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US And Israel Quietly Provide Military Support And Parts To Iran, Which In Turn Is Arming Syria | Zero Hedge

US And Israel Quietly Provide Military Support And Parts To Iran, Which In Turn Is Arming Syria | Zero Hedge.

Before the Ukraine, there was Syria. Before Syria, there was Iran. For over 30 years, Iran was the perpetual strawman of every attempt to escalate hostilities in the middle east. One only needs to recall that the original “red line” was not Obama’s but that of Israel’s PM Netanyahu referring to Iran’s nuclear program (which most likely was under the control of Stuxnet, and thus the NSA, more than it was Iran’s to begin with).

What is surprising in recent months, is how quickly in the aftermath of the Syrian failed escalation script from last summer, Iran quickly dropped off the axis of America’s worst enemies, and from the biggest bogeyman, has rapidly become a nation with which the US is eager to resume diplomatic and trade relations. Sure, Israel pretended to be angry about Iran’s ascent in the ranks of US foreign allies-to-be, and issued a few angry press releases, but that’s all it was – posturing, fit only for the front page of tabloids. It is what was happening behind the scenes that is noteworthy.

And what is happening behind the scenes is the same thing that happens every time the US (or Israel, or any other western nations) finds a surprising new ally: said ally proceeds to purchase military equipment from the US (or other western nations), using loans from the US (or other western nation banks).

Enter bizarre twist #1 – US companies selling military parts to none other than the formerly country non grata (at least until mid-2013): Iran. Reuters reports:

U.S. aerospace companies are seeking permission to sell airliner parts to Iran for the first time in three decades, in a key test of the temporary relief on sanctions given under talks to curtail Iran’s nuclear activities.

 

At least two leading manufacturers, Boeing and engine maker General Electric, have applied for export licenses in a six-month window agreed by Iran and six world powers in November, industry officials and other sources familiar with the matter said.

 

If approved, the sales would be the first acknowledged dealings between U.S. aerospace companies and Iran since the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis led to sanctions that were later broadened during the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities.

 

A source familiar with the matter said that Boeing, the world’s biggest manufacturer of passenger jets, had also filed a request for permission to export parts to Iran.

 

Boeing declined to comment, referring questions to the U.S. State Department, which in turn referred queries to the U.S. Treasury. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which enforces international sanctions, declined to comment on specific license requests or applications.

Enter bizarre twist # 2 – “GE is doing it for the kids.”

A GE spokesman said his company had been asking since 2004 for permission to provide parts and maintenance for engines for safety reasons, without profiting from the scheme. GE, the world’s largest maker of jet engines by sales, refiled its request after the sanctions relief came into force, he added.

 

“We don’t want to make a penny on it. It’s entirely for flight safety,” Rick Kennedy said, adding that GE would donate any proceeds to charity.

But of course, because when one thinks suing the US to get tax refunds corporate generosity (if not bailouts), one thinks GE.

Enter bizarre twist # 3 – it is not only the US that is seeking to promptly capitalize on this “temporary” elimination of Iran sanctions. It is Iran’s perpetual nemesis, Israel, that is not only planning to supply weapons to Iran, but is already doing so. However, unlike the US which at least has clumsily stumbled upon a detente whose only purpose is logically to get Iran to buy Made in America weapons, with Israel the hypocrisy takes on a whole new meaning. Quote the Telegraph:

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, called for increased pressure on Iran to force it to abandon a programme that Israel regards as a front for building an atomic bomb and a threat to its existence.

 

Visiting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, he accused Iran of “arming those who are carrying out the slaughter” in neighbouring Syria.  “I would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character. Iran is continuing to support the Assad regime, which is slaughtering its own people,” Mr Netanyahu said.

And this is where it gets embarrassing for Bibi: it was Israel that was arming Iran.

[A] court in Athens has told The Telegraph that parts appearing on an American list of forbidden military-grade materials had been shipped from Israel on two occasions, apparently destined for Iran.

 

The seized items comprised spare parts for military aircraft: a constant speed drive designed for the F-4 Phantom jet, and a voltage output sensor used in the F-14 Tomcat. The parts were confiscated by Greece’s financial crimes squad and were being sent to the US for investigation, court officials said.

