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“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out til too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along.” – Terry Pratchett
There has not been a more enigmatic U.S. President than Barack Obama since Abraham Lincoln. We know so little about Obama. It is certainly true that he has divided the Nation further than any President since Lincoln. But the questions I cannot shake as we enter into our sixth year of his Presidency are: What are his ultimate goals, and how in the world did this African-American junior Senator and former community leader become the most powerful man in the free world?
It is easy to jump to the conclusion that Obama could be a Muslim and a Marxist bent on remaking America into a socialist state much like so many European countries. That Obama has driven an even wider divide between America, between left and right, is beyond debate. That Obama has added nearly $7 trillion to America’s Federal debt is a black-and-white fact.
That is a far cry from 2008 when candidate Obama promised to be a breakaway leader for the American people. Instead, President Obama has proven himself to be a President for Wall Street interests, billionaire bankers and the military-industrial establishment. That during his Presidency, Obama has fulfilled none of the promises to the middle class or to the millions of black Americans who saw him as a ray of hope for a better future is certain. That Obama has helped make the world a more divided and dangerous place for all is undoubtable.
The Tale Of Two Obamas
Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities150 years ago about the French Revolution: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
So it has been these past several years with Obama the candidate and as the President.
Beginning in the summer of 2008, it seemed that America could be on the verge of anarchy. It seemed possible that there could be an economic collapse as well as a collapse in confidence in the Federal government and many of the Nation’s institutions. That would lead to a collapse in the New World Order, which the United States underpins. Those forces built up over decades needed somebody transformative, somebody to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. From the shadows stepped Obama, anointed by some as the chosen one and appealing to tens of millions of people at home and hundreds of millions of people abroad.
The real question is by whom was Obama chosen? He had no experience as a leader or a thinker and certainly not as a doer. His past was so checkered it called into question not only his birthplace but his college background, economic beliefs and even his religion. Yet within a year he had become an international sensation, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. That erstwhile kid from Hawaii was a pop star 10 times bigger than Justin Bieber and half as smart.
But rather than change, Obama has doubled down on all the corruption and dysfunction that our Federal government has planted over the past three decades. It was Obama the candidate who attacked George W. Bush’s abuse of executive powers, only to spy upon the Nation with impunity as President. It was Obama the candidate who criticized Bush and the Republicans for the bailouts of big investment banks but then as President provided a no-strings-attached policy after his Administration’s $800 billion bailout, which allowed for record bonuses to top Wall Street executives who scant months before he had vilified.
A Probable Pawn For The NWO
The most startling discrepancy between candidate Obama and President Obama is when it comes to foreign policy. As President, Obama has wielded foreign policy with a broadsword against real or perceived enemies in ways that Dick Cheney must watch with green envy. Consider Obama’s air attacks on Libya.
In December 2007, candidate Obama was asked if a President could bomb Iran without Congressional authorization. Obama’s answer: “The President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Yet as commander in chief, Obama did not have a problem breaking such a promise and quickly used massive American airpower and sea power against Libya. In 2011, Obama went so far as to go against his legal advisers, insisting he did not need Congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution to continue attacks against Libya beyond the 60-day limit dictated by the resolution. Obama sounded like Bill Clinton when he said that what he had done was dependent on the definition of “sex.” Obama claimed that U.S. attacks were outside the legal definition of “hostilities.”
Even a military hawk like Speaker of the House John Boehner was outraged, saying, “The White House’s suggestion that there are no ‘hostilities’ taking place in Libya defies rational thought.”
So what is rational when it comes to Obama, both the candidate and the President? The two are very separate men. The first, who offered to change things for the better, no longer exists (if he ever did). The President is the ever faithful company man to the financial and military establishments. Obama has made his mark as the first African-American President. Despite his myriad failures in office and his multitude of lies, I believe his Presidency will be celebrated. Those who determined his election know how to pay off a loyal servant. But thankfully for some, Obama will be remembered as a pawn and not a king. How many feel that way depends on us understanding the truth, fighting for our liberties and protecting the Constitution.
Yours in good times and bad,
False intelligence extracted by torture in Tripoli’s notorious Abu Salim prison has been linked to arrests of Libyan dissidents in the United Kingdom, an investigation by Al Jazeera’s People and Power has revealed.
In this exclusive report, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the anti-Gaddafi resistance group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), explains that he and fellow leader Sami al-Saadi were subjected to torture by his Libyan interrogators, which forced them to give up the names of innocent residents in the UK.
