “war,” I turned up roughly equal uses of “war” to refer to wars and to refer to other things entirely. Apparently there is a war on graft, a propaganda war, a number of price wars, a war of words, a Republican war on women, and a woman who has been breast-feeding and is now suffering from “war-torn nipples.”

While a war on women or a war on the poor can involve as much cruelty and suffering as an actual war, it isn’t an actual war. It’s a different phenomenon, requiring a different set of solutions.

While a war on terror or a war on drugs can include actual war, it is not just actual war, and it is better understood if its components are split apart.

While a cyber war can cause damage, it is a very different creature from a, you know, war war — different physically, visually, legally, morally, and in terms of measures of prevention.

A war on poverty or racism or any bad thing that we want eliminated is quite different from a war on a nation or a population which, typically, only a certain section of a war’s supporters actually wants eliminated.

I don’t just mean that other wars fail to compare to war in terms of investment (“If the war on poverty were a real war we’d actually be putting money into it!”). I mean that war is entirely the wrong way, metaphorically or literally, to think about ending poverty.

And I don’t just mean that war always fails, although it does. (“The war on terror has brought more terror and the war on drugs has brought more drugs; maybe we should have a war on happiness!”) I mean that war is a violent, reckless, irrational lashing out at a problem in order to very noisily make seen than one is “doing something.” This is entirely different from trying to develop a world without poverty or without racism or — for that matter — without war. You cannot have a war upon the makers of war and expect to get peace out of it.

It is certainly important to recognize who is causing a problem. The 1% is hoarding wealth and imposing poverty. Promoters of sexism are driving sexism. Et cetera. But treating them as war enemies makes no more sense, and will work no better, than your local police treating your public demonstration as an act of terrorism. We don’t have to kill the 1% or win them over. We have to win over and engage in strategic nonviolent action with enough people to control our world.

War language in non-war discourse in our culture is not limited to the word “war” but includes the full range of barbaric, counter-productive, advocacy of violence — serious, metaphorical, and joking. The “war on crime” includes state-sanctioned murder and worse. Wars on abortion doctors and sex offenders and political opponents include state-modeled murder. The state uses murder to relate to other states, as individuals use it to relate to other individuals.

Acceptance of war, of course, makes it easier to use war language in other settings. If war were thought of as something as evil as slavery or rape or child abuse, we wouldn’t be so eager to launch a war on cancer (or send soldiers to kill Ebola). But acceptance of the war metaphor throughout our lives must also make it easier to accept actual war. If we have a war on cancer, why in the world not have a war on beheaders? If there’s a war on women, why not launch a war to defend every right of women except the right not to be bombed?

I’m proposing that we try thinking differently as well as talking differently, that our foreign policy make use of diplomacy, aid, and the rule of law, rather than mass-murder — or what might in strategic terms be called terrorism generation; and that our domestic policies follow suit, that we don’t just madly attack social ills, but transform the systems that generate them. A war on climate change doesn’t sound like it includes a radical reduction in consumerism and capitalism, as it must. It sounds more like a big but token investment in solar panels and perhaps a very shiny train. And a war on climate change is already something the Pentagon is beginning to use to mean actual war on human beings.

So, how should we talk differently? Here’s one idea for certain contexts: Instead of engaging in a war on poverty, lets work on the movement to abolish poverty, to end poverty, or to eliminate or overcome poverty, to make poverty a thing of the past. Instead of lamenting a war on women, let’s work to expose and put a stop to cruelty, abuse, violence, unfairness, brutality, and discrimination against women. In doing so, we can be more specific about what the problems and solutions are. Instead of a war on graft, let’s end political corruption. Instead of a propaganda war, let’s expose propaganda and counter it with accurate information and calm, wise understanding. Instead of price wars, market competition. Instead of a war of words, rudeness. I imagine most people can rewrite “war-torn nipples” without much assistance.

A logical place to start, I think, is on a campaign to abolish (not wage war on) war.

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Japan Reacts to Worsening Fukushima Disaster By … Reopening Nuclear Plant Next to Active Volcano Which Is About to Blow

D’oh!

Scientists warned that an earthquake could take out Fukushima. The Japanese ignored the warning … and even tore down the natural seawall which protected Fukushima from tidal waves.

Fukushima is getting worse.  And see this and this.

Have the Japanese learned their lesson? Are they decommissioning nuclear plants which are built in dangerous environments?

Of course not!

Instead, they’re re-starting a nuclear plant near a volcano which is about to blow …

A month ago, there was an eruption at Mt. Ontake:

Ontake2
Screenshot from Youtube Video shot on September 29th of Mount erupting. 57 hikers were killed by the explosion

Embedded image permalink

But – as Newsweek reports – a nuclear plant only 40 miles away will be re-started anyway:

Local officials have voted to reopen a nuclear plant in Japan, despite warnings of increased volcanic activity in the region from scientists.

The decision comes despite a warning on Friday that Japan’s Seismological Agency had documented an increase of activity in the Ioyama volcano, located 40 miles away from the power station.

***

Sendai will become the first Japanese nuclear plant to reopen in since 2011.

However the decision comes as scientific authorities warned of increased seismic activity on the island. Volcanologists have warned that the 2011 earthquake, which measured 9.0 on the Richter scale, may have increased the likelihood of volcanic activity throughout the region. [Background.]

***

The Sendai plant is also situated only 31 miles from Mount Sakurajima, an extremely active volcano which erupts on a regular basis.

The documentation of new activity comes barely a month after the eruption of Mount Ontake, when 57 hikers were killed on its slopes. There were no accompanying signs of seismic activity prior to the eruption which might have alerted Japanese authorities to the impending disaster.

The vote has been seen as an attempt to resurrect the country’s nuclear industry, which the  Japanese government hopes to restart despite public opposition to nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

***

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved Sendai’s safety features in September, but the plant must still pass operational safety checks before it will be able to reopen.

What could possibly go wrong?

Here’s a hint:

A cauldron eruption at one of several volcanoes surrounding the Sendai nuclear power plant could hit the reactors and cause a nationwide disaster, said Toshitsugu Fujii, head of a government-commissioned panel on volcanic eruption prediction.

Ene News explains:

Wall St Journal, Oct. 23, 2014 (emphasis added):  One major volcanic eruption could make Japanextinct,” a study by experts at Kobe University warns… “We should be aware… It wouldn’t be a surprise if such gigantic eruption were to take place at any moment.”

