Trouble lurkin’?

The Biggest Economic Story Going Into 2015 Is Not Oil

Isn’t it fun to just watch the market numbers roll by from time to time as you go about your day, see Europe markets up 3%+, Dubai 13%, US over 2% (biggest two-day rally since 2011!), and you just know oil must get hit again? Well, it did. WTI down another 3%+. I tells ya, no Plunge Protection is going save this sucker.

And oil is not even the biggest story today. It’s plenty big enough by itself to bring down large swaths of the economy, but in the background there’s an even bigger tale a-waiting. Not entirely unconnected, but by no means the exact same story either. It’s like them tsunami waves as they come rolling in. It’s exactly like that.

That is, in the wake of the oil tsunami, which is a long way away from having finished washing down our shores, there’s the demise of emerging markets. And I’m not talking Putin, he’ll be fine, as he showed again today in his big press-op. It’s the other, smaller, emerging countries that will blow up in spectacular fashion, and then spread their mayhem around. And make no mistake: to be a contender for bigger story than oil going into 2015, you have to be major league large. This one is.

The US dollar will keep rising more or less in and of itself, simply because the Fed has ‘tapered QE’, and much of what happened in global credit markets, especially in emerging markets, was based on cheap and easily available dollars. There’s now $85 billion less of that each month than before the taper took it away in $10 billion monthly increments. The core is simple.

This is not primarily government debt, it’s corporate debt. But it’s still huge, and it has not just kept emerging economies alive since 2008, it’s given them the aura of growth. Which was temporary, and illusionary, all along. Just like in the rest of the world, Japan, EU, US. And, since countries can’t – or won’t – let their major companies fail, down the line it becomes public debt.

One major difference from the last emerging markets blow-up, in the late 20th century, is size: emerging markets today are half the world economy. And they’re about to be blown to smithereens. Sure, oil will play a part. But mostly it will be the greenback. And you know, we can all imagine what happens when you blow up half the global economy …

Crouching sanctions, hidden revenues

There is a lot of speculation about the economic health of Russia in the light of tougher sanctions, falling oil prices and tumbling ruble. Concerns are raised whether Russia can afford it’s existence. However, those concerns are paper thin and are presented in more of a mocking spirit, because in most prediction acrobatics, actual revenues of Russian state are not considered at all. Many sources, in their predictions for Russian economy, are repeating the same mistake over and over again. Roughly speaking – assesments are made under the assumption that Russians pay dollars for their borsch. In reality, Russia sells borsch for dollars. This is important point to consider, because Russia pays it’s public sector expenditures (education, healthcare, pensions, police, army etc) in rubles!

As we all knew (those who didn’t got it stamped in the face this year thanks to the good will of liberal media), Russian revenues are based on natural resources. Sales are conducted in FX (except for special agreements, some of which are still pending). So let’s take a look how the purse of Russian state is being filled.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Over the last few weeks, a number of regular readers of The Archdruid Report have asked me what I think about the recent plunge in the price of oil and the apparent end of the fracking bubble. That interest seems to be fairly widespread, and has attracted many of the usual narratives; the blogosphere is full of claims that the Saudis crashed the price of oil to break the US fracking industry, or that Obama got the Saudis to crash the price of oil to punish the Russians, or what have you.

I suspect, for my part, that what’s going on is considerably more important. To start with, oil isn’t the only thing that’s in steep decline. Many other major commodities—coal, iron ore, and copper among them—have registered comparable declines over the course of the last few months. I have no doubt that the Saudi government has its own reasons for keeping their own oil production at full tilt even though the price is crashing, but they don’t control the price of those other commodities, or the pace of commercial shipping—another thing that has dropped steeply in recent months.

What’s going on, rather, is something that a number of us in the peak oil scene have been warning about for a while now. Since most of the world’s economies run on petroleum products, the steep oil prices of the last few years have taken a hefty bite out of all economic activities. The consequences of that were papered over for a while by frantic central bank activities, but they’ve finally begun to come home to roost in what’s politely called “demand destruction”—in less opaque terms, the process by which those who can no longer afford goods or services stop buying them.

