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Argentina should be self-sufficient in energy in five/six years says YPF

MercoPress | March 18, 2013

Argentina’s energy self-sufficiency can be expected in five to six years said Miguel Galuccio, CEO of YPF, the oil and gas corporation which was nationalized a year ago when the government of President Cristina Fernandez seized a 51% majority from Spain’s Repsol.

CEO Miguel Galuccio is hoping to develop the Vaca Muerta shale deposits CEO Miguel Galuccio is hoping to develop the Vaca Muerta shale deposits

“We can think of recovering self-sufficiency in oil and gas in 5 to 6 years”, said Galuccio who pointed out that “much depends on planning, an investment plan and putting all our energy to substitute all we are purchasing now with local energy which will be far cheaper”.

YPF is planning to invest 5bn dollars in “exploration and production of gas and oil” said Galuccio. “We need to transform those reserve resources so that they become exploitable. In 2013 we are planning to drill 113 wells to generate the sufficient scale production so that it becomes profitable”.

“If we can manage to exploit Vaca Muerta we can think of a 20/25 year horizon in reserves” he added in reference to the non conventional shale oil reserves in the province of Neuquen considered some of the largest in the world.

However despite the long path to self sufficiency that lies ahead, Galuccio said that YPF has managed to stop the decline of production after several years. According to YPF crude production last year was up 2.2% compared to a downfall of 7.6% in 2011, while gas production was down 2.3% compared to a contraction of 10.2% in 2011.

YPF that has announced a long term investment of 7bn dollars annually from 2013 to 2017 is currently under the Argentine government control since las May when Congress approved a bill nationalizing 51% of Repsol shares, which nevertheless retains 12% of the current package.

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ever-Closing Windows and Biden Time on Iran at AIPAC

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | March 17, 2013

After a brief respite from incessant warmongering nonsense following the reelection of Barack Obama in November 2012, it appears old rhetorical devices have reemerged. With a vengeance.

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing his minions at AIPAC via video chat on March 4, spent a bunch of his time saying supposedly scary things about “Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons” and dismissing negotiations.

“I have to tell you the truth,” he told the fawning crowd. “Diplomacy has not worked. Iran ignores all these offers. It is running out the clock.” He continued:

Iran enriches more and more uranium. It installs faster and faster centrifuges. It’s still not crossed the red line I drew at the United Nations last September. But Iran is getting closer to that line, and it’s putting itself in a position to cross that line very quickly once it decides to do so.

Netanyahu deliberately ignored the fact that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium remains far from weapons-grade and that Iran has, for over a year now, been systematically converting much of its 19.75% enriched stock to fuel plates that precludes the possibility of being diverted to military purposes.

Of course, the fact that Iran has an inalienable legal right to a fully-functioning nuclear energy program – including the indigenous mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle – was not addressed at all. For Netanyahu and his acolytes, any Iranian nuclear program is synonymous with a weapons program – and not only that, but a weapons program designed to “exterminate” Israel’s “Jewish people.” Facts remain irrelevant. Hasbara reigns.

Netanyahu once again demonstrated his complete disregard for the tenets of the United Nations Charter by calling for Iran to be explicitly threatened with a military attack if it doesn’t comply with absurd Israeli demands. He insisted “with the clarity of my brain” (whatever that means) that “words alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail.”

Addressing the same audience, Vice President Joe Biden also spoke at length about “Iran’s dangerous nuclear weapons program,” which the U.S. intelligence community and its allies, including Israel, have long assessed doesn’t exist.

The consensus view of all 16 American intelligence agencies has maintained since 2007 that Iran ceased whatever research into nuclear weaponization it may have conducted by 2003, and has never resumed that work. The NIE has been consistently reaffirmed ever since (in 2009, 2010, and again in 2011).

In early 2012, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, stated in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, “We do not know…if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” The same day, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Ronald Burgess said that “the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict” and maintained that Iran’s military doctrine is defensive in nature and designed only for deterrence.

Clapper repeated this conclusion verbatim just last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Moreover, the IAEA itself continually confirms that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program and has stated it has “no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons program.”(emphasis added)

Undeterred by facts or reason, Biden continued to tell the AIPAC fanatics that “Iraq’s [sic] acquisition of a nuclear weapon not only would present an existential threat to Israel, it would present a threat to our allies and our partners — and to the United States. And it would trigger an arms race — a nuclear arms race in the region, and make the world a whole lot less stable.”  Biden made sure to repeat the mantra that “all options, including military force, are on the table” when it comes to Iran.

