Friday, October 17, 2014

The Saudi oil war against Russia, Iran and the US

Saudi Arabia has unleashed an economic war against selected oil producers. The strategy masks the House of Saud’s real agenda. But will it work?

Rosneft Vice President Mikhail Leontyev; “Prices can be manipulative…Saudi Arabia has begun making big discounts on oil. This is political manipulation, and Saudi Arabia is being manipulated, which could end badly.”

A correction is in order; the Saudis are not being manipulated. What the House of Saud is launching is “Tomahawks of spin,” insisting they’re OK with oil at $90 a barrel; also at $80 for the next two years; and even at $50 to $60 for Asian and North American clients.

The fact is Brent crude had already fallen to below $90 a barrel because China – and Asia as a whole – was already slowing down economically, although to a lesser degree compared to the West. 
Production, though, remained high – especially by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait - even with very little Libyan and Syrian oil on the market and with Iran forced to cut exports by a million barrels a day because of the US economic war, a.k.a. sanctions.

The House of Saud is applying a highly predatory pricing strategy, which boils down to reducing market share of its competitors, in the middle- to long-term. At least in theory, this could make life miserable for a lot of players – from the US (energy development, fracking and deepwater drilling become unprofitable) to producers of heavy, sour crude such as Iran and Venezuela. Yet the key target, make no mistake, is Russia. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Should we just follow orders?

The perils of resisting the police state grow more costly with each passing day, especially if you hope to escape with your life and property intact. The thing you must remember is that we’ve entered an age of militarized police in which we’re no longer viewed as civilians but as enemy combatants. 

Take, for example, Mary Elizabeth VandenBerg who was charged with disturbing the peace, a crime punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, for daring to vocalize her frustrations over a traffic ticket by reading a prepared statement to the court clerk and paying her $145 traffic ticket with 145 one-dollar bills. VandenBerg was also handcuffed, Tasered and pepper sprayed for “passively” resisting police by repeatedly stopping and talking to them and stiffening her arms. The incident, filmed by VandenBerg’s brother, is now the subject of a lawsuit. 

Zachary Noel was Tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a Taser through the open window. The encounter, recorded with a cell phone by Noel’s friend in the passenger seat, offers a particularly chilling affirmation of how little recourse Americans really have when it comes to obeying an order from a government official or police officer, even if it’s just to ask a question or assert one’s rights. 

Eighteen-year-old Keivon Young was shot seven times by police from behind while urinating outdoors. Young was just zipping up his pants when he heard a commotion behind him and then found himself struck by a hail of bullets from two undercover cops. Despite the fact that the officers mistook Young—5’4,” 135 lbs., and guilty of nothing more than taking a leak outdoors—for a 6’ tall, 200 lb. murder suspect whom they later apprehended, the young man was charged with felony resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a peace officer. 

What these incidents make clear is that anything short of compliance will now get you charged with any of the growing number of contempt charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out anytime a citizen voices discontent with the government or challenges or even questions the authority of the powers that be—and that’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario involves getting probed, poked, pinched, Tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed. 

Read the entire article

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola, ‘Scaremongering,’ and the Epidemiology of Interventionism

The U.S. government is good at doing what it’s not supposed to be doing – invading other countries without provocation, utilizing "soft power" in order to pull off regime change, enriching politically favored economic interests under the guise of promoting "democracy" – and very bad at doing what it really ought to be doing, i.e. protecting Americans from actual physical harm emanating from overseas.

Overthrowing "rogue" regimes? Check!

Protecting the American people from highly contagious diseases? Forget about it.

Over 300 U.S. troops have been sent to Liberia, the epicenter of the current Ebola outbreak, with 700 expected in the country by the end of October. As many as 4000 are projected to be part of the effort eventually, although officials maintain that this number is likely to be variable. Their purpose? According to this Associated Press report:

"The Marines and their aircraft will help with air transportation and ferrying of supplies, overcoming road congestion in Monrovia and bad roads outside the capital, said Capt. R. Carter Langston, spokesman for the U.S. mission. A priority will be transporting building materials to treatment unit sites. The U.S. has said it will oversee construction of 17 treatment units with 100 beds each."

