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Washington to fight cyber-attacks with sanctions

RT | July 26, 2016

Saying that the US is “in the midst of a revolution of the cyber threat,” the White House has issued a directive establishing new guidelines for the government in case of “significant cyber incidents,” stressing that “no tool is off the table.”

The new instruction authorized by US President Barack Obama tasks several federal agencies with dealing with both cyber incidents and their aftermath. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “will take the lead in coordinating the response to the immediate threat,” White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco said on Tuesday, while announcing the new measures at the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York.

Comparing cyber-attacks to “terrorism cases,” the US official stated “This includes bringing the full range of law enforcement and national security investigative tools to bear,” while stressing that “No tool is off the table.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been tasked to help businesses recover from cyber incidents by providing technical assistance and supplying “additional federal resources to aid recovery.”

The directive, which also classifies the severity of cyber-attacks on a five-point scale, uses “the same analysis that guides our military, intelligence, law enforcement, or operations elsewhere – in air, land, sea, or space,” Monaco claimed, saying that over the past years “the rate of cyber intrusions and attacks has accelerated dramatically.”

While officials said they will “continue to use law enforcement tools,” the White House announced that the “power of sanction” will also be applied against international cyber abusers, citing its previous measures against North Korea, which it blamed for a massive attack on Sony Pictures. Pyongyang denied any involvement.

“Our tools now include an executive order authorizing sanctions against those that engage in significant malicious cyber activities, such as harming our nation’s critical infrastructure – our transportation systems or power grid,” the official announced.

“Nations like Russia and China are growing more assertive and sophisticated in their cyber operations,” the US counterterrorism adviser claimed, before mentioning cyber threats from “non-state actors,” including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

“To put it bluntly, we are in the midst of a revolution of the cyber threat – one that is growing more persistent, more diverse, more frequent and more dangerous every day,” Monaco said, adding that “cyber operations on the battlefield” will be conducted to fight IS.

Among the recent cyber-attacks to plague the US was the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) database, when research on Republican Party and donor information was stolen from party servers and later disclosed. A cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate the data breach initially reported the hack to be the work of Russian government agencies, but a lone hacker by the name “Guccifer 2.0” then claimed responsibility.

Read more:

Severe cyber-attack could be a case for NATO action – Stoltenberg

‘Guccifer 2.0’ releases hacked DNC docs revealing mega donors, Clinton collusion

‘I don’t want to use 4-letter words’: Russian FM slams reporter over DNC leak claims

July 26, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Economics | | 1 Comment

The Spectacle of Sanders in Philadelphia As Hillary Puppet

By Stephen Lendman | July 26, 2016

Sanders didn’t just fall from grace. He crashed, burned and resoundingly proved politicians can never be trusted.

Nothing they say is credible. For months, supporters believed he was the anti-Clinton, campaigning against what she represents – an agenda of endless wars of aggression, world peace at risk, neoliberal harshness, police state terror, the worst of all possible worlds.

She’s the most recklessly dangerous choice for president in US history, the most wicked, the most legally, ethically and morally challenged.

In mid-July, Sanders sold out, betrayed his loyal supporters, proved himself just another self-serving dirty politician by endorsing Clinton, embarrassing himself in the process.

On day one of the Democrat War Party convention, he again made a spectacle of himself before a nationwide audience – assuming the role of Clinton puppet, relegating himself to irrelevance.

He touted a “political revolution” the whole world knows is fake. His populist rhetoric resoundingly rang hollow. Who can believe anything a Judas says, a despicable scoundrel selling out to wealth and power while continuing the charade of supporting populism over privilege.

Bush/Obama policies created a protracted Main Street Depression. Half of US households are impoverished or bordering it. Workers need two or more rotten jobs to survive if they can find them.

America resembles Guatemala, not the home of the free and the brave, beautiful for its privileged class alone, a classic example of thirdworldism.

Sanders lied claiming “(w)e have come a long way in the last 7 1/2 years, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession.”

What a shameless misrepresentation of harsh reality! He put his thumb in the eyes of tens of millions of suffering Americans – one missed paycheck away from homelessness, hunger and despair.

He praised Obama instead of condemning him, duplicitously claiming Clinton supports a progressive agenda, a scandalous perversion of truth.

The rest of his remarks included similar mumbo jumbo rubbish repeated endlessly while campaigning -meaningless rhetoric, exposed by endorsing Clinton, shamelessly praising her, bashing Trump.

He reduced himself to a caricature of the phony persona he displayed on the stump. Support for Clinton means endorsing imperial wars, democracy for the few alone and tyranny heading toward becoming full-blown while pretending otherwise.

