Monday, 24 November 2014


## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards ##
Pump, baby, pump! -- RF
Some 16,867 voters in southeast England ushered in a season of European political tumult that in an extreme scenario could lead to Britain exiting the European Union, Greece quitting the euro or Catalonia seceding from Spain.

## Airline Death Spiral ##
One of the most troubling travel stories of 2014 was a report that airlines are considering a new class of service — and I use the term "class" loosely — called economy "minus."

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
China is offering generous financial support to countries in the South Pacific in hopes of strengthening its economic and military influence and eclipsing the Taiwanese and American presence in the region.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##

## Energy/resources ##
Energy minister proposes multi-million euro idea to fellow energy ministers in Rome; project would reduce EU dependence on Russia
They won't be built. -- RF
More techno-pie in the sky. Some of the renewable capacity will no doubt be built, but the nukes are totally unrealistic and out of the question. -- RF

## Got food? ##

## Lifestyle Solutions ##

## Environment/health ##

## Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Amnesty International released a free program on Wednesday that scans computers for surveillance software that is often used by governments to spy on journalists, human rights lawyers, political organizers, and other activists—technology that has been discovered to be in use in countries around the world.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
The Mexican government blames the nationwide protests on groups seeking to “destabilize the country” and undermine the “reform agenda.” But in this militarized, corrupt society, the risk of escalation of violence is immense.

## Japan ##

## China ##

## UK ##

## US ##
Over 57 million Americans live in multi-generational households.
Bank of America has hired two U.S. government officials to join its financial crimes team, according to three people familiar with the matter, as banks are under increasing pressure to police their transactions for suspicious activity.

Historical footage of Moscow

Один день из жизни Москвы, 1927

A day in the life of Moscow, 1927

Один день из жизни Москвы в начале 20 века. Прошло 10 лет после Великой Октябрьской революции, а реконструкция 1930-х еще не запущена. В кинохронике запечатлен город, которого уже нет: многие здания снесены, а улицы перестроены.

Москва послевоенная в цвете

Post-war Moscow in colour

Прощай 1937 год. Здравствуй 1938 год. 
Достижения прошедшего года в новогодней кинохронике СССР

Farewell 1937, Hello, 1938

This was during the Terror of 1937-8.

The zionist state's racist law

Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people
Opponents say proposed law would reserve ‘national rights’ for Jews and not for minorities that make up 20% of population

Binyamin Netanyahu
The Israeli PM, Binyamin Netanyahu, argues the law is needed because the notion of Israel as a Jewish homeland was being challenged. Photograph: Barcroft Media

the Guardian

23 November, 2014

A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country’s democratic character.

Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved “national rights” for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist.

The bill, which is intended to become part of Israel’s basic laws, would recognise Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalise Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and delist Arabic as a second official language.

Arab Muslims and Christians make up 20% of Israel’s population.

The cabinet passed the bill by a 14-7 majority after reports of rancorous exchanges during the meeting, including between the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his justice minister, Tzipi Livni.

The bill, which still requires the Knesset’s approval to become a law, comes as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians rise sharply, and friction within Israel’s Arab minority grows.

Opponents include two of the more centrist parties in Netanyahu’s fragile coalition - which say the bill is being pushed through with forthcoming primaries in the prime minster’s rightwing Likud party in mind - and senior government officials including the attorney general.

According to many critics, the new wording would weaken the wording of Israel’s declaration of independence, which states that the new state would “be based on the principles of liberty, justice and freedom expressed by the prophets of Israel [and] affirm complete social and political equality for all its citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender”.

Among those to voice their opposition was the finance minister, Yair Lapid, who said he had spoken to the family of Zidan Saif, a Druze policeman killed in last week’s deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue.

What will we tell his family? That he is a second-class citizen in the state of Israel because someone has primaries in the Likud?” he asked.

Netanyahu argued that the law was necessary because people were challenging the notion of Israel as a Jewish homeland.