Al-Saadi and Belhaj also claim foreign agents, including British agents, questioned them in Abu Salim prison. These allegations form the basis of a lawsuit against the British government.
According to Belhaj’s lawyers, the men and their families were pawns in a deal struck by Britain in 2004.
After Gaddafi’s fall, the role played by British intelligence agencies was discovered.
“When the rebels came to Tripoli they ransacked all sorts of buildings … associated with Gaddafi’s old regime,” said Al Jazeera’s Juliana Ruhfus, who was involved in the investigation.
“It was in the office of spy chief Moussa Koussa that they found a stash of documents that revealed, in startling detail, the collaboration between British and Libyan intelligence services.”
Belhaj says he was pressured by Gaddafi’s interrogators to give up information about Libyans living in Britain.
“Sometimes they would come to me with the questions and answers already done and force me to sign it. They would mention names to me and say that these people supported armed activities,” he said.
One of the innocent men named under torture was Ziad Hashem, a Libyan who obtained asylum in the UK after Belhaj’s rendition. Hashem claims he was arrested in Britain without any charges: “We were just put in prison arbitrarily without any explanation.”
Hashem is part of yet another law suit against the British government. One of the things he is hoping to reveal is the flow of information between Libyan and British intelligence agencies which led to his detention.
The British government says it is committed to investigating allegations of mistreatment, that it stands firmly against torture and that it never asks any other country to carry it out.
But the dissidents accuse the British government of being complicit in their rendition into Gaddafi’s prisons, showing Al Jazeera documents from MI6 tipping off Gaddafi’s intelligence apparatus about their flight movements.
OPEC just published their latest Monthly Oil Market Report with crude only production data through November 2013. Their October numbers were revised downward by 67,000 barrels per day to 29,827 kb/d. Their November production was 29,633 /b/d. That was 261 kb/d below their unrevised October production and 194 kb/d below their revised October production numbers.
OPEC production at 29,633,000 bp/d is at their lowest point since June 2011. As you can see from the chart OPEC has hat two peaks since 2005. Actually these are the two highest peaks ever for OPEC if the EIA data is correct. I only have MOMR data going back to January 2005.
The July 2008 peak was 31,672,000 bp/d and the April 12 peak was 31,619,000 bp/d. I thought it might be interesting to plot who was up and who was down since those two peaks. The Gainers were Ecuador, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Venezuela. Ecuador and Venezuela were up only slightly however. Here is a chart of the six gainers.
In July 2008 the combined Gainers production stood at 19,976,000 bp/d. In November their combined production stood at 21,769,000 bp/d, up 1,793,000 bp/d since that point
The losers were Algeria, Angola, Iran, Libya, Nigeria and Qatar.
The Losers peaked in December 2007 at 11,870,000 bp/d. In November 2013 their combined production stood at 8,498,000 bp/d, down 3,372,000 since their peak. Libya and Iran account for 2 million bp/d of this. So even if both were producing flat out the losers would still be down almost 1.4 mb/d.
However even before the sanctions Iran was in serious decline. If sanctions were lifted tomorrow they would be lucky to get back to half a million barrels per day below their 2005 level of about 3.9 million barrels per day. Their November production stood at 2.7 mb/d.
Libya, after the revolution could only get up to within 200,000 barrels per day of their pre-revolution production numbers. They will likely not ever get that close again however.
But something is always happening somewhere. One can say, “if there were no sanctions, no revolutions, no terrorists attacks and no other political problems then they could produce a lot more”. But there has never been a such a time in recorded history and it is not likely there will ever be such a time. So we can only measure what each country is producing today and go with that.
One person has posted me and seems very concerned over the sudden rise in US consumption. It also caught OPEC’s attention. From the latest MOMR, link up top, page 32:
Days after terrorists attacked the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a State Department official ordered an executive at the security company charged with protecting the special compound not to respond to media inquiries, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The order was delivered via electronic mail and it’s part of a new batch of State Department documents obtained by JW in an ongoing investigation of the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack and subsequent cover-up by the Obama administration. Islamic jihadists raided the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya and murdered Ambassador Christopher Stevens—the first diplomat to be killed overseas in decades—and three other Americans.
The Obama administration has worked hard to keep details of the attack—and the negligence that led to it—from the American public, but JW has gone to court and filed a number of public records requests to expose the truth. JW has also published two in-depth special reports on Benghazi, the last one on the first anniversary of the terrorist attack. Read the special reports here and here.