Saying “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president, and I am proud to stand with her here tonight” showed everything he claims to stand for is a Big Lie.

It’s pure fantasy, duplicitous doublespeak, the lowest denominator of political dishonesty, stringing along his supporters, betraying them when it most mattered.

His soul was for sale all along. He’s now a footnote in the deplorable history of US politics, hugely corrupted, impossible to fix.


Stephen Lendman can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

July 26, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , | 4 Comments

Iran to emerge as US rival in gas markets

Press TV – July 25, 2016

Forbes in a report has hailed Iran’s success in the development of its gas industry and says the country can soon become a main rival over market access to key players like the United States.

The world’s leading business magazine says Iran owes the progress it has made in its gas industry to its high exploration success rate which it says stands at a whopping 79 percent.

The rate, it says, is specifically high given that the world’s average is only 30 to 35 percent.

The Forbes report further emphasizes that the progress in Iran’s gas industry could soon enable it to exploit the promising markets in India, Pakistan, Kuwait, and UAE.

It adds that the country’s planned reductions in subsidized pricing, which will help reduce wasteful usage, will free up more of its gas for exports.

Forbes further stresses that Iran’s plans to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) will specifically have a prosperous future.

“Iran is currently working on several options to join the same ‘international LNG club’ that the US is also joining,” wrote Forbes in its report. “And Europe is the mid- and long-term target. Europe’s gas demand is projected to increase 15-20 percent by 2025. This means that Iran is competition for the US”.

The report emphasizes that Iran’s LNG plans are expected to become operational after 2020, adding that the country could benefit from the growing demand over the succeeding years particularly given that Europe’s gas demand, for example, is projected to increase 15-20% by 2025.

July 25, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Phony Scarcity | , , , , , | 2 Comments

US Election Campaign: Shaping Policy on Russia

By Andrei AKULOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.07.2016

Donald Trump has secured the nomination of the Republican Party to become the next US president.

It has been a controversial campaign and the US policy on Russia is in the process of being shaped. While the media focused on Melania Trump’s plagiarism and other oddities during the Republican National Convention, something very important happened to provide a clue to the GOP presidential candidate’s stand on the issue. The Republican Party officially altered its platform on Ukraine and Russia.

Trump’s team proved its grip on the Republican Party is tight enough to make the entire institution adopt a new view on a major foreign policy issue. Trump-supporting delegates attending the GOP platform meeting in Cleveland insisted that the wording in the initial proposal be altered. They wrote a new amendment ruling out sending US weapons to Ukraine and made sure the new Republican platform does not include a provision calling for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, despite the fact that this view is widely supported by the GOP’s establishment.

The previous platform advocated «providing lethal defensive weapons» to Ukraine, reflecting the virtually unanimous position of the GOP foreign policy elite and national security leaders. Donald Trump won again.

Trump is a sober-minded politician known for his non-ideological, deal-making nature. Unlike other prominent Republicans, he harbors none of Russophobia. Trump realizes that sanctioning and the attempts to «isolate» Russia are bad for business and thriving business is what makes a nation great. He’s a pragmatic global dealmaker who keeps in mind the interests of an average Joe, not global imperial ambitions that make the US overloaded with international commitments and overstretched. Trump has exposed that the Republican party’s rank-and-file members are much less interventionist than previously thought. They don’t want confrontations or military operations abroad – the lessons and losses of Iraq and Afghanistan are too fresh. Trump has repeatedly said that radical Islamism and terrorism is a greater threat to Europe than Russia. He said he would «get along very well» with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mike Flynn, foreign policy advisor to Trump, has suggested that Moscow and Washington join forces to counter Islamic State in the Middle East.

The change of wording at the GOP program is telling but it does not signify the change of policy yet.

There is another important development that went down almost unnoticed by media.

On July 14, members of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a bill to tighten sanctions against Russia.

It contains new innovations to provide support for Ukraine. The Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act strictly binds the powers of the American President to lift sanctions against Russia with the status of Crimea.

The bill forbids NATO members from exporting arms containing US technology to Russia. It requires a regular report on foreign financial institutions «illicitly controlling Ukraine state-owned assets – namely Russian banks in Crimea». The proposed legislation extends the existing Magnitsky Act to new territories, including Crimea, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria.

If the document is approved, the head of the United States will be able to lift the measures against Moscow only in two cases: after confirmation of the «restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea» or if it is proved that «the decision on the status of the Peninsula was under international control and recognized the democratically elected Ukrainian government». The bill also seeks to establish an international consortium to draw private investment in Ukraine by minimizing political risk to would-be private investors.

