Natural gas basins could turn the Mediterranean into a “sea of prosperity”

Natural gas basins could turn the Mediterranean into a “sea of prosperity,” but there is a risk that politics may hamper economic progress, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.

“The biggest problem in the eastern Mediterranean is not the existence of reserves, it is the potential that politics may supersede the economy,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, told daily Hürriyet.

“If this settles down, I believe eastern Mediterranean gas will raise the prosperity of regional countries and could become an important alternative to Russian gas,” he said. Continue reading

Hot money exodus ends currency wars

Turkey’s efforts to pull the lira off record lows on Monday are likely to be emulated across emerging markets as central banks fight to avert an exodus of foreign capital driven by the impending turn in US policy.

It’s all a far cry from a year or so ago, when emerging market exporters were battling rising exchange rates and Brazil was accusing Western policymakers of waging currency wars by flooding the world with cheap money. Continue reading

China’s Military Buildup Worrisome, Japan’s U.S. Ambassador Says

China’s “spectacularly active” naval posture and “massive” military buildup in Asia are part of a pattern of belligerent behavior toward Japan and other neighbors over maritime disputes, according to Japan’s ambassador to the U.S.

Speaking at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington yesterday, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae described China’s increasingly frequent forays to lodge territorial claims in the resource-rich East and South China Seas as “harassing” and “provocative.” Continue reading

Entangling the dragon in Middle-Eastern quicksands

The quicksands of the Arabian Desert are notorious for swallowing up anyone trying to control the area. Historically, that’s what happened to Turkey, Britain, France, Russia and the US. Sooner or later, all discovered that instead of dominating the Middle East, they ended up being dominated by the region’s never-ending problems.

And that may also be the fate of China, the latest power to be lured by the idea that it has to engage in Middle-Eastern diplomacy. Unless decision-makers in Beijing are thoroughly prepared for what awaits, they will also find that the region can absorb all their energies, and usually for no practical effect. Continue reading

Iran trumpets new naval warfare capabilities

And just to think, the Iranian navy during wartime will have thousands of speedboats taking off towards US Navy targets. The article also doesn’t take into account the thousands of missiles that could be launched upon naval vessels within the Persian Gulf. The stakes are quite high.

Iran’s speedboats can carry multiple kinds of anti-ship cruise missiles, and fire them while traveling at speeds higher than missile boats in any other navy in the world, an Iranian defense official claimed Monday. Continue reading

Armada of British naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike

An armada of US and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s covert nuclear weapons programme.

Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.

Full article: Armada of British naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike (The Telegraph)

Chinese Patrol Ships Reach Senkaku Islands

The Chinese military deployed its warships to the disputed Senkaku islands, a chain of uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea, amid a weeks-long diplomatic row with Japan over who has sovereignty over them.

Two patrol ships from the China Marine Surveillance, a maritime law-enforcement agency, were deployed and have reached waters near the islands on Tuesday “to assert the country’s sovereignty,” Chinese state-run media said.

The tiny islets are located approximately 125 miles from Taiwan and more than 1,200 miles from Tokyo, and are said to give the rights to reserves of natural gas, oil, and prime fishing spots in the adjoining sea. Japan has governed them since the 1970s when the United States transferred them.

The move comes after Chinese Communist Party head Hu Jintao told Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko on Sept. 9 that “Japan must fully consider the seriousness of this situation and not make the wrong decision” while the two were attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

A day later, Premier Wen Jiabao said the Chinese regime “will absolutely make no concession on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to state media.

Full article: Chinese Patrol Ships Reach Senkaku Islands (Epoch Times)

Coal Industry Under Attack

A map has been generated at FreeMarketAmerica.org which tracks jobs lost on account of the Sierra Club’s war on coal. The data for the map comes from the National Mining Association, which says that over 1.2 million jobs have been lost in the coal industry. If mining stocks haven’t been doing well – whether we are talking coal or even gold – consider the environmental hits taken by the mining industry. Like the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, coal mining has been specially targeted for reduction.

It’s true, of course. Last June Bloomberg ran a piece, “Displaced coal miners face slim job prospects.” All around the country, coal jobs are being lost. Coal is one of America’s key energy resources. It is an energy resource we don’t have to import. But the Obama Administration appears determined to crush the coal industry in order to save the planet from global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes global warming is caused by greenhouse gases produced by coal as well as oil. Therefore, a radical effort is underway to curtail the use of coal.

Only a few years ago more than half our electricity was generated from coal. In the first quarter of 2012 the generation of electricity from coal dropped 21 percent from 2011 levels. The immediate culprit is the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAP). You can read about it at the Web Site of the EPA where it states: “On July 6, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that protects the health of millions of Americans by helping states reduce air pollution and attain clean air standards. This rule, known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, requires states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.” (In other words, coal is out.)

In the middle of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, when as many as 86 million are unemployed, how can the federal government purposely push for over 1.2 million in additional job losses? And yes, the job situation may be worse than official figures suggest. Readers should review CNN Money’s May 4 piece titled “The 86 million invisible unemployed” which stated that our work force has the “lowest force participation rate since 1981.”

