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Friday, 26 December 2014

OPEC May Cull Weaker Members

While much has been made of the oil price war theories lately, whether it is a direct competition between the United States and Saudi Arabia, or whether the two are in collusion to cripple the Iranian and Russian economies , there is another aspect to the current situation that is worth considering.

OPEC revenue

In this chart, we see OPEC revenues declining by approximately 8% from 2013 to around the $700 billion mark. With the recent PR campaigns by OPEC oil ministers explaining the cartel’s November 27th decision not to cut output as good capitalism and claiming that they never will cut regardless of the price of crude, the forecast for OPEC revenues for 2015 may beg to differ.

Should prices remain at current levels, the cartel could lose almost $400 billion in annual revenue by 2015, a 50% drop from 2013 levels. While the several of the Arab member states have huge currency reserves to support their economies, this level of decline in revenue would be completely unsustainable for some of the more at-risk members of the cartel such as Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela.

OPEC Breakeven prices

Source: Wall Street Daily

OPEC accounts for 40% of the world’s crude oil production. Within OPEC, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq together hold over half of the cartel’s revenue between them.

OPEC Net Oil Revenues 2013

With this in mind, it could be that these three members of the cartel are fully aware of the new reality in the oil markets, and that a new era of sub $80 oil is more likely than not. When a former head of OPEC states that the cartel has lost its influence over the energy markets it may not be just major oil companies hoping to downsize their operations.

Adding credence to this theory is the worrying news coming from OPEC member Venezuela, who looks to be in severe danger of default . If the overabundance of oil continues much longer in to 2015 then it may no longer be worthwhile maintaining the memberships of economically unsustainable members. By Evan Kelly, Oilprice.com

But there’s no respite for the American oil patch and its investors. Read… First Oil, now US Natural Gas Plunges off the Chart, “Negative Igniter” for New Debt Crisis

Global peace, war and the Xmas: Killing goes on

"The hell of human suffering, evil and oppression is paved with good intentions. The men who have most injured and oppressed humanity, who have most deeply sinned against it, were according to their standards and their conscience good men; what was bad in them, what wrought moral evil and cruelty, treason to truth and progress, was not at all in their intentions, in their purpose, in their personal character, but in their opinions." - (Professor Robert Briffault. The Making of Humanity. London, 1918)

Leader across the globe use the Xmas and the New Year's Eve as convenient opportunities to echo festive messages of peace and optimism as if they long the humanity. Despite the inherent wickedness of warmongers and institutions, the global community is tolerant and open to listening to the abstract and absurd alike. Analyzing critically and objectively, there is hardly any international leaders capable of articulating an effective and credible message of hope and change under the present global affairs. No matter where you look to the East and West, South and North, forces of darkness and evil go unchecked as if the mankind was just numbers and digits and nothing else in reality.

How strange in the 21st century knowledge-based informed age, large segments of humanity are being targeted by planned violence, displacement, aerial bombardment, traumatization, displacement and daily bloodbaths all extensions of the US-led bogus war on terrorism. The sadistic madness appears at its peak. America and its puppet Arab rulers are enlarging the scope of the nominal sectarian divides - Arab killing Arab, Muslims committing massacres of fellow Muslims, and Shias-Sunnis engaged in cold blooded murders. They are not fighting for truth, Islam or to protect the rights and dignity of the people. Rationality cries out loud against perpetuated insanity over the entire Arabian landscape. Nobody knows what is the end game? They are active and cash paid agents of death squads manned either by foreigners, or Iran, ISIL, Syria or Iraqis. Now, it is the coalition of the willing of 12 countries actively engaged to destroy the living humanity to ensure improved management of the oil supplies and to counteract any possible threats of imagined extremism in the Arab Middle East. There is no distinction of rights or wrongs. Who will be hanged and who will be spared, the coalition Arab leaders are uncertain about their futuristic destiny. To post 9/11 time, Al-Qaeda was the name and stigma; now it is newly formed ISIL - a convenient replacement. Everywhere, no question asked, the few authoritarian Arab rulers lacking legitimacy and the US dominated NATO members enjoy free access to victimize the innocent Arab people. The American inquisition explains Professor Michel Chossudovsky (9/11 and the "American Inquisition", Global Research, 9/11/2008):

The American Inquisition as an ideological construct which is, in many regards, similar to the inquisitorial social order prevailing in France and Spain during the Middle Ages. The inquisition, which started in France in the 12th century, was used as a justification for conquest and military intervention.

An inquisitorial doctrine turns realities upside down. It is a social order based on lies and fabrications. But because these lies emanate from the highest political authority and are part of a widely held "consensus", they invariably remain unchallenged. And those who challenge the inquisitorial order or in any way oppose America's military or national security agenda are themselves branded as "conspiracy theorists" or outright terrorists.

Global Leaders and Institutions are a Menace to Peace

The UNO and its major organs are spectators and debating clubs subject to approval of the Five Permanent Members of the Security Council. The idea of the UNO is self propagated prophecy that no longer has the persuasive power to stop aggression by one of its own member states. The mankind is left with no rational choice to challenge the institutionalized extremism except to cry out against the perpetuated insanity flourishing in the Arab Middle East an elsewhere. If we believe to be living in One World, the One Humanity must stand together to oppose the cruel reality against the human nature and expectation for peacemaking. American war strategy is aimed at large scale deaths and destructions of the entire Arab region enabling American corporations to attain direct control over the oil reserves and exports. Another vital aim of the strategy is to camouflage the freedom of Palestine. America is not engaged in wars of humanitarian principles and values of any kind or to promote liberty and democracy. Those opposing the American intervention in Iraq-Syria know well how much America is feared and hated by the common Arabian folks. President Obama does not have a strategy to "defeat and destroy ISIL" in the Arab Middle East. If he claims to have crafted a new strategy by launching air strikes on the civilian population across Iraq-Syria and enlisting coalition of the worst than useless Arab authoritarian leaders, he is in a political quagmire of his own. America will lose more by military interventions in the complex societal conflicts overwhelmingly dominating the Arab world. Professor Michel Chossudovsky ("America's Holy Crusade against the Muslim World. Global Research: 8/30/2010) points out that: A "war of religion" is unfolding, with a view to justifying a global military crusade. In the inner consciousness of many Americans, the "holy crusade" against Muslims is justified. While President Obama may uphold freedom of religion, the US inquisitorial social order has institutionalized patterns of discrimination, prejudice and xenophobia directed against Muslims.

American news media reports of an estimated 32,000 innocent citizens are gunned down yearly across the US homeland. If America cannot deal with its own domestic problems of security, unusual violence, killings of the innocents, natural disasters and fear-mongering politics, how could it be helpful to few puppet clients in the Arab world? One wonders, what went wrong with America? William Boardman ("A Country At War With An Illusion." Information Clearing House: 8/19/2013) spells out that America is at war with itself: "We are waging war on terrorism even as we embody terrorism. ...No wonder we seem sometimes to be at war with ourselves, and have been for most of the 21st century....No American Under 12 Has Lived In A Country At Peace....America's Main Enemy Is Nameless, Shapeless, "Associated Forces"... The American Enemies List Is Decided Anonymously and Secretly.

The warmongers go freely to massacre innocent women, children and rape the youngsters - a prevalent culture of infested crimes across the Arab regions. Despite moral and intellectual capacity, nobody takes up initiatives for talks to conduct conflict management and crisis management. Leaders appear more of insane egoistic character than peacemakers. They are unmindful of the consequences of their own vicious thought and priorities simply to double the imagery of popularity number games. The question is, how would such large scale military operations achieve any aims of peace to avoid future mishaps? For over a decade, in Iraq, Afghanistan and its spill-over drone war into Northern Pakistan tribal areas, millions and millions of people have been targeted, displaced and charcoaled by the US failing war strategy.

Towards Conflict Management

All man-made conflicts are manageable through dialogue and peaceful negotiations. If the coalition of the willing had working intelligence, they should engage ISIL in a political dialogue to determine the future of the Arab Middle East. Obviously, ISIL's cold-blooded killings of few foreign prisoners cannot be accepted as precepts of the Islamic behavior and values of the Muslim world, but the group is gaining ground and attracting large number of recruits across the Arab countries. President Obama claimed diplomacy to deal with global problems and nations with varied perspectives. But nothing is initiated out of the fixed strategy against ISIL. "It is Perfectly Reasonable to Negotiate with Villains like ISIS So, Why Don't We Do It to Save Some Lives" The Independent: 9/28/2014), asks reputable international journalist Robert Fisk. President Obama said, No at the UN and adds, we do not negotiate with Evil. An impartial observer would question President Obama if the Evil is one-sided. No wonder, why America is using the logic of power and not the power of logic to respond to a critical global humanitarian crisis. Wars suck out positive human thinking and creative energies to articulate a sustainable future. How should the global humanity view the contemporary Arab societies, their war-torn bloody cultures operated by foreign mercenaries and few authoritarian dictators? What kind of message of civility, moral and intellectual values do they convey to the watchful eyes of the global humanity?