The latest batch of documents obtained by JW include a scandalous email from a State Department contracting officer named Jan Visintainer to an unidentified executive at Blue Mountain Group (BMG), the inexperienced foreign company hired to protect the U.S. mission in Benghazi. In the email, dated September 26, 2012, Visintainer writes: “Thank you so much for informing us about the media inquiries. We notified our public affairs personnel that they too may receive some questions. We concur with you that at the moment the best way to deal with the inquiries is to either be silent or provide no comments.”
Some of the records were redacted or simply not included. For instance Visintainer received a cryptic email from a redacted source with an attachment that was not provided to JW by the State Department. The exchange, just two days before the attack, received a lot of attention from both the State Department and BMG, which could indicate that perhaps it contained a more specific concern or warning about the U.S. mission’s vulnerability.
Last month JW released the Benghazi security contract that paid BMG, a virtually unknown and untested British company, $794,264 for nearly 50,000 guard hours. The Benghazi security deal had not been available to the public because it was not listed as part of the large master State Department contract that covers protection for overseas embassies. JW had to take legal action to get it.
The deal is for one year and includes very specific requirements for things like foot patrols, package inspection, contingency and mobilization planning. The total guard force was 45,880 with an additional 1,376 guards for “emergency services,” the contract shows. It also includes one vehicle and 12 radio networks. The guards were responsible for protecting the U.S. government personnel, facilities and equipment from damage or loss, the contract states. “The local guard force shall prevent unauthorized access; protect life; maintain order; deter criminal attacks against employees; dependents and property terrorist acts against all U.S. assets and prevent damage to government property.” Clearly the firm failed miserably to fulfill its contractual obligation.
The oil production cartel, which is meeting in Vienna today, is set to keep its production target unchanged.
ON THIS TOPIC
- Opec big hitters weather US oil discount
- Oil supply The cartel’s challenge
- China car growth fuels Opec bullishness on crude demand
- Opec keeps production targets unchanged
With Brent crude, the global benchmark, hitting a two-month high of more than $113 per barrel, oil ministers from the group which spans Venezuela to Saudi Arabia have said they want to keep targeting production of 30m b/d.
In spite of the apparent consensus, this week’s meeting has seen aggressive jockeying for internal position within the cartel.
Speaking to Iranian journalists in Farsi minutes before ministers went into a closed-door meeting, Bijan Zangeneh, Iran’s oil minister, said: “Under any circumstances we will reach 4m b/d even if the price of oil falls to $20 per barrel.”
“We will not give up our rights on this issue,” Mr Zangeneh added, suggesting Opec would be able to accommodate rising Iranian production to keep prices high.
Opec pumps around a third of the world’s crude oil supplies, and as the only source of spare production capacity plays a key role in setting prices.
Brent has averaged close to $110 per barrel this year, easily above the group’s unofficial target, as production disruptions in Nigeria and Libya have offset rapidly growing US shale oil output.
Buoyed by an interim agreement on its nuclear programme ten days ago, Iran said it would raise production from around 2.8m b/d today to 4m b/d next year.
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani is looking to pursue a foreign policy of moderation to revive deadlocked nuclear talks with the west after tough financial sanctions have brought the Islamic Republic’s economy to a standstill
Iraq, meanwhile, has also said it plans to increase production by 1m b/d next year to 4mb/d.
That would put pressure on prices, and push the cartel to respond by reining in production from other members, although both countries face significant challenges in meeting their ambitious targets: Iran faces months of tricky negotiations before sanctions could be lifted, and Iraq’s oil industry is labouring under security and infrastructure problems.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and de facto leader of the cartel, would face most pressure to cut back on production to accommodate Iran and Iraq, as the kingdom has been producing at near record levels of more than 10mb/d as production from other Opec members has faltered.
But Saudi officials have suggested Iranian and Iraqi production growth is unlikely to materialise quickly, and ahead of the meeting Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, brushed off Iran’s aggressive stance on price:
“You are preoccupied by Iran and that is not a good preoccupation,” he said. “You know what is going to happen if the price goes to $20? You know how many countries would be out of producing, including shale oil, including Canadian sands oil, including subsalt oil. All of that will be gone.
Brent was trading down 42 cents at $112.20 a barrel by mid-morning in London.
