TBR News October 10, 2014

Oct 10 2014


The Voice of the White House

         Washington, D.C. October 9, 2014: “Now that there are Ebola cases in the United States, trust me, the Babbling Bloggers will have a royal field day starting groundless rumors, full of their self-importance and echoing with cries of doom. What will the non-existant Tyler Durden have to say? Does Wayne Madsen have the real inner secrets? Oh, and do not forget the in-depth secrets of Global Research or the brilliant anaylsis of Sorcha Faal. A frantic public awaits the latest from the gurus of the Internet with frenzied anticipation. Are ships full of Ebola victims being sent to this country by the One World Order? What does Gordon Duff have to say? And will we learn that a policeman in St. Louis shot a giant Ebola virus two hundred times and was later exposed as an Illuminati agent?

Obama’s New Oil Wars: Washington Takes on ISIS, Iran, and Russia

October 10, 2014

by Michael T. Klare


It was heinous. It was underhanded. It was beyond the bounds of international morality. It was an attack on the American way of life. It was what you might expect from unscrupulous Arabs. It was “the oil weapon” – and back in 1973, it was directed at the United States. Skip ahead four decades and it’s smart, it’s effective, and it’s the American way. The Obama administration has appropriated it as a major tool of foreign policy, a new way to go to war with nations it considers hostile without relying on planes, missiles, and troops. It is, of course, that very same oil weapon.

Until recently, the use of the term “the oil weapon” has largely been identified with the efforts of Arab producers to dissuade the United States from supporting Israel by cutting off the flow of petroleum. The most memorable example of its use was the embargo imposed by Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on oil exports to the United States during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, causing scarcity in the U.S., long lines at American filling stations, and a global economic recession.

After suffering enormously from that embargo, Washington took a number of steps to disarm the oil weapon and prevent its reuse. These included an increased emphasis on domestic oil production and the establishment of a mutual aid arrangement overseen by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that obliged participating nations to share their oil with any member state subjected to an embargo.

So consider it a surprising reversal that, having tested out the oil weapon against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with devastating effect back in the 1990s, Washington is now the key country brandishing that same weapon, using trade sanctions and other means to curb the exports of energy-producing states it categorizes as hostile. The Obama administration has taken this aggressive path even at the risk of curtailing global energy supplies.

When first employed, the oil weapon was intended to exploit the industrial world’s heavy dependence on petroleum imports from the Middle East. Over time, however, those producing countries became ever more dependent on oil revenues to finance their governments and enrich their citizens. Washington now seeks to exploit this by selectively denying access to world oil markets, whether through sanctions or the use of force, and so depriving hostile producing powers of operating revenues.

The most dramatic instance of this came on September 23rd, when American aircraft bombed refineries and other oil installations in areas of Syria controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL or IS). An extremist insurgent movement that has declared a new “caliphate,” ISIS is not, of course, a major oil producer, but it has taken control of oil fields and refineries that once were operated by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in eastern Syria. The revenue generated by these fields, reportedly $1 to $2 million daily, is being used by ISIS to generate a significant share of its operating expenses. This has given that movement the wherewithal to finance the further recruitment and support of thousands of foreign fighters, even as it sustains a high tempo of combat operations.

Black-market dealers in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey have evidently been assisting ISIS in this effort, purchasing the crude at a discount and selling at global market rates, now hovering at about $90 per barrel. Ironically, this clandestine export network was initially established in the 1990s by Saddam Hussein’s regime to evade U.S. sanctions on Iraq.

The Islamic State has proven adept indeed at exploiting the fields under its control, even selling the oil to agents of opposing forces, including the Assad regime. To stop this flow, Washington launched what is planned to be a long-term air campaign against those fields and their associated infrastructure. By bombing them, President Obama evidently hopes to curtail the movement’s export earnings and thereby diminish its combat capabilities. These strikes, he declared in announcing the bombing campaign, are intended to “take out terrorist targets” and “cut off ISIL’s financing.”

It is too early to assess the impact of the air strikes on ISIS’s capacity to pump and sell oil. However, since the movement has been producing only about 80,000 barrels per day (roughly 1/1,000th of worldwide oil consumption), the attacks, if successful, are not expected to have any significant impact on a global market already increasingly glutted, in part because of an explosion of drilling in that “new Saudi Arabia,” the United States.

As it happens, though, the Obama administration is also wielding the oil weapon against two of the world’s leading producers, Iran and Russia. These efforts, which include embargoes and trade sanctions, are likely to have a far greater impact on world output, reflecting White House confidence that, in the pursuit of U.S. strategic interests, anything goes.

Fighting the Iranians

In the case of Iran, Washington has moved aggressively to curtail Tehran’s ability to finance its extensive nuclear program both by blocking its access to Western oil-drilling technology and by curbing its export sales. Under the Iran Sanctions Act, foreign firms that invest in the Iranian oil industry are barred from access to U.S. financial markets and subject to other penalties. In addition, the Obama administration has put immense pressure on major oil-importing countries, including China, India, South Korea, and the European powers, to reduce or eliminate their purchases from Iran.

These measures, which involve tough restrictions on financial transactions related to Iranian oil exports, have had a significant impact on that country’s oil output. By some estimates, those exports have fallen by one million barrels per day, which also represents a significant contraction in global supplies. As a result, Iran’s income from oil exports is estimated to have fallen from $118 billion in 2011-2012 to $56 billion in 2013-2014, while pinching ordinary Iranians in a multitude of ways.