The proposed act poses a serious threat to the Russia-US relationship. While Washington repeatedly states that the lifting of sanctions depends on the implementation of the Minsk agreements, Moscow believes it’s ridiculous to link the sanctions with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, because Russia is not a party to the conflict and not the subject of the agreements on the settlement in Ukraine. If the bill becomes a law and Donald Trump wins the November election, he’ll have no choice but to comply with the new legislation’s provisions.

Indeed, there are conflicting trends in the US policy on Russia.

On July 20, important news related to the Russia-US relations was largely kept out of media headlines. Russian and US experts and military agreed to meet in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the Syrian issue.

«We proceed on the basis that the military and political experts will launch intensive work in Geneva in the coming days in furtherance of the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow», the source said.

This is one of the results of the talks held in Moscow as part of the visit of the Secretary of State John Kerry on July 14-15.

During the visit, he was received by Russian President Vladimir Putin, held talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It was stated on the ministerial meeting that the sides agreed on specific steps to make the work on Syria more effective. No specific details of the agreed plan were provided. If the plan goes through, it will unite Russia and the US in the fight against the common enemy. But military cooperation and sanctions are hardly compatible. Evidently, there are conflicting trends that are shaping the US policy on Russia as the election race continues.

We’ve yet to make precise how the Democratic convention to take place in Philadelphia on July 25-28, 2016 will define its stance on Russia. One thing is certain – a large sector of American society stands for normal relations with Moscow. The alterations inserted into the GOP program serve as an irrefutable evidence to confirm this fact.

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US imposes new sanctions on Assad government

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Adam J. Szubin, US Treasury Department’s acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence
Press TV – July 21, 2016

The United States has imposed new sanctions on Syria, targeting the arms and financial networks of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Department of the Treasury on Thursday included eight individuals and seven entities to its sanctions blacklist, which aims to cut them out of the global financial system.

The Treasury said the Syrian firm Hesco Engineering and Construction is operating energy production facilities in Syria, and added its Russia-based representatives to the sanctions list.

The Treasury also claimed that Yona Star International and T-Rubber are supplying the Syrian defense ministry, air force and other military bodies from their international offices and slapped sanctions on them.

Sanctions were also imposed on many individuals and businesses involved in international money transfers.

Adam Szubin, Treasury Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said the Assad government is engaged in “destabilizing behavior.”

“Treasury will continue to act against those responsible for fueling the Assad regime’s repressive actions and dangerous weapons proliferation,” Szubin added.

Since March 2011, the United States and its regional allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been conducting a proxy war against Syria.

The conflict has left more than 470,000 Syrians dead and half of the country’s population of about 23 million displaced within or beyond the Arab country’s borders.

In September 2014, the US and some of its allies started conducting airstrikes inside Syria against Daesh terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA to fight against the Syrian government.

In September of last year, Russia launched its own air offensive against the terrorists who were still wreaking havoc in Syria. The Russian campaign, analysts say, has broken the backbone of ISIL and other militants.

July 21, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

Brazilian Prosecutor Declares Dilma Rousseff Not Guilty of Budgetary Maneuvers

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By Desirée Mota and Sophie-Anne Baril | Council on Hemispheric Affairs | July 20, 2016

On July 14, Brazilian Prosecutor Ivan Claudio Marx reported that the delaying of payments to banks made by President Dilma Rousseff’s administration does not constitute a crime of responsibility.[1] Marx stated that the maneuvers, known as fiscal pedaling, were “a violation of the contract between the government and the banks but not a crime.”[2] The prosecutor’s report even advised terminating the criminal case on Rousseff’s accounting practices and requested a new investigation into illegal payments made by the government without congressional approval.[3]

In 2015, Brazil Attorney General Luís Inácio Adams affirmed that delays in transfers from the National Treasury to public banks, which had to be disbursed from Brazil’s own reserves to pay for social programs, also occurred in past governments and were not considered irregular by the Union Accounts Court (TCU).[4] This action, intended to momentarily relieve the fiscal framework of the country, is one of the main accusations the opposition used to carry out the illegal impeachment against President Rousseff. The Brazilian Constitution states that an impeachment can only be carried out if the President commits crimes of responsibility, which Rousseff is not guilty of.