That, in turn, reminded me of the last time prolonged demand destruction collided with a boom in high-priced oil production, and sent me chasing after a book I read almost three decades ago. A few days ago, accordingly, the excellent interlibrary loan service we have here in Maryland brought me a hefty 1985 hardback by financial journalist Philip Zweig, with the engaging title Belly Up: The Collapse of the Penn Square Bank. Some of my readers may never have heard of the Penn Square Bank; others may be scratching their heads, trying to figure out why the name sounds vaguely familiar. Those of my readers who belong to either category may want to listen up, because the same story seems to be repeating itself right now on an even larger scale.

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“a call for justice shouldn’t offend anybody”…

‘This Is Not a War! It’s a 12-Year-Old Boy’—Crowd Erupts When Cop Beats Handcuffed Boy

The cell phone video of Eric Garner may not have resulted in a trial for the police officers who choked him to death, but New Yorkers are still recording incidents of police using over-the-top force against African Americans.

In a recent video recorded by an onlooker on the streets of New York City, several large uniformed cops have a young African-American boy subdued and pinned against a car, when a white plainclothes police officer runs up and throws several punches at the immobilized boy. The video clearly shows that there is no reason or justification for this, and the bystanders erupt in horror, particularly one outspoken woman.

“He’s 12!” she shouts. “Why would you do that? After everything that’s happened! I’m a lawyer, I’m writing all this down.”

“Stop it, get off of him!” yells another.

“You guys…need a different profession. Go to war, this is not a war, this is a 12-year-old kid!” says a woman standing on the sidewalk facing the officers, who do not respond to her. Another boy is pinned by other officers against another car. He cries out as the officers yank his hands behind his back.

The woman who captured the video is actually actress Sarah Donegy. O n the YouTube pa ge where the video was posted, s he explained that the incident started when officers accused the two boys being arrested for pushing a classmate down. Donegy said the victim was questioned and that the boys being arrested were not the ones who pushed him.

Preserve The Evidence: Activists Guide To Video Archiving
The Guide


A Video in Context This video was recorded on April 9, 2012 in Homs, Syria, showing that an upsurge of violence occurred in the lead-up to a UN-brokered ceasefire agreement that called for a withdrawal of heavy weapons from built-up areas and a complete cessation of hostilities on April 12, 2012.

Note how the videographers state the date and location in which the video was recorded in the video’s audio. This basic metadata is central to the video’s significance, and allows it to be verified, understood and contextualized in relation to external information, like the date of the ceasefire agreement.

Protect sensitive information

Video metadata can contain private or sensitive information like names or locations that can put you or other people at risk. If you have sensitive data, choose methods of capturing metadata that allow you to either encrypt the data, separate it from other data, or keep it in a safe location. Be aware of what metadata your camera embeds automatically (case in point here).

Get informed consent

You cannot be sure that sensitive information will never be compromised. Consider the risks to yourself, and inform the people you are filming about the risks and get their consent to be filmed. See WITNESS’s Informed Consent tips for more information.

Be safe when recording

See WITNESS’s Safety and Security tips for more information.

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22 a day…is 660 a month……and 8030 each year…

Darkest of the Dark: Utterly Incoherent Tom Coburn Says It’s Too Expensive To Try to Stop 22 Veterans A Day From Killing Themselves

Despite an epidemic of astonishing proportions – 22 veterans a day so broken by grief, shame, horror or trauma they resolve not to live another day – retiring, grandstanding, incoherent obstructionist Sen. Tom “Dr.No” Coburn, R-Okla., took his final stand against humanity by single-handedly blocking the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which had broad bi-partisan support and would have cost $22 million, or about the same as three and a half-hours of the Iraq War. From Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), “This is why people hate Washington.”

The suicide prevention bill would expand access to mental health services for veterans suffering from depression and other forms of PTSD from their questionable service at a cost of $22 million over five years – a laughably small sliver of the estimated $6 trillion cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It is named for Clay Hunt, a Marine who served in both wars, earned a Purple Heart, came home to be celebrated as a “poster boy” vet who served others in projects like Team Rubicon and Ride 2 Recovery but who, unable to heal, killed himself in 2011. Hunt’s parents and veterans’ groups had tirelessly advocated for the bill, which had already passed in the House and was expected to pass in the Senate – until Coburn, a former doctor, blocked it with a baffling, ego-fuelled speech about his grandfather in World War 1 and how he too had treated patients “with the demons these young men and women have” and he had failed them and every veteran should get a smile at the V.A. “regardless of how long his hair is” and “the love…needs to be there” and so that’s why he doesn’t want to pay for them to maybe stay alive.

