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Daily Archives: February 17, 2014

» Chase Imposes New Capital Controls on Cash Deposits Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!

» Chase Imposes New Capital Controls on Cash Deposits Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

Customers have to show ID, can no longer deposit cash into another person’s account

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
February 17, 2014

JPMorgan Chase has irked its customers by imposing new capital controls that mandate identification for cash deposits and ban cash being deposited into another person’s account.

@karaxsue @ShepardAmbellas @PrisonPlanet new policy, starts in march, no longer can use cash; attempt to derail BTC? pic.twitter.com/m3urDKVGJ0

— Kristen Meghan (@KristenMeghan) February 17, 2014

 

Air Force veteran Kristen Meghan received a letter from Chase informing her of “changes in how we accept cash deposits.”

“When making a cash deposit please; be ready to show a valid ID – deposit only into accounts that list your name,” states the letter.

The move is another example of how banks are becoming increasingly invasive and restrictive with how they treat their customers, while crypto-currency alternatives like Bitcoin offer total anonymity.

According to Meghan, when she asked a Chase bank teller why cash deposits couldn’t be made into another person’s account, she was told that the new regulation was imposed by government request.

@PrisonPlanet @ShepardAmbellas u can’t make cash deposits in other people’s accts anymore either. Bank teller told me it was govts request

— Kristen Meghan (@KristenMeghan) February 17, 2014

 

According to Fox Business, Chase is “the first big bank to enact such a change.” Customers are already being asked for ID as of February 1, while cash deposits into accounts bearing someone else’s name will be banned from March 3 onwards.

Chase claims it is imposing the changes to prevent money laundering, although the policy is likely to cause massive inconvenience for families, such as parents who wish to deposit cash in accounts belonging to children who are away at college.

Representatives from Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo did not respond to questions on whether they would also be looking to impose the same rules.

Some analysts have speculated that such measures are a sign that banks are preparing for economic turmoil and potential bank runs. Last year it was reported that two of the biggest banks in America were stuffing their ATMs with 20-30 per cent more cash than usual in order to head off a potential bank run if the U.S. defaults on its debt.

@PrisonPlanet Ridiculous. JPM will still make it easy for the next Madoff; it’s just families as the article says who will be hassled.

— Stacy Herbert (@stacyherbert) February 17, 2014

 

This is by no means the first example of Chase imposing capital controls on their customers’ accounts.

In October last year, we reported on how Chase instituted policy changes which banned international wire transfers while restricting cash activity for business customers (both deposits and withdrawals) to a $50,000 limit per statement cycle.

The bank’s reputation was already under scrutiny after an incident last year when Chase Bank customers across the country attempted to withdraw cash from ATMs only to see that their account balance had been reduced to zero. The problem, which Chase attributed to a technical glitch, lasted for hours before it was fixed, prompting panic from some customers.

Other banks have also imposed capital controls in recent months, including HSBC, which is preventing customers from withdrawing larger amounts of money without written documentation proving how it is to be used.

Russian lender ‘My Bank’ also temporarily banned all cash withdrawals last month.

Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/paul.j.watson.71
FOLLOW Paul Joseph Watson @ https://twitter.com/PrisonPlanet

*********************

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

 

This article was posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 at 10:15 am

Saudi Regime Working to Lure the Arab League into Attacking Syria | Global Research

Saudi Regime Working to Lure the Arab League into Attacking Syria | Global Research.

Global Research, February 17, 2014
Fars News Agency
obama saudi arabia
After its failure in coaxing the US into war on Syria, Saudi Arabia is now attempting to persuade the Arab League (AL) to issue permission for military attack against the crisis-hit country, Arab media reports said.

“The Saudi regime is now making extensive contacts with a number of Arab governments to call for an Arab League ministerial meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Syria,” sources told the Palestinian al-Manar weekly.

According to the sources, Riyadh is seeking to persuade the League to approve a resolution which would call on the UN Security Council to use Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to launch a military attack on Syria to be led by the US and France in partnership with certain regional states and Israel as well as Saudi Arabia’s financial support.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the western powers anad their regional allies – specially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

According to the United Nations, more than 120,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million of others displaced due to the violence in Syria.

Riyadh is considered as the main supporter of the terrorist Takfiri and Salafi groups fighting in Syria.

Late in December, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad said Damascus views Saudi Arabia as its number one enemy, accusing Riyadh of trying to destroy the country by arming extremists and militants fighting in Syria.

