Pål Steigan ■ World oil giants ready to plunder Ukraine oil and shale gas reserves. || Ukraine has reserves estimated at 1,200 billion cubic meters of gas, the third largest in Europe. American Chevron and European Shell have contracts to exploit these light tight oil and shale deposits. In other European countries there have been public protests against shale gas extraction because of the great environmental damage it causes - such as earthquakes and pollution of drinking water. The Kiev junta is not taking such petty concerns into consideration. But the problem for both the junta and the oil giants is that the largest deposits are located in the Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. So there is an obvious connection here between western lust for Ukraine's oil & gas reserves and Kiev's ruthless warfare, not only against armed separatists, but also against the civilian population. Over half a million people have fled the fighting, and it would seem that this partly is the purpose behind Porosjenko's warfare against his own people. The eastern areas now are being prepared for extraction of oil and gas. And to be on the safe side, Hunter Biden, the son of America's Vice President, has been handed a top job in Burisma Holdings, a company that is poised to develop the gas fields of Ukraine. Biden now sits on the same board of directors as Poland's former president Aleksander Kwasniewski, who also often was a guest at the Maidan Square. (Also see: Naked Goals of Ukrainian Genocide)
Major Israeli food exporters are facing an unprecedented wave of cancelations in orders from Europe as a result of Israel’s most recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza. SuperValu, the biggest food distributor in Ireland, told the Irish media last week that it has withdrawn Israeli products from its shops. And Israeli media reports suggest that other major European retailers have taken similar decisions without announcing them publicly. Israeli fruit and vegetable exporters have faced cancelations from Scandinavia, the UK, France, Belgium and Ireland.
Cole Stangler ■ Most progressives are, by now, familiar with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the proposed trade deal that would link the United States with Pacific Rim powerhouses like Australia and Japan. Wonkier corners of the left are equally conversant in the intrigue of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a pact that would couple the United States and the European Union. Like-minded critics would do well by memorizing yet another trade acronym: TISA, or the Trade in Services Agreement. Judging by the stakes and the ultra-secrecy of the negotiations, it could easily be the worst of the bunch. ■ Here's what we know: Fifty countries, including the United States, the EU nations, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey, have been in TISA talks since 2012. The resulting agreement will set the terms for almost 70 percent of global trade in “services”: everything from banking and construction to telecom and tourism.
Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law that will allow foreign companies from the US and EU to co-manage Ukraine’s national gas transportation system (GTS) which has a value of around $25-35 billion, one of the largest in the world. ● The motion, proposed by PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was only supported by 228 parliament members, just two more than the required 226 to adopt the bill. The first reading of the bill was approved on July 4. Ukraine will control 51 percent and foreign partners will be offered 49 percent in the venture, which seeks to “strengthen” Ukraine’s position as a transit state, according to the bill’s advocates. Together with Western investors Ukraine is planning to create a new company that will control the country’s gas transit system. However, it could be hard to find investors willing to participate in the project, some analysts believe, as Russia is currently developing a transit system bypassing Ukraine’s territory, which has proved unreliable as a transit partner.
The so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria(ISIS) began selling Iraqi crude oil extracted from oil fields which its seized in recent months and exporting it through the Kurdish region to Turkish refineries and from Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan ultimately to Israel. ● [They] began shipping 100 tanks loaded with crude oil extracted from the Ajeel oil field which the Saudi-terrorist group took control of last month. ISIS sells the crude oil at a price ranging between $12-14,000 per tank to finance their operations. Israeli and Turkish companies which buy the oil use paved roads controlled by ISIS militants and take it through the cities near the border with Turkey to civil refineries inside Turkey or they go through the city of Makhmour to the Kurdistan region in coordination with the checkpoints." As the Islamic State is established, it's clear that ISIS wants to have all parts of their government and revenue sources well organized, and that energy exports are part of this scheme. The scheme includes the collection of taxes, but also other black market activities like trade in other illegal goods the group plunders from the land it captures. Given the call by [ISIS leader Abu Bakr] Baghdadi on the first day of Ramadan –asking for consolidation of the state and the recruitment of individuals to help run that state – one has to figure that the energy sector figures into his planning.
