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The mouse that roared

Climate Discussion Nexus | November 13, 2019

From the “this time for sure” department 11,000 scientists just signed a petition saying we must act now or we’re all doomed. Awkwardly, the signatories included what organizers dismiss as “a small number of invalid names”. Well, who could be expected to detect a cunning fake like “Mouse, Micky”, Professor at Namibia’s “Micky Mouse Institute for the Blind” (yes, too blind to spot the missing “e” in Mickey)? And anyone can be fooled by the wizarding prowess of Albus Dumbledore, even if he wrongly placed Hogwarts in the United States. The real problem is all the invalid statements the real signatories just yelled at us.

Leaving aside the fake names, we have 11,000 scientists going “Aaaaaaaaah!” in unison because something terrible has happened, or is about to happen. And that something is…economic growth and prosperity. They decry, in particular,  “sustained increases in both human and ruminant livestock populations, per capita meat production, world gross domestic product”, airline travel (yours, not theirs) and the expansion of population. All of which they count as worse than nothing because alongside these indicators of progress, global carbon dioxide levels went up.

The signatories are at least happy that we’ve also seen “decreases in global fertility” and significant “institutional fossil fuel divestment” so the hideous spectacle of more people living better can still be stopped. The sooner the better, they say, since with increases in “CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide” we’ve also seen increases in “global surface temperature” while “ice has been rapidly disappearing, evidenced by declining trends in minimum summer Arctic sea ice, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and glacier thickness worldwide” while “Ocean heat content, ocean acidity, sea level, area burned in the United States, and extreme weather and associated damage costs have all been trending upward”.

These statements, alas, belong in the Mickey Mouse school of climate panic. As we’ve observed previously, sea level has been rising since 12,000 BC, and at a pretty steady pace since before writing was invented. Also forest fires are not trending upward in North America, the world as a whole or indeed the Amazon in particular, except in places where poor forest management has piled up tinder. As for extreme weather, like the IPCC we detect no increase, while “associated damage costs” from storms have been trending upward because in a richer society with bigger cities, those hurricanes or floods that do occur damage more and more expensive buildings.

If the worst you’ve got is that there might be a bit less ice on our planet, in exchange for a century and a half of spectacular prosperity, that’s a price we don’t mind paying. Though the jury’s still out on how much ice the Arctic and Greenland are actually losing.

As you might expect, the signatories say “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected”. Which is apparently meant to mean we should listen to scientists instead of thinking their predictions are unreliable.

They went on to say “These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.” Which sounds anything but definitive, with the magic words “could” and “potentially” giving the scientists an escape hatch when Armageddon fails to arrive on time yet again. Which is a pretty safe bet since the last time the planet was hotter and had more CO2 in the Mesozoic or Eocene, dinosaurs and large mammals flourished as did plants.

The signatories then let the cat out of the bag by saying “Economic and population growth are among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion” and “therefore, we need bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies.” So don’t listen to people like Justin Trudeau who tell you the economy and the environment can prosper together so we never have to make choices. You can save the planet or have an economy, one or the other. (So toss aside the New York Times with its fiddly suggestions like buying local organic because it’s “probably better for the planet, even if the emissions picture is complex”.)

In case you’re not sure where the scientists come down, they spell out six key recommendations at which a hardened Bolshevik would blanch: get rid of fossil fuels (including not subsidizing them, one point on which CDN is in agreement); get rid of methane and soot; stop eating meat; stop growing the economy and instead prioritize “basic needs and reducing inequality” (which are so much easier when there’s not enough to go around, or perhaps the idea is that these policies will just naturally stop growth); and stop having all those wretched babies: “the world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced” through “proven and effective policies that strengthen human rights while lowering fertility rates and lessening the impacts of population growth on GHG emissions and biodiversity loss.” (These prescriptions met with the enthusiastic approval of Green New Deal sponsors Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey and, indeed, of NBC.)

Funny how the idea of population control and making people give up stuff they like has been front and centre among environmental radicals since before global cooling was the big threat. It’s like a pitcher with six windups and only one pitch. A beanball.

