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Lines Being Drawn By The U.S. in the Eastern Mediterranean

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 17, 2019

Greek-U.S. relations have entered “a new era” with the U.S. Secretary of State stating earlier this month that he has “come to Greece to expand the partnership that’s already at the best level it has ever been.” He followed up this statement in a tweet, saying “A strong and prosperous Greece is good for the Greek people and good for America.”

Why? Well during Pompeo’s trip to Greece, he finalized a new deal with the newly-elected Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for the U.S. to open 3 new military bases in the Aegean country, but most importantly, a naval presence in the port in Alexandroupolis. The port is strategically located close to the Turkish-controlled Dardanelles that connects the Aegean/Mediterranean Seas via also the Bosporus with the Black Sea, and therefore Russia. Therefore, Pompeo is ecstatic as Greece has now been firmly placed in the U.S. camp and has willingly become a NATO stronghold in the eastern Mediterranean.

It is likely that the U.S. is also ‘rewarding’ Greece for its continued and strengthening economic ties with Israel. The Greece-Cyprus-Israel pipeline, GRISCY, has likely pleased Washington, especially as all three states are anti-Turkish and it helps further secure Israel’s place in the region. Andrew Korybko argues that GRISCY is the U.S.’ key to containing multipolarity in the eastern Mediterranean. He continued to explain that the U.S. could try to thwart TurkStream’s possible expansion to Greece en route to Italy, continue cracking down on oligarchic holdings in Cyprus, and try to weaken the Russian-“Israeli” Strategic Partnership, as well as potentially cut off Moscow’s “Levantine Line” trade route between Crimea, Syria, the Sinai, and Eritrea in the event of a crisis.

With Turkish-Russian relations strengthening, the U.S. has turned to Greece as its Plan B to blockade the Russian Navy in the Black Sea as the Dardanelles spills open into the northern Aegean Sea, where there are thousands of islands, making it a naval labyrinth with limited manoeuvrability. With Greece having a respectable Navy and backed by a U.S. naval base, if ever Washington needed to illegally blockade the Dardanelles, it would be able to do so.

This is a major security concern for Moscow, leading the Russian Ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, to warn Greece that the U.S. might abandon it just as it had recently done with the Kurds in Syria, correctly adding that the recent military base deal in Greece was a mistake.

“I think this is wrong, but this is my personal opinion. Of course, you need to ask the Greek side why they made such a decision. But I do not rule out the possibility that they did so amid tensions between the United States and Turkey. However, this does not mean that this decision is well weighed for the future,” he said.

However, a reason why Greece has done this should be simply known to Chizhov, with Athens on a daily basis reporting Turkish air violations in its territory, Turkey threatening to invade Cyprus as recently as August, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivering a speech last month in front of a map that had Greece’s eastern Aegean islands under Turkish control.

When quizzed about the Turkish invasion in northeastern Syria and the US decision to abandon the Kurds, Chizhov commented: “We had warned the Kurds that the Americans will abandon them. And here, […]  I can personally warn the Greeks about it, that they will have the same fate as the Kurds.”

However, this is an unfair comparison considering Greece is a country with full state functions unlike the stateless Kurds. This prompted the Greek government’s national security adviser, Alexander Diakopoulos, to state a day later that “the U.S. bases will not remain in Greece forever. Nowadays, nothing lasts forever.”

Although what he says could be true if a truly anti-American government came to power, something that could be a possibility considering that only 36% of Greeks view the U.S. favourably according to 2018 Pew survey, it remains unlikely since every political party that has come into power turned out to be pro-U.S. despite some pre-election rhetoric.

Although the rhetoric by the Russian and Greek officials was friendly in nature, it does demonstrate that sides are being drawn, even if unwillingly in Moscow’s view, between Turkey and Greece and their relations with the Great Powers. Although Turkey is the most important member of the anti-Russian NATO alliance because of its critical strategic position, delicate and impressive diplomacy by Russian President Vladimir Putin has not only meant the strengthening of relations with his Black Sea neighbour, but has returned the question to whether Turkey will or should leave NATO.

Although both officials were disingenuous with their comments, it remains to be seen whether a war of words will erupt between the two Christian Orthodox countries, however it is unlikely in the short term. Although the current Greek government has not expressed any anti-Russian sentiment, Athens continues to pivot closer to Washington as U.S. officials claim they will protect Greek sovereignty.

Greece’s alliance with the U.S. is not anti-Russian in its view, but rather a guarantee of protection in case armed hostilities breakout with Turkey. However, Greece’s constant search for security because of Turkey’s escalated aggression in recent years has provided the perfect opportunity for the U.S. to exact revenge on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400 system.

The Aegean is becoming increasingly volatile between Greece and Turkey, and the U.S. is leveraging these hostilities to its advantage in a double move to secure a Plan B in strangling the Russian Navy in the Black Sea if needed, and punishing Turkey for its increasing relations with Moscow. Therefore, Russia as the most sensible player has the potential influence to calm the situation between Turkey and Greece, and therefore also secure its sea passages.