Japan Times, Oct. 24, 2014: Colossal volcanic eruption could destroy Japan at any time: study — Japan could be nearly destroyed by a volcanic eruption over the next century that would put nearly all of its population of 127 million people at risk… “It is not an overstatement to say that a colossal volcanic eruption would leave Japan extinct as a country,” Kobe University earth sciences professor Yoshiyuki Tatsumi and associate professor Keiko Suzuki said… A disaster on Kyushu… would see an area with 7 million people buried by flows of lava and molten rock in just two hours [and] making nearly the entire country “unlivable”… It would be “hopeless” trying to save about 120 million

Japan Times, Oct. 24, 2014: Volcano near Sendai nuclear plant is shaking and may eruptAuthorities warned on Friday that a volcano a few dozen kilometers from the Sendai nuclear plant may erupt. It warned people to stay away… Ioyama [shows] signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven minutes… the Meteorological Agency’s volcano division said… [T]he area around the crater is dangerous, he added… On Friday, the warning level for the Sakurajima volcano was at 3, which means people should not approach the peak… Experts warn [the] earthquake in March 2011 may have increased the risk of volcanic activity throughout the nation

Japan Times, Oct 18, 2014: Sendai reactors vulnerable to eruptions [and] could cause a nationwide disaster, said Toshitsugu Fujii, University of Tokyo professor emeritus who heads a government-commissioned panel… [R]egulators ruled out a major eruption… [Fujii] said at best an eruption can be predicted only a matter of hours or days. Studies have shown that pyroclastic flow… at one of the volcanos near the Sendai plant… reached as far as 145 kilometers away, Fujii said. He said a pyroclastic flow from Mount Sakurajima… could easily hit the nuclear plant, which is only 40 kilometers away. Heavy ash falling from an eruption would make it impossible to reach the plant… he said. Many nuclear power plants could be affected

Asahi Shimbun, May 12, 2014: Now is the time to rethink the risk of operating nuclear power plants… it is the first time that Japan has seriously evaluated… the danger posed by volcanoes… Nuclear power plantswould suffer devastating damage from catastrophic eruptions… radioactive materials will continue to be scattered throughout the world

University of Tokyo professor Toshitsugu Fujii, head of government panel on eruption prediction: “Scientifically, they’re not safe… If [reactors] still need to be restarted… it’s for political reasons, not because they’re safe, and you should be honest about that.”

Postscript: The U.S. isn’t much better. Moreover, the U.S. is forcing Japan to re-start it’s nuclear reactors … and the U.S. almost wholly controls Japanese nuclear policy.

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Forget “Free Trade”–Focus on Capital Flows

In a world dominated by mobile capital, mobile capital is the comparative advantage.

Defenders and critics of “free trade” and globalization tend to present the issue as either/or: it’s inherently good or bad. In the real world, it’s not that simple. The confusion starts with defining free trade (and by extension, globalization).

In the classical definition of free trade espoused by 18th century British economist David Ricardo, trade is generally thought of as goods being shipped from one nation to another to take advantage of what Ricardo termed comparative advantage: nations would benefit by exporting whatever they produced efficiently and importing what they did not produce efficiently.

While Ricardo’s concept of free trade is intuitively appealing because it is win-win for importer and exporter, it doesn’t describe the consequences of the mobility of capital. Capital–cash, credit, tools and the intangible capital of expertise–moves freely around the globe seeking the highest possible return, pursuing the prime directive of capital: expand or die.

Capital that fails to expand will stagnate or shrink. If the contraction continues unchecked, the capital eventually vanishes.

The mobility of capital radically alters the simplistic 18th century view of free trade. In today’s world, trade can not be coherently measured as goods moving between nations, because capital from the importing nation owns the productive assets in the exporting nation. If Apple owns a factory (or joint venture) in China and collects virtually all the profits from the iGadgets produced there, this reality cannot be captured by the models of simple trade described by Ricardo.

In today’s globalized version of “free trade,” mobile capital can arbitrage labor, currencies, interest rates, regulatory burdens and political favors by shifting between nations and assets. Trying to account for trade in the 18th century manner of goods shipped between nations is nonsensical when components come from a number of nations and profits flow not to the nation of origin but to the owners of capital.

This was recently described in a Foreign Affairs article, (Mis)leading Indicators:

If trade numbers more accurately accounted for how products are made, it is possible that the United States would not have any trade deficit at all with China. The problem, in short, is that trade figures are currently calculated based on the assumption that each product has a single country of origin and that the declared value of that product goes to that country.Thus, every time an iPhone or an iPad rolls off the factory floors of Foxconn (Apple’s main contractor in China) and travels to the port of Long Beach, California, it is counted as an import from China, since that is where it undergoes its final “substantial transformation,” which is the criterion the WTO uses to determine which goods to assign to which countries.

Every iPhone that Apple sells in the United States adds roughly $200 to the U.S.-Chinese trade deficit, according to the calculations of three economists who looked at the issue in 2010. That means that by 2013, Apple’s U.S. iPhone sales alone were adding $6-$8 billion to the trade deficit with China every year, if not more.

A more reasonable standard, of course, would recognize that iPhones and iPads do not have a single country of origin. More than a dozen companies from at least five countries supply parts for them. Infineon Technologies, in Germany, makes the wireless chip; Toshiba, in Japan, manufactures the touchscreen; and Broadcom, in the United States, makes the Bluetooth chips that let the devices connect to wireless headsets or keyboards.

Analysts differ over how much of the final price of an iPhone or an iPad should be assigned to what country, but no one disputes that the largest slice should go not to China but to the United States. That intellectual property, along with the marketing, is the largest source of the iPhone’s value.

Taking these facts into account would leave China, the supposed country of origin, with a paltry piece of the pie. Analysts estimate that as little as $10 of the value of every iPhone or iPad actually ends up in the Chinese economy, in the form of income paid directly to Foxconn or other contractors.

In a world dominated by mobile capital, mobile capital is the comparative advantage. Mobile capital can borrow billions of dollars (or equivalent) in one nation at low rates of interest and then use that money to outbid domestic capital for assets in another nation with few sources of credit.

Mobile capital can overwhelm the local political system, buying favors and cutting deals, all with cash borrowed at near-zero interest rates. Mobile capital can buy up and exploit resources and cheap labor until the resource is depleted or competition cuts profit margins. At that point, mobile capital closes the factories, fires the employees and moves on.

