Sunday, May 18, 2014

Today's Links

Today's quote: "Hydrocarbons, oil and gas, are the driver of economic growth or economic recession and depression. If you can ramp the price dramatically up, you can plunge counties and whole economies into deep recession or worse, and if you bring the price dramatically down, you can have an economic boom, as was done at certain points, not so often." William Engdahl, RT


"Prior to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, US and other western oil companies were all but completely shut out of Iraq's oil market....But thanks to the invasion and occupation, the companies are now back inside Iraq and producing oil there for the first time since being forced out of the country in 1973."  Antonia Juhasz, oil industry analyst, al jazeera


So the wars over oil from the side of the Anglo-American powers are mainly wars to control"1---The seventy year Bilderberg project is almost complete, RT


Like the psychopath, who feels compelled to return to the scene of the crime, Prince Bernhard returned to Oosterbeek to chair the inaugural Bilderberg meeting in 1954. The conferences led to the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which started the European Economic Community (EEC) three years later...(origins of EU)




So seventy years since the Arnhem slaughter and sixty years since the first Bilderberg conference, the EEC has become the EU. NATO's new feudal oligarchy of Western banksters and multinationals own and control all the big political parties as well as almost everything that moves both sides of the Atlantic.
 
Bilderberg’s latest wheeze is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This treaty makes voting pointless by letting multinationals sue governments and will leave only the thinnest veneer of democracy for the mainstream media to chew on both in Europe and America. The ‘nation states’ will become mere prefectures and the European Commission will be the unelected government of the United States of Europe.


As ordinary people across Europe and America cry out for decent basic standards such as fresh water, food, shelter, healthcare, heating and full employment, the mainstream media barely hear them because this is not the Bilderberg way. Instead, these pinstriped fascists bury us in debt, steal our leisure time, erode quality time with children, friends and family, and then blame us for demanding a fair share of the rewards of human progress.


2---"Never had it so good": UK’s richest own one third of country’s wealth, RT


Briton’s wealthiest people own a third of the country’s GDP, with a combined fortune of 874 billion dollars, which is an increase of 15.4 percent on last year’s total, according to an annual survey.


The Sunday Times Rich List shows that the United Kingdom’s richest are richer than ever before, which is in sharp contrast with many ordinary Britons who are struggling after five years of austerity.
“I’ve never seen such a phenomenal rise in personal wealth as the growth in the fortunes of Britain’s 1,000 richest people over the past year,” said Philip Beresford, who has compiled the list since 1989.


"The richest people in Britain have never had it so good," he told Reuters. "The challenge now for the government and the rich themselves is to see this wealth percolate downwards and outwards, out of London and towards the North and West of the country."


3--Market rigged evidence 21,567, Mark Gongloff


For at least the past 16 years, stock market traders have apparently been profiting from sneak peeks at the most important monetary policy decisions in the world. But the markets are not rigged! No, sir.
Interest rate decisions by the Federal Reserve's policy committee between 1997 and 2013 were regularly leaked, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for traders who got the information ahead of the rest of the market, according to a new study by Gennaro Bernile, Jianfeng Hu and Yuehua Tang of Singapore Management University, first reported by Bloomberg.


"Consistent with information leakage, we find robust evidence of informed trading during lockup periods ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) monetary policy announcements," the authors wrote.


Reporters at Fed headquarters in Washington have long gotten Fed policy statements before they are released to the public, giving them some time to write stories. They're under orders not to leak the data, obviously, but people have suspected for a while that the information was getting out anyway. The Fed tightened its controls in October, including blocking lines that connected reporters to the Internet in the Fed "lockup" room


4--Scary times in India: Hindu chauvinist BJP sweeps to power in India, wsws


Modi is notorious for his role in instigating the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom. But he has impressed India’s corporate elite and the likes of Goldmann Sachs, which recently issued a gushing report on Modi’s potential to serve as an “agent of change,” by lavishing investors with land and tax concessions, illegalizing strikes, and otherwise doing their bidding.


The Indian bourgeoisie’s enthusiasm for the arch-communalist thug Modi underscores that it is turning to reaction and authoritarian methods of rule to realize its ambitions to transform India into a hub of cheap-labor production for world capitalism....