First, Biden’s Iraq/Iran slip wasn’t merely Freudian. Since the Iraq script from a decade ago is nearly identical to the Iran script now, it’s unsurprising that Biden can’t keep his manufactured threats straight.  One need only recall Biden’s claims on Meet The Press in August 2002 that Saddam Hussein constituted “a long term threat and a short term threat to our national security” and “an extreme danger to the world.” Consequently, said Biden, “We have no choice but to eliminate the threat.”

Years later, on the same program, Biden stood by his statements.  When asked by Tim Russert about weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist, Biden blithely insisted that “everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them. He catalogued—they catalogued them. This was not some, some Cheney, you know, pipe dream. This was, in fact, catalogued. They looked at them and catalogued. What he did with them, who knows?”

Biden was lying, of course.

International weapons inspectors had been perfectly clear about what “he did with them.”  After losing the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq’s weapons programs were subject to intrusive inspections and international sanctions.  By 1998, the IAEA concluded that “there is no indication that Iraq possesses nuclear weapons or any meaningful amounts of weapon-useable nuclear material.”  The next year, the UN Security Council affirmed that UN weapons inspectors “have been effective in uncovering and destroying many elements of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes,” adding, “The bulk of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated.”

In 2000, UN inspector Scott Ritter explained that “as early as 1997” it was possible “to determine that, from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq had been disarmed. Iraq no longer possessed any meaningful quantities of chemical or biological agent…and the industrial means to produce these agents had either been eliminated or were subject to stringent monitoring. The same was true of Iraq’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.”

In July 2002, as calls for war grew louder, Ritter wrote in the Boston Globe that “the Bush administration provides only speculation, failing to detail any factually based information to bolster its claims concerning Iraq’s continued possession of or ongoing efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. To date no one has held the Bush administration accountable for its unwillingness – or inability – to provide such evidence.”

When, days later, then Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden convened hearings to assess the threat posed by Iraq and implications of a potential U.S.-led attack, Ritter called the hearings a “sham” and said the Delaware Senator and “most of the Congressional leadership have pre-ordained a conclusion that seeks to remove Saddam Hussein from power regardless of the facts, and are using these hearings to provide political cover for a massive military attack on Iraq.”

Such is Joe Biden’s penchant for telling the truth.  Returning to his comments at AIPAC, Biden’s recent fear-mongering hypotheticals about Iran are also wrong.

Beyond being obvious that Iran poses literally no threat to the United States, numerous Israeli military and intelligence officials openly reject the notion that a nuclear-armed Iran would “present an existential threat to Israel.” Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy recently told the UK Zionist Federation that Israel’s existence “is not in danger and shouldn’t be questioned.”

Furthermore, Biden’s axiomatic contention that an Iranian nuclear bomb would spark a regional arms race has also been rejected for years by less hysterical analysts. In fact, Biden made his comments soon after the publication of a new report by the Center for a New American Security which judged the scenario extremely unlikely.

For obvious reasons, Biden claimed that the United States is “not looking for war” and prefers “a diplomatic solution” to the impasse over Iranian nuclear program.  Still, he said, the “window is closing” for a negotiated outcome, after which military action would be taken.

This formulation has been echoed by senior Obama officials of late, including both Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

The window has apparently been closing for some time now and yet, incredibly, Iran never gets any closer to actually having the nuclear weapon it isn’t building and that it constantly insists it doesn’t want.

In early June 2009, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak privately told a visiting Congressional delegation in Tel Aviv that there was an estimated “window between 6 and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable.”  A month later, Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen warned that the “window is closing” on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He declared that Iran was only one to three years away from successfully building a nuclear weapon and “is very focused on developing this capability.”

With history repeating itself (remember in early 2001 when the Department of Defense reported, that “Iraq would need five or more years and key foreign assistance to rebuild the infrastructure to enrich enough material for a nuclear weapon”?), it remains crucial to assess facts rather than blindly accept propaganda, to recall the lessons of the past in order to avoid future blunders and to know – unequivocally – that the implications and consequences of the pathological Iraqization of Iran inevitably lead to the commission of murderous war crimes, not merely Freudian slips.