Where is the “free trade” in a world in which the comparative advantage is always held by mobile capital? And what gives mobile capital its essentially unlimited leverage? Central banks issuing trillions of dollars in nearly-free money to banks and other financial institutions that funnel the free cash to corporations and financiers, who can then roam the world snapping up assets and arbitraging global imbalances with nearly-free money.

There’s nothing remotely “free” about trade based not on Ricardo’s simple concept of comparative advantage but on capital flows unleashed by central bank liquidity.


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What’s Behind Lower Gas-Prices and the Bombings of Syria and of Southeastern Ukraine

 

Obama Represents U.S. & Arabic Aristocracies, Against Those of Russia & Iran.

Eric Zuesse

 

INTRODUCTION:

Why is the Ukrainian Government, which the U.S. supports, bombing the pro-Russian residents who live in Ukraine’s own southeast?

Why is the American Government, which aims to oust Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad, bombing his main enemy, ISIS?

This report will document that both bombings are different parts of the same Obama-initiated business-operation, in which the American aristocracy, Saudi aristocracy, and Qatari aristocracy, work together, to grab dominance over supplying energy to the world’s biggest energy-market, Europe, away from Russia, which currently is by far Europe’s largest energy-supplier.

Here are the actual percentage-figures on that: Russia supplies 38% of it, #2 Norway (the only European nation among the top 15) supplies 18%, and all other countries collectively supply a grand total of 44%. That’s it; that’s all — in the world’s largest energy-market, Russia is the lone giant. But U.S. President Obama’s team are working hard to change that, to do a huge favor for the royals of Saudi Arabia and of Qatar, and yank that business for them. (Unfortunately, the residents in southeastern Ukraine are being bombed and driven out to become refugees in Russia, as an essential part of this operation to choke off Russia’s gas-supply into Europe and transfer that business mainly to those royals. This objective against Russia and for those royals is considered to be far more important than its many thousands of victims are, and no one in the Obama Administration has provided any indication — at least publicly — that tears have been shed there for the residents in southeast Ukraine who have been mass-murdered and for the roughly million of them who have fled to refuge and safety in Russia to escape being bombed by the America’s new client-state, the Ukrainian Government.)

Obama has initiated, and is leading, this international aristocratic team, consisting of the U.S. aristocracy and mainly two Sunni Moslem aristocracies — the Saudi and the Qatari royal families — to choke off Russia’s economic lifeblood from those European energy sales, and to transfer lots of this business, via new oil and gas pipeline contracts and new international trade-deals, over to the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Those royals, in turn, are assisting Obama in the overthrow of the key Russia-allied leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, who has performed an indispensable role for Russia in blocking any such massive expansion of Saudi and Qatari energy-traffic into Europe, and who has thus been a vital protector of Russia’s dominance in the European energy-market.

America’s aristocracy would be benefited in many ways from this changeover to Europe’s increasing dependence upon those Sunni Moslem nations, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have long been allied with U.S. oil companies, and away from the Shiite Moslem nation of Iran, and from Iran’s key backer, Russia.

The most important way that America’s aristocrats would benefit from the deal would be the continuance, for the indefinite future, of the U.S. dollar’s role as the international reserve currency, in which energy and energy-futures are traded. The Sunni nations are committed to continued dominance of the dollar, and Wall Street depends on that continuance. It’s also one of the reasons the U.S. Treasury’s sales of U.S. Federal debt around the world have been as successful as they have been. This also provides essential support to the U.S. Federal Reserve, and especially to the six Wall Street banks that do virtually all of the derivatives trading.

Furthermore, Obama’s effort to force the European Union to weaken their anti-global-warming standards so as to allow European imports of oil from the exceptionally carbon-gas-generating Athabasca Canada tar sands — which are approximately 40% owned by America’s Koch brothers, the rest owned by other U.S. and allied oil companies — would likewise reduce Europe’s current dependency upon Russian energy sources, at the same time as it would directly benefit U.S. energy-producers. Obama has been working hard for those oil companies to become enabled to sell such oil into Europe, turning the screws on Europe to weaken those standards.

And, finally, the extension of U.S. fracking technology into Ukraine, and perhaps ultimately even into some EU nations, where it has been strongly resisted by the residents, might likewise boost American oil firms and reduce the enormous flow of European cash into Russian Government coffers to pay for Russian gas (which doesn’t even require fracking).

In other words, the wars in both Syria and Ukraine are being fought basically in order to grab the European energy market, away from Russia, somewhat in the same way (though far more violently) as Iran’s share of that market was previously grabbed away by means of the U.S.-led sanctions against Iran. The current bombing campaigns in both Syria and Ukraine are directed specifically against Iran’s chief ally, Russia.

First, will be discussed here the bombing-campaign against Iran’s and Russia’s ally Assad in Syria; then against the residents of the ethnic-Russian areas of Ukraine, where Western oil companies want to frack.

SYRIA:

As the articles that are headlined below document, there has been proposed, in order to promote  even more Russian gas flowing into Europe, an eastbound Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline (but sanctions against Iran already stopped that plan); and there was also proposed, in order to undercut  the existing Russian gas flowing into Europe, a northbound Qatar-Saudi-Jordan-Syria-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline — those being two different and competing new routes of supplying gas into Europe.

Russia’s ally Syria is crucial to both  proposed pipelines, which means that Assad has needed to be overthrown in order for the northbound pipeline from Qatar through Syria to be constructed and so to compete against Russia’s existing gas-supplies to Europe.

