War on Iran has already begun. Act before it threatens all of us
They don't give up. After a decade of blood-drenched failure in Afghanistan and Iraq, violent destabilisation of Pakistan and Yemen, the devastation of Lebanon and slaughter in Libya, you might hope the US and its friends had had their fill of invasion and intervention in the Muslim world.
It seems not. For months the evidence has been growing that a US-Israeli stealth war against Iran has already begun, backed by Britain and France. Covert support for armed opposition groups has spread into a campaign of assassinations of Iranian scientists, cyber warfare, attacks on military and missile installations, and the killing of an Iranian general, among others.
The attacks are not directly acknowledged, but accompanied by intelligence-steered nods and winks as the media are fed a stream of hostile tales – the most outlandish so far being an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US – and the western powers ratchet up pressure for yet more sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme.
The British government's decision to take the lead in imposing sanctions on all Iranian banks and pressing for an EU boycott of Iranian oil triggered the trashing of its embassy in Tehran by demonstrators last week and subsequent expulsion of Iranian diplomats from London.
Source: The Telegraph
An order from Gen Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the commander of the guards, raised the operational readiness status of the country’s forces, initiating preparations for potential external strikes and covert attacks.
Western intelligence officials said the Islamic Republic had initiated plans to disperse long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.
The order was given in response to the mounting international pressure over Iran’s nuclear programme. Preparation for a confrontation has gathered pace following last month’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that produced evidence that Iran was actively working to produce nuclear weapons.
The Iranian leadership fears the country is being subjected to a carefully co-ordinated attack by Western intelligence and security agencies to destroy key elements of its nuclear infrastructure.
Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/...
Life after the end of economic growth
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 30 November 2011 06.14 EST
The tide of economic growth that has flowed since the second world war may finally be ebbing. For politicians and most economists, this is like saying the sky is falling. Growth has become guidepost and grail, the sine qua non of economic existence. Growth is necessary to job creation and the health of businesses. Without growth the rolls of the homeless and jobless swell, requiring governments to shoulder more responsibility; yet at the same time tax revenues fall, making both new and existing government debt unbearable.
Stimulating growth has become job No 1 for policymakers. David Cameron insists that his nation must deregulate business and reform employment law in order to "go for growth". And at the conclusion of the recent G20 global economic summit, the US president, Barack Obama, reported that the discussions there had revolved around the question, "How do we achieve greater global growth?" Such statements raise nary an eyebrow; they are entirely expected.
Nonetheless, in recent years a few economists have advanced a contrary view. Tim Jackson in the UK, Herman Daly in the US, and Serge Latouche in France have argued that growth is not always good for the environment or for the real health of communities, and that GDP growth is impossible to sustain over the long run anyway because we live on a planet with limited natural resources. Their position has won few adherents in the mainstream. In the "real" worlds of politics and economics, questioning growth is like arguing against gasoline at a Formula One race.
But doubts about growth are no longer theoretical. We seem to have arrived at a moment when further economic expansion is hemmed in by financial as well as natural limits. As extraction industries chewed through the low-hanging fruit of the world's oil, coal, natural gas and other minerals, and turned to lower-grade and thus more expensive ores and fuels, managers of the economy tried to keep growth going by piling up debt in the mistaken belief that it is only money that makes the economy run, not energy and raw materials. Today, high oil prices are keeping a lid on commercial expansion in the older industrial nations as petroleum demand shifts to the hyperactive economies of Asia, which for now can afford steeper fuel prices. Meanwhile, we in the west seem to have maxed out government and consumer credit, and that realisation is sending financial markets into fibrillation. With energy resources and credit both stretched tight, that means more economic growth may simply not be possible in the US and Europe, regardless of our opinions about it.
Peak oil gets pepper sprayed
By Erik Curren November 22, 2011
The Pepper Spraying Cop has now come for peak oil. It's time for honest experts to occupy the public conversation on energy.
How many Saudi Arabias did you say that was?
It’s hard to keep up these days with claims by oil and gas drillers about how many Saudi Arabias of tar sands oil/shale oil/deepwater oil/hydrofracked gas that North America is now allegedly able to access due to the smarts of petroleum geologists and the tenacity of oilmen.
“Because of better technology, notably breakthroughs in drilling, the US all of a sudden realizes it is sitting on a century’s worth of gas supply,” writes Edward Luce in the Financial Times. “When Mr Obama came to office, the country faced projections of rising natural gas imports from places like Qatar.”
But now, if you believe what the industry says, the picture’s really brightening up:
The same technology has unlocked ever-growing estimates of once inaccessible “tight” oil lurking beneath America’s rocks. In its immediate neighborhood, Alberta’s huge expanse of “tar sands” contains oil reserves that rank Canada second only to Saudi Arabia. In Brazil, recent advances in offshore oil drilling will relegate Venezuela into second place in the region.
