Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Posts Tagged ‘crisis’

Lebanon-Israel Tensions Rise over Offshore Oil and Gas

Posted by Admin on April 6, 2011

Map showing the Blue Line demarcation line bet...

Black Gold and Crisis Borders

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110406/wl_time/08599206118700

By NICHOLAS BLANFORD / BEIRUT Nicholas Blanford / Beirut 24 mins ago

For most countries, the existence of a massive fossil-fuel deposit within its sovereign territory would be gratefully welcomed as an economic windfall. But the delight in Israel at the recent giant gas discovery off its northern coastline is tempered by the knowledge that it could provide the spark to ignite the next war between the Jewish state and its mortal foe to the north, Lebanon‘s militant Shi’ite Hizballah.

The stakes are enormous. Both Lebanon and Israel currently have little or no oil or gas deposits, and are dependent on neighboring countries for importing fuel and power. Israel presently relies on Egypt for most of its gas, but the durability of that arrangement has been cast into doubt following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak‘s regime. The Egyptian pipeline supplying gas to Israel and Jordan was blown up in January and only began operating again last week. (See TIME’s video “Israel’s Lonesome Doves.”)

Key to the tensions over the potential gas bonanza is that the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon has never been delineated because the two states are still technically at war.

The two gas fields off the northern Israel coast – Tamar and Leviathan – contain an estimated 8.4 trillion cu. ft. (238 billion cu m) and 16 trillion cu. ft. (453 billion cu m), respectively, sufficient to satisfy Israel’s energy needs for the next half-century. What remains unknown is if the fields stretch into Lebanon’s territorial waters. Even if neither of them do, Tamar and Leviathan are part of much bigger potential oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the Levant Basin Province, encompassing parts of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, could contain as much as 122 trillion cu. ft. (3.4 trillion cu m) of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil. (For comparison, Libya has gas reserves of 53 trillion cu. ft. [1.5 trillion cu m] and oil reserves of 60 billion barrels.)

The Israelis have a head start in the race to extract gas, having awarded the concessions to a joint U.S.-Israeli firm. Tamar is expected to go online in 2012 and Leviathan three years later. (See “Does Libya’s Oil Industry Reflect Its Fate?”)

The upheaval in Egypt has “awakened old fears among Israelis that their power supply rests in the hands of potentially hostile neighbors,” says Gal Luft, the executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Potomac, Md. “This jolt will force Israel to move much more expeditiously toward developing its own newly discovered fields in order to achieve energy independence.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon is moving on its interests as well. Last August, the country’s parliament approved a long-awaited draft bill on gas-and-oil exploration. Lebanon also is pursuing arrangements with neighbors Syria and Cyprus to delineate their respective maritime exclusive economic zones. Representatives of energy companies are already in Beirut lobbying for potentially lucrative oil-and-gas concessions. The prospect of oil and gas beneath Lebanon’s coastal waters could have immense benefits for a country with one of the highest debt rates in the world, around $52 billion, or 147% of gross domestic product. But progress has slowed down because of the collapse of the government in January and the delay in the formation of a new Cabinet due to political bickering.

“Oil exploration is the victim of the current political vacuum,” Nabih Berri, the parliamentary Speaker, said last week, noting that Lebanon’s three neighbors – Israel, Syria and Cyprus – were forging ahead with agreements on oil-and-gas surveys. (See pictures of life under Hamas in Gaza.)

Beirut has asked the U.N. to help mark a temporary sea boundary between Lebanon and Israel, a maritime equivalent of the “blue line” established by the U.N. in 2000, which corresponds to Lebanon’s southern land border. The U.N. has agreed to assist and the Israelis are studying the proposal. But the U.N. faces a potentially thankless task. The demarcation of the blue line 11 years ago was mired in mutual distrust and wrangling with neither the Lebanese nor Israelis willing to concede an inch of territory to the other. Without goodwill from both sides, the maritime boundary could be even more difficult to define given the complicated geography of the coastline.

