Sen. Bob Menendez indicted on corruption charges
A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on corruption charges over his alleged use of his office to secure business deals for a friend in exchange for gifts. The product of a years-long investigation, the 14-count indictment alleges Menendez received free trips on a private plane and that he improperly lobbied on behalf of a top donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez has said he did nothing wrong. It is the first indictment of a sitting senator since prosecutors charged the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska in 2008.
Source: The Associated Press
California imposes mandatory water restrictions amid extreme drought
Faced with one of the worst droughts in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Wednesday announced the state’s first ever mandatory water restrictions. With 98 percent of the state suffering from the drought — including two-thirds experiencing “extreme” drought conditions — the executive order would slash water usage by 25 percent statewide for a projected savings of 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. The move comes one day after the state’s Department of Water Resources announced California had its lowest snowpack since 1950, when record-keeping began. “As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible,” Brown said in a statement.
Source: Los Angeles Times
1. UNIVERSITY IN KENYA ATTACKED
Al-Shabab gunmen attack a college in the northeast, targeting Christians and killing at least 15 people and wounding 60 others, witnesses say.
2. PROGRESS SEEN IN NUCLEAR TALKS
Iran says “significant progress” has been made in negotiations meant to reach a preliminary pact on the curbs Tehran must accept on atomic activities.
3. RUSSIAN RIG SINKS OFF KAMCHATKA PENINSULA
A Russian freezer trawler with an international crew of 132 goes down in the Sea of Okhotsk, and at least 54 crew members were killed and 63 rescued.
4. NEW JERSEY SENATOR DEFIANT AFTER ACCUSATIONS
Democrat Bob Menendez declares he’s “not going anywhere” after he was charged with accepting nearly $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions from a friend in exchange for political favors.
5. HOW AMERICANS FEEL ABOUT RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS LAW
An AP poll suggests sympathy for religious objectors may be limited to those who refuse to provide services for wedding-related businesses.
6. CELLPHONES RECOVERED AMID FLIGHT 9525 DEBRIS
But the devices have not yet produced any clues about what happened aboard a Germanwings jetliner deliberately crashed in the French Alps.
Disasters and accidents
• Two United States Marine Corps F-18 fighters make a precautionary landing at Taiwan’s Tainan Air Force Base. (Focus Taiwan) (The Washington Times)
• Flames engulf a Mexican state-run Pemex oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, killing four workers. (AP)
• The Russian trawler Dalniy Vostok with 132 crew sinks off of the Kamchatka peninsula leaving at least 54 dead and 15 missing. (AP) (BBC)
• The governor of California Jerry Brown orders mandatory water restrictions. (AP)
Law and crime
• Turkish police shoot two attackers outside Istanbul’s central police headquarters, killing one of them. The exchange of fire wounds two officers. (The Guardian)
• An apparent murder and suicide leaves four dead in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (AP)
• A federal grand jury indicts New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez on corruption charges. (AP)
• A court convicts eleven Atlanta, Georgia teachers as part of a mass cheating scandal. (BBC)
• The Obama Administration targets overseas cyber attackers with a sanctions program. (Reuters)
Politics and elections
• Thailand’s junta escalates their control from martial law to absolute power. (AP)
Kiev’s Bloody War Is Backfiring
And the War Party is pushing to prop up their Ukrainian sock puppets
by Justin Raimondo, February 09, 2015
Don’t Arm Ukraine
By JOHN J. MEARSHEIMER
FEB. 8, 2015
But anyway, we get a little ahead of ourselves because all this really begs the question: what business do we have in Ukraine in the first place and why should it matter to us that they align with Russia? And more to the point: why is it not transparently obvious that Ukraine is solidly within Russia’s sphere of influence, and has been, really, for more than 500 years, and for an excellent reason that has been demonstrated most recently in Napoleon’s invasion of 1812 and then Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of 1941.
In both cases, Russia owed it survival to the vast expanse of flat geography represented by Ukraine where “General Winter” was able to carry out his own defensive operations of relentless howling wind, snow, sub-zero temperatures, and frostbite that eventually vanquished the invaders. Through most of modern times Ukraine has been under the explicit “protection” of the Russian Czars or has been an outright province under the former USSR. Hundreds of years before that, Kievan Rus was the center of an emerging Russian culture and kingdom that only later picked up and moved to Moscow.
You get the picture: Ukraine has a long association with Russia, a principal association, not always happy, sometimes tragic, but a fact of life and history that the US and its foolish stooges in the EU bureaucracy now wish to challenge for absolutely no good reason. Does anybody who is not whacked out of his/her head on crack, or focused like a laser beam on the gender schism within the Kardashian Klan, remember when the US ever challenged the Soviets over Ukraine? No. And for the excellent reason that we accepted the relationship for reasons stated above. So, whose idea is it now that we should start World War Three over this remote region where so many other reckless adventurers came to grief? And what, by the way, do our people mean by “defensive weapons?” Are not most modern weapons designed to work both ways? Anyway, I see the list includes “anti-armor missiles” (i.e. tank-killers) and “drones,” the latter presumably guided by comfortable American military gamers effortlessly targeting pixelated “bad guys” between Slurpee gulps and taco bites, not exactly American Sniper style.
Monday, October 6th, 2014
6 million Israelis are basically holding 3 million Arabs hostage. “The West” vs. ISIS is a clusterfuck. Bacevich writes a great opinion piece for the Washington Post.
What is “Distillate Fuel Oil 15 ppm and under Sulfur” ?
Greater than 15 to 500 ppm Sulfur?
Greater than 500 ppm Sulfur?
Iraq: Why Bomb Now? –Justin Raimondo
Two reasons: The Kurds – and the Israelis
So we return to the original question: why now? The answer is the central axiom of real estate: location, location, location. ISIS was getting close to Kurdistan, and eyeing Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The feisty Kurds have taken advantage of the chaos spread by ISIS to seize disputed Kirkuk, which the Kurds consider their Jerusalem. Aside from the symbolic value of this prize, Kirkuk is also the site of oil fields worth a substantial amount of moolah. But before we segue into the familiar mantra about how this is a “war for oil,” let’s step back and look at the larger picture – because it’s really much worse than that…
…Yes, John Judis is right to say that oil is a factor, but this is just a portion of the truth. The larger truth encompasses both military and domestic political reasons – Washington wants Kurdistan as a possible launching site for a military campaign against Iran if such becomes (in their view) necessary. And then there are the politics of the matter.
The U.S. Airstrikes in Northern Iraq Are All About Oil
By John B. Judis
If the Islamic State were to take over Erbil, they would endanger Iraq’s oil production and, by extension, global access to oil. Prices would surge at a time when Europe, which buys oil from Iraq, has still not escaped the global recession. Oil prices have already risen in response to the Islamic State’s threat to Erbil, and on Thursday, American oil companies Chevron and Exxon Mobile began evacuating their personnel from Kurdistan. But oil traders are predicting that American intervention could halt the rise. “In essence we find U.S. air strikes more bearish than bullish for oil as the act finally draws a line for IS and reinforces both the stability in south Iraq and in Kurdistan,” Oliver Jakob, a Swiss oil analyst, told Reuters.
U.S. Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel
Baghdadi of ISIS Pushes an Islamist Crusade
“The U.S. increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil,” Francisco Blanch, the bank’s head of commodities research, said by phone from New York. “The shale boom is playing a key role in the U.S. recovery. If the U.S. didn’t have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable.”
U.S. oil output will surge to 13.1 million barrels a day in 2019 and plateau thereafter, according to the IEA, a Paris-based adviser to 29 nations. The country will lose its top-producer ranking at the start of the 2030s, the agency said in its World Energy Outlook in November.
“It’s very likely the U.S. stays as No. 1 producer for the rest of the year” as output is set to increase in the second half, Blanch said. Production growth outside the U.S. has been lower than the bank anticipated, keeping global oil prices high, he said.
The Rise of the Petroyuan and the Slow Erosion of Dollar Hegemony
by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, August 05, 2014
China has long incorporated financial instruments into its efforts to access foreign hydrocarbons. Now Beijing wants major energy producers to accept renminbi as a transactional currency – including to settle Chinese hydrocarbon purchases – and incorporate renminbi in their central bank reserves. Producers have reason to be receptive. China is, for the vastly foreseeable future, the main incremental market for hydrocarbon producers in the Persian Gulf and former Soviet Union. Widespread expectations of long-term yuan appreciation make accumulating renminbi reserves a “no brainer” in terms of portfolio diversification. And, as America is increasingly viewed as a hegemon in relative decline, China is seen as the preeminent rising power. Even for Gulf Arab states long reliant on Washington as their ultimate security guarantor, this makes closer ties to Beijing an imperative strategic hedge. For Russia, deteriorating relations with the United States impel deeper cooperation with China, against what both Moscow and Beijing consider a declining, yet still dangerously flailing and over-reactive, America.
On Soldiers and Moral Principles
by Justin Pavoni, August 07, 2014
First Gulf War in 1991 was America’s opening Iraq mistake
BY GENE HEALY | JUNE 30, 2014
April 2014 Misc
Russia & Ukraine – April 2014