In an apparent effort to "facilitate peace talks," Al Jazeera reports that the Taliban - the armed Islamic fundamentalist group - will open a political office Doha, Qatar tomorrow.
- *AFGHANISTAN'S TALIBAN TO OPEN OFFICE IN QATAR TOMORROW: JAZEERA
- *JAZEERA CITES UNIDENTIFIED SOURCES ON TALIBAN POLITICAL OFFICE
Until earlier this year, Afghan President Karzai was strongly opposed to the Taliban having a meeting venue outside Afghanistan, but the US has pushed for the Taliban to be present at the negotiating table as Washington prepares to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in the next two years. This opening comes on the heels of accusations (here and as we discussed here) that Qatar (and Saudi Arabia) is reviving al-Qaeda in Iraq and now Syria.
"Information about the usage of chemical weapons by Assad is fabricated in the same way as the lie about Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.” Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, said on Twitter.
The short but profitable tale of how 483,000 private individual have "top secret" access to the nation's most non-public information begins in 2001. "After 9/11, intelligence budgets were increased, new people needed to be hired, it was a lot easier to go to the private sector and get people off the shelf," and sure enough firms like Booz Allen Hamilton - still two-thirds owned by the deeply-tied-to-international-governments investment firm The Carlyle Group - took full advantage of Congress' desire to shrink federal agencies and their budgets by enabling outside consultants (already primed with their $4,000 cost 'security clearances') to fulfill the needs of an ever-more-encroaching-on-privacy administration.
Technology, technology, and more technology—this is what has driven the American oil and gas boom starting in the Bakken and now being played out in the Gulf of Mexico revival, and new advances are coming online constantly. It’s enough to rival the Saudis, if the Kingdom allows it to happen. Along with this boom come both promise and fear and a fast-paced regulatory environment that still needs to find the proper balance. In an exclusive interview with Oilprice.com, Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Companies - a key player in Bakken with a penchant for leading the new technology charge—discusses: How Bakken has turned the US into an economic powerhouse; What the next milestone is for Three Forks; What Wall Street thinks of the key Bakken companies; Where the next Bakken could be; What to expect from the next Gulf of Mexico lease auction; What the intriguing new 4D seismic possibilities will unleash; What the linchpin new technology is for explorers; How the US can compete with Saudi Arabia; Why fossil fuel subsidies aren’t subsidies; How natural gas is the bridge to US energy independence; Why fossil fuels shouldn’t foot the bill for renewable energy; Why Keystone XL is important; Why the US WILL become a net natural gas exporter
Following April's surprising drop in crude imports which led to a multi-year low in the March trade balance (revised to -$37.1 billion), the just released April data showed an 8.5% jump in the deficit to $40.3 billion, if modestly better than the expected $41.1 billion. This was driven by a $2.2 billion increase in exports to $185.2 billion offset by a more than double sequential jump in imports by $5.4 billion, to $222.3 billion. More than all of the change was driven by a $3.2 billion increase in the goods deficit, offset by a $0.1 billion surplus in services.The Census Bureau also revised the entire historical data series, the result of which was a drop in the March deficit from $38.8 billion to $37.1 billion. In April 233,215K barrels of oil were imported, well above the 215,734K in March, and the highest since January. Furthermore, since the Q1 cumulative trade deficit has been revised from $126.9 billion to $123.7 billion, expect higher Q1 GDP revisions, offset by even more tapering of Q2 GDP tracking forecasts. And since the data is hardly as horrible as yesterday's ISM, we don't think it will be enough on its own to guarantee the 21 out of 21 Tuesday track record, so we eagerly look forward to today's POMO as the catalyst that seals the deal.
- Record unemployment, low inflation underline Europe's pain (Reuters)
- The ponzi gets bigger and bigger: Spanish banks up sovereign bond holdings by more than 10% (FT)
- California Lawmakers Turn Down Moratorium on Fracking (BBG)
- China’s Growing Ranks of Elderly Beset by Depression, Study Says (BBG)
- Tokyo Prepares for a Once-in-200-Year Flood to Top Sandy (BBG)
- Morgan Stanley Cutting Correlation Unit Added $50 Billion (BBG)
- IMF warns over yen weakness (FT)
- Rising radioactive spills leave Fukushima fishermen floundering (Reuters)
- India records slowest growth in a decade (FT)
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said natural resources are the cornerstone of the federal and provincial economies. The U.S. economy, on the road to modest recovery, remains central to a Canadian oil market that relies heavily on exports. Oliver said at an investment conference in Quebec that the natural resources sector represents about 20 percent of the gross domestic product. The Canadian economy has suffered, however, because there aren't many new conduits to get oil exports to foreign markets. The potential to reach Asian could provide a relief valve for the Canadian economy, while the option still exists to ship oil through the United States for exports. With opposition mounting along the borders, however, Canada's export-driven economy may become landlocked.