There have also been some differences between the Saudi and Qatari royal families as regards their motives for removing the Shiite Assad from leading Syria. Qatar’s royals (and also Turkey’s aristocrats) want him to be replaced by an anti-Iranian, Sunni Moslem Brotherhood leader (the type of person that Obama euphemistically calls by such terms as ‘moderate Moslems’ though they were hardly that in Egypt once they gained power there). Qatar’s royals have protected themselves from being overthrown by fundamentalist Moslems; they’ve done it especially by supporting the Moslem Brotherhood as a means of displaying their own loyalty to Moslem clerics. (The public trusts the clerics, but doesn’t trust the aristocrats; and, like everywhere, aristocrats obtain their perceived ‘legitimacy’ from the local clergy, whom aristocrats buy-off with special favors.) The Moslem Brotherhood want to control Syria, and would love to approve a gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria to Europe, to reward their chief benefactor, Qatar’s royals. As for the Saudi royals, they want Assad to be replaced by an anti-Iranian, Sunni ISIS leader, who will represent the Sauds’ Wahhabist sect in Islam, which provides Saudi royals their  ‘legitimacy.’ (Saudi royals say they don’t like Al Qaeda and ISIS, but that’s said mainly for public consumption in the West, chiefly in order to help American presidents sell such deals to their public. Almost all of the 9/11 hijackers were funded actually with Saudi money.) Right now, Saudi Arabia supplies less than 5% of Europe’s energy, which is a mere one-eighth of what Russia does. So: each of these two royal families relies primarily upon a different category of Islamists. Obama prefers the ‘moderate’ Muslim Brotherhood to the extremist ISIS, but Saudi royals accept the American President’s having that preference, because any way to weaken Iran and its backer Russia is fine with them, especially since it would open wide the enormous European market for their oil.

Other internal conflicts also exist within Obama’s team. For example, an expert on these matters, Felix Imonti, explained to me in a personal communication, that, “Qatar … abandoned the [pipeline] plan in 2010 for a very simple reason. Saudi Arabia will not permit a pipeline to be constructed across its territory. Qatar is interested along with Turkey in installing a MB [Muslim Brotherhood] government in Syria. … The Saudi objective is to drive out the Iranians from Syria.” The Saudis’ “objective was to establish a Wahhabi based [fundamentalist Islamic] state that would include western Iraq with Syria,” which, of course, is what ISIS is all about. Imonti also says: “Egypt [except for the brief time when it was controlled by the ‘MB’] is a bought puppet of Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians are bombing Qatari groups in Libya.” That Egyptian bombing is indirectly a Saudi attack against the Qatari royals’ own support-base. These issues between the two royal families are like squabbles within a family: more is shared in common among them than splits them apart. The American President’s decisions are often determinative on such matters.

So, America’s aristocracy supports both the Saudi and the Qatari aristocracies, despite their disagreements, in order to defeat the aristocracies in Russia, China, and the other “BRIC” countries, and so to retain the American Empire as being an empire, not just a country; and, in fact, as being the only  Empire.

Or, as President Obama’s speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014, propagandized for this view on the part of America’s aristocracy: “Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” So, Obama made clear to the graduating West Point cadets that the BRIC countries are the enemy, from the standpoint of America’s aristocracy, whom they serve. Ours want to crush the aristocrats in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Though it’s alright for those other countries to produce more, that’s true only if American aristocrats control the local ones there, like in any other international empire — not  if the local nation’s aristocrats do. Similarly, for example, the British Empire didn’t wish for local aristocrats in India to be in control, but only for those client aristocrats to be of use. That’s what it means to be a client nation. Obama in his speech added, placing a clear hyper-nationalistic coloration on his promotion of America’s empire: “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” He promised to keep it that way: “That has been true for the century passed [sp.: past [[somebody at the White House didn’t know the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’]] and it will be true for the century to come.” (At least he wasn’t predicting a Thousand-Year Reich.)

An important asset of the American aristocracy happens to be shale-gas-fracking technology, which is overwhelmingly owned by America’s aristocrats. Though Qatar is a major gas-producer, it has no need for fracking, and so is merely a gas-competitor in that regard, but they do share America’s pro-Sunni, anti-Assad goal, and also America’s anti-Russian goal. Although Qatar ships most of its gas into Asia, they’d like to have some way to pipe it more nearby, into Europe, to undercut Russia’s Gazprom, the major source of income to the Russian Government. (Gazprom is over 50% owned by the Russian Government.) And that’s why the U.S. is working with Qatar to bump Assad from Syria.

The Saudis are actually doing the most of all to defeat Russia, by driving oil prices down so low as to upset Russia’s economic-development plans, which have been based upon minimum $100/barrel projections. We’re already around 10% below that. As Imonti writes, “The Saudis can sustain these lower prices for seven or eight years while drawing on their foreign reserves to cover the deficits. They could very well be trying to break the fracking business in the U.S. that has high production costs. [Of course, America’s gas aristocrats won’t like that, nor will they like the low gas and oil prices, but Obama has to balance multiple sub-constituencies, including Qatar’s and Saudi royals.] They might also be directing the target towards Russia that supports Assad and Iran. They could be doing all of the above with one action.” If the Sauds actually do keep this up “for seven or eight years,” then Russia will be hit a lot harder by these low oil and gas prices than Russia is being hit, or is likely ever to be hit, by any economic sanctions.

Qatar has been the main funder of the overthrow-Assad movement, for the Moslem Brotherhood; and Saudi Arabia has been the main funder of the overthrow-Assad movement, for ISIS. Both are Sunni organizations. However, Qatar has also funded ISIS. Obama, when he decided to bomb ISIS, was acting on behalf of America’s aristocrats, but Saudi and Qatari aristocrats might have felt differently about it. He possessed the freedom to do this, which those Arabic aristocrats don’t have, because everyone in the Islamic world knows that Obama is no Moslem; everyone understands that America is in a permanent state of war against fundamentalist Islam of all sorts. Only Moslem aristocrats need the approval of Islamic fundamentalists. In America, aristocrats don’t even need the approval of Christian fundamentalists, the type of fundamentalists that might be able to threaten their authority in the West (since the West is predominantly Christian, not Moslem). And the same is true regarding Jewish aristocrats in Israel: aristocrats fear only their local majority  clergy. That’s basic survival-knowledge for aristocrats, anywhere, in order to be able to get the public to accept the rightfulness of the aristocracy itself there. (A rising and recently much promoted ideology to extend this belief within America is libertarianism, which holds faith in the rightness of the market itself — irrespective of any belief in God –  and which repudiates government, no matter how democratic it may be, the underlying assumption there being that an economy can exist without a government, and that the economy is not itself necessarily an extension of the very system of laws, and enforcement of those laws, which determine who owns what: it’s just another aristocratic scam.)