With Greece being the original ancient Eurasian civilization and Russia being a giant Eurasian power, commonalities between the two countries can easily be made. Although U.S. military bases are here to stay in the foreseeable future, there is every potential that a new government can emerge in Athens that will expel all U.S. military presence in the country, as indirectly said by Diakopoulos. Therefore, Russia must be ready to take every opportunity that could be opened from this.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Ecuador’s Mobilisation Against Moreno’s Invitation to US and IMF Interference

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 16, 2019

In Ecuador, the recent indigenous revolt against President Lenin Moreno’s neoliberal policies was instrumental in the repealing of a law which would have terminated fuel subsidies and plunged the most vulnerable into additional deprivation. The Ecuadorean government’s announcement, however, must not be misread as victory. It is the beginning of a long struggle which the people will face as Moreno maintains his commitment to the $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, granted as he waived Julian Assange’s right to refuge at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

US influence at the IMF must not be underestimated. It owns 17.46 per cent of shares in the institution. Yet under the pretext of the institution being allegedly “governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership,” the US has another platform it can monopolise when it comes to foreign intervention tactics. Then, it can substantiate its IMF role with the country’s official foreign policy, as evidenced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s press statement over Ecuador’s violent repression of the recent protests: “The United States supports President Moreno and the Government of Ecuador’s efforts to institutionalise democratic practices and implement needed economic reforms.” In the words of Andres Arauz, a former Ecuadorean Central Bank official, “what the IMF does in Western hemisphere is US foreign policy.”

To safeguard his complicity with the US and the IMF, Moreno declared a national state of emergency, pitting the police and the military against Ecuador’s civilians. Thousands of protestors were met with state violence and an indigenous leader, Inocencio Tucumbi, was killed by government forces. An official statement brings the injured toll to 554 and 929 people were arrested. CONAIE President Jaime Vargas’s count of injured, killed, detained and disappeared, however, exceeds what has been reported by the government.

In typical dictatorial attitude, Moreno has inflicted several rounds of human rights violations upon the people: targeting the weakest sectors with price hikes due to the removal of subsidies and punishing rebellion with state repression to cement allegiance with the IMF. Within the international arena, where the IMF enjoys its privilege, any talk of preserving human rights is unlikely to make the correlation between Moreno’s violence and his monetary bondage as part of his neoliberal legacy.

The mobilisation at grassroots level by the indigenous communities and the workers is part of a wider historical context in Ecuador’s anti-neoliberal struggle. In the 1980s indigenous communities in Ecuador clamoured for land and cultural rights, while denouncing neoliberalism. The protests brought indigenous communities together as a unified voice and soon mobilised to demand bilingual education and agrarian reform, placing the indigenous at the helm of mass mobilisation. As a result, CONAIE established itself as a political party.

For now, the mobilisation at a national level has forced the government to repeal its initial declaration. According to the UN Representative in Ecuador Arnaud Peral, Moreno’s decree will be replaced by a new draft with the input of indigenous movements and the government, also with the input of the UN and the Catholic Church.

While celebrating this initial victory, caution is required. It is unlikely that the new bill will repudiate the onslaught of repercussions as a result of Moreno coercing Ecuador into IMF allegiance. For the time being, Latin America is indeed in the clutches of right-wing leadership. Yet the people are facing similar struggles and the possibilities for regional unity are endless. This accelerated phase of neoliberal exploitation, in Ecuador and elsewhere, is igniting a movement which is taking the struggle right to its roots – to the people. Moreno will not back down from his policies, yet the people of Ecuador have equally displayed their resilience.

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | Leave a comment

Colossal WASTE in US healthcare spending surpasses military budget at nearly $1 trillion per year, study says

RT | October 12, 2019

Waste and needless spending in America’s healthcare system could amount to almost $1 trillion each year, topping total US military expenditures in 2019 – the world’s largest defense budget – according to new research.

Encompassing administrative overhead, fraud and abuse, inflated pricing and other inefficiencies, a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the cumulative waste in US healthcare ranged from $760 billion to $935 annually, or 25 percent of what Americans spend each year on health services. And they spend a lot – approximately 18 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), or more than $10 000 per individual a year on average. Medical bills also contribute to up to 50 percent of bankruptcies in the country.

The study looked at six “domains” of waste, finding the most significant problems in the realm of administrative tasks – such as billing, record keeping and other clerical activities – which account for some $266 billion of the total waste.

Dr. Donald Berwick, CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, said much of the waste is linked to number of “payers” in the system, resulting in extra complication and reams of paperwork.

“Right now you’re billed for the hospital room, by the ambulance company, by every doctor, rehab facility – everyone is keeping their own records and doing their own billing and dividing it up into tiny pieces, which makes it hard for the patient and hard for the caregivers,” Berwick told CBS News.

Coming in second place behind administrative costs is the pricing system itself, where fees have vastly outpaced the consumer price index (CPI) – a statistical tool used to determine the general rate of price inflation – making up between $231 and $241 billion of the yearly waste.

“The prices of health care don’t reflect what would happen in a competitive market,” Berwick said.