So we’re sending hundreds, possibly thousands of U.S. soldiers in order to … direct traffic?
Senator Rand Paul has challenged this policy, raising the possibility of a planeload of U.S. soldiers exposed to the virulent Ebola virus returning to American shores – and spreading the virus in this country, with catastrophic results. He’s been attacked for this by the Obama-loving media for "scaremongering," as the Daily Beast’s Sally Kohn puts it:

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Hong Kong's Identity Crisis

Chan would claim, "we are facing an identity crisis in Hong Kong, particularity in the younger generation, people born after 1987 whose never known life other than under Chinese sovereignty. Hong Kong people pride themselves on the fact that we have an identity that is separate from the rest of China, we have core values rooted firmly in the rule of law, an open transparent accountable government, in protecting the rights and freedoms that we enjoyed under British colonial rule and which are protected under our constitution, the Basic Law. But today we see all these values being eroded."

Indeed, Hong Kong does face an identity crisis. It has irreversibly become once again a part of China after 142 years of foreign occupation by Britain. China now is a nation rising upon the world's stage, exercising increasingly what could be called "soft power" and developing its own institutions, organizations and laws to manage society and to conduct business both within China's territory and beyond it. What is eroding is not "the rule of law" or any of the other values Chan cited, but rather the West's versions of them as they existed under British colonial rule. These versions are being supplanted and incrementally replaced by China's own institutions, legal and socioeconomic structures as they should be.

What is left of British colonial rule over Hong Kong was originally designed to serve the British Empire, or in other words, emptying out the resources and prosperity of foreign lands, and consolidating it on behalf of London.

Later during the event in Washington, Anson Chan along with Martin Lee, a political activist, lawyer, former legislator and now co-organizers of the ongoing Occupy Central protests, would be confronted with the fact that mainland Chinese cities like Shanghai appear positioned to overtake Hong Kong as a regional financial center.

Both Chan and Lee would insist that Hong Kong's devotion to the vestigial institutions left over from nearly a century and a half of British occupation were not only the keys to Hong Kong's past success, but the keys also to its future success as well as in maintaining its primacy as a financial and trade center for both China and greater Asia.


Read the entire article

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

America’s “Terrorist Academy” in Iraq Produced ISIS Leaders

The Obama administration’s determination to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is pushing the Middle East towards a regional war that could lead to a confrontation between the two nuclear-armed rivals, Russia and the United States.

Last week, Turkey joined the US-led coalition following a vote in parliament approving a measure to give the government the authority to launch military action against Isis in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that Turkish involvement would come at a price, and that price would be the removal of al Assad. According to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News:
“Turkey will not allow coalition members to use its military bases or its territory in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if the objective does not also include ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted on Oct. 1… 
“We are open and ready for any cooperation in the fight against terrorism. However, it should be understood by everybody that Turkey is not a country in pursuit of temporary solutions, nor will Turkey allow others to take advantage of it,” Erdoğan said in his lengthy address to Parliament.”.. 
“Turkey cannot be content with the current situation and cannot be a by-stander and spectator in the face of such developments.” (“Turkey will fight terror but not for temporary solutions: Erdoğan“, Hurriyet)
Officials in the Obama administration applauded Turkey’s decision to join the makeshift coalition. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hailed the vote as a “very positive development” while State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We welcome the Turkish Parliament’s vote to authorize Turkish military action…We’ve had numerous high-level discussions with Turkish officials to discuss how to advance our cooperation in countering the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.”

Friday, October 03, 2014

10 Myths About Obama’s Latest War in Iraq and Syria

1. Islamic State presents an immediate threat to the people of the U.S.

2. The U.S. is not waging war, but a “counterterrorism operation.”

3. The U.S. has no boots on the ground.

4. The U.S. has formed a viable coalition to defeat Islamic State.

5. The U.S. can fight IS and other extremists without simultaneously helping Bashar Assad, Iran and Hezbollah.

6. The U.S. supports only moderate rebels.

7. The U.S. fights to defend human rights and the rule of law, not oil.

8. President Obama has the legal authority to bomb both Iraq and Syria.

9. The Kurdish leaders are staunch allies against IS.

10. The U.S. never negotiates ransoms with terrorists, unlike those slippery French.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The crimes of Eric Holder

Good riddance!

Eric Holder has announced that he is leaving his post of Attorney General, which he has sullied and degraded for six years.

