Monday, April 30, 2012

From Russia with Love (of Oil and Gas)....

By Jeffrey Folks

Imagine a president who gets behind drilling, welcomes the cutting-edge technology of companies such as ExxonMobil, and offers generous 15-year tax breaks to ensure that new drilling projects move forward. That's the kind of energy policy America needs in order to achieve energy-independence. Unfortunately, it's not Barack Obama who's behind those positive energy policies; it's Vladimir Putin.

As Russian president-elect, Putin has made it clear that he intends to open his country's arctic and Black Sea regions to drilling. The potential is so great, and the necessary investment so immense, that even Russia's giant state-run oil companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, lack the resources and technology to proceed. So, with Putin's blessing, Rosneft and Gazprom have entered into joint-production agreements with Exxon, Italian major Eni, and other Western companies. The stakes are huge -- not just for these companies, but for the Russian economy.

The arctic and Black Sea fields being jointly developed by Rosneft and Eni contain an estimated 36 billion barrels of oil equivalents. Those under development by Rosneft and Exxon, which may ultimately require an investment of as much as $500 billion, contain estimated reserves of 36 billion barrels in the arctic Kara Sea fields alone. (Total recoverable arctic reserves have been estimated at 134 billion barrels of oil equivalent but will likely go higher as exploration proceeds.) In addition to the arctic and Black Sea fields covered in the Exxon and Eni agreements, president-elect Putin has expressed an interest in the possibility of joint ventures to develop vast Siberian tight shale formations.

Instead of permitting delays, EPA harassment, Interior Department exclusions, and environmental lawsuits, drillers in the Russian arctic and Black Sea can expect considerable support from the Russian government. Both the Eni and Exxon agreements were signed in Putin's presence, the latter in the company of Rosneft and Exxon CEOs at Putin's estate outside Moscow. These two deals alone should generate new domestic oil production of more than 80 billion barrels. At current European Brent Sea prices of $120 per barrel, that production (two-thirds owned by Rosneft) amounts to a $6.2-trillion boost to the Russian economy.

The same thing and more could be happening in the U.S., but it is not. Because of Obama's hostility toward fossil fuels, Zioconned America is missing the opportunity of energy-independence and all the blessings that come with it.

Rather than develop our own arctic reserves (conservatively estimated at 26 billion barrels) and our enormous offshore fields and onshore reserves on public lands, Obama shovels $100 billion of taxpayer money to bankrupt solar and wind projects. Meanwhile, he does all he can to block domestic oil and gas exploration and development. Every year he proposes new taxes on America's oil and gas industry, the one sector of the economy that shows the greatest promise. He c ontinues to stall offshore drilling in the Atlantic, late last year imposing a new five-year moratorium (already having reneged on his 2008 campaign promise to allow drilling there). He continues to block drilling in ANWR, thus endangering the future of an "increasingly hollow" Trans-Alaska pipeline, which may have to be closed down by 2020 if new production does not come online to maintain minimum operating flow of 200,000 bpd. That, of course, is one of the goals of the environmental radicals in his administration.

No one in this country would wish for an American Putin, but in terms of energy policy, Obama is worse than Putin. Much worse.

America's oil majors are the world leaders in exploration and drilling technology, and this technological advantage exists right under the president's nose. His response is to undermine this vital American industry and shift the advantage off to our competitors. It is because of Obama's opposition to domestic drilling that America's major oil companies are aggressively pursuing opportunities abroad. Were it not for the president's irrational hostility toward fossil fuels, one million new highly paid jobs would have been created here at home, untold wealth would have flowed into our economy, and increased revenues and royalties from drilling would have helped balance state and federal budgets. It is the president who is destroying jobs and impoverishing America with his senseless antagonism toward drilling.

As a result of Obama's actions, America will be left less prosperous, less secure, and dependent on costly alternatives insufficient to power our economy. That point was bolstered at a meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress last week in Detroit, where a senior automotive engineering executive ranked the delivery efficiency of the lithium-ion battery at "zero" in comparison with that of gas and diesel engines. But it is exactly those zero-efficiency vehicles that Obama wants every American to be driving by 2025.

The madness of Obama's energy policy is becoming increasingly obvious. On April 17, America's largest solar company announced the reduction of its workforce by almost a third. Considering the fact that half a dozen other major solar companies have filed for bankruptcy in the last year, these job cuts are not surprising. What is surprising, and extremely troubling, is that President Obama continues to propose even larger subsidies for troubled solar companies. At the same time, he heaps onerous new costs and regulations on oil and gas companies that have the potential to revive the American economy.

That raises the question of whether Obama really wants the American economy to prosper. Does he want the U.S. to add $6.2 trillion in new oil production, with all the new jobs and prosperity that involves, or does he want the American people to remain unemployed, impoverished, and dependent on government assistance? From his actions, the answer is obvious.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What will kill the ZOG's U.S. dollar faster than U.S. debt default is if oil producers and consumers trade oil in other currencies….

What will kill the ZOG's U.S. dollar faster than U.S. debt default is if oil producers and consumers trade oil in other currencies….

While Zioconned Western sabers are rattling about purported Nukes, a BRICk has been hurled through our plate-glass front windows…! The BRIC nations(Brazil, Russia, India, and China), minus Brazil in this particular instance, are on the cusp of replacing the almighty US buck as the base currency for Petrodollars…!

Just to refresh ya’ll, noted before…

…Iran is the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC)’s second-largest oil producer.

The Iranian oil bourse is intended as an oil exchange for petroleum, petrochemicals and gas in various currencies other than the U.S. dollar, primarily the euro and Iranian rial and a basket of other major (non-U.S.) currencies.

Western analysts said that at a time when the U.S. dollar is as vulnerable as it has ever been, Iran is piling on the pressure with their oil exchange. The thing that will kill the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency faster than the U.S. debt default is if oil producers and consumers trade oil in other currencies…


Of course, the effectiveness of the IOB will depend on whether the big international oil trading companies decide to accept deals in euros or not. However, the potential financial impact on the U.S. economy remains more than just idle speculation.

