Saturday, February 01, 2014

Ukraine – Doomed After the Olympics - Mark Armstrong

According to a former adviser to Vladimir Putin, the economist  Andrei Illarionov, the Kremlin will take one of three possible scenarios with respect to the Ukraine problem. The most dramatic will be the establishment of full control over the whole Ukraine. Within the first half of February, Illarionov states that Russia will begin the total pressure on Ukraine, the purpose of which, will be to assert full control of Moscow over the country.

According to Illarionov, within the next week, Russia will begin to assert a lot of pressure on Kiev. Moscow has resumed a reduced trade war with Ukraine and there has been an information war against Ukraine put out by the government. In particular, there is a delay at the border of Ukrainian goods moving into Russia for 10-15 days. This is expected to increase domestic economic pressure in Ukraine....

According to Illarionov, Russia’s options are
  • (1) establishing a baseline scenario control over the entire Ukraine. This would be the most appropriate option;
  • (2) pro-Kremlin politicians and political scientists see this as the federalization or confederation Ukraine in the context of reunification as a state subservient to Moscow. and
  • (3) llarionov suggests that if the first two options fail, then control over the Crimea, Luhansk , and possibly part of Sumy region will need to be established under this idea of “reunification” with Moscow over part of the country in the East joining the Russian population with their mother country.
Illarionov believes that the outcome is really predetermined and that whatever attempts are made to pretend to appoint a opposition Prime Minister of Ukraine, the decision is simply a stall tactic....

-bth: And keep in mind that our supply lines are at the mercy of the Russians and the Pakistanis.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger/ Where Have All The Flowers Gone (+playlist)

Iraq and Iran plot oil revolution in challenge to Saudi Arabia - The UK Telegraph

Iraq is poised to flood the oil market by tripling its capacity to pump crude by 2020 and is collaborating with Iran on strategy in a move that will challenge Saudi Arabia's grip on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
"We feel the world needs to be assured of fuel for economic growth," Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy in Iraq told oil industry delegates attending a Chatham House Middle East energy conference.
Al Shahristani said on Tuesday that Iraq plans to boost its capacity to produce oil to 9m barrels a day (bpd) by the end of the decade as Baghdad rushes to bolster its economy, which is still shattered by war and internal conflict. Iraq was producing 3m bpd in December, according to the International Energy Agency.
Iraq's intention to challenge Saudi Arabia's status as the "swing producer" in the OPEC cartel could see a dramatic fall in oil prices if Baghdad decides to break the group's quotas and sell more of its crude on the open market....

Turkey deals with terrorist blowback on Syria - Al Monitor

Turkey is now on alert that ISIS may be planning terrorist attacks inside Turkey against targets associated with the Istanbul-based Syrian opposition groups, including hotels, as also reported by Tastekin for Al-Monitor this week.

It will be daunting for Turkish security forces to implement a crackdown on jihadists entering or leaving Syria, which it has so far failed to do. While the target of such an effort would be ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, Syrian opposition forces would no doubt be affected by redoubled security efforts at the border, as it is difficult, on any border, including the US-Mexican border, to distinguish the good guys from the bad. Tastekin describes a queue of trucks stretching 19 miles at Bab al-Hawa after the Jan. 20 bombing. Turkey’s tougher border controls, if implemented, would therefore have consequences for Syrian opposition forces.

If Turkey cracks down, the opposition might look elsewhere for more secure supply lines. The Syrian border with Iraq is controlled by ISIS and related forces, so that is an unlikely option for the opposition, and it is an open question if Jordan, which has so far been spared from Syria-related terrorism — unlike Iraq, Lebanon and now Turkey — would want to get even more deeply engaged in military efforts against the Bashar al-Assad government.

The blowback from terrorists is connected to popular discontent with Turkey’s Syria policies. The vast majority of Turks want their government to stay neutral and keep out of the Syria conflict. Turkish President Abdullah Gul made public the "open secret" of his own dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Syria policy. In a Jan. 13 speech to Turkey’s ambassadorial corps, he said, “When developments in Syria are considered in particular, the threats and potential threats that have emerged are growing.” He added, “In view of the realties that have emerged on our country’s southern flank, we have to recalibrate our diplomacy and security policies by also taking into consideration the threat perceptions that have emerged around us.”...

-bth: an article well worth reading in full.

Snowden docs reveal British spies snooped on YouTube and Facebook - NBC

The British government can tap into the cables carrying the world’s web traffic at will and spy on what people are doing on some of the world’s most popular social media sites, including YouTube, all without the knowledge or consent of the companies.

Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News detail how British cyber spies demonstrated a pilot program to their U.S. partners in 2012 in which they were able to monitor YouTube in real time and collect addresses from the billions of videos watched daily, as well as some user information, for analysis. At the time the documents were printed, they were also able to spy on Facebook and Twitter.

Called “Psychology A New Kind of SIGDEV" (Signals Development), the presentation includes a section that spells out “Broad real-time monitoring of online activity” of YouTube videos, URLs “liked” on Facebook, and Blogspot/Blogger visits. The monitoring program is called “Squeaky Dolphin.”
Experts told NBC News the documents show the British had to have been either physically able to tap the cables carrying the world’s web traffic or able to use a third party to gain physical access to the massive stream of data, and would be able to extract some key data about specific users as well.

Representatives of Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, said they hadn’t given the British government permission to access data and were unaware the collection had occurred. A source close to Google who asked not to be identified when discussing company policy said the company was “shocked” to learn the U.K. could have been “grabbing” its data.

In connection with this report, NBC is publishing documents that Edward Snowden took from the NSA before fleeing the U.S., which can be viewed by clicking here. The documents are being published with minimal redactions. ...

- bth: so to get around US laws about spying on its own citizens, the Brits are collecting data for the US and then the US is asking the Brits for it. Sad situation.


She always leaned to watch for us
Anxious if we were late,
In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.
And though we mocked her tenderly
Who had such foolish care,
The long way home would seem more safe,
Because she waited there.
Her thoughts were all so full of us,
She never could forget,
And so I think that where she is
She must be watching yet.
Waiting ‘til we come home to her
Anxious if we are late
Watching from Heaven’s window
Leaning from Heaven’s gate.