Among the factors keeping healthcare prices inflated are an onerous licensing system, regulations, as well as lobbying from special interests in the medical field, which together help to restrict “the supply of physicians, hospitals, insurance and pharmaceuticals,”writes market analyst Mike Holly.

The other four domains – failures in care delivery and care coordination, overtreatment and fraud and abuse – accounted for another $400 billion of waste or excess spending.

“It’s a serious problem,” Berwick said of fraud and abuse, including the outright “overbilling” of customers. “I don’t know any other industry in which it’s this onerous, and where it’s taking money right out of the wallets of patients and families who are bearing greater and greater burdens of payment.”

October 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | | 2 Comments

Protests over fuel prices escalate in Ecuador, oil facilities seized

Press TV – October 8, 2019

Hundreds of people in Ecuador have clashed with security forces as they marched toward the country’s capital of Quito to protest soaring fuel prices.

Riot police and military forces used tear gas to disperse the protesters on Monday after they blocked roads with burning tires and other barricades in the town of Machachi on the outskirts of Quito.

Chanting anti-government slogans, the protesters also attempted to force their way into the National Legislative Assembly in the capital.

Thousands of indigenous people are due to converge on Quito for a protest on Wednesday.

“More than 20,000 indigenous people will be arriving in Quito,” said Jaime Vargas, the leader of the umbrella indigenous organization CONAIE, which was key to driving then-president Jamil Mahuad from office during an economic crisis in 2000.

The protesters, some armed with sticks and whips, hail from southern Andean provinces and are heading to the capital aboard pick-up trucks and on foot.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s Ministry of Energy said in a statement on Monday that activities in three oil fields in the Amazon region had been suspended “due to the seizure of the facilities by groups of people outside the operation,” without identifying the groups responsible.

The seizures affected 12 percent of the country’s oil production, or 63,250 barrels of crude per day, according to the ministry statement.

The Latin American country has been rocked by days of mass demonstrations since increases of up to 120 percent in fuel prices came into force on October 3.

President Lenin Moreno scrapped fuel subsidies as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to obtain loans despite Ecuador’s high public debt.

The Ecuadorian government says the protests have so far left one civilian dead and 77 injured, the majority of them security forces. A total of 477 people have also been detained.

In a radio and television address on Sunday, Moreno blamed the deterioration in the country’s finances on his predecessor, Rafael Correa, also accusing him of an “attempted coup” and of “using some indigenous groups, taking advantage of their mobilization to plunder and destroy.”

The Ecuadorian president called for dialog with the indigenous community to alleviate their grievances.

“I am committed to a dialog with you, my indigenous brothers, with whom we share so many priorities,” Moreno said in his address. “Let’s talk about how to use our national resources to help those in the greatest need.”

But his plea was met with harsh opposition from Vargas, the indigenous leader.

“We are sick of so much dialog… There have been thousands of calls, thousands and thousands of calls, and until this point, we have not brought out our response,” he said.

Moreno declared a state of emergency in indigenous areas on Thursday, allowing the government to restrict movement and to use the armed forces for maintaining order as well as censoring the press.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , | 1 Comment

From Hostility to Warmness: Why has Brazilian President Changed his Aggressive Anti-China Actions?

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 8, 2019

In an interview with DW Brasil, former Brazilian ambassador to Beijing, Marcos Caramuru, revealed the great interest Chinese companies have in potential infrastructure work in Brazil. Even with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro showing initial hostility towards China during his 2018 election campaign, his opinion appears to have changed given the huge sums involved in bilateral relations and the opportunities the Asian country can provide the economic struggling Latin American Giant.

Bolsonaro is commonly known as the ‘Tropical Trump’ for his open admiration of the U.S. President and his shared ideas and beliefs. Therefore, it was unsurprising that he said “The Chinese are not buying in Brazil… They are buying Brazil,” in the pre-election campaign.

Global Times speculated that “it’s inconceivable the new Bolsonaro government would give up on the Chinese market.” It also left a note of caution for the Brazilian leader who made another major antagonism towards China: “His trip to Taiwan during the presidential campaign caught the ire of Beijing. If he continues to disregard the basic principle over Taiwan after taking office, it will apparently cost Brazil a great deal … The Chinese island won’t bring any more benefits to Brazil, which Bolsonaro and his team must be aware of.”

Marcus Vinicius Freitas, a visiting professor at the China Foreign University in Beijing, explained that: “When the Chinese look at Brazil they actually see an amusement park where everything still needs to be done.” His assessment is in reference to the huge developmental and infrastructural opportunities that Brazil has, with many sectors remaining underdeveloped despite the domineering position Brazil has over the wider Latin American region. “There is no doubt that China has a menu of options for Brazil,” he added, citing Chinese technologies in road, subway, rail, viaduct and airport construction that could be of interest to Brazil.

There are also additional opportunities from agribusiness to commodities, the most attractive sector for Chinese capital is infrastructure and major works, especially in the area of ​​gas, oil, renewable energy which will ensure growth on a sustainable and significant basis for the Brazilian economy.