A government of crisis and reaction

The ruling elite will use the BJP’s strong parliamentary majority to try to intimidate the working class and justify state repression.....


The BJP is itself a highly combustible political formation. It combines captains of industry who are livid that India is “wasting” billions on keeping the hungry alive, recruits from the most bellicose and antidemocratic sections of the national-security establishment, and the cadre of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) militia and associated Hindu supremacist outfits.....


India’s neighbors, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, have all announced their readiness to work with a Modi-led Indian government. But behind the business-as-usual fa├žade, there is undoubtedly deep concern. Modi’s strongman image is built in part on his attacks on the UPA government for “appeasing” Pakistan and being “soft” on China. And during the election campaign, he repeatedly called for the expulsion of Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, including after communal violence in Assam resulted in the death of more than three dozen Muslims.


The Obama administration is eager to draw India even more tightly into its anti-China “Asian Pivot.” Toward that end, it has been anxious in recent months to set aside the flap over the visa restrictions Washington placed on Modi in 2005 because of his role in the Gujarat pogrom. On Friday, Obama telephoned Modi to congratulate him on the BJP’s election victory and invite him to visit the White House.


5---US military basing deal in the Philippines: A step towards neocolonial rule, wsws
 
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between Washington and Manila, signed on April 28, starkly exposes the reactionary character of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia.” As US imperialism sets out to militarily encircle and isolate China, posing the risk of global war, it is seeking to impose neocolonial rule on oppressed countries throughout Asia.


The EDCA’s ten pages effectively convert the Philippines, a former US colony, into a US military base, under a legal framework virtually indistinguishable from the neocolonial decrees Washington imposed during hated wars in US-occupied Iraq or Afghanistan. This deal was prepared behind the backs of the US and Filipino working class, by the Obama administration and the corrupt regime of President Benigno Aquino III.


The deal grants to the United States exclusive use of an undisclosed number of “agreed locations,” for which no rent shall be paid and on which the Pentagon can base an unlimited number of forces. US forces and contractors in the country are not subject to Philippine law, having extraterritorial immunity from local jurisdiction. Only one designated Filipino will be allowed access to US bases in the country, and that only after he has obtained permission from US forces.


The ten-year deal renews automatically, and the Philippine judiciary and other branches of government are explicitly prohibited by Article XI of the document from reviewing any disputes pertaining to the EDCA


6--Japanese PM embraces “collective self-defence”, wsws


in the name of “collective self-defence,” the Abe government, with the full backing of Washington, is seeking to end all constitutional restraints on Japan’s full involvement in US wars of aggression, and to forge new military alliances with countries such as Australia and the Philippines. Japan supplied naval refuelling vessels to support US operations in Afghanistan, and military engineers to help the occupation of Iraq. “Collective self-defence” would allow the deployment of a full range of combat capabilities in league with the US and other allies.


Like every government gearing up for war, Abe insisted his actions were to promote peace. “There is a misunderstanding that Japan will once again become a country that wages war, but I absolutely reject this,” he said. “I will protect the principle of pacifism in the constitution.” But, he declared, “no country can keep the peace on its own” and “the world has big expectations for Japan’s role,” referring in particular to the US, Europe and South East Asia.


In reality, there is nothing defensive or peaceful about Japan’s remilitarisation. By legitimising “collective self-defence,” Abe is ensuring that Japan is a full partner in the Obama administration’s aggressive “pivot to Asia” and the US preparations for war against China


7---How the revival of German militarism was prepared, wsws
 
The German government’s aggressive action in Ukraine and the massive propaganda campaign accompanying it have surprised many. German politicians and opinion makers have almost unanimously backed the fascist-led coup in Ukraine. They seek to outdo each other with demands for tougher measures against Moscow and denounce the German people, the majority of whom are clearly opposed to the war propaganda.


What shocked many was carefully prepared. For more than a year, 50 leading politicians, journalists, academics and military and business figures discussed a more aggressive German foreign policy in a project under the auspices of the government-aligned Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP, German Institute for International and Security Affairs) and the Washington-based think tank German Marshall Fund (GMF).


