Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Today's Links

1-Greece , in a nutshell, Pieria-

Those who worry that Greece will create a new burden for Europe should use this opportunity to fundamentally change the European architecture. Official monitoring of Greece has not worked—and will not work. Instead, under a new “no bailout” regime, private creditors must unambiguously bear the burden of future defaults, ideally through contracts that require debt restructuring at pre-agreed thresholds. Making creditors and debtors beware will create greater discipline. Continued reliance on discredited European processes will cause legitimate distress to spread. Extremism will grow.

The wrong answers to the Greek test have escalated the stalemate. The dilemmas intensify, raising the stakes in resolving them. Greek debt will eventually be written down. Doing so in driblets will only drag the process out while the Greeks hurt and European political divisions deepen. Till then, the Greek test will need to be taken again—and again.

2--Stalingrad veterans' open letter to Merkel: Fascism is here again , sottnet

3--Saudi oil and U.S. hypocrisy, sara flounders

The continued rule of the House of Saud is based on a thin, corrupt layer of extreme privilege. Dependent on immigrant labor, foreign trainers and technical experts, it is hated by its own people. U.S. imperialism has staked its continued domination of the region on a detested and narrow grouping that lacks popular support or legitimacy.

4--Bankers See $1 Trillion of Zombie Investments Stranded in the Oil Fields, Bloomberg

 There are zombies in the oil fields.

After crude prices dropped 49 percent in six months, oil projects planned for next year are the undead — still standing upright, but with little hope of a productive future. These zombie projects proliferate in expensive Arctic oil, deepwater-drilling regions and tar sands from Canada to Venezuela.

In a stunning analysis this week, Goldman Sachs found almost $1 trillion in investments in future oil projects at risk. They looked at 400 of the world’s largest new oil and gas fields — excluding U.S. shale — and found projects representing $930 billion of future investment that are no longer profitable with Brent crude at $70. In the U.S., the shale-oil party isn’t over yet, but zombies are beginning to crash it.

5--RT: US President Barack Obama said in an interview with CNN that US “brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.” What emotions arise when you hear such statements?

KK: Well, Mr. Obama has acknowledged what has been well-known for a long time and I had no doubts and nobody had doubts that the United States of America did play a very specific role of enforcing protests in Ukraine one year ago. Official representatives of the American administration participated – physically – in protest demonstrations. Each time they would come to Kiev, certain riots would immediately become more intensive.

And I am sure that in case the US had not been presented that much during the initial phase of the crisis, all European countries like Germany, like France, like many others could have been much, much more constructive because these countries, I believe, under regular conditions, would never accept this forceful change of power in Kiev. They would try to express their attitude to people in these protest masses who represented most radical and extremist political views, which previously had not been accepted by European Parliament for example, I mean the [Ukrainian radical] political party Svoboda. They were never accepted in the European Union, but as soon as they became active in terms of the recent crisis, suddenly they became acceptable, everybody kept silence about the previous controversies.

That happened because the USA intervened. The USA, I believe, sent certain very strong signals to their European partners, that this is too important, stop speaking about values, we would try to protect our interests in terms of this conflict. And they succeeded, unfortunately. They succeeded to move forward their political and geopolitical interests by supporting pro-Western forces inside of Ukraine and spoiling or provoking problems in relationships between Ukraine and Russia.

The USA did play a key role in this crisis and this is what has now been acknowledged by Mr. Obama, and we have nothing but to feel sorry about that, and we believe that this acknowledgement is probably not painful, but sensitive for American partners in Europe. Because by that acknowledgement they are presented not as active but as passive participants in this crisis, which I believe is not good for the reputation of these European countries.

6---Obama’s “pro-middle class” budget: Cut corporate taxes, raise military spending, slash Medicare, wsws

7---SELLOUT: Oil giants take hard line against US workers on strike, wsws

In comments to the local media web site, click2houston.com, Josey Wales, a supporter of the oil workers, replied to comments criticizing the strikers. “[This] is about what the company wants to take away. It’s about the safety in the plants. Maybe you have not been paying attention to the explosions, fires, environmental incidents and the exposure these guys are constantly facing... These corporations don’t care if you’re exposed to cancer-causing chemicals on a constant basis on your job. But do you care if your family is? Are you ignorant enough to believe these chemicals stop at the gate around these plants? That they don’t show up in your water your family is drinking?

“My dad and grandfather both worked in the plants. They worked shift work, nights, evenings, days. They worked holidays and weekends. By the time they were 60 years old they were worn out old men. They buried friends that burned to death in fires and explosions. They buried friends that died from cancer… These plants are making record profits and the CEOs are taking home 40 million-plus a year plus stock bonuses. If you think cheap oil is going to hurt them you are ignorant to how it works. Oil companies buy oil to refine and then sell the byproducts from it. It’s the drilling companies that are laying off. The oil companies are going to make a killing with cheap oil.”...

The USW has made sure the strike has the least possible impact. The Tesoro refinery in Martinez, northeast of Oakland, for example, was already operating at half capacity because of scheduled maintenance. Although the USW represents workers at refineries that account for two-thirds of the nation’s refinery capacity, the strike only affects nine facilities, responsible for 10 percent of capacity. The remaining USW-represented refineries are continuing to operate under rolling, 24-hour contract extensions, according to the union, while operations at nearly 200 unionized oil terminals, pipelines and petrochemical plants continue. There has not been a national oil workers strike since 1980 when workers were out for three months.

The sabotage of the strike is not an accident. The USW executives are opposed to any serious fight against the oil giants. While posturing as defenders of safety and workers’ living standards, the USW has collaborated with the oil companies to slash jobs and labor costs in the name of improving “competitiveness” just as it has done in the steel industry.

In 2013, President Obama appointed USW President Leo Gerard to serve on the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee, charged with “enhancing the nation’s competitiveness.” In his latest statement on the union’s web site, Gerard praises Obama as a champion of the “middle class” and opponent of social inequality even though he has overseen the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom up in history.
Obama has not only let corporate criminals—like Tesoro, BP, General Motors and JPMorgan Chase—get away scot-free, he has made the reduction of American workers into a cheap labor force the center of his manufacturing strategy.

8--The US arming of Ukraine and the danger of World War III, wsws

Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which warned in an article published Monday: “US arms supplies to Ukraine would be—and that can be taken almost literally—a declaration of war against Moscow.”...

The newspaper cited a Russian military expert, Yevgeny Buchinsky, who warned that in response to an offensive against the Donbass by Kiev, “Russia will have to intervene and then, bluntly speaking, to take Kiev. Then NATO would be in a difficult situation. Then you would have to start World War III, which no one wants.”

The ultimate aim of the US and its allies is to reduce Russia to an impoverished and semi-colonial status. Such a strategy, historically associated with Carter administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, is again being openly promoted.
In a speech last year at the Wilson Center, Brzezinski called on Washington to provide Kiev with “weapons designed particularly to permit the Ukrainians to engage in effective urban warfare of resistance.” In line with the policies now recommended in the report by the Brookings Institution and other think tanks calling for US arms to the Kiev regime, Brzezinski called for providing “anti-tank weapons…weapons capable for use in urban short-range fighting.”

According to Monday’s New York Times, “after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.”...

According to Monday’s New York Times, “after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.”
Washington has already sent military trainers to Ukraine and pledged $350 million in “nonlethal” military aid to Kiev. Now, the Times writes, top Obama administration officials are increasingly unified around “an independent report…by eight former senior American officials, who urge the United States to send $3 billion in defense arms and equipment to Ukraine.” These funds would provide the Kiev regime with “anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees, and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.”
This reckless escalation is being plotted by a criminal cabal of government officials, military and intelligence operatives and their associated think tanks, including the Brookings Institution. It is dictated by the interests of a corporate and financial oligarchy that, in its pursuit

9--Lying about unemployment, ZH

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