There are many who are challenging Israel’s character as the national state of the Jewish people. The Palestinians refuse to recognise this and there is also opposition from within.

There are those, including those who deny our national rights, who would like to establish autonomy in the Galilee and the Negev.

Neither do I understand those who are calling for two states for two peoples but who also oppose anchoring this in law. They are pleased to recognise a Palestinian national state but strongly oppose a Jewish national state.”

According to reports in the Hebrew media, the attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, has also expressed concern, shared by some ministers, that the new law would effectively give greater emphasis to Israel’s Jewish character at the expense of its democratic nature. A number of Israeli basic laws use the term “Jewish and democratic”, giving equal weight to both. The new law would enshrine only the Jewish character of the state.

Netanyahu appeared to confirm that there would be differential rights for Israeli Jews and other minorities. He said that while all could enjoy equal civil rights, “there are national rights only for the Jewish people - a flag, anthem, the right of every Jew to immigrate to Israel and other national symbols.”

Cabinet ministers, including Netanyahu, separately proposed stripping Palestinian attackers of their residency rights in occupied East Jerusalem in response to a wave of deadly violence.

It cannot be that those who harm Israel, those who call for the destruction of the state of Israel, will enjoy rights like social security,” Netanyahu said, adding that the measure would complement house demolitions and serve as a deterrent.

Critics, however, have condemned the measures as racist said that they could further escalate tensions.

The cabinet met as fresh reports of continuing violence emerged. In Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry said Israeli forces had shot dead a Palestinian on Sunday, the first such fatality since a 50-day Gaza war ended in August.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian home was torched on Sunday. No one was hurt in the fire, which gutted the home in the village of Khirbet Abu Falah near Ramallah, local residents said.

The settlers came here and they hit the door, but I refused to open,” said Huda Hamaiel, who owns the house. She said they then broke a terrace window and hurled a petrol bomb inside.

Death to Arabs” and another slogan calling for revenge were also painted on the walls of Hamaiel’s home, hallmarks of Jewish extremists’ so-called “price tag” attacks against Palestinian dwellings and mosques and Christian church property.

Robert Fisk on Iran

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf
Iran’s crisis – our crisis with Iran, if you like – is about that great and historic nation’s future geo-strategic role in the Middle East and Southeast Asia

Robert Fisk

the Independent,

23 November, 2014

Chatting with my favourite Lebanese banker-journalist before a trip to the Gulf last week, I asked him what he thought I should discuss with the investors and asset managers I was to talk to in Abu Dhabi. “Iran,” he said. “Whatever happens with the nuclear talks, it will again be the most powerful nation in the Muslim Middle East one day. People should plan to invest in the new Iran. If the Americans and the Iranians can reach agreement, Iran could again be the policeman of the Gulf.”

I’m not at all sure about this. The Shah of Iran was himself a bad investment – certainly for the Americans after the Islamic revolution of 1979 – and Iran is now an avowedly Shia country, allied with Iraq and Syria and the Hezbollah, rather than the ally of Israel and pro-Western friendly monarchy which ferociously suppressed its own people (usually a sure sign of safe investment possibilities). And when I reached the Sunni Muslim Gulf, it was the same old story: Sunnis versus Shia, Iran the evildoer which only wished to crush Sunni power in Saudi Arabia and Yemen and Egypt and Jordan. Did I really think that Israel and the US Republican party – pretty much the same thing, when you come to think of it – would let Obama do a nuclear deal with Iran today?

Besides, there’s Syria to be rebuilt – current cost $260bn (£166bn) and rising by the day – and maybe only Qatar could, or might, foot the bill to spite the Saudis and to extend territorial power beyond its little English county council-size emirate. Some say Qatar’s greatest investment is not liquid gas but its stake in Volkswagen. All this dwarfs the puny $7bn sanctions’ relief to Iran promised last January after the P5+1 deal to curb its nuclear activities.