In earlier times, when global oil supplies were tight, a daily loss of one million barrels would have meant widespread scarcity and a possible global recession. The Obama administration, however, assumes that only Iran is likely to suffer in the present situation. Credit this mainly to the recent upsurge in North American energy production (largely achieved through the use of hydro-fracking to extract oil and natural gas from buried shale deposits) and the increased availability of crude from other non-OPEC sources. According to the most recent data from the Department of Energy (DoE), U.S. crude output rose from 5.7 million barrels per day in 2011 to 8.4 million barrels in the second quarter of 2014, a remarkable 47% gain. And this is to be no flash in the pan. The DoE predicts that domestic output will rise to some 9.6 million barrels per day in 2020, putting the U.S. back in the top league of global producers.

For the Obama administration, the results of this are clear. Not only will American reliance on imported oil be significantly reduced, but with the U.S. absorbing ever less of the non-domestic supply, import-dependent countries like India, Japan, China, and South Korea should be able to satisfy their needs even if Iranian energy production keeps falling. As a result, Washington has been able to secure greater cooperation from such countries in observing the Iranian sanctions – something they would no doubt have been reluctant to do if global supplies were less abundant.

There is another factor, no less crucial, in the aggressive use of the oil weapon as an essential element of foreign policy. The increase in domestic crude output has imbued American leaders with a new sense of energy omnipotence, allowing them to contemplate the decline in Iranian exports without trepidation. In an April 2013 speech at Columbia University, Tom Donilon, then Obama’s national security adviser, publicly expressed this outlook with particular force. “America’s new energy posture allows us to engage from a position of greater strength,” he avowed. “Increasing U.S. energy supplies act as a cushion that helps reduce our vulnerability to global supply disruptions and price shocks. It also affords us a stronger hand in pursuing and implementing our international security goals.”

This “stronger hand,” he made clear, was reflected in U.S. dealings with Iran. To put pressure on Tehran, he noted, “The United States engaged in tireless diplomacy to persuade consuming nations to end or significantly reduce their consumption of Iranian oil.” At the same time, “the substantial increase in oil production in the United States and elsewhere meant that international sanctions and U.S. and allied efforts could remove over 1 million barrels per day of Iranian oil while minimizing the burdens on the rest of the world.” It was this happy circumstance, he suggested, that had forced Iran to the negotiating table.

Fighting Vladimir Putin

The same outlook apparently governs U.S. policy toward Russia.

Prior to Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its covert intervention in eastern Ukraine, major Western oil companies, including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Total of France, were pursuing elaborate plans to begin production in Russian-controlled sectors of the Black Sea and the Arctic Ocean, mainly in collaboration with state-owned or state-controlled firms like Gazprom and Rosneft. There were, for instance, a number of expansive joint ventures between Exxon and Rosneft to drill in those energy-rich waters.

“These agreements,” Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon, said proudly in 2012 on inking the deal, “are important milestones in this strategic relationship… Our focus now will move to technical planning and execution of safe and environmentally responsible exploration activities with the goal of developing significant new energy supplies to meet growing global demand.” Seen as a boon for American energy corporations and the oil-dependent global economy, these and similar endeavors were largely welcomed by U.S. officials.

Such collaborations between U.S. companies and Russian state enterprises were then viewed as conferring significant benefits on both sides. Exxon and other Western companies were being given access to vast new reserves – a powerful lure at a time when many of their existing fields in other parts of the world were in decline. For the Russians, who were also facing significant declines in their existing fields, access to advanced Western drilling technology offered the promise of exploiting otherwise difficult-to-reach areas in the Arctic and “tough” drilling environments elsewhere.

Not surprisingly, key figures on both sides have sought to insulate these arrangements from the new sanctions being imposed on Russia in response to its incursions in Ukraine. Tillerson, in particular, has sought to persuade U.S. leaders to exempt its deals with Rosneft from any such measures. “Our views are being heard at the highest levels,” he indicated in June.

As a result of such pressures, Russian energy companies were not covered in the first round of U.S. sanctions imposed on various firms and individuals. After Russia intervened in eastern Ukraine, however, the White House moved on to tougher sanctions, including measures aimed at the energy sector. On September 12th, the Treasury Department announced that it was imposing strict constraints on the transfer of U.S. technology to Rosneft, Gazprom, and other Russian firms for the purpose of drilling in the Arctic. These measures, the department noted, “will impede Russia’s ability to develop so-called frontier or unconventional oil resources, areas in which Russian firms are heavily dependent on U.S. and western technology.”

The impact of these new measures cannot yet be assessed. Russian officials scoffed at them, insisting that their companies will proceed in the Arctic anyway. Nevertheless, Obama’s decision to target their drilling efforts represents a dramatic turn in U.S. policy, risking a future contraction in global oil supplies if Russian companies prove unable to offset declines at their existing fields.

The New Weapon of Choice

As these recent developments indicate, the Obama administration has come to view the oil weapon as a valuable tool of power and influence. It appears, in fact, that Washington may be in the process of replacing the threat of invasion or, as with the Soviet Union in the Cold War era, nuclear attack, as its favored response to what it views as overseas provocation. (Not surprisingly, the Russians look on the Ukrainian crisis, which is taking place on their border, in quite a different light.) Whereas full-scale U.S. military action – that is, anything beyond air strikes, drone attacks, and the sending in of special ops forces – seems unlikely in the current political environment, top officials in the Obama administration clearly believe that oil combat is an effective and acceptable means of coercion – so long, of course, as it remains in American hands.

That Washington is prepared to move in this direction reflects not only the recent surge in U.S. crude oil output, but also a sense that energy, in this time of globalization, constitutes a strategic asset of unparalleled importance. To control oil flows across the planet and deny market access to recalcitrant producers is increasingly a major objective of American foreign policy.