Rumours of a massive oil find to the west of Shetland are growing after Prime Minister David Cameron made a secret visit to the islands just under two weeks ago. ● On July 22nd Mr Cameron turned up in Shetland unannounced. At the airport the Prime Minister was accompanied by the Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael. The secret visit, the first by a serving UK Prime Minister for 34 years, angered national media who were unable to despatch journalists to Shetland in time. Commenting on the visit, Scottish Secretary Carmichael told a local newspaper that the visit was, "the closest to a secret I’ve known in Shetland". However, suspicions were aroused when, within days of the visit, BP announced that the start-up of the Clair Ridge twin-bridge oilfield had been delayed by one year. However the delay was said to be due to the amount of work being carried out by the South Korean fabricator. The Clair field is located 75 km West of Shetland - Clair Ridge is the second phase of the Clair Field development. BP has invested £4.5 billion in the Clair Ridge Project and expects to extract 640 million barrels of recoverable oil, and see up to 120 thousand barrels per day at peak. Estimates put the total amount of oil at 7 billion barrels equivalent.
Chinese exports rose an astounding 14.5% YoY in July (the biggest surge since April 2013 and double the 7.0% YoY expectations). Chinese imports plunged 1.6% to 4-month lows, dramatically missing expectations of a 2.6% YoY gain. These miracles of goalseek.xls and fake trade invoicing left the Chinese Trade Balance for July at $47.3 Billion - its highest ever (ever) and almost double the $27.4bn expectations. In the midst of collapsing European economies, plunging Russia, and stumbling 'hard' US macro data, the Chinese government would have us believe the world (net) bought the most stuff ever from them in July...
"In a nutshell, civil forfeiture is the practice of confiscating items from people, ranging from cash, cars, even homes based on no criminal conviction or charges, merely suspicion. This practice first became widespread for use against pirates, as a way to take possession of contraband goods despite the fact that the ships’ owners in many cases were located thousands of miles away and couldn’t easily be prosecuted. As is often the case, what starts out reasonable becomes a gigantic organized crime ring of criminality, particularly in a society where the rule of law no longer exists for the “elite,” yet anything goes when it comes to pillaging the average citizen. One of the major reasons these programs have become so abused is that the police departments themselves are able to keep much of the confiscated money. So they actually have a perverse incentive to steal. As might be expected, a program that is often touted as being effective against going after major drug kingpins, actually targets the poor and disenfranchised more than anything else."
Eric Zuesse ■ The Ukrainian leadership has resigned, because of their unwillingness to impose the IMF's terms, which would impoverish the population within months. That impoverishment would be extracted from the Ukrainian public in order to repay the IMF's loans, which had been skimmed off by Ukraine's oligarch billionaires into secret bank accounts in Switzerland and other tax-havens. Two of the four parties in Ukraine's ruling coalition have bolted, refusing those IMF terms on loan-repayment; and, so, on July 24th, Ukraine's Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had been appointed by Obama's agent Victoria Nuland , tendered his resignation.
Recall what we said earlier today: the proxy Ukraine war just like that in Syria preceding it, "is all about energy." Recall also the following chart showing Ukraine's shale gas deposits, keeping in mind that the Dnieper-Donets basin which lies in the hotly contested eastern part of the nation and where as everyone knows by now a bloody civil war is raging, is the major oil and gas producing region of Ukraine accounting for approximately 90 per cent of Ukrainian production and according to EIA may have 42 tcf of shale gas resources technically recoverable from 197 tcf of risked shale gas in place. Finally, recall our story from May that Joe Biden's son, Hunter, just joined the board of the largest Ukraine gas producer Burisma Holdings.
Ten dark suited men entered the premises of FBME bank in Cyprus on Friday afternoon and took it hostage. It must have looked like a scene from the Matrix. And given the surrealism of how this conflict is escalating, maybe it was. The men were from the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC). And they commandeered FBME because an obscure agency within the US government recently issued a report accusing the bank of laundering money. It just so happens that FBME… and Cyprus in general… is where a lot of wealthy Russians hold their vast fortunes...Bear in mind, there has been no proof that any crime was committed. There was no court hearing. No charges were read. It wasn’t even the government of Cyprus who accused them of anything. There was just a generic report penned by some bureaucrat 10,000 miles away.
Fifty million Americans still live in poverty in the United States, including almost one-in-four US children, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Wednesday. ● In its newest report on the world’s largest economy, the IMF urged Washington to boost the nation’s sluggish long-term growth and employment rates to tackle its social vows. “Despite improving growth and rising employment, almost 50 million Americans still live in poverty, unable to earn enough to meet their basic needs… Improved employment prospects and economic growth will be essential to bringing this number down,” the IMF said in its annual survey. [...] The global economic monitor pointed to a slump in US economic activity in the first quarter of 2014 following an unusually harsh winter, which together with a struggling housing market, slower exports demand and a 2.9-percent drop in home production output, stole the momentum of the second half of 2013. “Growth for the year as a whole will be a disappointing 1.7 percent,” the report said, citing the “large drag” from the first quarter contraction, which will be difficult to offset.
Tanvi Madan is the director of the India Project at the Brookings Institution. Pepe Escobar is the Asia Times roving correspondent and veteran Brazilian journalist in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
President François Hollande won broad domestic applause on Tuesday for defying allies Britain and the United States by confirming plans to deliver a helicopter carrier to Russia, with one backer dismissing the objections as hypocritical. ● Speaking on the eve of an EU meeting to discuss sanctions on Moscow over the downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, Hollande said late on Monday that a first Mistral warship would be handed over on schedule in October but a decision on a second would depend on Russia's attitude. It was the clearest signal yet that Paris will go through with the controversial deal despite the Ukraine crisis and came only hours after British Prime Minister David Cameron said it would be "unthinkable" for his country to fulfil such an order. The United States has also said it opposes the sale, which has exposed France to criticism that it is putting its own interests ahead of Western solidarity over Ukraine.
America’s sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis demonstrate Washington's impotence and will mainly hurt US businesses and Washington’s allies, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts told RIA Novosti on Friday.
“The sanctions announced by the Obama regime against Russian defense and energy companies are a demonstration of Washington’s impotence,” Roberts asserted, adding that they will cause more damage to the US banks that are now prohibited from doing business with Russian companies. “The Russian companies can borrow, if they need loans, from European banks or from China, and have no need for US bank loans. It is in Russia’s strategic interests to have no business relationships with the US.”
“Sanctions are encouraging countries to withdraw from the dollar payments system that is the foundation of US power," Roberts added. "Even Washington’s NATO puppet states are becoming unwilling to hurt their own economies in order to help boost Washington’s power over Russia."
Paul Craig Roberts ■ Sanctions and Airliners
MotherBoard ■ With paranoia over NSA surveillance reaching a fever pitch, foreign governments are making a reasonable plea: bring our data home. But the Americans are doing their best to ensure that the world’s Internet data stays on U.S. soil, well within the reach of their spies. To do so, American negotiators are leveraging trade deals with much of the developed world, inserting language to ensure “cross-border data flows”—a euphemism that actually means they want to inhibit foreign governments from keeping data hosted domestically. The trade deals they’re influencing—the Trans-Atlantic Partnership (TPP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—are all so secretive that nobody but the governments themselves are privy to the details. But thanks to the Australians and Wikileaks, both of whom have leaked details on TPP, we have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the latest Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade agreement that will act as a sort of NAFTA for Asia-Pacific region nations.
● A Ukrainian security spokesman has accused Russia's air force of shooting down one of its jets while it was on a mission over Ukrainian territory. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, said an Su-25 ground attack plane was downed on Wednesday evening. There was no comment from Moscow but rebels in eastern Ukraine say they shot down two Su-25 jets on Wednesday. Ukraine also alleges rockets were fired at its forces from Russian territory. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered his foreign ministry to react officially after reports that Grad rockets were fired at Ukrainian forces in Luhansk region, from over the border near the Russian village of Gukovo. ● Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced a new round of US sanctions against his country, saying they will damage relations and hurt businesses from both countries. He said the sanctions were driving bilateral relations towards a "dead end".
RIA Novosti: Russia Denies Shooting Down Ukrainian Combat Jet
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RIA Novosti: Ukrainian Army Buk Missile Likely Downed Malaysian Plane - Source
RT.com: Gruesome images of Malaysia MH17 plane crash in east Ukraine appear online
RIA Novosti: Almost 300 Dead in Malaysia Airlines Plane Crash - Ukrainian Interior Ministry Official
BBC: Malaysia airliner crashes in east Ukraine near Russia border
ABC News: Malaysia Airlines Loses Contact With Passenger Plane Over Ukraine
Mirror: Latest disaster reopens questions on whether missing MH370 was shot down
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday Moscow didn’t object to Ukraine receiving financial aid from the International Monetary Fund and other big lenders, but stressed they should prevent the money from being used to wage war on civilians in the east. ● “
Of course, we are all up for supporting Ukraine financially, meaning the people of Ukraine, and not some oligarchs or swindlers,” Putin said during a press conference in Brazil. “
fund has traditionally abstained from providing financial assistance to countries at war, and I think it is the right thing to do. I believe this tradition must be upheld in Ukraine’s case. As a rule, a country at war is given money for one goal and it spends the cash on quite another,” Putin noted. Kiev received the first IMF tranche of $3.16 billion in early May after the fund approved a $17 billion loan to Ukraine in the form of a two-year stabilization program. Ukraine is expected to receive a total of $27 billion from international donors such as the IMF, the World Bank, the US and the EU. From this sum about $14 billion is to come in 2014. Putin urged the IMF to think of such control instruments to monitor the distribution of financial aid in Ukraine so as to see to it that this money is channeled into the nation’s social and economic spheres, and not siphoned off by murky private banks or stolen.
RT.com: Putin: US sanctions contradict its national interests, will backfire
RT.com: Russia: US sanctions revenge for Ukrainian failure, Moscow may retaliate
Daily Mail: Obama [arrogantly] orders Putin to halt "flow of weapons and fighters" into Ukraine
The group of emerging economies signed the long-anticipated document to create the $100 bn BRICS Development Bank and a reserve currency pool worth over another $100 bn. Both will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar. ● The new bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size. Each BRICS member is expected to put an equal share into establishing the startup capital of $50 billion with a goal to reach $100 billion. The BRICS bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will preside as president the first year, and Russia will be the chairman of the representatives. “
BRICS Bank will be one of the major multilateral development finance institutions in this world,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday at the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. The big launch of the BRICS bank is seen as a first step to break the dominance of the US dollar in global trade, as well as dollar-backed institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both US-based institutions BRICS countries have little influence within.
RT.com/Pepe Escobar: BRICS bank on its way to beat casino financial system - VIDEO
Wayne Madsen: Check Mating Washington in its Own Backyard with
RIA Novosti: BRICS Seek Joint Stance on Foreign Policy – Putin
RIA Novosti: Washington ‘Not Worried’ by BRICS Bank – Spokeswoman
A long-shot effort to break California into six separate states got a boost on Monday, when the billionaire venture capitalist behind the proposal said he had gathered enough signatures to place it on the ballot in two years. ● Timothy Draper, a founder of a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that has invested in Twitter, Skype and Tesla, among other companies, has been agitating for months for a ballot initiative to chop the most populous U.S. state into smaller entities. "It’s important because it will help us create a more responsive, more innovative and more local government, and that ultimately will end up being better for all of Californians," said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the campaign. "The idea...is to create six states with responsive local governments - states that are more representative and accountable to their constituents." Salazar said Monday that the campaign had gathered more than the roughly 808,000 signatures needed to place the measure on the November, 2016 ballot. Draper and other supporters plan to file the signatures with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Tuesday. But the plan has raised bipartisan hackles across the state, and opponents say it stands little chance of gaining voter approval. If it does win the support of voters, it must still be passed by Congress, which opponents say is also unlikely.
Michael Snyder ■ Most people have never heard of Jaime Caruana even though he is the head of an immensely powerful organization. He has been serving as the General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements since 2009, and he will continue in that role until 2017. The Bank for International Settlements is a rather boring name, and very few people realize that it is at the very core of our centrally-planned global financial system. So when Jaime Caruana speaks, people should listen. And the fact that he recently warned that the global financial system is currently "more fragile" in many ways than it was just prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers should set off all sorts of alarm bells. Speaking of the financial markets, Caruana ominously declared that "it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets’ buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally" and he noted that "markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent". In other words, he is saying what I have been saying for so long. The behavior of the financial markets has become completely divorced from economic reality, and at some point there is going to be a massive correction. - So why would the head of 'the central bank of the world' choose this moment to issue such a chilling warning? Does he know something that the rest of us do not?
Former PM criticised over link to United Arab Emirates-funded programme that promises lucrative 'business opportunities' ● Tony Blair has agreed to advise the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup last year, as part of a programme funded by the United Arab Emirates that has promised to deliver huge "business opportunities" to those involved, the Guardian has learned. The former prime minister, now Middle East peace envoy, who supported the coup against Egypt's elected president Mohamed Morsi, is to give Sisi advice on "economic reform" in collaboration with a UAE-financed taskforce in Cairo – a decision criticised by one former ally. The UAE taskforce is being run by the management consultancy Strategy&, formerly Booz and Co, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, to attract investment into Egypt's crisis-ridden economy at a forthcoming Egypt donors' conference sponsored by the oil-rich UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Seumas Milne ■ Blair embodies corruption and war. He must be sacked
Sam Kriss ■ Tony Blair, dread creature of the forbidden swamp
Not even we anticipated this particular "unintended consequence" as a result of the US multi-billion dollar fine on BNP (which France took very much to heart). Moments ago, in a lengthy interview given to French magazine Investir, none other than the governor of the French National Bank Christian Noyer and member of the ECB's governing board, said this stunner at the very end, via Bloomberg: NOYER: BNP CASE WILL ENCOURAGE ‘DIVERSIFICATION’ FROM DOLLAR
Martin Armstrong ■ I have gone on record that the most dangerous organization is the now French led IMF with Christine Lagarde at the helm, which has presented a concept report that debt cuts for over-indebted states are uncompromising and are to be performed more effectively in the future by defaulting on retirement accounts held in life insurance, mutual funds and other types of pension schemes, or arbitrarily extending debt perpetually so you cannot redeem. Yes you read correctly, The new IMF paper is described in great detail exactly how to now allow the private sector, which has invested in government bonds, to be expropriated to pay for the national debts of the socialist governments. I have been warning that there is an idea that has been running around behind the curtain that the national debt of the USA could be settled by usurping all pension funds in the country. Here is a remarkable blueprint that throws all previous considerations concerning the purchase of government bonds over the cliff. The IMF working paper from December 2013 states boldly: “
The distinction between external debt and domestic debt can be quite important. Domestic debt issued in domestic currency typically offers a far wider range of partial default options than does foreign currency–denominated external debt. Financial repression has already been mentioned; governments can stuff debt into local pension funds and insurance companies, forcing them through regulation to accept far lower rates of return than they might otherwise demand.” People are blind. They think this is authorization to go get the rich. They are going after everyone. For [even] the “rich” are tiny players in the game. People do not want to hear that. They want to think the rich can pay the bills for everyone else.
Nick Beams ■ A revealing speech by US Fed chief Yellen (Question & Answer session with Lagarde)
Central Bank Analysts Say Stocks Are In 'Euphoric' Territory And We're Screwed When The Recession Hits
The Bank for International Settlements — the Swiss-based financial institution that acts as a counterparty to national central banks — has declared that stock markets are currently in a "euphoric" state and has urged central banks globally to begin tightening interest rate policies now while economies are growing rather than wait for another recession, when it will be too late. Those are scary words, coming from a set of economists whose job it is to monitor how capable central banks are of responding to economic conditions with flexible monetary policy. The subtext (and not-so-subtext) of BIS's annual report is that because many central banks have reduced interest rates to zero — the U.S. and Japan included — they are currently without weapons to boost the economy should another crisis hit. You can't go lower than zero, basically.
Paul Craig Roberts: A New Recession and a New World Devoid of Washington’s Arrogance?
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