War Negates the Essence of Xmas and Peacemaking

When was the last time any cruel monsters opted for a public dialogue to co-exist with rational people? Would Bashar al-Assad listen to voices of reason? Do other authoritarian Arab rulers show any flexibility to share power with the people? Most Arab rulers lack the intellectual capacity and political legitimacy to conduct any public negotiations with the opposing parties. The auspices occasion of the Xmas and New Year stand for peace and co-existence amongst diverse segments of human societies. The continuing bombing of the innocents, sectarian bloodbaths and aggressive military operations contradict the spirit and meaning of the Xmas. The crush for war is instinctively part of human ignorance and arrogance. Wars contradict the human Nature and the Nature of the living Universe. It is co-existence and peace that brings people and nations together and helps to flourish life and relationships befitting to the human Nature and the Nature of planet Earth and the larger Universe. Civilizations grow out of peace not conflicts. Dave Lindorff ("Eleven Reason's I'm Ashamed to Be an American." Counterpunch: 12/10/2014) is a founding member of , and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, and extends courageous statement on the current global affairs: I am ashamed to be a US citizen. This doesn't come easily, because having lived abroad and seen some pretty nasty places in my time, I know there are a lot of great things about this country, and a lot of great people who live here, but lately, I've reached the conclusion that the US is a sick and twisted country, in which the bad far outweighs the good..... It's not just the latest release of a heavily redacted report on the Bush/Cheney administration's deliberate program of torture, launched in 2001 in the wake of 9-11, and carried on for years against not just alleged terrorists, but even against people known or suspected to be completely innocent of anything. It's that nothing has been done, or likely will be done, to punish those who authorized and advocated for these war crimes and crimes against humanity.

If there were any responsible global moral, spiritual and intellectual powerhouses, they should have taken initiatives to find peaceful ways and means to end the authoritarian hostilities and massacres of the innocent civilians. The history speaks loud and clear that few powerful rulers with individualistic absolutism and most often, mentally retarded persons have always driven the mankind to large scale slaughters, victimization, deprivation and long term scars of unforgettable consequences - the massacres of innocent humanity and destruction of irreversible human habitats - the Two World Wars never ended - the killing goes on and on across the Middle East. God the Creator of the Universe knows who is peacemaker and who warmonger is. The messages of Torah, Bible and The Qura'an are clear and candid: God favors those who strive to bridge the human differences, bring people together and make peace. The humanity is at great loss even the Xmas occasion could not change the favorite perversion of the blood thirsty leaders to rethink of their role and aims within the global mankind.

: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, May 2012

Cell phones cause cancer. The research is conclusive


They say there's only two things constant in this life: death and taxes. But a third viable contender might be cancer, which an extensive cohort of scientific research has found is caused by prolonged exposure to radiation from cell phones and their associated communication towers.

Contrary to what you may have heard in the mainstream news, mobile phones and the antennas that allow them to communicate emit powerful, microwave radio frequencies capable of penetrating our bodies and cells. And constant exposure to these frequencies, according to the science, appears to be one of the leading causes of cancer in the modern age.

Wireless phone radiation can lead to brain cancer

Extensive research into the connection between cell phone radiation and cancer has linked this ubiquitous modern technology to two main types of brain tumors: gliomas and acoustic neuromas. Information compiled by the has confirmed the following findings with regard to cell phones and brain cancer.

1) An independent study commissioned by U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile found that cell phone radiation directly initiates and promotes the formation of cancer:


2) The renowned Interphone study also found that regular cell phone use at just 30 minutes per day over 10 years increases the risk of gliomas by 40 percent. It also found that tumors were more likely to form on the side of the head where a cell phone is most prominently held:


3) A review of 23 epidemiological studies conducted by seven scientists concluded that cell phones cause a "harmful association" between cell phones and cancer. The only included studies that didn't suggest this were "lower quality" ones that researchers say "failed to meet scientific best practices" -- these studies were all funded by the mobile phone industry:



4) Researchers from the Hardell Research Group, which is noted for conducting what many consider to be the highest-quality studies on the subject, found a "consistent pattern" of increased risks for both glioma and acoustic neuroma in conjunction with mobile phone use:


5) A study out of France observed similar outcomes associated with prolonged exposure to electromagnetic frequencies from mobile phones. Scientists noted higher rates of gliomas and temporal tumors from "occupational and urban mobile phone use." In response, the EMF watchdog group Powerwatch noted that this study supports the categorization of mobile phone radiation as a "probable human carcinogen."



6) A study of nearly 800,000 middle-aged UK women found that those who used cell phones for 10 years or more had a 250 percent increased risk of developing an acoustic neuroma. The longer the women used the phones, the higher their risk:


7) Similarly, a study conducted by the group Lonn found that acoustic neuromas are increasingly more likely to develop the longer a person uses a mobile phone:


8) In Sweden, researchers studying adult brain tumor cases found that individuals with the highest cumulative use of mobile phones also had the highest risk of developing brain cancer:


9) The Hardell group conducted a study in 2009 which found that RF-EMFs from mobile and cordless phones are directly associated with malignant brain tumors. This study specifically states that wireless radiation initiates and promotes carcinogenesis:


Wireless phone radiation also triggers pituitary, thyroid, stem cell, oral, parotid, lymph node, breast, blood, prostate and eye cancers

1) The body's "master" gland, also known as the pituitary gland, is responsible for producing hormones and regulating other key bodily systems. But a study out of France found that cell phone use greatly increases the risk that this important gland will become cancerous:


2) The thyroid gland, which similarly produces hormones in addition to regulating body temperature, is also affected by mobile phone radiation. An Israeli study found that rates of cell phone use are directly proportional to the risk of developing thyroid gland cancer:


3) Many health experts would contend that solar radiation poses the greatest threat to healthy skin. But a study out of Sweden found that melanoma risk is greatly accelerated by mobile phone use:


4) A controversial Powerwatch study found that cell phone use nearly triples the risk of neuroepithelial tumors, which are a result of stem cell cancer:


5) Another study out of Israel confirmed a direct association between cell phone use and cancers of the mouth. Based on 460 cases of parotid gland tumors, researchers observed a direct association between mobile phone radiation and cancers of the parotid, the salivary gland located right next to where users typically hold their phones:


6) A separate study, also out of Israel, found that parotid gland cancers have increased in prevalence by 400 percent in the country between 1970 and 2006, which scientists link to increased mobile phone use:


7) An extensive review of more than 12 separate studies looking at health outcomes from exposure to radiation from mobile phone, television and radio broadcast towers found that cancers in general, and specifically cancers of the brain and blood (leukemia), are greatly increased:


8) Lymph nodes, a key component of the immune system, don't like cell phone radiation much, either. An Australian study found that typical exposure to cell phone radiation greatly increases lymphoma risk:


9) Back in the U.S., a study looking at young women with breast cancer found that regular use of smartphones can trigger the formation of breast cancer. This is especially true when women carry their phones in their blouses or bras, where phones are pressed directly against the breasts.


10) Researchers in Germany have also linked mobile phone radiation to uveal melanoma and other cancers of the eye:


11) Practically every other type of cancer not covered by one of the aforementioned studies was identified in a large-scale Brazilian study, which linked mobile phone radiation to cancers of the prostate, breasts, lungs, kidneys and liver. Shockingly, more than 80 percent of identified deaths in Brazil's third largest city, Belo Horizonte, occurred less than 500 meters away from one of the city's 300 cell phone antennas:





Four lost flamingos fly NORTH for the winter and turn up in Siberia

Chilly: One flamingo was spotted ambling along the snowy bank of the Usa River in Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo region

It could be a severe case of bird-bird, or strange weather patterns causing confusion, but at the moment scientists remain baffled about instances of flamingos flying north to bitterly cold Siberia for the winter, instead of south.

Four flamingos recently touched down in various parts of Siberia, to the astonishment of locals, in temperatures as low as -30C.

One landed in the Evenkia district of vast Krasnoyarsk region, which is just 310 miles south of the Arctic circle.

A strange place to be for a bird common in Africa, southern Europe and south Asia that likes warm climates.

It landed near Petr Sidorkin, a hunter who, luckily for the unusual visitor, wasn't in the mood for targeting exotic birds, the Siberian Times reported.

Four flamingos recently touched down in various parts of Siberia, at the locations indicated on the map, to the astonishment of locals

On the advice of local wildlife experts he and his wife fed it carrots, fish and minced beef, the paper said, and then took it to Royev Ruchey Zoo in Krasnoyarsk. Sadly, the bird did not survive.