Marx’s report poses an obstacle to the senators and government officials supporting the impeachment. Earlier in July, a board of experts, tasked with investigating the accusations against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, found no proof of her direct involvement with the country’s fiscal budgetary maneuvers.[5] Following the release of another report absolving Rousseff, the Workers’ Party Senator Gleisi Hoffmann has filed a request to invite the Federal Prosecutor to speak in the Senate, where the impeachment process is being tried.[6] Additionally, she has asked senators to close the impeachment probe.[7] Following Congresswoman Hoffmann, Senator Lindbergh Farias, also from the Workers’ Party, stated that “this process is discredited once and for all” and further recommended the House to stop leading the impeachment forward.[8]

As evidence finding Rousseff not guilty for budget manipulations continues to be released, the international criticism on the impeachment process is mounting. Congressman Alan Grayson, who serves on the United States House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, has stated his concerns over the threats that President Rousseff’s impeachment poses to Brazilian democracy.[9] Similarly, a group of French congressmen have released a manifesto condemning the impeachment process.[10] The outcome, however, is still very much at play. As international criticism on the impeachment process increases, this new report only further affirms the illegitimate nature of the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff.

[1]Brazil Prosecutor Says Rousseff’s Accounting Tricks Are Not A Crime. Accessed July 18, 2016 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-14/brazil-prosecutor-says-rousseff-s-accounting-tricks-not-a-crime

[2] Brazil Senators Push to End Impeachment Against Rousseff. Telesur. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Brazil-Senators-Push-to-End-Impeachment-Against-Rousseff-20160716-0006.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] AGU Diz Que Pedaladas Fiscais Foram Adotadas Por Governos Anteriores. G1. http://g1.globo.com/politica/noticia/2015/07/agu-diz-que-pedaladas-fiscais-foram-adotadas-por-governos-anteriores.html

[5] Dilma Rousseff Found Not Guilty of Budgetary Maneuvers. COHA. Accessed July 18, 2016 http://www.coha.org/dilma-rousseff-found-not-guilty-of-budgetary-maneuvers/

[6] Com Decisão do MP, Senadores vão pedir para Paralisar Impeachment. Agência Brasil 247. Accessed July 18, 2016 http://www.brasil247.com/pt/247/brasilia247/244093/Com-decis%C3%A3o-do-MP-senadores-pedir%C3%A3o-para-paralisar-impeachment.htm

[7] Ibid.

[8]Ibid.

[9] Grayson’s statement on Brazilian President’s impeachment. Congressman Grayson. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://grayson.house.gov/index.php/newsroom/press-releases/435-grayson-s-statement-on-brazilian-president-s-impeachment

[10] Dilma Rousseff victime d’une basse manoeuvre parlementaire. Le Monde Idées. July 13, 2017. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2016/07/13/dilma-rousseff-victime-d-une-basse-manoeuvre-parlementaire_4969141_3232.html

Featured Photo: YouTube

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July 21, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

JCPOA commission to convene in Vienna for fourth meeting

Press TV – July 19, 2016

The commission monitoring the implementation of a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers is to convene for a fourth meeting in Vienna.

The Iranian delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, arrived in the Austrian capital on Tuesday to attend the Joint Commission meeting, which is to convene later in the day.

The first meeting of the commission was held last October, agreeing to reconvene every three months.

The deal between Iran and the world powers, namely Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, envisages Tehran scaling back its nuclear program in return for the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

However, months after the accord went into effect in January, the US and the European Union (EU) continue to maintain some sanctions on Iran, scaring off companies from resuming trade with the country.

European banks have balked at the idea of resuming transaction with Iran, fearing punitive US measures. US Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing through three anti-Iran bills in the Congress.

Commenting on the upcoming commission meeting on Sunday, Araqchi said it would be trying to prevent any potential problems from turning into “critical obstacles” in the way of the implementation of the deal, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“There are numerous instances of insufficient progress in the removal of the sanctions. It was up to the opposite side to bring about some circumstances, but it did not,” he complained.

He acknowledged that major banks have not resumed transactions with the Islamic Republic, attributing this to the atmosphere surrounding the agreement.

The Americans “did not create the requisite circumstances needed for the removal of the sanctions… In some places, they even created a destructive atmosphere,” he said.

On Monday, Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also said that, “If the sanctions are not supposed to be lifted and banking transactions to take place, there would remain no reason [to continue with] this agreement.”

“Iran has lived up to all its commitments in the nuclear agreement, from the reduction of centrifuges to decreasing of heavy water and enriched materials. But there has been reneging on promises by the other side, especially the US,” he said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said the Islamic Republic is keeping a close eye on the US “bullying, illogicality, and disloyalty” under the JCPOA.

Shamkhani said Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei had raised the alarm as to the opposite side’s potential backtracking on its promises at the start of the negotiations.

July 19, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

How EU is Pressuring Serbia to Abandon Relationship With Russia

Sputnik | July 17, 2016

European Parliament rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister signaled Thursday that the EU remains committed to enlargement in the Western Balkans. However, Eurocrats regard the Russo-Serbian relationship as a stumbling block in Belgrade’s way to EU accession.