However, despite the significant economic relationship between the two countries and the opportunities China can provide Brazil, it had not stopped Bolsonaro from aggravating Beijing. Therefore, it would be assumed that Bolsonaro would submit to Trump’s every demand in the midst of the U.S. president’s trade war with China. However, this has proven not to be the case with Brazil’s Vice President Hamilton Mourão saying in June that his country does not plan to ban Huawei from providing 5G equipment to telecoms in his country, signalling that Bolsonaro has said one thing during the election campaign, but acted in another way while president.

This would suggest that Bolsonaro’s government is following a different path than initially anticipated and the Brazilian president is not a complete U.S. puppet as often said by his critics. Although Trump told Bolsonaro during the latter’s visit to the White House earlier this year that Huawei was a security threat, the Brazilian Vice President emphasized that Brazil has no reason to distrust Huawei and that his country needs the Chinese technology to help its continued development.

As Beijing has been calling for a resolution to the Trump-initiated trade war, China’s ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, accused the United States of bullying and lobbying its trading partners, affecting the entire global economy. He explains that the U.S. ruined market confidence, increased the risk of global recession and endangered emerging economies like Brazil.

And in this scenario, it would be important for Brasilia and Beijing to defend international cooperation and multilateralism. China’s GDP grew by ‘only’ 6.2% in the second quarter of 2019, which is the lowest economic growth recorded since 1992. This so-called economic ‘slowdown’ has served as a successful bait to trigger Western media.

As a result, Trump declared that his tariff war with China was working and said his protectionist measures had led to the exodus of companies from the Asian giant. However, if the measures were so successful Trump would not continue to threaten his partners from trading with China. The Bolsonaro government has seen that in this situation, siding with the U.S. is not in its interests.

Although Bolsonaro will continue to take on a very pro-Trump stance in Latin American affairs, especially against Cuba and Venezuela, he has demonstrated that he is unwilling to embroil Brazil in international issues besides those relating to Israel, serving the interests of the powerful Christian Evangelical lobby in the South American country.

In fact, an argument can be made that Brazil benefits from the ongoing trade war between the two Great Powers. China has continually been placing large orders of Brazilian soybeans, choosing the South American country to fill the supply gap after stopping U.S. purchases. Chinese buyers are increasingly looking for Brazilian soybeans.

China halted U.S. soybean imports as tensions between Beijing and Washington increased and turned to Brazil. For now, Brazil has been able to respond to China’s demand, but its supply is running low and Beijing is at risk of failing to meet its needs. With any end to the trade war, it is unlikely that China will revert and make the U.S. its most important soy purchaser, providing an opportunity for Brazil to consolidate its own position.

Whether it was through a sudden realization, or whether it was from internal pressures from Brazil’s powerful agricultural industry and other important advisers, Bolsonaro has certainly done a 180 towards his China rhetoric. With the status of Brazil’s role in BRICS questioned by experts last year because of Bolsonaro’s initial hostility towards China and his vivid support for Trump, his Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo has fully embraced his country’s chairmanship of the organization. This demonstrates that no matter the motivating reason, Bolsonaro has certainly changed his China policy from hostility to openness and welcomeness as the Asian country can drastically improve Brazil’s economic situation.

Paul Antonopoulos is the director of the Multipolarity research centre.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | 2 Comments

Are There Israelis in the U.S. Government?

Sigal Mandelker refuses to say but resigns anyway

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • October 8, 2019

Given Israel’s clearly demonstrated ability to manipulate and manage American government at all levels, there is inevitably considerable speculation about the presence of actual Israeli citizens in the federal and state bureaucracies. Very often, lists that appear on the internet focus on Jewish legislators, but in reality, few of them are likely to have Israeli citizenship even if they regularly exhibit what amounts to “dual loyalty” sympathy for the Jewish state. Nevertheless, Jews who are Zionists are vastly over-represented in all government agencies that have anything at all to do with the Middle East.

There are, of course, some Jews who flaunt their identification with Israel, to include current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who describes himself as “protector” of Israel and former Senator Frank Lautenberg, frequently referred to as “Israel’s Senator.” One might also include Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff and mayor of Chicago, who reportedly served as a volunteer in the Israeli Army, and Doug Feith, who caused so much mischief from his perch at the Pentagon in the lead-up to the Iraq War. Feith had a law office in Jerusalem, suggesting that he might have obtained Israeli citizenship.

To be sure there are many non-Jews in the American government who have hitched their star to the Israeli wagon because they know it to be career enhancing. One only has to observe in action Senator Lindsay Graham, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and perhaps the most revolting of all, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who ran for office proclaiming that he would be the most pro-Israel governor in the United States. After being elected he traveled to Jerusalem with a large entourage of Zionist supporters to hold the first meeting of the Florida state government cabinet. According to some authorities in Florida, the meeting was supposed to be held in the state capitol Tallahassee and was therefore illegal, but DeSantis was undaunted and made clear to observers where his loyalty lies.