Miqdad told AFP that Saudi Arabia was providing unfettered support for “terrorist groups” in Syria, while other nations had reviewed their positions.

Local Police Train With Special Forces To Raid Farm Houses, Conduct Domestic Raids | The Daily Sheeple

Local Police Train With Special Forces To Raid Farm Houses, Conduct Domestic Raids | The Daily Sheeple.

Activist Post
February 17th, 2014

 dees fusion center

By Brandon Turbeville

On January 20, I wrote an article entitled “Upcoming Military Drill Off Limits To Reporters,” in which I reported on the announcement that South Carolina’s Richland County Sheriff’s Office would be engaged in joint training exercises with unidentified units from Ft. Bragg.

The official Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s press release statedthat “Citizens may see military and departmental vehicles traveling in and around rural and metropolitan areas and may hear ordinance being set off or fired which will be simulated/ blanks and controlled by trained personnel.”

The release also stated that the exercise was being held “Due to Sheriff Leon Lott’s longstanding commitment to making sure that deputies are trained and prepared for every event and potential threat and his desire to assist the military to ensure their preparations.”

It is worth noting that Ft. Bragg hosts some of the U.S. Army’s more elite units such as Special Forces as well as more elite airborne and aviation support units. Ft. Bragg is also home to the elite Delta Force.

Beyond this information, however, very little was known about the drills. That is, until now.

According to independent sources, Special Forces were indeed involved in the drills in concert with local civilian police forces.

Civilian police and military units worked together in practice for setting up and maintaining checkpoints as well as other checkpoint-related drills. Both police and military also worked together to practice chopper insertion – the deployment of troops/operatives by way of helicopters.

What is most disturbing, however, is that, according to sources, both the civilian police and U.S. military forces were also training to raid farm houses and engage in domestic raids.

No wonder the Richland County Sheriff’s Department was so tight-lipped about the operations they were taking part in during the process of these joint drills.

The fact that the police and military are engaging in joint drill exercises in violation of Posse Comitatus and a long-standing American tradition of separation between domestic policing and military activity is concerning enough. However, the fact that they are training for domestic operations such as raiding American farm houses, setting up domestic checkpoints, and conducting other related raids on the home-front should be terrifying to every single American that desires to keep what little shred of freedom they have left.

If the reports of these sources are accurate, the American military and indeed the Richland County Sheriff’s Department clearly see the American people and the people of South Carolina as the enemy.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 275 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple

Real Estate Stress Test |

Real Estate Stress Test |.

February 17, 2014 | Author 

How Healthy Is the Real Estate Market?

The strength of the real estate market should not be measured by price appreciation, or the number of new and existing home sales. It should be measured by the support of underlying fundamentals and whether they can help to withstand economic cycles without policy makers having to go hog wild just to avoid a total collapse.

How healthy is the real estate market today?

The Subprime Majority.   Recently, I came across a report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) titled Assets and Opportunity Scorecard.  Some of their findings are quite interesting.  According to the CFED Scorecard, 56% of all consumers have sub-prime credit.  Sub-prime is “earned”. A consumer has to miss a few payments, or default on a loan or two to earn that status.  These 56% cannot, or should not, be taking on more debt, especially a large debt like a mortgage.  They may also be struggling with a mortgage that they should not have taken out in the first place.

Liquid Asset Poor.  CFED found that 44% of households in America are Liquid Asset Poor, defined as having saved less than three months of expenses.  As one would expect, 78% of the lowest income households are asset poor, but 25% of middle class ($56k to $91k) households also have less than three months of expenses saved.  Pertaining to real estate, the report suggests that there are little savings to buy and a small cushion for changes, such as job loss.

Income Inequality.  The Center for Household Financial Stability of the St. Louis Fed recently released a study titled Inequality, the Great Recession, and Slow Recovery.  Skip the 43 pages of academic mumbo jumbo and you will find half a dozen of very simple and informative charts, such as the two below.   I will leave the inequality debate to others.  With regard to a real estate stress test, it appears that households are not exactly well prepared to weather even minor economic setbacks.

 

 


 

debt-income ratios

Debt-income ratios by income groups – click to enlarge.

 

Net-worth-to-disposable income

Net worth to disposable income by net worth groups – click to enlarge.