European Parliament rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister warned Belgrade Thursday that Serbia’s intention to maintain close relations with Russia would not be tolerated by Brussels in the long run.

“The European Parliament sent a signal to Serbia through its [January] resolution that a dual approach to Russia could not be tolerated in the long run,” McAllister said at the press conference in Belgrade dubbed “The European Union’s Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy and the Western Balkans,” as quoted by Balkan Insight.

McAllister also urged Belgrade to reduce its “dependency” on Russian oil and gas, claiming that Brussels wants to see Serbia abiding by the EU energy market rules.

Ahead of the conference McAllister clarified his position in an interview with Europe Western Balkans media outlet.

“The Serbia-Russia relations have often been debated. Serbia has traditionally strong economic, social and cultural ties with Russia,” he admitted.

However, he claimed that since Russia “unilaterally changes European borders” and tries to “expand its influence” over its neighbors, Belgrade “needs to make strong efforts in aligning its foreign and security policy to that of the EU, including the policy on Russia,” referring to the EU sanctions regime imposed on Moscow.

Much in the same vein Nathalie Tocci, adviser to EU Foreign Policy and Security Chief Federica Mogherini, described Serbia’s prospects for EU membership in her interview with Tanjug.rs:

“In the accession process, a country is expected to meet all accession criteria and align itself with common European rules through negotiations, which implies both foreign policy and security. In that regard, I see the relationship with Russia as the biggest challenge for Serbia — as it gets closer to EU membership, Serbia will be expected to also get closer to the EU in terms of its position regarding Russia, but that is something that cannot happen overnight,” she said as quoted by the media outlet.Nevertheless, the Serbian government does not want to abandon its ties with Moscow, insisting that it intends to maintain fruitful diplomatic relations with both Russia and the West.

“I… wish to underline that in the process of decision-making Serbia had a continued consistent stance that at this very stage of the accession process it could not uphold all EU decisions. In some cases Serbia did not align with the EU positions, respecting its national interest concerning the issue of preserving its territorial integrity and the need to maintain traditionally good relations with other partners as well, first and foremost with Russia and China,” Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told the press conference on Thursday.

He stressed that Serbia has proven to be a “reliable and true” partner of the EU and bemoaned the fact that despite Belgrade’s strategic foreign policy orientation toward full EU membership, the process “has not had particularly live dynamics so far because in the last two years we opened only two negotiating chapters.”

At the conference Dacic underscored that the time has come to reexamine what was done to Serbia back in 1999, and threw into question Kosovo’s self-proclaimed sovereignty. He recalled that US Assistant Secretary of State told him that the US has been investing in Kosovo’s independence for 20 years.

“Then I think the mistakes must be sought not only in our system,” he stressed, as cited by B92.net.

He emphasized that neither Russia nor China recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Later, commenting on the EU officials’ remarks Dacic told Serbian daily newspaper Novosti, as cited by Balkan Insight: “It could not be expected from Serbia to introduce sanctions on its friends.”

In his interview with Sputnik former Serbian diplomat Zoran Milivojevic noted that Serbia has its own national interests and the right to protect them.

“There are no reasons [for Serbia] to reconsider its relation with other nations, especially with United Nations Security Council permanent members and traditional friends of Serbia, Russia or China,” Milivojevic told Sputnik.

The diplomat stressed that it is inappropriate for Brussels to set such conditions on the very early phases of Serbia-EU negotiations, referring to the fact that Belgrade and the EU are yet to discuss the 31st chapter of EU accession related to Serbia’s foreign policy. Only when the chapter is opened the issue of the Russo-Serbian should be brought into the spotlight, he stressed.

July 17, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Ecuador Confirms Another $20 Billion in Oil Reserves

teleSUR | July 15, 2016

Ecuador’s proven oil reserves grew recently with the announcement by Vice-President Jorge Glas that Block 43 in the Amazonian province of Orellana counts on 1,672 million barrels of oil, an increase of 82 percent over previous findings.

U.S. oil engineering company Ryder Scott conducted an evaluation and confirmed the amount of proven reserves. The new certification means that the country as a whole now has nearly 4 billion barrels in proven reserves.

At current prices, the additional reserves will translate into US$19.5 billion in revenue.

Block 43 is one of Ecuador’s key oil deposits in the Amazon and oil extraction there has been the subject of controversy as the block is located inside the Yasuni National Park, considered one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet.

Ecuador originally proposed keeping the oil in the ground but an appeal to the international community for contributions to prevent extraction failed after donors pledged a small fraction of the amount needed.