But I’ve long suspected that this is not about nukes or the Hitlerite Revolutionary Guard or Iranian expansionism, especially when the biggest local invader has been a Sunni Muslim called Saddam Hussein – who was, at the time (1980), a chum of the West. No, Iran’s crisis – our crisis with Iran, if you like – is about that great and historic nation’s future geo-strategic role in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In a world of sclerotic Saudi bullying and Israeli right-wing ministers, who mimic Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad in their madness, and American Republicans set on destroying what’s left of the Obama legend, there’s another creature called Isis – a vicious Sunni cult or a legion of lost souls, take your pick – which makes Iran look a bit like the Legion of Mary (or, to save its Islamic soul, the gentlest of Sufis).

As Lebanese economist Dr Nasser Saidi, the former chief economist at Dubai International Financial Centre, says, “Only a pax-Americana-Irania can lead to a stabilisation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and prevent Syria from turning into a failed state…”

This may be pushing it a bit. But the first advantage of a détente with Iran would surely be a substantial cut in the risk-premium built into world oil prices because of tensions around the Strait of Hormuz, a massive reduction in Gulf arms expenditure – Middle East countries spent $132bn on their armies and weapons in 2012, just half what it would currently cost to rebuild Syria – which is the highest percentage of GDP in the world. Dr Saidi’s thesis is that Iran, with the second largest gas reserves and the fourth largest oil reserves in the world (though I grant we do not know the undiscovered reserves beneath the Sunni central deserts of Iraq), could become a “New Energy Silk Road”.

Not only would the removal of sanctions lead to higher oil and gas production, it would allow further exploration and the energy infrastructure of a “new” Iran (I draw in my breath at the word “new”, which is now used by an awful lot of optimistic Middle East economists), with links to China’s and India’s energy infrastructure. A further lowering of oil prices would be inevitable. But if you want a single example of just how the West would benefit from Iran’s “de-purging” – my own expression – just look at its decrepit fleet of 243 civilian airliners. They regularly crash (and since I fly on them, I do bear this in mind), and 100 are grounded through lack of spare parts. It needs 400 new aircraft, according to the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation.

China, the superpower importer of the world, has always disapproved of sanctions. Despite this, its trade with Iran rose from $400m in 1994 to $11bn in 2008 and $50bn two years ago. Dr Saidi believes that Iran’s energy infrastructure needs to be fully integrated into central Asia and China and even talks about a “surge” (not my favourite word) in tourism; two years ago, it turns out, Iran was the number one source of Muslim tourist expenditure – thanks, no doubt, to the great shrines of Qom, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad.

The ultimate dream – of Iran and indeed many Sunni Gulf nations who remain grotesquely suspicious of it – would be the kind of “Gulf zone of peace and prosperity” of which George Bush Snr spoke so preposterously when he demanded a nuclear-free Middle East after the 1991 liberation of Kuwait. Unfortunately, Israel’s nuclear weapons were not included in Bush’s meanderings and America went back to being the weapons-selling Santa Claus of the Gulf.

So the dream is impossible, you may say. And you may be right. But the head-choppers of Isis and their crazed Wahhabi nightmares – which have all too much in common with Saudi Arabia and its former Taliban protégés – have reset the bloody narrative of the region.

After all, in 1939, who would have believed that the dictator of the Soviet murder machine would become our ally Uncle Joe just two years later? But then again, look what happened after 1945…

Take the metro – and then a taxi to where you want to go

Dubai never ceases to amaze me. Drive into town on the highway from Abu Dhabi and there is the world’s tallest building and, alongside the road, one of the world’s very latest and shortest metro railways. Everyone praises the new track. The smart five-carriage trains zip along at high speed, stop at every station and even – this being Dubai – have first and second-class carriages.

The only problem, as one Dubai citizen explained to me on the plane home to Beirut, is that “The trains go between airports but apart from that, they don’t actually take you to anywhere you want to go – they take you to somewhere where you can get a taxi to where you want to go.”

Well, that’s rapid transit for you.

Poroshenkпo's plan

Poroshenko Promises Terror for East Ukraine
  • Openly states the intent to terrorize civilians
  • Seems confident the EU will support him

Vera Graziadei

Russia Insider,

17 November, 2014

Last week in a candid addressto Ukrainian nationalists in the Odessa Opera House, president Petro Poroshenko outlined how he is planning to win the war in East Ukraine:
“We (Ukraine) will have our jobs – they (Donbas) will not. We will have our pensions – they will not. We will have care for children, for people and retirees – they will not. Our children will go to schools and kindergartens… theirs will hole up in the basements. Because they are not able to do a thing. This is exactly how we will win this war!”
The chocolate oligarch, backed by Brussels and Washington, is not afraid anymore to openly admit that the Ukrainian Army is targeting civilian buildings on purpose and forcing Donbass people and children into basements, in order to intimidate the population into leaving the area or surrender.
Last week there’s even been a direct attack on a maternity ward and the week before a mortar attack on school killed two school children.
While Kiev is always quick to blame ‘rebels’ for all such incidents (an absurd suggestion that Donbass self-defence forces, comprised largely from the local population, would try to kill their own children), Poroshenko’s speech confirms that these attacks are the deliberate war plan of the Ukrainian forces.
The fact that indiscriminate shelling of civilian and public buildings is a war crime doesn’t seem to deter Poroshenko, who’s confident that with the EU and the US backing he can carry out this strategy with impunity.
Starting from the 15th November all dissenting eastern areas will not be protected by the European Convention on Human Rights anymore, as Poroshenko announced its suspension, citing a provision which allows some of the Convention’s articles to be derogated by a signatory “in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation.”
Officially only the right to life, the prohibition of torture and slavery, and the right not to be subjected to unlawful punishment will be respected (though shelling of civilians is a violation of these rights), while all the other rights including the right to liberty and security, the right to fair trial, right to respect for private and family life, will not be respected any more.
Article 15 was cited to justify the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council issuing a decree, which ordered the closure of all state services, including schools, kindergartens, hospitals, emergency services and pensions, and withdrawal of all banking services for businesses and individuals over the next months.
This is effectively an economic blockade, which will threaten life of  the local population during the difficult cold winter months. Local government called it an ‘act of genocide’. Poroshenko calls it ‘fighting for European values‘.

NATO Jets Surrounding 

Russia: Before And After

Zero Hedge

23 November, 2014

Based on the following "before" and "after" the Ukraine crisis pictures of NATO warplanes located just off the Russian border...


... one can almost understand why Victoria Nuland was so eager to tell the EU to "fuck off" in her successful attemp to foment Ukraine unrest leading to the overthrow of ex-president Yanukovich, and destabilize the region, giving NATO a pretext for a major arms build up on the other side of the Russian border.

Per CNN, "There used to be only four jets ready to intercept Russian planes that crossed into European airspace. Now there are 18." And rising.
As for what the US response would be if Russia were to park a few squadrons of Mig-35s in Cuba, Canada and Mexico, we leave that to the reader's imagination.

New Zealand politics

Key misled public over Jason Ede

Russel Norman

Jason Ede featured in Nicky Hager's book - Dirty Politics.

Jason Ede featured in Nicky Hager's book - Dirty Politics.

Green Party,

24 November, 2014

Information contained in a new chapter of the book Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister, that Jason Ede stopped working for the National Party on the night the book Dirty Politics was released, shows Mr Key and senior ministers hid crucial facts from the public during the election campaign, says the Green Party.

All through the campaign John Key misled New Zealanders by pretending that Jason Ede was still working for the National Party, when in fact he had stopped immediately after the revelations about his attack politics came out,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

By pretending that Mr Ede was still working for the National Party in the wake of Dirty Politics, John Key gave the impression that National was unfazed by allegations that Mr Ede had run a black ops attack regime from the Prime Minister’s ninth floor office.

Mr Key has gone to such lengths to stress how much time he spends wearing his National Party leader hat lately that it defies belief he wouldn’t have known the second Mr Ede stopped working for his party.

Mr Key misled New Zealanders. Had he told the truth – that Jason Ede had stopped working for National immediately – then the public would have taken a very different impression of the allegations.

When John Key told journalists on 17 August 2014, ‘he (Ede) works for the National Party now, that’s all I know’ he misled the public, because Mr Ede didn’t work for the National Party then at all.

Why didn’t John Key just tell the truth and let New Zealanders know that Jason Ede stopped working for National as soon as the damaging book came out? And why, when announcing Mr Ede’s resignation shortly after the election, didn’t he reveal that Mr Ede hadn’t worked for National for several weeks?

John Key knew that the fact Mr Ede stopped working for National as soon as Dirty Politics was published contradicted his claim that attack politics like Ede was engaged in was normal practice for all parties. Clearly it was only normal for National,” Dr Norman said.

'Short-term' terror laws until 2018
Opponents say PM breaking his promise on rules aimed at foreign fighters.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman described the law changes as draconian and anti-democratic. Photo / Jason
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman described the law changes as draconian and anti-democratic. Photo / Jason

NZ Herald

24 November, 2014

Urgent law changes being introduced to combat the threat of "foreign fighters" will be in place until 2018, prompting opponents to question the Government's promise they would be "short-term" measures.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday released the final draft of the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill, which would be tabled in the House tomorrow.

He expected it to be passed into law before the end of the year, though there would be time for some public consultation.

Mr Key denied there had been little consultation with other political parties about the bill.

He told TVNZ's Breakfast show today there had been a very "thorough and private" briefing with political parties that could support the bill, including the Labour Party.

"It's not only been a pretty thorough consultation, we actually gave pre-disclosure copies of the bill to a range of people who are interested in making submissions."

There was also a select committee process to go through, he said.

"What we're trying to do is put a short term band aid on a very serious issue."

It was "nonsense" that people should now fear being spied on in their homes without just cause, Mr Key said.

"If you have a look at what's happening here, for a start off, what we're doing is we're giving authorities the capacity to cancel a passport - not just for 12 months, but for three years.

"To get your passport cancelled is a very high threshold and is nothing to do with spying."

The surveillance aspect was only extending powers to the SIS, he said.

The law changes follow Mr Key's speech on national security this month in which he outlined a number of urgent counter-terrorism measures including passport cancellations and warrantless searches.

Mr Key said at the time the measures were designed for the short-term and would be subject to a sunset clause. The draft bill shows the legislation would expire on April 1, 2018.

Mr Key said this deadline reflected the length of time it would take to complete a more comprehensive review of New Zealand's security and intelligence legislation.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman described the law changes as draconian and anti-democratic.

He was particularly opposed to changes which made it possible to render a person stateless by cancelling their passport, and warrantless searches on houses by spies who were under ministerial control.

"It's a kind of extraordinary thing that you expect the Chinese Communist Party to do," he said.

Dr Norman said the expiry date for the changes belied Mr Key's reassurance the changes would be short-term.

National was seeking cross-party support for the changes, but Dr Norman said it was difficult to see how his party would support it. Labour remains undecided on the law changes.

Mr Key said there would be time for a shortened select committee process before the bill was passed.

The bill had been shared with all parties and also interested groups outside Parliament to allow them more time to consider it.

We know how far we have come towards a fascist state based on neo-fedalism when the history of social welfare in this country is rewritten

Social housing policies “stupid”

Via Facebook

Well, Mike Hosking is the first political commentator I have heard to describe the state housing policies of the first Labour government (Savage+Fraser) "stupid".

Who knew? Apparently providing quality housing for thousands of New Zealanders in the wake of a world war and a financial crisis was "stupid". Actually Mr. Hosking, it was a terrific leap forward for our country.

What has made the state of state-owned housing the nightmare which it is in some areas today, is not the housing or the policy, it is the affects of inequality which are felt in it's communities. That is where we went wrong as a country.

--- Bennett Morgan