The following seven minutes of mayhem look eerily reminiscent of the violent pre-ambles to the middle-east’s recent coups or non-coups. As anti-government protesters demonstrated against the shunning of a European trade agreement (President Yanukovych – “I will not allow any serious economic losses and decline of living standards”); the clashes became ever more violent as the police cracked down. Following heavyweight boxing champion (and opposition leader) Vitali Klitschko’s call for a new government – “our main task is Yanukovych’s resignation. But the first step is the resignation of Azarov’s government” – the clashes left at least 265 people injured. The crackdown followed Interior Minister comments that they “won’t allow Ukraine to become another Libya or Tunisia, where uprisings toppled governments in recent years.” Of course, the main difference is the Ukraine is now squarely under Putin’s sphere of influence.
0:20 Initial fireworks followed by police flash-bangs and tear gas…
1:45 Some standard police beatings
3:00 Ubiquitous projectile exchange
3:30 Police charge…
4:30 Serious police beatings handed out
5:30 The two fronts stare each other down
6:00 Serious police reinforcements
Assassination pushes Libya towards civil war two years after Gaddafi death | World news | The Observer
Libya marks the second anniversary of the death of Muammar Gaddafi with the country on the brink of a new civil war and fighting raging in the eastern city of Benghazi, birthplace of its Arab spring revolution.
Violence between radical militias and regular forces broke out on Friday night and continued yesterday, while the capital Tripoli is braced for fallout from the kidnapping earlier this month of prime minister Ali Zaidan. Federalists in Cyrenaica, home to most of Libya’s oil, open their own independent parliament in Benghazi this week, in a step that may herald the breakup of the country.
For months, radical militias and regular forces in Benghazi have fought a tit-for-tat war. Last week two soldiers had their throats slit as they slept in an army base. But Friday’s killing of Libya’s military police commander, Ahmed al-Barghathi, shot as he left a mosque, has became the trigger for wider violence. Hours after an assassination branded a “heinous act” by US ambassador Deborah Jones, armed units stormed the Benghazi home of a prominent militia commander, Wissam Ben Hamid, with guns and rockets.
Fighting continued into the night, with army units heading for the home of a second militia commander, Ahmed Abu Khattala, indicted by the US for the killing of US ambassador Chris Stevens last year. There, they were turned back by powerful militia units.
“There’s fighting everywhere, checkpoints everywhere, I’ve moved my wife and children to somewhere safe,” said one Benghazi businessman, Mohammed, who declined to give his second name.
Ben Hamid went on live television to insist he had no role in the killing of al-Barghathi, and vowed reprisals against those who destroyed his home.
Libya’s militias are in the spotlight as never before, in a country racked by violence and economic stagnation. Zaidan has blamed the Revolutionaries Control Room, headquarters for the biggest militia – Libya Shield – for his kidnapping 10 days ago, promising harsh measures once the Eid religious holiday week ends.
Shield forces deployed in the capital denied staging the abduction, but their units were this weekend fortifying their positions in fear of attack.
The trigger for this spiralling violence was the arrest two weeks ago by Delta Force commandos of al-Qaida suspect, Anas al Liby, from his Tripoli home. That arrest has polarised opinion between supporters and opponents of Zeidan, and Nato, which bombed the rebels to victory in the 2011 Arab spring, has found itself in the hot seat over plans to train a new government army. Britain is to join the US and Italy in training Libyan army cadres at a base in Cambridgeshire.
- Obama’s Libya Working Out About as Well as We Expected (theuniversalspectator.wordpress.com)
- Assassination pushes Libya towards civil war two years after Gaddafi death (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
- Libya On The Brink Of Civil War (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- Gunman assassinate Libya commander (bbc.co.uk)
- News From Occupied Libya 16-20/10/2013 (libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com)
The murder of three people in Moscow has brought to the surface the increasing hatred felt towards immigrants in Russia.
|The tendency to blame the migrants is misguided. If you look at the detentions after the riots, the Russian government detained 1,200 migrants … on the outskirts of Moscow … and more than 1,000 of them were documented. They had proper visas, and they were fine. So the problem is more complex than the illegal migration.
Innokenty Grekov, a programme associate on Hate Crimes at Human Rights First
Chanting “Russia for Russians”, several thousand people began rioting in Moscow after an ethnic Russian was murdered in front of his girlfriend.
The killing, blamed on a man from Azerbaijan, caused some of the worst race riots in years.
Police arrested more than 1,000 people – mostly migrants. Since then, two men, one Azeri and one Uzbek, have also been murdered.
In a recent survey, almost nine out of ten Russians said they want to limit immigration.