Yet, given Washington’s lack of success when using direct military force in these last years, it remains an open question whether the oil weapon will, in the end, prove any more satisfactory in offering strategic advantage to the United States. The Iranians, for instance, have indeed come to the negotiating table, but a favorable outcome on the nuclear talks there appears increasingly remote; with or without oil, ISIS continues to score battlefield victories; and Moscow displays no inclination to end its involvement in Ukraine. Nonetheless, in the absence of other credible options, President Obama and his key officials seem determined to wield the oil weapon.

As with any application of force, however, use of the oil weapon entails substantial risk. For one thing, despite the rise in domestic crude production, the U.S. will remain dependent on oil imports for the foreseeable future and so could still suffer if other countries were to deny it exports. More significant is the possibility that this new version of the oil wars Washington has been fighting since the 1990s could someday result in a genuine contraction in global supplies, driving prices skyward and so threatening the health of the U.S. economy. And who’s to say that, seeing Washington’s growing reliance on aggressive oil tactics to impose its sway, other countries won’t find their own innovative ways to wield the oil weapon to their advantage and to Washington’s ultimate detriment?

As with the introduction of drones, the United States now enjoys a temporary advantage in energy warfare. By unleashing such weapons on the world, however, it only ensures that others will seek to match our advantage and turn it against us.

Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left. A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation



Europol warning: ‘Internet of Everything’ could lead to ‘online murder’ by end of 2014

October 5, 2014



The EU’s chief criminal intelligence agency warms that the threat of “online murder” is set to rise, with cyber criminals increasingly targeting victims with internet technology.

The European Police Office (Europol) said governments are ill-equipped to counter the menace of “injury and possible deaths” spurred by hacking attacks on critical safety equipment, the UK Independent reported Sunday.

Security experts called for a paradigm shift in forensic science which would react to the ‘Internet of Everything’ (IoE) – the dawning era of technological interconnectedness where increasingly more human activity is mediated through computer networks.

“The IoE represents a whole new attack vector that we believe criminals will already be looking for ways to exploit,” according to the Europol threat assessment.

“The IoE is inevitable. We must expect a rapidly growing number of devices to be rendered ‘smart’ and thence to become interconnected. Unfortunately, we feel that it is equally inevitable that many of these devices will leave vulnerabilities via which access to networks can be gained by criminals.”

Death online

n a world of smart cars, homes and even cities, the risk of hacking and cracking attacks will only increase as tens of billions of devices are expected to be accessible remotely in the coming decades. It’s feared the attacks will not only be launched for financial gain, but also to inflict personal harm.

Citing a December 2013 report by US security firm IID, the Europol threat assessment warned of the first murder via “hacked internet-connected device” by the end of 2014.

The idea was widely popularized by the US spy drama Homeland, in which terrorists hacked into the pacemaker of Vice-President Walden, sending him into cardiac arrest. In the real world, a team of computer security researchers managed to gain wireless access to a combination heart defibrillator and pacemaker as far back as 2008.

At the time, the experiment required more than $30,000 worth of lab equipment and a sustained effort by a team of specialists from the University of Washington and the University of Massachusetts to interpret the data gathered from the implant’s signals, the New York Times reported.

The risk, however, did not escape real-life former US Vice-President Dick Cheney, who admitted in October 2013 he harbored the exact same fear.

“I was aware of the danger that existed,” Cheney said. “I knew from the experience we’d had the necessity for adjusting my own device [pacemaker] that it [Homeland] was an accurate portrayal.”

In Cheney’s case, doctors opted to turn off the remote function in Cheney’s pacemaker back in 2007.

Conspiracy theories have also surrounded the death of Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed journalist Michael Hastings, who died in a high-speed car crash on June 18, 2013.

Former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke said that based on the available information, the crash was “consistent with a car cyber-attack.”

“There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers – including the United States – know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber-attack on [Hastings’] car – and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”

Hastings, incidentally, was a vociferous critic of the US surveillance state. Just hours before his death, he sent an email to his colleagues warning of an FBI investigation and that he needed to “go off the rada[r]” for a bit.

That same month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pressured the healthcare industry to seal up vulnerabilities in Internet-connected medical devices like pacemakers, “which could be hacked to send out lethal jolts of electricity, or insulin pumps, which can be reprogrammed to administer overdoses,” the IID report said.

In another twist seemingly out of Hollywood, 35-year-old New Zealand hacker, programmer and computer security expert Barnaby Jack died in July 2013, just a week before he was to give a presentation on hacking heart implants at a computer security conference. Despite rumblings on the internet, Jack had already demonstrated this type of “anonymous assassination” by reverse-engineering a pacemaker transmitter that could deliver deadly electric shocks, the Daily Beast reported.

Jack had done extensive research into the potential of exploiting medical devices including pacemakers and insulin pumps, prompting the FDA to change regulations regarding wireless medical devices in 2012.

Meanwhile, the latest cybersecurity threat assessment is the product of the 2015 Europol-INTERPOL cybercrime conference, which concluded at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague on Friday.

The three-day conference brought together some 230 specialists from law enforcement, the private sector and academia “to review current trends and new modus operandi used by organized crime networks.”

The conference named prevention, information exchange, investigation and capacity building as the four core elements needed to combat cybercrime.



Extremism prevention’: Austria to amend century-old law on Islam

October 03, 2014



Fear of extremism has led to Austria having drafted amendments to a 102-year-old law on Islam. Muslim organizations are to be banned from being financed from abroad, while the Koran is to get a unified German-language translation.

The amendments have already been criticized for singling out Islam, which has so far existed in Austria on equal terms with other religions like Catholicism, Lutheranism, Judaism and Buddhism.

