Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Today's links

1--US Navy deploys warships to intercept Iranian aid convoy off Yemen coast, wsws

Massive explosions rocked the Yemeni capital at Sanaa on Monday, flattening residential areas and killing scores while producing explosions compared by witnesses to an earthquake. Small clouds rose over the outskirts of the city, where air strikes had targeted major weapons deposits and missile bases. Ambulances lined approaches to nearby hospitals, according to reports.

Heavy strikes continued Friday and over the weekend, with warplanes and missiles of the Saudi-led coalition targeting Sanaa, Taiz and Aden. Saudi coalition strikes have destroyed civilian neighborhoods, factories and businesses across the country, according to witnesses cited in US media.

Some 750-1,000 Yemenis have been killed during the Saudi-led air campaign, according to UN estimates, with thousands more wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been displaced from their homes in Yemen as a result of the air campaign.
“All the signs are that things are worsening,” said Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN. ...

While Riyadh claims that the savage bombing of Yemen is needed to restore the “legitimate” US- and Saudi-backed government led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in reality the massacre of Yemen’s population is the product of a regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran that is intensifying under the impact of the efforts of US imperialism to maintain its dominance throughout the Middle East and Central Asia....

Saudi and Egypt began joint military exercises in the Arabian peninsula last week, staged as a prelude to a ground invasion of Yemen. Suggesting that the joint Saudi-Egyptian force might soon be used in Iraq and elsewhere, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi accused the Saudi regime of using the crisis in Yemen to pursue a region-wide confrontation with Iran along sectarian lines.
Meanwhile, large areas of the country have fallen to the Sunni extremist group Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the suppression of which was the officially stated purpose of US involvement in the country.

2--Ukraine ceasefire violations blamed on ‘unidentified third party’ – OSCE

“These battalions only half obey the central government. All provocations occur where Azov and Right Sector battalions are concentrated. Namely Shirokino area, Donetsk airport and Avdeyevka. This pushes the situation to a new conflict,” Pushilin said.
“They want a new war and new blood. They aim to involve the Ukrainian armed forces in the conflict, although the Ukrainian army to a greater degree follow orders,” Pushilin said.

3---The pseudo-left and the Libyan catastrophe, WSWS

Torture, summary executions and arbitrary imprisonment are rampant. As for “wealth produced by natural resources,” the economy is in free fall, having contracted 30 percent last year. Oil production, which accounts for some 80 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, has fallen to less than a fifth of what it was before the US-NATO war. Schools and hospitals, once the most advanced in the region, have been shut down by the fighting. Power outages are common, as are shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies.

The Left Party in Germany, the International Socialist Organization in the US, the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and a number of other similar pseudo-left groups all provided service to imperialism, supporting the pro-imperialist “rebels” and helping to dress up a naked intervention for oil and geostrategic interests as a crusade to protect civilians and promote democracy and human rights.
This gravitation to “humanitarian” imperialism neither began nor ended with the criminal war in Libya. This new pseudo-left constituency for imperialism made its debut with these organizations’ support for the “humanitarian” US-NATO bombardment of the former Yugoslavia in 1999. Much as in the Libyan case, the intervention was staged on the pretext of saving Kosovar Albanians from a supposed massacre at the hands of the Serbs, and then resulted in a skyrocketing of the death toll.

What has been the result of this “humanitarian” war for “liberation” concluded 15 years ago? Kosovo, a territory of 1.8 million people, remains economically, politically and socially unviable, dominated by poverty, organized crime and corruption. The unemployment rate is 45 percent—60 percent for younger workers—and tens of thousands are streaming out of the country....

All of these organizations bear moral and political responsibility for the catastrophes these imperialist interventions have wrought in country after country. Their lining up behind the bloodthirsty “human rights” wars of aggression is no accident and cannot be ascribed to mere political stupidity. It reflects the alignment with imperialism of a privileged upper-middle class layer, including elements within academia and the media, whose social interests are expressed in the politics of these groups.

4--US economic decline overshadows IMF-World Bank meeting, wsws

The article went on to cite comments made by former treasury secretary and a top adviser in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, Lawrence Summers, that the inability of Washington to prevent key allies from joining the AIIB signalled “the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system.”

5--Who Is Saudi Arabia Really Targeting In Its Price War? , wolf st

Saudi Arabia is not trying to crush U.S. shale plays. Its oil-price war is with the investment banks and the stupid money they directed to fund the plays. It is also with the zero-interest rate economic conditions that made this possible.
Saudi Arabia intends to keep oil prices low for as long as possible. Its oil production increased to 10.3 million barrels per day in March 2015. That is 700,000 barrels per day more than in December 2014 and the highest level since the Joint Organizations Data Initiative began compiling production data in 2002 (Figure 1 below). And Saudi Arabia’s rig count has never been higher.

Market share is an important part of the motive but Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali al-Naimi recently emphasized that “The challenge is to restore the supply-demand balance and reach price stability.” Saudi Arabia’s need for market share and long-term demand is best met with a growing global economy and lower oil prices.

That means ending the over-production from tight oil and other expensive plays (oil sands and ultra-deep water) and reviving global demand by keeping oil prices low for some extended period of time. Demand has been weak since the run-up in debt and oil prices that culminated in the Financial Collapse of 2008 (Figure 2 below)....

Saudi Arabia is not trying to crush tight oil plays, just the stupid money that funded the over-production of tight oil. Too much supply combined with weak demand created the present oil-price collapse. Saudi Arabia hopes to prolong low prices to benefit their long-term needs for market share and higher demand.

6--Greece Endgame Nears, NC

This chart from a a different Bloomberg story (this one by Mark Whitehouse) shows what the failure to impose capital controls (in combination with the ECB stoking the bank run) has cost Greece:
Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 5.47.03 AM
As Whitehouse pointed out:
Greece and its creditors would do well to step back and survey the wreckage as they enter yet another week of brinkmanship: Data on capital flows suggest they’ve undone years of confidence-building in a matter of months….
Data from the Greek central bank, which records each euro that leaves the country as a liability, suggest the capital flight has reached unprecedented proportions. Over the six months through March, about 62 billion euros ($67 billion) were taken out of Greece. That’s the equivalent of a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.

It is still astonishing that the European elites have convinced themselves that adhering to the procedures used to implement clearly unsuccessful austerity programs are so important as to justify creating a failed state. Is this what the European project stands for? It’s sadistic and destructive, but there seem to be no cooler heads who can deter the power players, the ECB and the IMF, from this course of action.

7--QE makes everything worse

8--Political Murders in Kiev, US Troops to Ukraine Ron Paul

9--Investors may be ignoring potential ‘collateral damage’ from Greece , marketwatch

10--Houthi: Saudi Goal Is Occupation of Yemen




14--Iran rejects US call for ‘anywhere, anytime access’ to military sites

Iran has rejected a call by US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz for unlimited access of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to the Islamic Republic’s military sites.
In a Monday interview with ISNA news agency, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) described Moniz’s demand as “not practical and acceptable.”
Behrouz Kamalvandi noted that negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program “are still underway,” urging the other side to put forward its views during the talks.
Kamalvandi stressed that Tehran will not undertake any commitments beyond “common laws and regulations.”
Earlier on Monday, Moniz said nuclear inspectors will need free access in Iran as part of a possible deal on the Iranian nuclear program.
“We expect to have anywhere, anytime access,” added the nuclear physicist, who has been part of the recent nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.
He stated that inspections of Iran’s military sites under a proposed long-term agreement would not be “frivolous” and would be part of “a well-defined process.”
Moniz also said it would take at least six months to lift nuclear-related anti-Iran sanctions. However, Tehran insists that the sanctions must be lifted immediately after the nuclear deal takes effect.

There have been reports in the Western media that a final deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries could see Tehran allow international inspectors to visit its military sites. Tehran has categorically denied the reports, describing them as mere rumors and wrong interpretations of the understanding reached in early April in Switzerland

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