So, ISIS gets money from the aristocracies of Saud, and of Qatar (and also, more recently, of Kuwait) – whatever is needed, in order for those aristocrats to retain the loyalty of their local clerics, and thus their public. It’s like aristocrats do in every country, getting “God’s approval” of their wealth, by throwing a few coins to the preacher, the local mouthpiece for “God,” thus relying upon the public’s trust in clergy. Even Mafia aristocrats do it. That has been the way of conservatism for millennia; it’s the way conservatism works. In the past few centuries, a modified version of that trick has grown up, as liberalism, in which the aristocrats’ validation comes instead from scholars, and so aristocrats throw a few coins to them, instead of to clerics. But it’s no different — it’s authoritarianism, equally in either case. It’s purchased authority. Aristocrats don’t really fear the clergy, nor the scholars (nor, certainly, the market): they actually fear the public, such as what happened during the French Revolution, and during the Russian Revolution. But that’s another story altogether, going back millennia, actually; and aristocracies everywhere now seem to have those things under far more sophisticated control than before, via propaganda, which they get by owning the news-media and by selling access to it (by means of advertisements and otherwise) to other aristocrats, so as to control the public’s mind.

The recent bombings in Syria, and in Ukraine, are a business-operation being carried out as a war (and also very profitable for U.S. armaments-makers, who likewise are controlled by America’s aristocrats and so this is a double-whammy for America’s aristocracy — and U.S. arms-makers have consequently been soaring on the stock market). It’s basically a grab by U.S. and Sunni aristocrats, from Russian and Shiite aristocrats, of the vast market to supply oil and gas into Europe. And it provides other advantages, too, for U.S. aristocrats.

Natural gas, especially of the non-fracked variety, is generally regarded as the bridge-fuel to get our planet to being able to survive long-term while fusion and renewable forms of energy come online as cost-competitive. Fracking is, as has been mentioned, an American technology, but it’s widely resisted even within American-allied nations. The U.S. Government can impose it upon the American people, because they are trusting in ‘free enterprise,’ but other governments are having a hard time trying to impose it on theirs. That public resistance in Europe is giving protection to the gas-import markets there; and this has benefited Russia, their major existing gas-supplier.

Russia actually has the world’s largest proven reserves of natural gas, and that’s without their even needing to use fracking-techniques in order to get at it. #2 Iran has 69% as much gas, and is allied with Russia, and it also doesn’t frack. But sanctions close them out of Europe. Then #3 Qatar, at 47% of Russia, is allied with U.S. oil companies, but has no need to frack. Then #4 Turkmenistan, 37%, is itself allied with Russia, and also doesn’t frack. Then #5 U.S., 20%, is, of course, allied with U.S. oil companies, and only fracks. Then #6 Saudi Arabia, 17%, is also allied with U.S. oil companies, and it doesn’t need to frack.

The European Union nations effectively ban fracking (and wanted the EU to ban it but America’s lap-dog Britain vetoed that EU-wide ban), because they have environmentally-concerned publics. But U.S. and other Western corporate-owned oil companies want to frack gas in Europe, just as they do in America; and the new Ukrainian Government is desperate enough to want their own land to be fracked.

UKRAINE:

The main shale-gas (fracking) field in Ukraine is Yuzivska, right in the middle of the Donbass region, where the residents don’t want fracking and don’t want U.S. rule (which includes fracking). Furthermore, the people there reject the legitimacy of the Obama coup in Ukraine this year in February, and of its subsequent rulers of Ukraine, who have been bombing them, because 90% of the voters in that region had voted for the pro-Russian President whom Obama had overthrown, and because that new, anti-Russian, regime doesn’t want those people to stay (or at least to stay alive) in Ukraine, because otherwise that post-coup regime would become ousted if any nationwide election would ever again be held throughout Ukraine. This tactic of killing unwanted voters is a more extreme form of what the Republican Party does in the U.S., simply trimming the voter-rolls in order to create a more-favorable “voting public.” It’s just being done in Ukraine by bombs and bullets, rather than by limiting or restricting ballots.

“The West,” or the allies of Sunni aristocrats, are now bombing intensively, both in Ukraine and in Syria; and, in both instances, the argument for the bombings is to spread “democracy” there. It’s giving a bad name to ‘democracy,’ for anyone who misbelieves that this is it.

BACK, AGAIN, TO SYRIA:

Below are the main sources that describe the Middle Eastern part of this Obama-Putin power-struggle, this being the part in Syria, instead of in Ukraine. It’s is how international business is actually carried out — it’s a perfect libertarian world, since there is no international government; this market is unregulated to so extreme an extent that even ethnic cleansings and mass-murders go unpunished — it’s a pure free market, which is operating on an international scale (the only scale where libertarianism exists in even nearly  this pure a form); this libertarianism is an exemplar of the conservative ideal: pure liberty for aristocrats, total lack of accountability. If anything, Barack Obama might actually be even more of a conservative than was George W. Bush: under Obama, the IRS specifically allows blatantly illegal tax-evasion by the mega-rich to go uninvestigated and unpunished, and concentrates virtually all its resources on pursuing two-bit tax-cheats. That’s what ‘democracy’ has degenerated to in America. In America’s client-states, such as in the Middle East and (since February) in Ukraine, it’s even worse than that. After all, things do tend to be worse in the colonies than in the imperial center.

The first two of these articles explain in more detail why the price of oil has been plunging, and who has been behind the price-decline:

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/10/24/the-secret-stupid-saudi-us-deal-on-syria/

“The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria”

WILLIAM ENGDAHL | OCTOBER 24, 20143 COMMENTS

The Kerry-Abdullah Secret Deal & An Oil-Gas Pipeline War

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-10-10/why-oil-plunging-other-part-secret-deal-between-us-and-saudi-arabia

“Why Oil Is Plunging: The Other Part Of The ”Secret Deal” Between The US And Saudi Arabia”

Tyler Durden on 10/11/2014 18:19 -0400

… [Excerpt:] Today’s Brent closing price: $90. Russia’s oil price budget for the period 2015-2017? $100. Which means much more “forced Brent liquidation” is in the cards in the coming weeks as America’s suddenly once again very strategic ally, Saudi Arabia, does everything in its power to break Putin. [Note: The Russian Government’s fiscal projections were based on $100/barrel, but the Saudi-forced-down price was now $89/barrel. How long would Saudis and Qataris keep this up? And how long would Assad hold off ISIS? Big bets are being made on both.]