Chancellery Minister Josef Mayer said that the new regulations were very carefully drafted based on discussions with the country’s Muslim community and that the changes to the 1912 law on Islam were needed as “a lot has changed” since it was adopted, according to Austria Press Agency.

Foreign Affairs and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz was more specific on the purpose of updating the law on Islam.

“If you don’t have orderly legal regulation… this can always bring dangers. In this sense, if you like this is maybe a part of prevention,” he told reporters, as cited by Reuters.

The amendments to the law are being worked out amid Austrians growing increasingly worried over reports of around 140 Austrians fighting alongside jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria. Austria’s counter-terrorism body also warned in August that Vienna was “attracting foreign fighters from all over Europe,” being a convenient stop on their way to Syria.

The fear of extremist groups could be the reason Austria has witnessed right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) rising in popularity. An August opinion poll published by Der Standard showed the FPÖ had support of 28 percent of the poll participants, more than any other political party.

The new legislation on Islam will prohibit Austrian Imams from being employed by foreign countries and Muslim organizations obtaining finance from abroad.

That would outlaw the country’s 65 Imams currently employed by Turkey – roughly a fifth of all of Imams in Austria.

One of the two official Muslim organizations in Austria has already voiced its discontent.

“[The bill] mirrors in its overtone the spirit of the times we currently perceive, which is marked by blanket suspicion and mistrust against Muslims,” said Carla Amina Baghajati, spokeswoman of the Islamic Community of Faith in Austria (IGGIO).

Critics of the law point at it being unjust in creating unequal conditions for different religions.

“It will create an impression as if Muslims are a potential problem group,” Islam expert Thomas Schmid Inger told ORF. “I would have liked it better if you had one law for all religious communities and all religious communities in Austria were really treated equally.”

Another thing the new law demands is a standardized German-language translations of the Koran. Austrian leadership believes that’s not going to be a problem.

“Am I skeptical when I hear this is difficult or not easily done? Fundamentally no,” said Kurz, as cited by Reuters.

Meanwhile, representatives of the Muslim community argue that coming up with a unified translation of the Koran is against principles of the religion. The Arabic version of the Koran is perceived as the word of Allah in Islam, and no translation of it can be absolutely accurate.

That’s not the first legislative initiative in Austria inspired by the rise of extremism in Iraq and Syria. Austrian authorities announced in mid-September they were planning to ban terrorist-related symbols, starting with the flag of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS or ISIL) extremist movement.



U.S. working on new screenings for Ebola but no travel ban

October 6, 2014

by Roberta Rampton and Richard Valdmanis


 WASHINGTON/DALLAS -President Barack Obama said on Monday that the government would develop expanded screening of airline passengers for Ebola, both in the West African countries hit by the disease and the United States.

 The first patient diagnosed with the disease on U.S. soil, Thomas Eric Duncan, remained in critical condition in a Dallas hospital, as Obama was briefed by agencies involved in fighting the spread of the deadly virus.

The president said it was important to follow existing protocols strictly.

“But we’re also going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screening, both at the source and here in the United States,” Obama said.

However, the White House said that a ban on travel from West African countries, which some U.S. officials have called for, would slow the fight against Ebola.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said officials did not want to impede transport systems used to send supplies and personnel to the hardest-hit countries in West Africa, so a travel ban was not being considered.

Airlines for America, a Washington-based trade group, separately said it would meet health and safety officials on Monday to discuss whether additional screening procedures anywhere in the world might help improve on those already in place.

Authorities in the United States and the public are on alert following Duncan’s diagnosis just over a week ago, raising concerns that the worst epidemic of Ebola on record could spread from West Africa.

Duncan – who flew to the United States via Brussels and Washington from Liberia after helping a woman who later died of Ebola – is fighting for his life in a Dallas hospital. The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital initially sent him away with antibiotics, only to have him return two days later in an ambulance.

Health officials said none of the 10 people who were being monitored after having had direct contact with Duncan are so far showing signs of Ebola symptoms. Ebola, which can cause fever, vomiting and diarrhea, spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood or saliva.

Concern about the virus is also high in Europe, where the first case of Ebola being contracted outside of West Africa was reported on Monday. Spanish health officials said a nurse who treated a priest repatriated to Madrid with Ebola last month, and who died of the disease, had also been infected.

Texas Health Presbyterian said on Monday has been receiving the experimental drug brincidofovir since Saturday.

The drug was developed by Chimerix Inc, which said it has been tested in more than 1,000 patients without raising safety concerns. “Chimerix has brincidofovir tablets available for immediate use in clinical trials,” the company said in a statement.

People leaving Ebola-affected countries are asked to fill out a questionnaire on whether they have symptoms such as a high fever and whether or not they have had any contact with someone who was diagnosed with Ebola. In Liberia, at least, they also are scanned for fever.

Obama said on Monday that “the chances of an outbreak – of an epidemic here are extraordinarily low.” He also said some other countries were not doing enough to fight the disease at its source in West Africa.

“I’ll be honest with you: Although we have seen interest on the part of the international community, we have not seen other countries step up,” the president said. “We’ve had some small countries that are punching above their weight on this but we’ve got some large countries that aren’t doing enough.”


Several health experts and lawmakers have asked the administration to consider enhancing U.S. airport and customs screenings, including checking travelers using handheld fever scanners.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, announcing the formation of a state task force on infectious diseases Monday, said that there were “mistakes” with handling the Ebola diagnosis in Dallas, but defended the state’s overall public health management.

“I stand by the fact that the process is working,” Perry said. “We don’t have an outbreak. We have one event that is being handled properly.”

Perry also called for enhanced screening procedures by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, including “obtaining more information about people who are coming from affected areas and taking appropriate steps upon arrival.”