Part of the problem is that Israeli citizenship is obtained virtually automatically upon application by any Jew and once obtained it is permanent, only revocable by petitioning the Israeli government. Nor is there anything equating to a list of citizens, so it is possible to be an Israeli citizen while also holding American citizenship and no one would be the wiser. As the United States permits American citizens to have multiple passports and therefore nationalities there is, in fact, nothing in U.S. law that prohibits being both Israeli and American.

Having dual nationality is only a real issue when the policies of one citizenship conflict with the other, and that is precisely where the problem comes in with Israeli dual nationals in the United States, particularly if they wind up in the government. Frank Lautenberg, for example, was responsible for the “Lautenberg amendment” of 1990 which brought many thousands of Russian Jews into the United States as refugees, even though they were not in any danger and were therefore ineligible for that status. As refugees, they received significant taxpayer provided housing, subsistence and educational benefits.

Some other current officials in the government who may or may not have dual nationality and are in policy making positions might include U.S. (sic) Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and the recently resigned international negotiator Jason Greenblatt. Both have long histories of pro-Israel advocacy to include supporting illegal settlements on the West Bank. And there is also someone named Jared Kushner, whose ties to Israel are so close that Benjamin Netanyahu once slept in his father and mother’s apartment. If the metric to judge the actions – and loyalty – of these individuals is their willingness to place American interests ahead of those of Israel, they all would fail the test.

That said, there was one individual dual national who truly stood out when it came to serving Israeli interests from inside the United States government. She might be worthy of the nickname “Queen of Sanctions” because she was the Department of the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (OTFI), who handed the punishment out and had her hand on the throttle to crank the pain up. She is our own, unfortunately, and also Israel’s own Sigal Pearl Mandelker, and it’s wonderful to be able to say that she finally resigned last week!

OFTI’s website proclaims that it is responsible for “safeguarding the financial system against illicit use and combating rogue nations, terrorist facilitators, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferators, money launderers, drug kingpins, and other national security threats,” but it has from its founding been really all about safeguarding Israel’s perceived interests. Grant Smith notes how “the secretive office has a special blind spot for major terrorism generators, such as tax-exempt money laundering from the United States into illegal Israeli settlements and proliferation financing and weapons technology smuggling into Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons complex.”

To be sure, sanctions have been the key weapon in the ongoing unending war against perceived “enemies” like Russia and Venezuela, but they have been laid on most promiscuously in the case of Iran, Israel’s number one enemy du jour, which has also been demonized by Washington even though it is no threat to the United States. And it should be recognized that sanctions are not a bloodless exercise used to pressure a recalcitrant government. They disproportionately affect the poor and powerless, who starve and are denied access to medicines, but they rarely have any impact on those who run the government. Five-hundred thousand Iraqi children died from sanctions imposed by President Bill Clinton and his vulturine Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Currently, Iranians and Venezuelans are dying, by some estimates in their tens of thousands.

Once on a sanctions list administered by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), there is no actual appeal process and no getting off the hook unless Mandelker said so. And anyone who has any contact with the sanctioned entity can be in for trouble, including American citizens who will find themselves no longer having rights to free speech and association. The terms for violation of sanctions used by OFAC are “transaction” and “dealing in transactions,” broadly construed to include not only monetary dealings or exchanges, but also “providing any sort of service” and “non-monetary service,” including giving a presentation at a conference or speaking or writing in support of a sanctioned group or individual.

OFAC has a broad mandate to punish anyone who has anything to do with any Iranian group or even any individual as Iran is considered a country that is “comprehensively sanctioned.” To cite just one example of how indiscriminately the sanctions regime works, Max Blumenthal has described how the FBI recently, acting under Mandelker’s orders, warned a number of Americans who had planned on speaking at an Iranian organized conference in Beirut that they might be arrested upon their return.

Mandelker was born in Israel and largely educated in the United States. She is predictably a lawyer. She has never stated how many citizenships she holds while repeated inquiries as to whether she retains her Israeli citizenship have been ignored by the Treasury Department. It is not clear how she managed to obtain a security clearance given her evident affinity to a foreign country. The position that she held until last Wednesday was created in 2004 by George W. Bush and is something of a “no Gentiles need apply” fiefdom. Its officials travel regularly on the taxpayer’s dime to Israel for consultations and also collaborate with pro-Israel organizations like AIPAC, WINEP and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). Mandelker’s predecessor was Adam Szubin and he was preceded by David Cohen and, before that, by the office’s founder Stuart Levey, who is currently Group Legal Manager and Group Managing Director for global bank HSBC. Since its creation, OFTI has not surprisingly focused on what might be described as Israel’s enemies, most notably among them being Iran.

Mandelker was clear about her role, citing her personal and business relationship with “our great partner, Israel.” Referring to sanctions on Iran, she has said that “Bad actors need money to do bad things. That is why we have this massive sanctions regime … Every time we apply that pressure, that crunch on them, we deny them the ability to get that kind of revenue, we make the world a safer place.” In support of the pain she is inflicting to no real purpose other than to force complete Iranian capitulation, she cites alleged Iranian misdeeds, foremost of which is its alleged threatening of Israel. She also condemns Iran’s support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who she claims has killed his own people with chemical weapons, an assertion that has proven to be untrue.