 

 

Israeli arms dealers twice tried to send spare parts for fighter planes to Iran, The Telegraph has established, flouting an international arms embargo and openly contradicting the bitter enmity between the Jewish state and the Islamic regime.

 

The illegal shipments are now being investigated by the US Homeland Security Department after they were intercepted by authorities in Greece.

 

The shipments – one in Dec 2012 and the other last April – were sent by courier from the Israeli town of Binyamina-Givat Ada, near Haifa, via a company in Greece, the newspaper reported. The firm was later established to be a ghost company. Its contact number was said to belong to a British national in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, who could not be traced.

Was Mossad involved? But of course.

A blogger, Richard Silverstein pointed the finger at two possible culprits who he said were well-known arms dealers living in Binyamina-Givat Ada. The pair had come to the attention of Israeli and US authorities on suspicion of violating the arms embargo on Iran in the past, Silverstein wrote, but had never been charged or prosecuted. “There can be no doubt that they are colluding with Israeli intelligence,” he added.

For those who are not convinced, “The defence and foreign ministries in Israel declined to comment on the seizures, which were first revealed by Kathimerini, a Greek newspaper. 

Finally, tying it all together, is another report from Reuters. in which we learn that “as Syria’s war nears the start of its fourth year, Iran has stepped up support on the ground for President Bashar al-Assad, providing elite teams to gather intelligence and train troops, sources with knowledge of military movements say.

This further backing from Tehran, along with deliveries of munitions and equipment from Moscow, is helping to keep Assad in power at a time when neither his own forces nor opposition fighters have a decisive edge on the battlefield.

Assad’s forces have failed to capitalize fully on advances they made last summer with the help of Iran, his major backer in the region, and the Hezbollah fighters that Tehran backs and which have provided important battlefield support for Assad.

 

But the Syrian leader has drawn comfort from the withdrawal of the threat of U.S. bombing raids following a deal under which he has agreed to give up his chemical weapons.

 

Shi’te Iran has already spent billions of dollars propping up Assad in what has turned into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states. And while the presence of Iranian military personnel in Syria is not new, military experts believe Tehran has in recent months sent in more specialists to enable Assad to outlast his enemies at home and abroad.

 

Assad’s forces have failed to capitalize fully on advances they made last summer with the help of Iran, his major backer in the region, and the Hezbollah fighters that Tehran backs and which have provided important battlefield support for Assad.

 

But the Syrian leader has drawn comfort from the withdrawal of the threat of U.S. bombing raids following a deal under which he has agreed to give up his chemical weapons.

 

Shi’te Iran has already spent billions of dollars propping up Assad in what has turned into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states. And while the presence of Iranian military personnel in Syria is not new, military experts believe Tehran has in recent months sent in more specialists to enable Assad to outlast his enemies at home and abroad.

To summarize: in an act of complete disregard for the official diplomatic song and dance, both Israel and the US are now providing military support to Iran, which in turn is providing military support to Syria, which is also getting military support from Russia. And now, just to make things more interesting, the same labyrinth of “military support” is about to be unleashed in the Ukraine, whose western half is just as likely getting arms and military equipment (not to mention funding)from the West under the table, while Russia, whose main Black Sea port is in the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, is arming the Eastern part of the Ukraine.

What can possibly go wrong?

Russia Angered At Ukraine Government Vote To Remove President After “I Won’t Resign” Comments | Zero Hedge

Russia Angered At Ukraine Government Vote To Remove President After “I Won’t Resign” Comments | Zero Hedge.

UPDATE

Remember that (laughable) agreement that was signed less than 24 hours ago and was grandly endorsed by all European nations, and which delineated the next legal presidential election sometime between September and December? Good times.

With 328 (of the 450 seats) voting in favor, the Ukraine parliament has agreed to removed President Viktor Yanukovych:

  • *UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO REMOVE PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH
  • *UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO HOLD EARLY ELECTIONS ON MAY 25

“Yanukovych, in an illegal manner, removed himself from his constitutional duties,” Turchynov says in chamber before vote. The Russians are not at all happy with Siluanov exclaiming these actions “pose a direct threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty and constitutional order.”

As Martin Armstrong warns:

I believe the nation will survive divided for there is far too much resentment to simply put this all behind and walk forward. Divide Ukraine along the historical language faultline and there is a chance to calm things down. Otherwise, this will flare up and take others with it.

My position is consistent – ALL governments are only a necessary evil. They should never be allowed to have such power over the people for it will also be abused to sustain that same power. It does not matter what form of government – they are all the same.

It would appear we are getting closer to a divided/split nation…

+++++++++++++++

In the minds of so many western journalists, yesterday’s “deal” to reform the constitution, hold new elections in 10 months or so, and generally all ‘just get along’ was a victory but this morning it is clear that very little has changed.

  • *YANUKOVYCH SAYS HE WON’T LEAVE UKRAINE OR RESIGN: INTERFAX

Late last night Ukraine time, President Yanukovych (and some of his key advisers) fled Kiev (amid so-called threats) and headed to the eastern part of the country. Then following rumors he would resign, he stated in a TV address that he would not and that pro-EU forces had staged a “coup d’etat”. This has left a troubled nation with just as divided a future as protesters have taken back control of Kiev.

Russia is not happy; blaming extremists for threatening order.

  • *RUSSIA URGES GERMANY, POLAND FRANCE TO INFLUENCE UKRAINE OPPOS.
  • *RUSSIA SAYS UKRAINE OPPOSITION FAILED TO FULFILL OBLIGATIONS
  • *RUSSIA SAYS UKRAINE OPPOSITION THREATENS SOVEREIGNTY, ORDER
  • *RUSSIA SAYS UKRAINE OPPOSITION `FOLLOWING LEAD OF EXTREMISTS’

The government has moved in his absence:

  • *UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER TURCHYNOV SPEAKS IN ASSEMBLY
  • *UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO REMOVE PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH
  • *UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO HOLD EARLY ELECTIONS ON MAY 25
  • *UKRAINE PARLT VOTES TO REMOVE PRESIDENT WITH 328 OF 450 SEATS

Putin will not be happy:

Russia’s foreign minister on Saturday accused Ukraine’s opposition of failing to fulfill its side of a peace deal intended to end the nation’s political crisis and urged Western mediators to intervene.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called his German, French and Polish counterparts, who helped broker Friday’s agreement between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. Yanukovych agreed to hold early elections this fall and surrender much of his powers, but opposition supporters have kept pushing for his immediate dismissal.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov urged his counterparts to use their influence with the Ukrainian opposition, which he said “not only has failed to fulfill any of its obligations, but keeps making new demands under the influence of armed extremists and rioters.”

Their actions “pose a direct threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty and constitutional order,” he said.

Via WSJ,

From Deal to Defection…

*YANUKOVYCH SAYS SOME PARTY MEMBERS DEFECT IN BETRAYAL: UBR TV

Government authority appeared to melt away Saturday, leaving protesters in control of the capital’s center. President Viktor Yanukovych left the capital for a city in the country’s Russian-speaking east and said he would work to prevent the country from splitting up.

In a television interview Saturday afternoon in Kharkiv, where Russian-speaking supporters had gathered, Mr. Yanukovych denounced the events in Kiev as a “coup d’etat” that he blamed on “bandits.” He said he wasn’t stepping down and vowed to remain inside the country. He said parliament’s decisions today are “illegal” and that he would refuse to sign them. Asked about his plans, he said he will travel in the Russian-speaking south and east of the country, “where for the moment it’s less dangerous.”

Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko earlier had called on parliament to vote to oust Mr. Yanukovych and announce presidential elections in May, as police withdrew from the center of the capital Saturday.

Ukraine opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was expected to be released from prison within hours, according to a spokeswoman for the opposition.

The army has said it will not get involved…

*UKRAINE MILITARY, DEFENSE MINISTRY `REMAIN FAITHFUL TO PEOPLE’
*UKRAINE DEFENSE MIN: ARMY WON’T BE INVOLVED IN GOVT CONFLICT

Opposition leaders signed a peace deal with Mr. Yanukovych Friday after dozens were killed in clashes between protesters and police. The deal proposed power sharing and presidential elections by the end of the year. But protesters weren’t satisfied and called for his immediate ouster.

In Kiev on Saturday, volunteer security brigades from among the protesters took over security at government buildings, and journalists reported around 300 people had entered Mr. Yanukovych’s opulent suburban residence without resistance.

Oleh Tyahnybok, an opposition leader, called on parliament to adopt a resolution calling on police and protesters’ “self-defense” forces to work to prevent looting in Kiev and other cities.

Outside the Kiev headquarters of Ukraine’s security service, plain-clothed men wearing earpieces stood at the street corners, eying those who passed. They wouldn’t say who they worked for.

With truckloads of activists armed with baseball bats driving the streets of Kiev, the security service appeared to be taking no chances. In the interior lobby and parking lot of the building, fire hoses and fire extinguishers were piled in the corners.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that “it serves only the Ukrainian people and fully shares the desire of citizens for immediate change.” It called for cooperation from all sides to ensure public order.

A power vaccum has developed…

Opposition lawmakers in parliament called for calm amid concerns over a power vacuum, calling on state officials and religious and civic leaders to work together to ensure order.

Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Rybak, a close ally of Mr. Yanukovych, handed in his resignation Saturday. Lawmakers elected opposition leader Olexander Turchinov to replace him. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the opposition could muster sufficient support to vote Mr. Yanukovych out.

The European Union is prepared to offer Ukraine financial support, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said on Saturday.

If there is a reform-minded government in Ukraine, we will work with the international community and international financial institutions to support Ukraine,” Mr. Barroso told German newspaper “Welt am Sonntag.”

Argentina Scrambles To Raise $10 Billion, Avoid Reserve Collapse; BONARs Bidless | Zero Hedge

Argentina Scrambles To Raise $10 Billion, Avoid Reserve Collapse; BONARs Bidless | Zero Hedge.

A few days ago, in the aftermath of Argentina’s shocking devaluation announcement, we showed the one most important chart for the future of that country’s economy: the correlation between the value of the Arg Peso and the amount of Central Bank foreign reserves, both crashing. And as we predicted when we, before anyone else, started our countdown of Argentina’s reserves, once the number hits zero it’s game over for the Latin American country. Or rather, game over again, considering the number of times in the past Argentina has defaulted. Unfortunately over the past week, things for the Central Bank have gone from bad to worse and were capped overnight with the following headline:

  • ARGENTINE CENTRAL BANK SAYS RESERVES FELL $170M TO 28.1B TODAY

To summarize: Argentina has now burned through $2 billion in less than two weeks, the fastest outflow since 2006, and a trend which if sustained (and we see no reason why it would change), means it has just over half a year left of reserves projecting a linear decline. However, since the lower the amount of reserves, the faster the withdrawals will come, it is safe to predict that the endgame for Argentina will come far sooner, just as its suddenly crashing bonds seem to have realized.

Which is perhaps why, as Argentina’s La Nacion reports, the country is suddenly, and long overdue, scrambling to raise $10 billion to “counter the flight of capital” from the country.

 Alas, it just may be too late.

According to the website, Argentina’s economy minister Axel Kicillof secretly approached international banks, the same one he has been criticizing over the past months, with a simple request: please give me $10 billion. Alas, considering the country’s track record of “honoring” its debt repayment promises, not even promising the required interest rate of +? will do much to generate interest in this particular offer banks can not refuse. Or, rather, can and will.

From La Nacion, Google translated:

Nacion reporters say that the meeting was held in strictest confidence, just in the days before major upheaval in the exchange market. When asked about it, the Economy Ministry spokesman did not confirm nor denied the information, in ABA did not respond to calls from this newspaper.

 

It is imperative for Argentina to get the dollars that can counter the flight of capital, which in January alone cost the Central Bank (BCRA) U.S. $ 2.499 billion of its reserves. It was the biggest drop since 2006, when the country repaid its entire debt of more than U.S. $ 9 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

The minister confided bankers requesting leave to look for dollars abroad, either by issuing new debt or through commercial credit lines that banks could get. Some entities, according to sources consulted by the NATION, and would have set to work to organize a tour to Kicillof investment to New York this month.

In other words, Argentina will be meeting Goldman shortly. So, in the aftermath of the Denmark Dong affair, we can probably expect another government “overhaul” in a few months, mediated by everyone’s favorite vampire squid who is about to make Argentina an offer it can’t refuse. Or maybe even Goldman won’t touch this any more:

The order of Kicillof, noted the sources, was debated this week between ABA bankers. Although they pledged to work in private they also recognized that it will be difficult in the current context for Argentina to access fresh funding at a reasonable rate of interest and, especially, in the amounts the Government needs, somewhere around U.S. $ 10,000 million.

It gets worse:

In addition, they assert, although the Government intends to solve their conflicts with the Paris Club and Repsol, the devaluation of 18.6% recorded in January, the highest in the last 12 years,quite complicated negotiations, and that sowed new doubts about the ability to repay debt Argentina.

Yes, well, losing 20% of your investment “gains” overnight due to an arbitrary decision by the government does kinda make one want to invest in said government for a bit to quite a bit. As for the inflationary panic that has already gripped the country, and which we already commented on, well – it’s only just begun.

Still, all of the above is largely expected, and was perfectly predictable by anyone not caught up in overconsumption of hopium pills, or having their head stuck in the sand of denial. The one thing wedid learn is something which will soon make the front pages of all serious media publications around the globe.

After sharp declines in recent weeks, a sovereign dollar bond Bonar 17 yielded 16.2% yesterday…. Several weeks ago Kicillof announced his intentions to return to the debt markets. The National Social Security Administration (Anses) began in early January to sell their bonds in the market Bonar 18 to contain the escalation of the “dollar bag” on one hand, but also to begin to make a curve in the medium term rates.

Curious what the BONAR is?  Courtesy of this handy glossary of Argentine financial terms and acronyms, we now know that it is the formal name of an Argentina dollar-denominated bond issued under domestic law. Or, as in the case of Greece, precisely the instrument that will quite soon be crammed down due to non-existent covenant protection for creditors.

In other words, in a worst case for Argentina scenario, watch as hundreds of millions of BONARs suddenly deflate to nothing in a bidless market.

‘Musing’: Local Growth Myth

Giant tailings waste "pond" produced by the Suncor Millenium and Steepbank operations.

Giant tailings waste “pond” produced by the Suncor Millenium and Steepbank operations, Alberta.

I have made use of our local community newspaper (Stouffville Sun-Tribune) to voice my opinion on a number of issues. From a guest editorial to letters to the editor (see this and this  as examples). And, when one of the columns writers threw out a challenge to  readers to share visions of all the positive changes that the Town should envision as we continue to grow at one of the highest rates in all of Canada (see this), I had to respond. The following is the text of that response:

Re your Off the Top column, More to the east, please.
I just want to challenge the implicit assumption in your column regarding input from citizens on future growth ideals. Your framing of the question, with only ‘positive’ attributes as examples of the consequences of growth, implies that growth is solely a positive force, something that always benefits us.
I would have to challenge that presumption. There is accumulating evidence that, in fact, growth is detrimental to the planet and society in general.
The ‘growth culture’ we have as an unstated assumption about how the world works is based on only a couple of centuries of quick sociopolitical and economic change on a global scale. More and more are arguing that this phenomenal growth has been due to the extraction and exploitation of cheap and easily-accessible fossil fuels. The rapid use of this resource has resulted in a number of consequences, some intended and some not. There have been amazing technological changes and healthcare ‘advances,’ but there has also been greater wealth disparity, environmental degradation, and violence on a global scale.
In any kind of discussion on growth, we need to not only be aware of these negative consequences (and these cannot be avoided, otherwise they would have been by now), but we also need to include them in our worldview and question the prevailing assumption that growth is good.
The late Donella Meadows, co-writer of a very respected study in 1972 entitled The Limits to Growth, wrote in a book on Complexity Theory, that humans often discount the negative aspects of growth, focusing instead in the immediate, short-term gains that can be made; and, that we often push growth in the wrong direction, making worse the social ‘issues’ we try to ‘fix’ through increased growth.

So, a question I’d like to pose to readers in this discussion is this: given the other side of the coin, do we really want the growth targets imposed by the ‘state?’ Or do we tell our leaders to stop now, while there is some ‘country’ left in the Town.

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