The death toll from the disease has been rising in three impoverished West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The current Ebola outbreak has killed at least 3,439 people since it began in March, out of nearly 7,500 confirmed, probable and suspected cases.

In addition to those three countries, the tally includes Nigeria and Senegal, where Ebola is believed to have been contained, and the one case in the United States.

Meanwhile, the fifth American to contract Ebola in West Africa arrived in the United States for treatment on Monday. A private plane carrying Ashoka Mukpo, 33, a freelance television cameraman for NBC News, landed in Omaha from Liberia and was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Susan Heavey and Mohammad Zargham in Washington, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas and Lisa Marie Garza in Dallas, Jeffrey Dastin and Sharon Begley in New York; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Peter Henderson and Jonathan Oatis)


Blessed Prozac Moments: Loonies in the Bushes

British Freak Out: LaRouche’s Method Works

October 5, 2014



The Indian government Saturday ordered a high-level security probe into an incident in which, according to the county’s civil aviation authorities, a “used stun grenade’’ was found on October 3 in the aisle of a special Air India Boeing 747, which had landed at Jeddah Airport in Saudi Arabia after being held on stand-by in New Delhi for possible use by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his September 26-30 trip to the United States. The aircraft had been kept in complete emergency standby readiness in New Delhi for use by Modi, should his regular aircraft develop any problems. Upon his return to India, it was released for commercial operations, and had flown on a Delhi-Mumbai-Hyderabad-Jeddah route before the grenade was reportedly found by ground crews.

Although the circumstances surrounding the dramatic security breach remain to be clarified, there is little doubt that it constitutes a shot across the bow to Indian Prime Minister Modi, a deadly threat in the immediate aftermath of his extraordinary organizing tour of the United States. The authorship of the threat lies with those who have most to lose from what Modi and other leaders of the BRICS alliance have done in recent weeks and months: the British Empire and its disintegrating trans-Atlantic financial system.

The mafia-style warning to Modi, should be viewed along with:

A) The recent flagrant death threats against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner— pooh-poohed by the Obama State Department— because of her role in defying the predatory trans-Atlantic financial system.

B) The likely murder of Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in Brazil in mid August in a highly suspicious plane crash, in order to catapult into the presidential race Marina Silva, the British Empire’s best hope to defeat current President Dilma Rousseff in the October 5 presidential election (and possible October 26 runoff) in that country.

C) Ongoing efforts to eliminate Russian President Putin, including the State Department’s fascist coup d’etat in Ukraine earlier this year.

D) The brazen NED-related destabilization in Hong Kong to try to open a new flank against China, including an effort to bring chaos to the interior of China itself. China’s People’s Daily, the official paper of the Chinese Communist Party, issued an editorial statement today strongly denouncing the efforts to “use Hong Kong to create a `color revolution’ in the interior of China,’’ which they said is a “daydream’’ that cannot succeed. It should be recalled that high-level Chinese security officials participated in the May 23, 2014 annual Moscow Security Conference, in which speakers from the top levels of the Russian military command declared that they view so-called colored revolutions to be a new type of aggressive war against their country. The Chinese government has clearly reached a similar conclusion.

In short, it were wise to watch out for further British Imperial wetworks: the Queen is a very bad loser.

But what the British are most terrified about, are the intellectual weapons being wielded by Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and others in the global revolution they are organizing: the creative powers of the human soul. This is precisely the LaRouche method, as discussed at length during the October 4 leadership discussion, and which LaRouche, himself, emphasized in comments about Prime Minister Modi during his October 3 webcast:

“Look now at Modi recently in New York City. Now examine Modi’s speech very carefully. Don’t try to interpret it like some idiot would try to simply interpret something. But rather, say, what is implied here? What does this statement say, which we could not say in mere words?’’ LaRouche said.

“It is the people who speak in these terms, like Modi, who represent the real creative minds that drive upwards the creative powers of the human mind. And in which the powers of the human mind are registered. It’s not words as such; it is not images as such. It’s not what you’re taught; it’s not what you repeat. It’s your insight into the Solar System, into the process; and that’s what you see from this process.’’

http:// /node/31855#.VDFpLNHcEtc.facebook


Hong Kong protests bode ill for Beijing

by Francesco Sisci

Asia Times


 BEIJING: In the past few days, the situation in Hong Kong has created a new and unpredictable challenge to the overall stability of China. The two relatively fast and easy ways out of the siege Hong Kong students have laid on the local government both bode ill for Beijing.

If Beijing were to crack down violently on the students, this could prove to the world that the 1989 repression in Tiananmen was not an isolated episode, almost an accident, as the official version practically goes, but a pattern of behavior unfit for a globalsuperpower, and thus proof China must be sanctioned and stopped.

Yet, Beijing may have a hard time now agreeing to some of the demands from the demonstrations. It has already made concessions to previous democratic demonstrations; namely, it scrapped its former plans for indirect elections of the head of the territory, and promised that after 2017 there would be more political reforms.

If now, after just a few weeks, Beijing were to make further concessions, it could start a never-ending game in which students in the streets of Hong Kong actually dictate the policy agenda to Beijing on matters such as political reforms that are extremely delicate for the future of the whole country.

Either outcome could then spark a violent internal power struggle at a time when many in the ruling Communist Party are extremely unhappy because of the tough ongoing anti-corruption campaign. In the devious and contorted politics of China, it can’t be ruled out that those opposed to current party policies are helping and abetting the protests in Hong Kong. In fact, the problems in Hong Kong are bound to refocus the attention of party chief Xi Jinping at the next party plenum.