As CNN Money explained, “Only people looking for work are considered officially unemployed.” So the situation is worse than the government represents. Yet the government would add to the number of those out of work by strangling the coal industry. When the price of oil remains high and a war in the Middle East could drive oil prices higher, wouldn’t it be wise to leave the coal industry alone? But then, we have to save the planet from global warming – or do we?

Full article: Coal Industry Under Attack (JR Nyquist | Financial Sense Online)

Standard Chartered Takes Sides with $250 billion against America?

An excellent and well-sourced article by Kevin D. Freeman. Click the link for the full story.

There is a story out today about how Standard Chartered allegedly hid $250 billion in 60,000 transactions with Iran that could have been used to fund nuclear development or even terror activities. This story, if true, blows away the arguments that no one would work against U.S. interests in the financial realm. The size and volume of the transactions is extraordinary. And, the investigation uncovered an attitude that is clearly against American interests. If all of this is true, we hope that it will wake up regulators to even more serious vulnerabilities in our system. Remember, we documented how a single one billion transaction roiled our Treasury markets a little over a year ago. These transactions total a quarter-trillion dollars!

We have pointed out the extraordinary arrogance contained in the idea that the world’s financial system is U.S. centric. In fact, in our previous post on this subject, Our Paper or Their Oil, we said the following:

A high-stakes drama is playing out now between the United States and Iran. On this blog, in our book Secret Weapon, in speeches and media interviews, we  have been warning about the reality of global economic warfare. For several years, our government has ignored this reality. The good news is that just recently the government has begun to recognize economic weaponry. The bad news is that the government has approached the subject with typical American arrogance. The worse news is that we may all be hurt as a result.

The news from Standard Chartered, a British-based multinational bank operating in 70 countries, provides a decent proxy of world opinion. The primary reason that the world continues to deal with Iran is that they have Oil. We are fighting with paper. Here is a telling quote from the CNBC story:

Regulators, quoting a New York bank branch officer, said the group director replied: “You f—ing Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians.”

Here are important quotes from the New York Times story:

The bank “left the U.S. financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes,” the agency said in an order sent to the bank Monday …

The department accused the bank of undermining the safety of New York’s financial system through a range of violations including “falsifying business records” and “obstructing governmental administration,” according to the order.

Suspecting that Iranian banks were using their financial institutions to finance its nuclear weapons program, the United States Treasury Department banned certain transactions between Iranian banks and United States financial institutions in 2008.

Make no mistake, this is a global economic war. The international financial system is not serving American interests and as we have proven can be used as a weapon in the global economic war (seewww.SecretWeapon.org). Sadly, this is a shock to most Americans.

Full article: Standard Chartered Takes Sides with $250 billion against America? (Kevin D. Freeman)

China launches naval war games

“According to our annual plan for exercises, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s navy will in the coming days hold exercise activities in the waters near the Zhoushan islands,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The ministry provided no other details on the war games.

But the China Daily said the live fire naval exercises would start on Tuesday and last for six days.

The exercises come after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Saturday that Japan was considering buying a chain of islands at the centre of its bitter territorial dispute with China and Taiwan.

Those islands in the East China Sea are called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, and are further to the east than the area where the imminent naval exercises are being planned.

China claims essentially all of the South China Sea, home to vital shipping lanes and believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits. Taiwan and Brunei and Malaysia also have claims in the waters.

Full article: China launches naval war games (Defence Talk)

Iran And India: A Tangled Web Of Oil And Geopolitics

India and Iran have had a long relationship stretching back to ancient times. Iranian (or Persian) influence has produced a deep imprint upon Indian art, poetry, architecture and literature. With periodic invasions, military adventures and constant cross-migrations between the two empires, the people of Iran and northern India share many cultural and ethnic characteristics.

In the 21st century, the relations between these two great nations must be framed along the lines of geo-politics and oil, rather than art and culture.

Although India was greatly worried by the 1979 revolution in Iran that toppled the Shah and established an Islamic state, New Delhi and Teheran have generally enjoyed good relations. That tie became stronger with India’s insatiable appetite for energy in tandem with western sanctions that have pressured Iran to find customers for its crucial oil exports.

Indeed, India -which criticized the sanctions by the U.S., United Nations and European Union - recently became Iran’s top oil buyer.

Full article: Iran And India: A Tangled Web Of Oil And Geopolitics (International Business Times)

Iran Oil Exports Continue Off Radar

Iran continues to show that there is no bottom for third world economies.

Iran is trying to counter Western sanctions on its oil industry that aim to cripple Iran’s economy and convince it to acquiesce to Western demands regarding its nuclear program.

Reuters cites sources in the oil industry, trading and shipping who say the National Iranian Tanker Company has ordered all its captains to “switch off the black box transponders that are used in the shipping industry to monitor vessel movements.”

Full article: Iran Oil Exports Continue Off Radar (Eurasia Review)