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 | 4 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

Ebola Virus Is More Likely to Spread through Aerosols – and Survive Longer – When It’s Cold

What Will Happen to Ebola When Winter Hits?

A British government defense lab finds that Ebola can last up to 50 days in the cold.

The Daily Mail reports:

The UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) found that the Zaire strain [of Ebola] will live on samples stored on glass at low temperatures for as long as 50 days.

The left-hand charts plot survival rates of Zaire strain of Ebola (Zebov) and Lake Victoria marburgvirus (Marv) on glass (a) and plastic (b) at 4° (39°F) over 14 days. The right-hand charts reveal the survival rate under the same conditions over 50 days. Both viruses survived for 26 days, and Ebola was extracted after 50 days

The left-hand charts plot survival rates of Zaire strain of Ebola (Zebov) and Lake Victoria marburgvirus (Marv) on glass (a) and plastic (b) at 4° (39°F) over 14 days. The right-hand charts reveal the survival rate under the same conditions over 50 days. Both viruses survived for 26 days, and Ebola was extracted after 50 days.

The tests were initially carried out by researchers from DSTL before the current outbreak, in 2010, but the strain investigated is one of five that is still infecting people globally.

The findings are also quoted in advice from the Public Agency of Health in Canada.

Temperatures of 39°F or colder are common in the U.S., Canada and much of Europe during the winter.

Top Ebola scientists also say that the virus is more likely to be spread by aerosol in cold, dry conditions than in hot, humid weather.

(Given that sneeze droplets can travel 20 feet, that’s nothing to sneeze at.)

Indeed, the British defense study cited above also found:

***

All three filoviruses under investigation [Ebola is a type of filovirus] could be detected after 90 min in a dynamic aerosol (Fig. 4a)

In other words – even after 90 minutes – Ebola could survive suspended in aerosols if the temperature is chilly.

The amount of Ebola which survives in aerosol obviously diminishes with time:

However, since MIT has recently shown that sneeze droplets travel much farther than previously thought – and can enter into ventilation systems – Ebola protocols need to be changed to take these realities into account.

This is the first time that Ebola has spread out of West Africa to cooler, dryer nations … so we can’t assume that what works in the hotzone will work here.

Postscript: Because fever and vomiting are common with the flu, an Ebola breakout during the winter would be doubly challenging, as there would be a lot people with the flu who have the same symptoms as Ebola.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 1 Comment

Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine: People Without Symptoms Or Fever May Still Spread Ebola

Is “Conventional Wisdom” All Wrong?

A study in the prestigious journal Lancet published in 2000 found that some people can carry Ebola without showing any symptoms.

The largest study on the current Ebola outbreak – sponsored by the World Health Organization – found that 13% of those infected with Ebola never had a fever.

Today, NJ.com reports:

Dr. Beutler, an American medical doctor and researcher, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2011 for his work researching the cellular subsystem of the body’s overall immune system – the part of it that defends bodies from infection by other organisms, like Ebola.

He is currently the Director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas ….

It may not be absolutely true that those without symptoms can’t transmit the disease, because we don’t have the numbers to back that up,” said Beutler, “It could be people develop significant viremia [where viruses enter the bloodstream and gain access to the rest of the body], and become able to transmit the disease before they have a fever, even. People may have said that without symptoms you can’t transmit Ebola. I’m not sure about that being 100 percent true. There’s a lot of variation with viruses.”

In fact, in a study published online in late September by the New England Journal of Medicine and backed by the World Health Organization, 3,343 confirmed and 667 probable cases of Ebola were analyzed, and nearly 13 percent of the time, those infected with Ebola exhibited no fever at all.

Why does he think the CDC would so emphasize Ebola is not communicable in patients without symptoms?

“There’s some imperative to prevent panic among the public,” says Dr. Beutner, “But to be honest, people have not examined that with transmissibility in mind. I don’t completely trust people who’d say that as dogma.”

But how can authorities raise these issues without creating a panic?