There, Xi originally wanted to focus on the rule of law, aimed at eliminating corruption in the party and reform of the often overbearing state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Now the plenum is bound to also to address the rule of law in Hong Kong and the future of the territory, thus giving breathing room to corrupt officials and SOEs. The Communist Party has a long history of using popular demonstrations to advance fights within the leadership.

Only a few weeks ago, the situation in the territory seemed to have been brought under control (see President Xi calls the election tune, Asia Times Online, September 5, 2014), and Xi appeared to have scored a major success in handling the political crisis in the territory. How things got completely turned around in just a few days is not clear.

Definitely, the protesters reorganized and reconsidered their strategy and tactics. Students are much better protesters than middle-aged, middle-class people.

But most importantly, in a matter of days, local Hong Kong authorities squandered the advantage they had achieved with the Beijing concessions. Rather than reaching out to the common people and increasing the divide between the more moderate and more radical protesters, apparently their actions caused the democratic camp to close ranks and reorganize. Moreover, the local authorities certainly did not serve Beijing well when they vetted the White Paper on Hong Kong that at the beginning of the summer kindled this wave of demonstrations.

So now what is there for Beijing to do? This is certainly the main question nagging the country’s leaders in these hours.

In any case, there are still a few elements to consider. The students are and have to be considered “good”. All young people with “hearts” elsewhere in the world would like to be in Hong Kong’s streets in these hours or are sympathetic to the demonstrations.

Those who would stay home, or be hostile to them, are young men and women without hearts and thus possibly not good material to groom as future leaders. Therefore, the young people of Hong Kong are good, and so are their aspirations for democracy. After all, even the party now claims to aspire to democracy.

Moreover, it is clear – to various degrees – what the protesters want; it is not clear what Beijing wants for the political future of Hong Kong, and the White Paper is objectively outdated now.

Lastly, it is clear that if Beijing, as is likely, chooses neither to crackdown or cave in, Hong Kong will still face a long-term crisis. Even if demonstrations are allowed to continue and then subside, they might restart at any moment before or even after the city’s controversial 2017 elections. This may drain enormous amounts of energy from Beijing at a crucial time in Xi’s rule and also create snares and traps to ambush Xi and his plans for reforms. In turn, this may increase the temptation for a quick solution in Hong Kong. Resisting the temptation will not be easy.

These may be very difficult times.

Francesco Sisci is a Senior Researcher associated with the Center for European Studies at the People’s University in Beijing. The opinions expressed are his own and do not represent in any way those of the Center.


Top 5 Ways to Avoid Fake Coins on eBay: Learn How to Buy Coins Safely From Internet Auctions


Susan Headley



About.com Guide


 Thousands of fake coins are sold every month on eBay. If coin collectors would follow these five simple steps, not only would they not get saddled with fakes, they’d help put the counterfeiters out of business!

Never Buy Coins From Chinese Sellers

When you buy coins, look to see where the person is shipping the coin from. If it is China or Hong Kong, do not bid! No matter how appealing the coin looks, no matter how great a deal you think you are getting, no matter how good the sales pitch is, do not buy any coins from China or Hong Kong based sellers. Following this one guideline will prevent you from becoming a victim 90% of the time, since 90% of all fake coins on eBay come from Chinese sellers.

Never Buy Coins From Sellers Who Buy From Chinese Sources

Before you buy any non-PCGS or non-NGC coin on eBay, always check the seller’s feedback to see who he does business with. If the seller has done transactions with China and Hong Kong based sellers, do not buy coins from him!

This might seem to be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many dishonest people do all of their buying and selling from the same eBay account. Check the feedback to see who they buy from by clicking on the “Feedback as a Buyer” tab on their feedback page (which you can reach by clicking on the number in parentheses next to their eBay handle). If they have ever bought coins from China, even once, do not buy from them! Most Chinese counterfeiters sell off-eBay after the first purchase.

Never Spend More Than $50 for a Raw Coin


raw coin

 is a coin that hasn’t been graded and authenticated by a reliable

grading service

 such as




. Even though a coin might be in a plastic holder of some kind, unless it is in a top grading service holder, it doesn’t offer any protection against counterfeiting.


It is very difficult to judge the authenticity and quality of a coin based on photographs alone, especially the less-than-expert photos often seen on eBay. And even if the photo is great, who’s to say that you will actually receive that coin? Counterfeiters are known to use genuine coin images but then send out fakes. Avoid becoming a victim by never spending more than you can afford to lose when you buy raw coins on eBay.

Don’t Fall for Stories and Always Get a Guarantee

A favorite practice of fake coin sellers is to claim that they aren’t a coin expert, so you should judge the photo for yourself. They might claim that the coins belonged to a recently-deceased aunt or that they were bought at an estate sale. What these claims have in common is that they usually disclaim responsibility for the authenticity or grade of the coin, selling the coin “as is.”

Never buy raw coins on eBay unless the seller will guarantee their authenticity! Don’t be a sucker for tall tales, thinking that maybe you’ll make a score. More often than not, it’ll be the seller laughing all the way to the bank rather than you, the buyer.

Always Pay With a Credit Card

I thought about making this tip #1, but I put it last hoping you will remember it even if you forget everything else: Always pay for coins on eBay using your credit card! Even if you use PayPal, use a credit card to fund the transaction.

The reason is that under current U.S. banking laws, you always have the final say on that money when you use credit (not debit cards, either; credit only!) The eBay and PayPal Buyer “Protection” plans are weak, and I hear complaints all the time about how difficult they make it to collect on a claim. But credit card transactions can always be charged back as a last resort. Even PayPal cannot override a credit card chargeback!

If you pay with a credit card, the final power is always in your hands.