In late 2013, the government opened a small portion of the Amazon to oil extraction with a commitment to minimize any environmental consequences.

The state oil company Petroamazonas is tasked with the project and has committed to extracting in a responsible manner. The company won an environmental prize last year over from London’s Energy Institute for its efforts to mitigate the environmental impact of oil extraction in the Ecuadorean Amazon.

The license for oil exploration specifies that less than 1 percent of the total area of the Yasuni National Park will be affected.

The government of President Rafael Correa has been subject to criticisms from some environmental groups for its decision to open a portion of the Yasuni National Park for oil exploration. However, many of the criticisms come from organizations and politicians openly opposed to the Correa government.

As an oil-exporting country, the income derived from oil extraction is a critical component of the national budget.

President Correa celebrated the news of additional oil reserves on his official Twitter account, reaffirming his opinion that the decision to open up Yasuni to oil extraction was the correct one.

Under the Correa government, the income generated from oil extraction has been reinvested in the country through the construction of schools, hospitals, and roads. Ecuadorean law demands that 12 percent of the revenues stay within the affected zone, in an effort to benefit the surrounding communities.

The sharp drop in the price of oil has impacted government revenue, however, yet the price of oil is expected to stabilize at US$50 this year. The ITT region of the Yasuni National Park encompassing Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini is expected to produce 20,000 barrels a day by year’s end.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

Military Officer Fired for Gulenist Ties Named as Leader of Turkey’s Coup

Sputnik – 16.07.2016

Colonel Muharrem Kose, a former officer in the Turkish Armed Forces was named by state-run Anadolu News Agency as the leader of the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

The bloody coup attempt that struck Ankara on Friday now has a face — a former Turkish military officer who was dishonorably discharged in March 2016 for his alleged association with anti-government and US-based Imam Fethullah Gulen.

Colonel Muharrem Kose announced the formation of the “Peace Council,” an interim government to restore democracy and human rights in Turkey that Erdogan’s opponents claim have been stripped from the country as it had begun to drift ever closer to a theocracy after long being adored as the secular gem of the Middle East.

Military forces loyal to Colonel Kose seized the state-run TRT News station, the bridges, and Ataturk International Airport on Friday evening before being pushed back by Turkish forces loyal to Erdogan as bloody struggles have ensued throughout the country.

It appeared that the coup effort had succeeded until President Erdogan took to CNN Turk, calling in via FaceTime, pleading with his countrymen to resist the effort to overthrow the government by taking to the streets. The move, initially mocked by Western media and leaders, appears to have been successful with millions of Turks taking to the streets to resist Colonel Kose’s Peace Council.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier in the day blamed supporters of the Pennsylvania-based Imam Fethullah Gulen, prior to identifying Colonel Kose as the lead agitator in the coup attempt. Despite Muharrem Kose’s apparent links to Gulen, the Imam’s non-profit, the Alliance for Shared Values, denies any involvement and has condemned “any military intervention in the domestic politics of Turkey.”

Gulenists are not hardliners as the Imam preaches a blend of piety and Sufi mysticism while calling for free markets, democracy and religious tolerance in keeping with the original vision of Turkey laid down by the country’s founder Kemal Ataturk.

Gulen’s movement known as Hizmet, once boasted as many as 2,000 officers within the Turkish military prior to crackdowns by President Erdogan. Supporters of Gulen have long attempted to use the judiciary to advance corruption investigations against Erdogan sparking a bitter divide between the two groups. Turkish authorities accuse Gulen of attempting to form an opposing “state within a state” known by many in Turkey as the “Parallel Structure.”

Prior to being ousted for his alleged ties to the Gulenist movement, Muharrem Kose proudly served as the chief legal counsel to the Turkish military’s chief of staff Hulusi Akar. Akar was taken hostage in the first hours of the coup attempt that began on Friday evening.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Economics | | Leave a comment

Brexit: A Workers’ Response to Oligarchs, Bankers, Flunkies and Scabs

By James Petras :: 07.14.2016

The European Union is controlled by an oligarchy, which dictates socio-economic and political decisions according to the interests of bankers and multi-national business. The central organs of power, the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have systematically imposed austerity programs that have degraded working conditions, welfare programs, and wages and salaries.

EU policies demanding the free immigration of non-unionized workers to compete with native workers have undermined wage and workplace protections, union membership and class solidarity. EU financial policies have enhanced the power of finance capital and eroded public ownership of strategic economic sectors.

The European Union has imposed fiscal policies set by non-elected oligarchs over and against the will and interests of the democratic electorate. As a result of EU dictates, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland have suffered double-digit unemployment rates, as well as massive reductions of pensions, health and educational budgets. A huge transfer of wealth and concentration of decision-making has occurred in Europe.