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-25/look-inside-secret-deal-saudi-arabia-unleashed-syrian-bombing

“A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing”

Tyler Durden on 09/25/2014 10:17 -0400

… [Excerpt:] Said otherwise, the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to “bless” US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America’s desire — what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-27/meet-saudi-arabias-bandar-bin-sultan-puppetmaster-behind-syrian-war

Meet Saudi Arabia’s Bandar bin Sultan: The Puppetmaster Behind The Syrian War”

Tyler Durden on 08/27/2013 15:21 -0400

… [Excerpt:] Of course, there is Syria:

Regarding the Syrian issue, the Russian president responded to Bandar, saying, “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters. During the Geneva I Conference, we agreed with the Americans on a package of understandings, and they agreed that the Syrian regime will be part of any settlement. Later on, they decided to renege on Geneva I. In all meetings of Russian and American experts, we reiterated our position. In his upcoming meeting with his American counterpart John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will stress the importance of making every possible effort to rapidly reach a political settlement to the Syrian crisis so as to prevent further bloodshed.”

Alas, that has failed.

So what are some of the stunning disclosures by the Saudis?

Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. … As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-08/putin-laughs-saudi-offer-betray-syria-exchange-huge-arms-deal

“Putin Laughs At Saudi Offer To Betray Syria In Exchange For ‘Huge’ Arms Deal”

Tyler Durden on 08/08/2013 11:20 -0400

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-16/mystery-sponsor-weapons-and-money-syrian-rebels-revealed

“Mystery Sponsor Of Weapons And Money To Syrian Mercenary ‘Rebels’ Revealed”

Tyler Durden on 05/16/2013 19:12 -0400

… [Excerpt:] So there you have it: Qatar doing everything it can to promote bloodshed, death and destruction by using not Syrian rebels, but mercenaries: professional citizens who are paid handsomely to fight and kill members of the elected regime (unpopular as it may be), for what? So that the unimaginably rich emirs of Qatar can get even richer. Although it is not as if Russia is blameless: all it wants is to preserve its own strategic leverage over Europe by being the biggest external provider of natgas to the continent through its own pipelines. Should Nabucco come into existence, Gazpromia would be very, very angry and make far less money!

The final source here will be posted in full, because it goes closest and deepest to the reason for our bombing Syria:

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Qatar-Rich-and-Dangerous.html

“Qatar: Rich and Dangerous”

17 September 2012, by Felix Imonti

The first concern of the Emir of Qatar is the prosperity and security of the tiny kingdom. To achieve that, he knows no limits.

Stuck between Iran and Saudi Arabia is Qatar with the third largest natural gas deposit in the world. The gas gives the nearly quarter of a million Qatari citizens the highest per capita income on the planet and provides 70 percent of government revenue.

How does an extremely wealthy midget with two potentially dangerous neighbors keep them from making an unwelcomed visit? Naturally, you have someone bigger and tougher to protect you.

Of course, nothing is free. The price has been to allow the United States to have two military bases in a strategic location.  According to Wikileaks diplomatic cables, the Qataris are even paying sixty percent of the costs.

Having tanks and bunker busting bombs nearby will discourage military aggression, but it does nothing to curb the social tumult that has been bubbling for decades in the Middle Eastern societies. Eighty-four years ago, the Moslem Brotherhood arose in Egypt because of the presence of foreign domination by Great Britain and the discontent of millions of the teaming masses yearning to be free. Eighty-four years later, the teaming masses are still yearning.

Sixty-five percent of the people in the Middle East are under twenty-nine years of age. It is this desperate angry group that presents a danger that armies cannot stop. The cry for their dignity, “I am a man,” is the sound that sends terror through governments. It is this overwhelming force that the Emir of Qatar has been able to deflect.

A year after he deposed his father in 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani established the Al-Jazeera television satellite news network. He invited some of the radical Salafi preachers that had been given sanctuary in Qatar to address the one and a half billion Moslems around the world. They had their electronic soapbox and the card to an ATM, but there was a price.

The price was silence. They could speak to the world and arouse the fury in Egypt or Libya, but they would have to leave their revolution outside of Qatar or the microphone would be switched off and the ATM would stop dispensing the good life.

The Moslem Brotherhood, that is a major force across the region, dissolved itself in Qatar in 1999. Jasim Sultan, a member of the former organization, explained that the kingdom was in compliance with Islamic law. He heads the state funded Awaken Project that publishes moderate political and philosophical literature.

How Qatar has benefited from networking with the Salafis is illustrated by the connections with Tunisia where Qatar is making a large investment in telecommunications. Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafiq Abdulsalaam was head of the Research and Studies Division in the Al Jazeera Centre in Doha. His father-in-law Al Ghanouchi is the head of the Tunisian Moslem Brotherhood party.

Over much of the time since he seized power, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani has followed the policy of personal networking, being proactive in business and neutral on the international stage. The Emir is generous with the grateful, the Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund bargains hard in the board room and the kingdom makes available Qatar’s Good Offices to resolve disputes.

Qatar’s foreign policy made an abrupt shift when the kingdom entered the war against Qaddafi. The kingdom sent aircraft to join NATO forces. On the ground, Qatari special forces armed, trained, and led Libyans against Qaddafi’s troops.

The head of the National Transition Council Mustafa Abdul Jalil attributed much of the success of the revolution to the efforts of Qatar that he said had spent two billion dollars. He commented, “Nobody traveled to Qatar without being given a sum of money by the government.”

Qatar had ten billion dollars in investments in Libya to protect. The Barwa Real Estate Company alone had two billion committed to the construction of a beach resort near Tripoli.

While the bullets were still flying, Qatar signed eight billion dollars in agreements with the NTC. Just in case things with the NTC didn’t work out, they financed rivals Abdel Hakim Belhaj, leader of the February 17 Martyr’s Brigade, and Sheik Ali Salabi, a radical cleric who had been exiled in Doha.

If Qatar’s investments of ten billion dollars seem substantial, the future has far more to offer. Reconstruction costs are estimated at seven hundred billion dollars. The Chinese and Russians had left behind between them thirty billion in incomplete contracts and investments and all of it is there for the taking for those who aided the revolution.

No sooner had Qaddafi been caught and shot, Qatar approached Bashar Al-Assad to establish a transitional government with the Moslem Brotherhood. As you would expect, relinquishing power to the Brotherhood was an offer that he could refuse. It didn’t take long before he heard his sentence pronounced in January 2012 on the CBS television program, 60 Minutes by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

The Emir declared that foreign troops should be sent into Syria.  At the Friends of Syria conference in February, Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said, “We should do whatever necessary to help [the Syrian opposition], including giving them weapons to defend themselves.”

Why would Qatar want to become involved in Syria where they have little invested? A map reveals that the kingdom is a geographic prisoner in a small enclave on the Persian Gulf coast.

It relies upon the export of LNG, because it is restricted by Saudi Arabia from building pipelines to distant markets.  In 2009, the proposal of a pipeline to Europe through Saudi Arabia and Turkey to the Nabucco pipeline was considered, but Saudi Arabia that is angered by its smaller and much louder brother has blocked any overland expansion.

Already the largest LNG producer, Qatar will not increase the production of LNG. The market is becoming glutted with eight new facilities in Australia coming online between 2014 and 2020.

A saturated North American gas market and a far more competitive Asian market leaves only Europe. The discovery in 2009 of a new gas field near Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Syria opened new possibilities to bypass the Saudi Barrier and to secure a new source of income. Pipelines are in place already in Turkey to receive the gas. Only Al-Assad is in the way.

Qatar along with the Turks would like to remove Al-Assad and install the Syrian chapter of the Moslem Brotherhood. It is the best organized political movement in the chaotic society and can block Saudi Arabia’s efforts to install a more fanatical Wahhabi based regime. Once the Brotherhood is in power, the Emir’s broad connections with Brotherhood groups throughout the region should make it easy for him to find a friendly ear and an open hand in Damascus.

A control centre has been established in the Turkish city of Adana near the Syrian border to direct the rebels against Al-Assad. Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud asked to have the Turks establish a joint Turkish, Saudi, Qatari operations center. “The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations” a source in the Gulf told Reuters.

The fighting is likely to continue for many more months, but Qatar is in for the long term. At the end, there will be contracts for the massive reconstruction and there will be the development of the gas fields. In any case, Al-Assad must go. There is nothing personal; it is strictly business to preserve the future tranquility and well-being of Qatar.

I wish to express my appreciation to Mr. Imonti for his allowing me to publish here the entirety of that article.

Closing note from Eric Zuesse: The preceding article reconstructs U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, on the basis of the linked and cited reliable news accounts of his Administration’s actions, not of their mere words. This reconstruction is grounded in the linked-to news-sources, all of which I have investigated and verified — and some of which I myself researched and wrote. The ones that I produced are themselves sourced to the links within those reports, all of which I likewise have personally checked and verified. Consequently, the chain of verifications back to this reconstruction’s primary sources is available here to any online reader. Every reader is encouraged to track back to its ultimate source any allegation in this report that might appear to be at all questionable. Not only will this exercise be helpful to that reader concerning this given point at question in the report, but that tracking back to original sources will open the reader to an associated world of yet deeper discovery, which I hope that this news-report and analysis will end up doing for many readers, and which is the reason that I wrote it: so as to share with others what I and many other careful and cautious researchers have discovered, though some of it might be starkly at variance with what our Government, and most of the aristocratically controlled press, have been more commonly presenting as ‘truth’ about these matters. At least, this exercise will provide an alternative frame of reference regarding these issues, an alternative possibility to consider, and one which the present writer has verified, from every root to every branch, in this tree of historical reconstruction of the events here recounted.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

 

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News, Science / Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

15 Signs That We Live During A Time Of Rampant Government Paranoia

By Michael Snyder.

How does it feel to live under a government that is getting even more paranoid with each passing day?  Yes, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, but that is no excuse for how ultra-paranoid the federal government has become.  Today, every single one of us is viewed as a “potential threat” by the government.  As a result, the government feels the need to intercept our emails, record our phone calls and track our expenditures.  But they aren’t just spying on individuals.  The government keeps tabs on thousands of organizations all over the planet, it spies on our enemies and our allies, and it even spies on itself.  The American people are told that the emerging Big Brother police state is for our safety, but the truth is that it isn’t there to protect us.  It is there to protect them.  Our government has become kind of like a crazy rich uncle that is constantly spying on everyone else in the family because he believes that they are “out to get him”.  The following are 15 signs that we live during a time of rampant government paranoia…

#1 Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson says that the federal government was so concerned about her reporting on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and other Obama scandals that they hacked her computer, monitored every keystroke and even planted classified material in an apparent attempt to potentially frame her.

#2 The United States has become the nation of the “permanent emergency”.  In fact, there has been at least one “state of emergency” in effect in this country since 1979.

#3 In America today, almost everyone is considered to be a criminal.  At this point, nearly one out of every three Americans has a file in the FBI’s master criminal database.

#4 Most people don’t realize this, but the FBI also systematically records talk radio programs.  The FBI says that it is looking for “potential evidence”.

#5 In Wisconsin, 24 armed police officers are an armored military vehicle were recently sent to collect a civil judgment from a 75-year-old retiree.  It is being reported that officials feared that he might be “argumentative“.

#6 According to guidelines that were recently made public, purchasing Amtrak train tickets with cash is considered to be “suspicious activity” and needs to be reported to the authorities.

#7 The IRS can now seize your bank accounts on suspicion alone.  If you are successful fighting the IRS in court, you might get your money back years later.

#8 Thousands of Americans have their mail spied on by the U.S. Postal Service.  If you are on “the list”, all of your mail and packages are shown to a supervisor before they are delivered to you.

#9 Most people don’t realize that the U.S. border is now considered to be a “Constitution-free zone” where officials can freely grab your computer and copy your hard drive.

#10 The feds have apparently become extremely concerned about what all of us are saying on the Internet.  In fact, they have even been caught manipulating discussions on Reddit and editing Wikipedia.

#11 The U.S. government has become so paranoid that it even spies on our European allies.  Needless to say, our allies over in Europe are quite upset about this but we continue to do it.

#12 To the government, each citizen is a “potential threat”, and this justifies the militarization of our entire society.  The following is an excerpt from an excellent commentary by John Whitehead

Just take a stroll through your city’s downtown. Spend an afternoon in your local mall. Get in your car and drive to your parents’ house. Catch the next flight to that business conference. While you’re doing so, pay careful attention to how you and your fellow citizens are treated by government officials—the ones whose salaries you are paying.