Studies show that telling the truth is the best way to prevent panic.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 2 Comments

U.S. Sends Planes Armed With Depleted Uranium to Middle East

The U.S. Air Force says it is not halting its use of Depleted Uranium weapons, has recently sent them to the Middle East, and is prepared to use them.

A type of airplane, the A-10, deployed this month to the Middle East by the U.S. Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing, is responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform, according to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). “Weight for weight and by number of rounds more 30mm PGU-14B ammo has been used than any other round,” said ICBUW coordinator Doug Weir, referring to ammunition used by A-10s, as compared to DU ammunition used by tanks.

Public affairs superintendent Master Sgt. Darin L. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing told me that the A-10s now in the Middle East along with “300 of our finest airmen” have been sent there on a deployment planned for the past two years and have not been assigned to take part in the current fighting in Iraq or Syria, but “that could change at any moment.”

The crews will load PGU-14 depleted uranium rounds into their 30mm Gatling cannons and use them as needed, said Hubble. “If the need is to explode something — for example a tank — they will be used.”

Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told me, “There is no prohibition against the use of Depleted Uranium rounds, and the [U.S. military] does make use of them. The use of DU in armor-piercing munitions allows enemy tanks to be more easily destroyed.”

On Thursday, several nations, including Iraq, spoke to the United Nations First Committee, against the use of Depleted Uranium and in support of studying and mitigating the damage in already contaminated areas. A non-binding resolution is expected to be voted on by the Committee this week, urging nations that have used DU to provide information on locations targeted. A number of organizations are delivering a petition to U.S. officials this week urging them not to oppose the resolution.

In 2012 a resolution on DU was supported by 155 nations and opposed by just the UK, U.S., France, and Israel. Several nations have banned DU, and in June Iraq proposed a global treaty banning it — a step also supported by the European and Latin American Parliaments.

Wright said that the U.S. military is “addressing concerns on the use of DU by investigating other types of materials for possible use in munitions, but with some mixed results. Tungsten has some limitations in its functionality in armor-piercing munitions, as well as some health concerns based on the results of animal research on some tungsten-containing alloys. Research is continuing in this area to find an alternative to DU that is more readily accepted by the public, and also performs satisfactorily in munitions.”

“I fear DU is this generation’s Agent Orange,” U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott told me. “There has been a sizable increase in childhood leukemia and birth defects in Iraq since the Gulf War and our subsequent invasion in 2003. DU munitions were used in both those conflicts. There are also grave suggestions that DU weapons have caused serious health issues for our Iraq War veterans. I seriously question the use of these weapons until the U.S. military conducts a full investigation into the effect of DU weapon residue on human beings.”

Doug Weir of ICBUW said renewed use of DU in Iraq would be “a propaganda coup for ISIS.” His and other organizations opposed to DU are guardedly watching a possible U.S. shift away from DU, which the U.S. military said it did not use in Libya in 2011. Master Sgt. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing believes that was simply a tactical decision. But public pressure had been brought to bear by activists and allied nations’ parliaments, and by a UK commitment not to use DU.

DU is classed as a Group 1 Carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and evidence of health damage produced by its use is extensive. The damage is compounded, Jeena Shah at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) told me, when the nation that uses DU refuses to identify locations targeted. Contamination enters soil and water. Contaminated scrap metal is used in factories or made into cooking pots or played with by children.

CCR and Iraq Veterans Against the War have filed a Freedom of Information Act Request in an attempt to learn the locations targeted in Iraq during and after the 1991 and 2003 assaults. The UK and the Netherlands have revealed targeted locations, Shah pointed out, as did NATO following DU use in the Balkans. And the United States has revealed locations it targeted with cluster munitions. So why not now?

“For years,” Shah said, “the U.S. has denied a relationship between DU and health problems in civilians and veterans. Studies of UK veterans are highly suggestive of a connection. The U.S. doesn’t want studies done.” In addition, the United States has used DU in civilian areas and identifying those locations could suggest violations of Geneva Conventions.

