February 22, 2012
By Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to ramp up diplomatic efforts against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime on a trip to North Africa this week, as some countries begin to explore the possibility of arming Syria’s rebels.
Clinton is traveling to London on Wednesday for a conference on Somalia, but U.S. officials will be using the international gathering to lay the groundwork for a major conference on Syria’s future taking place later this week in Tunisia. The trip comes as the Obama administration is opening the door slightly to international military assistance for Syria’s armed opposition.
In coordinated messages, the White House and State Department said Tuesday they still hoped for a political solution. But faced with the daily onslaught by the Assad regime against Syrian civilians, officials dropped the administration’s previous strident opposition to arming anti-regime forces. It remained unclear, though, what, if any, role the U.S. might play in providing such aid.
“We don’t want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria because that could take the country down a dangerous path,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “But we don’t rule out additional measures if the international community should wait too long and not take the kind of action that needs to be taken.”
The administration had previously said flatly that more weapons were not the answer to the Syrian situation. There had been no mention of “additional measures,” despite daily reports from Syrian activists of dozens of deaths from government attacks.
At the State Department, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland used nearly identical language to describe the administration’s evolving position.
“From our perspective, we don’t believe that it makes sense to contribute now to the further militarization of Syria,” she told reporters. “What we don’t want to see is the spiral of violence increase. That said, if we can’t get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures.”
Neither Carney nor Nuland would elaborate on what “additional measures” might be taken but there have been growing calls, including from some in Congress, for the international community to arm the rebels. Most suggestions to that effect have foreseen Arab nations such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — and not the West — possibly providing military assistance.
October 27, 2011
By Glen Ford
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared like ghoulish despots at a Roman Coliseum, reveling in their Libyan gladiators’ butchery.”
Last week the whole world saw, and every decent soul recoiled, at the true face of NATO’s answer to the Arab Spring. An elderly, helpless prisoner struggled to maintain his dignity in a screaming swirl of savages, one of whom thrusts a knife up his rectum. These are Europe and America’s jihadis in the flesh. In a few minutes of joyously recorded bestiality, the rabid pack undid every carefully packaged image of NATO’s “humanitarian” project in North Africa – a horror and revelation indelibly imprinted on the global consciousness by the brutes’ own cell phones.
Nearly eight months of incessant bombing by the air forces of nations that account for 70 percent of the world’s weapons spending, all culminating in the gang-bang slaughter of Moammar Gaddafi, his son Mutassim and his military chief of staff, outside Sirte. The NATO-armed bands then displayed the battered corpses for days in Misurata – the city that had earlier made good on its vow to “purge Black skin” through the massacre and dispersal of 30,000 darker residents of nearby Tawurgha – before disposing of the bodies in an unknown location.
The saner sections of America’s psychological operations machinery – including their collaborators in the corporate media – were doubtless as horrified as anyone at the Libyan jihadis’ insistence on revealing so graphically to the entire planet the barbaric character of the “revolution.” The months of gushing, ad nauseam press reports of near-universal jubilation in Tripoli and elsewhere at rebel “victories” – always under cover of NATO bombs – now made great sense. Who but those in search of instant martyrdom would voice displeasure at the NATO-jihadi triumph, with murderous fiends such as this roaming the streets?
“In a few minutes of joyously recorded bestiality, the rabid pack undid every carefully packaged image of NATO’s “humanitarian” project in North Africa.”
The United Nations Human Rights Office and Amnesty International found themselves compelled to ask for investigations into Gaddafi’s death – as if the immediate circumstances were not excruciatingly apparent to anyone with eyes and ears. Although the same U.S. domination of the UN that enabled NATO’s regime-change operation will ensure that the neocolonial powers escape legal liability for the results, the world still sees the executioners, correctly, as monsters in league with Washington, Paris, London and Riyadh. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who gave a snarling thumbs down to Gaddafi just days before his death, appeared like ghoulish despots at a Roman Coliseum, reveling in their Libyan gladiators’ butchery. Their hands and gums ooze blood – a lasting impression on decent world opinion.
The assault on Libya began as a desperate bid by the West and Persian Gulf royalty to bludgeon their way into the dangerous (for them) dynamic of the Arab Spring. The “rebels” (now, ludicrously, the “revolutionary” government) are their guys, just as the Afghan “mujahidin” were the foot soldiers of the Saudis and Washington from 1979 through the Eighties and (for the Saudis) beyond. Here lies the certainty of catastrophic “blowback.” As Trinity College political scientist Vijay Prashad points out, Tripoli may soon resemble 1996 Kabul, a place of mass carnage between rival warlords.
“The world still sees the executioners, correctly, as monsters in league with Washington, Paris, London and Riyadh.”
The Libyan jihadis are far more Saudi Arabia’s and Qatar’s brethren, than the West’s. The Arab Spring has both emboldened and frightened the wealthy Persian Gulf despots, who have their own agendas in the Arab world that are not necessarily consonant with the U.S. and Europe (the same applies in Pakistan and elsewhere in the region). All reactionaries are not alike. The oil-rich monarchs are fighting to preserve legitimacy in their own, Muslim milieu, not for Western-based corporate hegemony, and will cause at least as much problems for Washington as the accommodating Gaddafi they set out to depose at the beginning of the Arab Spring.