The Federal Reserve is Spent.  QE1, 2 and 3 all involved the purchase of agency MBS.  In January 2014, the FOMC announced that it will decrease debt purchases by another $10 billion, from the original $85 billion to $65 billion per month, $30 billion of which is supposed to be for agency MBS.  That appears to be all talk.  For the first 6 weeks of 2014, the Fed has already purchased $74.7 billion, or $54 billion per month.  They are not only continuing the QE3 purchases, they are still replenishing the prepaid holdings from QE1 and QE2.  Mortgage rates are not responding anymore.  Though somewhat stabilized, the current rate (30yr) is still a full percent above the low recorded before QE3 (see the table below from Mortgage News Daily).

 


 

latest rates

Mortgage rates from MND’s daily survey – click to enlarge.


Furthermore, Fed members are only kidding themselves if they think they can ever tighten monetary policy.  The national debt is at $17.3 trillion and growing at about $700 billion this year.  The cost of financing this debt, per the Treasury, was $415.7 billion in 2013, crudely estimated at an average rate of about 2.5%.  At the moment, the 3 months bill is at less than 0.2% interest, while the 10 year note is only at 2.75%.  If the cost of financing this debt were to increase by just 1%, it would cost the Treasury $173 billion more a year.  There is no way that the dovish Fed chair Yellen would even dream of doing that.

Therefore, the risk of monetary policy is not whether the Fed will tighten, but rather what it can do to repeat a 2008 style bailout. In other words, the Fed as a safety net is full of holes that re big enough for an elephant to pass through.

Exhausted Government Intervention.  The FHFA just announced that HARP has reached the three million mark.  We are no closer to reforming Freddie and Fannie than when they were put under conservatorship over five years ago.  Numerous State and Local Governments have deployed their own foreclosure prevention laws and ordinances.  The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has created a mountain of bureaucratic red tape, adding compliance costs to the mortgage industry while providing questionable benefits to the consumer.  The  FHA is now pushing for lending to borrowers with credit scores as low as 580  only one year after major financial catastrophes such as foreclosure.

In conclusion, the reason I remain bearish on real estate is that when the noise is filtered out, the market has only survived by means of an unprecedented amount of intervention.  This dependency is not only unhealthy, its stimulating effect is now fading.  If real estate prices cease to appreciate, the market will suffer, same as it did when the sub-prime bubble burst in 2006/2007.  The Fed has already gone all in and there is little left it can do.  Washington can always create a new set of laws to further erode private property rights as we knew them.  Ironically, price appreciation is also not the answer, as it will just widen the income equality gap, turning would-be home owners into rent slaves of Wall Street’s fat cats.  It may be best for the market to freeze for an extended period and let consumers catch their breath.

Charts and tables by: St. Louis Fed, Mortgage News Daily

Brian Monteith: Separation may tear us to pieces – The Scotsman

Brian Monteith: Separation may tear us to pieces – The Scotsman.

Nelson, victorious at Trafalgar  and his fighting men were Scots. Picture: Getty

  • by BRIAN MONTEITH
 Published on the16February

Proud Scots have made Britain great, so we have nothing to fear from any continuation of the Union, writes Brian Monteith

The demand from Yes campaigners for the No campaign to be more positive and offer a positive vision of Scotland’s future has been repeated so often that it has now become a tiresome cliché. It is all the more ironic then that the greatest advocates of the positive case for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom are in fact Yes campaigners and politicians themselves.

We see it all the time by the way advocates of independence define what they mean. We shall retain the Queen as our head of state instead of being offered the choice to become a republic. We shall, they insist, remain members of the European Union instead of being offered the choice to be like Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and limit ourselves to being European trading partners. We shall apply to join Nato to have a mutually assured defence structure that will involve exercises with the RAF, Royal Navy and British Army regiments instead of being neutral and outside any military alliance.

We are still being told we shall have a currency union although it can now be seen that it is absolutely beyond the power of the SNP to deliver it formally. We are also told that we shall maintain our social union despite the fact that charging the thousands of English, Welsh and Northern Irish students for university fees is not only illegal within the EU but is also certain to create a significant grievance in the continuing UK if we do not charge Germans, Greeks or Spaniards the same fees.

So there we have it: being in the United Kingdom has given us many strong and positive advantages. We have a highly stable and well respected constitutional monarchy that provides a reassuring and unifying stability, while politicians come and go and fall in and out of fashion.

We have been members of the European Union for some 40 years and Nato for more than 60 – bringing openness, economic growth, democracy and security to which other nations have aspired and queued up to join.

Our own common currency provides a means of exchange redeemable throughout the land that suits us better than using a foreign coinage and gives us a flexibility in the world economy that is the envy of so many nations that made the mistake of joining the euro.