Shale gas is the latest hot potato that is being passed around the world. Are you with the in-crowd or out on limb? Ready to take the dive and place your country’s future in shale gas or go it as usual with domination of our energy sources with the petrol industry?
Moments ago, the British foreign secretary William Hague tweeted that the arms embargo to the Syrian rebels has officially ended. The irony is that as has been known for a long time, and as the FT itself reported ten days ago, the Syrian "rebels" who actually have been Qatari mercenaries, have been receiving weapons shipments for years from the wealthy Persian Gulf country, with the implicit knowledge of both Europe and the US. So why the rush by France and Britain to allow weapons armaments to resume by official channels, even if it means even more weaponization of the Assad regime by Russia and China, more bloodshed, and more death?
Simple: natural gas.
...It seemed like every week we would hear about some terrorist with a suitcase-sized bomb, and the bureaucrats would dive into a lively debate about whether or not to evacuate the Americans. One day, I remember, my friend who was the senior ranking non-commissioned officer interrupted and said, “What about the Swedes? Do we evacuate the Swedes too?” The embassy staff looked at each other, shrugged a bit, “Oh sure, sure, we’ll coordinate with Washington on that.” And the discussion continued. “What about the Saudis?” Silence again. And then he really made his point. “It’s not just about Americans, you know. [others] blood is worth something too.”
One can read "The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama" to get a true sense of Obama's "the best defense is a relentless drone everyone offense, ignore collateral damage and take out a few Americans in the process" policy. Or one can stare at rising stawks and enjoy their Obamaphones. Obe can't have both.
The theory of Petrodollar Warfare can be attributed to US analyst and author William R Clarke, and his 2005 book of that title which interpreted the US-UK decision to invade Iraq in 2003. He called this an "oil currency war", but the concept of the petrodollar system and petrodollar recyling dates back to the eve of the first Oil Shock in 1973-1974. The role of the petrodollar system as a driving force of US foreign policy is explained by analysts and historians as basic to maintaining the dollar's status as the world's dominant reserve currency - and the currency in which oil is priced. Today however, with the major and massive changes of oil resource availability revealed by the shale energy revolution, rising global oil production capabilities, stagnating oil demand, and rising renewable energy supplies in all major developed countries, and the constantly declining role of oil in the economy, the Petrodollar System's days are surely numbered
The collective state of mind in the USA these days may be even more peculiar than what went on in Germany in the early 1930s, when the Nazis were freely elected to lead the country and reconstructed the battered national psyche into a superman cult that soon beat a path to mass death and ruin. America has its own way of going crazy. We don't goose-step to tragedy; we coalesce into an insane clown posse and stumble into it by pratfall -- juggaloes dancing backwards off the cliff edge. A subset of our master wish has been on vivid display in recent months, namely the idea that God has blessed the USA with a limitless supply of new oil that will allow us to keep driving to WalMart forever. Most of the current "endless oil" fantasy revolves around shale oil. Apart from the issue of sheer economic suffering and all the damage that will ensue from the realization of the falsehoods and propaganda, consider that it will be generations before anyone believes the "authorities" again.
The mistake Abe is making is to think the same trick that worked for the US will work for them. The problem, as Shirakawa no doubt realizes, is that the two country’s situations are not at all analogous, because the yen isn’t really a reserve currency in the same way the dollar is. There is no population of natural sovereign buyers who will be forced to print their own currency to mop up excess yen, as there is for the dollar. No sovereign is going to want to dramatically increase the allocations of their country’s reserves to the yen, not when it’s in the middle of being deliberately devalued, or really ever. Russia and China and Saudi Arabia don’t need any more yen, they have plenty. Oil isn’t priced in yen. Japan isn’t the world’s largest economy, or even its second largest. World trade isn’t conducted in yen. The emerging economies will just let it collapse. There is no natural sovereign sink for yen to drain into, as there is for the dollar, no group of buyers of last resort with bottomless pockets and no choice but to buy.