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

‘Ideal’ science-based sustainable diet too expensive for every 5th person on Earth – study

RT | November 8, 2019

A scientifically “ideal” diet designed for maximum nutrition and environmental sustainability would be unaffordable for over 20 percent of the world’s population, a new study found.

Published in the Lancet journal in January, the specially tailored “planetary diet” was created with not only health but the environment in mind, looking to feed a population of 10 billion by 2050 while reducing diet-related disease and ecological damage. The meal plan called on the world’s eaters to double their consumption of fruits, vegetables and nuts, while largely doing away with the meats and sugars that now dominate the Western diet.

However, the special diet would cost an average of $2.84 per day for each individual, according to a new Lancet Global Health study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. That accounts for nearly 90 percent of the daily per capita budget for those living in many poorer countries, making the diet too expensive for at least 1.6 billion people, most located in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The true number of people unable to afford the diet may be even greater than the Lancet study suggests if other expenses are considered in addition to food.

“The actual number must be higher, since people need to spend at least some money on other things such as housing and clothing, as well as education, healthcare and transportation,” Will Masters, a senior author of the study, told Reuters.

After signaling some approval for the meal plan, the World Health Organization abruptly reversed course earlier this year on the heels of criticism from Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s representative to international organizations in Geneva. Cornado warned the diet would bring serious economic disruptions, wipe out traditional dishes and cultural heritage, and said the plan risked “the total elimination of consumers’ freedom of choice.”

Given its cost, the “planetary diet” is an unlikely end-all be-all for the problems surrounding the world’s food supply, but the issues it sought to address are far from trivial. The recent Lancet study noted that more than 2.5 billion people suffer some form of malnutrition worldwide, with another 2 billion overweight or obese, adding that current food production methods also “pose risks to the health of the planet.”

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Environmentalism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

Nigel Farage Exposes Extinction Rebellion’s Plan to Topple Representative Democracy

By Eric Worrall | Watts Up With That? | November 2, 2019

According to Extinction Rebellion’s Sarah Lunnon, representative democracy, at least on climate policy and economic management, should be subordinated to citizens assemblies composed of people who are already running citizens assemblies, and people nominated by organisations invited to participate. […]

Citizens assemblies would advise on the “grim” task of imposing wartime levels of rationing, and would decide what economic activity would be allowed to continue, to fulfil their paramount goal of drastically cutting Britain’s carbon footprint to address the climate crisis by 2025.

Sarah compares citizens assemblies to court jurors, who once decided on whether people could live or die, before Britain abolished the death penalty.

Extinction Rebellion’s intention is that “advice” provided by the assemblies would be very difficult for elected politicians to refuse.

Breaking news: the British Conservative Government has just agreed Extinction Rebellion’s demand to form a climate change citizen’s assembly. 30,000 invitations will be sent at random, then 110 of the respondents will be chosen to sit on the assembly. The budget allocated for the assembly is £520,000. £120,000 will be provided by the government, the rest will provided by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the European Climate Foundation.

November 2, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science, Video | | 1 Comment

Climate change denial is the new ‘flat Earth’ & causes WILDFIRES, California ex-governor testifies

RT | October 30, 2019

Add California’s wildfires to the list of problems caused by US President Donald Trump. The state’s former governor has warned Trump and his fellow Republicans that “the blood is on your soul”… for denying climate change.

“California’s burning while the deniers make a joke out of the standards that protect us all. The blood is on your soul here and I hope you wake up,” former governor Jerry Brown snarled, during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Trump administration’s recent decision to bar California from setting its own auto emissions standards. “This is not politics, this is life, this is morality… this is real,” he continued.

“Climate change is real, it’s happening, and you and everyone else will recognize that.”

Brown likened Trump and his fellow climate change skeptics to believers in “flat Earth,” claiming climate change is directly responsible for the wildfires currently engulfing swathes of California. While at least two of this year’s fires are actually believed to have been caused by malfunctioning PG&E power lines – like last year’s devastating Camp Fire, which wiped out an entire town – Brown has glossed over the notoriously mismanaged utility to pin the blame on hotter, drier weather. The only solution? “Limiting our carbon pollution,” he told reporters in 2015, defying climate scientists who suggested that that year’s fires were not caused by anything of the sort.

The House called Brown and other “experts” to testify against the White House’s decision to quash the waiver that had allowed California to set its own vehicle emissions standards and effectively control the whole country’s auto industry. Car companies can hardly afford to manufacture two separate versions of the same vehicle, and California has more drivers than any other state, so they can’t ignore the stricter emissions rules either.

Democrats, including current California governor Gavin Newsom, have slammed the move as “reckless and politically motivated,” a symbol of Big Oil’s iron grip on the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators. The White House, however, has claimed that stricter emissions standards make vehicles more expensive, meaning fewer people will drive these energy-efficient cars. The rule change is due to take effect next month.

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 3 Comments

Lenin ‘Judas’ Moreno – Ecuador’s Story of Betrayal and Resistance

By Joaquin Flores | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 27, 2019

On October 3rd, countless tens of thousands of Ecuadorian citizens began a general strike and occupation of public spaces, throughout the country but targeting the capital of Quito. President Lenin Moreno has made himself one of the most hated men in the history of the country in the course of his rule, and was forced to flee as a consequence, and re-establish the capital in Guayaquil. In addition, facing a larger and wider revolution all together, Moreno was forced to rescind Decree 883 – the new law which appears to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in Ecuador.

But this is far from over, and Moreno’s continued existence as head of government threatens to see the expansion of this newly awakened movement. Internationally too – for it is Moreno who also betrayed Julian Assange, after Raphael Correa offered him protection.

Media are accurately reporting the obvious, but in limited context: Moreno enacted Decree 883, which brought an end to the popular fuel subsidies. As the story goes, this was part of an austerity agreement made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for a loan. Decree 883 threatens the country’s most vulnerable and historically marginalized cross-sections of Ecuadorian society, indigenous communities in particular. These indigenous communities, along with labor and citizen’s group, were at the forefront of these protests and the general strike, leading and organizing them. Moreno accuses his popular predecessor Correa for planning and executing the protests, with assistance from Cuba and Venezuela. The ‘random Soros guy’ from Brazil, Juan Guaido, has echoed Moreno’s accusation.

The Looming Econocide which Decree 883 Threatened

Beyond this, however, is the real story of Decree 883 and the recent history of Ecuador, and the real betrayal represented by Mr. Moreno – a visceral hatred he has earned for himself, which extends far beyond Decree 883.

Mr. Moreno baffled the public when he announced that the subsidies policy introduced in the 70’s, which if accounting in a very narrow and segregated way, appear to ‘cost’ the government some $1.3bn annually, were no longer affordable. But what macroeconomists and the public both understood, and what was particularly outrageous, was this: these subsidies, based on Ecuador’s socialized gas industry, in fact made possible all sorts of economic activity; risk taking and opportunity making, and consumption in other sectors of the economy – not possible without such a subsidy.

And so the ripple effect of Decree 883 would result in pessimism and a bearish national economy, all around. The cognitive and theoretical deficiency of believing that one can shore up nominal debts that exist under certain conditions of subsidy, by eliminating an economy enhancer like an energy subsidy, without this in turn deleteriously effecting overall GDP indices, to in turn qualify for a loan which would in all obvious reality create further balance of payment and debt problems, is itself either negligent, criminal, or both.

The real consequence would be that it would place the Ecuadorian economy further in debt, which means in further reliance on the IMF, which means further loans will be needed, which means further austerity, and ultimately privatization of the public weal. Upon such a cycle, creating permanent servitude and insolvency, the final aim on the part of the IMF cannot be simply a vicious debt cycle, (as this is ultimately unpayable) but the total private and foreign ownership of Ecuador, with some sort of mass impoverishment, even genocide of its indigenous people, as an obvious – if not wanted – consequence. At this point it becomes perhaps secondary to note that none of these ‘IMF loans’ will be used to develop the country’s physical economy – the only real signifier of wealth building for a whole society, if viewed scientifically and rationally as an organic unit with mutually interrelated symbiotic components.

There are few words to describe such aims as Decree 883 without delving into deep, profound, philosophical and theological questions about the nature of the forces of good and evil in the world. Questions which force us to ask what universal principles give meaning to our lives as human beings, and what really and fundamentally motivates those with such a blatant misanthropic agenda.

But at any rate, it is more than obvious how this move by Moreno, in the name of Decree 883, had led to the near toppling of the Ecuadorian government – leading to Moreno declaring a state of emergency.

A success so far for the people has been the apparent repeal of Decree 883, but why Moreno is so very much hated deserves our attention, as this is only the beginning. During his tenure, Moreno has gained himself the nickname among the opposition ‘Judas’: a name necessary as it distinguishes that he is ‘no Lenin’.

What Moreno has done has resulted in the largest popular uprising the country has seen in many years. After years of working to reverse the progress and stability brought by the noble and just government of Raphael Correa, Moreno brought about a condition of instability and ignobility. Within months of assuming office, he disavowed Correa who had brought him where he had arrived, and began to work under the orders of Washington to undo Correa’s social and legislative reforms that had been aimed at deepening the strength of Ecuador’s civil society, labor, and justice. Under Correa, poverty would see a 30% decline.

Despite this obvious reality, this obvious truth, Moreno doubles-down on his contempt for reason and rationality, by accusing the protestors of being agents of Correa, even of Maduro (!). This affront to the wisdom of the people of Ecuador is comparable to blaming the blood for the wound, or for blaming the wound for the accident which causes these.

The gas itself is largely owned by and for the people, through EP Petroecuador

The latest affront to dignity and fairness, in the form of yet another IMF sell-out from Moreno, came in the form of the elimination of gas subsidies for people most in need. And one cannot offer any real logic or reason for ending these subsidies, for the gas itself is largely owned by and for the people, through EP Petroecuador, the state oil firm.

But this deep-seated scorn is not simply related to contempt for his policies, but much more profoundly for his betrayal. Because we might expect such austerity from a centrist or right-wing candidate, given the history of politics in Latin America – there is something honest in this; they deliver what they campaign on. But given that Correa had essentially groomed Moreno, and Moreno in turn endorsed the policies of Correa – we encounter the crux of the matter, and how Moreno turned from Lenin to Judas.

To wit, it was Raphael Correa’s broad plan to rescue Ecuador from the predatory claws of the IMF, by fomenting a public campaign, a brilliant simulacrum strategy of sorts, borrowed from Venezuela, that an entire program of socialist revolution was underway, such that it had the effect of lowering the value of Ecuador’s bonds, owned by foreign interests. This made it so that Ecuador was able to succeed in buying back some 91% of these bonds, and made possible Ecuador’s thumbing the IMF and not taking on new debt. This was done by intelligently weaponizing Ecuador’s apparent weakness in not having its own real national currency, as this was dollarized by corrupt national leaders in 2000, using the excuse of the damage caused by Hurricane ‘El Niño’, to eliminate Ecuador’s monetary sovereignty. It had been widely believed that without a national, sovereign currency, that Ecuador could have no sovereign monetary policy – Correa proved this wrong by turning expectations and dynamics on their respective heads. While this dictum is true in the long-term, Correa used the dollarized nature of Ecuador’s currency values in a gambit to buy-back Ecuador’s bonds.

When Correa was elected president of Ecuador, it had come as the result of years of struggle by the popular forces of resistance, against all odds, and overcoming a particularly unstable and disastrous period were Ecuador had seen come and go some ten presidents in the period of just eleven years.

Correa would go on to serve for a decade, and continued to build popular support, and this had signaled the realization of an even broader dream of social and economic justice in Ecuador, but also a visionary long-term plan to integrate the Latin American economy into a single civilization-wide economic bloc.

The history of modern Ecuador is one of tragedy, hope, and never lacking in contradictions. During the time of Correa he was faced with the strongest opposition from the most intransigent and short-term thinking, narrowest in scope and vision, of the country’s billionaire class.

And it only so happened to be that this same class, who had been responsible for the years of instability and rampant poverty, were also those closest to Washington DC and New York City – placing the country at the hands of the Washington Consensus – the IMF, City Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and the rest of the “usual suspects”.

Rejecting this, in February 2007 that Correa’s economy minister Ricardo Patiño stated: “I have no intention […] of accepting what some governments in the past have accepted: that [the IMF] tell us what to do on economic policy.” “That seems unacceptable to us,” Patiño concluded.

The U.S and the IMF hated this, and hated Correa for this. Correa confused many –at first seeming to be a center-leaning social-democrat reformist. His biography and optics were misleading: young and well groomed, with waxed hair and Spanish features, he appeared very much like the kind of candidate historically installed by Ecuador’s wealthy comprador class. His credentials in governance had come about through being Ecuador’s finance minister under the prior neo-liberal government of Alfredo Palacio. And yet Correa was a man of the people and once in office quickly became allies with the Castros of Cuba and also Chavez, and then Maduro of Venezuela.

Correa understood he would be termed-out eventually, under Ecuador’s constitutional provisions, and had worked early on to groom a successor.

Again, the biography and optics were misleading: this successor was Lenin Moreno, the son of a communist teacher; Moreno inspired empathy with his soulful eyes, reminiscent of Iran’s Ahmadinejad, and being wheelchair-bound, he inspired sympathy.

The people had expected that a man who inspired such sympathy and empathy, would himself be capable of tremendous sympathy and empathy for the people in turn.

And yet the people were wrong. Instead, what lurked in the heart of Lenin Moreno was so dark, so depraved, so shallow and so selfish, that it exploded the left’s understanding of character.

It would turn out that Nietzsche’s dictum that weakness lays at the root of evil, and strength at the root of good, was true. If the apparent meekness of Moreno would allow him to inherit the world of Ecuador, then it was his cruelty and hatred, his resentment born of weakness, for those healthy and happy people, even if poor, that would threaten to destroy it.

The government of Moreno has been a betrayal so monumental and significant to the living history of Ecuador, that it has indeed earned him the name ‘Judas Moreno’, an allusion both to Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ to the wishes of the Sanhedrin, and also to Leon ‘Judas’ Trotsky, who is believed by mainline communists internationally to have conspired to betray the Russian Revolution through his alleged conspiracy with the forces of Fascism in Europe.

And this leads us to the real heart of our investigation, for the apparent revolution that Judas Moreno has betrayed was the popular democratic, electoral ‘revolution’ of Correa. And this is why Moreno is so hated, and lacks any mandate. And this is also why his power decreases by the day, as his legitimacy in question after his first months in office, and his actions against the people – the repression, arrests, and persecutions which have heightened in the last ten days of protests against his regime, are only but the culmination of several years of the same.

Now there are dead, martyrs in this struggle, murdered by Moreno’s security forces.

Decree 883 may have been repealed, but coming about on the precipice of a broader revolution, the coming weeks and months only promise more conflicts, surprises – and we should expect yet another betrayal from Judas Moreno, and another explosion in response.

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | 3 Comments

Expensive Climate Policies Sparked the Chile Riots, Just Like the Yellow Vest Protests in France

By James Taylor | The Epoch Times | October 25, 2019

Climate activists and the United Nations are suffering a major black eye this week as protests and riots resulting from high energy prices have erupted in Santiago, Chile.

Chile, which is hosting a major U.N. climate conference in December, earned praise from climate activists for recently imposing a carbon dioxide tax on conventional energy sources and switching the Santiago Metro system to renewable power. Now, the people of Chile are rising up and firing a shot across the bow of other nations considering similar energy taxes and expensive renewable energy programs.

On Friday, protestors took to the streets throughout Santiago in response to Metro fare hikes. The protests soon spread to other cities and led to rioting and at least five reported deaths. The Chilean government and the legacy media blamed the fare hikes on rising oil prices. But that is not true.

Oil prices are not rising. Global oil prices are currently 25 percent lower than they were a year ago and 37 percent lower than they were five years ago.

In Chile, gasoline prices reflect the lower oil prices. Chilean gasoline prices were $1.12 U.S. per liter in August 2019 (the last month for which data are available), compared to $1.28 a year ago. Five years ago, Chilean gasoline sold at $1.50 U.S.

Santiago Metro fares are rising, despite falling oil and gasoline prices, because government officials in 2018 traded out most of the Metro’s energy sources from conventional power to wind and solar power. The Chilean government also hit the portion of conventional power that remains with new carbon dioxide taxes.

As a result, Chileans are now burdened by higher Metro fares reflecting unnecessary energy price hikes. As Chileans protest in the streets, climate activists and their media allies want people to believe oil is to blame rather than government climate programs that raise energy prices and impoverish people.

Unlike speculative climate change harms that never seem to really happen, carbon dioxide taxes and renewable energy mandates immediately and measurably raise living costs and reduce living standards. … continue reading

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

US Renews Chevron License as European Refiner Cuts Venezuela Ties over Sanctions

By Lucas Koerner | Venezuelanalysis | October 23, 2019

The US Treasury Department has allowed Chevron to continue its operations in Venezuela for a further 90 days.

One of the few remaining US petroleum companies still in Venezuela, Chevron currently produces around 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) in several joint ventures with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. The California-based energy giant had its Treasury-issued sanctions waiver extended on Monday.

The Trump administration imposed an oil embargo in January, barring dealings with Venezuela’s oil sector, including US imports of Veneuzelan crude, which then stood at 586,000 bpd. At the time, Chevron was issued a six-month license to wind down its Venezuela operations, which was renewed in a last-minute late July decision after months of lobbying. Other beneficiaries of the renewal are Haliburton, Schlumberger, GE’s Baker Hughes, and Weatherford International.

The license does not cover sales of diluents to PDVSA, which were outlawed by the Treasury Department in June. Venezuela relies on imports of diluents to blend its heavy crude into exportable grades, as well as produce gasoline and diesel for internal consumption.

Venezuela’s oil production has plummeted over the past two years since the US began imposing economic sanctions. According to OPEC secondary sources, output fell to just 644,000 bpd in September, down from an average of 1.911 and 1.354 million bpd in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Caracas has scrambled to find new crude buyers, reportedly selling shipments to Russian state energy company Rosneft which then reroutes them to other customers. PDVSA has also moved to convert its heavy petroleum upgraders into blending facilities so as to produce lighter Merey grade crude favored by Asian markets.

In August, Washington upgraded its sanctions regime to a general embargo, prohibiting all US dealings with the Venezuelan state and its associated entities as well as authorizing secondary sanctions against third party actors.

The Trump administration has been reluctant to renew Venezuela operating licences, insisting on the need to deprive the Maduro government of export revenues in the hope of removing it from power. Venezuela depends on oil sales for over ninety percent of its hard currency earnings, which it uses for vital imports of food, medicine, and all classes of inputs.

Despite opting to greenlight Chevron’s operations for three additional months, the Treasury Department moved last week to modify the license of a European refining company prohibiting new purchases of Venezuelan crude.

Jointly owned by PDVSA and Finland’s Neste Oil, Nynas AB operates speciality refineries in Sweden, Germany, and the UK geared mainly towards asphalt production.

Under the terms of the new license, Nynas is authorized to sell Venezuelan oil or petroleum products already in inventory but is barred from making new purchases.

Nynas is one of only two remaining buyers of PDVSA’s lighter, Western-sourced crudes following Washington’s ratcheting up of sanctions this year, which have led most cash-paying customers to cut ties with the Venezuelan state oil firm.

Reuters reports that the move could lead Petrozamora, a Venezuelan-Russian joint venture in the western border state of Zulia, to cut production by 50,000 bpd in order to avoid overflowing oil stocks.

With additional reporting by Ricardo Vaz from Caracas.

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | Leave a comment

Chevron hopes Trump allows it to stay in Venezuela

RT | October 19, 2019, 2019

US oil giant Chevron is hopeful that the Trump administration will extend a waiver allowing the company to continue doing business in Venezuela despite tough US sanctions on the South American country.

“We are a positive presence in Venezuela, and we are hopeful that General License 8C is renewed so that we can continue certain operations in the country for the long-term,” Chevron spokesman Ray Fohr said in a statement, as cited by Reuters.

General License No 8C is a document that authorizes transactions in Venezuela involving its state oil company PDVSA and its entities, according to the US Department of Treasury. Apart from Chevron, four other multinational corporations enjoy the right to continue certain operations in the country, including oil industry firms Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Weatherford International.

As the document expires on Friday, Chevron, which has been operating in Venezuela for nearly a century, needs an extension to the waiver. The Trump administration is already considering the move, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing sources. The report said that it is unclear if other companies will be granted a similar 90-day sanctions reprieve, as the Treasury wants to adhere to its “maximum pressure strategy” to further limit Venezuela’s oil production.

US economic warfare against the Bolivarian republic has seen multiple rounds of sanctions, including punitive ones targeting the country’s vital energy sector. Venezuela’s crude production has already neared a historic low of around 600,000 barrels per day, according to S&P Global Platts.

Analysts have recently predicted that a US refusal to extend the waivers for Chevron and other companies mentioned in the General License could further halve the country’s oil output.

“I think you’d see it go certainly to under 300,000 b/d within a month,” said Neil Bhatiya, an associate fellow with the Center for a New American Security, as cited by S&P Global Platts. “The question after that is whether and how fast there is backfilling by Chinese, or, more likely, Russian state firms. It will take a while though, so a Chevron-less Venezuela will probably be in the [sub-300,000 b/d] zone for the remainder of the calendar year.”

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | 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

Winston Churchill Starved 3 Million Indians to Death in the Man-Made Bengal Famine of 1943

By Marko Marjanović | Checkpoint Asia | December 22, 2016

Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II is a book by a science journalist Madhusree Mukerjee. It tells of British policy in India in the Second World War and how it relates to the Bengal Famine of 1943.

Mukerjee reminds the reader that before the British conquest India was a rich land. Certainly the conquerors drawn to Bengal in the 18th century were of the opinion they were adding a magnificently wealthy possession to their empire. Under colonial rule, however, Bengal soon became a synonym for poverty and a frequent setting of famine.

During the Second World War the colony was made to contribute heavily to the British war effort. India’s industries, manpower, and foodstuffs were made to serve requirements of the war the empire had involved itself in.

This was merely the latest escalation in a long lasting exploitation of the colony. The British deemed their unwanted presence in India a service and therefore extracted “payment” for it in the form of the Home Charge. As the British obstructed the expansion of manufacturing in India lest it provide competition for their domestic industry, the export of agricultural produce presented the only way of realizing this transfer.

Finally, since the empire set the transfer so high so much grain was extracted for export that the colony — which continued to produce more food than its need through the 19th century — was artificially kept in a condition of chronic malnutrition.

Unsurprisingly, there was strong resistance to colonial rule that could only be overcome by large scale repression. As part of the August 1942 crackdown against the Quit India Movement alone, more than 90,000 people were locked up and up to 10,000 were killed.

Short on manpower the British at times resorted to attacking crowds with aircraft. In particularly rebellious districts authorities burned down homes and destroyed rice supplies. British India was not unlike an occupied land.

The book exposes the manifold causes of the Bengal Famine. To begin with mortality rate in Bengal under British rule was atrocious even in a normal year with some of that attributable to malnutrition.

The immediate reasons why conditions deteriorated beyond this “normal” state of semi-famine was the catastrophic Midnapore Cyclone and the Japanese capture of Burma.

The Cyclone storm and subsequent floods disrupted life and ruined crops. The loss of Burma severed links with an important source of rice imports to India. These two factors which were outside British control, were probably enough for a disaster on their own, but subsequent British policies made the crisis far worse than it needed to be.

Anticipating the possibility the Japanese could advance further, the British carried out a scorched earth policy in coastal Bengal, seizing rice stocks, motor vehicles, bicycles and boats. Seizure of boats was particularly disruptive as they normally represented the primary means of transporting rice crops to the markets.

The loss of Burmese rice imports to India was not made up by imports from elsewhere, nor was India’s obligation to supply British Indian troops abroad lessened. Instead, India was made to cover the loss of Burmese rice imports to Ceylon, Arabia and South Africa even though these territories were already better provisioned with food than India.

Albeit in the years before WWII India had become a net importer of food, importing at least one million tons of cereal per year — a figure that was not actually sufficient to cover its needs, but represented what it could afford to import after paying the Home Charge — the British now undertook to export food from India.

Anticipating food shortages that were certain to follow, colonial administration moved to protect the strata of society most useful to the British Empire — administrators, soldiers and industrial workers. It set out to buy up huge quantities of grain and store it for their use. It would pay for these stocks in the same way it acquired supplies for the war effort — by printing money.

The government acquired some grain by requisitioning, but for the most part it simply bought it. Some purchases it made on its own, others it contracted out to private traders. Big merchant companies were given advances of vast sums of money and instructed to purchase grain at any price for the government.

The price of already precious grain skyrocketed and the Bengal peasant was priced out of the market. Between the purchases of the Bengal administration, the Government of India, the army and the industries which were recipients of government largesse, grain was sucked out from rural areas. Departments of government and industries crucial for the war effort secured huge stocks of grain — part of which would end up rotting as millions starved.

What made the looting of the countryside to this extent possible was that the transfer of purchasing power away from the peasant and to the government and those the government made business with that money printing entailed.

In the course of the war the money supply increased by between six and seven times, so that the British worried they were “within sight of collective refusal to accept further paper currency”. This confounded the problem of food scarcity since some cultivators understandably held onto their grain rather than release it to the market, as it was seen a better store of value than the rapidly depreciating currency.

The reason government purchases were so devastating for Bengal peasants was that most families owned tracts of land too small to sustain their families on their own.

Even in a normal year such families were not in position to store enough of their harvest to sustain them until the next one. They were not sellers of crops, they sold their labor to the big landowners and bought food.

Except now buying food meant competing with a government that could print money at will.

Prevalence of effectively landless peasants in Bengal in itself was the result of British policies in India which had created the landlord class from what had been tax collectors before the conquest.

Albeit crop failure and the loss of Burmese imports was enough to create a serious food deficit for India, there was actually no food problem for the British Empire taken as a whole. In fact London claimed that Bengal could not be fed — not for a lack of food, but for a lack of ships — supposedly shipping was so scarce that grain, which was available, could not be taken to India without disrupting the British war effort.

Prioritizing its war over the bare lives of three million of its subjects would have been bad enough, but Mukarjee shows that shipping was nowhere as scarce as London claimed, albeit it was certainly being mismanaged. For example there was shipping and food enough to build up a stockpile in the Eastern Mediterranean for the purpose of Allied invasion of the Balkans that would never come about. Also there were always ships aplenty to build up an enormous and ever growing stockpile of food in the British Isles that the London government was actually building up for post-war use.

In reality the biggest obstacle to secure food for famine-stricken India was not a lack of means, but the lack of will to allocate the resources necessary. Such readjustments would have clashed with the interest and the intent of the British Empire under Winston Churchill to exploit its colony for its purposes to the greatest extent possible.

To their credit, not every Brit was of a mind with the London government personified in Winston Churchill.

Many officials, including high ranking ones like the Secretary of State for India, Leopold Amery and the Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Wavell repeatedly called for a decisive effort to relieve the famine. Governments of Australia, New Zeeland and Canada offered grain for India if United Kingdom, which had taken control of their shipping, would transport it there.

British soldiers on the scene defied orders not to help famine refugees often handing over food from their own rations.

In addition to showing how the British Empire helped cause the Bengal Famine of 1943 and then denied it famine relief Churchill’s Secret War also provides the context for these two stories.

Mukarjee recounts a fair bit of the dynamic between colonial metropolis and the colony centering on exploitation and resistance, explains the consequences of British wartime policies for the political future of the colony — partition and independence — and paints a picture of famine and repression as seen from the ground by offering vivid first hand accounts by people who were affected.

It is a book rich in content, but probably the one thing to take from it is the way in which the famine was made worse and its victims selected by government abuse of paper currency.

British reaction to food shortages in Bengal was to protect the cities and industries at the expense of the peasants. Like the Soviet Union which had faced a food crisis of its own a decade earlier the British Empire figured it was up to it to decide who would live and who would die.

Only where the Soviet method of robbing the countryside of grain in 1932-33 was requisition, the British method of choice in India was money creation. It was a more elegant method, but no less deadly, and more difficult to effectively resist.

If the famine in 1932-33 in the Soviet Union was a requisition famine, the Bengal Famine of 1943 was a printing press famine.

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 3 Comments