And we have a social union that after not just years or decades, but centuries of wars, battles, and bloody invasions (by either side), has encouraged us to migrate, intermingle, forge familial bonds and establish through perseverance and endeavour great successes in commerce, culture, science and politics. There are communities, even towns south of the Border, that are thought of as being essentially Scottish. The extent to which our social union became possible in the United Kingdom, despite further civil wars where Scots themselves were divided, is taken for granted nowadays, just as the huge role we played in establishing what was to become the British Empire and then latterly the Commonwealth is often forgotten.

Some intentionally provocative and disrespectful nationalists like to call the Union flag the butchers’ apron, conveniently avoiding the fact that if there were indeed any butchers, they were as likely to be Scots as anyone else. Key events in our British history, such as the Battle of Trafalgar, had a disproportionately large number of Scots while we all know the names of great Scots who helped shape the modern world.

The idea we are so subservient, passive and lacking in confidence within our great social union as to be unable to lead men to make the greatest of sacrifices, discover the unknown, develop new ideas, forge new enterprises, build lasting and enviable institutions – and yes, run our country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – because we are Scots and not born to do so is the worst example of the Scottish cringe.

Was I dreaming when that Scottish son of the manse, Gordon Brown, became British prime minister and was widely accepted at the time by an English-dominated Labour Party? Brown was hardly born to run the country.

Maybe I imagined that Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, that humble bungalow lad from Paisley Terrace nestling in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, became the Labour Party’s longest-serving prime minister and the only person to lead that party to three consecutive general election victories. He was hardly born to run the UK: the second son of Leo, an illegitimate child of two English actors who was adopted and raised by a Glaswegian shipyard worker James Blair. Such are the bloodlines of our social union that has seen Scotsmen and women go on through their own endeavour to achieve great things and be accepted north and south of the old Border.

Did Alistair Darling not follow Brown as chancellor, was the late Robin Cook not Foreign Secretary and did George Robertson and John Reid not hold high Cabinet rank along with many other Scots? Would John Smith – that Dunoon Grammar School lad – not have become prime minister but for his untimely death in 1994?

Then let us not forget Edinburgh’s George Watson’s boy Malcolm Rifkind, hewn from Jewish Lithuanian immigrant stock – hardly a traditional Scottish background – who rose to become Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary. Or how about John Cowperthwaite who, in the 1960s, made Hong Kong what it is today?

And it doesn’t just end there, for Scots in Britain are hardly shrinking violets in other fields – from Govan’s Alex Ferguson in sport, who managed possibly the best-known football team in the world, to Stonehaven’s John Reith, who built the BBC into the envy of the world. Neither they nor many others like them – the list is as inspiring as it is long – were born to run or shape British institutions, but they had the opportunity and the Union made it possible.

It is this social union that I fear for most. As we now see that the continuing UK can and will have different interests from Scots and Scotland – and has every right to pursue them – new grievances will tear us apart. What’s positive about that?

Top Six Reasons to Stop Fighting Wars Washington’s Blog

Top Six Reasons to Stop Fighting Wars Washington’s Blog.

arabwomenresistance300

1. War is immoral.

Murder is the one crime that we’re taught to excuse if it’s done on a large enough scale. Morality demands that we not so excuse it. War is nothing other than murder on a large scale.

Over the centuries and decades, death counts in wars have grown dramatically, shifted heavily onto civilians rather than combatants, and been overtaken by injury counts as even greater numbers have been injured but medicine has allowed them to survive.

Deaths are now due primarily to violence rather than to disease, formerly the biggest killer in wars.

Death and injury counts have also shifted very heavily toward one side in each war, rather than being evenly divided between two parties. Those traumatized, rendered homeless, and otherwise damaged far outnumber the injured and the dead.

The idea of a “good war” or a “just war” sounds obscene when one looks honestly at independent reporting on wars.

When we say that war goes back 10,000 years it’s not clear that we’re talking about a single thing, as opposed to two or more different things going by the same name. Picture a family in Yemen or Pakistan living under a constant buzz produced by a drone overhead. One day their home and everyone in it is shattered by a missile. Were they at war? Where was the battlefield? Where were their weapons? Who declared the war? What was contested in the war? How would it end?

Is it not perhaps the case that we have already ended war and now must end something else as well (a name for it might be: the hunting of humans)?

If we can change our manner of killing foreigners to render it almost unrecognizable, who’s to say we can’t eliminate the practice altogether?

Read more.

 

2. War endangers us.

There are more effective tools than war for protection.

tank

War planning leads to wars.

In arming, many factors must be considered: weapon-related accidents, malicious testing on human beings, theft, sales to allies who become enemies, and the distraction from efforts to reduce the causes of terrorism and war must all be taken into account. So, of course, must the tendency to use weapons once you have them.  And a nation’s stockpiling of weapons for war puts pressure on other nations to do the same. Even a nation that intends to fight only in defense, may understand “defense” to be the ability to retaliate against other nations. This makes it necessary to create the weaponry and strategies for aggressive war. When you put a lot of people to work planning something, when that project is in fact your largest public investment and proudest cause, it can be difficult to keep those people from finding opportunities to execute their plans. Read more.

War making provokes danger.

While the best defense in many sports may be a good offense, an offense in war is not defensive, not when it generates hatred, resentment, and blowback, not when the alternative is no war at all. Through the course of the so-called global war on terrorism, terrorism has been on the rise. This was predictable and predicted. The wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the abuses of prisoners during them, became major recruiting tools for anti-U.S. terrorism. In 2006, U.S. intelligence agencies produced a National Intelligence Estimate that reached just that conclusion. Read More.

War’s weapons risk intentional or accidental apocalypse.

We can either eliminate all nuclear weapons or we can watch them proliferate. There’s no middle way. We can either have no nuclear weapons states, or we can have many. As long as some states have nuclear weapons others will desire them, and the more that have them the more easily they will spread to others still. If nuclear weapons continue to exist, there will very likely be a nuclear catastrophe, and the more the weapons have proliferated, the sooner it will come. Hundreds of incidents have nearly destroyed our world through accident, confusion, misunderstanding, and extremely irrational machismo. And possessing nuclear weapons does absolutely nothing to keep us safe, so that there is really no trade-off involved in eliminating them. They do not deter terrorist attacks by non-state actors in any way. Nor do they add an iota to a military’s ability to deter nations from attacking, given the United States’ ability to destroy anything anywhere at any time with non-nuclear weapons. The United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China have all lost wars against non-nuclear powers while possessing nukes.

Read more.


3. War threatens our environment.

oiljets

A major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas.

Oil can be leaked or burned off, as in the Gulf War, but primarily it is put to use in all kinds of machines polluting the earth’s atmosphere, placing us all at risk. Some associate the consumption of oil with the supposed glory and heroism of war, so that renewable energies that do not risk global catastrophe are viewed as cowardly and unpatriotic ways to fuel our machines.

The interplay of war with oil goes beyond that, however. The wars themselves, whether or not fought for oil, consume huge quantities of it. The world’s top consumer of oil, in fact, is the U.S. military. Not only do we fight wars in areas of the globe that happen to be rich in oil; we also burn more oil fighting those wars than we do in any other activity. Author Ted Rall writes:

“The U.S. Department of [War] is the world’s worst polluter, belching, dumping, and spilling more pesticides, defoliants, solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury, and depleted uranium than the five biggest American chemical corporations combined. According to Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, 60 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions between 2003 and 2007 originated in U.S.-occupied Iraq, due to the enormous amount of oil and gas required to maintain hundreds of thousands of American military forces and private contractors, not to mention the toxins released by fighter jets, drone planes, and the missiles and other ordnance they fire at Iraqis.”

The U.S. military burns through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption.

The environment as we know it will not survive nuclear war. It also may not survive “conventional” war, understood to mean the sorts of wars now waged. Intense damage has already been done by wars and by the research, testing, and production done in preparation for wars.

Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War “rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality,” according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School.

Perhaps the most deadly weapons left behind by wars are land mines and cluster bombs. Tens of millions of them are estimated to be lying around on the earth, oblivious to any announcements that peace has been declared. Most of their victims are civilians, a large percentage of them children.

The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.

If militaries were made green in terms of their operations, they would lose one of their main reasons for war.  (Nobody can own the sun or the wind.)  And we would still have a long list of … More reasons to end war.

Read more.

 

4. War erodes our liberties.

police

We’re often told that wars are fought for “freedom.” But when a wealthy nation fights a war against a poor (if often resource-rich) nation halfway around the globe, among the goals is not actually to prevent that poor nation from taking over the wealthy one, after which it might restrict people’s rights and liberties. The fears used to build support for the wars don’t involve such an incredible scenario at all; rather the threat is depicted as one to safety, not liberty.