A corporate lawyer with the Wall Street law firm Covington & Burling, Holder will be remembered for his timid defense of civil rights; his overseeing and even encouragement of the massive militarization of the nation’s police forces; his anti-First Amendment efforts to pursue not just whistleblowers but the journalists who use them; threatening both with jail and in fact jailing a number of them (particularly in the case of whistleblower extraordinaire Edward Snowden, and WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange, both of whom reportedly face US treason charges); and his weak enforcement of environmental protection laws.

But Holder, who came into his position as the nation’s top law enforcement officer in early 2009 at the start of the Obama administration and at the height of the financial crisis, will be best remembered for his overt announcement that there would be no attempt to prosecute the criminals at the top of the nation’s top banks, whose brazen crimes of theft, deceit, fraud and perjury during the Bush/Cheney years and beyond sank not just the US but the global economy into a crisis which is still with us.

Holder not only did not make any effort to put Wall Street’s banking titans behind bars for their epic crimes, he did not even make them step down from their exalted and absurdly highly compensated executive positions when his office reached negotiated settlements with the banks in civil cases involving those crimes—civil cases that almost always allowed the banks to settle without even having to admit their guilt. (His ludicrous excuse: punishing these criminal executive might jeopardize the banks’ stocks and hurt “innocent” shareholders!)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Turn the Tables: Stopping Western Aggression in Syria

As the US begins token airstrikes on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, the fighting capacity of the "Islamic State" or "ISIS," has seen no visible setbacks. This is because ISIS is in fact the very proxy mercenaries intentionally created to fight the West's proxy war against Iran and its arc of influence stretching from neighboring Iraq, through Syria, and into Lebanon. 

As early as 2007 - a full 4 years before the 2011 "Arab Spring" would begin - Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his New Yorker article titled, ""The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?" would warn specifically (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

After the West's flooding of the region with billions of dollars worth of weapons, equipment, vehicles, training, and cash for the purpose of bolstering "moderate rebels," what has emerged is precisely the "extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam" and are "sympathetic to Al Qaeda" Hersh warned about in 2007. The West has thus far otherwise failed to explain who else besides extremists could have received the aid, or who is funding extremists above and beyond the collective support provided by the US, Europe, and the West's Middle Eastern partners, that have allowed these extremists to dominate the battlefield so decisively. 

Now the US claims it must raise another army of "moderate" ground troops to augment its aerial bombardment of "ISIS." But in reality, attacks on phantom enemies in the desert serve the singular purpose of creating a no-fly zone and no-drive zone for Syria's military, preventing the final annihilation of the West's terrorist mercenaries in Syrian territory and in fact giving them a second chance to finally march on the gates of Damascus with US airpower in tow.  

Read the entire article

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Turning Americans into Snitches for the Police State ‘See Something, Say Something’ and Community Policing

If you see something suspicious, says the Department of Homeland Security, say something about it to the police, call it in to a government hotline, or report it using a convenient app on your smart phone.

(If you’re a whistleblower wanting to snitch on government wrongdoing, however, forget about it—the government doesn’t take kindly to having its dirty deeds publicized and, God forbid, being made to account for them.)

For more than a decade now, the DHS has plastered its “See Something, Say Something” campaign on the walls of metro stations, on billboards, on coffee cup sleeves, at the Super Bowl, even on television monitors in the Statue of Liberty. Now colleges, universities and even football teams and sporting arenas are lining up for grants to participate in the program.

This DHS slogan is nothing more than the government’s way of indoctrinating “we the people” into the mindset that we’re an extension of the government and, as such, have a patriotic duty to be suspicious of, spy on, and turn in our fellow citizens.

This is what is commonly referred to as community policing. Yet while community policing and federal programs such as “See Something, Say Something” are sold to the public as patriotic attempts to be on guard against those who would harm us, they are little more than totalitarian tactics dressed up and repackaged for a more modern audience as well-intentioned appeals to law and order and security.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own policing.
After all, the police can’t be everywhere. So how do you police a nation when your population outnumbers your army of soldiers? How do you carry out surveillance on a nation when there aren’t enough cameras, let alone viewers, to monitor every square inch of the country 24/7? How do you not only track but analyze the transactions, interactions and movements of every person within the United States?