Oil, Power, And Psychopaths

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James F. Gibson Tent of A. Foulke, Horse Artillery, Brandy Station, Virginia 1864

Courtesy of Raul Ilargi Meijer @ Automatic Earth Blog:

Iran has a – very – long running dispute with the US about its nuclear technology. The US wants Assad (Bashar Al-Assad) out of Syria, while Iran and Russia support Assad (Russia’s sole proper base in the Middle East), who’s an Alawite (a Shi-ite branch), a people historically persecuted by Sunni’s. ISIS (or Daesh in the region) is Sunni. So are the Saudi’s. Iran is Shi’ite. Bahrain is ruled by Sunni but has a majority Shi’ite population. And I could go on for a while. A long while.

All this plays into the oil game, the falling oil prices. Blaming OPEC for the recent price fall is seeing the world from a child’s perspective. OPEC and its major voteholder, Saudi Arabia, are no more to blame for the plunge than the US, Russia or other non-OPEC producers. Everybody produces as if there’s no tomorrow, and the Saudi’s have merely concluded that their only choice is to do the same. It’s a race to the bottom.

The reason is the fast declining demand for oil; China is nowhere near as mighty as we seem to think, Europe is a basket case, emerging economies are being strangled as we speak by the surging dollar and the Fed taper, and we’re just getting started. It’s cute and all that nobody wonders how much virtual money has vanished into the great beyond as both oil itself and the companies that get it out of the earth have lost half of their ‘values’ in Q4 2014, let alone the countries that depend on oil for their very existence. But cute doesn’t cut it.

Oliver Stone talks about ‘Ukraine: The CIA Coup’. I’ve talked about exactly that all of last year. While on vacation, Obama declares new sanctions on North Korea for hacking a Japanese company only the FBI claims it was guilty of. While US sanctions against Iran are ongoing.

America is trying to control the world by throwing it into confusion, emboldened by poorly understood theories about military superiority, and creating conflicts all over the place that look like they will never be solved. Whereas all it would need to do is make sure it secures itself, its own territory, not control the entire planet. Continue reading

The Empire is Crumbling, That is Why it Needs War

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Courtesy of Andre Vltchek @ Counterpunch:

Last night, in Beijing, I sat in a historic Szechuan restaurant with a friend who happens to be a Chinese diplomat. We exchanged some stories, ordered food, and then, suddenly, my throat felt dry and my eyes got misty.

I bowed and thanked her for the heartfelt offer China made to rescue Russia.

Just before leaving my hotel, I read the news on the RT:

“China’s foreign minister has pledged support to Russia as it faces an economic downturn due to sanctions and a drop in oil prices. Boosting trade in Yuan is a solution proposed by Beijing’s commerce minister.

‘Russia has the capability and the wisdom to overcome the existing hardship in the economic situation,’ Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists. China Daily reported Monday: ‘If the Russian side needs it, we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity.’”

By no means was I representing the Russian Federation here, in Beijing, nor was my friend representing China that night, at the dining table. It was an informal meeting attended by just a few friends, nothing more.

Not to mention that I am not really, ‘technically’ a Russian. Yes, I was born in Leningrad but almost my entire life I spent elsewhere… all over the world, to be precise. And in my veins, not that it really matters; it is also all confused… there circulates an explosive mixture of Russian, Chinese and European blood.

But lately, to be Russian, to me and to many others, is much more than just about blood. ‘I am a rebel; therefore I am Russian’, to paraphrase Albert Camus. Or: ‘I am Russian because I refuse to abandon the struggle.’

‘Ya Russkii!’ or ‘Cubano soy!’ It simply feels good, and makes one proud, and stronger.

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The world is in turmoil. Like in the early 1940’s, something tremendous is gaining shape, something irreversible. Continue reading

Stratfor: Ukraine Coup Plotted by US Over Russian Stance on Syria

Courtesy of Sputnik News:

The United States plotted the coup which took place in Ukraine in February 2014 in response to Russia’s policy in Syria, says George Friedman, the founder and CEO of Stratfor, known as “Shadow CIA”.

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© SPUTNIK/ VLADIMIR FEDORENKO

What is Ukraine Freedom Act, and What Does It Imply?

MOSCOW, December 19 (Sputnik) – The United States is behind the February coup in Kiev, which came in response to Russia’s stance on Syria, said George Friedman, the founder and CEO of Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

Russia has repeatedly said that the coup in Kiev was organized by the US, Friedman told Kommersant newspaper. Indeed, it was the most overt coup in history, the political analyst stressed.

The United States decided to act following Russia’s successes in the Middle East, a key region for the US. Americans saw that Russians could influence what was happening in the Middle East, Friedman said. Russians are one of the many challenges in the region that the US faces, he stated. The US thought Russia’s activities were an attempt to harm Washington, the political analyst told the newspaper, adding that events in Ukraine should be viewed in this context. Continue reading

BBC World Service Fears Losing Information War as Russia Today Ramps Up Pressure

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It’s simply propaganda in 2014, not news. Courtesy of Josh Halliday @ The Guardian:

The BBC World Service is being financially outgunned by Russian and Chinese state-owned news channels, its former director Peter Horrocks has warned, amid high-level concerns that Britain and the US are losing a global “information war” with the Kremlin.

Horrocks said ministers should review Britain’s spending overseas and consider freeing up extra World Service funding to combat the wave of Moscow-backed propaganda sweeping Europe.

“Medium to long term there has to be an anxiety about the spending of others compared to what the BBC are putting into it,” Horrocks said. “You can take a view of the overall national interest and things we spend on international influence, like military spending. When you look at that it would take it in a certain direction.”

International alarm over the rise of Kremlin-funded news, led by 24-hour news channel Russia Today, has intensified following Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine and his feud with the west.

David Cameron told MPs he had raised with President Obama his concern about Russian news channels “pumping out a distorted picture” of events in Ukraine after the issue was raised by leaders in the Baltic states at the G20 summit in Australia.

Horrocks, who stepped down earlier this month as the executive in charge of the BBC’s global news operations, said the corporation had asked the Foreign Office (FCO) “whether there’s anything they want to do with development funding for extra programming for Ukraine” but he had not yet had a reply.

FCO funding for the World Service stopped in April, with the £245m annual budget now coming out of the licence fee. Despite this shift, Horrocks said “considering supplementary funding [from the FCO] is something that could be on the policy agenda and could be part of the discussion about the BBC’s future”.

He added: “We are being financially outgunned by Russia and the Chinese but there’s no way we’re being outgunned on the results [global audience]. The role we need to play is an even handed one. We shouldn’t be pro-one side or the other, we need to provide something people can trust.”

Demand for BBC World Service output has soared since the Ukraine-Russia crisis began. The corporation’s Russian-language service has more than doubled to 6.9 million listeners, while in Ukraine its audience has trebled to more than 600,000 since last year. Continue reading

How to Prevent the Coming War – Sergei Glazyev

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Courtesy of Anna News:

The hostilities in Donbass are a menace to Russia, Europe and the entire world. Failure to realize it may spark a regional war, and eventually a world one. The world media’s interpretation of that war as the Ukrainian authorities’ crusade against pro-Russian separatists for the sake of the country’s integrity is as superficial and senseless as the delusion that World War I resulted from the murder of an Austrian prince, and World War II, from the Nazis’ success in Germany’s parliamentary elections. The Russian mass media’s explanation of that war is only slightly meaningful – popular resistance in Donbass against a Nazi junta that grabbed power in Kiev in an anti-government coup.
In the meantime, without understanding the underlying causes and driving forces that keep the armed conflict going it is impossible to bring it to a halt. In this paper the Ukrainian crisis is scrutinized in the context of global economic changes that are breeding objective prerequisites for an escalation of military-political tensions in international relations. The analysis explains the motives of the main actors in the Ukrainian conflict and the technologies they employ. It also unveils the reasons why attempts to end the conflict have failed and prompts a forecast it may evolve into another world war. Avoiding that will be possible only by upsetting the cause-effect relationship between the persisting crimes, whose scale is growing in a geometric progression. Otherwise there will be no option left other than getting ready for a world war, in which many would like to see Russia as an enemy, a victim and a prize to win.

Conflict Fields of the Ukrainian Crisis

The nature of the Ukrainian crisis is complex, indeed. It is a tight bundle of quite a few conflict semantic fields. Regrettably, frontline reports, commentaries by politicians or explanations of their decisions fail to take due account of them. The most obvious conflict is that between the current Ukrainian authorities and the Donbass militias. The authorities have been trying to resolve it through the physical extermination of the militias and of the population whose interests they express as well. There are two semantic fields in this conflict and neither is strong enough to trigger a fratricidal war. Continue reading

Putin Stockpiles Gold as Russia Prepares for Economic War

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Courtesy of Andrew Critchlow @ The Telegraph:

Russia has taken advantage of lower gold prices to pack the vaults of its central bank with bullion as it prepares for the possibility of a long, drawn-out economic war with the West.

The latest research from the World Gold Council reveals that the Kremlin snapped up 55 tonnes of the precious metal – far more than any other nation – in the three months to the end of September as prices began to weaken.

Vladimir Putin’s government is understood to be hoarding vast quantities of gold, having tripled stocks to around 1,150 tonnes in the last decade. These reserves could provide the Kremlin with vital firepower to try and offset the sharp declines in the rouble.

Russia’s currency has come under intense pressure since US and European sanctions and falling oil prices started to hurt the economy. Revenues from the sale of oil and gas account for about 45pc of the Russian government’s budget receipts.
The biggest buyers of gold after Russia are other countries from the Commonwealth of Independent States, led by Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
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In total, central banks around the world bought 93 tonnes of the precious metal in the third quarter, marking it the 15th consecutive quarter of net purchases. In its report, the World Gold Council said this was down to a combination of geopolitical tensions and attempts by countries to diversify their reserves away from the US dollar.

By the end of the year, central banks will have acquired up to 500 tonnes of gold during the latest buying spell, according to Alistair Hewitt, head of market intelligence at the World Gold Council.

“Central banks have been consistently adding to their gold holdings since 2009,” Mr Hewitt told the Telegraph. In the case of Russia, Mr Hewitt said that the recent increases in its gold holdings could be a sign of greater geopolitical risk that has arisen since it seized Crimea sparking a dispute with Ukraine and the West. Continue reading

Ukraine crisis: Nato plans east European bases to counter Russia

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Courtesy of Ian Traynor @ The Guardian:

Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations’s summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia’s borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.

He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine’s security, “modernise” its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.

Rasmussen said: “We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe. We have something already called the Nato response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it’s our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness.

“In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible Nato presence in the east.”

Poland and the three Baltic states have been alarmed at the perceived threat from Russia and have been clamouring for a stronger Nato presence in the region. They have criticised what they see as tokenism in the alliance’s response so far.

But the issue of permanent Nato bases in east Europe is divisive. The French, Italians and Spanish are opposed while the Americans and British are supportive of the eastern European demands. The Germans, said a Nato official, were sitting on the fence, wary of provoking Russia. Continue reading