Friday, December 18, 2015

Scarred Riverbeds and Dead Pistachio Trees in a Parched Iran - NYT

Iran is in the grip of a seven-year drought that shows no sign of breaking and that, many experts believe, may be the new normal. Even a return to past rainfall levels might not be enough to head off a nationwide water crisis, since the country has already consumed 70 percent of its groundwater supplies over the past 50 years.
Always arid, Iran is facing desertification as lakes and rivers dry up and once-fertile plains become barren. According to the United Nations, Iran is home to four of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, with dust and desertification among the leading causes.
bth: no matter how you cut it, Iran has got to make significant investments into its own infrastructure both in oil and gas, in pollution systems and most importantly into water and water management.  What that means for how Iran relates to the world at large remains to be seen but I would think it would encourage important social changes with the outside world.

Putin: Russia did have people in Ukraine doing 'certain military tasks' - Reuters

... Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia did have personnel in eastern Ukraine who were carrying out certain military tasks but denied Moscow had deployed regular troops there.
"We never said there were no people there who were carrying out certain tasks including in the military sphere," Putin told an annual news conference.
"But that does not mean there are Russian (regular) troops there, feel the difference."...

bth: figuring that Putin doesn't make statements like this without a reason I wonder what it is and why now?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Iraqi state oil firm official shot dead in Kirkuk city: police -Reuters

Gunmen shot dead a senior employee of Iraq's state-run North Oil Company (NOC) on Monday, the third company official to be killed in the past four months, police and sources within the company said.
Deputy inspector-general Hassan Salim and three other employees were driving to their office in the northern oil city of Kirkuk when assailants in a speeding car sprayed their minibus with bullets.
Salim and another employee were killed instantly and the two other passengers were seriously wounded, police sources said....

Two NOC officials who requested anonymity told Reuters that the deputy inspector-general was conducting multiple corruption probes inside the company.
"When you have an official running a corruption investigation getting killed, then it's a bloody message from parties that could get exposed to stop chasing them," one of the officials said.

"Until now we have lost three officials and more to come. North Oil Company is becoming more of a mafia courtyard rather than a state-run firm."

bth: hard to see how the Kurds will actually organize as a government around oil revenue when the inspector generals keep getting assassinated during anti-corruption probes.