Tyupkin cash machine hack ‘dispenses wads’

October 8, 2014

by Dave Lee

Technology reporter, BBC News


A flaw in cash machines that allows criminals to quickly steal wads of cash has been discovered.

Interpol has alerted countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia known to have been targeted – and is carrying out a widespread investigation.

Security firm Kaspersky Labs discovered the hack, which is enabled by entering a series of digits on the keypad.

Infected cash machines can be instructed to dispense 40 notes at once, without a credit or debit card.

Kaspersky Labs produced a video showing how the hack was carried out. More details were provided in a blog post.

Prior to trying to obtain the cash, targeted machines are infected with malicious software via a boot CD.

To do this, criminals need physical access to the workings of the machine.

The attack requires a remote gang member to share a unique code

Once the malware – known as Tyupkin – has been installed, the “mule” sent to collect the cash must enter a code on the machine’s key pad.

But Tyupkin then requires a second unique code – randomly generated by an algorithm at a remote location – to unlock the machine and dispense the cash.

It is this part of the process that ensures the criminal who has this algorithm retains control over when and how often these illegal withdrawals occur.

‘Known security weaknesses’

 “Over the last few years, we have observed a major upswing in ATM attacks using skimming devices and malicious software,” said Vicente Diaz, principal security researcher at Kaspersky.

“Now we are seeing the natural evolution of this threat with cybercriminals moving up the chain and targeting financial institutions directly.”

Kaspersky carried out its initial investigation at the “request of a financial institution” – although it would not say which.

The attack does not affect individual customers, instead simply instructing the machine to dispense notes, with no link to bank accounts.

Barnaby Jack rose to fame after demonstrating how to hack a cash machine

The weaknesses of cash machines are routinely under the spotlight in the security industry. Many machines run outdated software, which is hard to update for logistical and financial reasons – there are lots of cash machines, and money needs to be spent upgrading their hardware.

“The fact that many ATMs run on operating systems with known security weaknesses and the absence of security solutions is another problem that needs to be addressed urgently,” Kaspersky wrote.

Earlier this year another malware strain, known as Ploutus, allowed hackers to command machines to dispense cash by sending a text message to them.

In 2010, hacker Barnaby Jack discovered a technique he dubbed “Jackpotting” – in which a cash machine could be made to spew out money.

His demonstration on stage at security conference Black Hat provoked a standing ovation.

Mr Jack died of a suspected accidental drugs overdose in 2013, just days before he was due to give a presentation on the weaknesses in medical devices.


Russia says South Stream gas pipeline is going ahead: Interfax

October 4, 2014



             MOSCOW  – The Russia-led South Stream undersea gas pipeline is still going ahead, Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted as saying on Saturday, following concerns the European Union might be losing enthusiasm for the project.

The natural gas pipeline, which will cost an estimated $40 billion, is designed to carry Russian gas to the center of Europe on a route that bypasses crisis-hit Ukraine.

The project has yet to be approved by the EU, which is trying to become less dependent on Russian gas. Supplies from Russia currently account for about a third of EU gas imports.

“The South Stream project has not been stopped,” Novak was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

“The agreements which were signed remain in force. They can’t be canceled on a unilateral basis.”

The European Commission has said South Stream as it stands does not comply with EU competition law because it offers no access to third parties.

South Stream also runs counter to the EU policy of diversifying supply sources to reduce dependence on Russia.

The project has run into problems as a European Commission working group, set up to define a mechanism for managing the pipeline, has stopped its work, Novak said.

“We hope that we will resume such work when the new European Commission is appointed,” the minister added.



(Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Jason Bush and Mark Potter)


Is Antarctica Melting?

 The continent of Antarctica has been losing more than 100 cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice per year since 2002.


by Erik Conway

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory


            There has been lots of talk lately about Antarctica and whether or not the continent’s giant ice sheet is melting. One new paper 1, which states there’s less surface melting recently than in past years, has been cited as “proof” that there’s no global warming. Other evidence that the amount of sea ice around Antarctica seems to be increasing slightly 2-4 is being used in the same way. But both of these data points are misleading. Gravity data collected from space using NASA’s Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. The latest data reveal that Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate, too. How is it possible for surface melting to decrease, but for the continent to lose mass anyway? The answer boils down to the fact that ice can flow without melting.

            Two-thirds of Antarctica is a high, cold desert. Known as East Antarctica, this section has an average altitude of about 2 kilometer (1.2 miles), higher than the American Colorado Plateau. There is a continent about the size of Australia underneath all this ice; the ice sheet sitting on top averages at a little over 2 kilometer (1.2 miles) thick. If all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meter (197 feet). But little, if any, surface warming is occurring over East Antarctica. Radar and laser-based satellite data show a little mass loss at the edges of East Antarctica, which is being partly offset by accumulation of snow in the interior, although a very recent result from the NASA/German Aerospace Center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) suggests that since 2006 there has been more ice loss from East Antarctica than previously thought 5. Overall, not much is going on in East Antarctica — yet.


A Frozen Hawaii


West Antarctica is very different. Instead of a single continent, it is a series of islands covered by ice — think of it as a frozen Hawaii, with penguins. Because it’s a group of islands, much of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS, in the jargon) is actually sitting on the floor of the Southern Ocean, not on dry land. Parts of it are more than 1.7 kilometer (1 mile) below sea level. Pine Island is the largest of these islands and the largest ice stream in West Antarctica is called Pine Island Glacier. The WAIS, if it melted completely, would raise sea level by 5 to 7 meter (16 to 23 feet). And the Pine Island Glacier would contribute about 10 percent of that.