Mandelker touted her personal history as a claimed child of the seemingly ubiquitous “holocaust survivors.” In a speech at the Holocaust Museum in April she claimed that her parents went underground in Eastern Europe: “They were hiding underground, in forests, in ditches and under haystacks. I grew up hearing their stories, including about moments of great courage, some of which resulted in survival and others that ended in death.”

To be sure, Mandelker and her predecessors have been going after Iran’s money since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, constantly devising new restrictions and rules to make it hard for Tehran to do business with any other country. In 2006 Levey’s office began to focus on cutting off Iran from the global financial system. Currently the Trump administration is applying what it describes as “maximum pressure” in seeking to sink Iran’s economy by blocking all oil exports. Since May, any country buying Iranian oil has been vulnerable to secondary sanctions by Washington, all set up and choreographed by Mandelker.

That Mandelker and company have been engaging in economic warfare with a country with which the United States is not at war seems to have escaped the notice of the media and Washington’s chattering class, not surprisingly as Israel is a beneficiary of the policy. And the fact that the way sanctions are being enforced against American citizens is clearly unconstitutional has also slipped by the usual watchdogs. Sigal Mandelker was a prime example of why anyone who is either an actual dual national or plausibly possesses dual loyalty should not hold high office in the United States government and is a blessing that she is gone, though one imagines she will be replaced by another Zionist fanatic. If anyone wonders why Israel gets away with what it does the simple answer would be that there are just too many people at the federal level who think that serving Israel is the same as serving the United States. That is just not so and it is past time that the American public should wake up to that fact.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Iran’s private sector seeks active role in trade with Eurasian Economic Union countries

Press TV – October 7, 2019

Morteza Miri, a member of Iran Export Confederation, said on Monday that accession to the EAEU would not lead to maximum benefits for the country if the private sector is not fully involved in new schemes for exports and imports.

“Experience has shown that failing to use the private sector while entering a (trade) treaty has reduced the potentials to reach the objectives,” Miri told Iran’s Tasnim agency.

The comments came as Iran is preparing to officially accede to the EAEU on October 26 through the formation of a joint trade zone which would enable the country to export a total of 70 goods and products to members of the union on zero tariffs while 503 more items would enjoy lower duties.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attended an EAEU summit in Yerevan last month, effectively concluding his country’s efforts to join the organization which includes Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.

Miri said Iran could have involved the private sector in negotiations leading to the accession to the EAEU as this would have provided the businesses and enterprises in the country with better perspective about future trade relations.

He said Iran’s embassies in the five EAEU countries were supposed to provide businesses and the government with the latest information and analyses on the markets in those countries.

The businessman said accession to the EAEU would lead to various economic, cultural and political benefits for Iran as the union enjoys a powerful status in regional affairs.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Economics | | 1 Comment

Putin expects Russia to boost LNG output five-fold by 2035

RT | October 2, 2019

Russia’s annual production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expected to grow in the next 15 years, largely thanks to the Yamal LNG project, said President Vladimir Putin at the Russian Energy Week.

“We expect… by 2035 to reach the LNG production level of 120-140 million tons per year,” he said, noting that the low cost of production and attractive logistics make Russian LNG projects some of the most competitive in the world. The country’s current annual LNG output stands at 30 million tons.

Russia’s share on the global LNG market has more than doubled thanks to the Yamal project and now accounts for about nine percent, Putin said. “This is still modest for Russia, but it is a noticeable progress.”

The implementation of the Arctic LNG-2 project with foreign partners will produce another 20 million tons of gas per year, he added.

Leonid Mikhelson, the head of the Russian energy giant Novatek, who was also speaking at the event, said he expects Russia to reach one-fifth of global LNG production.

“Russia is the world’s second largest LNG producer with an output of 670 billion cubic meters… I believe the share of the Russian LNG on the global market should increase to 20 percent,” he said.
Also on rt.com LNG investments hit record in 2019 & the biggest growth is coming from China

According to Putin, since the beginning of the 21st century, the number of countries consuming LNG has grown five-fold, while demand has almost doubled. In five to 10 years, LNG will account for half of the global gas trade, said the Russian president.

October 2, 2019 Posted by | Economics | | Leave a comment

Childish Fantasies vs Real World Energy Needs

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | October 2, 2019

Certain politicians are making promises about carbon dioxide emissions and the year 2050 – three full decades from now. Certain adults are telling elementary school children that transforming the world’s energy system is easy peasy.

But that’s not the case. In an article titled Net-Zero Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 2050 Requires A New Nuclear Power Plant Every Day, Roger Pielke Jr. delivers the harsh, mathematical truth. Even if every person in the world thought abandoning fossil fuels made sense, even if every last government was committed to such a plan, the sheer size of the task would remain. In Pielke’s words: “The scale…is absolutely, mind-bogglingly huge.”