“The weapon of oil in the hands of Iran’s regime is more dangerous than any other weapon,” said a recently published article in Italy’s Panorama newsmagazine. [...]

There is speculation that the IOB represents Iran’s plan to escape any possible future economic sanctions spearheaded by the U.S. However, some postulate that the plan could also endanger the continued existence of Iran’s regime. William Clark, an American security expert, predicted that if Iran threatened the hegemony of the U.S. dollar in the international oil market, the White House would immediately order a military attack against it…

Now, take a gander at this new Asia Times article…

…Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who visited Doha last week, disclosed at a press conference on Friday: a) China proposes to invest in the manufacturing of ”downstream oil products, which are most urgently needed by Qatar”; b) China and Qatar signed an agreement to jointly build a refinery in Taizhou, Zheijiang, in China; c) Chinese companies propose to participate in infrastructure projects in Qatar; and d) China and Qatar are discussing a “long-term, stable and comprehensive cooperative partnership” in natural gas.

Then, Wen quietly dropped a bombshell. He revealed “one more important point” as if it were an afterthought. He said:

In order to address investment issues, we [China and Qatar] need financial support. Therefore, we reached another agreement, a cooperation agreement linking finance with investment. Qatar also proposed the use of local currency in trade settlement and even a specific ratio. I think this proposal can be studied.

The short point is, the renminbi, the “people’s currency” also known as the yuan, is appearing in Doha. The China-United Arab Emirates (UAE) currency swap deal which was signed during Wen’s visit to Abu Dhabi last week already brings the yuan to the Emirates. The deal with the UAE is worth US$5.5 billion and the Chinese central bank statement said that it aims at “strengthening bilateral financial cooperation, promoting trade and investments and jointly safeguarding regional financial stability”. {snip}

Iran and Russia have already switched to their national currencies for conducting bilateral trade. Tehran’s ambassador to Moscow Seyed Reza Sajjadi said on Friday, “[Trade] with Russia is based on our national currencies. We started this work long ago. Iranian businessmen are buying products in Russia and are using the rouble as [payment] currency] … The US dollar has no [economic] support base … There is a similar interest on the Russian side.”

Last week, it also came to be known that India proposes to allow Iran’s central bank to open rupee accounts with two Indian banks as a long-term solution to the countries’ payment problems instigated by the US (which pressured New Delhi to terminate the traditional payment mechanism for Iran within the Asian Clearing Union.) An Indian delegation visited Tehran last week to finalize details...

Stiglitz - Politics Is At the Root of the Problem....

Stiglitz - Politics Is At the Root of the Problem....

Where Stiglitz refers to 'free markets' here, he means the 'efficient markets hypothesis.' That is, if markets are left entirely to their own devices they will manage themselves, honestly and efficiently.

Government and regulation are the problem, and they distort markets. Therefore if you 'free' markets from the influence of imperfect supervision, the natural efficiency of the market will prevail.

This model of the markets assumes that most market participants, people, are naturally good and almost perfectly rational, that information disperses equally among those participants, and that fraud becomes quickly known to all and is shunned, so that no participant will be encouraged to engage in it.

One of the things that will be reconsidered in the aftermath of this crisis, besides the perennial tendency of academic theories to act as handmaidens to thugs and gangsterism, is how to maintain a market based economy with effective regulation, so that when the unscrupulous come to tear down the protections erected by previous generations, to lure the foolish and gullible with their siren songs of progress and freedom, they might be seen for what they really are: the old familiar frauds come back to rob again.

I am a strong believer in a market based economy, where the rules encourage fairness and transparency, and decision making is broadly dispersed amongst a large number of well-informed participants. Monopolies, corruption and fraud are inimical to such a system.

An excess of planning and regulation, on the other hand, leads to a concentration of power in few hands, which is a form of monopoly or cartel which is the same abuse that occurs with too little transparency and regulation.

It takes hard work and an alert public to maintain the balance of justice, and it is hardly natural. For the affairs of all men do not naturally tend to virtue, alas, but from a minority of the lawless there is the tendency to selfish and short term thinking, and entropy from temptation, and the concentration of power in unworthy hands.

Such is the tendency of the world as it is, not naturally good, but imperfect and fallen. And this is not only the theme, but the force of history, the recorded actions of people, the continuing struggle between moderation and excess, between good and evil. Without it, history would be merely the progression of happiness and contentment, and that is not the condition of this world, but of the next.

Cross Posted from The European

"Politics Is at the Root of the Problem"
The European: Four years after the beginning of the financial crisis, are you encouraged by the ways in which economists have tried to make sense of it, and by the ways in which those insights have been taken up by policy makers?

Stiglitz: Let me break this down in a slightly different way. Academic economists played a big role in causing the crisis. Their models were overly simplified, distorted, and left out the most important aspects. Those faulty models then encouraged policy-makers to believe that the markets would solve all the problems. Before the crisis, if I had been a narrow-minded economist, I would have been very pleased to see that academics had a big impact on policy. But unfortunately that was bad for the world. After the crisis, you would have hoped that the academic profession had changed and that policy-making had changed with it and would become more skeptical and cautious. You would have expected that after all the wrong predictions of the past, politics would have demanded from academics a rethinking of their theories. I am broadly disappointed on all accounts.

The European: Economists have seen the flaws of their models but have not worked to discard or improve them?

Stiglitz: Within academia, those who believed in free markets before the crisis still do so today. A few people have shifted, and I want to give credit to them for saying: “We were wrong. We underestimated this or that aspect of our models.” But for the most part, the response was different. Believers in the free market have not revised their beliefs.

The European: So let’s take a longer view. Do you think that the crisis will have an effect on future generations of economists and policy-makers, for example by changing the way that economic basics are taught?

Stiglitz: I think that change is really occurring with the young people. My young students overwhelmingly don’t understand how people could have believed in the old models. That is good. But on the other hand, many of them say that if you want to be an economist, you still have to deal with all the old guys who believe in their wrong theories, who teach those theories, and expect you to believe in them as well. So they choose not to go into those branches of economics. But where I have been even more disappointed is American policy-making. Ben Bernanke gives a speech and says something like, there was nothing wrong with economic theory, the problems were a few details in implementation. In fact, there was a lot wrong with economic theory and with the basic policy framework that was derived from theory. If your mindset is that nothing was wrong, you will not demand new models. That’s a big disappointment.

The European: There seemed to have been quite a bit of disagreement among Obama’s economic advisers about the right course of action. And in Europe, fundamental economic principles like the absolute focus on GDP growth have finally come under attack.

Stiglitz: Some American policy-makers have recognized the danger of “too big to fail,” but they are a minority. In Europe, things are a bit better on the rhetorical side. Influential economists like Derek Turner and Mervyn King have recognized that something is wrong. The Vickers Commission has thoughtfully re-examined economic policy. We have nothing like that in the United States. In Germany and France, the financial transactions tax and limits to executive compensation are on the table. Sarkozy says that capitalism hasn’t worked, Merkel says that we were saved by the European social model – and they are both conservative politicians! The bankers still don’t understand this, which explains why we still see the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, arguing that we have to give up the welfare system at a time when Merkel says the exact opposite: That the social model kept us going when the central banks failed to do their regulatory job and used politics to change the nature of our societies.

The European: How have your own convictions been affected by the crisis?

Stiglitz: I don’t think that there has been a fundamental change in my thinking. The crisis has reinforced certain things I said before and shown me how important they are. In 2003, I wrote about the risk of interdependence, where the collapse of one bank can bring about the collapse of other banks and increase the fragility of the banking system. I thought it was important, but the idea wasn’t picked up at the time. The same year we looked at agency problems in finance. Now we recognize just how important those issues are. I argued that the real issue in monetary economics is about credit, not money supply. Now everybody recognizes that the collapse of the credit system brought down the banks. (I don't agree, the collapse of the credit system was a symptom not a cause. It was the fraudulent paper, and the subsequent insolvency it promoted, that collapsed confidence which is the foundation of credit - Jesse) So the crisis really validated and reinforced several strands of theory that I had explored before. One topic that I now consider much more important than I did previously is the question of adjustment and the role of exchange rate systems like the Euro in preventing economic adjustment. A related issues is the linkage between structural adjustment and macroeconomic activity. The events of the crisis have really induced me to think more about them.

The European: The financial transaction tax seems to have died a political death in Europe. Now, economic policy in Europe seems largely dominated by the logic of austerity, and by forcing other European countries to become more like Germany.

Stiglitz: Austerity itself will almost surely be disastrous. It is leading to a double-dip recession that could be quite serious. It will probably make the Euro crisis worse. The short-term consequences are going to be very bad for Europe. But the broader issue is about the “German model.” There are many aspects to it – among them the social model – that allow Germany to weather a very big dip in GDP by offering high levels of social protection. The German model of vocational training is also very successful. But there are other characteristics that are not so good. Germany is an export economy, but that cannot be true for all countries. If some countries have export surpluses, they are forcing other countries to have export deficits. Germany has taken a policy that other countries cannot imitate and tried to apply it to Europe in a way that contributes to Europe’s problems. The fact that some aspects of the German model are good does not mean that all aspects can be applied across Europe.

The European: And it does not mean that economic growth satisfied the criteria of social fairness.

Stiglitz: Yes, so there is one other thing we have to take into account: What is happening to most citizens in a country? When you look at America, you have to concede that we have failed. Most Americans today are worse off than they were fifteen years ago. A full-time worker in the US is worse off today than he or she was 44 years ago. That is astounding – half a century of stagnation. The economic system is not delivering. It does not matter whether a few people at the top benefitted tremendously – when the majority of citizens are not better off, the economic system is not working. We also have to ask of the German system whether it has been delivering. I haven’t studied all the data, but my impression is no.

The European: What do you say to someone who argues thus: Demographic change and the end of the industrial age have made the welfare state financially unsustainable. We cannot expect to cut down on our debt without fundamentally reducing welfare costs in the long run.

Stiglitz: That is absurd. The question of social protection does not have to do with the structure of production. It has to do with social cohesion or solidarity. That is why I am also very critical of Draghi’s argument at the European Central Bank that social protection has to be undone. There are no grounds upon which to base that argument. The countries that are doing very well in Europe are the Scandinavian countries. Denmark is different from Sweden, Sweden is different from Norway – but they all have strong social protection and they are all growing. The argument that the response to the current crisis has to be a lessening of social protection is really an argument by the 1% to say: “We have to grab a bigger share of the pie.” But if the majority of people don’t benefit from the economic pie, the system is a failure. I don’t want to talk about GDP anymore, I want to talk about what is happening to most citizens.

The European: Has the political Left been able to articulate that criticism?

Stiglitz: Paul Krugman has been very strong on articulating criticism of the austerity arguments. The broader attack has been made, but I am not sure whether it has been fully heard. The critical question right now is how we grade economic systems. It hasn’t been fully articulated yet but I think we will win this one. Even the Right is beginning to agree that GDP is not a good measure of economic progress. The notion of the welfare of most citizens is almost a no-brainer. (Median is the message. - Jesse)

The European: It seems to me that much of the discussion is still about statistical measurements – if we’re not measuring GDP, we’re measuring something else, like happiness or income differences. But is there an element to these discussions that cannot be put in numerical terms – something about the values we implicitly bake into our economic system?

Stiglitz: In the long run, we ought to have those ethical discussions. But I am beginning from a much narrower base. We know that income doesn’t reflect many things we care about. But even with an imperfect indicator such as income, we should care about what happens to most citizens. It’s nice that Bill Gates is doing well. But if all the money went to Bill Gates, the system could not be graded as successful.

The European: If the political Left hasn’t been able to fully articulate that idea, has civil society been able to fill the gap?

Stiglitz: Yes, the Occupy movement has been very successful in bringing those ideas to the forefront of political discussion. I wrote an article for Vanity Fair in 2011 – “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” – that really resonated with a lot of people because it spoke to our worries. Protests like the ones at Occupy Wall Street are only successful when they pick up on these shared concerns. There was one newspaper article that described the rough police tactics in Oakland. They interviewed many people, including police officers, who said: “I agree with the protesters.” If you ask about the message, the overwhelming response has been supportive, and the big concern has been that the Occupy movement hasn’t been effective enough in getting that message across.

The European: How do we move from talking about economic inequality to tangible change? As you said earlier, the theoretical recognition of economic problems has often not been translated into policy.

Stiglitz: If my forecast about the consequences of austerity is correct, you will see a new round of protest movements. We had a crisis in 2008. We are now in the fifth year of crisis, and we haven’t solved it. There’s not even a light at the end of the tunnel. When we come to that conclusion, the discourse will change.

The European: The situation needs to be really bad before it will get better?

Stiglitz: Yes, I fear.

The European: You recently wrote about the “irreversible decay” of the American Midwest. Is this crisis a sign that the US has begun an irreversible economic decline, even while we still regard the country as a potent political player?

Stiglitz: We are facing a very difficult transition from manufacturing to a service economy. We have failed to manage that transition smoothly. If we don’t correct that mistake, we will pay a very high price. Already, the average American is suffering from the failed transition. My concern is that we have set in motion an adverse economics and an adverse politics. A lot of American inequality is caused by rent-seeking: Monopolies, military spending, procurement, extractive industries, drugs. We have some economic sectors that are very good, but we also have a lot of parasites. The hopeful view is that the economy can grow if we rid ourselves of the parasites and focus on the productive sectors. But in any disease there is always the risk that the parasites will devour the healthy body parts. The jury is still out on that.

The European: Have we at least understood the disease well enough to prescribe the correct therapy? Especially with regard to policy-making and the Euro crisis, there seems to be a lot of shooting into the dark.

Stiglitz: I think the problem is not a lack of understanding by dispassionate social scientists. We know the basic dilemma, and we know the effect of campaign contributions on policy-makers. So we are facing a vicious circle: Because money matters in politics, that leads to outcomes in which money matters in society, which increases the role of money in politics. You have more gerrymandering and more disillusionment with parliamentary politics.

The European: Has politics become too focused on outcomes, and is it not sensitive enough to the processes that lead to those outcomes? The bedrock of democracy seems to hinge on the avenues for participation, not on the effectiveness of particular policies.

Stiglitz: Let me put it this way: Some people criticize by saying that we have become too focused on inequality and are not concerned enough about opportunity. But in the United States, we are also the country with the biggest inequality of opportunity. Most Americans understand that fraud political processes play in fraud outcomes. But we don’t know how to break into that system. Our Supreme Court was appointed by moneyed interests and – not surprisingly – concluded that moneyed interests had unrestricted influence on politics. In the short run, we are exacerbating the influence of money, with negative consequences for the economy and for society.

The European: Where is change rooted? In parliament? In academia? In the streets?

Stiglitz: You look in the streets and a little bit in academia as well. When I say that the major thrust of the economics profession has disappointed me, I need to qualify that statement. There have been groups that push new economic thinking and challenge the old models.

The European: You have written that the challenge is to respond to bad ideas not with rejection but with better ideas. Where is the longest and strongest lever to bring new economic thinking into the realm of policy?

Stiglitz: The diagnosis is that politics is at the root of the problem: That is where the rules of the game are made, that is where we decide on policies that favor the rich and that have allowed the financial sector to amass vast economic and political power. The first step has to be political reform: Change campaign finance laws. Make it easier for people to vote – in Australia, they even have compulsory voting. Address the problem of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering makes it so that your vote doesn’t count. If it does not count, you are leaving it to moneyed interests to push their own agenda. Change the filibuster, which turned from a barely used congressional tactic into a regular feature of politics. It disempowers Americans. Even if you have a majority vote, you cannot win.

The European: We’re looking at six months of presidential campaigning. The role of money has been embraced by both parties. Campaign finance reform seems rather unlikely.

Stiglitz: Even the Republicans have become more aware of the power of money by seeing how it influenced and distorted the primaries. The outcomes are not what the Republican party establishment had hoped for. The disaster is becoming clear – but that will not lead to immediate remedies. Those who become elected depend on that money. It will require a strong third party or civil society to do something about this.

Excerpt From 'Debt Generation' - We Are All Kettled Now....

Debts accrued by those in charge must be paid by us rather than honoured by them..., We Are All Kettled Now ....

We Are All Kettled Now.....

30 Mar 09

For anyone who has never been ‘kettled’ it is when the police at a protest suddenly close ranks and refuse to let anyone leave. You suddenly find you are held against your wishes. The police will not explain why, and they won’t allow any exceptions. You suddenly have no control over what is happening, and no discussion is permitted. A decision made by someone you have never seen now exerts complete and total control over your life.

We are all in that position now.

So vast is the debt our government has burdened us with that this one fact will now determine most of the politics of the next decade. Other hopes and desires – the wish for better schools, a better health service, better care for the elderly - will wither in the shadow of the debt repayments. If we are forced to pay back from taxes all the vast sums that have been sucked out of public spending and given to the banks, the country will not recover for a generation.

The economic ‘plans’, forced on us without debate, are all based on the banks returning large parts of the money they have taken from us. This means, whether we like it or not, we all have to hope that the banks make profits as quickly as possible. We have all been ‘kettled’ into having to hope and work for the largest possible growth in world trade and finance. We have to hope that the rich get richer, and quickly. The lords of finance and their servants in politics decided this for us.

There never was any discussion or debate of possible alternatives when the financial crisis began. It was declared, and universally agreed (always a bad sign) that the problem was liquidity, not solvency. That meant the only answer ever proposed was to provide liquidity at all costs. Liquidity being our money to cover the massive losses they had incurred. This, we were told, wasn’t really a cost at all, but ‘an investment’. An investment which would pay back all the loaned, borrowed and printed money long before the debts came due through re-inflated levels of growth and asset value.

That was, and is, their only plan. And so absolute is the certainty in the minds of all concerned that none of them can even conceive of looking beyond the closed circle of that logic. No counter-argument is allowed or taken seriously. No warning signs are read as such.

Their so-called ‘free market’ has seized control and locked us in to a course of action in which democratic choice has been foreclosed. The growing realization that this is what is happening will bring about increased anger. The smug reaction to anger is to label it ‘mindless’. The mindless anger of the ignorant who don't understand the necessary steps being taken by those who know better. That is the boiled down assumption of all our leaders, all the economic experts and most economic journalists.

The truth is quite different. People like me are angry because exactly the same people who, in 2008, assumed they knew how to run the global economy still assume they, and only they, know what must be done now. And their prescription is as simple as it is arrogant: put it back they way it was.

We are told that the debts accrued by those in charge must be paid by us rather than honored by them. No debate.

We are told we must get lending back to the old levels. No debate.
We are told we must get the consumer consuming again rather than saving. No debate.
We are told that we must agree and complete the Doha round of global free trade liberalization. No debate.

To be robbed is one thing: to be condescended to by the people who robbed you is another altogether.

That is why many people like me are angry. We are angry because the financial elite are shoving their ideology down our throats. We are angry because we might have wanted to have a say. We are angry because we had different ideas that were never even considered.

Here we are at the point in history when many of us are looking at the imminent threats of climate change and oil scarcity, clearly seeing the dangers of unbridled growth, and yet at this point democratic choice has been kettled. No debate.

And that is why this crisis is no longer just about lack of confidence in the markets: it is now about the legitimacy of our governments. The entire political class has been captured by the same ideology. They all, to one extent or another, believe ‘the market’ is going to save us. No other solutions have even been allowed into the debate.

We shouldn’t waste our time arguing over which party is most to blame. All the parties and the economists and the City boys all agreed, and they still do. In their minds the banks had to be bailed out and their losses made ours. We were taken to war without discussion and on false pretenses; the same has happened with this financial crisis. So enough of who is to blame: they all were and are.

They all believe in a system that says we must create demand and then feed it with debt. This necessarily involves increasing demand by the creation of yet more debt. It always crashes and always will. That is how their system works. If we allow it to be the solution, it will create another crash and another. Each time the rich will reap profits on the way up and rape the public purse on the way down. It's win, win for them and lose, lose for us.

Plus ça change!

Debt Generation - By David Malone

Criminal US ZOG eyes Iran in shaping defense bill....

Criminal US ZOG eyes Iran in shaping defense bill....

By Carlo Munoz -

Zioconned House Republicans are hammering out the details on a spending plan that would open the door to financing weapons systems that could be used in a potential conflict with Iran.

GOP leaders on the House Armed Services Committee plan to incorporate a bill introduced by panel member Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) into their final version of the defense-spending bill for fiscal 2013.

Conaway’s bill, brought to the House floor on Tuesday, would authorize and appropriate funding for fiscal 2012 and 2013 “to enhance readiness and U.S. military capabilities” in the Middle East.

“This bill demonstrates to a defiant Iran that the United States will take military action in order to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability, should economic sanctions and diplomacy fail,” according to Conaway’s legislation.

The legislation also calls for enhancing the “military capabilities of our Persian Gulf allies” and leveraging those allies into “regional strategic partnerships” to counter any military threats from Iran.

Finally, Conaway’s bill states that U.S. policy toward Iran should be geared toward taking “all necessary measures, including military action if required” to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The Texas Republican told The Hill on Thursday that his staff was still working with committee leadership on which elements of his bill will be folded into the defense-spending legislation.

If it’s included in the fiscal ’13 defense bill, the Conaway language would pave the way for the committee to funnel DOD dollars into weapons and equipment that would be key in waging a military conflict against Iran.

Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Wednesday night the panel was already eyeing increases to particular weapons and intelligence systems in the House draft of the defense bill.

When asked if Conaway’s bill will in fact be folded into the House defense bill, McKeon spokesman Claude Chafin said on Thursday that the chairman “was very supportive of the legislation.”

Tehran’s ongoing military buildup, including the possible addition of a nuclear weapon to its arsenal and its recent aggressive actions in the Strait of Hormuz, constitute proof enough that Tehran could be gearing up for a fight, House Republicans argue.

Programs that could receive increased funding include airborne surveillance systems and bombs capable of blasting through hundreds of feet of reinforced concrete to hit a target, McKeon said during his speech at the Alexander Hamilton Society on Wednesday.

U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf have already beefed up their fleet to deter a possible Iranian attack.

The Navy has doubled the number of mine-hunting vessels in the region and outfitted its warships with powerful Gatling guns to counter Iran’s small, fast-moving patrol boats.

Conaway said there was “no question” the military would be ready to respond if the Obama administration decided to take action against Iran. However, Tehran “must understand when the president says all options are on the table [it will] include kinetic action,” he added.

McKeon first voiced his intentions to beef up the Pentagon’s ability to counter the threat posed by Iran in March.

“We are doing what we can to make sure [the United States] is protected … and that is what we are going to do,” McKeon told reporters during a March 21 briefing on Capitol Hill.

McKeon last month said Congress must begin to “allocate resources for contingencies like Iran” and that the fiscal 2013 defense-spending bill will reflect “appropriate resourcing” for those programs....

Brave Americans know ALL about those criminal barbarians in DC and Tel Aviv....

Voters need to keep the warmongering Republicans as far away as
possible from running our foreign policy ESPECIALLY towards Iran.

Republican George W. Bush disastrously fostered an atmosphere of
unspeakable brutality by authorizing the criminal torture of detainees resulting in
fiascos such as Abu Ghraib and atrocities this year that included
cutting off fingers, peeing on Afghans, desecrating their scriptures and
last month’s slaughter of 17 civilians.

Bush wasted $ trillions of our treasure and tens of thousands of
American lives including 4,400 deaths, diverting our forces from
Afghanistan and from the search for Osama Bin Laden and instead sent
them to murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children,
in the process converting that country from Iran's worst enemy into its
closest ally with a war based on utter lies.....

An example of the Bush lies was reported by Sen. Bill Nelson who said
that the Bush administration misled his chamber before a vote to
authorize the war when they told him intelligence showed Saddam had
unmanned aircraft that could deliver chemical weapons to U.S. cities. As
it turned out, there was never any such report in U.S. intelligence

And "In a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared 
before the
Iraq war, the CIA hedged its judgments about Saddam Hussein 
weapons of mass destruction, pointing up the limits of its 
But in the unclassified version of the NIE -- the so-called 
white paper
cited by the Bush administration in making its case for war 
-- those
carefully qualified conclusions were turned into blunt 
assertions of
fact, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee's 
report on prewar

Senior professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Fulton Armstrong wrote, "When we on the National
Council finally got a full read of the National
Intelligence Estimate on 
WMDs, after its publication, a couple of us
expressed grave 
reservations about the fatally weak evidence and the
one-sided interpretation of what shreds of information it

Then Bush nominated a crook with mob links who is now in prison for
corruption to run our Homeland Security.

Also, Congress had to intervene and stop Bush when he tried to hand over
our most important ports to a ZIOCONNED Muslim nation....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Democracy-carriers" and their despicable behavior....

Just in case you missed the first installment, here are some more news items about the "democracy-carriers" and their despicable behavior....

We do not yet have enough military bases, so the US is building more in the Balkans - in Bulgaria and Romania. The planned new big base in Bulgaria will be a facility from which to fight FUTURE Afghanistan battles....large military exercise of all Balkans nations including all ex-Yugoslavia ones led by US. That much for ending the war in Afghanistan and leaving the Balkans alone...Balkans are turning into a giant US military colony....

We will find plenty more unknown fault lines when we stick fracking towers into them in other parts of the country....
Panetta is going to to visit the Empire's pretty new military base there with plans at escalating troops. Bases and coca leaves, what a friend we have in Colombia.

There is a new R2P-ish scam on the horizon - Panetta's stated reason is - he wants to fight FARC and that's what all those troops are about. Do not analyze the nonsense of building a giant base and putting over 10,000 troops in there to share somebody else's thugs in the jungle. He wants to fight that same FARC whom CIA covertly supports? The same FARC used as private army by BP and Chiquita and other Zio corporations to terrorize serfs on their own land? We found new bad guys to hunt whom we are funding so they can be useful asset plus bogeymen simultaneously, that old familiar recipe.

Panetta has 10,000 troops in Colombia, another brigade about to deploy. (If they don't get FARC, maybe they can always look for their Kony bogeyman down there since he is clearly not in Uganda?) The chilling phrase is this:
Other top U.S. defense and military officials have for years spoken of “coming back home” to the Western Hemisphere as the war in Afghanistan winds down.

Translation: As soon as we get Afghanistan under better control, we will blow up Venezuela....Pentagon calls that a 'homecoming".


TOP OF THE WORLD: NATO Rehearses For War In The Arctic
The Western campaign for global dominance has reached the top of the world.

Let's not forget - we still have to blow up the Arctic, too...and we are worried about the economy. Join the military! Lots of job openings coming up.
Excerpt from that giant NATO Arctic Circle military exercise of 11 nations:

The source added: “Participants will rehearse deploying and using military reaction forces in an area of crisis where they have to handle everything from high intensity warfare to terror threats and mass demonstrations. The soldiers have to balance the use of diplomatic and military force.”

High-intensity warfare, terror threats and mass demonstrations in the Arctic…

It also described live-fire infantry, naval and air – with the participation of fighter jets and helicopters operating from several Norwegian and Swedish bases and from aircraft carriers – components of the exercise....
During that Arctic drill, a Norwegian C130 crashed in Sweden, killing 5. Same exercise, the Brits crashed its last remaining aircraft carrier into a tugboat and had to go home for repairs.

And in that other large drill at the new base in Bulgaria Hillary is gloating about, the largest US-Bulgarian exercise ended rather abruptly when they crashed this MIG in the countryside...

Since all of this Cold War saber-rattling in the Arctic plus Balkans is aimed at Russia, Putin must be laughing his butt off....

One more for the collection of the Empire's new war frontiers on this thread. War exercises with US and Philippines, too....

NSA Domestic Spying... more from Mr. Binney.

NSA Domestic Spying Continues Under Obama

Binney issued a warning in the Wired Magazine piece: “[Binney] held his thumb and forefinger close together: ‘We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.’”

US Taxpayers Shelling Out Trillions For Faulty Weapons...

US Taxpayers Shelling Out Trillions For Faulty Weapons and crooked leadership, in a ZOG of utter corrupt criminals and assassins in Washington DC....

The Pentagon has frittered away billions in taxpayer cash on not fully tested arms, a government watchdog report says. While the policy grants the military access to cutting-edge technology, the public can be left footing the bill for faulty weapons.

A report issued by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Friday shed light on the controversial policy of “concurrency” which approves untested weapons for production and use.

“While some concurrency is understandable, committing to product development before requirements are understood and technologies mature, or committing to production and fielding before development is complete, is a high-risk strategy that often results in performance shortfalls, unexpected cost increases, schedule delays and test problems,” said the report.

The investigations focused specifically on the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) that has spent over $80 billion since its creation in 2002.

Last year, design faults were discovered in the US military’s missile defense mechanism, requiring an overhaul. The GAO estimates that the cost of testing the new system following the changes has increased “from $236 million to about $1 billion.”

The GAO also warned Congress that faults in the new jet model Joint Strike Fighter will allegedly require “unprecedented funding” if it is to be put into action on US aircraft carriers. The craft’s development is already over-budget by approximately $15 billion.

The Pentagon’s head weapons buyer Frank Kendall branded the government’s plans to purchase the craft in spite of soaring costs “acquisition malpractice.”

The report concludes that the US Department of Defense should “reduce concurrency” with a view to minimizing monetary losses through faulty equipment.

In addition it said that the Department of Defense had consistently failed to address “implications for concurrency in the future” as stipulated in the report.


World's largest military drain

The US weapons budget is the largest in the world, the government reportedly dedicating $711 billion to military spending in 2011 according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The GAO did not release an audit of US military spending in 2011 on the basis that there “were widespread internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations” that prevented it from an accurate calculation.

Where military spending is concerned, the US government has been dogged by accusations of unprecedented wastage and fraud. An investigation carried out in September 2009 by the Wartime Contracting Commission revealed that between $31 and $60 billion of funds had been lost through mismanagement and fraud during the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration severely underestimated the cost of the latter campaign, which meant US citizens paying for the extra expenditure in raised taxes.

In spite of the economic downturn the US increased its military budget by $13 billion in 2011, drawing upon taxpayers’ funds.

According to projections made by the US Congress Joint Economic Committee, the average American family is expected to pay $46,000 in raised taxes to foot the bill for the country’s overstretched military.

The Obama administration has made a pact with the Afghan government to support the country’s developing security forces for up to a decade after the official US troop withdrawal in 2014. If the funding is approved by Congress, Washington will be obliged to supply $4 billion to Afghanistan annually....

Spain Faces Crisis 'Of Huge Proportions' Over Unemployment And Banks....

Spain Faces Crisis 'Of Huge Proportions' Over Unemployment And Banks....

Figures show almost 25% of people out of work amid concerns Spanish banking sector may need bailout of up to £100Billion....

Spain is in a crisis "of huge proportions", the foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, has said after official figures showed unemployment had hit almost 25% amid concerns that the country's banking sector may need a €120bn (£98bn) bailout before the end of the year.

The jobless rate stood at an 18-year high after the latest figures showed it at 24.4%, or 5.6 million people out of work. Unemployment is now the focus of debate in the country as policymakers worry about the effects of a collapse in consumer spending, a drop in tax receipts and spiralling bad debts.

Standard & Poor's, the ratings agency that downgraded Spain's credit status on Thursday, said it was concerned the situation was worsening and rising defaults on loans and mortgages could quickly undermine the banking sector.

Critics of the rightwing administration headed by Mariano Rajoy said government policies were partly to blame for making the situation worse. The rate has soared on the back of labour reforms that make it easier and cheaper to sack people. Some 374,300 jobs were lost in the first three months of this year, representing an estimated loss of €953m in income tax receipts.

An austerity budget passed last month which pushed up education and health charges while cutting benefit payouts is also blamed for undermining household incomes and prolonging the recession.

On Friday the economy minister, Luis de Guindos, said VAT and other indirect taxes would have to rise next year to raise a further €8bn.

In four of the country's autonomous regions the jobless rate is over 30% and across the country 52% of under-25s are out of work, leaving 1.72m households without a single member in work.

Engracia Hidalgo, the employment minister, said there were "no positive indicators," while García-Margallo described the figures as "terrible for everyone and terrible for the government". Of Spain's 47 million inhabitants, only 17,433,200 are in work.

In a radio interview, García-Margallo urged the EU to do more to promote growth. "What's bad for us is bad for them," he said. "It's like the Titanic – if it sinks, the first-class passengers go down with it." He defended government reforms, saying there was no alternative. "When you take strong measures to treat a sick person, at first they become weaker, but if you don't apply this treatment they won't get better," he said. However, austerity alone was not enough, he added.

Spanish banks have long been suspected of disguising billions of euros of bad debts on their books after a property price collapse wiped more than 60% off the value of homes in some areas. Many families have maintained mortgage payments during the crisis, but a steep rise in unemployment has sent the number of bad loans soaring.

The government is considering whether to create a holding company for the banks' toxic real-estate assets after three rounds of forced clean-ups and consolidations in the financial sector failed to draw a line under the problem.

S&P, which downgraded the country's rating from A to BBB+, said: "It is not going to be an easy job for most Spanish banks to find funding in the market. So the state may be called for at some point. But that, for now at least, is something the Spanish government seems to be unwilling to contemplate."

The chaotic situation caused further falls on the Madrid stock exchange and interest rates on 10-year sovereign bonds touched 6%. S&P expects the Spanish economy to shrink by 1.5% this year and 0.5% in 2013. The agency does not expect the creation of new jobs in Spain before 2015. Fernando Jiménez Latorre, the secretary of state for the economy, said he did not expect unemployment to rise above 25% this year. He complained that S&P had not taken into account all of the adjustments the government had made, such as capping the budgets of the regional governments. Its analysis was "short term" he said.

Alfredo Pastor, an economist at the IESE business school in Madrid, said: "In the big numbers, we are not going to see the effects of the labour market reform before 2013. In fact, Spain needs deeper reforms that are effective and productivity enhancing. In the current recession, as well as labour reform, the government needs to take other measures, such as helping credit flow to business in order to help create jobs."

In his blog for the financial daily Expansión, Ismail de la Cruz asks: "How much longer can this state of affairs last? Not much. We can't discount the likelihood that the Spanish banking sector will need external help from Europe before the end of the year. The problem is that Spain is not capable of doing this with its own resources and it's hard to find foreign investors who are prepared to take the risk. Which leaves no option but a European rescue fund."

Friday, April 27, 2012

A new scramble for Africa is on by vulture Capitalists.....

A new scramble for Africa is on by vulture Capitalists.....

New international land deals database reveals rush to buy up Africa...

World's largest public database lifts lid on the extent and secretive nature of the global demand for land....

Database reveals the carving up of the continent for vulture capitalists....

Almost 5% of Africa's agricultural land has been bought or leased by investors since 2000, according to an international coalition of researchers and NGOs that has released the world's largest public database of international land deals.

The database, launched on Thursday, lifts the lid on a decade of secretive deals struck by governments, investors and speculators seeking large tracts of fertile land in developing countries around the world.

The past five years have seen a flood of reports of investors snapping up land at rock-bottom prices in some of the world's poorest countries. But, despite growing concern about the local impacts of so-called "land grabs", the lack of reliable data has made it difficult to pin down the real extent and nature of the global rush for land.

Researchers estimate that more than 200m hectares (495m acres) of land – roughly eight times the size of the UK – were sold or leased between 2000 and 2010. Details of 1,006 deals covering 70.2m hectares mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America were published by the Land Matrix project, an international partnership involving five major European research centers and 40 civil society and research groups from around the world.

It is the first time a comprehensive list of international land deals has been collected and made public. The database relies on a wide variety of sources – including media reports, academic research and field-based investigations – to add detail to a global phenomenon notoriously shrouded in secrecy.

In a report published alongside the database, which analyzed 1,217 agricultural deals covering 83.2m hectares of land, the researchers said the data confirms suspicions that wealthy food-importing countries have been targeting farmland in poorer countries with high rates of hunger and weak land governance. However, the report also reveals the growing role of emerging economies.

The report describes the rise of a "new intra-regionalism" characterized by growing south-south investment. Overall, researchers found more than 30% of documented agricultural deals involve investors coming from the same region as their "target" country. Expanding agribusiness companies from Brazil and Argentina seem to prefer to invest in other Latin American countries, they said, while South African investors appear particularly involved in projects in nearby east, central and southern African countries.

The majority of documented deals are in Africa. Researchers say 754 deals have been identified on the continent, covering 56.2m hectares – or roughly the size of Kenya.

Little evidence of job creation or other benefits to local communities could be found among the hundreds of largely export-oriented projects, said the report. In some cases, it adds, investors have secured hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime farmland at little to no cost. One deal in South Sudan, for example, has reportedly granted a Norwegian investor a 99-year lease for 179,000 hectares at an annual cost of just $0.07 a hectare.

Governments eager for foreign investment have often gone to great lengths to advertise vast tracts of available "vacant" land in their countries. But the report says almost half of the agricultural deals studied showed the areas concerned were already being farmed before investors moved in. Competition between powerful foreign investors and local farming communities seems "inevitable", it said.

But, so far, few large-scale projects have been established on the millions of hectares bought or leased for agricultural activities, according to the report, which says less than 30% of documented deals are thought to be in production. It suggests that some investors may have underestimated the challenges associated with their projects, while other deals are likely to be purely strategic and speculative investments.

A separate report published on Wednesday by the International Land Coalition, the NGO Global Witness, and the US-based Oakland Institute, denounced the "secretive culture" around large-scale land deals, and demanded governments and businesses disclose contracts and detailed information about potential risks and impacts of land-based investments.

"Far too many people are being kept in the dark about massive land deals that could destroy their homes and livelihoods," says Megan Macinnes, senior land campaigner at Global Witness. "Companies should have to prove they are doing no harm, rather than communities with little information or power having to prove that a land deal is negatively affecting them."

Google makes more data grab....

Google makes more data grab....
By Martin J Young

HUA HIN, Thailand - Google has announced another service this week in an attempt to draw more of the world's population into its ecosystem and create the globe's largest digital filing cabinet. The concept of an online storage locker for personal photos, videos, music and documents is not a new one so Google Drive will be entering an already crowded cloud marketplace.

The service will compete with Apple's iCloud, Microsoft's SkyDrive, and DropBox, which all offer both free and paid online storage. It comes in quite competitive though, with seven gigabytes of free storage, 100Gb for US$60 per year, and up to 1 terabyte for $50 per month. Apple offers only 5Gb free and a maximum of 55Gb for $110 per year, Microsoft also offers 7Gb free and 107Gb for only $50 per year making it the best value....

Google Drive will have implemented search technology allowing users to scan through a wide variety of documents including Adobe PDFs. Google Docs will be heavily integrated allowing a seamless transition for those already using Google's services and easy collaboration of work between other people using the same service.

Google Drive is solely cloud based, so would not be suitable for those with slow or unreliable Internet connections or those that want to work offline. It also raises some important privacy and security issues regarding the policies, terms of service and rules put in place by Google, or any cloud storage provider, for your documents.

This is something people do not have to worry about when they store files on their own computers - it is their own responsibility to back them up and secure their machine.

Google, I.E. CIA, states that you own your files but also hidden in its lengthy legalese and terms and conditions is the following clause:
When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.
Tech blogs and Twitter users reacted to this clause quickly by stipulating that any content uploaded would automatically become the intellectual property of Google Inc.

Users may want to familiarize themselves with these rules and policies before being so eager to click "agree" to cloud computing, especially with a company that derives 97% of its revenue from advertising and heavily profiling the users of its services.

Google's Zioconned executive chairman Eric Schmidt testified this week that the company developed Android without using the intellectual property of Sun's Java platform as accused by Oracle in their ongoing legal battle (See
Oracle threat to Android, April 21, 2012).

The former CEO told jurors in San Francisco that Sun Microsystems did not object to the then development of Google's mobile operating system, which Oracle is gunning for. Schmidt was Sun's chief technology officer before joining Google and was with Sun when it created the Java platform in the 1990s. Oracle bought out Sun and the Java patents and copyrights in 2010 and is now seeking a big payout.

Schmidt told the court that Google had once hoped to partner with Sun to develop Android. An agreement could not be made as Google wanted the platform to be open source and Sun was unwilling to relinquish control over Java.

A key issue in the case is whether the application programming interfaces (APIs) can be copyrighted, Google argues no because they are an essential part of the Java programming language, which both sides agree is freely available for use. The language is of no use without the ability to make something happen, which is what the API does, according to Schmidt.

Estimates of Oracle's early damages claim have been reduced from over US$6 billion to around a $1 billion as Google has succeeded in overturning five of the seven patent claims by forcing the patent office to take a second look.

Invalid patent claims are becoming a digital thorn in the side of the technology industry as companies seeking huge payouts from others deprive them of funds which could be spent on research and development. Aside from Google and Oracle there are dozens more going through the courts involving the likes of Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Samsung, Motorola, LG and HTC.

China's boom market is now responsible for 20% of all Apple's sales - the company generated $12.4 billion in revenue from the country for the first half of its financial year. China has around a billion mobile phone users, an estimated 10% of them on high-speed 3G connectivity.

In the second quarter last year Apple generated 43.4% of its revenue from the US and now that take has fallen to 37.9% with the Asia Pacific’s share up from 22.1% to 29.2% , led by China. Apple contributed the growth in China to the launch of its latest iPhone in February and the addition of China Telecom as a partnered carrier in March. China and the world's largest wireless carrier, China Mobile, still doesn't offer contracts with the iPhone.

The healthy China and Asia Pacific figures helped restore investor confidence following a slowdown in Apple sales growth in the US.

Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.