You might walk past a police officer outfitted in tactical gear, holding an assault rifle, or drive past a police cruiser scanning license plates. There might be a surveillance camera on the street corner tracking your movements. At the airport, you may be put through your paces by government agents who will want to either pat you down or run scans of your body. And each time you make a call or send a text message, your communications will most likely be logged and filed. When you return home, you might find that government agents have been questioning your neighbors about you, as part of a “census” questionnaire. After you retire to sleep, you might find yourself awakened by a SWAT team crashing through your door (you’ll later discover they were at the wrong address), and if you make the mistake of reaching for your eyeglasses, you might find yourself shot by a cop who felt threatened.

Is this the behavior of a government that respects you? One that looks upon you as having inviolate rights? One that regards you as its employer, its master, its purpose for being?

I don’t think so. While this hyper-militarization of the government is being sold to the public as a means of preventing terrorism and maintaining national security, it is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, what we are dealing with is a police state disguised as a benevolent democracy, a run-away government hyped up on its own power and afraid of its citizenry, whose policies are dictated more by paranoia than need.

#13 As our police departments have become militarized, SWAT team deployments have gone through the roof.  As I wrote about recently, there were only about 3,000 SWAT raids in the United States back in 1980.  But today, there are more than 80,000 SWAT raids per year in this country.

#14 The federal government is so paranoid that it is actually spying on itself.  The “Insider Threat Program” encourages federal employees to closely watch one another and to report any hint of suspicious activity

The federal effort, called the Insider Threat Program, was launched in October 2011, and it certainly hasn’t diminished since Edward Snowden disclosed details of the National Security Agency’s domestic spying. As McClatchy reporters Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay have described, federal employees and contractors are encouraged to keep an eye on allegedly suspicious indicators in their co-workers’ lives, from financial troubles to divorce. A brochure produced by the Defense Security Service, titled “INSIDER THREATS: Combating the ENEMY within your organization,” sums up the spirit of the program: “It is better to have reported overzealously than never to have reported at all.”

#15 Last, but certainly not least, there is the matter of the NSA constantly spying on all of us.  The NSA is monitoring and recording billions of our phone calls and emails, and most Americans don’t seem to care.  But they should care.  I like how an article in the New York Post described what is happening to our society…

Through a combination of fear, cowardice, political opportunism and bureaucratic metastasis, the erstwhile land of the free has been transformed into a nation of closely watched subjects — a country of 300 million potential criminals, whose daily activities need constant monitoring.

Once the most secret of organizations, the NSA has become even more famous than the CIA, the public face of Big Brother himself. At its headquarters on Savage Road in Fort Meade, Md., its omnivorous Black Widow supercomputer hoovers up data both foreign and domestic, while its new $2 billion data center near Bluffdale, Utah — the highly classified Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center — houses, well, just about everything. As James Bamford wrote in Wired magazine two years ago, as the center was being completed:

“Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private e-mails, cellphone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’ ”

———-

A former Washington, D.C., attorney, Michael Snyder runs a number of websites, including:

Posted in Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Why the Heroes at Doctors Without Borders Are Catching Ebola

They’re Not Wearing Respirators

Doctors Without Borders is the group of heroic doctors on the ground treating Ebola patients in West Africa.

(They do a lot of other great work all over the world during wars, natural disasters and other crisis.)

But their doctor Craig Spencer caught Ebola in West Africa, and is now in Bellvue Hospital in New York.

And as Doctors Without Borders notes last week:

To date, 24 MSF staff have contracted Ebola and 13 have died.   ["MSF" is short for the group's official name in French: Medecins Sans Frontiers]

Why have they caught Ebola?

After all, they’re wearing protective gear.

Indeed, their website says:

They wear full personal protective equipment—PPE—that negates contact with the bodily fluids of patients.

These pictures from the group’s website may tell what’s really going on:

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/sites/usa/files/ppe-explainer-mp2.jpg

What’s missing?

Respirators!

Why respirators?  Because Ebola can spread through aerosols … so it is essential for all frontline healthcare workers to wear respirators.

Postscript: Doctors without borders assumes their doctors caught Ebola in town … just like the CDC assumes that the nurses in Dalls must have broken protocol.

But I think lack of respirators is a much more likely cause.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 3 Comments

Big Bankster Running for Governor of California

Investment Banker and Head of Bank Bailouts

This guy is running for Governor of California:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/15/Neel-kashkari.jpg/614px-Neel-kashkari.jpg

Looks crazy, doesn’t he?  Who is he?

He was the head of the big bank bailout program (known as Tarp) which most Americans strongly opposed.  His name is Neel Kashkari.

The bailouts helped the big banks, but not America:

The $700 billion dollar TARP bailout was a massive bait-and-switch. The government said it was doing it to soak up toxic assets, and then switched to saying it was needed to free up lending. It didn’t do that either. Indeed, the Fed doesn’t want the banks to lend.

As I wrote in March 2009:

The bailout money is just going to line the pockets of the wealthy, instead of helping to stabilize the economy or even the companies receiving the bailouts:

  • A lot of the bailout money is going to the failing companies’ shareholders
  • Indeed, a leading progressive economist says that the true purpose of the bank rescue plans is “a massive redistribution of wealth to the bank shareholders and their top executives”
  • The Treasury Department encouraged banks to use the bailout money to buy their competitors, and pushed through an amendment to the tax laws which rewards mergers in the banking industry (this has caused a lot of companies to bite off more than they can chew, destabilizing the acquiring companies)

And as the New York Times notes, “Tens of billions of [bailout] dollars have merely passed through A.I.G. to its derivatives trading partners”.

***

In other words, through a little game-playing by the Fed, taxpayer money is going straight into the pockets of investors in AIG’s credit default swaps and is not even really stabilizing AIG.

And see this.

A Goldman Sachs investment banker, Goldman president Hank Paulson brought Kashkiri with him to Washington when Paulson became Treasury Secretary.

But he’s running slick campaign ads, trying to hide his crazy eyes … and his bankster background.

Posted in Politics / World News | 2 Comments

When Guys Decide Which Scientific Studies to Fund …

More Is Better!

This headline from the Telegraph sums it up:    “Sex with 21 women lowers risk of prostate cancer, academics find“.

Here’s the money quote:

Sleeping with more than 20 women protects men against prostate cancer, a study has suggested.

Indeed, guys have figured out that .

Postscript: I’m waiting for the follow-up study …

“The ménage à trois lowers risk for heart attacks, university finds …

Most protective of health if one is blonde and the other is brunette.”

Posted in General, Science / Technology | 3 Comments