Iraqi doctors will be testifying on the damage done by DU before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commissionin Washington, D.C., in December.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration said on Thursday that it will be spending $1.6 million to try to identify atrocities committed in Iraq . . . by ISIS.

Posted in General | 6 Comments

We Don’t Have One Problem–We Have Three Interlocking Sets of Problems

The additional sets of problems added as “solutions” only guarantee that the third and final crash of asset bubbles just ahead will be far more devastating than the crashes of 2000 and 2009.

The conventional view tacitly assumes the global economy is dealing with one problem: recovering from the Global Financial Meltdown of 2008-09. Stimulating a “recovery” has been the focus of central banks and states everywhere.

Short-sighted political expediency is a hallmark of the modern state’s reaction to crisis, but political expediency isn’t the only flaw in the central banks/states’ obsessive focus on “recovery;” it’s not even the primary flaw.

The real flaw is the central banks/states don’t even recognize that we face three interlocking sets of problems, not one. Each set of problems is layered on top of the previous layer, and each sets reinforces the other two. In other words, the entire problem set is more than just the sum of the three problem sets.

1. Financialization of the economy. As the post-industrial funk of the 1970s dragged on, the neoliberal ideology of liberalizing credit markets and eliminating the regulatory wall between investment banking and commercial/mortgage banking was presented as the fundamental fix to post-industrial stagnation: free up credit, leverage and speculation, and the results would be an expansion of asset prices and growth.

The first wave of financialization in the 1980s did indeed boost asset valuations and growth, but it did so by eroding the productive economy and the middle class that arose from gains in productivity. Financialization substitutes finance for productive investments, such that financial games such as originating subprime home mortgages become far more profitable than non-financial capital investments.

I’ve covered the immense structural damage wrought by financialization for years. Here is a small sample of essays from the 10+ pages of links available in the archives:

What’s the Primary Cause of Wealth Inequality? Financialization (March 24, 2014)

Financialization and Crony Capitalism Have Gutted the Middle Class (July 13, 2012)

Our “Let’s Pretend” Economy: Let’s Pretend Financialization Hasn’t Killed the Economy(March 8, 2012)

The E.U., Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model (May 24, 2012)

Productive Vs. Unproductive: Manufacturing Vs. Financialization (June 6, 2011)

The Heart of Financialization: Counterfeiting Risk-Free Assets (December 7, 2012)

Why have the central banks and central states allowed financialization to hollow out the real economy? Because they have no choice. As I explained in Why the State Has Failed to Reform Our Broken Financial System (October 16, 2014), extreme financialization is the last source of the monumental profits the state needs to fund itself, and the last source of economic “growth” in an economy gutted by previous rounds of financialization.

2. Extremes of credit, leverage, risk and speculation. As conventional financialization failed to reflate the asset bubbles of the late 1990s that crashed in 2000, central banks and states opened the doors to extremes of credit expansion, leverage and risk. Financial fraud and embezzlement became the models of choice as lenders and borrowers alike engaged in a monstrously profitable churning of securitized mortgages, liar loans, initial public offerings of companies with no hope of generating profits, and all the other tricks of the finance trade.

The inevitable result of these extremes of supposedly low-risk leverage and sleight of hand was the Global Financial Meltdown of 2008-09, when bubbles in credit, risk, stocks and real estate popped.


3. The central bank/state “solutions” to the Global Financial Meltdown are the third set of problems. The monetary/fiscal solutions–dropping interest rates to zero, printing trillions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan out of thin air and giving banks and financiers free access to all this loot, with the implicit promise that any bets that went bad would be backstopped by the taxpayers–have not only done nothing to repair the damage done by the first two problem sets but have unleashed even more destructive dynamics.

The analogy I have used is monetary heroin: the first hits of quantitative easing had an immediate effect on moribund assets. But each successive wave of monetary heroinhas had diminishing effects as the addict became habituated to the endless stimulus.

