Tag: Natural Gas (page 1 of 4)

Russia Blames US For Death Of Top General In Syria

Shortly after Russia disclosed on Sunday that a top Russian military commander, Lieutenant General Valery Asapov – who was serving as one of Russia’s “military advisers” in Syria – was fatally wounded by an exploding shell in a mortar attack by ISIS terrorists, on Monday the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the “two-faced policy” of the United States was to blame for the death of the Russian General in Syria.

“The death of the Russian commander is the price, the bloody price, for two-faced American policy in Syria,” Ryabkov told reporters, according to RIA.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Asapov had been killed by Islamic State shelling near Deir al-Zor; his death was revealed around the time Moscow disclosed what it said was photographic evidence showing US special operations located at Islamic State positions in Syria. 

Russia has complained about what it has suggested are “suspiciously friendly ties” between U.S.-backed militias, U.S. special forces, and Islamic State in the area, accusing Washington of trying to slow the advance of the Syrian army.

As a reminder, on Sunday the Russian Ministry of Defense published aerial images which they say show US Army special forces equipment located north of the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor, where IS militants are deployed. The US troops do not face any “resistance from the ISIS militants,” while their positions have no screening patrol, which could indicate that they “feel absolutely safe” in the area, the ministry said. The US Central Command however denied the accusations in a written statement to RT.

“The allegations are false. For operational security, we do not comment on ongoing operations or the current positions of Coalition personnel and our partner forces,” the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said.

Ryabkov also questioned Washington’s intention to fight Islamic State in Syria.

“The American side declares that it is interested in the elimination of IS … but some of its actions show it is doing the opposite and that some political and geopolitical goals are more important for Washington,” Ryabkov said according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the growing escalation between Russia and the US over Deir Ezzor, earlier on Monday, American-backed Syrian militias again accused Russian warplanes of striking their positions in the oil-rich province, near a natural gas field they seized from Islamic State last week. Russia denied that.

Despite the growing escalations, the Russian and US militaries maintain “intensive” contacts at different levels, Ryabkov said.

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China’s Maritime Strategic Realignment

Authored by Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson via SouthFront.org,

China has begun construction of the first Type 075 Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD).

Construction most likely started in January or February of this year, with some satellite imagery and digital photos appearing online of at least one pre-fabricated hull cell. The Type 075 will be the largest amphibious warfare vessel in the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with similar displacement and dimensions as the U.S. Navy Wasp Class LHD. The PLA has also made it known that the force plans to expand the current PLA Marine Corps from 20,000 personnel to 100,000.

As China completes preparations for its new military base in Djibouti, located in the strategic Horn of Africa, it has also continued its substantial investment in developing the port of Gwadar, Pakistan. Not only will Gwadar become a key logistics hub as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the “One Belt, One Road” trade initiative, but will also be a key naval base in providing security for China’s maritime trade in the region.  When these developments are viewed in conjunction with the decision to reduce the size of the army by 300,000 personnel, it is obvious that China has reassessed the strategic focus of the nation’s armed forces.

The PLAN’s intends to expand the current force structure of the PLA Marine Corps fivefold, from two brigades to ten brigades. At the same time, the PLAN will be increased in size and capabilities, with many new, large displacement warships of varying types added to the fleet. Of particular interest, are the addition of at least two Type 055 destroyers, an indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier of a new class, two more Type 071 LPDs, and the first Type 075 LHD.

China is rapidly gaining the ability to project power and naval presence at increasing distances from its shores. Not only is the PLAN expanding in tonnage, but its new vessels are considerably more capable. The PLAN will be striving to add and train an additional 25% more personnel over the next half a decade, in an effort to add the skilled crews, pilots, and support personnel that will facilitate such an ambitious expansion.

The Chinese military leadership previously decided to double the number of AMIDs starting in 2014. A 100% increase in the PLA AMIDs and a 500% increase in the PLAMC denotes a major strategic shift in the defense strategy of the Chinese state. With the successful growth of the Silk Road Economic Belt/Maritime Silk Road Initiative, it becomes readily apparent that China must focus on securing and defending this global economic highway. China has made a massive investment, in partnership with many nations, in ensuring the success of a massive system of economic arteries that will span half of the globe. Many of these logistics arteries will transit strategic international maritime territories. In light of these developments, a military shift in focus away from fighting a ground war in China, to a greater maritime presence and power projection capability are quite logical.

China began construction of a maritime support facility in Djibouti in 2016, to protect its interests in Africa, facilitate joint anti-piracy operations in the region, and to provide a naval base to support long range and extended deployments of PLAN assets to protect the shipping lanes transiting the Strait of Aden. In addition, China invested approximately $46 billion USD in developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, including major investment in the infrastructure of the port of Gwadar. The governments of both nations desire the stationing of a flotilla of PLAN warships in the port, and possibly a rapid reaction force of PLA Marines. Gwadar is well positioned to not only protect China’s economic interests in Pakistan, but also to react to any crisis threatening the free passage of maritime traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. The forward positioning of naval forces will allow the PLAN to protect the vital crude oil and natural gas imports transiting the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden and into the Indian Ocean from routes west of the Horn of Africa. In light of the fact that 6% of natural gas imports and 34% of crude oil imports by sea to China transit this region, the desire to secure these waterways becomes readily apparent. Not only would the presence of PLAN warships and marines help to secure China’s vital interests in Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in particular, but would also afford the PLAN a base of operations close to the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 51% of all Chinese crude oil imports by sea transit the strait, as well as 24% of seaborne natural gas imports. Any closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to a theoretical military conflict or an act of terrorism or piracy would have a huge impact on the Chinese economy.