“The influx of labour migrants is an economic necessity. Russia does not have enough workforce. The Russian government delivers to the people, their incomes have been growing over the years and Russian residents do not seem willing to take manual hard labour … In Moscow … unemployment is zero, which means indeed that this influx of migrants is a necessity,” Maria Lipman, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, says.
But according to a Ukrainian polling institute, 86 percent of the Russians questioned feel their government should limit the influx of foreign workers. Nine percent felt there was no need; and five percent felt it was hard to say.
But when asked if the government should actively support integration, 43 percent said ‘yes’, 45 percent said ‘no’; and 12 percent said it was hard to say.
Immigration is seen by many as a threat to the stability of Russian society. The mayor of Moscow reportedly said that Moscow would be the world’s safest city if there was no immigration, which includes, he says, the arrival from internal immigrants from inside Russia.
Why are some Russian officials stoking xenophobia? What are the root causes of rising anti-immigration sentiment in Russia and what are Moscow’s plans to do something about it?
To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton, is joined by guests: Sergey Frolov, the deputy editor-in-chief of Trud newspaper; Maria Lipman, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center; and Innokenty Grekov, a programme associate on hate crimes at Human Rights First.
|“This problem has three roots. First of all the illegal immigration, the second one is the high level of bribery among the russian and especially Moscow police. And the third one is [that] the people who came here to live and to work, they don’t like to be adapted, to communicate with local people … They didn’t even try to assimilate in Russia because normally these people live in legal flats and they live in very small circles together with their relatives and their friends and they try not to communicate with the people outside. That’s why there is no understanding between each other.”|
- Moscow Suburb Riot Shows Russia’s Tense Ties With Migrants (npr.org)
- Over 1000 migrants rounded up after being targeted in Moscow riot – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Nationalist Riots In Moscow Send Fear Through Muslim Migrant Communities (rferl.org)
- Migrant worker killed after race riots in Moscow (theguardian.com)
Thousands of Portugese took the streets of Portugal’s two most populated cities to demonstrate against planned cuts of pensions and salaries.
Saturday’s demonstrations are a response to the government’s decision to extend austerity measures in the 2014 budget.
In Lisbon, hundreds of buses slowly crossed the April 25th bridge in a protest organised by Portugal’s main labor group, the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers. In the northern city of Porto, thousands gathered in the main square shouting anti-austerity slogans.
Portugal, currently engaged in an international aid programme, is focusing next year’s fiscal efforts on spending cuts, reducing state pensions and cutting public workers’ wages.
Unemployed teacher Sofia took part in the protest to ask for government resignation.
“I’m here to fight for more work and better wages and against this government’s austerity measures, so I want them to leave together with the Troika,” Sofia said referring to the trio of European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank in charge of handling bailouts of distressed euro zone countries.
“I am a retired civil servant and I’m suffering from the cuts. I worked and studied to earn more than 2,500 euros without any government help and now they are cutting my pension,” pensioner Maria Barreto said.
The country’s 78-billion-euro bailout formally ends in mid-2014 when Portugal should return to financing itself normally in bond markets, which it stopped doing in 2011 when its debt crisis first hit.
Seeking a better future Ricardo Pereira travelled from Torres Novas to Lisbon: “I’m here to fight for a better future for me and for the next generation and against this government’s austerity measures.”
The budget aims to slash the budget deficit to 4 percent of GDP next year from 5.9 percent in 2013. It may still face challenges from the Constitutional Court that has previously rejected some government austerity measures.
Libya has called for an explanation after the US snatched a man it alleges is an al-Qaeda leader during a raid in Tripoli.
Ali Zeidan, Libya’s prime minister, suggested on Sunday that his government was not informed of the plan before US commandos seized Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Liby, in the Libyan capital on Saturday.
“The Libyan government is following the news of the kidnapping of a Libyan citizen who is wanted by US authorities,” Zeidan said in a statement. “The Libyan government has contacted to US authorities to ask them to provide an explanation.”
Liby is wanted by the US for his alleged role in the East Africa embassy bombings that killed 224 people in 1998. The US had offered $5m for information leading to his capture.
‘Libyan special forces’
Mohammed El-Hadi, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tripoli, quoted Liby’s wife as saying that he was seized as he headed to morning prayer by eight to 10 masked men….
- Libya calls for US raid explanation (bbc.co.uk)
- Tripoli protests US ‘kidnap’ of Libyan in Qaeda raid (dailystar.com.lb)
- Libya’s PM demands explanation for U.S. raid in Tripoli (worldbulletin.net)