The central bank solution to this habituation is to increase each new dose of stimulus. Unfortunately, at some point the dose becomes large enough to kill the addict: The Fed’s Failure Complicates Its Endgame (July 30, 2014)

Each monetary/fiscal “fix” inflated a bubble that crashed. Rather than face the harsh consequences of financialization and successive waves of monetary extremes, central banks and states have elected to reflate the bubbles as the politically expedient solution that leaves the crony-cartel-state status quo intact.

But the additional sets of problems added as “solutions” only guarantee that the third and final crash of asset bubbles just ahead will be far more devastating than the crashes of 2000 and 2009.

The Coming Crash Is Simply the Normalization of a Mispriced Market (July 18, 2014)


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CDC Says Ebola Droplets Can Only Travel 3 Feet … But MIT Research Shows Sneezes Can Travel Up to 20 Feet

Checking the CDC’s Math

This week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) admitted that Ebola can travel through the air in aerosols, but claims that it can never go more than 3 feet.

Let’s check their math …

CDC (like the World Health Organization) admits that Ebola can be spread through sneezing or coughing.

But the CDC itself admits that flu droplets can travel 6 feet.

Mythbusters demonstrated that sneezes can nail people some 17 feet away:

But engineers at MIT show that sneezes can actually travel up to 200 times farther than previously thought … up to 20 feet.

How?

Gas clouds:

“[The study] changes our current ideas of how far germs can spread in aerosols such as coughs or sneezes,” Mary B. Farone, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at Middle Tennessee State University, told weather.com. “We used to think if we could see the spray, that was the limit of the dissemination, but this study shows that tiny particles, such as bacteria and viruses, can be spread much further on gas clouds.”

MIT explains:

A novel study by MIT researchers shows that coughs and sneezes have associated gas clouds that keep their potentially infectious droplets aloft over much greater distances than previously realized.“When you cough or sneeze, you see the droplets, or feel them if someone sneezes on you,” says John Bush, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT, and co-author of a new paper on the subject. “But you don’t see the cloud, the invisible gas phase. The influence of this gas cloud is to extend the range of the individual droplets, particularly the small ones.”

Indeed, the study finds, the smaller droplets that emerge in a cough or sneeze may travel five to 200 times further than they would if those droplets simply moved as groups of unconnected particles — which is what previous estimates had assumed. The tendency of these droplets to stay airborne, resuspended by gas clouds, means that ventilation systems may be more prone to transmitting potentially infectious particles than had been suspected.

***

The researchers used high-speed imaging of coughs and sneezes, as well as laboratory simulations and mathematical modeling, to produce a new analysis of coughs and sneezes from a fluid-mechanics perspective. Their conclusions upend some prior thinking on the subject.

***

The study finds that droplets 100 micrometers — or millionths of a meter — in diameter travel five times farther than previously estimated, while droplets 10 micrometers in diameter travel 200 times farther. Droplets less than 50 micrometers in size can frequently remain airborne long enough to reach ceiling ventilation units.

A cough or sneeze is a “multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud,” as the researchers term it in the paper, because the cloud mixes with surrounding air before its payload of liquid droplets falls out, evaporates into solid residues, or both.

The study notes:

Our key findings are as follows. The turbulent multiphase cloud plays a critical role in extending the range of the majority of pathogen-bearing drops that accompany human coughs and sneezes. Smaller droplets (less than 50 µm diameter) can remain suspended in the cloud long enough for the cough to reach heights where ventilation systems can be contaminated (4–6 m).

6 meters equals 19.685 feet.

(“µm” means micrometers … i.e. one millionth of a meter. Ebola viruses are only 80 nanometers in diameter, and up to 14,000 nanometers long. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. As such, Ebola virus filaments can easily fit within a 50 micrometer size droplet.)

While Slate may have gotten the numbers wrong, they made an entertaining video about the MIT study:

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

What Will Come of Latest Report on American Torture?