Although the maritime trade routes transiting the Indian Ocean are of vital importance to keeping the manufacturing engine of China running uninterrupted, the South China Sea is of even greater importance. Not only does the region facilitate the passage of $5 trillion USD in global trade annually, but much of this trade is comprised of Chinese energy imports and exports of all categories. The geographic bottle neck of the Strait of Malacca, to the southwest of the South China Sea, affords the transit of 84% of all waterborne crude oil and 30% of natural gas imports to China. The closure of the strait, or a significant disruption of maritime traffic in the South China Sea, would have a devastating impact on the Chinese state. It is in the vital national interest of China to secure the region based on this fact alone. In addition, establishing a series of strategically located island outposts, covering the approaches to the South China Sea, affords China a greater ability to secure the entire region, establish Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) and defend the southern approaches to the Chinese mainland, while enforcing the nation’s claims to valuable energy and renewable resources in the region.

China continues to expand and reinforce its island holdings in both the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos. The massive construction on Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef will likely be completed later this year. These three islands, in conjunction with the surveillance stations, port facilities and helicopter bases located on a number of key smaller atolls, afford China the capability to project power and presence in the region at a level that no other regional or global power can match.

As China moves forward in expanding the PLAMC and the amphibious divisions of the PLA, it has maintained a swift schedule in shipbuilding which aims to provide a balanced and flexible amphibious sealift capability. China intends to tailor a modern and sizable amphibious warfare fleet that is capable of defending the growing maritime interests of the nation, and which can provide a significant power projection capability that can be employed across the full breadth of the Maritime Silk Road.

The first two classes of amphibious vessels that were seen as essential to design, construct and supply to the PLAN were the Type 072A class Landing Ship Tank (LST) and the Type 071 class Landing Platform Dock (LPD). There are a total of six Type 071 LPDs planned, with four currently in service and the fifth vessel reaching completion this year.

Plans to build a large LHD began in 2012, with a number of different designs contemplated. The class was known in intervening years as the Type 075 or Type 081. The Type 075 design was finalized and plans were made to begin construction in 2016. Although many analysts believe that the PLAN intends to build two such vessels, there will most likely be a need for one or two additional vessels of this class to meet the growing maritime security and power projection requirements of the nation. All signs point to the PLAN’s intentions of establishing two to three Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), as they have slowly and methodically developed a modern amphibious warfare skillset over the past two decades. They have taken a similar approach to establishing a modern carrier-based naval aviation arm.

From what is known, the Type 075 will displace 40,000 tons, have an LOA of 250 meters, and a beam of 30 meter. The Type 075 will be fitted with a large well deck, allowing for amphibious operations by LCACs, AAVs, and conventional landing craft. Each LHD could theoretically carry approximately 1,500 to 2,000 marines, a full complement of MBTs and AAVs (approximately 25-40 armored vehicles), 60 to 80 light vehicles, and ample cargo stowage space. The helicopter compliment will most likely consist of approximately 20 Z-8 transport helicopters, two Z-18F ASW helicopters, one or two Ka-31 AEW helicopters, four Z-9 utility helicopters, and possibly 6 to 8 naval versions of the Z-10 attack helicopter. With no VSTOL fixed wing attack aircraft in service, the PLAN would most likely opt for using a rotary wing attack element for the LHDs.

China has been slowly and methodically building the foundations of economic and military security and is offering those nations that cooperate as part of the New Silk Road/Maritime Silk Road a seat at the table. In order to create a mutually beneficial trade and transportation network, one that may soon supersede or compete against others, China must secure its vital interests, backed up by military force, and build a viable and sustainable naval presence in key maritime regions.

China has clearly signaled that its defense strategy is changing.

The Chinese leadership feels that the sovereignty of mainland China is secure and is shifting focus to securing the vital maritime trade lifeline that not only ensures the security of the nation, but will allow China to increase its economic prosperity and trade partnerships with a multitude of nations.

Whether the United States decides to stand in the way of China’s growth or chooses to participate more constructively in a mutually beneficial relationship is yet to be determined. Without a doubt, China has set its course and will not deviate from this course unless some overwhelming force is brought to bear.

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WTI Hovers Above $50 As US Oil Rig Count Slides To 3-Month Lows

With crude production rebounding back to pre-Harvey levels, and refinery demand coming back on-line, WTI has trod water around $50 all week. The US oil rig count dropped for the 6th straight week (down 5 to 744), back at its lowest level since early June.

  • *U.S. OIL RIG COUNT DOWN 5 TO 744 , BAKER HUGHES SAYS :BHGE US
  • *U.S. GAS RIG COUNT UP 4 TO 190 , BAKER HUGHES SAYS :BHGE US

As Bloomberg reports, it looks like shale billionaire Harold Hamm might be right in saying U.S. producers are being more cautious than government output forecasts seem to imply.

At least that’s what the Baker Hughes weekly drilling report suggests, showing producers idled five oil rigs this week, adding to 19 parked over the previous five weeks.

The numbers released every Friday increasingly make it look like the drilling boom might have peaked, and that should impact output down the road.

Shale drillers will be disciplined in how much they produce, Hamm, chief executive officer of Continental Resources Inc. and one of the pioneers of the shale revolution, said on Bloomberg TV Thursday.

The government projection of more than 1 million new barrels a day in U.S. production this year is "flat wrong" and distorting prices, he said.

Production continues to rebound as more of Texas comes back online (despite the stagnation of oil rig counts)…

 

 

It’s going to come down to the November meeting and the market will be looking for not so much an extension of the deal, but deeper cuts, says Tariq Zahir, a New York-based commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors.

“We’ve been in a tight range the last couple of days, not really going anywhere and at the end of the day, winding up at the same prices”

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The Petrodollar Is Under Attack: Here’s What You Need To Know

Authored by Darius Shatahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,

Once upon a time, the U.S. dollar was backed by the gold standard in a framework that established what was known as the Bretton-Woods agreement, made in 1944. The dollar was fixed to gold at a price of $35 an ounce, though the dollar could earn interest, marking one notable difference from gold.

The system ended up being short-lived, as President Richard Nixon announced that the U.S. would be abandoning the gold standard in 1971. Instead, the U.S. had other plans for the future of global markets.

As the Huffington Post has explained, the Nixon Administration reached a deal with Saudi Arabia:

“The essence of the deal was that the U.S. would agree to military sales and defense of Saudi Arabia in return for all oil trade being denominated in U.S. dollars.”

This system became known as the Petrodollar Recycling system because countries like Saudi Arabia would have to invest excess profits back into the U.S. It didn’t take long for every single member of OPEC to start trading oil in U.S. dollars.

A little-known economic theory, rejected by the mainstream, stipulates that Washington’s stranglehold over financial markets can be at least partially explained by the fact that all oil exports are conducted in transactions involving the U.S. dollar. This relationship between oil and currency arguably gives the dollar its value, as this paradigm requires all exporting and importing countries to maintain a certain stock of U.S. dollars, adding to the dollar’s value. As Foreign Policy – a magazine that rejects the theory – explains:

“It does matter slightly that the trade typically takes place in dollars. This means that those wishing to buy oil must acquire dollars to buy the oil, which increases the demand for dollars in world financial markets.”

The term “those wishing to buy oil” encompasses almost every single country that does not have an oil supply of its own – hardly a trivial number. An endless demand for dollars means an endless supply, and the United States can print as much paper as it wants to account for its imperial ambitions. No other country in the world can do this.

In 2000, Iraq announced it would no longer use U.S. dollars to sell oil on the global market. It adopted the euro, instead, which was no easy decision to make. However, by February 2003, the Guardian reported that Iraq had netted a “handsome profit” after making this policy change.

Anyone who rejects this petrodollar theory should be able to answer the following question: if currency is not an important factor in America’s imperialist adventures, why was the U.S. so intent on invading a country (based on cold, hard lies), only to make it a priority to switch the sale of oil back to dollars? If they cared so much about Iraq and its people, as we were supposed to have believed, why not allow Iraq to continue netting a “handsome profit”?

In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi was punished for a similar proposal that would have created a unified African currency backed by gold, which would have been used to buy and sell African oil. Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails confirmed this was the main reason Gaddafi was overthrown, though commentators continue to ignore and reject the theory. Despite these denials, Clinton’s leaked emails made it clear that Gaddafi’s plan for the future of African oil exports was a priority for the U.S. and its NATO cohorts, more so than Gaddafi’s alleged human rights abuses. This is the same Hillary Clinton who openly laughed when Gaddafi was sodomized and murdered, displaying no regrets that she single-handedly plunged a very rich and prosperous nation into a complete state of chaos.

At the start of this month, Venezuela announced it would soon “free” itself from the dollar. Barely a week or so later, the Wall Street Journal reported that Venezuela had stopped accepting dollars for oil payments in response to U.S. sanctions. Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil reserves. Donald Trump’s threats of unilateral military intervention — combined with the CIA’s admission that it will interfere in the oil-rich country — may make a lot more sense in this context.

Iran has also been using alternative currencies  — like the Chinese yuan — for some time now. It also shares a lucrative gas field with Qatar, which could be days away from ditching the dollar, as well. Qatar has reportedly already been conducting billions of dollars’ worth of transactions in the yuan. Just recently, Qatar and Iran restored full diplomatic relations in a complete snub to the U.S. and its allies. It is no surprise, then, that both countries have been vilified on the international stage, particularly under the Trump administration.

In the latest dig to the U.S. dollar and global financial hegemony, the Times of Israel reported that a Chinese state-owned investment firm has provided a $10 billion credit line to Iranian banks, which will specifically use yuan and euros to bypass U.S.-led sanctions.

Consider that in August 2015, then-Secretary of State John Kerry warned that if the U.S. walked away from the nuclear deal with Iran and forced its allies to comply with U.S.-led sanctions, it would be a “recipe, very quickly…for the American dollar to cease to be the reserve currency of the world.”

Iran, bound to Syria by a mutual-defense pact, was reportedly working to establish a natural gas pipeline that would run through Iraq and Syria with the aim of exporting gas to European markets, cutting off Washington and its allies completely. This was, of course, in 2009 — before the Syrian war began. Such a pipeline deal, now with Russia’s continued air support and military presence, could entail the emergence of a whole new market that could easily be linked to the euro, or any other currency for that matter, instead of the dollar.

According to Russian state-owned outlet RT, the Kremlin’s website announced Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has also instructed the government to approve legislation to ditch the U.S. dollar at all Russian seaports by next year.

Further, the Asia Times explains that Putin dropped an enormous “bombshell” at the recent BRICS summit in Xiamen early September, stating:

“Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.” [emphasis added]

According to the Asia Times author, the statement was code-speak for how BRICS countries will look to bypass the U.S. dollar as well as the petrodollar.

China is also on board with this proposal. Soon, China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in Chinese yuan that will be completely convertible into gold. As reported by the Nikkei Asian Review, analysts have called this move a “game-changer” for the oil industry.

Both Russia and China have been buying up huge quantities of gold for some time now. Russia’s present gold reserves would back 27 percent of the narrow ruble money supply – far in excess of any other major country. The United States’ Federal Reserve admitted years ago that they haven’t held any gold for a very long time.

China is also implementing a monumental project, known as the Silk Road project, which is a major push to create a permanent trade route connecting China, Africa, and Europe. One must wonder much control over these transactions will the U.S. have.

These are just a few of the latest developments that have affected the dollar.

Can those continue to reject this petrodollar-related theory answer the following questions with confidence: Is it a coincidence that all of the countries listed above as moving away from the dollar are long-time adversaries of the United States, including the ones that were invaded? Is it a coincidence that Saudi Arabia gets a free pass to commit a host of criminal actions as it complies with the global financial order? Are Saudi Arabia’s concerns with Qatar really rooted in the latter’s alleged funding of terror groups even though Saudi Arabia leads the world in funding the world’s most vile terror groups?

Clearly, there is something far more sinister at play here, and whether or not it is tied solely to a deranged, psychopathic currency warfare will remain to be seen. The evidence continues to show, however, that the U.S. dollar is slowly being eroded piece by piece and ounce by ounce — and that as these adversarial countries make these developments in unison, there appears to be little the U.S. can do without risking an all-out world war.

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Pepe Escobar Unmasks Trump Doctrine: Carnage For New Axis Of Evil

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

North Korea, Iran, Venezuela are targets in "compassionate" America's war on the "wicked few." It's almost as though Washington felt its hegemony threatened

Paul Delaroche, Napoléon à Fontainebleau, 1840. With other global powers increasingly at odds with US foreign policy under Donald Trump, the nation's hegemony on the world stage may soon face its own crisis point.

This was no “deeply philosophical address”. And hardly a show of  “principled realism” – as spun by the White House. President Trump at the UN was “American carnage,” to borrow a phrase previously deployed by his nativist speechwriter Stephen Miller.

One should allow the enormity of what just happened to sink in, slowly. The president of the United States, facing the bloated bureaucracy that passes for the “international community,” threatened to “wipe off the map” the whole of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (25 million people). And may however many millions of South Koreans who perish as collateral damage be damned.

Multiple attempts have been made to connect Trump’s threats to the madman theory cooked up by “Tricky Dicky” Nixon in cahoots with Henry Kissinger, according to which the USSR must always be under the impression the then-US president was crazy enough to, literally, go nuclear. But the DPRK will not be much impressed with this madman remix.

That leaves, on the table, a way more terrifying upgrade of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Trump repeatedly invoked Truman in his speech). Frantic gaming will now be in effect in both Moscow and Beijing: Russia and China have their own stability / connectivity strategy under development to contain Pyongyang.

The Trump Doctrine has finally been enounced and a new axis of evil delineated. The winners are North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Syria under Assad is a sort of mini-evil, and so is Cuba. Crucially, Ukraine and the South China Sea only got a fleeting mention from Trump, with no blunt accusations against Russia and China. That may reflect at least some degree of realpolitik; without “RC” – the Russia-China strategic partnership at the heart of the BRICS bloc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – there’s no possible solution to the Korean Peninsula stand-off.

In this epic battle of the “righteous many” against the “wicked few,” with the US described as a “compassionate nation” that wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife,” it’s a bit of a stretch to have Islamic State – portrayed as being not remotely as “evil” as North Korea or Iran – get only a few paragraphs.

The art of unraveling a deal

According to the Trump Doctrine, Iran is “an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” a “murderous regime” profiting from a nuclear deal that is “an embarrassment to the United States.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times – not the 21st century UN – unworthy of a reply.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov once again stressed full support for the nuclear deal ahead of a P5+1 ministers’ meeting scheduled for Wednesday, when Zarif was due to be seated at the same table as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Under review: compliance with the deal. Tillerson is the only one who wants a renegotiation.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has, in fact, developed an unassailable argument on the nuclear negotiations. He says the deal – which the P5+1 and the IAEA all agree is working – could be used as a model elsewhere. German chancellor Angela Merkel concurs. But, Rouhani says, if the US suddenly decides to unilaterally pull out, how could the North Koreans possibly be convinced it’s worth their while to sit down to negotiate anything with the Americans ?

What the Trump Doctrine is aiming at is, in fact, a favourite old neo-con play, reverting back to the dynamics of the Dick Cheney-driven Washington-Tehran Cold War years.

This script runs as follows: Iran must be isolated (by the West, only now that won’t fly with the Europeans); Iran is “destabilizing” the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, the ideological foundry of all strands of Salafi-jihadism, gets a free pass); and Iran, because it’s developing ballistic that could – allegedly – carry nuclear warheads, is the new North Korea.

That lays the groundwork for Trump to decertify the deal on October 15. Such a dangerous geopolitical outcome would then pit Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi against Tehran, Moscow and Beijing, with European capitals non-aligned. That’s hardly compatible with a “compassionate nation” which wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.”

Afghanistan comes to South America

The Trump Doctrine, as enounced, privileges the absolute sovereignty of the nation-state. But then there are those pesky “rogue regimes” which must be, well, regime-changed. Enter Venezuela, now on “the brink of total collapse,” and run by a “dictator”; thus, America “cannot stand by and watch.”

No standing by, indeed. On Monday, Trump had dinner in New York with the presidents of Colombia, Peru and Brazil (the last indicted by the country’s Attorney General as the leader of a criminal organization and enjoying an inverted Kim dynasty rating of 95% unpopularity). On the menu: regime change in Venezuela.

Venezuelan “dictator” Maduro happens to be supported by Moscow and, most crucially, Beijing, which buys oil and has invested widely in infrastructure in the country with Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht crippled by the Car Wash investigation.

The stakes in Venezuela are extremely high. In early November, Brazilian and American forces will be deployed in a joint military exercise in the Amazon rainforest, at the Tri-Border between Peru, Brazil and Colombia. Call it a rehearsal for regime change in Venezuela. South America could well turn into the new Afghanistan, a consequence that flows from Trump’s assertion that “major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.”

For all the lofty spin about “sovereignty”, the new axis of evil is all about, once again, regime change.

Russia-China aim to defuse the nuclear stand-off, then seduce North Korea into sharing in the interpenetration of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), via a new Trans-Korea Railway and investments in DPRK ports. The name of the game is Eurasian integration.

Iran is a key node of BRI. It’s also a future full member of the SCO, it’s connected – via the North-South Transport Corridor – with India and Russia, and is a possible future supplier of natural gas to Europe. The name of the game, once again, is Eurasian integration.

Venezuela, meanwhile, holds the largest unexplored oil reserves on the planet, and is targeted by Beijing as a sort of advanced BRI node in South America.

The Trump Doctrine introduces a new set of problems for Russia-China. Putin and Xi do dream of reenacting a balance of power similar to that of the Concert of Europe, which lasted from 1815 (after Napoleon’s defeat) until the brink of World War I in 1914. That’s when Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia decided that no European nation should be able to emulate the hegemony of France under Napoleon.

In sitting as judge and executioner, Trump’s “compassionate” America certainly seems intent on echoing such hegemony.

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What if some like-minded people on ZeroHedge decided to create a new community?

“Community is not something you have, like pizza. Nor is it something you can buy. It’s a living organism based on a web of interdependencies- which is to say, a local economy. It expresses itself physically as connectedness, as buildings actively relating to each other, and to whatever public space exists, be it the street, or the courthouse or the village green.”  

-James Howard Kunstler
The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape

 

I have mentioned before that my favorite book by ZH contributor, James Howard Kunstler, is his non-fiction work, The Geography of Nowhere.  He does a great job of describing many of the problems of our current living arrangements, and how they came about.  The solutions to these problem, however, are much more difficult to come by.  

Let’s imagine that I have identified a small town in Texas, with a population of less than 2,000 people.  It is on a waterway and railway, has fertile soil, receives plenty of rain, and has a long growing season.  It rarely ever snows.  This little town is located at least 100 miles from the big cities, and not on a major interstate.  It was once a vibrant farming and ranching town, with mills, canneries, and meat packing.  There are several large and beautiful old homes and the remains of a central business district.  The area’s natural gas fields provide plenty of cheap electricity, and the location also allows for more than 5 kWh/m2/day of solar energy.  The surrounding land is pastoral and very beautiful.  

 

Ten acres of land, part pasture and part woods, with electric service but no other utilities, costs about $50,000.  A nice home in town with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 car garage, on a 1/4 acre lot costs about $150,000.  


This is a real estate photo of the type of land surrounding a similiar Texas town.


Sure, most of the area’s farmers and ranchers are doing fine.  However, the townsfolk have seen better days.  Most of the people living there are just barely hanging on to life with their social security retirement and government pensions.  On the plus side, there is no Wal-Mart, so the few local businesses are still able to make a go of it.

What if some like-minded people on ZeroHedge decided to create a new community in this town?   Farmville…but not virtual…real!  One of the ZeroHedge Symposium attendees in Marfa referred to this crazy idea as, “Libertyville,”…having the libertarian priorities of maximum freedom…and minimum government.  

James Wesley Rawles wrote a book called, Land of Promise, where a group of Christians with a libertarian bent create there own nation in Africa.  It isn’t his best work, but certainly on topic.  

Using the very basic process of ADDIE: Assess, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate, I propose we use the comments section of this article to begin to assess the viability of this idea.  What would be our goal?  What would be the big hurdles?  If the discussion goes well, then we could follow it up with some design articles, more discussion, and so forth.   Some obvious topics are politics, commerce, technology, security, education, etc.  

 Because it is possible that we may decide to keep the town’s identity secret, I will keep it to myself, for the time being.  This is not a real estate investment deal.  It would have zero chance of working if it was. I do not live or own property there, nor have I revealed the town’s location to anyone.  You have my word on it.

If the hippies could have communes in the 60’s, and the second coming of Jesus has his amazing place in Siberia, today…

…then why can’t we have Libertyville?

Now, let’s all play for a bit in the comments section!  

Peace, prosperity, love, and liberty,

h_h

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The Root Of Current Tensions: “They Hold No Loyalty Except To Themselves And To Personal Gain”

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

One of the items that is regularly reported on, but quietly…not alarming anyone…is the situation developing in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. 

At the forefront is Ukraine, as the U.S.-orchestrated coup of 2014 and the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia created a line to develop into a Second Cold War.  This is the root of the current tensions where both Russia and the U.S. are continuously posturing against one another.

The root of the matter lies in the undue influence that was secured by Georgy Schwarz (also known as George Soros) with the purchase of John McCain.  An article just surfaced on September 13, 2017 entitled Power Games: What McCain, Soros, and the Clintons Have in Common, by Ekaterina Blinova of Sputnik News.  The article gives a brief history of “The McCain Institute for International Leadership,” a non-profit organization profiting on the campus of Arizona State University.  This non-profit organization has received “minor” donations, such as $1 million from the Saudi Arabian government in 2014.

Financial ties between McCain and Soros have been exposed in the past, and that the two have had a nebulous relationship since 2001.  Interestingly enough, it was McCain who was the leading proponent behind the regime change in Ukraine.  Assisted by Victoria Nuland with Obama and Hillary Clinton acting the part of “Zardoz” floating invisibly in the background, supplying the authority, and with Sen. Lindsey Graham as a lapdog-collaborator, it was McCain who orchestrated the coup above-board.

Beneath the boards was Soros.  The reason Soros funded Maidan (the right-wing ultra-nationalists of Ukraine) and approved of Arseniy Yatsenuk (a globalist scientologist who currently resides in California) was to grab Eastern Ukraine for himself.  Soros planned on dumping $50 million, backed by political control via McCain and the other Munsters, and financially by the IMF…all wrapped up in the NATO Hegemony….and buying himself one third of Ukraine…with all types of natural resources from coal to minerals…for 1/1000th of its actual worth.

Soros’ plan fell apart, because he did not count on the Russians seizing Crimea to secure Sevastopol (their Black Sea Fleet HQ) and access to the Mediterranean.  He also did not count on Ukrainians of Russian national derivation revolting in Eastern Ukraine against the installed puppetry of Yatsenuk (Yoda) that eventually “morphed” into Petro “Willy Wonka” Poroshenko’s Kiev government.  Because of the insurrection in the east, the IMF would not bail Ukraine out of the $9 billion plus owed to Russia to pay Gazprom for natural gas consumption.

Notice the complexion of the game has changed.  Soros now is fostering ties with Russia, in the hopes that he can take those mineral and oil rights from the other direction and take himself off the hook with the Russian government. Par for the course in the manner of Rothschild, bankrolling both Napoleon and the British government and selling short on both sides to pocket from the overall misfortune of the situation.  A situation caused by Rothschild and instigated into a war that gave him profits.  Only the players are different in the comedy being played out today.

Jared Kushner has deep ties to Soros, as does Hillary Clinton.  As mentioned in other articles, read Shadow Party by Poe that outlines the key role Soros played in the rise to power of Hillary Clinton.  The President truly needs to clean Washington out, and remove these politicos that kowtow and bend to the whim of oligarchs.  Only then can foreign policy be set that is in the interests of the United States and not a pack of privateers, oligarchs, and politicians…such as a Pelosi who begins a career making $150 grand and ends up with a net worth of more than $40 million.

There is a part of it all that is even worse than the theft.  Because of these games and the corruption attached to them, these individuals depose governments and throw whole nations into civil war and anarchy for the promulgation of personal power and personal gain.  World wars begin on the whims of madmen and see fruition because those madmen are in positions of authority derived from the citizens, yet with no accountability to the citizens.  They hold no loyalty except to themselves and to personal gain.

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The Russia-China Plan For North Korea: Stability & Connectivity

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

Moscow has been busy building agreements that would extend Eurasian connectivity eastward. The question is how to convince the DPRK to play along…

Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre) and his wife Peng Liyuan welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a banquet dinner during the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian province, on September 4, 2017

The United Nations Security Council’s 15-0 vote to impose a new set of sanctions on North Korea somewhat disguises the critical role played by the Russia-China strategic partnership, the “RC” at the core of the BRICS group.

The new sanctions are pretty harsh. They include a 30% reduction on crude and refined oil exports to the DPRK; a ban on exports of natural gas; a ban on all North Korean textile exports (which have brought in US$760 million on average over the past three years); and a worldwide ban on new work permits for DPRK citizens (there are over 90,000 currently working abroad.)

But this is far from what US President Donald Trump’s administration was aiming at, according to the draft Security Council resolution leaked last week. That included an asset freeze and travel ban on Kim Jong-un and other designated DPRK officials, and covered additional “WMD-related items,” Iraqi sanctions-style. It also authorized UN member states to interdict and inspect North Korean vessels in international waters (which amounts to a declaration of war); and, last but not least, a total oil embargo.

“RC” made it clear it would veto the resolution under these terms. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the US’ diminishing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Moscow would only accept language related to “political and diplomatic tools to seek peaceful ways of resolution.” On the oil embargo, President Vladimir Putin said, “cutting off the oil supply to North Korea may harm people in hospitals or other ordinary citizens.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo: Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo: Reuters

“RC” priorities are clear: “stability” in Pyongyang; no regime change; no drastic alteration of the geopolitical chessboard; no massive refugee crisis.

That does not preclude Beijing from applying pressure on Pyongyang. Branch offices of the Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China in the northeastern border city of Yanji have banned DPRK citizens from opening new accounts. Current accounts are not frozen yet, but deposits and remittances have been suspended.

To get to the heart of the matter, though, we need to examine what happened last week at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok – which happens to be only a little over 300 km away from the DPRK’s Punggye-ri missile test site.

It’s all about the Trans-Korean Railway

In sharp contrast to the Trump administration and the Beltway’s bellicose rhetoric, what “RC” proposes are essentially 5+1 talks (North Korea, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, plus the US) on neutral territory, as confirmed by Russian diplomats. In Vladivostok, Putin went out of his way to defuse military hysteria and warn that stepping beyond sanctions would be an “invitation to the graveyard.” Instead, he proposed business deals.

Largely unreported by Western corporate media, what happened in Vladivostok is really ground-breaking. Moscow and Seoul agreed on a trilateral trade platform, crucially involving Pyongyang, to ultimately invest in connectivity between the whole Korean peninsula and the Russian Far East.

South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-in proposed to Moscow to build no less than “nine bridges” of cooperation: “Nine bridges mean the bridges of gas, railways, the Northern Sea Route, shipbuilding, the creation of working groups, agriculture and other types of cooperation.”

Crucially, Moon added that the trilateral cooperation would aim at joint projects in the Russian Far East. He knows that “the development of that area will promote the prosperity of our two countries and will also help change North Korea and create the basis for the implementation of the trilateral agreements.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in visit the Far East Street exhibition at Russky Island in Vladivostok. Photo: Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in visit the Far East Street exhibition at Russky Island in Vladivostok. Photo: Sputnik / Mikhail Klimentyev

Adding to the entente, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha both stressed “strategic cooperation” with “RC”.

Geo-economics complements geo-politics. Moscow has also approached Tokyo with the idea of building a bridge between the nations. That would physically link Japan to Eurasia – and the vast trade and investment carousel offered by the New Silk Roads, aka, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). It would also complement the daring plan to link a Trans-Korean Railway to the Trans-Siberian one.

Seoul wants a rail network that will physically connect it with the vast Eurasian land bridge, which makes perfect business sense for the fifth largest export economy in the world. Handicapped by North Korea’s isolation, South Korea is in effect cut off from Eurasia by land. The answer is the Trans-Korean Railway.

Moscow is very much for it, with Putin noting how “we could deliver Russian pipeline gas to Korea and integrate the power lines and railway systems of Russia, the Republic of Korea and North Korea. The implementation of these initiatives will be not only economically beneficial, but will also help build up trust and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Moscow’s strategy, like Beijing’s, is connectivity: the only way to integrate Pyongyang is to keep it involved in economic cooperation via the Trans-Korean-Trans-Siberian connection, pipelines and the development of North Korean ports.

The DPRK’s delegation in Vladivostok seemed to agree. But not yet. According to North Korea’s Minister for External Economic Affairs, Kim Yong Jae: “We are not opposed to the trilateral cooperation [with Russia and South Korea], but this is not an appropriate situation for this to be implemented.” That implies that for the DPRK the priority is the 5+1 negotiation table.

Still, the crucial point is that both Seoul and Pyongyang went to Vladivostok, and talked to Moscow. Arguably the key question – the armistice that did not end the Korean War – has to be broached by Putin and the Koreans, without the Americans.

While the sanctions game ebb and flows, the larger strategy of “RC” is clear – a drive aimed at Eurasian connectivity. The question is how to convince the DPRK to play along.

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New York City Is Within Hurricane Jose’s 5-Day “Cone Of Uncertainty”

In what were perhaps the two biggest news stories of the past month, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastated the American south, disrupting local industry, destroying homes and critical infrastructure and dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage onto city streets – leading to the most destructive beginning to hurricane season in years. Meanwhile, cosmopolitan Yankees looked on in horror (with perhaps a touch of smugness) as they watched their southern neighbors being paddled out of flooded Texas homes by national guardsmen, or marooned in the seemingly endless lines of traffic snaking out of southern Florida, northeasterners now have their own storm to worry about.

And now, according to the National Weather Service, those same onlookers might be forced to endure similar hardships thanks to Hurricane Jose, already on its way to becoming a category one storm. Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center say a wide stretch of the eastern and northeastern US, from Maryland up through Cape Cod, is within Jose's five-day “cone of uncertainty” – meaning that a fully fledged hurricane could make landfall in or around New York City, potentially dealing another crushing blow to the city's infrastructure after the city's subway system has not yet finished repairing the damage from Superstorm Sandy, which took place five years ago.

Presently, the storm is headed northwest at 9 mph past North Carolina, and may bring one to two inches of rain to North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Monday, and heavier rains of two to four inches to Eastern Massachusetts beginning on Tuesday. The large waves from the storm could cause high surf and considerable beach erosion along the shores of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts during this period, according to Weather Underground.

WU added that there’s an 18% chance of tropical storm-force winds in New York City between Tuesday and Wednesday, said Jeff Masters.

But NWS New York has wasted no time issuing a storm advisory for the northeast, urging east-coast residents to monitor the storm – though, while waves might impact coastal North Carolina, the full impact of the storm remains unclear.

The storm, currently about 360 miles (579 kilometers) northeast of the Bahamas, is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane in the next 48 hours as it moves through the Atlantic Ocean, Bloomberg reports. Jose’s path could put it near New Jersey and New York by Wednesday morning, though it may weaken to a tropical storm again by then, the NHC said.

As Bloomberg notes, the storm may add to an already devastating 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused $70 billion of damage after hitting the New York metropolitan region.

While Hurricane Harvey temporarily shuttered as much as 30% of the country’s oil-refining capacity, Jose’s impact on energy markets will likely be much more limit – though it could affect five refineries along the East Coast that are able to process about 1.1 million barrels a day of oil, and disrupt tankers carrying crude oil, petrochemicals and refined products along the Atlantic seaboard, “particularly those making deliveries to New York Harbor,” said Shunondo Basu, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance meteorologist and natural gas analyst in New York.

To be sure, some forecasters see Jose staying far enough offshore to avoid any major impact to the US. The NHC’s margin of error for a storm five days away is about 225 miles, on average, according to Bloomberg.

AccuWeather, which correctly forecast the magnitude of the damage that Texas would experience from Hurricane Harvey’s “one-in-a-thousand-year” floods, expects Jose to passing within 200 miles of the northeast – though a landfall in New England – possibly in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts – during the middle of the week can’t be ruled out, senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said in a statement.

Meteorologists should have a clearer picture of the storm’s path in relation to the US early next week.

Until them, concerned citizens might want to start stocking up on supplies now – just in case. Stores in south Florida started running out of water, gas and other essentials nearly a week before Irma made landfall.

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Pennsylvania Will Run Out Of Cash Tonight, Leaving $860MM Of Bills Unpaid

As equity markets spike to all new highs with each passing day, the number of fiscal crises springing up within local and state governments around the country are reaching somewhat alarming levels, even if they’re being completely ignored by investors.  As Reuters notes this morning, the state of Pennsylvania may become the latest example government failure when it runs out of cash later tonight leaving some $860 million worth of bills unpaid.

Pennsylvania could run out of cash on Friday, leaving $860 million of bill payments up in the air as lawmakers continue to argue over a revenue package that is more than two months overdue.

 

The state legislature passed a $32.5 billion spending plan on June 30, the end of the fiscal year and the deadline for the current year’s budget.

 

But it failed to agree on a revenue package to pay for those expenses, and the state has been borrowing money from its own short-term investment pool.

 

Treasurer Joe Torsella has said he will not issue more such loans and that the state’s general fund will likely run down to zero on Friday.

 

While Pennsylvania will be able to make some payments – including nearly $102 million of debt service costs due on Friday – it will not be able to pay all the bills that are due, said Treasury spokesman Mike Connolly.

 

An estimated $860 million of payments for various items, possibly including schools and Medicaid, could be delayed until the legislature fully funds the budget.

PA

 

Not surprisingly, Pennsylvania’s funding crisis has only been exacerbated by a political dispute over whether the state’s budget gap should be filled with extra taxes and/or expense cuts.

On Wednesday night the state House of Representatives narrowly approved a revenue package, but the Senate appeared likely to reject it unless a compromise can be reached over the weekend.

 

“We plan to take a few days to review the House plan. At this point, we will return Monday,” said Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans.

 

The Senate had passed its own plan in July, proposing to close a $2.3 billion budget gap with borrowing and two new taxes: a first-ever severance tax on natural gas and a gross receipts tax on consumer utility bills.

 

But tax-averse Republicans in the House balked and did not pass their own bill until Wednesday night. It proposes no new taxes but would raise about $1 billion by selling a portion of the funding stream from the 1998 tobacco settlement, in which tobacco companies agreed to pay U.S. states for tobacco-related healthcare costs.

All of which should serve to comfort Pennsylvania public employees that their jobs, and 56% funding pensions, are “money good.”

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