At the conclusion of the consultations last autumn, a paper was published entitled “New power, new responsibility: Elements of a German foreign and security policy for a changing world.” It provides a blueprint for the policies that are now being implemented in practice in the form of sanctions against Russia and the rearming of NATO. With the document, the German bourgeoisie is returning to militarist, great power politics following two world wars and horrific crimes.


8---Vietnam and Philippines escalate maritime disputes with China, wsws


Once again, however, as it did last week, the US government immediately sided with Vietnam yesterday. Secretary of State John Kerry accused China of “aggressive” action. He asserted that China’s conduct was causing deep concern to the US and other nations involved in navigating in the South and East China Seas.


Vietnam took several steps over the weekend to escalate the dispute with China. On Sunday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung accused Beijing of “dangerous and serious violations” in the territorial dispute, “directly endangering peace, stability, security, and marine safety


9---‘US needs oil wars to topple Middle East chessboard’, RT


William Engdahl: What’s increasing the oil output in the states is coming mainly from tight oil or shale oil, shale rock formations. The problem with it is that it is a little bit of the Wall Street hype and a bubble. It’s not according to expert geological analyses, it’s going to peak very quickly and start declining. By 2020 you are not going to be looking at the US as a new Saudi Arabia or a new Russia at the oil market by any means.


RT: The US is considering lifting its decades-old ban (since 1975) on exporting crude oil. Should we view this as a first step toward expanding exports worldwide?


WE: The more significant one is that the oil companies are pressuring for lifting a ban on exporting oil or gas, mainly to get the price of domestic gas up because there was so much surplus on the market four to five years ago, it collapsed the price on natural gas in the US and brought a lot of these fracking companies to the brink of bankruptcy. The other thing is that the big oil majors simply want to make money wherever they can, in whatever markets they can.


RT: Is there any connection between large gas and oil reserves and instability in the Middle East?
WE: It certainly does, especially one of the crucial issues of the Syrian war and of the foreign intervention into Syria from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar, from the US and others is the fact that the Bashar Assad government signed an agreement with Iraq and Iran to bring a pipeline from Iran’s South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, one of the largest gas fields in the world, up through Iraq and into Syria and on into the Mediterranean, where it would go to the European gas market and in direct competition with Qatar which wants to be a dominant gas player in the European market. The entire Middle East conflict, the attempt to destroy Syria is an attempt to get control of that potential pipeline route in the hands of the Saudi Arabia, Qatar and certainly the Gulf Emirates there.


RT: How big is the role of oil in the modern world?
WE: There is a very significant oil component in many post-1945 conflicts. First of all you have to understand the power of oil and this is something I talk about in ‘Myths, Lies and Oil Wars’. Originally seven companies, two British and five American, and now it is simply down to four - that is Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell – those four giants, the Anglo-American oil cartel, dominate the world energy market.


Hydrocarbons, oil and gas, are the governor or the driver of economic growth or economic recession and depression. If you can ramp the price dramatically up, you can plunge counties and whole economies into deep recession or worse, and if you bring the price dramatically down, you can have an economic boom, as was done at certain points, not so often.


So the wars over oil from the side of the Anglo-American powers are mainly wars to control, to strategically deny countries like China or others an energy independence that would allow them to make direct one-on-one deals with different countries, have secured supply of energy and secured price. So it is an attempt to control the economic growth...


the idea the US people are projecting shocked growth rates, which is the case with fracking experiences when you start a well, the surge of production is maximal for the first two months and then it drops by some 60 percent after 12 months. That’s a dramatic decrease. The growth rates of the US oil production are not going to be anywhere as dramatic as people are blatantly projecting from certain energy think tanks in Washington. So the premise of this is not going to be proven out.


10--The record amount being borrowed by investors is a worrying sign for markets, Pieria

‘Margin debt’ is the term used to describe money investors borrow from their stockbroker in order to buy shares. Naturally enough, when people feel bearish about markets, they tend not to borrow anything while, by the same token, the more bullish they feel the more they are inclined to borrow. As a result, margin debt levels are viewed by some as a way of gauging market sentiment. 

11--Gay Marriage: A sop to liberals that does not reflect fundamental social change, but an attempt to conceal deep reactionary forces that control the system, Barry Grey, wsws

There is a clear issue of democratic rights in the same-sex marriage question. Gay people have a democratic right to marry, and people in general have a right to marry whomever they choose. Marriage is a legal and civil institution, and any benefits that derive from being married should be available to all spouses, regardless of their sexual orientation.


Such benefits should, in fact, be more broadly available to partners in unions, homosexual or heterosexual, that do not have the imprimatur of marriage.


All arguments against gay marriage are either directly or indirectly based on religious dogma, and should have no legal standing under the First Amendment separation of church and state. Moreover, claims that same-sex marriages somehow offend societal norms are being shattered by the growth of popular support for gay marriage. According to recent polls, 58 percent of the population supports the right of gays to marry.


Having said that, claims that recognition of same-sex marriage signifies a new flowering of democratic rights—summed up in the media refrain that gay marriage is the civil rights movement of today—lack any credibility. The shift of large sections of the political and media establishment behind this issue coincides with an unprecedented assault on democratic rights and the erection of the legal scaffolding of a police state.


The embrace of gay marriage by the Obama administration, large sections of the Democratic Party and a growing number of Republicans underscores the degree to which identity and lifestyle politics in its various forms—race, gender, sexual orientation—has become a vital element of bourgeois politics.


It is a mechanism for diverting attention from the assault on democratic rights, the expansion of war and militarism, the growth of poverty and the widening chasm between rich and poor. It is being promoted as a means of defusing social opposition, particularly among liberal and “left” sections of the upper-middle class that are fixated on identity politics while prepared to go along with war, mass poverty and brazen violations of democratic rights such as drone assassinations and indefinite military detention.


The social layers that are most preoccupied with the issue of gay marriage are symbolized by the plaintiff in the case against DOMA. Edith Windsor, 83, sued the government after she was forced to pay an estate tax bill of more than $360,000 on the inheritance left by her deceased spouse because the federal government did not recognize her same-sex marriage.


Under conditions of a massive assault on democratic rights, it is impossible to interpret the widespread embrace by the political establishment of identity politics issues such as gay marriage as motivated by anything other than political calculations. The American ruling class has for some time been utilizing “human rights”—defined largely in racial, gender and sexual terms—to marshal support for its predatory foreign policy.
In 1995, the Clintons had political reasons for supporting DOMA. Today they have political reasons for publicly opposing it.


Even as he was personally approving kill lists for drone assassinations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, including of American citizens; expanding CIA torture sites, renditions and domestic spying; and signing laws institutionalizing indefinite military detention, Obama was ostentatiously dropping his previous opposition to gay marriage. In 2011 he declared that he considered DOMA to be unconstitutional. In 2012, in a transparent bid to mobilize his liberal and pseudo-left supporters for his reelection campaign, he announced that he had shifted from opposition to support for gay marriage.


Under conditions of a massive assault on democratic rights, it is impossible to interpret the widespread embrace by the political establishment of identity politics issues such as gay marriage as motivated by anything other than political calculations. The American ruling class has for some time been utilizing “human rights”—defined largely in racial, gender and sexual terms—to marshal support for its predatory foreign policy.
In 1995, the Clintons had political reasons for supporting DOMA. Today they have political reasons for publicly opposing it.


Even as he was personally approving kill lists for drone assassinations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, including of American citizens; expanding CIA torture sites, renditions and domestic spying; and signing laws institutionalizing indefinite military detention, Obama was ostentatiously dropping his previous opposition to gay marriage. In 2011 he declared that he considered DOMA to be unconstitutional. In 2012, in a transparent bid to mobilize his liberal and pseudo-left supporters for his reelection campaign, he announced that he had shifted from opposition to support for gay marriage


12---Labor market conditions: good or not so good?, Fred blog


Until the growth of the EP ratio strengthens, the pace of the economy’s growth will remain quite modest. That is, assuming population growth remains constant, if labor productivity growth doesn’t accelerate, neither will economic growth


13--Bye Bye Buybacks, Barron's


Since the end of the financial crisis, companies have boosted the money they spend on buying back their stock at the expense of big increases in capital spending. Investors, for their part, have been more than happy with that situation: The companies that have spent gobs of cash on buybacks have been rewarded for it, while those that spent it on factories and equipment have been punished relative to their more thrifty brethren.