It had frostbitten legs and a low body temperature from minus 30C conditions, the paper said.

Another flamingo caused a flap when it landed near the Turochack district of the mountainous Altai Republic, startling a local dog - which promptly bit it.

Fortunately, it was nursed back to health first at the Novosibirsk Centre for the Rehabilitation of Birds of Prey, then at Novosibirsk Zoo, which said it has facilities in which the bird will be able to thrive.

Another flamingo swooped down onto an ice lake in the Tomsk region and was rescued by fishermen. It had suffered mild frostbite but was given a warm reception at Seversky Zoo, which recharged its batteries.

Lapping up the attention: A flamingo that swooped onto an ice lake in the Tomsk region was rescued by fisherman

The fate of another flamingo that landed in Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo region, is unknown.

It was spotted ambling along the snowy bank of the Usa River, but flew off to an island in the river before local wildlife experts could catch it.

Alexey Vasilchenko, from 'Kuznetsk Alatau' Reserve, told that there have been around two dozen instances of flamingos veering off course to Siberia in the past 100 years.

There is a population of flamingos in Kazakhstan, but that is far from the Siberian locations the four flamingos ended up at this year.

Some are known to migrate to Iran and India in the winter and one theory is that northerly warm fronts are fooling the birds into thinking they're going in the right direction, others think that it could just be faulty wiring in the birds internal compass.

These birds are far from the only ones migrating to a surprising spot.

Over 5,000 birds of at least 16 different species have made a sewage drain in Delhi their home.

Seasonal visitors including the Painted Stork, Sarus Crane, Black-Necked Stork, Black-Tailed Godwit and Black-Headed Ibis have all bedded down there.

Flamingos like warm climates, like that found on Renaissance Island (pictured)

Police officer arrested for robbing businesses and homes on duty

© Edwardsville Police Department

Officer Brian Barker

An Edwardsville, Illinois police officer was arrested on charges of having burglarized homes and businesses while on duty and in uniform, the reports.

Officer Brian Barker, a 19-year veteran, was arrested after being accused of entering Reality Salon and Spa and removing money from the cash register while on duty. When the Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven discovered that the suspect was one of his officers, he turned the investigation over to the Madison County Sheriff's Department.

"It isn't that I don't have faith in my investigators, but for the public trust, it's best to have an independent agency investigate your agency," Keeven said.

Officer Barker is also accused of stealing money and weapons from a private residence, as well as a number of Edwardsville businesses, including Afsanehs Alterations, Edible Arrangements, Edison's Entertainment, Extreme Vapor, Headstrong Hair, The Little Gym, and Pedegos.

"We put all this trust, faith and power in police officers, but with that comes gigantic stresses," Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons told the New-Democrat. "When they breach that trust, it's so much worse. The magnitude of this breach of public trust necessitates a very harsh penalty, and we will be seeking prison time."

"It's really sad to see someone who's supposed to be the good guy go wrong. But the measure of character of leadership is what they do when it happens," he added. "In this case, [the Edwardsville Police Department] absolutely did the right thing."

Officer Barker stands accused of 10 counts of burglary, one count of residential burglary, and one counted of aggravated possession of stolen firearms.

Sheriff deputy allegedly shoots and kills son on Christmas Eve

Khamis Shatara

An off-duty sheriff's deputy from Palm Beach, Florida reportedly shot and killed his 21-year-old son on Christmas Eve at an apartment complex in Delrey Beach.

According to the ' Pulp blog, Khamis Shatara was shot and killed by his father, a Palm Beach Sheriff's Office deputy, in a dispute that took place on Wednesday.

The deputy's name is Shatara K. Shatara, who has been with the sheriff's department since 2006.

Khamis Shatara was a criminal justice major at Palm Beach State College and a staunch supporter of the police. He intended to enroll in the police force after graduation to follow in his father's footsteps.

Police were called to the apartment complex shortly before 8 a.m. on Wednesday. When they arrived they found Deputy Shatara and his son, who was dead of a single gunshot wound.

2014: The year propaganda came of age

© Dorothea Lange

Drought hit OK farm family on way to CA Aug 1936.

From just about as early in my life as I can remember, growing up as a child in Holland, there were stories about World War II, and not just about Anne Frank and the huge amounts of people who, like her, had been dragged off to camps in eastern Europe never to come back, but also about the thousands who had risked their lives to hide Jewish and other refugees, and the scores who had been executed for doing so, often betrayed by their own neighbors.

And then there were those who had risked their lives in equally courageous ways to get news out to people, putting out newspapers and radio broadcasts just so there would be a version of events out there that was real, and not just what the Germans wanted one to believe. This happened in all Nazi - and Nazi friendly - occupied European nations. The courage of these people is hard to gauge for us today, and I'm convinced there's no way to say whom amongst us would show that kind of bravery if we were put to the test; I certainly wouldn't be sure about myself.

Still, without wanting to put myself anywhere near the level of those very very real heroes, please don't get me wrong about that, that's not what I mean, I was thinking about them with regards to what is happening in our media today. I've mentioned before that I don't think Joseph Goebbels had anything on US and European media today.

That propaganda as a strategic and political instrument has been refined to a huge extent over the past 70-odd years since Goebbels first picked up on Freud's lessons on how to influence the unconscious mind, and the 'mass-mind', as a way to 'steer' an entire people, not just as a means to make them buy detergent. These days, the media can make people believe just about anything, and they have the added benefit that they can pose as friends of the people, not the enemy.

But there is a reason why such a large 'industry' has developed on the web with people writing articles that don't say what the mass media say. That reason for is, obviously, first and foremost that not everybody believes whatever they are told. The problem is equally obvious: not nearly enough people are being reached to make a true difference, and to question the official narratives.

Me, I have no claim to fame outside of the appreciation I get from first, my readers and second, from my colleagues and peers. I get a lot of both, and I thank you for that, but this certainly is not about me. If anything, it's about trying to live up to the desire for truth in the face of odds squarely stacked against it, and against the people I try to reach out to. Trying to do just 0.1% of what the WWII underground press was about.

A few days ago, I wrote in About That Interview :

The FBI claims they are certain the hackers are North Korean, but they have provided no proof of that claim. We have to trust them on their beautiful blue eyes. I think if anything defines 2014 for me, it's the advent of incessant claims for which no proof - apparently - needs to be provided. Everything related to Ukraine over the past year carries that trait. The year of 'beautiful blue eyes', in other words. Never no proof, you just have to believe what your government says.

And that truly defines 2014 for me. A level of propaganda I don't recognize, and I don't think I've ever seen before. 2014 has for me been the year of utter nonsense. To wit, it just finished in fine form with a 5% US GDP growth number, just to name one example. Really, guys? 5%? Really? With all the numbers presented lately, the negative Thanksgiving sales data - minus 11% from what I remember -, the so-so at best Christmas store numbers to date, shrinking durable goods in November and all? Plus 5%?

It really doesn't matter what I say, does it? You have enough people believing ridiculous numbers like that to make it worth your while. After all, that's all that counts. It's a democracy, isn't it? If a majority believes something, it becomes true. If you can get more than 50% of people to believe whatever you say, that's case closed.

With well over 90 million working age Americans counted as being out of the labor force, and with 43 million on food stamps, you can still present a 5% GDP growth number, if only you can get a sufficiently large number of people to 'believe'. And you do, I'll give you that. As far as the media goes, we have achieved the change we can believe in. We may not have that change, but we sure do believe we have, don't we? And isn't that what counts? Are congratulations in order?

Well, not where I'm at, they're not. I should do a shout out to the likes of Zero Hedge, Yves Smith, David Stockman, Wolf Richter, Mish, Steve Keen, Jim Kunstler, and so many others, we're a solid crowd by now even if we're neglected, and please don't feel left out if you're not in that list, I know who you are. The problem is, we're all completely neglected by the mass media, even though there are a ton of very sharp minds in this 'finance blogosphere'. And perhaps we should make it a point to break through that ridiculous black-out in 2015.

2014, in my eyes, has been the year of propaganda outdoing even its own very purpose, and succeeding too. We are supposed to be living in a time of the best educated people in the history of mankind, and everyone thinks (s)he's mighty smart, but precious few have even an inkling of a clue of what transpires in the world they live in. Talk about a lost generation. Or two.

We really need to question the value of higher education, if all we get for it is a generation of people so easily duped by utter blubber. What do they teach people at our universities these days? Certainly not to think for themselves, that much is clear. And then what is the use? Why spend all that time raising an entire generation of highly educated pawns, sheep and robots? I can think of some people liking that, but for society as a whole, it's devastating if that's all higher education is.

And if you would like to raise doubts here, the very existence of finance blogosphere I mentioned before is proof that we indeed have raised a generation of sheep. If we had functioning media, there'd be no need for that blogosphere. We are the people who keep on pointing out where the mass media fail, let alone the politicians, simply by being there and being supported to the extent we are by the few people who escape the sheep mentality.

But that's not nearly enough. Journalists, reporters, whatever they call themselves, working for , Reuters, etc. should at the very least quote Zero Hedge on a daily basis, and Mish, and Steve, and Yves, and perhaps even me - though it's fine if they continue to ignore me, as long as they give the rest their rightful place.

There are many people in the blogosphere who are many times smarter than the people who write for the mass media, and that's a very simple and hardly disputable fact that needs to be recognized. When you read something in your paper or at your online news provider, it should be second nature to ask yourself: but what would Tyler Durden say, or the , or , or David Stockman?

But we're nowhere near that, are we? We've been fooled with economic stats for years, not just in the US, not even just in the west, but all over, they all grabbed on to the potential of providing people with numbers that have little to do with reality, but that simply feel good. Or even just look good.

Still, boy, have we been, and are we being, fooled. Then again, most of you wouldn't know, would you? We people tend to discount the future, to see today as more important than tomorrow, and in the same manner we find our children's future much less important than our own. Because that feels good too. If we are comfy right now, screw them. Not that we'd ever put it into those terms.

But you know, that's really all old hack by now. 2014 brought us a whole other class of nonsense. And we swallowed it all hook line and entire sinker.

2014 gave us Ukraine. And you just try and find anyone today who doesn't think Vladimir Putin is and was the evil genius mind behind the whole thing, including the 4500+ people who died there over the past 10 months. Why is it so hard to anyone who doubts that narrative? Because our media told us Putin is the bogeyman. And 'we' never asked for any proof. That is, except for those of us in that same blogosphere.

Meanwhile, round after round of sanctions against Russia have been set up and activated by EU and US, causing hardship for both Russian people and European businesses. But why, what exactly is Putin allegedly guilty of?

The US/EU installed a government in Kiev in February (yeah, yap about it), which is still in place, with a bunch of US citizens recently added for good measure - and for profit. The chocolate prince president was indeed elected months later, but the prime minister - Yats - was handpicked by America, and is still - amazingly - in place. That's the same government that had its own army murder thousands of its own citizens, and not a thing has been resolved so far.

The whole thing came to a head when MH17 was shot down over the summer. That too was blamed on Putin. Or was it? Well, not directly, nobody said Putin ordered that plane to be shot. Nor did anyone say Russia shot it. There is the accusation that Russian speaking Ukrainian 'rebels' did it, but proof for that was never provided in the 6 months since the incident. And there must be a best before date in there somewhere.

Is it possible the 'rebels' did it? We can't exclude it, but that's for the same reason we can't exclude the option that little green Martians did it: we don't know. But even then, even if they did, there's the question whether that would have been on purpose. Which seems really stretching it: nothing they want would be served by shooting down a plane full of European, Malaysian and Australian holiday goers.

But here we are: no proof and layer upon layer of sanctions. And nary a voice is raised in the west. If one is, it's to denounce the Russians as bloodthirsty barbarians. Even though there is no proof they did anything other than protecting what they see as their own people. Something we all would do too, no questions asked.

Ukraine defines 2014 as the year western propaganda came into its own. Not just fictional stories about an economic recovery anymore, no, we had our politico-media establishment ram an entire new cold war down our throats. And we swallowed it whole. We may have had a million more years of higher education than our parents and grandparents, but we sure don't seem to have gotten any smarter than them.

There is a lot of information out there, written by people inspired by things other than monetary incentives or job security or anything like that, people who simply want to get information out that your trusted media won't give you anymore than Goebbels' media did in occupied Europe in the 1940s. And you don't even have to risk your lives to access that information. All you have to do is to get off your couch.

The is but a small part of a very valuable and fast growing resource that warrants a lot more attention than it's been receiving to date. A reported 5% US GDP growth print is one reason why, the entire Ukraine fantasy story is another. The blogosphere is full of functioning neurons, which is more than you can say for your papers and online MSM.

As far as media is concerned, 2014 has been downright scary in its distortion of reality. Let's try and move 2015 a little bit closer towards what's actually happening.

Phthalates and BPA linked to IQ reductions in children: FDA continues to reassert the chemical's safety

© greencape.org

A number of chemicals found in plastic products are known to act as endocrine disruptors. Being similar in structure to natural sex hormones, they interfere with the normal functioning of those hormones.

This is particularly problematic in children who are still growing and developing, as the glands of your endocrine system and the hormones they release influence almost every cell, organ, and function of your body.

Your endocrine system as a whole is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals have in fact been linked to a number of reproductive health problems.

Phthalates are among the most pervasive of all known endocrine disrupters. According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency1 (EPA), more than 470 million pounds of phthalates are produced each year.

They're primarily used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient, but they can also be found in air fresheners, dryer sheets, and personal care products like shampoo, shower gels, and makeup. Their prevalence in personal care products is thought to be the reason why women tend to have higher levels of phthalates in their system than men.

Furniture, upholstery, mattresses, and wall coverings can also contain phthalates. They've even been detected in infant formula and baby food (likely because they migrated from the packaging materials).

Phthalates Now Linked to Reduced IQ in Children

While previous research has linked phthalate exposure to birth defects, low sperm count, polycystic ovary disease, and early or delayed puberty, just to name a few, recent research suggests prenatal phthalate exposure may also lead to reduced IQ in children.2,3

They also found an association between phthalate concentrations in the mother's system during pregnancy and the child's ability to concentrate, working memory, their perceptual reasoning skills, and the time it took for the child to process and retrieve information at the age of seven. As reported by CNN Health:4

"Women who had a high amount of the chemicals called di-n-butyl phthalate and di-isobutyl phthalate in their bodies during pregnancy gave birth to children who had markedly lower IQ scores, according to a new study running in the journal PLOS One.5

The study found that by the age of seven, children exposed to more of these chemicals had IQs that were more than six points lower than children exposed to lower levels of the chemicals...

The results from this study were not entirely what the authors expected. 'We are a little surprised at the magnitude of the IQ drop,' Factor-Litvak said... 'We are not happy about the finding since phthalates are very ubiquitous in the environment.'"

The exact cause for the reduction in IQ is still unknown, as this was only an observational study, but previous animal research has found that:6

  • Phthalates may affect the activity of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Estrogen plays an important role in brain development

  • The chemical may interfere with the production of thyroid hormone, which plays a role in the timing of brain development

  • Phthalates may also disrupt brain activity related to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can produce symptoms like inattention and hyperactivity

BPA Can Have a Direct, Immediate Impact on Cardiovascular Health

Phthalates are not the only endocrine disruptor that can produce chronic health problems. Like phthalates, bisphenol-A (BPA) can be found in countless personal care and plastic products, including the liner of canned goods, plastic- and non-stick food containers, plastic wraps, water bottles, and cashier's receipts.

BPA, which mimics the hormone estrogen, has been linked to:

  • Structural damage to your brain

  • Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, ovarian toxicity,7 and infertility8

  • Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning

  • Heart disease

  • Increased fat formation and risk of obesity

  • Stimulation of prostate cancer cells

  • Altered immune function

  • Increased prostate size, decreased sperm production, and hypospadias9 (penis deformation)

Now we can add high blood pressure to this list. According to a brand new randomized, controlled trial,10 BPA from cans or plastic bottles can raise your blood pressure within just a few hours of ingestion.11 As reported by the New York Times:12

"The study found that when people drank soy milk from a can, the levels of BPA in their urine rose dramatically within two hours - and so did their blood pressure. But on days when they drank the same beverage from glass bottles, which don't use BPA linings, there was no significant change in their BPA levels or blood pressure...

[T]he findings suggest that for people who drink from multiple cans or plastic bottles every day, the repeated exposure over time could contribute to hypertension."

The amount of BPA leaching from the lining of cans may actually be more significant than previously thought. After drinking from a can, the levels of BPA in the participants' urine rose by about 1,600 percent, compared to when they drank soy milk stored in glass.

According to the authors, the effects may be caused by the fact that BPA blocks estrogen receptors that are involved with repairing blood vessels and controlling blood pressure. By disrupting your thyroid hormone, BPA may also affect your blood pressure indirectly. Lead author Dr. Yun-Chul Hong told the New York Times:13

"'Clinicians and patients - particularly hypertension or cardiovascular disease patients - should be aware of the potential clinical problems for blood pressure elevation when consuming canned food and beverages.' ...He recommended that people choose fresh foods and glass bottles over cans and plastic containers, and he urged manufacturers 'to develop and use healthy alternatives to BPA for the inner lining of can containers.'"