            West Antarctica is a series of islands covered by ice. Think of it as a frozen Hawaii, with penguins

            Since the early 1990s, European and Canadian satellites have been collecting radar data from West Antarctica. These radar data can reveal ice motion and, by the late 1990s, there was enough data for scientists to measure the annual motion of the Pine Island Glacier. Using radar information collected between 1992 and 1996, oceanographer Eric Rignot, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), found that the Pine Island Glacier’s “grounding line” — the line between the glacier’s floating section and the part of the glacier that rests on the sea floor — had retreated rapidly towards the land. That meant that the glacier was losing mass. He attributed the retreat to the warming waters around West Antarctica 6. But with only a few years of data, he couldn’t say whether the retreat was a temporary, natural anomaly or a longer-term trend from global warming.

            Rignot’s paper surprised many people. JPL scientist Ron Kwok saw it as demonstrating that “the old idea that glaciers move really slowly isn’t true any more.” One result was that a lot more people started to use the radar data to examine much more of Antarctica. A major review published in 2009 found that Rignot’s Pine Island Glacier finding hadn’t been a fluke 7: a large majority of the marine glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula were retreating, and their retreat was speeding up. This summer, a British group revisited the Pine Island Glacier finding and found that its rate of retreat had quadrupled between 1995 and 2006 8.


How the Ice Shelf Crumbles


The retreat of West Antarctica’s glaciers is being accelerated by ice shelf collapse. Ice shelves are the part of a glacier that extends past the grounding line towards the ocean they are the most vulnerable to warming seas. A longstanding theory in glaciology is that these ice shelves tend to buttress (support the end wall of) glaciers, with their mass slowing the ice movement towards the sea, and this was confirmed by the spectacular collapse of the Rhode Island-sized Larsen B shelf along the Eastern edge of the Antarctic Peninsula in 2002. The disintegration, which was caught on camera by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imaging instruments on board its Terra and Aqua satellites, was dramatic: it took just three weeks to crumble a 12,000-year old ice shelf. Over the next few years, satellite radar data showed that some of the ice streams flowing behind Larsen B had accelerated significantly, while others, still supported by smaller ice shelves, had not 9. This dynamic process of ice flowing downhill to the sea is what enables Antarctica to continue losing mass even as surface melting declines.

            Michael Schodlok, a JPL scientist who models the way ice shelves and the ocean interact, says melting of the underside of the shelf is a pre-requisite to these collapses. Thinning of the ice shelf reduces its buttressing effect on the glacier behind it, allowing glacier flow to speed up. The thinner shelf is also more likely to crack. In the summer, meltwater ponds on the surface can drain into the cracks. Since liquid water is denser than solid ice, enough meltwater on the surface can open the cracks up deeper down into the ice, leading to disintegration of the shelf. The oceans surrounding Antarctica have been warming 10, so Schodlok doesn’t doubt that the ice shelves are being undermined by warmer water being brought up from the depths. But he admits that it hasn’t been proven rigorously, because satellites can’t measure underneath the ice.

Glaciologist Robert Bindschadler of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center intends to show just that. He’s leading an expedition scheduled to start in 2011 to drill through the Pine Island Glacier and place an automated buoy into the water below it. According to Bindschadler, Pine Island Glacier “is the place to go because that is where the changes are the largest. If we want to understand how the ocean is impacting the ice sheet, go to where it’s hitting the ice sheet with a sledgehammer, not with a little tack hammer.”

Meanwhile, measurements from the Grace satellites confirm that Antarctica is losing mass 11. Isabella Velicogna of JPL and the University of California, Irvine, uses Grace data to weigh the Antarctic ice sheet from space. Her work shows that the ice sheet is not only losing mass, but it is losing mass at an accelerating rate. “The important message is that it is not a linear trend. A linear trend means you have the same mass loss every year. The fact that it’s above linear, this is the important idea, that ice loss is increasing with time,” she says. And she points out that it isn’t just the Grace data that show accelerating loss; the radar data do, too. “It isn’t just one type of measurement. It’s a series of independent measurements that are giving the same results, which makes it more robust.”


For more information about this topic, visit NASA’s Global Climate Change website.







1 Marco Tedesco and Andrew J. Monaghan, “An updated Antarctic melt record through 2009 and its linkages to high-latitude and tropical climate variability,” Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L18502 (2009).


2 http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg


3 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421101629.htm


4 http://nsidc.org/seaice/characteristics/difference.html


5 J. L. Chen et al., “Accelerated Antarctic ice loss from satellite gravity measurements,” Nat. Geosci. 2, 859-862 (2009).


6 E.J. Rignot, “Fast Recession of a West Antarctic Glacier”, Science 281, 549-551 (1998)


7 P.A. Mayewski, et.al., “State of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Climate System,” Rev. Geophys., 47, 1-38 (2009).


8 D. J. Wingham et.al., “Spatial and Temporal Evolution of Pine Island Glacier thinning, 1995-2006,” Geophys. Res.Lett. 36, L17501 (2009).


9 E. Rignot et.al., “Accelerated ice discharge from the Antarctic Peninsula following the collapse of Larsen B ice shelf,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L18401 (2004)


10 R. M. Robertson et al., “Long term temperature trends in the deep waters of the Weddell Sea”, Deep Sea Research 49, 21, 4791-4806 (2002); http://condor.pems.adfa.edu.au/FD-Course/webpage/longterm.pdf.


11Isabella Velicogna, “Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L19503 (2009).


12 J. H. Mercer, “West Antarctic ice Sheet and CO2 Greenhouse Effect-Threat of Disaster,” Nature, 271 (5643), 321-325 (1978).


13 R. Kwok & D.A. Rothrock, “Decline in Arctic sea ice thickness from submarine and ICESat records: 1958 – 2008,” Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L15501 (2009),

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