Inexplicably, since the US is disliked for its good qualities, not for running a mass international torture ring, Obama continues to censor the latest anthology on American torture.

Douglas Valentine, author of The Phoenix Program: America’s Use of Terror in Vietnam, gave a recent interview to RT in which he discussed what we will get out of the report when and if the heavily censored version is released:

RT: …Why do you think it’s not published yet?

Douglas Valentine: There is a lot of legal and also psychological reasons for the administration to try and keep it as narrow and as undisclosed as possible. They are concerned about what will the American public think of this report so they are trying to shape it to contain the damage as much as possible. You have to remember that after 9/11 the American public was demanding action, and a terrible crime had been committed against the American people and they wanted revenge. As simple as that. The Bush Administration, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their whole crew, they let it be known that the US was going to engage in all sort of terrible things, including torture, and they made it publicly known so that the American people would be satisfied that the government is doing everything it can do. They did it for psychological reasons to make the American people think and believe that the government was responding to their desires. Now those desires and those passions have subsided, torture is not as popular as it was, so they have to take that into consideration, basically along with certain legal constraints. The only thing on the administration’s mind is “How we do this to make the American people think we are responding to their desires and their needs?” Of course you have to realize the government does not really care and it is going to continue to do all the things it wants to do anyway, it is just going to try to make this report look like it has the interests of Americans at heart.

RT: How open and revealing do you think it will be?

DV: It is certainly going to be as narrow as possible in every respect. It is not going to reveal certainly the names of CIA officers, it is not going to name the countries that participated in that, and allowed CIA officers to engage in torture in their countries. It is not going to reveal torture techniques that were not on that list of ten that were allowed initially back when the nation was clamoring for action. It is going to try to narrow the report to strictly talking about torture, it is not going to get into the fact that the CIA works for the President, with the consent of Congress, and that everything that was done was done via our political leaders, who are the people that are ultimately responsible. So it is not going to leave any trail of evidence that connects America’s political leaders with the CIA, which of course conducts all of its illegal and immoral activity. It will be just as narrow as possible.

RT: We know about waterboarding, secret prisons and multiple other atrocities, thanks to whistleblowers. Should we expect anything new?

DV: Let us be clear about one thing – everybody knows everything about the CIA, there is nothing hidden. We have been studying and documenting everything the CIA has done for 67 years. We know that it tortured and murdered, engaged in sabotage and subversion up until 9/11. We know that they did all these things except that they were made somewhat public right after 9/11 and for a period of time. Now we know that as the mood has shifted, that the government is less willing to talk about all the atrocities and the things that the CIA does. The problem is that it is illegal to talk about the details of what the CIA does. We know that historically, we know that from other countries, the countries that are victimized by the CIA are constantly talking about things the CIA does, how it subverts their political systems, how it sabotages their infrastructure, how it corrupts their political systems. We know everything that the CIA does, it is just that it is illegal and the corporate media is not going to report the details of what the CIA does because it is afraid that it will lose its access to government officials, and secondly, that any individual reporter who names CIA officers or exposes ongoing CIA operations is subject to going to prison. Quite frankly we know that the CIA is providing arms to terrorists in Syria and that these terrorists in Syria are committing all sorts of atrocities, we know that this is happening in dozens of countries around the world. It is not a secret, it is just not talked about, and the little bit it is talked about periodically do nothing to shape American public opinion, because American public opinion is actually in favor of the CIA committing all the war crimes that it commits. That is basically the sad fact that people have to accept.

RT: Obama’s ‘we tortured some folks’ sounded a bit dismissive. Do you think the administration will try to sweep this under a rug?