Amid Negative Publicity, FDA Reaffirms BPA's Safety

The industry trade group, the American Chemistry Council, has continually insisted that BPA is safe,14 and has opposed both state and federal legislative proposals to ban the chemical.

Interestingly, just three days prior to the online publication of the featured BPA study, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an official announcement15 in which it reaffirms BPA's safety. After a four-year long review16 of 300 studies, the FDA has concluded that "BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in food." The agency also stated that "the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging."

It is beyond irrational to conclude anything other than this verdict is a favor to the chemical industry. There is damning evidence against the use of BPA - particularly in food-related products that is being ignored. Ironically, Bloomberg,17 in reporting on the FDA's announcement, even mentions that there are "more than 800 academic studies that have concluded bisphenol-A could harm reproduction and development." So why did the FDA only review 300? And which 300 did they choose? And if there are 800 showing developmental harm, how is it that they managed to pick 300 that fail to make such a connection?

FDA's Assessment Is NOT in Line with International Findings

The fact of the matter is, when industry funds research, the results are FAR more likely to support the industry's claim of safety and effectiveness, and we know that many BPA studies were funded by the chemical industry. As discussed in a previous article, there's also a hidden network at play. Not only has the chemical industry borrowed the tobacco industry's strategies to keep their products on the market, they're also using tobacco industry 'experts' to back up their safety claims...

For example, industry-funded studies get published in certain journals that in many cases have links to the tobacco industry. The chemical industry has also relied on scientists that previously helped discredit the science linking smoking and second-hand smoke exposure to disease. Leaked minutes18 from a 2009 meeting of the BPA Joint Trade Association also revealed some of the tactics involved in shaping public opinion, regardless of the scientific facts.

Members of this trade association include the American Chemical Council, the American Chemistry Council, Coca-Cola, Del Monte, and many others. In this meeting, they explored a variety of messaging strategies. The attendees agreed that "the holy grail spokesperson" would be "a pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA." One of the most disturbing aspects of the chemical industry's efforts to hide hazardous effects is that they purposely target those who are the most vulnerable to damage, such as young children and pregnant women.

The FDA's assessment also flies in the face of a recent report co-produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), titled: "State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals,"19 issued on February 19, 2014. This report suggests an outright ban on endocrine disrupting chemicals may be needed to protect the health of future generations. Touted as the most comprehensive report on endocrine disrupting chemicals to date, it highlights a wide variety of health problems associated with exposure, including:

  • Non-descended testes in young males

  • Breast cancer in women

  • Prostate cancer in men

  • Developmental effects on the nervous system in children

  • Attention deficit /hyperactivity in children

  • Thyroid cancer

According to the report:

"The diverse systems affected by endocrine-disrupting chemicals likely include all hormonal systems and range from those controlling development and function of reproductive organs to the tissues and organs regulating metabolism and satiety. Effects on these systems can lead to obesity, infertility or reduced fertility, learning and memory difficulties, adult-onset diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as well as a variety of other diseases."

Beware: BPA-Free Claims Are
Not an Assurance of Safety

In response to consumer demand for BPA-free products, many manufacturers have switched to using a different chemical called bisphenol-S (BPS). However, BPS appears to be just as toxic as BPA. In some cases, it appears to be even worse! Trading one endocrine-disrupting chemical for another is hardly making products any safer so, unfortunately, the "BPA-free" label may not mean much. Last year, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch discovered that even minute concentrations - less than one part per trillion - of BPS can disrupt cellular functioning.

Metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, and even cancer, are potential ramifications of such disruptions. Other animal tests20 also show that BPS has very similar effects as BPA. For example, researchers studying the effects of BPS on zebra fish embryos found that fish exposed to BPS in similar concentrations as that found in the water of a nearby river experienced explosive neuronal growth, which led to hyperactive and erratic behavior.

Fish embryos exposed to BPS had a 170 percent increase in neuronal growth; while those exposed to BPA had a 240 percent increase. Another study using rats found that exposure to either BPA or BPS caused heart arrhythmia in the females. Here, the dose used was similar to concentrations found in humans. The researchers discovered that BPS blocked an estrogen receptor found only in the females, which disrupted the calcium channels. This is also a common cause of heart arrhythmia in humans.

Tips to Help You Avoid Toxic Chemicals

Although it's virtually impossible to steer clear of ALL potentially hazardous chemicals, you can certainly minimize your exposure by keeping some key principles in mind.

  1. Eat mostly fresh, raw whole foods. Processed and packaged foods are a common source of BPA and phthalates - particularly cans, but also foods packaged in plastic wrap.

  2. Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans.

  3. Store your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap. Use glass containers if heating food in your microwave, as heat tends to increase the release of chemicals from plastic. Be aware that even"BPA-free" plastics typically leach other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad as BPA.

  4. Use glass baby bottles for your infants.

  5. Be careful with cash register receipts. If you use a store regularly, encourage the management to switch to BPA-free receipts. I shop at Publix for my food and when I called them about the receipts it turns out they already switched. Nevertheless it is wise to limit your contact with all these receipts.

  6. Look for products that are made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic, and GMO-free. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, furniture, mattresses, and more. When redoing your home, look for "green," toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings, the latter of which is another source of phthalates.

  7. Choose toys made from natural materials to avoid plastic chemicals like phthalates and BPA/BPS, particularly for items your child may be prone to suck or chew on.

  8. Breastfeed your baby exclusively if possible, for at least the first year (as you will avoid phthalates exposure from infant formula packaging and plastic bottles/nipples).

  9. Use natural cleaning products, or make your own.

  10. Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. EWG's Skin Deep database21 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

  11. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one.

  12. Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives. While most ingredients in feminine hygiene products are undisclosed, tests suggest they may contain dioxins and petrochemical additives.

  13. Look for fragrance-free products; phthalates are often used to help the product hold its fragrance longer. Artificialfragrance can also contain hundreds - even thousands - of potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid fabric softeners, dryer sheets, air fresheners, and scented candles for the same reason.

  14. Check your home's tap water for contaminants and filter the water if necessary. You may also want to use an alternative to PVC pipes for your water supply.

  15. Teach your children not to drink water from the garden hose, as many are made with phthalate-containing plastics. They are typically more expensive but usually higher quality hoses and well worth the investment.

Sources and References

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When the country is in trouble, its servants shouldn't rest: No New Year holidays for Russian government ministers - Putin

© RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi

President Vladimir Putin (third right) and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (fourth right) attending at the Government House the president's final Cabinet meeting in 2014, December 25, 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked government officials not to take the traditional long vacation for New Year and Christmas, due to the country's economic situation. Cabinet ministers are particularly expected to be back at work earlier than usual.

"For the government, for your agencies, we cannot afford this long holiday, at least this year - you know what I mean," Putin said in a televised government session on Thursday, referring to the standard long vacation between January 1 and January 12 that is reserved for Russians to celebrate the New Year and Orthodox Christmas, which takes place on January 7.

"The hardships we are facing are not only external, they are caused not only by the sanctions restrictions or by restrictions linked with the objective international situation, they are also caused by our mistakes that have been made over the years," Putin said.

At the same time, he stressed that "we have been making efforts to change the structure of our economy, to refine it and make it more innovative...quite a lot has been done in this direction."

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev added to the message, telling cabinet ministers that they are expected to be back at work "from the first days of the year" to keep the country's situation in check.

Stabilizing the ruble is one of the main tasks for monetary policymakers. As part of that effort, Russia's central bank raised its key interest rate to 17 percent in December.

The ruble reflected the change in policy, achieving a slight recovery last week. Its value climbed two percent, trading at 52 rubles per US dollar on Thursday, after sliding from a peak of 80 rubles per dollar earlier this month.

U.S.-backed Kiev junta cutting off food supply to Eastern Ukraine

has found that "the already desperate situation in eastern Ukraine is being made even worse by" so-called 'volunteer' or mercenary forces for the Ukrainian Government, which are blocking the supply of food to residents in that region, and trying to starve them to death.

Thus, "The region is facing a humanitarian disaster with many already at risk of starvation," said Denis Krivosheev, acting Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International, on Wed., December 24th.

Amnesty International reports that, "Over half of the population in these areas are now entirely dependent on food aid."

The AI report quotes one commander of these mercenary forces as giving his reason for blocking the humanitarian supplies, as being: "We're at war with them and we're spilling our blood, but in the same time we're feeding them"; so, they refuse to allow the aid convoys through.

Germany's Nazi forces during World War II gave the same explanation for why they treated the entire population in their conquered regions as being the enemy: they the enemy, to be exploited and not served; they were thus to be cleared out, or else slaughtered, in order to provide "lebensraum" for the conquering people ('Aryans'), who would be moving in and taking over the natural and other resources of the region, to be used by the Nazi state. (In the present instance, gas is one of the main resources in the rebelling region, which is the site of the vast Yuzivska gas field, and Obama's people want it; and one of the Obama team's appointed leaders there, the billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, hired Joe Biden's son and a friend of John Kerry for the board of his gas-exploration company.)

The situation is similar in southeastern Ukraine to that during WW II. The United States Government (in the person of Victoria Nuland of the State Department) chose Arseniy Yatsenyuk on 4 February 2014, which was 18 days prior to the coup, to become the new leader of Ukraine as soon as the democratically elected leader, Viktor Yanukovych would be overthrown, which turned out to be on February 22nd (though Nuland had no way of knowing at the time what the specific date of the overthrow would be). Almost immediately after Yatsenyuk became the leader of Ukraine, on March 5th , he sacked the existing three Deputy Defense Ministers, and replaced them with three rabidly anti-Russian racist-fascists or nazis, who were committed to the policy of bombing the residents in that area, the area that had voted 90% for Yanukovych .

The person who was made the Minister of Defense , Mikhail Koval, then announced his intention to ethnically cleanse from southeastern Ukraine the "subhumans" who voted for Yanukovych, who will "be resettled in other regions," meaning either Russia (if Russia accepted these Ukrainian refugees) or else concentration-camps inside Ukraine (and then perhaps death). Their property was to be confiscated, and "Land parcels will be given out for free to the servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military formations, as well as to the employees of Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine that are defending territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country in eastern and southeastern regions of Ukraine." That's the euphemism for the ethnic cleansing, and mass-theft. In other words, Obama's new rulers of Ukraine were offering their soldiers the opportunity to grab legally the property of their victims. Ukraine doesn't have the money to pay for all the soldiers that are needed to do this ethnic cleansing; so, they're being promised war-booty, instead. Destroying the residents is the way to get it.

Amnesty International cannot afford to say this. According to sourcewatch (before they took their site down) Amnesty International is largely funded by Western aristocrats, and the famous Professor Francis H. Boyle has said, "Amnesty International is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money. Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights." So: they're heavily dependent upon Western, and especially upon American, aristocrats, including such people as George Soros and his Open Society Foundation, and his International Renaissance Fund (which donated heavily to promoting the coup). In other words: AI needs to watch out.

Here is an uncensored description of the situation in that region of Ukraine, which is called "Donbass." It comes from George H. Eliason, an American who lives there, and whose reports on the situation in Ukraine I have always found to be true in the past:

The reality in Donbas is this blockade has been in place for almost 6 months now. The bank runs happened in the late spring through the mid summer. I was there as thousands of people stood in line literally for days in front of bank ATMs.

During this time a surcharge was added to every deposit in Donbass banks and the funds went to buy the bullets used to kill people here. When Kiev lost ground in the east mid summer they closed the banks altogether. The banks closed without warning all deposits were stolen and used to buy more bullets.

How is it possible to have a bank run in November when banks haven't been open for 4 months?

The vulnerable, the dying, and the dead

Pensions and benefits to the elderly and disabled were also cut off in mid summer. State and oligarch owned businesses functioning and reaping profits stopped paying salaries. By early July retirees across the countryside were surviving on leftovers from the last harvest, unripened fruit, and help from their neighbors.

In August I started hearing about the starvation among the most vulnerable people which were the shut-ins. People that were bed ridden or because of disabilities could no longer leave their apartments died of starvation and thirst. Where were their neighbors?

In early summer the Ukrainian army started targeting apartment buildings and homes. Throughout the summer this never let up. At first Kiev denied it but later it didn't matter anymore in the news. Kiev suspended the human rights of people in Southeast early in the spring.

The shelling of civilian homes had the effect Kiev was hoping for. It created a flood of terrified refugees that simply ran and almost overwhelmed the capacity to take care of them in Belarus and Russia.

I have watched people come to this decision. They don't talk about it out of fear. They quietly slip away. The neighbors of the shut-ins thought someone else was staying and would look after them. In a lot of cases no one could. No one talked to anyone else, they ran. ...

The social net that Poroshenko cynically cut off in November has not existed since late spring. Kiev destroyed it with shells not democracy.


Medications for chronic life threatening illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and basic antibiotics became in short supply in late spring. Early on medication was transported by clearly marked vehicles with red cross insignia or ambulances. These became the favored targets of mercenaries and para military forces like Donbass battalion [from the Ukrainian Government]. In every major city hospitals have been prime targets the entire time.

Until then most medications were distributed through warehouses in Kiev. As early as June publications such as the Telegraph reported on the humanitarian efforts which was caused by Kiev's humanitarian blockade.

The reality since summer is people dying because the medications they needed were kept out of their reach. No matter how how much effort is put into the humanitarian effort the population of over 7 million people are in a war zone that is constantly bombarded with rockets and shells.

Creating Famine Conditions

Beginning in the late spring the Ukrainian army set landmines across the grain fields needed to support the area for human and livestock consumption. The landmines set in grain fields aren't in contested areas. They are not marked and the locals weren't told to stay away by the Ukrainian army.

These are the fields where farmers make their living and produce the grain needed for bread. One of my neighbors hit a mine trying to harvest his wheat. It destroyed his tractor and he was lucky to be thrown clear. He woke to see his tractor burning. In early summer another neighbor on his tractor was used for sniper practice.

The Ukrainian army burnt grain and corn fields that were under their control. This continued throughout most of the summer as noted across many articles.

The scorched earth policy was geared at creating the current situation which will soon be mass starvation and the sicknesses associated with it. Tens of thousands of acres could not be harvested.

To make the point a few short weeks ago Kiev's appointed Governor in the occupied Lugansk region stated bluntly that Kiev's humanitarian blockade of Lugansk and Donetsk was geared to reproduce the effects of the Soviet Union's 1932-33 famine in which millions across central and southeast Ukraine perished from starvation and sickness.


When the refugee problem started getting international attention in mid-summer president Poroshenko made a big deal about how Donbass refugees would be welcomed by the Ukrainians and how much money was set aside for them. It is Kiev of course and the money was stolen like the donations for the families of Kiev's heavenly hundred.

The refugees were set up in summer camps without utilities and for the most part no humanitarian aid. What humanitarian aid isn't stolen goes to the soldiers. The men that ran from the war found themselves conscripted and sent back. The families sent to the summer camps still sit there in December with no heat. Many will perish from exposure.

Refugees that thought they were fortunate enough to make it to Kiev or other nationalist cities are denied jobs and benefits because they are from Donbass. They ran from the referendum, thought they were good Ukrainians, and yet are still Moskal [the derogatory term for Russians]. Kiev's new laws take the children from their mothers so they can be raised in orphanages and become good Ukrainian nationalists.

There is much more in his informative report, which is aptly titled, "Kiev Forcing Death by Starvation or Relocation in Donbass."

Roger Waters: My Pink Floyd hit and this tragedy

Shaker Aamer has been held without charge at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility since 2002

The revelations about the Americans' torture of terror suspects have rightly caused outrage across the world.

The U.S. government has owned up to the shadow of institutionalised brutality that has hung over 'The Land Of The Free' since the inception of the War On Terror after 9/11.

The sense of disquiet should extend to the political establishment in Britain, given the mounting evidence that our own intelligence and security agencies may have colluded with the CIA in rendition, torture and a disregard for international human rights law including the Geneva Conventions.

Nothing illustrates our own national disgrace more graphically than the case of Shaker Aamer, a 46-year-old family man from London, who has now been held for almost 13 years in the notorious detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, having been seized by the U.S. military in Afghanistan in November 2001.

During Mr Aamer's long spell of incarceration, he has never been put on trial or even had any charges levelled against him.

He has been subjected to systematic torture, humiliation and degradation, deprived not just of his liberty, but of all rights normally afforded to those in custody yet to be proven guilty of any crime.

The time has surely come for a judge-led inquiry to find out the true extent of Britain's role in the barbaric treatment of Mr Aamer.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail reported on the growing pressure on David Cameron from nine human rights groups for just such an inquiry into the CIA's torture of prisoners, including Mr Aamer.

No human being should be subjected to such monstrous and prolonged treatment - 13 years, with no evidence produced to suggest a crime!

Nine human rights charities called for David Cameron to order a judge-led inquiry into the CIA's torture of prisoners

Nine human rights charities called for David Cameron to order a judge-led inquiry into the CIA's torture of prisoners

It is little wonder that one recent medical report stated Mr Aamer is now suffering from a host of serious health problems, including failing eyesight, kidney damage and depression.

This is, after all, a man who has been incarcerated for so long without trial that he has never even seen his youngest child, a 12-year-old son.

His experience is a scandalous affront to justice, making a complete mockery of respect for the law and due legal process.

Even cold-blooded murderers rarely serve as lengthy a sentence as Mr Aamer has had to endure, and, if they do, they will at least have been convicted in a court by a jury of their peers.

I have a deep personal involvement in the campaign to release Mr Aamer, ever since his case was brought to my attention by the renowned defence advocate Clive Stafford Smith.

With a spirit of selfless determination, Clive runs the organisation Reprieve, which campaigns for the rights, among many others, of British prisoners held overseas. Appalled by Mr Aamer's plight, Clive had contacted him and lent him his support.

That is how I became involved. In one letter to Clive from Guantanamo, Mr Aamer began with the opening lyrics of one of my songs, Hey You, from the 1979 Pink Floyd album The Wall. Mr Aamer said the lyrics captured his experience in Guantanamo. These lyrics run:

Clive was able to pass Mr Aamer's letter on to me, and I was profoundly touched that Hey You had had such a resonance with him. Other parts of his letter reinforced how much this man was suffering. He explained that for most of the time, he had to stay in his tiny cell and was denied access to a computer, books, journals or even stationery.

He was occasionally allowed to write a letter, but even this was difficult because the pens provided by the guards were wobbly and soft, like a ballpoint with the plastic outer casing removed.

Apparently, this was a security precaution to stop the detainees attacking their guards - an obviously ridiculous measure, given that the guards outnumbered the prisoners ten to one and were armed with M16 rifles.

On a more uplifting note, in his letter Mr Aamer paid tribute to an American Christian pastor who had been in touch with him and had spoken of his work to build an understanding between Christianity and Islam.

amer has been subjected to systematic torture, humiliation and degradation at Guantanamo Bay (pictured)

This highlighted Shaker's attachment to the idea of understanding between peoples and faiths, to the idea of reconciliation and peace, and his fundamental opposition to extremism.

But then, his entire story seemed to undermine the American claims that he was a dangerous extremist embedded with Al-Qaeda and bent on the destruction of Western civilisation.

Born in Saudi Arabia and trained as a nurse, he came to Britain in the mid-1990s, married a British woman and started a family.

In 2001, he moved with his family to Afghanistan, where he began work for a humanitarian charity. This fact is disputed by the Americans, who claim he became an Al-Qaeda fighter.

Really? Where is the evidence?

Shaker has never been allowed to defend himself in a court of law. In effect, he has been held purely on the whim of the U.S. authorities.

This abuse of power exhibits all the hallmarks of despotism. Either we believe in freedom to live under the law, including the law of Habeas Corpus, or we don't. Either we, the so‑called enlightened West, are law-abiding or we are a tyranny.

Aamer was sent to Guantanamo (pictured) after he was seized by the U.S. military in Afghanistan in November 2001

Strangely, the U.S. government, the 'tyranny' that guards the rest of us from Shaker Aamer, now appears all the more culpable with the extraordinary news that the British Government has repeatedly called upon them to release him.

The failure to heed this request must raise suspicions that American and British intelligence are worried that, if Mr Aamer is set free, he might reveal the shocking complicity of British intelligence in the savage interrogation of prisoners at Guantanamo, and at secret rendition sites elsewhere in the world.

Last month, I attended a gathering in Parliament Square in support of a movement to free Shaker Aamer. Among the others present was the campaigning journalist Andy Worthington. Andy, to his eternal credit, has devoted much of his recent working life to exposing the horrors of Guantanamo.

I was proud to be there, standing as I did alongside other Brits who still care about the law, about standards, about justice, about fair play.

Thanks to the recent Senate report into CIA torture, the public mood has changed, maybe even dramatically, in the past few days.

It is possible people are coming to see that justice is important and that the British legal principles dating back to Magna Carta in 1215 enshrine the rights of the individual and are to be defended at all costs.

Detention and incarceration without trial have absolutely no place in the legal system which we, the British people, are all rightfully proud to call our own.

Video link

Grandmaster Putin's trap: Selling oil and gas for gold

Accusations of the West towards Putin are traditionally based on the fact that he worked in the KGB. And therefore he is a cruel and immoral person. Putin is blamed for everything. But nobody ever accused Putin of the lack of intelligence.

Any accusations against this man only emphasize his ability for quick analytical thinking and making clear and balanced political and economic decisions.

Often Western media compares this ability with the ability of a grandmaster, conducting a public chess simul. Recent developments in US economy and the West in general allow us to conclude that in this part of the assessment of Putin's personality Western media are absolutely right.

Despite numerous success reports in the style of Fox News and CNN, today, Western economy, led by the United States is in Putin's trap, the way out of which no one in the West can see or find. And the more the West is trying to escape from this trap, the more stuck it becomes.

What is the truly tragic predicament of the West and the United States, in which they find themselves? And why all the Western media and leading Western economists are silent about this, as a well guarded military secret? Let's try to understand the essence of current economic events, in the context of the economy, setting aside the factors of morality, ethics and geopolitics.

After realizing its failure in Ukraine, the West, led by the US, set out to destroy Russian economy by lowering oil prices, and accordingly gas prices as the main budget sources of export revenue in Russia and the main sources of replenishment of Russian gold reserves. It should be noted that the main failure of the West in Ukraine is not military or political. But in the actual refusal of Putin to fund the Western project of Ukraine at the expense of the budget of Russian Federation. What makes this Western project not viable in the near and inevitable future.

Last time under president Reagan, such actions of the West's lowering of oil prices led to 'success' and the collapse of USSR. But history does not repeat itself all the time. This time things are different for the West. Putin's response to the West resembles both chess and judo, when the strength used by the enemy is used against him, but with minimal costs to the strength and resources of the defender. Putin's real policies are not public. Therefore, Putin's policy largely has always focused not so much on effect, but on efficiency.

Very few people understand what Putin is doing at the moment. And almost no one understands what he will do in the future.

No matter how strange it may seem, but right now, Putin is selling Russian oil and gas only for physical gold.

Putin is not shouting about it all over the world. And of course, he still accepts US dollars as an intermediate means of payment. But he immediately exchanges all these dollars obtained from the sale of oil and gas for physical gold!

To understand this, it is enough to look at the dynamics of growth of gold reserves of Russia and to compare this data with foreign exchange earnings of the Russia coming from the sale of oil and gas over the same period.

Moreover, in the third quarter the purchases by Russia of physical gold are at all-time high record levels. In the third quarter of this year, Russia had purchased an incredible amount of gold in the amount of 55 tons. It's more than all the central banks of all countries of the world combined (according to official data)!

In total, the central banks of all countries of the world have purchased 93 tons of the precious metal in the third quarter of 2014. It was the 15th consecutive quarter of net purchases of gold by Central banks. Of the 93 tonnes of gold purchases by central banks around the world during this period, the staggering volume of purchases - of 55 tons - belongs to Russia .

Not so long ago, British scientists have successfully come to the same conclusion, as was published in the Conclusion of the U.S. Geological survey a few years ago. Namely: Europe will not be able to survive without energy supply from Russia. Translated from English to any other language in the world it means: "The world will not be able to survive if oil and gas from Russia is subtracted from the global balance of energy supply".

Thus, the Western world, built on the hegemony of the petrodollar, is in a catastrophic situation. In which it cannot survive without oil and gas supplies from Russia. And Russia is now ready to sell its oil and gas to the West only in exchange for physical gold! The twist of Putin's game is that the mechanism for the sale of Russian energy to the West only for gold now works regardless of whether the West agrees to pay for Russian oil and gas with its artificially cheap gold, or not.

Because Russia, having a regular flow of dollars from the sale of oil and gas, in any case, will be able to convert them to gold with current gold prices, depressed by all means by the West. That is, at the price of gold, which had been artificially and meticulously lowered by the Fed and ESF many times, against artificially inflated purchasing power of the dollar through market manipulation.

Interesting fact: the suppression of gold prices by the special department of US Government - ESF (Exchange Stabilization Fund) - with the aim of stabilizing the dollar has been made into a law in the United States.

In the financial world it is accepted as a given that gold is an antidollar.

  • In 1971, US President Richard Nixon closed the 'gold window', ending the free exchange of dollars for gold, guaranteed by the US in 1944 at Bretton Woods.

  • In 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reopened the 'gold window', without asking Washington's permission.

Right now the West spends much of its efforts and resources to suppress the prices of gold and oil. Thereby, on the one hand to distort the existing economic reality in favor of the US dollar and on the other hand, to destroy the Russian economy, refusing to play the role of obedient vassal of the West.

Today assets such as gold and oil look proportionally weakened and excessively undervalued against the US dollar. It is a consequence of the enormous economic effort on the part of the West.

And now Putin sells Russian energy resources in exchange for these US dollars, artificially propped by the efforts of the West. With which he immediately buys gold, artificially devalued against the U.S. dollar by the efforts of the West itself!

There is another interesting element in Putin's game. It's Russian uranium. Every sixth light bulb in the USA depends on its supply. Which Russia sells to the US too, for dollars.

Thus, in exchange for Russian oil, gas and uranium, the West pays Russia with dollars, purchasing power of which is artificially inflated against oil and gold by the efforts of the West. But Putin uses these dollars only to withdraw physical gold from the West in exchange, for the price denominated in US dollars, artificially lowered by the same West.

This truly brilliant economic combination by Putin puts the West led by the United States in a position of a snake, aggressively and diligently devouring its own tail.

The idea of this economic golden trap for the West, probably originated not from Putin himself. Most likely it was the idea of Putin's Advisor for Economic Affairs - doctor Sergey Glazyev. Otherwise why seemingly not involved in business bureaucrat Glazyev, along with many Russian businessmen, was personally included by Washington on the sanction list? The idea of an economist, doctor Glazyev was brilliantly executed by Putin, with full endorsement from his Chinese colleague - Xi Jinping.

Especially interesting in this context looks the November statement of the first Deputy Chairman of Central Bank of Russia Ksenia Yudaeva, which stressed that the Central Bank of Russia can use the gold from its reserves to pay for imports, if needed. It is obvious that in terms of sanctions by the Western world, this statement is addressed to the BRICS countries, and first of all China. For China, Russia's willingness to pay for goods with Western gold is very convenient. And here's why:

China recently announced that it will cease to increase its gold and currency reserves denominated in US dollars. Considering the growing trade deficit between the US and China (the current difference is five times in favor of China), then this statement translated from the financial language reads: "China stops selling their goods for dollars". The world's media chose not to notice this grandest in the recent monetary history event . The issue is not that China literally refuses to sell its goods for US dollars. China, of course, will continue to accept US dollars as an intermediate means of payment for its goods. But, having taken dollars, China will immediately get rid of them and replace with something else in the structure of its gold and currency reserves. Otherwise the statement made by the monetary authorities of China loses its meaning: "We are stopping the increase of our gold and currency reserves, denominated in US dollars." That is, China will no longer buy United States Treasury bonds for dollars earned from trade with any countries, as they did this before.

Thus, China will replace all the dollars that it will receive for its goods not only from the US but from all over the world with something else not to increase their gold currency reserves, denominated in US dollars. And here is an interesting question: what will China replace all the trade dollars with? What currency or an asset? Analysis of the current monetary policy of China shows that most likely the dollars coming from trade, or a substantial chunk of them, China will quietly replace and de facto is already replacing with Gold.

Are we witnessing the end of dollar era?

In this aspect, the solitaire of Russian-Chinese relations is extremely successful for Moscow and Beijing. Russia buys goods from China directly for gold at its current price. While China buys Russian energy resources for gold at its current price. At this Russian-Chinese festival of life there is a place for everything: Chinese goods, Russian energy resources, and gold - as a means of mutual payment. Only US dollar has no place at this festival of life. And this is not surprising. Because the US dollar is not a Chinese product, nor a Russian energy resource. It is only an intermediate financial instrument of settlement - and an unnecessary intermediary. And it is customary to exclude unnecessary intermediaries from the interaction of two independent business partners.

It should be noted separately that the global market for physical gold is extremely small relative to the world market for physical oil supplies. And especially the world market for physical gold is microscopic compared to the entirety of world markets for physical delivery of oil, gas, uranium and goods.

Emphasis on the phrase "physical gold" is made because in exchange for its physical, not 'paper' energy resources, Russia is now withdrawing gold from the West, but only in its physical, not paper form. So does China, by acquiring from the West the artificially devalued physical gold as a payment for physical delivery of real products to the West.

The West's hopes that Russia and China will accept as payment for their energy resources and goods "shitcoin" or so-called "paper gold" of various kinds also did not materialize. Russia and China are only interested in gold and only physical metal as a final means of payment.

For reference: the turnover of the market of paper gold, only of gold futures, is estimated at $360 billion per month. But physical delivery of gold is only for $280 million a month. Which makes the ratio of trade of paper gold versus physical gold: 1000 to 1.

Using the mechanism of active withdrawal from the market of one artificially lowered by the West financial asset (gold) in exchange for another artificially inflated by the West financial asset (USD), Putin has thereby started the countdown to the end of the world hegemony of petrodollar. Thus, Putin has put the West in a deadlock of the absence of any positive economic prospects. The West can spend as much of its efforts and resources to artificially increase the purchasing power of the dollar, lower oil prices and artificially lower the purchasing power of gold. The problem of the West is that the stocks of physical gold in possession of the West are not unlimited. Therefore, the more the West devalues oil and gold against the US dollar, the faster it loses devaluing Gold from its not infinite reserves. In this brilliantly played by Putin economic combination the physical gold is rapidly flowing to Russia, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and India, the BRICS countries, from the reserves of the West. At the current rate of reduction of reserves of physical gold, the West simply does not have the time to do anything against Putin's Russia until the collapse of the entire Western petrodollar world. In chess the situation in which Putin has put the West, led by the US, is called "time trouble".

The Western world has never faced such economic events and phenomena that are happening right now. USSR rapidly sold gold during the fall of oil prices. Russia rapidly buys gold during the fall in oil prices. Thus, Russia poses a real threat to the American model of petrodollar world domination.

The main principle of world petrodollar model is allowing Western countries led by the United States to live at the expense of the labor and resources of other countries and peoples based on the role of the US currency, dominant in the global monetary system (GMS) . The role of the US dollar in the GMS is that it is the ultimate means of payment. This means that the national currency of the United States in the structure of the GMS is the ultimate asset accumulator, to exchange which to any other asset does not make sense. What the BRICS countries, led by Russia and China, are doing now is actually changing the role and status of the US dollar in the global monetary system. From the ultimate means of payment and asset accumulation, the national currency of the USA, by the joint actions of Moscow and Beijing, is turned into only an intermediate means of payment. Intended only to exchange this interim payment for another and the ulimate financial asset - gold. Thus, the US dollar actually loses its role as the ultimate means of payment and asset accumulation, yielding both of those roles to another recognized, denationalized and depoliticized monetary asset - gold.

Traditionally, the West has used two methods to eliminate the threat to the hegemony of petrodollar model in the world and the consequent excessive privileges for the West.

Map of Coloured revolutions

One of these methods - colored revolutions. The second method, which is usually applied by the West, if the first fails - military aggression and bombing.

But in Russia's case both of these methods are either impossible or unacceptable for the West.

Because, firstly, the population of Russia, unlike people in many other countries, does not wish to exchange their freedom and the future of their children for Western sausage. This is evident from the record ratings of Putin, regularly published by the leading Western rating agencies. Personal friendship of Washington protégé Navalny with Senator McCain played for him and Washington a very negative role. Having learned this fact from the media, 98% of the Russian population now perceive Navalny only as a vassal of Washington and a traitor of Russia's national interests. Therefore Western professionals, who have not yet lost their mind, cannot dream about any colour revolution in Russia.

As for the second traditional Western way of direct military aggression, Russia is certainly not Yugoslavia, not Iraq or Libya. In any non-nuclear military operation against Russia, on the territory of Russia, the West led by the US is doomed to defeat. And the generals in the Pentagon exercising real leadership of NATO forces are aware of this. Similarly hopeless is a nuclear war against Russia, including the concept of so-called "preventive disarming nuclear strike". NATO is simply not technically able to strike a blow that would completely disarm the nuclear potential of Russia in all its many manifestations. A massive nuclear retaliatory strike on the enemy or a pool of enemies would be inevitable. And its total capacity will be enough for survivors to envy the dead. That is, an exchange of nuclear strikes with a country like Russia is not a solution to the looming problem of the collapse of a petrodollar world. It is in the best case, a final chord and the last point in the history of its existence. In the worst case - a nuclear winter and the demise of all life on the planet, except for the bacteria mutated from radiation.

The Western economic establishment can see and understand the essence of the situation. Leading Western economists are certainly aware of the severity of the predicament and hopelessness of the situation the Western world finds itself in, in Putin's economic gold trap. After all, since the Bretton Woods agreements, we all know the Golden rule: "Who has more gold sets the rules." But everyone in the West is silent about it. Silent because no one knows now how to get out of this situation.

If you explain to the Western public all the details of the looming economic disaster, the public will ask the supporters of a petrodollar world the most terrible questions, which will sound like this:

How long will the West be able to buy oil and gas from Russia in exchange for physical gold? And what will happen to the US petrodollar after the West runs out of physical gold to pay for Russian oil, gas and uranium, as well as to pay for Chinese goods?

No one in the West today can answer these seemingly simple questions.

And this is called "Checkmate", ladies and gentlemen. The game is over.

Source in Russian: Investcafe


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