Yet despite that preference, Corporate America is planning a big boost in capital spending. Some 250 companies accounting for much of last year's capital spending have released their capex plans this year, and together that suggests capital spending could increase by 7% in 2014, notes Goldman Sachs strategist David Kostin, up from 2% last year. The spenders include a who's who of American corporations, including Ford Motor ...

Rather than freaking out, as they might have, investors appear to have embraced the change. The companies with the most capital spending as a percentage of sales have outperformed by seven percentage points in 2014, according to Morgan Stanley data, while the companies with the most buybacks have outperformed by 1.7 points....

STILL, IT'S NOT HARD to see why the market might prefer capex to buybacks. For starters, the Standard & Poor's 500's big gain last year has left stocks looking, if not expensive, at least far from cheap. That makes buybacks riskier today than they were, say, 12 months ago. The cost of funding big projects, meanwhile, is lower by historical standards, notes Citigroup strategist Tobias Levkovich, which means that a venture doesn't need to be hugely profitable to be counted a success. More importantly, some sectors are seeing opportunities that are simply too good to pass up. For instance, cheap natural gas in the U.S. gives chemical companies here an advantage over their foreign competitors. Those companies plan to increase spending by 20% this year, Levkovich says. "That's not a bad idea if you're truly building your business," he says


Country Holds World's Fifth-Largest Proven Reserves

Iraq's oil production surged to its highest level in over 30 years last month, surprising skeptics of the country's efforts to restore its oil industry after decades of war and neglect.
In its monthly oil report published Friday, the International Energy Agency said Iraq's oil output jumped by half a million barrels a day in February to average 3.6 million barrels a day. The country hasn't pumped that much oil since 1979, when Saddam Hussein rose to power.
The Iraqi output surge came as the IEA also predicted oil supply from the U.S. and Canada would continue its "relentless" increase this year, easing concerns that higher global demand and geopolitical issues caused by the crisis in Ukraine could push oil prices upward.
             
"While international tensions may be on the rise, pressure on oil markets, ceteris paribus, seems set to ease," the Paris-based energy watchdog said. Oil prices were steady on Friday morning, with Brent crude for April delivery up 19 cents to $107.58 per barrel.
Despite possessing ample untapped oil resources, Iraq has struggled to meet production targets over the last five years due to logistical and bureaucratic disruptions. Yet the country holds the world's fifth-largest proven reserves and already pumps enough oil to meet 3% of global demand.
Iraq's oil minister said in December the country would target oil production of 4.1 million barrels a day this year. New fields coming on stream are expected to add 500,000 barrels a day of output in the next few months


The US government is considering doing away with a four-decade-old law that bans the sale and export of American oil abroad. The decision follows a slew of US-led strategic wars and sanctions in the Middle East that have raised oil prices and demand.
The policy shift comes on the heels of the crisis in Ukraine, as the US may be taking advantage of an opportunity to disrupt Russian oil exports to Europe. The US produces 10 percent of global crude oil supply, but exports precisely zero barrels because of a ban Congress set in reaction to the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo.


Washington is seriously considering changing federal laws to let oil flow abroad, according to US Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz.
“The issue of crude oil exports is under consideration…A driver for this consideration is that the nature of the oil we're producing may not be well matched to our current refinery capacity," Moniz said on Tuesday at the end of an energy conference in Seoul, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.


16---Western oil firms remain as US exits Iraq, al jazeera 
The end of the US military occupation does not mean Iraqis have full control of their oil.

Baghdad, Iraq - While the US military has formally ended its occupation of Iraq, some of the largest western oil companies, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, remain.
On November 27, 38 months after Royal Dutch Shell announced its pursuit of a massive gas deal in southern Iraq, the oil giant had its contract signed for a $17bn flared gas deal.
Three days later, the US-based energy firm Emerson submitted a bid for a contract to operate at Iraq's giant Zubair oil field, which reportedly holds some eight million barrels of oil.


Earlier this year, Emerson was awarded a contract to provide crude oil metering systems and other technology for a new oil terminal in Basra, currently under construction in the Persian Gulf, and the company is installing control systems in the power stations in Hilla and Kerbala.
Iraq's supergiant Rumaila oil field is already being developed by BP, and the other supergiant reserve, Majnoon oil field, is being developed by Royal Dutch Shell. Both fields are in southern Iraq.


According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Iraq's oil reserves of 112 billion barrels ranks second in the world, only behind Saudi Arabia. The EIA also estimates that up to 90 per cent of the country remains unexplored, due to decades of US-led wars and economic sanctions.
"Prior to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, US and other western oil companies were all but completely shut out of Iraq's oil market," oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz told Al Jazeera. "But thanks to the invasion and occupation, the companies are now back inside Iraq and producing oil there for the first time since being forced out of the country in 1973."...


Juhasz, author of the books The Tyranny of Oil and The Bush Agenda, said that while US and other western oil companies have not yet received all they had hoped the US-led invasion of Iraq would bring them, "They've certainly done quite well for themselves, landing production contracts for some of the world's largest remaining oil fields under some of the world's most lucrative terms."
Dr Abdulhay Yahya Zalloum, an international oil consultant and economist who has spent nearly 50 years in the oil business in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, agrees that western oil companies have "obtained concessions in Iraq's major [oil] fields", despite "there being a lack of transparency and clarity of vision regarding the legal issues".


Dr Zalloum added that he believes western oil companies have successfully acquired the lions' share of Iraq's oil, "but they gave a little piece of the cake for China and some of the other countries and companies to keep them silent".


In a speech at Fort Bragg in the wake of the US military withdrawal, US President Barack Obama said the US was leaving behind "a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people".
Of this prospect, Dr Zalloum was blunt.
"The last thing the US cares about in the Middle East is democracy. It is about oil, full stop...


"Iraq has lots of cheap-to-get oil, but it also has a multitude of problems - political, ethnic, tribal, religious etc - that have prevented them from exploiting it as well or as quickly as the Saudis," says Tom Whipple, an energy scholar who was a CIA analyst for 30 years. "Someday it may turn out that Iraq has more oil underground than Saudi Arabia. The big question is how stable it will be after the US leaves? So far it is not looking all that good."
Jihad, Iraq's ministry of oil spokesman, however, said attacks against Iraq's oil pipelines have minimal effect on production capabilities, and claimed "sabotage will not affect our oil production and exports because we can fix these damages within days, or even hours".


17---Increased Oil Production Offsets Effects of Geopolitical Tensions, motley fool


Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on May 12 that his country would make up for any shortfall that may result from the conflict in Ukraine. After pro-Russian eastern separatists held a referendum last weekend and voted to secede from Ukraine, many in the West worried that another round of annexation by Russia was imminent. Russia has thus far showed restraint, but Naimi sought to reassure the markets that a disruption from Russia would not endanger global supplies, as Saudi Arabia would step in. "We are willing to supply any shortage which may arise," he said at a conference in Seoul....


It is looking more likely that Libya will be able to restore some of its lost production. According to Libyan officials, protesters have agreed to reopen critical pipelines carrying crude from fields in the country's western region. The standoff between the official government in Tripoli and eastern rebels has slowed Libyan oil output to a trickle. However, after pushing the political crisis to the brink, the two sides have reached a diplomatic resolution. This paves the way for more Libyan oil to come back online, and government officials have stated that production could quickly rise to 500,000 bpd, double current levels.


Furthermore, the U.S. Energy Information Administration released new data that showed that U.S. oil production has hit a 28-year high. Also, crude oil stockpiles are close to record levels on higher output.
Higher oil production from Libya and the U.S. are offsetting tight market conditions elsewhere.
The impressive growth in production has the U.S. considering relaxing its ban on crude oil exports, as Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz hinted at on May 13


18---Iran's oil exports surge above West's sanctions cap: IEA, Reuters


19---Iranian oil exports rise markedly since interim deal: Report, WA Pos


Iran appears to have sharply increased its oil exports to China and India over the past few months, in what may be an early sign that oil sanctions have eased significantly since November, when Tehran signed an interim deal to freeze its nuclear program.
China’s average monthly imports of Iranian oil during the past three months were 29 percent above the monthly average for the previous six months, according to Foreign Reports, a Washington-based energy consulting firm. The firm said that average Indian imports from Iran were 53 percent higher during the past three months than the previous six-month period.


“The numbers should be a red flag for the administration,” said Nat Kern, who heads Foreign Reports. “What is the U.S. going to do at the end of May if Iran has punched such a deep hole through the core sanctions on oil? The horse would be out of the barn.”


20--The Bloody War that Doesn’t Exist--What the Media is Not Telling Us About Yemen, cp


21--The EU’s energy dependency rate is set to rise to 80 percent by 2035 from the current 60 percent
, Bloomberg


The EU’s energy dependency rate is set to rise to 80 percent by 2035 from the current 60 percent, according to the International Energy Agency. Russian gas met about 30 percent of EU’s consumption last year, according to OAO Gazprom (OGZD), Russia’s monopoly pipeline-gas exporter. To facilitate a European decision on energy and climate policies for the next decade, which the bloc’s leaders aim to take in October, the European Commission is due to present a road map by next month on how to cut Russian gas imports.


22--Ukrainian ultranationalist leader calls for guerilla war against pro-federalists, RT


Moon of Alabama: Ukraine: 
The 25 May elections (if ..) are uniquely in the interests of the Koup Kiev Gvmt. and certain US actors.
Once Poroshenko is elected, he simply becomes Prez Elect of the Koup Gvmt. and bolsters its legitimacy. (In time, various elections, parliamentary..) Constitutional discussion or reforms (if any) take place after his election and must be finagled by him within the present Constitution. Which is already a dead document - a) it was not followed, respected, for ousting Yanuko, b) it has been amended and changed since 21 Feb. Including electoral laws!
Europe bows down to the US and will tout that legitimacy too. But that is an admission of weakness and subservience and not in its interests. Eff the EU, right? Remember, the MAIN aim of the US is to prevent Europe from coming closer to Russia. Weakening Europe, dominating it, is thus on the agenda ever more than before.
The Ukr. oligarchs are just shuffling their ppl around, the Koup Gvmt. as well, flaunting a democratic facade. The aim - thrilling! - a Country completely run by Corps and large Biz. interests. That is why, right from the start, neo-nazi and fascist elements (Pravy Sektor, Svoboda..) were part of the plot and action on the ground...


Most crucially, Shamir says:
The Ukraine is not a foreign entity to Russians, it is the western half of Russia. It was artificially separated from the rest in 1991, at the collapse of the USSR. The people of the two parts are interconnected by family, culture and blood ties; their economies are intricately connected. While a separate viable Ukrainian state is a possibility, an “independent” Ukrainian state hostile to Russia is not viable and can’t be tolerated by any Russian ruler. And this for military as well as for cultural reasons: if Hitler had begun the war against Russia from its present border, he would have taken Stalingrad in two days and would have destroyed Russia in a week. /../
The Washington hawks still hope to force Putin to intervene militarily, as it would give them the opportunity to isolate Russia, turn it into a monster pariah state, beef up defence spending and set Europe and Russia against each other. They do not care about Ukraine and Ukrainians, but use them as pretext to attain geopolitical goals


"Yarosh urged to arrange in the Crimea "guerrilla war"
"The leader of the ultranationalist movement "Right branch", the candidate in presidents of Ukraine Dmitry Yarosh in debates in Ukrainian "First national" channel stated that "Crimea was and is Ukrainian, but to return it, you might start there guerrilla war, using the Crimean Tatar factor".
In addition, answering the question of the audience about how to resolve the conflict in the Eastern regions of the country, jarosch said that instead of the frontal attacks need to "vasilkevich" the leaders of the militia. The leading question, what does it mean to vasilkevich", jarosch said - "physically eliminate", reports RIA "Novosti".
...
Yarosh also announced the formation of a battalion "Donbass-2" for "large-scale guerrilla war in the East of Ukraine. According to him, "volunteer units that are already formed in Donbass", have to wage a "large-scale guerrilla war in the East of Ukraine. 

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