Some have described the dispute over the gas fields along the Lebanon-Israel border as another Shebaa Farms, a reference to a small unpopulated mountainside along Lebanon’s southern border that is occupied by Israel but claimed by Lebanon. The Shebaa Farms has been a periodic flash point between Hizballah and Israel. But a foreign diplomat in Beirut said that parallels between the Shebaa Farms and the offshore gas fields are misplaced. “Forget the Shebaa Farms,” the diplomat says, “That was created as a point of tension between Lebanon and Israel.” The practicalities of energy needs, however, mean that the Lebanese will approach the gas fields practically – not politically. “The Lebanese are not being difficult [over the maritime boundary] because they have real economic interests here,” he says. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a potential for friction. He adds, “Unless there is a pragmatic arrangement, you could have a confrontation.”

It is perhaps no surprise then that the sudden interest in the potential fossil-fuel wealth off the Israeli and Lebanese coastline has turned the Mediterranean into a potential new theater of conflict between the Israelis and Hizballah. The Lebanese group already boasts an amphibious warfare unit trained in underwater sabotage and coastal infiltrations. Hizballah’s ability to target shipping – and possibly offshore oil-and-gas platforms – was demonstrated in the monthlong war with Israel in 2006 when the militants came close to sinking an Israeli naval vessel with an Iranian version of the Chinese C-802 missile. Hizballah fighters have since hinted that they have acquired larger antiship missiles with double the 72-mile (116 km) range of the C-802 variant. Last year, Hizballah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warned that his organization now possesses the ability to target shipping along the entire length of Israel’s coastline. (See pictures of 60 years of Israel.)

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the offshore gas fields as a “strategic objective that Israel’s enemies will try to undermine” and vowed that “Israel will defend its resources.” Last month, the Israeli navy reportedly presented to the government a maritime-security plan costing between $40 million and $70 million to defend the gas fields.

Upping the ante even further, Nasrallah promised last week that if Israel threatens future Lebanese plans to tap its oil and gas reserves, “only the Resistance [Hizballah] would force Israel and the world to respect Lebanon’s right.”

Then there is the recent passage of two Iranian navy vessels in the Mediterranean and the subsequent discovery last week by the Israeli navy of a smuggled consignment of arms and ammunition that included six C-704 antiship missiles believed destined for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The missiles, though smaller than the C-802, could target Israeli shipping off Gaza as well as Israel’s Yam Tethys oil rig off the coast of Ashkelon. Citing the Iranian vessels and smuggled antiship missiles, security analyst Luft said, “Such activities could present real threats to exploration activities off Israel.” The potential oil and gas fields off the Lebanese and Israeli coasts look set not only to become a potential long-term source of wealth – but also a source of conflict in the years ahead.

Watch a video about the gas shortage in Iraq.

See TIME’s Pictures of the Week.

View this article on Time.com

Most Popular on Time.com:

About these ads

Posted in Geo-Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

World food prices seen at record high in January

Posted by Admin on February 4, 2011

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/World-food-prices-seen-record-reuters-194064327.html

A vendor sorts tomatoes at a wholesale vegetable and fruit market in Chandigarh January 29, 2011. REUTERS/Ajay Verma
On Thursday 3 February 2011, 6:12 AM

 

By Svetlana Kovalyova

MILAN (Reuters) – Surging food prices are on Thursday expected to push the United Nations ‘ food price index to a record high in January for a second straight month, further above the levels which prompted food riots in 2007/2008.

The Food Price Index of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, hit a record in December, above a previous high set in June 2008 during the food crisis.

A mix of high oil and fuel prices, growing use of biofuels, bad weather and soaring futures markets pushed up prices of food in 2007/08, sparking violent protests in countries including Egypt , Cameroon and Haiti.

The Rome-based agency has warned food prices could climb even higher, expressing concern about global weather patterns.

Severe drought in the Black Sea last year, heavy rains in Australia and dry weather in Argentina and anticipation of a spike in demand after unrest in north Africa and the Middle East has helped power grain prices to multi-year highs.

The worst winter storm for decades in the U.S. grain belt kept up pressure on wheat futures on Wednesday.

Surging food prices have come back into the spotlight after they helped fuelled protests that toppled Tunisia’s president in January and have spilled over to Egypt and Jordan, raising speculation other countries in the region would secure grain stocks to reassure their populations.

Algeria on Jan.26 confirmed it had bought almost a million tonnes of wheat, bringing its bread wheat purchases to at least 1.75 million since the start of January, and ordered an urgent speeding up of grain imports, a move aimed at building stocks.

World leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week warned rising food prices could stoke more unrest and even war. French President Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated calls for regulation to rein in speculation and volatility.

Multi-year highs for grain and sugar futures in January helped push higher spot and physical prices which the FAO uses to calculate the index.

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; editing by Keiron Henderson)

Posted in Economic Upheavals, Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Spanish Economy Continues to Falter

Posted by Admin on June 20, 2010

9 Reasons Why Spain Is A Dead Economy Walking

JUNE 16, 2010

in ANALYSIS,INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY

By Michael Snyder

Barring an economic bailout of mammoth proportions, the economy of Spain is completely and totally doomed.  The socialist government of Spain is drowning in debt, unemployment is running rampant and everywhere you turn there are major economic problems.  So will Spain be the next Greece?  No.  When the economy of Spain implodes it is going to be a whole lot worse for the world economy.  The economy of Spain is more than four times the size of the economy of Greece.  Spain accounts for 11.5 percent of eurozone GDP while Greece only accounts for approximately 2.5 percent.  Spain is the 4th largest economy in the 16 nation eurozone and it is the 10th largest economy in the world.  If the economy of Spain fails it will cause a shockwave that will be felt in every corner of the globe.  In fact, there are quite a few analysts that believe if Spain defaults it would ultimately lead to the breakup of the eurozone.

So will the EU step up and bail out Spain?  Well, there are rumors that EU officials have begun work on a bailout package for Spain which is likely to run into the hundreds of billions of dollars, but on Monday the European Commission, the Spanish government and the German government all denied that the European Union was preparing a bailout for the Spanish economy.

Of course we all know that politicians don’t always tell us the truth.

So who knows what is going on over there right now.

But the reality is that the economy of Spain is not going to make it much longer without serious help, and some EU officials are already using apocalyptic language to describe what an economic collapse in Spain would mean.

For example, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso recently warned that democracy could completely collapse in Greece, Spain and Portugal unless urgent action is taken to tackle the burgeoning European debt crisis.

So could democracy actually fail in those nations?

Well, considering the fact that Greece, Spain and Portugal only became democracies in the 1970s, and that all three of those countries have a history of military coups, such a scenario is not that far-fetched.

Without a doubt there would be serious public unrest in those nations if public services collapsed because their governments ran out of money.

So are there signs that the economy of Spain is about to collapse?

Well, yes, there are quite a few of them.

The following are 9 reasons why Spain is a dead economy walking….

#1) Even before this most recent crisis, unemployment in Spain was approaching Great Depression levels.  Spain now has the highest unemployment rate in the entire European Union. More than 20 percent of working age Spaniards were unemployed during the first quarter of 2010.  If people aren’t working they can’t pay taxes and they can’t provide for their families.

#2) In an effort to stimulate the economy, Spain’s socialist government has been spending unprecedented amounts of money and that skyrocketed the government budget deficit to a stunning 11.4 percent of GDP in 2009.  That is completely unsustainable by any definition.

#3) The total of all public and private debt in Spain has now reached 270 percent of GDP.

#4) The Spanish government has accumulated way more debt than it can possibly handle, and this has forced two international ratings agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, to lower Spain’s long-term sovereign credit rating.  These downgrades are making it much more expensive for Spain to finance its debt at a time when they simply can’t afford to pay more interest on their debt.

#5) There are 1.6 million unsold properties in Spain.  That is six times the level per capita in the United States.  Considering how bad the U.S. real estate market is, that statistic is incredibly alarming.

#6) The new “green economy” in Spain has been a total flop.  Socialist leaders promised that implementing hardcore restrictions on carbon emissions and forcing the nation over to a “green economy” would result in a flood of “green jobs”.  But that simply did not happen.  In fact, a leaked internal assessment produced by the government of Spain reveals that the “green economy” has been an absolute economic nightmare for that nation.  Energy prices have skyrocketed in Spain and the new “green economy” in that nation has actually lost more than two jobs for every job that it has created.  But Spain so far seems unwilling to undo all of the crazy regulations that they have implemented.

#7) Spain’s national debt is so onerous that they are now caught in a debt spiral where anything they do will harm the economy.  If they cut government expenditures in an effort to get debt under control it will devastate economic growth and crush badly needed tax revenues.  But if the Spanish government keeps borrowing money their credit rating will continue to decline and they will almost certainly default.  The truth is that the Spanish government is caught in a “no win” situation.

#8) But even now the IMF is projecting that the Spanish economy is going nowhere fast.  The International Monetary Fund says there will be no positive GDP growth in Spain until 2011, at which point it will still be below one percent.  As bleak as that forecast is, many analysts believe that it is way too optimistic considering the fact that Spain’s economy declined by about 3.6 percent in 2009 and things are rapidly getting worse.

#9) The Spanish population has gotten used to socialist handouts and they are not going to accept public sector pay cuts, budget cuts to social programs and hefty tax increases easily.  In fact, there is likely to be some very serious social unrest before all of this is said and done.  On May 21st, thousands of public sector workers took to the streets of Spain to protest the government’s austerity plan.  But that was only an appetizer.  Spain’s two main unions are calling for a major one day general strike to protest the government’s planned reforms of the country’s labor market.  The truth is that financial shock therapy does not go down very well in highly socialized nations such as Greece and Spain.  In fact, the austerity measures that Spain has been pressured to implement by the IMF have proven so unpopular that many are now projecting that Spain’s socialist government will be forced to call early elections.

So what is going to happen in Spain?

The truth is that nobody can predict for sure how things are going to play out over the coming weeks and months.

But what everyone can agree on is that the stakes are incredibly high.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, world famous economist Nouriel Roubini put it this way: “If Greece goes under, that’s a problem for the eurozone. If Spain goes under, it’s a disaster.”

But right now the entire population of Spain (along with much of the rest of the world) is completely distracted by the World Cup.  As long as the Spanish team does well, that is likely to keep the Spanish population sedated.  But if the Spanish team gets knocked out of the tournament early that will put the entire Spanish population in a really, really bad mood and that could mean a really chaotic summer for the nation of Spain.

Posted in Economic Upheavals | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

In a financial crisis, what counts is what works

Posted by Admin on June 1, 2010

In a financial crisis, what counts is what works

Free-market capitalism has imploded, and Europe’s moment has not come: big-picture explanations of the world rarely hold good for long

Grievous, but perhaps not grievous enough. Sufficient to prompt swift action to prevent the global economy sliding into depression, but perhaps so successful that the option of a return to business as usual has been kept alive.

Almost three years into the financial crisis , all regions are growing, albeit at varying speeds. There is pressure on heavily indebted governments to abandon unorthodox economic policies and return to rigid fiscal austerity. Banks, hedge funds and private equity firms are lobbying hard to water down attempts to rein in their activities.

Adrian Blundell-Wignall, an official at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, spoke for many last week when he said: “How big is big enough?”

Speaking in a personal capacity at the OECD’s annual ministerial forum, Blundell-Wignall warned there was likely to be a second, even bigger, meltdown unless there was radical reform of the financial sector, including splitting up banks with both retail and speculative arms.

Although this is a sombre conclusion, it may prove accurate. The current crisis has yet to have the cathartic impact of the slump of the 1930s, when the economic cost was far higher and the links between the failure of the old laissez-faire model and the drift to political extremism were plain.

Nouriel Roubini, one of the few economists to spot the sub-prime crisis coming , says in his new book, Crisis Economics (with Stephen Mihm, published by Allen Lane), that it is precisely because the downturn has been handled more deftly this time that the impetus for deep, structural reform has faltered. “Had policymakers failed to arrest the crisis, as they failed during the Depression, the calls for reform today would be deafening: there’s nothing like ubiquitous breadlines and 25% unemployment to focus the minds of legislators.”

But, thankfully, policymakers did avoid most of the mistakes of the 1930s and we are where we are. In the circumstances, what the future holds is either full-blown recovery courtesy of the breathing space provided by central banks and finance ministries; another crash preceded by what the late socialist thinker Chris Harman described as “zombie capitalism”; or reform and renewal.

Full recovery would mean that the global economy could continue to prosper even when governments withdraw the support provided by low interest rates, tax cuts and higher public spending. That looks improbable, particularly since there is likely to be a simultaneous tightening of fiscal policy in many countries.

Zombie capitalism is where governments continue to buy up worthless paper from banks, where fundamentally insolvent institutions are kept alive for fear that their failure would cause systemic risk, where every country tries to export its way out of trouble, where the shrinkage of the financial sector depresses growth rates, and where the global imbalances between surplus and deficit countries remain worryingly large. That looks a more likely option.

What, then, are the prospects for reform and renewal? At the very least, this route is likely to be long, hard and strewn with setbacks. It may not be chosen, as Blundell-Wignall and Roubini fear, until there is system failure. The good news, though, is that the ideological vacuum left by the crisis creates the intellectual and political space for change. Since the demise of communism at the end of the 1980s, the west has had three competing belief systems. The first, free-market capitalism, imploded three years ago. The second, Europe, has taken a fearful battering over the past few months. A third, environmentalism, still has only a limited number of devotees.

Simon Tormey, professor of social and political sciences at Sydney University, put it well during a debate on the future of capitalism at the OECD. This, he said, is a pagan world where there is a scepticism about meta-narratives.

Rightly so. History shows that big-picture explanations of the world rarely hold good for long, and end with a fanatical core of true believers seeking to impose their will on the rest of us. If, as Jimmy Porter says in Look Back in Anger, there are no great causes left to fight for, that’s almost certainly a good thing. The demise of the meta-narrative doesn’t mean the end of politics or the abandonment of the search for making life better. On the contrary, it means a messier world in which there is less dogma but greater experimentation.

Let’s put this into some sort of context. Up until 2007, the credo was that markets worked, period. The world would be a better place if the role of government was diminished and financial markets allowed to get on with making money. If there was a role for the state, it was to champion structural reform of economic life: removing barriers to trade and, by investment in human capital, making their workforces more employable.

What actually happened was that endless financial innovation destabilised the global economy, while the benefits of growth accrued to a small cadre at the top and not to the rest of the newly flexible labour market. There was growth, but only because policymakers actively connived in the creation of bubbles. Indebtedness masqueraded as wealth.

The shorthand term for this model was Anglo-Saxon capitalism, and when it blew up it was thought that Europe’s moment had come. The European Union offered a kinder, more civilised way of running the economy in the 21st century, providing solidarity instead of cut-throat competition, protection for its citizens rather than low wages and welfare cuts.

Bonkers beliefs

Belief in Europe was just as messianic – and just as bonkers – as belief in the market. The idea was that you could take a dozen or more countries of wildly differing economic performance, with entirely disparate cultures, and bolt them harmoniously together. What’s more, you could do this without a common language to facilitate labour mobility or a common budget to transfer resources from rich countries to poor countries.

During the bubble years these fundamental design flaws were kept hidden, but they have been exposed by the crisis. Low interest rates allowed countries on the periphery to grow strongly for a while, covering up their steady loss of competitiveness against the country at Europe’s core, Germany. The financial crash resulted in a deep recession, soaring budget deficits and fears in the financial markets of debt default.

For all the talk of European solidarity, there is absolutely no evidence that German taxpayers will agree to a common fiscal policy to provide the budgetary support for the weaker parts of the euro area that Washington provides for the poorer US states. As such, the only options for countries like Greece , Ireland and Spain are devaluation (ruled out by monetary union), default (ditto) or years of deflation. They have opted for the third course, even though this will lead to slower growth and make it even harder to reduce budget deficits. Europe, touted as a progressive alternative to Anglo-Saxon economics, has become neo-liberalism on steroids.

Ultimately, the problem with the meta-narratives is that they don’t deliver. The postwar era of strong trade unions, full employment policies and capital controls produced stronger, more equitable growth than three decades of deregulation, liberalisation and flexible labour markets. The more integrated Europe has become, the worse it has performed.

China and India prove that it is possible to thrive without a meta-narrative. Both countries have systems of managed capitalism fully in the tradition of the mixed economies that prevailed in the west during the heyday of social democracy. What counts is what works. There is a lesson in that somewhere.

Economics Financial crisis European debt crisis Economic policy Banking Recession Greece Spain Ireland Europe European Union Germany Larry Elliott

Posted in Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Was the Gulf Oil Spill an Act of War? You Betcha

Posted by Admin on May 8, 2010

Was the Gulf Oil Spill an Act of War? You Betcha

Friday 07 May 2010

by: Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

Speculation has been running rampant among certain sectors of the web world lately about the true origins of the massive oil spill that has engulfed the Gulf and threatens marine, plant, animal and human health in a region already beset by natural disasters and toxic industries. Unwilling to accept the mainstream media version of the story (namely that it was the result of offshore drilling activities) and suspicious of the timing of the calamity (namely that it occurred right on the cusp of Earth Day and during a period of political contentiousness over drilling), this faction has surmised that the “trigger event” in this instance may have been (choose your favorite): an attack by the North Koreans; an act of homegrown eco-terrorism by left-wing environmentalists; or something to do with Venezuela, China, and/or other Communist (machi)nations. With little more than a hint from an online Russian source, the theory of a North Korean attack in particular has been gaining virulence among certain fox trotters.

Here’s a great overview of the argument from the self-avowedly conservative Dakota Voice:

“Rush Limbaugh pointed out that the explosion occurred on April 21st, the day before ‘Earth Day.’ He also reminded us that Al Gore had previously encouraged environmental nut jobs to engage in civil disobedience against the construction of coal plants that don’t have carbon capture technology. ‘Eco-terrorists’ exist and have done millions of dollars worth of criminal damage. Fire is one of the main tools of their evil trade. I’m not claiming the Deep Horizon was bombed by eco-terrorists, although I don’t believe it’s out of the realm of possibility. But, it would take some serious money and ability to pull off an attack like that, so I would tend to think much bigger than college hippie eco-wackos with some money-backing – a foreign government, perhaps. Of course, before I could finish writing my thoughts here, I just heard Michael Savage posing the same questions. He also said there is a theory on a Russian website that claims North Korea is behind this. The article claims that North Korea torpedoed the Deepwater Horizon, which was apparently built and financed by South Korea. Torpedoes would make sense for the results we see…. There are a number of international ‘suspects’ who might want to do something like this. They range from Muslim terrorists to the Red Chinese, Venezuela and beyond. Remember that China and Russia are drilling out there, as well and they would benefit from America cutting back on our own drilling.”

The article at the root of this savagery appears on the site WhatDoesItMean.com and is titled “US Orders Media Blackout Over North Korean Torpedoing of Gulf of Mexico Oil Rig” – which pretty much eliminates any suspense about the gist of it. The piece is attributed to one “Sorcha Faal,” who either exists or does not depending upon whether you believe the link arguing a bit too strenuously that she in fact does. The article cites as its source, without further attribution, “a grim report circulating in the Kremlin today written by Russia’s Northern Fleet,” and argues, “the reason for North Korea attacking the Deepwater Horizon, these reports say, was to present US President Obama with an ‘impossible dilemma‘ prior to the opening of the United Nations Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons set to begin May 3rd in New York. This ‘impossible dilemma’ facing Obama is indeed real as the decision he is faced with is either to allow the continuation of this massive oil leak catastrophe to continue for months, or immediately stop it by the only known and proven means possible, the detonation of a

thermonuclear device.”

In other words, all of this was designed to force Obama to use a nuclear device to seal the leak ahead of an upcoming conference on nonproliferation. Ingenious! James Bond is alive and well, apparently. Missing from the calculus (along with good sense, credibility and verifiability) is any explanation of why the logic of this scenario will automatically result in Obama deploying a nuke and what exactly would be gained by him doing so except (by implication) making the US look like hypocrites at the negotiating table. Those dastardly cowards! Everyone knows that we don’t need any help from foreign entities to hypocritically attempt to force others to hold to international standards that we will ourselves proceed to flagrantly ignore. I mean, duh.

Hey, I’m all for a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy/gal. We certainly ought to question the “consensus reality” version of any major event communicated back to us by the corporate media. And we can logically surmise that the government keeps us on a “need to know” basis under the rubric of a closely-held “national security” ethos. So, there’s always reason to dig deeper, ask hard questions, check with non-US sources and formulate one’s opinion independent of the herd. But in this case, the impetus for the tale is so vague and thinly rendered that it strains the limits of credulity, yet, it still seems to be gaining traction each day. In fact, there are even more solid reasons to suspect that this miserable episode – which will inflict more suffering on an already battered region – was contributed to by the activities of a certain homegrown corporation and not any eco-nuts or commies. While the premise is thus wholly wrong, the conclusion that this was a putative act of war might actually hold water. To wit:

Oil and War: Are there any two concepts in the realm of geopolitics more closely associated than resources and warfare? Oil in particular, as the primary lubricant of the global economy, earns special status as a sine qua non of our profligate lifestyles and simultaneously as an overt security interest that triggers our military mobilizations. We know about Iraq of course and Afghanistan to a lesser extent for its strategic pipelining location, but don’t overlook places such as Venezuela, Central Africa and the Caribbean shelf around countries like Haiti as potential sites of future conflict over Black Gold. Indeed, it might be said that wherever there’s oil, there’s war – or at least the seeds of conflict over a dwindling commodity that draws the interest of governments and corporations alike. The past decade has shown and our national security documents reflect, that the US will essentially do anything in its power to control as much of the world’s remaining oil supplies as it possibly can, either through direct intervention or by proxy. There’s nothing light or sweet about any of this; it is almost wholly crude.

Drilling and the “War on Terra”: Without overly editorializing the point, since at least the advent of industrialization, it appears that humanity has made a Faustian bargain that renders us the enemies of the earth in order to survive. Notions of complementarity and sustainability have been supplanted by consumption and separation instead. The cruel joke is that our willingness to continually flout nature’s laws leaves us in a perpetual state of scarcity and requires a regular doubling-down on the very same logic that made things scarce in the first place. Thus, in order to extend the life of the petroleum economy and provide the massive energy inputs that we rely upon, we have to drill deeper and deeper to procure the substance at ever-increasing energy costs in the process. This literal sense of “diminishing returns” is compounded by the attendant toll exacted on our collective health via fossil fuels, as well as the concomitant stratification of wealth and power that subverts any pretense we still hold of democracy. Massive spills and other calamities are part and parcel of this normalization of a warlike attitude toward nature (and, thus, ourselves) and are blithely considered little more than business as usual by the ruling elites, as intimated in anarticle on care2.com: “All this is the result of dangerous and unnecessary offshore drilling, yet, in a statement Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the explosion was no reason to give up plans to expand offshore drilling. ‘In all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last,’ Gibbs told reporters.”

Halliburton IS the War Machine: Finally, we come to the most likely culprit in all of this, and a sure sign that indeed this is an act of war. Wherever Halliburton goes, so goes the war machine and vice versa. From no-bid and no-account contracts in Iraq (and post-Katrina New Orleans, by the way) to a massive corporate presence in the Gulf region, these folks seem to have an acute capacity for making a buck on cataclysms of all sorts. Perhaps more to the point, they appear to be at the nexus of most disaster zones, including the erstwhile Bush presidency and now the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. As a recent article in The Huffington Post noted:

“Giant oil-services provider Halliburton may be a primary suspect in the investigation into the oil rig explosion that has devastated the Gulf Coast, The Wall Street Journal reports. Though the investigation into the explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon site is still in its early stages, drilling experts agree that blame probably lies with flaws in the ‘cementing’ process – that is, plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig. Halliburton was in charge of cementing for Deepwater Horizon.”

The Los Angeles Times subsequently reported that members of Congress have called on Halliburton “to provide all documents relating to ‘the possibility or risk of an explosion or blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig and the status, adequacy, quality, monitoring and inspection of the cementing work’ by May 7.” A YouTube video (which is actually mostly audio) more bluntly asserts that “Halliburton Caused Oil Spill,” and noted the fact – confirmed by Halliburton’s own press release – that its employees had worked on the final cementing “approximately 20 hours prior to the incident.” Interestingly, one commenter on the YouTube video noted how “that would conveniently explain the North Korean story; [Halliburton] may have leaked this story to the press to divert attention away from alleged negligence.” Wouldn’t that just be the ultimate? Halliburton spawns the calamity, but pins it on North Korea and then the nation goes to war whereby Halliburton “cleans up” through billions in war-servicing contracts. It’s almost too perfect and might be funny if it didn’t seem so plausible. (The only thing funnier is picturing Dick Cheney in the role of Exxon Valdez fall guy Joseph Hazelwood.)

But, hey, there’s no need to get conspiratorial about all of this. And what’s happening in the Gulf – now spreading into the Atlantic – isn’t funny at all. Indeed, war hardly ever is and that’s what we’ve got on our collective hands here, in one form or another. As Isaac Asimov once said, “It is not only the living who are killed in war.” Cherished ideals, future generations, hopefulness, the earth itself – all are among war’s many casualties. The sooner we recognize the sense of pervasive warfare in our midst, embedded in the flow of our everyday lives, the sooner we can intentionally turn that essential corner toward peace, as Martin Luther King Jr. alluded to in his Nobel speech:

“I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”

Waking up to war may in fact be the first genuine step toward peace, both among ourselves and with the environment.

Creative Commons License
This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Posted in Truthout Articles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Markets could be derailed again, warns Soros

Posted by Admin on April 24, 2010

Markets could be derailed again, warns Soros

APR 14, 2010 07:11 EDT

CLIMATE-COPENHAGEN/Railway porter-turned-billionaire financier George Soros delivered a stark warning last night that the financial world is on the wrong track and that we may be hurtling towards an even bigger boom and bust than in the credit crisis.

The man who ‘broke’ the Bank of England (and who is still able to earn a cool $3.3 bln in a year) said the same strategy of borrowing and spending that had got us out of the Asian crisis could shunt us towards another crisis unless tough lessons are learned.

Soros, who worked as a porter to pay for his studies at the London School of Economics after emigrating from Hungary, warned us to heed the lesson that modern economics had got it wrong and that markets are not inherently stable.

“The success in bailing out the system on the previous occasion led to a superbubble, except that in 2008 we used the same methods,” he told a meeting hosted by The Economist at the City of London’s modern and impressive Haberdashers’ Hall.

“Unless we learn the lessons, that markets are inherently unstable and that stability needs to the objective of public policy, we are facing a yet larger bubble.

“We have added to the leverage by replacing private credit with sovereign credit and increasing national debt by a significant amount.”

One crumb of comfort could be the 10-year period between the 1998 Asian crisis and the 2008 credit crisis. If the pattern is repeated, it should at least mean we have another 8 years to go before the next crash…

Posted in Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Europe Faces Financial “Tsunami”

Posted by Admin on February 9, 2010

Europe Faces Financial “Tsunami” and Will Become Ungovernable

February 6, 2010 (LPAC)—City of London mouthpiece Ambrose Evans-Pritchard quoted one Julian Callow from Barclay’s Capital as calling for the European Union to invoke treaty powers under Article 122, which has already been done in Greece, to “halt the contagion…. If not contained, this could result in a ‘Lehman-style tsunami’ spreading across much of the EU.” The bankers’ dictatorship being imposed on Greece, Portugal, and Spain threatens to make those countries ungovernable.

In Greece, a two-day strike by tax and customs officers, and ongoing farmers road blockades, threaten to create a fuel shortage. Public workers union leader Argyris Sakellaropoulos said, “We have already made sacrifices, and will accept no more cuts.” Next Wednesday, Feb. 10, the public sector unions will stage a one-day strike. The nation’s largest trade union federation, GSEE, has called for a general strike on Feb. 24.

Now the people are preparing for action in Spain and Portugal.

In reaction to budget cuts, an increase in the retirement age, and wage freezes announced by the Spanish government, the unions yesterday threatened massive protests, according to the EU Observer.

Portugal appears to be ready to explode. After the opposition introduced a bill in the Portuguese Parliament to increase funding in the regions—something the government said it will block—rumors flew around that Prime Minister Jose Socrates announced he would resign, sending credit default swaps on Portuguese debt swaps surging 28% to 222. Portugal’s debt is expected to go from 76% to 85% of GDP by the end of the year. Socrates’ center left government is a minority government. While defending the government’s austerity policies, Portuguese Finance Minister Teixeira dos Santos declared that Greece and Portugal are victims of the “animal spirits” of the financial markets. The government expects pay off some of the debt by selling national assets and will push through privatizations that they expect to yield EU960 million.

Business Week reports that the moves have drawn sharp criticism from the public sector trade unions, which are traditionally the country’s most vocal and militant protesters. The United Front of civil service unions described the cuts as “scandalous,” and warned that strikes were likely. The country still has an active Communist Party and the Left Bloc, who are opposing the cuts in Parliament. The latter received 10% of the vote in the last election, and has 16 members in Parliament.

Portugal is a country of 10 million, with 10% unemployment.

http://www.larouchepac.com/node/13429

Posted in Economic Upheavals | Tagged: , , | Comments Off

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,688 other followers