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Media Morality

By John Andrews | Dissident Voice | March 18th, 2013

The editorial page of last Saturday’s Times led with the following headline: “Arm the Rebels”.

Editorials seldom have the name of the writer attached to them, which is possibly very useful in the case of this particular article. The piece refers to the suggestion that the British government is poised to begin (officially) supplying military hardware to the militants who are at war with the Syrian government. The article insists that the government get on with doing so… and that, my friends, is incitement to break international law. Chapter one of the UN Charter (an international law), article two, paragraph 4 reads:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

No resolution demanding the overthrow of President Assad has been passed by the general assembly of the United Nations – nor even its cynical “security” council. The UK is a founder member of the United Nations and it really ought not to be breaking its own laws: what sort of example is that to be setting to the plebs? Of course lawyers would argue that the law does not specifically forbid the provision of military hardware to militant anti-government extremists. However, such an action could be said to be an “other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations” – one of which is clearly stated in article one paragraph one as “to maintain peace and security”.

The Times editorial opens its argument with a subheading that reads:

“It is no longer strategically or morally tenable to stand by while Iran and Russia ship weapons to the Assad regime for use against Syrian rebels and civilians.”

As with so many articles in the Times, the content fails to deliver what is promised in the heading. We see not one word of evidence to justify the use of the word “strategically”. Why is the situation in Syria of any “strategic” importance to the interests of sixty million people in a country 3,000 miles away, with no significant economic or diplomatic links? The Times gives no answer.

As for morality, well… what can you say? Here we are being lectured on morality by someone who is openly calling for our government to break international law; and a quick glance at Britain’s “allies” in its disgraceful adventure in Syria is instructive. The anti-Assad militants are said to be resourced extensively from icons of freedom and democracy such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia which, by the way, just happened to be carrying out some routine executions of some men convicted of theft (some of whom were just juveniles when the crimes were committed) during a chummy visit by Prince Charles. But the morality of making allies of dictatorial tyrants who routinely murder their own country’s children doesn’t seem overly to trouble the Times. Who said satire was dead?

As for the argument about standing by “while Iran and Russia ship weapons to the Assad regime” … there’s one small flaw in that point. The Assad “regime” happens to be the legitimate government of Syria. It’s perfectly within its rights to buy whatever it likes from whomever it likes – cynical trade sanctions notwithstanding, obviously.

You have to wonder what the Times leader-writer would say if there were armed extremists from foreign lands running wild around Britain, murdering, raping and looting; and some foreign country with a sizable interest in selling military hardware and a known fondness for looting distant lands demanded the right to supply those extremists with their wares on the grounds that the British government, whilst trying to do its job to protect its people, was using some military equipment known to be supplied from the United States. Would The Times also support the right of that country to supply those extremists, I wonder, for the sake of morality.

The Times is no stranger to the courtroom. Its legal experts will know, just as our trusted political leaders who’re supporting the outrageous events in Syria know, that having a law is one thing, enforcing it is something quite different. You can quite literally get away with murder if no one is able to stop you or call you to account; and you can break international laws with just as much impunity, if the world’s only superpower says it’s O.K. But that doesn’t make the thing right, does it. Still, what could I possibly know about morality; I’m sure The Times knows much more about the subject than I do.

~

John Andrews is a writer whose latest book is The People’s Constitution. He can be contacted through his website.

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Target of a Smear Campaign

By M. SHAHID ALAM | CounterPunch | March 18, 2013

In April 2012, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), a Zionist organization headed by Charles Jacobs, began a smear campaign against Muslim students, the staff of Spiritual Life Center, and some faculty at Northeastern University.

The APT posted three videos on the internet accusing Muslims students at Northeastern University of advocating ‘Islamic extremism’ and concocting charges of anti-Semitism against several members of the faculty and staff of the Spiritual Life Center at Northeastern University. I was one of the principal targets of these smears. After launching the videos, the APT has used a variety of tactics to bring pressure on Northeastern University to ‘punish’ the faculty it had targeted in one of its smear videos.