In an entire year, a nuclear power plant is capable of producing 1 “million tons of oil equivalent” of energy – or 1 mtoe for short. Says Pielke:

In 2018 the world consumed 11,743 mtoe in the form of coal, natural gas and petroleum… there are 11,051 days left until January 1, 2050. To achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions globally by 2050 thus requires the deployment of >1 mtoe of carbon-free energy…every day, starting tomorrow and continuing for the next 30+ years. Achieving net-zero also requires the corresponding equivalent decommissioning of more than 1 mtoe of energy consumption from fossil fuels every single day.

Let us be honest and grownup here. The chances of this happening are remote.

Now let’s remember that many people insist nuclear power is off the table. We’re supposedly in the midst of a climate crisis caused by CO2 emissions, yet low-emissions nuclear power is forbidden.

Such people think we should rely on wind power, instead. According to Pielke’s calculations, that would require the construction of 1,500 wind turbines every single day from now until 2050.

Currently, the US consumes approximately 20% of the energy used across the globe. Its share of the 1,500 new wind turbines required daily would therefore be 300.

Despite years of massive subsidies designed to encourage wind energy investment, fewer than 10 turbines are currently installed in the US each day. Surely even a child understands that ramping up from 10 turbines a day to 300 is a massive challenge that couldn’t possibly happen overnight. Even in an affluent country with a booming economy.

And please, let us also put aside fairy tales about wind power being environmentally friendly. As Mark P. Mills explained recently in the Wall Street Journal :

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass…

Those who “dream of powering society entirely with wind and solar farms” says Mills, are actually demanding “the biggest expansion in mining the world has seen.”

October 2, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | 2 Comments

Restored transport links between Ukraine and Crimea would be good, both agree, as Kiev signals new policy

RT | September 29, 2019

Authorities in Ukraine intend to resume regular passenger transportation with Russia’s Crimea, according to the country’s Ministry of Infrastructure. Crimean authorities have welcomed the plans.

In an interview with Ukraine’s Radio Svoboda the country’s Minister of Infrastructure Vladislav Krikliy said that official passenger traffic between Ukraine and Crimea is “undoubtedly” envisaged. Competitions for carrier selection will be held in the nearest future.

“We are constructing entry-exit checkpoints. I think that everything will be finished on time, as ordered by the president [of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky],” Krikliy said. His words follow President Zelensky’s order in July to complete setting up checkpoints at the border with Crimea by December 20 of this year.

Crimean authorities called Kiev’s plans “rational,” as restoration of passenger traffic would benefit Ukrainians and the citizens of the Crimean peninsula equally.

“Rational statements are coming from the power structures of Ukraine, who realize the stupidity of the previous government’s actions in shutting off transport links,” Yefim Fiks, First Deputy Chairman of the State Council of Crimea, said on Sunday. “The ball is in Ukraine’s court” as to whether the Kiev authorities will follow through with the plan, he added.

Fiks pointed out the infrastructure woes that still exist on the Ukrainian side, – like the fact that, after Crimea resumed being part of Russia in 2014, a part of the railway leading to the peninsula was dismantled.

Currently, both Crimeans and Ukrainians who cross the border daily to visit relatives on the other side “are forced to walk some three kilometers with suitcases” Fiks said. He also stated that about one million Ukrainians came to Crimea on vacation this past summer.

“The [restoration of transportation] is beneficial to both peoples, to both states,” he concluded.

Air traffic between the airports of Ukraine and Crimea’s Simferopol was blocked immediately after the referendum in Crimea in March 2014, which saw the peninsula break ties with Kiev and reunite with Russia with a majority of votes. In December of that year, the National Security Council of Ukraine imposed a ban on all regular passenger traffic with Crimea by both air and rail.

September 29, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

LNG Investments Hit Record In 2019

By Irina Slav | Oilprice.com | September 26, 2019

Investments in liquefied natural gas since the start of the year have hit an all-time high of $50 billion, the International Energy Agency’s head, Fatih Birol, told an industry conference.

“This year, 2019 already broke the highest amount of (final investment decisions) for the first time ever, $50 billion,” Birol told the LNG Producer-Consumer conference in Tokyo, as quoted by Reuters.

Unsurprisingly, the driver of this growth in investments is growing demand for the fuel in Asia, with China still expected to overtake Japan as the world’s top importer of LNG.

“The biggest growth is coming from China. In the next five years, about one-third of global LNG demand will come from China alone,” Birol said. He added that in five years, China will become the largest importer of the fuel.

As for the growth in investments, there are no surprises there, either. The bulk of these has been made in the United States and Canada.

In a December 2018 report the Energy Information Administration said it expected the United States’ LNG export capacity to double by the end of this year to 8.9 billion cu ft daily. This will make the U.S. the third-largest exporter of LNG in terms of capacity after Qatar and Australia. By 2030, U.S. LNG exports are estimated to reach 17 billion cu ft daily, from some 3 billion cu ft at the start of 2019.

In Canada, there is just one LNG project under development right now—LNG Canada—but it could have a final capacity of 28 million tons of the fuel annually. The US$31-billion project is led by Shell, with minority participants including Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi, and Kogas.