Rule by EU fiat is the epitome of oligarchical rule.

Despite the EU’s reactionary structure and policies, it is supported by Conservatives, Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens and numerous Leftist academics, who back elite interests in exchange for marginal economic rewards.

Arguments for the EU and their Critics

The pro-EU power elite base their arguments on concrete socio-economic interests, thinly disguised by fraudulent ideological claims.

The ideological arguments backing the EU follow several lines of deception.

They claim that ‘countries’ benefit because of large-scale transfers of EU payments. They omit mentioning that the EU elite secures the privatization and denationalization of strategic industries, banks, mass media and other lucrative national assets. They further omit to mention that the EU elite gains control of domestic markets and low wage labor.

The EU argues that it provides ‘free movements’ of capital, technology and labor – omitting the fact that the flows and returns of capital exclusively benefit the powerful imperial centers to the detriment of less advanced countries and that technology is controlled and designed by the dominant elites which also monopolize the profits. Furthermore, the ‘free flow of labor’ prejudices skilled productive sectors in less developed countries while reducing salaries, wages and benefits among skilled workers in the imperial centers.

The EU : A Self-Elected Dictatorship of Empire Builders

‘Integration into the EU’ is not a union of democratic participants; the decision-making structure is tightly controlled by non-elected elites who pursue policies that maximize profits, by relocating enterprises in low tax, low wage, non- unionized regions.

European integration is an integral part of ‘globalization’, which is a euphemism for the unimpeded acquisition of wealth, assets and financial resources by the top 1%, shared, in part, with their supporters among the top 25%.

The EU promotes the concentration of capital through the merger and acquisition of multi-national firms which bankrupt local and national, medium and small scale industries.

Political and Academic Satraps of the EU Elites

The European Union’s oligarchy has organized a small army of highly paid politicians, functionaries, advisers, experts and researchers who support the European Union in a manner not unlike NGO workers in the developing world – answerable only to their ‘foreign’ paymasters.

Numerous Social Democrats draw stipends, travel expenses, lucrative fees and salaries as members of commissions and serve on impotent ‘legislative’ assemblies.

Academics advise, consent —and draw duplicate salaries from membership in the EU bureaucracy. Journalists and academics ‘front’ for the EU oligarchy by playing a leading propaganda role. For example, they have been busy slandering British pro-democracy, anti-EU voters by (1) calling for a new referendum and (2) questioning the right of the working class electorate to vote on issues like the recent EU referendum.

The leading financial press adopts a demagogic pose accusing the pro-democracy voters of being ‘racists’, ‘nativists’, or worse, for ‘opposing Eastern European immigration’.

In fact, the vast majority of workers do not oppose immigrants in general, but especially those who have taken once-unionized jobs at wages far below the going rates for established workers, on terms dictated by employers and with no ties or commitment to the community and society. For decades British workers accepted immigrant labor from Ireland because they joined unions at wage rates negotiated by union leaders, won by long workers struggle and voted with the majority of English workers. Under the EU, Britain was flooded with Eastern European workers who acted as ’scabs’ displacing skilled British workers who were told it was ‘progress’. This acted to destroy the prospects of their own children entering a stable, skilled labor market.

The financial press’s lurid descriptions of the British workers’ anti-EU ‘racism’ against Polish immigrant labor ignores the long history of Warsaw’s virulent hostility to immigrants–namely the refugees from the wars in the Middle East. The Polish government and population exhibit the most furious opposition to sheltering the thousands of Middle East and African war refugees, while claiming that they are not ‘Christians’ or might pose cultural or even terrorist threats against the ethnically pure Polish population.

Some of the British workers’ hostility toward Polish workers has a recognized historical basis. They have not forgotten that Polish strike breakers took the side of ‘Iron Lady’ Thatcher’s militarized assault against unionized UK miners during the great coal strikes and even offered to export coal to aid the Conservative government in breaking the strike. As such, EU-Polish immigrant workers are not likely to integrate into the militant British working class culture.

The Polish regime’s aggressive promotion of the economic sanctions against Russia has further undermined English jobs linked to that large and growing market.

The financial press ignores the fact that Polish immigrants ’scab’ on unionized British workers in the construction industry, undercutting long-established UK plumbers, electrical workers, carpenters and laborers – who have multiple generational ties to their communities and work. The EU elites use the importation of Polish workers to strengthen the reactionary labor policies of the employers

After the fall of Communism, Polish workers backed a succession of right-wing regimes in Warsaw, which privatized and denationalized industries and eroded their welfare system leading to their own impoverishment. Poles, instead of fighting against these neo-liberal regimes at home, headed for England and have been helping the British bosses ever since in their own anti-labor campaigns to reduce wages and decrease worker access to decent, affordable housing, public services, education and medical care.