DV: Of course it will. There is no question exactly what is happening and it is what always happens and frankly the American people are happy that it gets swept under a rug. There are very few people who are clamoring for more information, and the American people are quite frankly happy to see their favorite actors on TV and in the movies doing all sorts of terrible things to terrorists and to the people who are stereotyped as terrorists throughout the world. That makes them feel good, that makes them feel safe, because they are brainwashed by the government to think that the CIA is actually defending them from enemies as opposed to what the CIA actually does, which is always terrible things to expand the American empire and to keep the American empire afloat, but 70 percent of the American people right now in recent polling believe that Russia is a serious threat that they have to worry about before they go to bed at night. And there is just highly propagandized and this report will not have any effect really overall on how Americans feel or think, it is pretty much just a flash in the pan like all the other scandals that involved the CIA in the last 67 years.

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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“FBI Wiretapped Left-Wing Journalist Who Wrote Critical Stories About Nazis In America, Internal Records Show. Mr. Hoover Declared the Journalist … a Potential Threat to National Security”

U.S. Government Treats Reporters and Whistleblowers as Terrorists

Yesterday, the New York Times reported:

In 1968, Mr. Hoover authorized the F.B.I. to wiretap a left-wing journalist who wrote critical stories about Nazis in America, internal records show. Mr. Hoover declared the journalist, Charles Allen, a potential threat to national security.

Similarly, in 1972, the CIA Director relabelled “dissidents” as “terrorists” so he could continue spying on them.

Indeed, the U.S. treats whistleblowers and investigative reporters as terrorists.

Postscript: And the U.S. government is currently supporting Nazis in Ukraine … just as we did 70 years ago.

Posted in Politics / World News | 3 Comments

Israeli Chooses “Honorable Life” Over Joining Military

Danielle Yaor is 19, Israeli, and refusing to take part in the Israeli military. She is one of 150 who have committed themselves, thus far, to this position:

danielleWe, citizens of the state of Israel, are designated for army service. We appeal to the readers of this letter to set aside what has always been taken for granted and to reconsider the implications of military service.

We, the undersigned, intend to refuse to serve in the army and the main reason for this refusal is our opposition to the military occupation of Palestinian territories. Palestinians in the occupied territories live under Israeli rule though they did not choose to do so, and have no legal recourse to influence this regime or its decision-making processes. This is neither egalitarian nor just. In these territories, human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis. These include assassinations (extrajudicial killings), the construction of settlements on occupied lands, administrative detentions, torture, collective punishment and the unequal allocation of resources such as electricity and water. Any form of military service reinforces this status quo, and, therefore, in accordance with our conscience, we cannot take part in a system that perpetrates the above-mentioned acts.

The problem with the army does not begin or end with the damage it inflicts on Palestinian society. It infiltrates everyday life in Israeli society too: it shapes the educational system, our workforce opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national and gender-based discrimination.

We refuse to aid the military system in promoting and perpetuating male dominance. In our opinion, the army encourages a violent and militaristic masculine ideal whereby ‘might is right’. This ideal is detrimental to everyone, especially those who do not fit it. Furthermore, we oppose the oppressive, discriminatory, and heavily gendered power structures within the army itself.

We refuse to forsake our principles as a condition to being accepted in our society. We have thought about our refusal deeply and we stand by our decisions.

We appeal to our peers, to those currently serving in the army and/or reserve duty, and to the Israeli public at large, to reconsider their stance on the occupation, the army, and the role of the military in civil society. We believe in the power and ability of civilians to change reality for the better by creating a more fair and just society. Our refusal expresses this belief.

Only a few of the 150 or so resisters are in prison. Danielle says that going to prison helps to make a statement. In fact, here’s one of her fellow refuseniks on CNN because he went to prison. But going to prison is essentially optional, Danielle says, because the military (IDF) has to pay 250 Shekels a day ($66, cheap by U.S. standards) to keep someone in prison and has little interest in doing so. Instead, many claim mental illness, says Yaor, with the military well-aware that what they’re really claiming is an unwillingness to be part of the military. The IDF gives men more trouble than women, she says, and mostly uses men in the occupation of Gaza. To go to prison, you need a supportive family, and Danielle says her own family does not support her decision to refuse.

Why refuse something your family and society expect of you? Danielle Yaor says that most Israelis do not know about the suffering of Palestinians. She knows and chooses not to be a part of it. “I have to refuse to take part in the war crimes that my country does,” she says. “Israel has become a very fascist country that doesn’t accept others. Since I was young we’ve been trained to be these masculine soldiers who solve problems by violence. I want to use peace to make the world better.”

Yaor is touring the United States, speaking at events together with a Palestinian. She describes the events thus far as “amazing” and says that people “are very supportive.” Stopping the hatred and violence is “everyone’s responsibility,” she says — “all the people of the world.”

In November she’ll be back in Israel, speaking and demonstrating. With what goal?

One state, not two. “There’s not enough space anymore for two states. There can be one state of Israel-Palestine, based on peace and love and people living together.” How can we get there?

As people become aware of Palestinians’ suffering, says Danielle, they should support BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions). The U.S. government should end its financial support for Israel and its occupation.

Since the latest attacks on Gaza, Israel has moved further to the right, she says, and it has become harder to “encourage youth not to be part of the brainwashing that is part of the education system.” The letter above was published “everywhere possible” and was the first many had ever heard that there was a choice available other than the military.

“We want the occupation to end,” says Danielle Yaor, “so that we can all live an honorable life in which all of our rights will be respected.”

Learn more.

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The Conscience of a Moderate

Angels by the River: A Memoir by James Gustave Speth is pleasantly written but painful to read. Speth knew about the dangers of global warming before the majority of today’s climate change deniers were born. He was an advisor to President Jimmy Carter and advised him and the public to address the matter before it became a crisis.

Carter and the U.S. capital of his day weren’t about to take the sort of action needed. Remember, Carter was despised for a speech promoting green energy and celebrated for a speech declaring that the United States would always go to war over Middle Eastern oil. Ronald Reagan and his followers (in every sense) Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama wouldn’t come within 10 miles of a reasonable approach to climate.  But Speth has spent the decades since the Carter administration trying to maintain a career within the system, a choice that he acknowledges has required compromises. Now he’s pushing for radical change and takes himself to be a radical because he was arrested at the White House opposing a tar sands pipeline.

Here’s a photo of Speth at the White House wearing the campaign symbol of the man at whose house he was protesting (Speth doesn’t discuss the uniqueness of this form of opposition).

Speth writes as if President Obama were trying to protect the planet from Republicans, in contrast to the real-life Obama who has sabotaged climate talks in Copenhagen and at other summits over the years. Speth gives Democrats a pass, promotes electoral work, pushes nationalism, and believes the world needs U.S. leadership to address climate change. I think the evidence is clear that the world would be fairly well along if the United States would just stay out of the way and stop leading the destruction.

This image is from a recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies.

Speth’s book tells a story of racist and sexist Agrarians who wanted to resist corporatism but didn’t really do so; of “moderates” who blandly hinted at opposing segregation but didn’t; of a Carter White House that didn’t act; of a Clinton Administration that decided against even pretending to act; of a statement Speth wrote immediately after September 11, 2001, in which he took a both-and position, supporting both insane war and sane peaceful policies; and of the age of Obama in which one admits that the facts demand swift radical change while embracing lesser-evilism, not in voting but in activism and speech (that inevitable tendency being the main reason some of us oppose it in voting).

Of course I’m being unfair and Speth won’t necessarily have any idea what I’m talking about. He doesn’t have a chapter dedicated to nationalism, he just frames all of his proposals in terms of being a good patriot and fixing one’s country — even though the problem facing us is global. And when he worked in the Carter Administration he actually did good work and got things done. We celebrate — hell, we practically worship — whistleblowers who spent decades doing bad work, murderous work, before speaking out. Here’s a man who did good work, who nudged things in a better direction for decades, before speaking out in the way he does now. With most people contributing little or nothing to the sustainability of the planet, and with radicals living through decades of failure just the same as moderates, Speth is not someone to criticize. And his book is quite valuable. I just want to nudge him a bit further.

Speth’s account of his childhood in South Carolina is charming and wise. His account of unfulfilled dreams for the South and of undesirable Southern influence on the rest of the country is powerful. Instead of losing its bigotry, the South took on the North’s consumerism. Instead of losing its consumerism, the North took on the South’s reactionary politics, including what Speth calls “antipathy toward the federal government” — I would add: except for that 53% of it that’s dedicated to killing foreigners. Speth’s account of the Nashville Agrarians’ opposition to corporate consumerism is valuable. It’s not that nobody knew; it’s that not enough people acted. Of course, with my focus on the problem of war (which somehow, at best, squeezes into the last item on each of Speth’s lists of issues) I’m brought back to wondering where we would be if slavery had been ended differently. I know that we’re supposed to cheer for the Civil War even though other nations (and Washington D.C.) used compensated emancipation and skipped war. I know we’re supposed to repeat to ourselves over and over “It’s not Lincoln’s fault, the slave owners wanted war.” Well, indeed they did, but what if they hadn’t? Or what if the recruits had refused to fight it for them? Or what if the North had let the South leave? It’s difficult to bring up such questions while simultaneously convincing the reader that you know none of this actually happened. So, for what it’s worth: I’m aware that’s not how it happened; hence the need to bring it up. As it is, Vietnam has gotten over the war of the 1960s, and the U.S. South can, at long last, get over the war of the 1860s if it chooses to.

Speth was a founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council which helped win important struggles to halt a major expansion of nuclear power, to implement the Clean Water Act, and to protect wetlands. He also did great work at the World Resources Institute. Yet, he writes, there have been countless victories during an ongoing major defeat. “Our environmental organizations have grown in strength and sophistication, but the environment has continued to go downhill. The prospect of a ruined planet is now very real. We have won many victories, but we are losing the planet.” Speth recounts the perils of working as a D.C. insider: “Once there, inside the system, we were compelled to a certain tameness by the need to succeed there. We opted to work within the system of political economy that we found, and we neglected to seek transformation of the system itself.” And of being a global insider: “Thus far, the climate convention is not protecting climate, the biodiversity convention is not protecting biodiversity, the desertification convention is not preventing desertification, and even the older and stronger Convention on the Law of the Sea is not protecting fisheries.”

Speth’s conclusion is not entirely unlike Naomi Klein’s. Speth writes in this book: “In short, most environmental deterioration is a result of systemic failures of the capitalism that we have today, and long-term solutions must seek transformative change in the key features of this contemporary capitalism.” Klein quotes Speth in her book: “We didn’t adjust with Reagan. We kept working within a system but we should have tried to change the system and root causes.”

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CDC Finally Admits that Ebola Can Float through the Air … 3 Feet

Frontline Healthcare Workers Must Protect Themselves from Aerosol Transmission of Ebola

We’ve noted for some time that Ebola can be spread by aerosols to frontline healthcare workers.

The CDC is finally admitting this fact.

The CDC put out a new poster stating:

Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose, or mouth of another person. Droplets travel short distances, less than 3 feet (1 meter) from one person to another.

A person might also get infected by touching a surface or object that has germs on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

***

Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs, faucet handles, and toys, since the Ebola virus may live on surfaces for up to several hours.

Meryl Nass, M.D. – a board-certified internist and a biological warfare epidemiologist and expert in anthrax - comments:

CDC says it doesn’t travel farther than 3 feet.  Well, at least CDC is starting to move the narrative.  Maybe tomorrow it will be 5 feet.  Then 10.  Maybe next month they will tell us why all the victims’ possessions are being incinerated and apartments fumigated.

Just remember: historically, Ebola spread fast in healthcare facilities.

And see this.

Dr. Nass previously argued that the CDC has been lying about aerosol transmission of Ebola, as its own 2009 publication admitted that Ebola:

pose[s] a high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections and life-threatening disease that is frequently fatal, for which there are no vaccines or treatments…

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 13 Comments