Meanwhile, Qatar is stepping up its efforts to keep its number-one spot in the global LNG export race. The country has lifted a moratorium on new drilling in its North Field—the world’s largest offshore gas field Qatar shares with Iran—aiming to boost export capacity by 43 percent to 11 million tons annually.

Global LNG demand is seen at 550 million tons by 2030, according to projections by IHS Markit.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Modi-Rouhani meeting is a morality play

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 27, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his 6-day long visit to the US with a bang — a stunning stage appearance with President Trump at the Howdy Modi in Houston last Sunday.

But on Thursday, he ended up with a hastily arranged meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in New York just before the latter’s departure for Tehran. The symbolism is at once obvious.

Only 4 days earlier, in a famous remark at the Howdy Modi, Trump thrilled the Sangh Parivar audience with a stirring call that the US and India should jointly fight “radical Islamic terrorism.” Modi and the audience cheered in the mistaken belief that Trump was condemning Pakistan, but only to be told the next day by POTUS himself that he was only referring to Iran.

However, if photo journalism is any indicator, Modi looked subdued at the meeting with Rouhani. It must have been a difficult meeting. The Iranian report was rather taciturn. The primary purpose seems to have been to break the ice.

The India-Iran relations have been on a roller-coaster under Modi’s watch. He gave high hopes to Rouhani when they met for the first time on the sidelines of the historic Ufa summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June 2015 by proposing multi-billion dollar investment plans in Iran’s economy spanning the industrial and infrastructural fields.

Rouhani took the idea seriously and fast-tracked the contract for India to develop and operate one of the container terminals in the strategic Chabahar Port in the Sistan-Baluchistan province, ignoring Pakistan’s disquiet over such an Indian presence hardly 80 kms from its restive border regions.

Rouhani upset the Pakistanis further by accepting the Indian offer to build a railway line connecting Chabahar with Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border further north.

Indians were jubilant that in geopolitical terms, India’s cooperation in regional connectivity with Iran matched China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

All that is history, of course. Iran’s ambassador to India Ali Chegeni regretted recently that India not only buckled under American pressure to stop its oil imports from Iran but also slowed down its project work at Chabahar. The tensions are showing. Iran has taken a critical position on the situation in J&K.

Yet, it was Iran which in 1994 had helped India to prevent an OIC resolution on the human rights situation in J&K from being tabled at the UN forum, breaking the IOC consensus and demanding that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Yes, Iran played a helpful role in ensuring that the Shia-dominated Kargil region of J&K stayed out of the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency in the early nineties. The Narasimha Rao government allowed the then Iranian Ambassador to India Sheikh Attar to visit Kargil when the region was closed to the international community and foreign media.

Yes, it was the same Iran with which India also had cooperation at the level of intelligence agencies in the early nineties.

What explains the present crisis? Succinctly put, India’s policies in the Persian Gulf have come under the influence of the Israel-Saudi-UAE axis. Indian diplomacy is quite adept at balancing the relations with Iran on one side and the Israel-Saudi-UAE troika on the other. But the present ruling elite abandoned that policy and began identifying with the troika.

Conceivably, the US encouraged this shift. But the main factor has been the bonhomie that has come to exist at the leadership with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. If a marker is to be put on the downhill slide of India-Iran relations, it must be Modi’s extended 5-day visit to Israel in July 2017.

India-Iran relations suffered as a result of Delhi’s gravitation toward the the orbit of what Iran calls the “B Team” of the US. Iran never stood in the way of India keeping diversified relationships in West Asia, including with its adversaries such as the US, Israel or Saudi Arabia, but the plain truth is Delhi simply cooled down on the relationship with Iran.

How the B Team worked on the Indian leadership remains a mystery, but the Israelis, Saudis and Emiratis played their cards well, knowing exactly which strings to be pulled among the movers and shakers of the present ruling dispensation in Delhi.

Suffice to say, Modi’s meeting with Rouhani on Thursday was an act of atonement. India is in a chastened mood today. Delhi dumped Iran as a major supplier of oil (on concessional terms) and instead opted to buy from the US and Saudi Arabia and the UAE (at market price), but there has been no quid pro quo.

Trump is deepening the US-Pakistan relations and has waded into the Kashmir issue. As for the Sheikhs, they probably had no intentions to make big investments in India. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, one of Modi’s closest friends in the world circuit, lost the election and if he fails to form the next government, may lose his immunity from prosecution and end up in jail.     

Without doubt, Modi has done the right thing by calling on Rouhani. India does not have many friends today. The Modi government’s image is very poor in the Muslim world. India’s march toward Hindu Rashtra and the lock down in J&K have generated negative opinion internationally.

Even “time-tested friends” like Russia are getting disillusioned with our “Chanakyan” diplomacy. How long can India remain ambivalent? Our credibility as a dependable partner is plunging.

It may seem an uphill task to repair the damage to India’s relationship with Iran. But on the contrary, it is easily undertaken if only there is political will. Tehran attaches high importance to India and Delhi needs to reciprocate that goodwill. The prospects are simply seamless to build a relationship of mutual benefit.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment