State of the World – April 2015

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U.S. oil council: Shale won’t last, Arctic drilling needed now
Study predicts shale boom won’t last long, says companies should start probing for oil now
Mar 27, 2015

“There will come a time when all the resources that are supplying the world’s economies today are going to go in decline,” said Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil and chairman of the study’s committee [shocking], in an interview with the Associated Press. “This is will be what’s needed next. If we start today it’ll take 20, 30, 40 years for those to come on.”

 

Leave the Houthis Alone!
Why are we on the same side as the Saudis – and al Qaeda – in Yemen?
by Justin Raimondo
March 27, 2015

In spite of US-based news accounts reporting the current conflict to be between the Saudis and “Iran-backed rebels,” the evidence for the Tehran-Houthi connection is tenuous to nonexistent. There is no evidence of Iranian involvement beyond political (i.e. rhetorical) support. Indeed, as Christopher Boucek and Marina Ottoway report in their book, Yemen on the Brink, “some Yemeni officials have confided that such assertions are unfounded.” Doctrinal differences between the Zaydi sect of Shi’ism and the Iranians over important theological issues within Islam preclude Tehran from providing any substantial support for the Houthi insurgency beyond mere words. Neoconservative pundits who point to the Houthis’ success with alarm mirror the propaganda of al Qaeda, which denounces the Zaydi “takfiris” (apostates) in similarly hysterical terms. The Houthis, for their part, have never attacked Americans or American interests in Yemen, as acknowledged in a series of classified cables sent by the no-longer-present US embassy.cheney_1

State of the World 2015, Pt.II

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State of the World 2015, Pt.II

The US oil bust is getting uglier

In the latest week, drillers idled another 41 oil rigs, according to Baker Hughes. Only 825 rigs were still active, down 48.7% from October. In the 23 weeks since, drillers have idled 784 oil rigs, the steepest, deepest cliff-dive in the history of the data.

Obama Stands Up for America
And tells the Israelis he’s had enough
by Justin Raimondo, March 23, 2015

The Israelis wanted us to declare war against over one billion Muslims – to essentially concede bin Laden’s point that he represented Islam. And we went along with it for a while: the neoconservative project to “drain the swamp” of the Middle East and propel it into modernity by force of arms was taken up by the administration of George W. Bush, with disastrous results. But even Bush had his limits. At the end of his last term, when the Israelis were pressuring Washington to launch a military strike against Iran, Bush – having apparently reached the endpoint of his capacity for appeasing Tel Aviv – declined to do so (over Dick Cheney’s objection).

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It’s Official: The Pentagon Finally Admitted That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons, Too

It would be good to keep in mind that these extraordinary breakthroughs in technology have one purpose—fighting wars—and are intended to give still greater advantage to advanced nations like the US and Israel that dwarf more primitive adversaries. Many of the new technologies, it is true, will find commercial applications that improve everyday lives (some already have). Yet it is also true that our advances in high-tech killing power have not subdued all the enemies.

They find irregular ways to fight back. They blow the legs off our soldiers. They plant home-made bombs in crowded restaurants. They recruit children to serve as their guided missiles. They capture and slaughter innocent bystanders, while our side merely bombs the villages from high altitude. The victims do not see our way as pristine or preferable. Their suffering becomes their global recruiting.

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“The third reason for Grant’s success is the great imponderable: great generals are not just smarter than their opponents, they’re luckier. And the luck is generally due to superior intuition.

Napoleon had wanted his generals to have this quality. But intuition is a talent that can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t. And Grant had it. At some level he simply knew his opponents would quit the fight, and this belief (or insight, or intuition) enabled him to brush aside all the potential disasters that could take place. Where Halleck––and many other Union generals––could only see the potential for disaster, Grant saw victory.”
-John Mosier

 

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No Future For You

State of the World 2015

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Putin just made a huge decision that may explain his strange disappearance
March 18th

By targeting Dadayev — the former deputy commander of a paramilitary unit formed by Kadyrov and run by the Chechen leader’s cousin, Adam Delimkhanov — the Federal Security Service (FSB) seemed to be ultimately targeting Kadyrov.

And now it appears that Kadyrov has successfully beaten back the FSB’s assault.

It was amid this turmoil that Putin vanished from public view on March 5, just six days after Nemtsov was assassinated and three days before Dadayev was charged.

“Putin appeared, live and legitimate, at exactly the same moment when Interfax reported that the Nemtsov assassination wasn’t a contract hit,” political analyst Leonid Volkov wrote on Facebook.

“Putin had to make a choice. Either feed Kadyrov to the FSB-men, or give up the FSB to Kadyrov. It’s a difficult and unpleasant choice … And he chose the one and only thing he could choose: Kadyrov.”

 

 

Obama snubs Binyamin Netanyahu and criticises Israel PM’s ‘divisive rhetoric’
March 19th

The secretary of state John Kerry, who has fought hard on the Middle East peace process, and was in Switzerland for the final stages of nuclear talks with Iran that Netanyahu has fought hard to scupper, pointedly refused to respond to questions about the Israeli election results.

State Department officials later said that Kerry called Netanyahu to congratulate him on the results. “It was a brief phone call,” said Jen Psaki, his chief spokesperson. “They did not discuss substantive issues.”

Analysis Netanyahu’s victory is clear break with US-led peace process
Palestinians see ‘long and difficult road of struggle’ against Israel after Netanyahu wins fourth term after rejection of two-state solution

Washington’s frosty response to Netanyahu’s unexpectedly decisive victory came as analysts predicted that relations between Israeli prime minister and the US president would not recover until Obama’s term comes to an end.

The rift between the Obama administration and the Israeli government reached rock-bottom earlier this month, after Netanyahu snubbed the White House by using a controversial speech before the Republican-dominated Congress to denounce the emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

“What I see is Netanyahu waiting this out until Obama’s successor is in post,” a well-placed diplomatic source told the Guardian. “The Israelis have good enough contacts in Congress and the Pentagon to keep going until either Hillary Clinton or a Republican president is elected in 2016. Israel will ride this out.”


THE MAKING OF A CHRISTIAN TALIBAN IN UKRAINE

March 18th

Along with being a recruitment center, the former billiard club also serves as the headquarters of Korchynksy’s political organization, “Bratstvo” (in English, the Brotherhood). I find Korchynsky in a side room furnished with a large billiard table, worn-out leather sofa, armchairs and a piano. Lying on the piano are the notes of Chopin’s funeral march and the lyrics to the German national anthem, whose first verse, beginning “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,” harkens back to the Nazi era. It is perhaps an unfortunate choice of song for a political figure that is often described as an extremist, ultranationalist and fascist.

Korchynsky does not pretend to be moderate, but he doesn’t appreciate the worst epithet used against his forces.

“We are not Nazis,” he tells me. “We are patriots and nationalists.”

Korchynsky is nearly a caricature of a Russian-hating Ukrainian nationalist. His silver hair contrasts with his dark, bushy mustache, which is turned down at the edges in the Cossack style. The St. Mary’s Battalion, which is one of more than a dozen private groups fighting alongside the Ukrainian Army against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, is Korchynsky’s creation. It is also one of the more unusual volunteer formations in the ragtag forces taking on the separatists, incorporating an ideology that manages to mix Christian messianism with Islamic jihadism.

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March Open Thread

Just realized I haven’t been here in a month. I’ve been waiting for a train that never showed up because of the snow. Seriously. And also, that dress is white and gold.

Colors

The F-35B can’t carry its most advanced weapon until 2022

Who Killed Boris Nemtsov?
A verdict has already been reached – without evidence
by Justin Raimondo
March 02, 2015

So, we return to the question at the head of this column: Who killed Boris Nemtsov? The answer is: we don’t know, at least not at this point, and one can only marvel at the investigative prowess of talking heads who “solved” this crime from a distance of several thousand miles, hours after it occurred. Nemtsov’s many enemies include the oligarchs he allied himself with, and then later turned on, who were no doubt eager to exact their revenge. Beresovky, who met his own mysterious death years earlier, was one of his biggest enemies. Once in collusion, the rapacious oligarch and the would-be reformer fell out in the “war of the bankers” that preceded the end of the Yeltsin era: it was Beresovsky who had Nemtsov fired from his job as economic advisor to Ukraine’s Viktor Yushchenko.

Heroes and Villains
by James Howard Kunstler
March 02, 2015

It is more than ironic that Snowden was also Mr. Ed, because if you take his comportment on film at face value, never was there such an exemplary and seemingly normal American young man. His heroism resided largely in his amazing composure under the strain of events. He spoke English clearly and calmly, and reacted to the weighty events he set in motion with startling equanimity. He appeared to know exactly what he was doing, and with quiet, unshakable moral commitment. And then he disappeared down the gullet of America’s modern times nemesis, Russia, where he continues to taunt with his very existence, the NSA gameboys, lizard-lawyers and puppet-masters who cordially invite him back home to face, ho-ho, our vaunted justice system. Of course any six-year-old understands that they would love to jam Snowden down some federal supermax memory hole as an example to any other waffling NSA code-jockey having second thoughts about reading your grandpa’s phone records.

Don’t Touch Me There

 

American Psycho

Drill, Baby, Drill!!!

The Shale Revolution is like Saturn, it devours its own children.

Francisco_de_Goya,_Saturno_devorando_a_su_hijo_(1819-1823)

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2015

Rouhani: Countries Behind The Oil Price Drop Will Suffer

No nation or company has control over the price of oil. Neither Saudi Arabia nor ExxonMobil nor Halliburton nor Goldman Sachs have anything but the slightest influence over how high or how low the prices go. This is because the price of oil is the result of two factors of which one is not controlled by any single entity and the other is only observable in retrospect. These are supply and demand.

The additional 3 million barrels per day (mbpd)of production that the United States has brought online in the last 5 years probably has more to do with the collapse of the price of oil in the last six months than any other factor with the exception of global demand stagnation.

In the last decade, Saudi Arabia’s exports have only fluctuated between about 7 and 8 mbpd. Look at the extreme volatility in the global price of oil over that period. To believe that Saudi Aramco and Saudi Arabia have any control is delusional.

At $100/barrel Saudi brings in about $280 Billion/year. At $45/barrel figuring an arbitrary lifting cost of $10/barrel, Saudi brings in only $108 Billion/year, or one third the cash.

The CIA’s World Factbook shows Saudi’s GDP as $718 billion with a budget in 2013 of $302 billion in revenues and $258 billion in expenditures – basically in line with their oil revenues. A drop to $108 billion will cause pain, how much and to whom is arguable.
Saudi could cut its production by 2 mbpd as it has done in the past. However there is no guarantee this in itself would push the price of oil back to $70 or $80/barrel. It would, however, guarantee a 25% drop in Saudi oil revenue to $75 billion/year. Pain.

Iran, on the other hand, has been suffering under sanctions for years already. They have a GDP of $987 Billion with a baseline export market only a quarter of Saudi’s. They also have a government budget of only $47 billion in revenue and $67 billion in expenditures.

Rouhani is basically correct.

A Little Bit Of Oil Speculation
Jan 8th, 2015

As for American foreign policy makers? To assume that they have thought further out ahead than their itineraries, is to demonstrate a severe lack of rationalism. If there is one thing that the US has proven during its 20 years of global benevolent US hegemony, it’s that no US policy will ever be successful at achieving any of its stated goals, with the exception of lining the pockets of the military industrial complex and the state bureaucratic apparatus. As we have seen, there has been no shortage of that recently, so all is well in Washington.


Lower Oil Prices Will Not Turn Producers into Pushovers

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Open Thread December

Decline and Fall

Decline and Fall

Decline and Fall
by John Michael Greer

p.2 – The language of politics these days consists largely of snarl words. When people on the leftward end of the political spectrum say “fascist,” or “Empire,” for example, more often than not these words mean exactly what “socialist” or liberal mean to people on the right – that is, they express the emotional state of the speaker rather than anything relevant about the object under discussion. Behind this common habit is one of the more disturbing trends in contemporary political life: setting aside ordinary disagreement in favor of seething rage against a demonized Other on whom all the world’s problems can conveniently be blamed.

p.4 – The 5 percent of humanity that lives in the United States of America uses around a quarter of the world’s energy and roughly a third of its raw materials and industrial product. This disproportionate share of the world’s wealth doesn’t come to us because the rest of the world doesn’t want such things or because the United States manufactures some good or provides some service so desirable to the rest of the world that other nations vie with each other to buy it from us. Quite the contrary: the United States produced very little during much of its empire’s most prosperous period, and the rest of the world’s population is by and large just as interested in energy, raw materials, and industrial product as Americans are.

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