The Eastern Europeans became the willing recruits of the EU reserve army of labor to raise profits for industrial and finance capital thus further concentrating wealth and power into the hands of the British oligarchs.

To label British workers’ antipathy to these EU policies over the free entry of cheap immigrant labor, as ‘racist’, is a blatant case of blaming workers for opposing naked capitalist profiteering. It is not hard to imagine how the Poles would react if skilled Syrian electricians were taking their jobs!

The pro-EU prostitute press claims that the pro-democracy voters are ‘anti-globalization’ and a threat to England’s living standards and financial stability.

In fact, labor votes in favor of trade but against the relocation of English industry overseas. Labor votes for greater investment in the UK and greater regional diversity of productive, job-creating sectors, as opposed to the concentration of capital and wealth in the parasitic finance, insurance and real estate sectors concentrated in the City of London.

The EU-City of London-financial oligarchy have priced labor out of the housing market by promoting the massive construction of high-end luxury condos for ‘their kind of immigrant’, i.e. the millionaire and billionaire Chinese, Russian, Indian, Eastern European and US plutocrats who flock to London’s famous tax-evasion and money-laundering expertise.

The scribes of the EU-City oligarchy who claim that exit from the EU will lead to a cataclysmic breakdown are blatantly scaremongering. In fact, the stock and bond market, which declined for less than a week, rebounded sharply, as trade, production and demand were scarcely affected by the vote.

The hysteria-peddlers among the financial press resounded . . . in the minds and pockets of the City of London speculators. They rightly feared that their own lucrative financial operations could relocate overseas.

Conclusion

If and when the EU – City end their oligarchical control over the British economy, workers will gain an opportunity to debate and elect freely their own representatives and have a say in their own government. Leaving the EU is just the first step. The next move will be to change the rules for immigrant labor to accord with the standards of wages and conditions set by UK trade union organizations.

The following steps would include subordinating the banks to the needs of industry, investment in public housing for workers and the development of local technology for domestic producers.

The cleavage between productive labor and the EU parasites and their political hangers-on requires a new political leadership with a democratic foreign policy, which precludes overseas wars and imperial alliances.

The break with the EU logically and persuasively argues for a break with NATO and an opening toward free trade with Russia, China and the new dynamic global markets. The end of the EU can help weaken the strategic partnership between the European and City of London oligarchs. No doubt, the latter will not go without a class war of unprecedented ferocity, involving financial lockouts, manufactured fiscal crises, street mobs and parliamentary coups at the top of their agenda.

Only if the democratic electoral majority becomes a cohesive and combative class movement, in and out of Parliament, can they convert the referendum from a temporary electoral win to a stable basis for structural transformation.

Only a democratic majority can implement a fair and equitable immigration policy that strengthens labor and welfare policies and which would be based on the traditional values of British trade unionism and not on some criteria parroted by the ‘house servants’ for the lords of the EU-London ‘Downton Abbey’.

July 15, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Sanctions on Lebanon a form of Israeli aggression: Berri

Press TV – July 14, 2016

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has denounced sanctions on Lebanese banks and other financial institutions as a form of Israeli aggression.

Speaking at the Lebanese Emigrants Economic Conference in Beirut on Thursday, Berri said Israel is constantly trying to destroy Lebanon’s infrastructure and economy.

Berri was apparently making reference to the US law, which calls for the closure of bank accounts of individuals and organizations suspected of links to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is credited with defending Lebanon against two wars launched by Israel – the US’s staunchest ally in the region – in 2000 and 2006.

Berri said Lebanon, through the assistance of its diaspora, will eventually emerge triumphant over a plot seeking to harm the country’s economy.

“We only have hope from the expatriates, and right now we no longer have hope but from you,” he said.

Berri further lashed out at Arab states for failing to commit to promised funds to Lebanon following Israel’s war on the country in the summer of 2006, saying only a third of the aid has been paid.

In February, Riyadh suspended USD 3 billion in military assistance to the Lebanese military and another USD 1 billion to the country’s internal security forces.

The kingdom also imposed sanctions on some Lebanese firms and individuals it accused of having links with Hezbollah.

Last month, Governor of Bank of Lebanon Riad Salameh stated that 100 bank accounts linked to Hezbollah members and legislators had been closed.

Hezbollah criticized the Central Bank of Lebanon for submitting to US pressures, saying the measures violated Lebanon’s sovereignty.

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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