Veterans quickly blasted the move and supporters of the bill, which is almost everyone, vowed to bring it back in 90 days in the next Coburn-less Congress. By then, noted Rieckhoff, another 1,980 more veterans could die by suicide, a figure he entirely justifiably called “sickening.” Covering the story, the usually calm Rachel Maddow was almost speechless with rage. Coburn’s last despicable act, she noted, is “what he will be remembered for.”

“Twenty-two veterans a day, Senator,” she said, shaking her head. “Sleep well.”

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CIA immunity?

CIA Health Professionals’ Role in Systematic Torture, Including ‘Human Subjects Research’

The “unethical and illegal acts perpetrated by CIA health professionals,” which PHR outlines, include:

1) Designing, directing, and profiting from the torture program: Psychologists conceptualized and designed the CIA torture techniques, then helped implement the program, receiving a sole source, multi-million dollar CIA contract for these services.
2) Intentionally inflicting harm on detainees: Health professionals intentionally inflicted and/or threatened to inflict severe harm and suffering on detainees in CIA custody.
3) Enabling [Justice Department] lawyers to create a fiction of “safe, legal, and effective” interrogation practices: Health professionals participated in the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel’s spurious legal rationale that the techniques would not be considered torture so long as health professionals certified they were not.
4) Engaging in potential human subjects research to provide legal cover for torture: Health professionals collected and analyzed data from application of techniques in an effort to legitimize torture. [Office of Medical Services] officials expressed concern that these documentation practices could constitute illegal human subjects research. Senior CIA officials who were asked to evaluate the efficacy of the tactics expressed similar concerns.
5) Monitoring detainee torture and calibrating levels of pain: Health professionals monitored, documented, and calibrated the intentional infliction of harm on detainee.
6) Evaluating and treating detainees for purposes of torture: Health professionals evaluated and treated detainees before, during, and after torture in order to enable the torture to occur.
7) Conditioning medical care on cooperation with interrogators: Health professionals provided medical care that was contingent upon whether or not detainees were deemed to have cooperated with interrogators.
8) Failing to document physical and/or psychological evidence of torture: Health professionals did not document the torture inflicted on detainees, which served to conceal the tactics’ harmful effects.

PHR acknowledges that the prohibition against human experimentation in response to Nazi atrocities during World War II. “Unethical human subjects research also arose in the United States with the now infamous Tuskegee experiment, whereby black men were monitored as they died of diagnosed, but untreated, syphilis.” Following the experiment, which ended in 1972, safeguards were enacted to require that subjects of studies give “informed consent.”

The torture report summary contains a number of details that suggest human experimentation may have been ongoing. Part of deciding what “tactics” to use on detainees stemmed from analyzing “previously collected” data on detainees who were tortured. The data was used to “reauthorize” the use of certain torture techniques.

Brazil Released Its Own Torture Report This Week, And The U.S. Is Implicated

The truth commission was established by Rousseff in 2012, a move that was welcomed by the United Nations’ leading human rights official. Rousseff said at the time that the purpose was not to seek revenge, but rather to bring greater transparency to these events. The Obama administration actively cooperated with the Brazilian government and the truth commission in the investigation, with Vice President Joe Biden personally bringing documents to Rousseff last June.

The military regime that engaged in this campaign of killings and torture had come to power in a 1964 coup. It set out to repress anti-government groups amid fears of a communist uprising. Its targets included leftist and Marxist guerrilla organizations, as well as members of society who were simply deemed subversive, such as gay people, labor unions and indigenous tribes.

The security forces’ methods included killings, disappearances, sexual violence and other forms of torture, as The Washington Post notes. There were such horrific violations as “the introduction of insects into victims’ bodies,” according to Newsweek.

The truth commission identified 377 perpetrators from all levels of the Brazilian state. Many of the accused had received training from the U.S. and U.K. in interrogation tactics that, according to The Guardian, violated human rights.

Buzzfeed writes that a large part of that education occurred at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas. This facility, located in Panama until the mid-1980s, acted as a training ground for military members from many Latin American countries. It has since been renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and is now run out of Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia.

If Obama won’t prosecute CIA torture, can the ICC?

The International Criminal Court quietly revealed in a recent report that it was inching toward its first-ever investigation into the alleged torture of U.S. detainees in Afghanistan. That update — which came two weeks ago, just as the White House was bracing itself for the release of Senate findings on CIA torture — seemed to send a message: If the Obama administration continues to rule out prosecuting CIA torturers, the ICC could take action.

“Certain of the enhanced interrogation techniques apparently approved by U.S. senior commanders in Afghanistan … could, depending on the severity and duration of their use, amount to cruel treatment, torture or outrages upon personal dignity as defined under international jurisprudence,” read a Dec. 2 report from the ICC prosecutor’s office.

In the wake of the Senate report’s release — which brought fresh assurances from President Barack Obama that alleged CIA torturers would have immunity from criminal prosecution — the ICC has emerged as potentially the only hope for those demanding that the CIA be held accountable.

It had previously seemed impossible that there would ever be such an investigation into the covert program, which was specifically crafted by the George W. Bush administration to shield the agency from prosecution. But now that the Senate has entered a potential body of evidence into public record, the door has opened slightly for the ICC to pursue a case, according to Jennifer Trahan, an ICC expert with the New York University Center for Global Affairs.

Even though the United States is not a member of the ICC, Trahan said the court may have jurisdiction to prosecute alleged violations of international law that took place on CIA black sites in member countries — including Afghanistan, Poland and Romania.

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What makes “brazen murder” in Peshawar worse than brazen murder of children by U.S. drones?

Pakistani Taliban Kill 160, Mostly Children, in Peshawar School Massacre

Eight attackers, wearing the uniforms of the Pakistani military’s Frontier Corps, entered the school in the morning and began taking hostages. At one point they reportedly had over 400 students out of the school’s 1,100.

The Pakistani military raided the building during the hostage-taking, and started a bloody gunbattle. The TTP attackers then started to go from classroom to classroom shooting everybody.

TTP spokesman Mohammed Khurrassani said the attack was revenge for the hundreds of tribesmen killed in recent Pakistani military offensives, saying that “we are facing such heavy nights in routine. Today, you must face the heavy night.”

List of children killed by drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen

Name | Age | Gender
Noor Aziz | 8 | male
Abdul Wasit | 17 | male
Noor Syed | 8 | male
Wajid Noor | 9 | male
Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male
Ayeesha | 3 | female
Qari Alamzeb | 14| male
Shoaib | 8 | male
Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male
Tariq Aziz | 16 | male
Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male
Maezol Khan | 8 | female
Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male
Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male
Azizul Wahab | 15 | male
Fazal Wahab | 16 | male
Ziauddin | 16 | male
Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male
Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male
Sohail | 7 | male
Asadullah | 9 | male
khalilullah | 9 | male
Noor Mohammad | 8 | male
Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male
Mashooq Jan | 15 | male
Nawab | 17 | male
Sultanat Khan | 16 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male
Noor Mohammad | 15 | male
Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male
Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male
Abdullah | 18 | male
Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male
Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male
Shahbuddin | 15 | male
Yahya Khan | 16 |male
Rahatullah |17 | male
Mohammad Salim | 11 | male
Shahjehan | 15 | male
Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male
Bakht Muneer | 14 | male
Numair | 14 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Taseel Khan | 18 | male
Zaheeruddin | 16 | male
Qari Ishaq | 19 | male
Jamshed Khan | 14 | male
Alam Nabi | 11 | male
Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male
Rahmatullah | 14 | male
Abdus Samad | 17 | male
Siraj | 16 | male
Saeedullah | 17 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Salman | 12 | male
Fazal Wahab | 18 | male
Baacha Rahman | 13 | male
Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male
Iftikhar | 17 | male
Inayatullah | 15 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male
Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male
Kitab Gul | 12 | male
Wilayat Khan | 11 | male
Zabihullah | 16 | male
Shehzad Gul | 11 | male
Shabir | 15 | male
Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male
Shafiullah | 16 | male
Nimatullah | 14 | male
Shakirullah | 16 | male
Talha | 8 | male

Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female
Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female
Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female
Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female
Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male
Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male
Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female
Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female
Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female
Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female
Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male
Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female
Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female
Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female
Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female
Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male
Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female
Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female
Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male
Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male
Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female
AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male
Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male
Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male
Nasser Salim | 19

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