Without any real input from Washington, windfalls just keep dropping into America’s lap. Welcome to a new age of plenty.
While this new cornucopia is bad news for climate change — nations are scrambling to get at Arctic oil ironically made accessible by melting ice caps — it’s great news for US energy independence. “A new era of fossil fuel appears to be upon us and nobody saw it coming,” concludes Luce.
Fascinating look at possibilities for the future. I'm curious to hear what people think about the feasibility for the economic solutions that the author proposes. Not from the perspective of political will but strictly mathematical: could the proposed solutions work?
Hubbert's Third Prophecy
In light of recent events such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street I thought it would be pertinent to review Hubbert's Third Prophecy about the cultural crisis he expected. He wrote about it in the attached article entitled "Exponential Growth as a Transient Phenomenon in Human History". In case you are not familiar with Hubbert's first two prophecies, he predicted both the US and world oil peak very accurately.
In 1956 Hubbert predicted the US oil peak would be sometime between 1969 and 1971. For this he was ridiculed and laughed off the face of the earth (almost). Turned out the US oil peak was in 1970. This is something the drill-baby-drill, it's all the environmentalists' fault, ditto heads don't know anything about.
Next in 1974 Hubbert predicted the world oil peak to happen about 1998. However he DID say that if OPEC were to restrict the supply, then the peak would be delayed by 10-15 years which would put it at 2008-2013, or exactly right. Here is what Hubbert's prediction (to scale by MBPD) looks like overlayed onto a reasonably close estimate of the actual global oil peak which started in 2005 and has continued as a plateau up to now.
OK, now is anyone willing to make a bet that Hubbert's THIRD prophecy is wrong? Didn't think so. Here it is:
Hubbert didn't mention one other notable feature of a debt-money system. It systematically pumps wealth from the bottom 80% of the population in wealth to the top 20%. The bottom 80% pay interest while the top 20% collects it, and of course most of the interest is collected by the top 10%. When all money is debt, that's a lot of money going to the top. The Occupy Wall Street people aren't stupid. They know the game is rigged.
The text of the original document "Exponential Growth as a Transient Phenomenon in Human History" by M. King Hubbert can be found here: http://www.uvm.edu/~gflomenh/CDAE170/2003/...
This is a long piece, but it's one of the most well written and most important that I've read in a long time. I've always loved her research and writing ever since I read The Shock Doctrine, one of my top ten favorite political books. But here I really became impressed with her wide-ranging vision of how the present and future is shaping up. I hope you read the whole piece, but these paragraphs in particular stood out for me:
Capitalism vs. the Climate
November 9, 2011
The fact that the earth’s atmosphere cannot safely absorb the amount of carbon we are pumping into it is a symptom of a much larger crisis, one born of the central fiction on which our economic model is based: that nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out it can be seamlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly extract. But it is not just the atmosphere that we have exploited beyond its capacity to recover—we are doing the same to the oceans, to freshwater, to topsoil and to biodiversity. The expansionist, extractive mindset, which has so long governed our relationship to nature, is what the climate crisis calls into question so fundamentally. The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits does not just demand green products and market-based solutions; it demands a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal—and acutely sensitive to natural limits, including the limits of human intelligence.
In addition to reversing the thirty-year privatization trend, a serious response to the climate threat involves recovering an art that has been relentlessly vilified during these decades of market fundamentalism: planning. Lots and lots of planning. And not just at the national and international levels. Every community in the world needs a plan for how it is going to transition away from fossil fuels, what the Transition Town movement calls an “energy descent action plan.” In the cities and towns that have taken this responsibility seriously, the process has opened rare spaces for participatory democracy, with neighbors packing consultation meetings at city halls to share ideas about how to reorganize their communities to lower emissions and build in resilience for tough times ahead.
But here is where things get complicated. There is a growing body of economic research on the conflict between economic growth and sound climate policy, led by ecological economist Herman Daly at the University of Maryland, as well as Peter Victor at York University, Tim Jackson of the University of Surrey and environmental law and policy expert Gus Speth. All raise serious questions about the feasibility of industrialized countries meeting the deep emissions cuts demanded by science (at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050) while continuing to grow their economies at even today’s sluggish rates. As Victor and Jackson argue, greater efficiencies simply cannot keep up with the pace of growth, in part because greater efficiency is almost always accompanied by more consumption, reducing or even canceling out the gains (often called the “Jevons Paradox”). And so long as the savings resulting from greater energy and material efficiencies are simply plowed back into further exponential expansion of the economy, reduction in total emissions will be thwarted. As Jackson argues in Prosperity Without Growth, “Those who promote decoupling as an escape route from the dilemma of growth need to take a closer look at the historical evidence—and at the basic arithmetic of growth.”
We know the answers already. The corporate quest for scarce resources will become more rapacious, more violent. Arable land in Africa will continue to be grabbed to provide food and fuel to wealthier nations. Drought and famine will continue to be used as a pretext to push genetically modified seeds, driving farmers further into debt. We will attempt to transcend peak oil and gas by using increasingly risky technologies to extract the last drops, turning ever larger swaths of our globe into sacrifice zones. We will fortress our borders and intervene in foreign conflicts over resources, or start those conflicts ourselves. “Free-market climate solutions,” as they are called, will be a magnet for speculation, fraud and crony capitalism, as we are already seeing with carbon trading and the use of forests as carbon offsets. And as climate change begins to affect not just the poor but the wealthy as well, we will increasingly look for techno-fixes to turn down the temperature, with massive and unknowable risks.
more...(all emphasis added)
What I found most exhilarating about this article is that it is far from a "doom and gloom" piece. Klein does a wonderful job exploring the positive possibilities of a future with a "new civilizational paradigm" and rightly credits Occupy Wall Street with leading the way as a commendable example.
Noted American economist Nouriel Roubini says the eurozone is in the midst of crumbling, and with the rest of the world’s future at stake with a potential collapse, they might want to listen up — Roubini has been right before.
Speaking privately at a get-together this week at his apartment, those in attendance have since leaked that Roubini, who manages the Roubini Global Economics firm, has low-expectations for resurgence in the eurozone. According to the economist, a collapse is imminent as the economy overseas gets more chaotic.
There is a “significant risk of a Eurozone breakup,” sources say Roubini told a handful of select party guests recently, reports the Business Insider. Adds the economist, if the Eurozone goes under, “everything around the world goes sour.”
Roubini has claimed that in the past he correctly predicted both the housing market crash and the worldwide recession, the aftermath of both is still evident in the crises across the globe. For his forecasting, Roubini has earned the title “Dr. Doom” from members of the media, who look to him for economic outlook and have been met with not-so-optimistic — and correct — assumptions from the analyst in the past. As the American economy continues to show slumping statistics and the unemployment rate stays at or above a stagnant 9 percent for months, a collapse across the pond could cause a catastrophe for the world economy.
Read more: https://rt.com/usa/news/roubini-eurozone-c... /
Funny how when I read the headline, the thought that raced through my mind was the same as the last line.
It's Baaack: FT Deutschland Pronounces Deutsche Mark's Return, Prices Itself At 4.11 DM
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/21/2011 09:21 -0400
Curious what the talking heads will be discussing all weekend parallel to the joke that is the European Summit #1, not to be confused with summit #666? Here is the answer, courtesy of the FT Deutschland, where not too subtly, right next to a lede saying "the Euro rescue has turned into a farce", the publication has for the first time, set its price not in zEURo.qq but in Paul Tudor Jones' favorite currency: the Deutsche Mark, or 4.11 DM to be precise. And courtesy of the FTD, we now know the When Issued exchange rate for the EURDEM is: 1.95, the same as was locked at the EUR inception. Said otherwise, stick a fork in the euro, it's done.
If the euro completely collapses, what does that mean for the global economy, short-term and long-term? What does that mean for America?
OCCUPY TOGETHER TAKES SHAPE: Prosecute the Wall Street Mafia! Bill Black, Dylan Ratigan & David DeGraw on the Destruction of the Rule of Law
Must Watch! -- The mainstream media won't say this, or acknowledge it, but OWS is evolving a serious list of demands. Good ones; demands that will give answers and explanations and will lead to conclusions. Dave DeGraw and Bill Black are brilliant and eloquent. This is a demand that will scare the shit out of TPTB. And that's exactly what every demand finally arrived at by the Occupy movement must do. This is war... An honorable war at last. Major props to Dylan Ratigan. I quoted him extensively on 9-11 insider trading in "Crossing the Rubicon". He's always had real big ones. Now, if he'd just surrender on infinite growth then I'd be happy to see him and John Crudele of the NY Post in charge of journalism ethics. He may be coming around.
Sit back and watch. The Occupy Together movement is so much more than most can yet appreciate. I'm loving this. It's about freaking time! -- MCR
Source: The Raw Story
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) isn’t taking last week’s failure to pass President Obama’s jobs package lying down. Instead, he’s got a bolder plan in mind: create a new Works Progress Administration.
“It’s apparent that there’s a lot of need out there, and it’s apparent that there’s a lot of works out there,” he told Raw Story in an exclusive interview. “We’ve got millions of people looking for work,” he added, and his plan has “the immediacy factor” that other plans — including the President’s — lacks.
“The President’s plan — and, by the way, we wouldn’t have minded if it passed, I voted for it — has a lot of good things… but it doesn’t have the immediacy factor
Lautenberg’s legislation, called the 21st Century WPA Act, wouldn’t be exactly like the WPA that gave Lautenberg’s own father a job during the Great Depression. Rather, it would award funding to projects that would give jobs to people unemployed for more than 60 days; have a continued economic benefit after their completion; and would devote a “high” portion of each dollar spent to employee pay. The legislation suggests — but does not limit departments to — a variety of projects, including the construction of water treatment plants, schools and firehouses, highway repairs and maintenance, building weatherization and trail maintenance.
Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/10/18/new-... /
There Has Been An Unsettling Rise In Zombie Outbreaks Among Animals
Cases of animals being infected by behavior-modifying parasites are popping up throughout the animal kingdom, including zombie ants and rats that become sexually attracted to cats.
In an even creepier development, a virus affecting caterpillars is beginning to change behaviors as well, making it the first classic example of a zombie infection come to life.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-parasit...
Massive New Radiation Releases Possible from Fukushima … Especially If Melted Core Materials Hit Water
Posted on September 14, 2011 by WashingtonsBlog
Governments Underreported Severity of Fukushima
As I’ve noted for 6 months, the Japanese and U.S. governments have continually under-reported the severity of the nuclear crisis at Fukushima.
The Wall Street Journal points out:
The Japanese government initially underestimated radiation releases from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in part because of untimely rain, and so exposed people unnecessarily, a report released this week by a government research institute says.
The amount of radiation released during the Fukushima nuclear disaster was so great that the level of atmospheric radioactive aerosols in Washington state was 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than normal levels in the week following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster.
Biegalski said the reason for the large release in Fukushima, when compared to the others, is that there were three nuclear reactors at the Japan facilities rather than just one.
It's important to understand what we're up against is slightly more serpentine than 400 super-rich individuals. And yet, it's somewhat less complicated. The real control of the world lies in the hands of transnational corporation:
Who Runs the World ? – Network Analysis Reveals ‘Super Entity’ of Global Corporate Control
August 28, 2011
In the first such analysis ever conducted, Swiss economic researchers have conducted a global network analysis of the most powerful transnational corporations (TNCs). Their results have revealed a core of 787 firms with control of 80% of this network, and a “super entity” comprised of 147 corporations that have a controlling interest in 40% of the network’s TNCs.
Strongly Connected Component (SCC); layout of the SCC (1318 nodes and 12,191 links). Node size scales logarithmically with operation revenue, node color with network control (from yellow to red). Link color scales with weight.
(Note to the reader: see the very end of this article for a ranking of the top 50 'control holders')
When we hear conspiracy theorist talk about this or that powerful group (or alliance of said groups) “pulling strings” behind the scenes, we tend to dismiss or minimize such claims, even though, deep down, we may suspect that there’s some degree of truth to it, however distorted by the theorists’ slightly paranoid perception of the world. But perhaps our tendency to dismiss such claims as exaggerations (at best) comes from our inability to get even a slight grip on the complexity of global corporate ownership; it’s all too vast and complicated to get any clear sense of the reality.
But now we have the results of a global network analysis (Vitali, Glattfelder, Battiston) that, for the first time, lays bare the “architecture” of the global ownership network. In the paper abstract, the authors state:
“We present the ﬁrst investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We ﬁnd that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure* and that a large portion of control ﬂows to a small tightly-knit core of ﬁnancial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic “super-entity” that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers.” (emphasis added)
Thank you for providing the correct diagnosis of the dilemma we face. Here's another chart going farther back:
Population increases over the centuries have been in direct correlation with the transition from a poor energy dense renewable resource (wood) ti a more energy dense non-renewable resource (coal). With oil, you have a natural resource so energy dense that in some cases(100 to 1 EROEI in the US during the 1930's) it's practically free energy. Not only has oil been hard-wired into the foundation of our economic infrastructure through transportation, but it is also imbedded into the foundation of our food production through the Green Revolution. The downside is that oil is very polluting; consume it and you increase the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Planet Earth consumes a billion barrels of oil every 11.86 days (and some morons still doubt humans cause global warming!) Oh, and oil is non-renewable. And we just hit a peak in global production of conventional oil in 2006.
So out of the 7 billion people on the planet, how many are not living in a country where their economic infrastructure is not dependent on oil? They are the only ones who can brag about a stabilized population. The rest of us are going to have to duck as the shit hits the fan. The population explosion from 2 to 7 billion in a little over 100 years is entirely dependent on the fact that since we had such an energy-dense resource, we thought we could grow forever! Never mind that we live on a finite planet, we can structure our economy around the assumption that growth is infinite! So until we collectively change this mindset and change the way money works so that money is no longer tied to wealth creation but is representative of energy, both the human energy we produce and the planet's energy that we utilize, then there's just too many of us to make this little project called civilization work. Can we do it? Can we live in harmony within the natural physical limits of our planet? Can we rearrange our economic infrastructure so that it is based on sustainability, not the asinine assumption of infinite growth?
Good luck, Humanity!
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