When this campaign persisted I decided to write a letter to the President of Northeastern in November 2012 providing some background to APT’s smear campaign. At the time I had no intention of circulating this letter more widely. However, since APT has persisted in its defamatory campaign against me, I think it proper to publish this letter to set the record straight.  Here is the text of the letter (partly revised) that I sent to President Aoun of Northeastern University.

* * *

It has come to my notice that Mr. Charles Jacobs – head of Americans for Peace and Tolerance – has been circulating letters among NU faculty and administration that make baseless and defamatory charges against me. I am concerned about the damage to my reputation and to the reputation of the university from these charges, which is why I am writing to you. In this letter I briefly outline the main charges, and provide you with my key points to refute them.

First, I would like to present some information on the source of the charges, why they are aimed not only at me but at other faculty at NU, and why they are likely to have broader impact beyond just an attack on myself. Mr. Charles Jacobs has been engaging in sustained attacks for several years to silence critics of Israeli human rights violations. He is the co-founder of the David Project, an organization established in 2002 with the specific purpose of silencing critics of Israel. In 2004, the David Project produced Columbia Unbecoming, a documentary that spearheaded a smear campaign against several Arab-American professors, including two very prominent academics at Columbia University.  In 2012, he began a campaign directed against Northeastern University, producing a series of videos smearing faculty, staff and students at NU.

Second, I want to set out a few specifics about the three videos produced by APT to  smear Northeastern University, several of its faculty, its Muslim students and the staff of Spiritual Life Center. One of these videos, Anti-Semitic Education at Northeastern, directs its smears – amongst others – against Professor Denis Sullivan and myself. In addition, following the release of this video, Mr. Jacobs began sending letters to NU faculty, making false statements about me that he claims are caught on video. In one of his letters to NU faculty, Mr. Jacobs makes the claim: “[Alam] Caught on video urging students to be proud anti-Semites.”  In another letter, he claims: “Prof. Alam tells students it’s alright to be called anti-Semitic because it shows they’re on the right side of history.” These charges are simply untrue, and I categorically deny them. They are not supported even by the doctored video clips from a talk I gave at Northeastern University. It is worth noting that my talk was videotaped surreptitiously, without my knowledge or consent.

I would like to set the record straight about the source of the clips on me in the video produced by APT. At the end of a talk I gave last spring at an event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at NU, a student complained that their advocacy of Palestinian rights often invites slurs of anti-Semitism. She asked, “How should the pro-Palestinian activists respond to these smears?” I responded: If someone smears you as anti-Semitic because of your advocacy of Palestinian rights you should ignore your accusers. I urged the student to disregard such attempts at intimidation, stating that if their accusers persist in these smear tactics, at some point in time those who are falsely accused might wear these smears as a mark of distinction; as a mark of distinction – because this would signify that they have been smeared for supporting a just and honorable cause, the human rights of the long-suffering Palestinians. My remarks were cut and distorted for purposes of the slanderous video.

There are other issues likely being raised by the letters Mr. Jacobs is emailing to some faculty at Northeastern, but I am confident that I can refute every one of them, and shall do so if the need arises. Unfortunately, Mr. Jacobs is not working alone on this campaign. Among others, he has help in his smear campaign from several other organizations, including Campus Watch, headed by Daniel Pipes, Center for Islamic Pluralism, headed by Stephen Schwartz, and Freedom Center, headed by David Horowitz.  All of them illustrious organizations headed by men of impeccable reputations as truth-tellers.

Over the 25 years that I have taught at Northeastern I have made a few modest contributions in the fields of economics, politics, history, religious studies, and poetry; launched three new courses on capitalism, the history of the global economy and the economic history of the Middle East; taught four classes every year nearly all of which were filled to capacity; and mentored many students. During this quarter century of teaching courses that critically analyzed many of the assumptions of the social sciences, not one of my students has gone to any of my colleagues or official at Northeastern to complain of bias against any ethnic group or nationality in my classes.

On the contrary, my students can attest that I place the study and critique of biases – whether Orientalist, Eurocentric, racist, nationalist, religious, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, sexist, jingoist or ethnic – at the center of my approach to the study of the social sciences. I begin every one of my courses with readings, videos and lectures that seek to create an awareness of overt and covert biases in the social science texts, in our public discourse as well as our private conversations. I tell my students that recognition of our biases is the first and necessary step towards pushing back against the same in our own thinking.