In close proportion to levels of military spending, liberties are restricted in the name of war — even while wars may simultaneously be waged in the name of liberty.  We try to resist the erosion of liberties, the warrantless surveillance, the drones in the skies, the lawless imprisonment, the torture, the assassinations, the denial of a lawyer, the denial of access to information on the government, etc.  But these are symptoms.  The disease is war and the preparation for war.

It is the idea of the enemy that allows government secrecy.

The nature of war, as fought between valued and devalued people, facilitates the erosion of liberties in another way, in addition to the fear for safety.  That is, it allows liberties to first be taken away from devalued people.  But the programs developed to accomplish that are later predictably expanded to include valued people as well.

Militarism erodes not just particular rights but the very basis of self-governance. It privatizes public goods, it corrupts public servants, it creates momentum for war by making people’s careers dependent on it.

One way in which war erodes public trust and morals is by its predictable generation of public lies.

Also eroded, of course, is the very idea of the rule of law — replaced with the practice of might-makes-right.

Read more.

 

5. War impoverishes us.

sad

Direct Expenses:

War has a huge direct financial cost, the vast majority of which is in funds spent on the preparation for war — or what’s thought of as ordinary, non-war military spending. Very roughly, the world spends $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. This U.S. spending also accounts for roughly half of the U.S. government’s discretionarybudget each year and is distributed through several departments and agencies. Much of the rest of world spending is by members of NATO and other allies of the United States, although China ranks second in the world.

Indirect Expenses:

Wars can cost even an aggressor nation that fights wars far from its shores twise as much in indirect expenses as in direct expenditures.

The costs to the aggressor, enormous as they are, can be small in comparison to those of the nation attacked.

War Spending Drains an Economy:

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs — with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

War Spending Increases Inequality:

Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved.

War Spending Is Unsustainable, As Is Exploitation it Facilitates:

While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? Not in a manner that can be sustained.

Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates’ wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there.

Read more.

 

6. We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

aid

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.  That sounds like a lot of money to you or me.  But if we had $2 trillion it wouldn’t.  And we do.

It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.  Again, that sounds like a lot. Let’s round up to $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do.

Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don’t share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away.

But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning “college debt” can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as “human sacrifice”), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices.  What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, this country were catching up and helping to lead in the other direction?

The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, and the same investment again, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and of nonviolent action?

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year.  Taking it up to $100 billion — never mind $523 billion! — would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering.  It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth.  A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world.  Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, but only if one other factor were added — only if the $1 trillion came from where it really ought to come from.

Some U.S. states are setting up commissions to work on the transition from war to peace insustries.

Read more.

Germany Wants to Keep Data Away from the NSA with a Europe-Only Network | Motherboard

Germany Wants to Keep Data Away from the NSA with a Europe-Only Network | Motherboard.

By Victoria Turk

Pictured here together at the G20 summit last year, Angela Merkel will discuss proposals with Francois Hollande on Wednesday. Image: President of the European Council/Flickr

Last week we reported on the European Commission’s proposals to cut back the US’s influence over internet governance in face of NSA spying revelations. But it looks like German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants even stronger steps to combat US surveillance of European web users: she’s called for a kind of walled-off network that would keep European data away from prying American eyes.

Reuters reported that in Merkel’s weekly podcast on Saturday, she announced plans to talk with French President Francois Hollande about building a “communication network” to maintain a higher level of data security for Europe’s web users. “Above all, we’ll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic,” she said. “Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.”

Germany has been a particularly outspoken critic of NSA and GCHQ surveillance tactics in the wake of revelations leaked by Edward Snowden, and for good reason. The country seems to have been heavily targeted in the spying allegations; even Merkel’s own cell phone was allegedly tapped by the US government, while a potential electronic “spying tent” was discovered on top of the British embassy in Berlin, not far from the German parliament.

Since then, Merkel has been trying to get the US to agree to a “no-spy” agreement, but it looks like Obama’s administration won’t play ball (and given the clandestine nature of spying it’s hard to fathom how much trust could realistically be invested in such an accord).

This latest announcement launches a new counter-espionage offensive, and according to the Independent, it could just be the first of many to come. They cite German magazine Der Spiegel, which claimed to have uncovered plans for a “massive” increase in German anti-spying measures, such as surveillance on the American and British embassies in Berlin—a kind of cycle of surveillance on surveillance that seems the inevitable farcical conclusion of a saga in whicheveryone’s spying on everyone else.

As for the communications network proposal, the idea is to keep Europeans’ data under European data protection regulations. The problem is that, while the internet is a global network, different countries have different laws on privacy. Germany has particularly strict rules on personal privacy—perhaps a result of its Nazi and Communist past, in which oppressive surveillance played a regrettable role.

When Germans’ data leaves the country, however, it’s not necessarily protected by those laws (and could, for instance, be creeped on by the NSA). Merkel also singled out Google and Facebook for basing their operations in places with much less stringent data protection. She didn’t name the country, but Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky points out both companies have their headquarters in Ireland.

Merkel will meet with Hollande on Wednesday to discuss the idea, and France has said they agree with the proposals. It’ll nevertheless take more than that to get anything off the ground. For a start, France and Germany only represent two companies out of Europe, albeit powerful ones. It’s not clear exactly how far their proposed European network would extend, but any closed networks like this risk undermining the global nature of the internet, which the European Commission last week emphasised it was keen to preserve. There are also practical questions, like what happens when you want to send emails from America to Europe, and vice versa?

Moreover, Germany and France have different data protection laws, and a shared policy would likely need to be adopted if a Europe-wide were scheme to work.

News agency UPI also points out that a European network likely wouldn’t be “NSA-proof” (a term we’ve seen bandied around a lot recently, not always very convincingly). They referred to a January interview with German broadcaster ARD in which Edward Snowden said that keeping data off US soil and in national cloud systems wouldn’t be enough. “The NSA goes where the data are,” he said. “If the NSA can pull text messages out of telecommunications networks in China, they can probably manage to get Facebook messages out of Germany.”

Peak Oil and the socio-economic impact of depleting fossil fuel resources

Peak Oil and the socio-economic impact of depleting fossil fuel resources.

by Gary NullKurt CobbNate Hagens, originally published by Progressive Radio Network  | FEB 13, 2014
57:08

Progressive Radio’s Gary Null talks peak oil, climate change, economy, culture, policy and much more with Kurt Cobb and Nate Hagens.

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About Gary Null:
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Kurt Cobb is an author, speaker, and columnist whose novel Prelude provides a startling reinterpretation of contemporary events and a window onto our energy future. He …

About Nate Hagens:

Nate is a well-known authority on global resource depletion. Until recently he was lead editor of The Oil Drum, one of the most popular and highly-respected websites for analysis and discussion of global energy …

‘Big oil’ getting smaller as production keeps falling | | Platts

‘Big oil’ getting smaller as production keeps falling | | Platts.

February 14, 2014 – Richard Swann in London

* Top seven western majors all seeing liquids output fall
* Supermajors’ share of global market dropping every year
* BP reports fastest decline of 30% from 2009-13
* Production becoming more evenly split between oil and gas

The biggest western oil companies are continuing to see their oil output decline, despite record investment in recent years spurred by sustained crude prices in excess of $100/barrel, according to data released by the companies.

Furthermore, with total world oil output continuing to rise every year, the western majors are seeing their share of the global market fall even faster, with new volumes coming largely from their rivals in places like Russia and a host of smaller companies at the heart of the shale oil boom in the US.

Analysis continues below…


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Combined output of crude and other liquids by the seven biggest western majors — ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Total, ConocoPhillips and Eni — amounted to 9.517 million b/d last year, down 2.2% from 2012 and marking the fourth consecutive year of decline.

Liquids output from the same group has been falling every year of late, having been as high as 10.865 million b/d in 2009.

As a group, the seven have seen their combined liquids output fall by 1.348 million b/d, or 12.4% over the period from 2009 to 2013.

The most notable contribution to the overall decline comes from BP, whose production of oil and other liquids has fallen by more than 30% from 1.695 million b/d in 2009 to 1.176 million b/d in 2013.

These figures do not include production associated with BP’s current 19.75% stake in Russia’s Rosneft or its previous 50% stake in Russian oil producer TNK-BP.

This is a much sharper fall than other majors have experienced, and is evidence of the scale of the asset divestment program the company has been going through to cover its actual and potential liabilities in the wake of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

While its peers have not seen production fall by the same degree, they have nonetheless all experienced declining oil production since 2009.

Even ExxonMobil, the biggest of the group in terms of production and profitability, saw its oil output fall by 4.5% in 2011 and 5.5% in 2012, the two years with the highest average international oil prices of all time.

In 2013 ExxonMobil’s oil output rose by 0.8% to 2.202 million b/d, but it still remained more than 200,000 b/d below where it was in 2010.

Shell, Chevron, Total, ConocoPhillips and Eni also all saw their liquids production fall in 2013.

Total’s output declined by 15.5% between 2009-13, Eni’s by 17.3% and ConocoPhillips’ by 12.4%. Shell has seen the smallest fall of 2.5% over thesame period.

Dwindling share of global output

According to the International Energy Agency, total world oil supply has risen in recent years from 85.66 million b/d in 2009 to an average of 91.53 million b/d in 2013.

As a result, the seven leading western majors have seen their share of this total supply fall from 12.7% to 10.4% over the same period.

While this group is seeing its production fall, others have clearly been heading in the opposite direction.

The most obvious is Russia’s Rosneft, which has grown at breakneck pace in recent years on the back of a debt-funded acquisition spree, including the purchase of former rival TNK-BP.

Rosneft is now the world’s biggest publicly listed oil producer with total crude and liquids output of close to 4.2 million b/d.

In other words, Rosneft alone now produces almost as much oil as ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips combined.

The western majors are not short of either the expertise to produce more oil or the money to fund developments after 2013 marked the third consecutive year of Dated Brent prices above $108/barrel.

The recurring challenge for the western companies in recent years has been to find attractive investment opportunities, with several of the world’s leading oil reserves holders offering limited, or even no access to international operators.

“It’s an access question,” said an official from one of the western majors, who asked not be identified. “Who will let us in? They’ll only let us into the difficult bits like the deepwater projects, or tight gas, that kind of thing,” he said.

Gas growth

With their liquids output falling, the so-called “oil majors” are gradually becoming less oily and more reliant on gas production.

Oil accounted for more than 60% of ExxonMobil’s total hydrocarbons output in 2009, but by last year this figure had fallen to less than 53%.

It is a similar story for Total, where oil’s share of total production has fallen from 60.5% in 2009 to 50.8% in 2013.

Shell produced more gas than liquids last year, the third time in the last four years this has happened, and BP is not far away from a 50:50 split.

Of the seven majors who embody the image of “Big Oil” the only one bucking the trend towards greater gas exposure is Chevron, where oil continues to account for two thirds of all production — a full 10 percentage points more than any of the rest of the peer group.

Table: Production of oil and other liquids by leading western companies

Production of oil and other liquids by leading western companies

2013 2009 Change
ExxonMobil 2.202 2.387 -0.185 -7.8%
Chevron 1.731 1.846 -0.115 -6.2%
Shell 1.541 1.581 -0.040 -2.5%
BP 1.176 1.695 -0.519 -30.6%
Total 1.167 1.381 -0.214 -15.5%
ConocoPhillips 0.867 0.968 -0.101 -10.4%
Eni 0.833 1.007 -0.174 -17.3%
Total 9.517 10.865 -1.348 -12.4%

(all units in million b/d)

Source: company statements

Time to go to school on election issues, Stouffville

Time to go to school on election issues, Stouffville.

Town hall

YRMG file photo

Stouffville Sun-TribuneWe asked voters across York Region last week what are the biggest issues in this year’s municipal election.Maybe it’s too early –  election day isn’t until Oct. 27.

Maybe the region’s electorate truly isn’t interested in municipal politics – less than 50 per cent vote every four years.

Maybe there are no issues ­— unlikely, bordering on impossible.

Whatever the reason, most taxpayers were stuck for answers.

It’s time to do your homework, Whitchurch-Stouffville.

Not this fall, when candidates will already have their platforms down pat.

Now.

Get out to a council meeting — available Tuesday at 3 p.m.? — and go to school on local politics.

Is council a good working unit? Do they play well with people making deputations, those in the audience and our town staff?

Get out in your neighbourhood. Are there facilities lacking? Perhaps a dangerous intersection?

How about that vacant lot? What is to become of it and how will those plans affect you and your neighbours?

This town’s history has been written with stories of residents who waited too long to jump on an issue.

Exhibit A? The growth spurt that turned Stouffville into Canada’s fastest-growing community during the past 10 years was bemoaned by many as happening too quickly with too many hiccups.

Where were those critics when growth proposals first went to the public in a series of poorly attended visioning exercises?

We know Stouffville will see more growth, particularly to the north of the urban core. We know rural development, especially of the estate variety, won’t take place, at least in large numbers.

Are you happy with your hometown? Do you receive fair value for what you pay in local taxes?

What’s on your wish list, Stouffville?

What will you put to council candidates ­— only one has officially declared — when they knock on your door or you have the floor at a pre-election meeting at your local community centre?

Get on that homework, Whitchurch-Stouffville.

Tick, tock.

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