But that is secondary. As always, U.S. imperialists cannot resist the temptation to overreach. John Pilger writes, “With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way.” It is by no means certain that Libya will remain “secure” or under American sway. And President Obama’s all-out offensive to the south – now centered in East and Central Africa, but soon to become generalized – takes place with the cell phone imagery of Gaddafi’s demise fresh in minds of tens of millions of Africans. Obama may believe the pictures send the message that resistance is futile, but it is likely to have the opposite effect. As Venezuelan President Caesar Chavez said, of the Americans, “The most lamentable thing is that in their determination to dominate the world…they are setting it alight.”
March 14th, 2011
Gas prices are still hovering around $4 per gallon in Chicago, but the disaster in Japan could actually bring them down a bit.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the average price of regular unleaded in Chicago is $3.71, about 1 cent cheaper than a week ago. At the Des Plaines Oasis Mobil station Monday morning, the price was $3.73 for regular, and $3.97 for super unleaded.
Now experts say in the short-term, the prices could continue to fall because of the devastation in Japan.
The tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last Friday has halted the fast-paced Japanese society, leading to a decline in the demand in oil there, and thus, a drop in worldwide oil prices and gas prices here at home.
AAA says Japan is the third largest consumer of crude oil.
Back in the U.S., in the past month, gas prices have surged up 37 cents, as a result of anxiety over unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
While gas prices are starting to fall now, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is also calling on President Obama to help bring gas prices down in the long-term.
“As families and businesses are facing these high gas prices, I’ll be working with President Obama to urge him to release the strategic petroleum reserves so we can start stabilizing and bring these gas prices down,” Durbin said.
Experts say this week, prices will likely drop about 1 to 2 cents because of the woes in Japan. But it’s unclear how the prices will look in the coming weeks.
February 28th, 2011
By: Mark O’Byrne
The paper-driven sell off in the gold market seen in January has been trumped by continuing robust physical demand in January and February. This has resulted in gold rising nearly 6% in February and silver’s strong industrial and investment demand leading to a 19% rise to new nominal 30-year highs.
Political, and more importantly socioeconomic, revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa are leading to a degree of geopolitical instability and risk not seen in many years. This is leading to concerns about oil supplies from the region and hence the 14% jump in US crude oil just last week and deepening inflation concerns.
Hopes that the feudal Saudi regime will contain the situation by increasing production and exporting more oil are misplaced as the Saudis are already producing oil at maximum capacity and indeed are likely to have been overstating their oil reserves for some years, possibly considerably.
With all eyes on the Middle East and North Africa, there has been less focus on the continuing European sovereign debt crisis. However, the crisis continues and recent days and weeks have seen government bonds in Greece and Ireland again come under pressure.
The yield on Greek bonds (10-year) have risen to over 11.6% in recent days and the yield on Ireland’s 10-year reached a new record high of 9.40% this morning after the Irish electorate “liquidated” the Fianna Fail/Green government over the weekend. While the new government is likely to be a centrist Fine Gael and Labour one, there has been a swing to the left with Sinn Fein, the Workers Party and many left leaning independents elected.
The majority of Irish people are seeking that the massive debts of the Irish and European banking systems, incurred against them, be restructured or defaulted. Therefore, the new government will be under pressure to negotiate a fairer, more equitable settlement with the European Commission and the ECB with possible ramifications for the many European banks who lent irresponsibly to Irish banks.
Political and economic instability in Europe is set to continue and while the Irish used the ballot box, citizens in some EU countries may not be as peaceful or passive. While the euro has bounced against the beleaguered US dollar recently (the dollar looks very vulnerable to breaking down technically (see chart above), gold above EUR 1,000/oz (€1,020/oz this morning) is a sign that the euro’s troubles are far from over and further euro weakness in the coming months will see gold rise above the EUR 1,072/oz high seen at the end of 2010 (Dec. 28).
The move by the popular Egyptian Front for Reclaiming the People’s Wealth to ban the export of gold in order to preserve the wealth of the impoverished Egyptian people is a prudent one. The move may be emulated in other countries in the coming months leading to a further decline in scrap supply from emerging markets.
Conversely, mooted proposals by the Vietnamese Central Bank to ban “gold bullion trading” (see news below) are somewhat bizarre. If true this would be a very important development as the Vietnamese are some of the largest buyers of gold bullion in the world. It is unclear whether the proposed ban is simply to prevent “trading” or speculative short term buying and selling, or actually a move to ban the buying of gold bullion ingots and jewelry by Vietnamese households. If it is the latter, it will be unworkable as buying will simply move to the black market or Vietnamese will buy from overseas from bullion dealers.
Gold is trading at $1,410.50/oz, €1,020.11/oz and £868.59/oz.
Silver is trading at $33.43/oz, €24.18/oz and £20.59/oz.