In order to help my students in these explorations, I tell them stories from the wisdom traditions of Islam, the West, India and China, I recite to them poems – from Rumi, Shakespeare, Whitman, and contemporary American poets. I show them videos on biases in our perceptions, and I read to them from some of the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln. It is therefore ironic that accusations of anti-Semitic bias should be hurled against me. It is doubly ironic that such accusations should come from individuals who have never taken my classes or engaged me in discussions; and this speaks pointedly to the falsity of their accusations.

At the end, I must confess that as I write this letter I cannot avoid feeling diminished by the need to defend my reputation against outrageous smears by people who have made lucrative careers out of hate-mongering and Islamophobia. A scholar’s life is an open book: you can examine his ideas in his books, articles, essays, and speeches. My work too should speak for itself.

I am available to meet with you at your convenience should you wish to discuss the matter further.

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University; he is also the faculty advisor to Students for Justice in Palestine on the campus. He is an economist, essayist, translator and poet. His most recent book, Israeli Exceptionalism, was published in 2007 by Palgrave

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel releases hunger striker Sharawneh, arrests his brother

Al-Akhbar | March 18, 2013

Israel arrested the brother of former-Palestinian prisoner Ayman Sharawneh in the West Bank early Monday just hours after the long-term hunger striker was released from Israeli prison and deported to the Gaza Strip, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Israeli forces raided the home of Jihad Sharawneh, 24, at dawn Monday in Deir Samir, southwest of Hebron.

An Israeli military spokesman told Ma’an that Jihad Sharawneh was arrested and taken in for security questioning.

Amjad Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, denounced the arrest as an act of revenge to punish the Sharawneh family.

Ayman Sharawneh signed an agreement with Israeli authorities to be deported to Gaza for 10 years, bringing an end to his eight-month-long hunger strike, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, said in a statement.

He arrived at the Erez crossing Sunday night, where a Palestinian ambulance was waiting to take him into Gaza. Hundreds of people crowded at the Palestinian side of the checkpoint to greet him.

Fares said that Israel had previously proposed to deport Sharawneh outside of Palestine, but then offered to exile him to Gaza after he refused to leave his homeland.

Sharawneh agreed to be deported after months of hunger striking to protest his detention, and after numerous warnings by doctors regarding the severe deterioration in his health, Fares added.

The 36-year-old father of nine had previously demanded that authorities allow him to return to Hebron to be with his family.

The under secretary of the PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs, Ziad Abu Ein, told Ma’an that Sharawneh’s agreement was signed without notifying the ministry.

Earlier Sunday, the Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe said the Palestinian Authority rejected the deportation of prisoners as political blackmail.

Sharawneh was released in the October 2011 prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas but was rearrested in January 2012 and accused of violating the terms of his release.

Israeli authorities refused to reveal how Sharawneh violated his release terms, even to his lawyers, and he was jailed without charge or trial.

Israeli prosecutors sought to cancel Sharawneh’s amnesty and jail him for 28 years, the remainder of his previous sentence. He went on hunger strike to demand his release.

Abu Ein said Israeli authorities were pressuring Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 228 days, to make a similar deal.

(Ma’an, WAFA, Al-Akhbar)

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia sees no concession in US defense plan for Europe

Press TV – March 18, 2013

Russia says it saw ‘no concession’ in a decision by the United States to discard the final phase of Washington’s missile shield plan for Europe.

On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, “This is not a concession to Russia and we do not see it as such. Our objections remain.”

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on March 15 that Pentagon planned to set up 14 more missile interceptors by 2017 in the state of Alaska to add to the 30 interceptors already deployed along the western US coastline.

Ryabkov said Moscow believed that the additional interceptors in Alaska “significantly expand US capabilities in the area of missile defense,” and added, “We are not experiencing any euphoria about this.”

With this decision, Washington will not go through with the fourth phase of its missile defense deployments in Europe, which were planned to be in Poland.

Moscow has long opposed the disputed plan, arguing that the would-be missile system in its “back yard” is not to secure the European allies of the United Stated but is effectively aimed at Russia.

Meanwhile, Hagel has said that the decision is part of an overall restructuring of how Washington viewed missile defense and international threats.

It is reported that Ryabkov is to meet Rose Gottemoeller, the US under secretary of state for arms control and international security, in Geneva on Tuesday to further discuss the matter.

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment