3.31.2014

Russia Nearly Doubles Pensions for Crimeans - IMF Mandates Ukrainian Pensions Cut in Half

Russians unconcerned about Western sanctions over Crimea – Poll

The average monthly pension in Russia in 2013 was about $277US at the current exchange rate. In comparison, the average pension in Ukraine in December of last year was $160US. The pre-conditions of the IMF 'loan' state that Kiev must cut pensions in half, to $80US per month. Whereas yesterday Russia's Putin signed a decree nearly  doubling pensions in Crimea, to $300, and another increasing salaries for public sector workers like teachers and doctors, according to a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website on Monday. Officials also announced a number of new investment plans and tax breaks for Crimea. - N.Y.Times

Worldwide people are asking the same question: Does the US suffer from terminal arrogance, ignorance and incompetence? First the blundering State Department's' Victoria Nuland and her 'Project for the New American Century' husband Robert Kagan get caught arrogantly bragging about the neo-nazi puppets they were about to install in Kiev. Then the US starts shouting empty and ignorant threats that even their EU allies can't stomach. Then they incompetently use their installed puppets to bring in the IMF structural adjustment noose and tell Ukrainians to "tighten their belts".

Many individuals and countries may still fear the US militarily, but very few respect them anymore. Almost everyone everywhere sees that the US is completely out of touch with reality and are instead driven by a blind faith in Milton Freedman economics, the Project for a New American Century and various right wing support groups like the MSM and 'think tanks'. As a result Putin and Russia  don't have to invade or even threaten Ukraine. They can and will sit on the sidelines and watch as the Ukraine slides further into depression then pick up the pieces in a year or two.

In another semi-suicidal move last week the US administration cajoled VISA and MasterCard to stop serving certain banks in Russia. Within two days Russia announced it will create a national payment system similar to those in Japan and China. As a poll taken two days ago shows Russians themselves are unconcerned about Western sanctions over Crimea. Unlike Americans who only learn what their corporate MSM tells them, Russians read the opinions from everywhere. Russians, like the almost everyone else, understands that the US MSM is simply playing its role as U.S. propagandists, much as they did in Iraq in 2002-03 with their usual preference for a simplistic “good-guy/bad-guy” dichotomy.

Outside of America In the that arrogant, ignorant and incompetent dichotomy has been challenged again by the reemergence of those inconvenient neo-Nazis that the US MSM have worked so hard to ignore. Everywhere outside the USA! USA! USA! chanting home of the ignorant it's a the well-established fact that neo-Nazi militants spearheaded the coup on Feb. 22 [see video below].

Even news outlets in the US considered progressive there are blinded by the jingoist repetition of 'American Exceptionalism'.A few days ago the Boston Globe ran an article that could be considered a critical look at 'American Exceptionalism and Putin' in the US. saying, "Change doesn't always progress the way the US wants it to. But sometimes our faith in “the will of the people” seems too blind. We’re so gung ho about democracy that we forget how hard it really is, and how long it really takes to get right." It's frightening as a person who grew up in America, who was taught to think critically, that today America has slipped so far from its ideals of my era that even those who criticize still are blinded by their own propaganda about the 'rightness' of their solution.


3.30.2014

The US/Russia Paris Meetings Will End With Obama Climbing Down and Russia Turning to BRICS

BRICS leaders Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, India's Manmohan Singh, Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping and South Africa's Jacob Zuma

The meetings in Paris this week between Lavrov and Kerry will conclude with enough agreements between them to allow Obama to lower his over the top rhetoric, it must or he'll face an open revolt by the EU. Privately, Switzerland and Germany have already said no to economic sanctions and France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands agree with them. What the two foreign ministers will agree to, IMO, is that Russia will accept the temporary Kiev government and the west will accept the results of the Crimea referendum. This will allow Obama to climb down and allow Russia to negotiate with Yats over the safety of Russian speakers now being attacked by right-wing militias throughout Ukraine in exchange for a financial formula that allows the temporary govt. in Kiev some leeway in the payback of the $20B they owe Russia in past unpaid energy bills.

As Tariq Ali's excellent article says, "Washington knows that Ukraine has always been a delicate issue for Moscow. The ultra-nationalists who fought with the Third Reich during the second world war killed 30,000 Russian soldiers and communists. They were still conducting a covert war with CIA backing as late as 1951" adding, "The US and UK condemn him for Crimea but supported him over the war in Chechnya. Why? Because now he refuses to play ball."

Putin may not be 'playing ball', but he is playing nice, he isn't even publicly threatening to use any of his financial nuclear weapons [though who knows what's being said privately]. IMO, Russia should demand payment for its gas exports to the EU in a currency other than the US petrodollar immediately. Instead, Russia is acknowledged to be preparing the announcement of the "Holy Grail" energy deal with China, a BRICS partner, and negotiating how to join forces with Indian state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp to supply oil to India, also a BRICS partner]. Both moves would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and lay the groundwork for a new joint, perhaps commodity-backed, reserve currency that bypasses the dollar.

The effect of threatening Russia with economic sanctions has sped up the BRICS' time frame for achieving their goal of dumping the petrodollar…for the better. Another bombshell Putin isn't dropping [yet] is that Russia is investing massively in Treasury bonds, especially since China stopped buying them this past year. Ending that would send waves of panic through the already runaway debt laden US economy which already has a level of debt that is un-repayable. If the inflation being caused by QE's $65B per month printing of dollars were exposed by the petrodollar's demise interest rates to go up immediately, the dollar would plummet and then entire budget of the US explodes.

As well respected economist Jim Sinclair explains in the YouTube video, "The U.S. is in a hell of a mess if the world drops the petrodollar." Noting recent past events in Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria and Venezuela Jim adds, "We [the US] will go to war over the Petrodollar.” Both Sinclair and Dmitry Orlov believe the 'US. Will Self-Destruct in Near Future' and that part of the unraveling will include the Ukraine, after realizing the IMF noose's repercussions, will have their own referendum which will result in Ukraine running back to Mother Russia and becoming part of the Russian Federation.

I'm not so sure that Russia wants to adopt the neo-nazis in Western Ukraine. IMO there will be further referendums that will result in a partitioned Ukraine. My theory is that that this new entity will remain independent of both Russia and the EU and will find that a mutually rewarding, calm, Czechoslovakian type co-operation is best for everyone. IMO, Ukrainians have a bright future ahead, partitioned or not, if they choose wisely and remain independent.


3.29.2014

How Sanctimonious Sanctions' Rhetoric by Obama and NATO Will Result in Financial Suicide for U.S.

So far Putin and Russia are not over-reacting publicly to the empty economic threats from the neo-cons in Washington and their ass kissing sycophants like Harper in Ottawa. But behind the scenes things are quite different. Behind the scenes Russia is re-focusing its economic future on Asia.

In the past two weeks while NATO was issuing empty threats and the EU was holding its collective breath Russia was busy cementing its energy ties with China and India. In the case of China, Gazprom, Europe's most important supplier of natural gas, is preparing to announce the completion of a "holy grail" natural gas supply deal with Beijing. A deal that would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis. A deal that would see Russia in a position to tell the EU countries they'd better stock up on blankets 'cause next winter could be a cold one.

Then a couple of days ago Reuters reported that Rosneft, the world's top listed oil producer by output, may join forces with Indian state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp to supply oil to India. Apparently pushing Russia into the warm embrace of the world's most populous nation wasn't enough for the neo-cons, now there's a deal with the second most populated country in the world, India.  Rosneft said it had also agreed with ONGC to join forces in Rosneft's yet-to-be built liquefied natural gas plant in the far east of Russia to the benefit of Indian consumers.

Russia is the world's top oil producer, pumping over 10 million barrels per day. Rosneft also has plans to triple oil flows to China to over 1 million barrels per day in coming years. As well, the head of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries also announced potential cooperation in developing Russia's offshore resources, viewed by Moscow as a source of future oil production growth. Then there's the trip Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin quietly made to Japan, South Korea and Vietnam last week. Behind the scenes, the Russians are preparing for financial warfare, the EU is not amused.

While Obama, who fears the flapping of neo-con hawks in this mid-term election season and Harper says -well, who the hell cares what Harper says - try escalate the fight with Russian President Putin over Ukraine, the Europeans are reluctant to stoke a fire that would consume their fragile economy and ignite more fires of political discontent. Under EU rules, unanimity is required to impose sanctions. Angela Merkel has been the most forthright among EU leaders in advocating mediation, a position backed to varying degrees by France, Britain, the Netherlands and Italy - five of the largest and most powerful EU member states.

All this would only make Obama and NATO look like 'paper tigers' spouting hot air if it weren't for the fact that the only reason the American Empire still exists is the petrodollar and every country in the world [except maybe Canada] is looking for the exit from the petrodollar. Every country is forced to collect US dollars, the reserve currency, because that is the only currency energy deals are concluded in creating an unreal upward force on the dollars value.

Instead, if energy deals were concluded in any other currency or gold or?, the US dollar would plummet in value. In the US the cost of imports would skyrocket, GDP and the stock market would plunge. The US's exceptionalism fantasy is only supported by one shaky column - the petrodollar. The US Federal Reserve by printing $65 billion dollars every month, including $40 billion a month in worthless purchases of mortgage-backed securities, means the Fed is now wholly committed to the creation of money out of thin air to cover old debts. This makes every dollar in existence worth less every month. If not for its reserve currency status, the US's only exceptional characteristic would be the speed of its plunge into depression.

As the ZeroHedge article 'Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares To Announce "Holy Grail" Gas Deal With China' explains, "While the west monetizes its debt, revels in the paper wealth created from an all time high manipulated stock market the biggest geopolitical tectonic shift since the cold war accelerates with the inevitable firming of the "Asian axis" [Russia-China-India].

More tomorrow on how Russia and the other BRICS countries [Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa] are well on their way to establishing a new world order in energy payments, how pissing off Putin has only hastened that change and how the idiocy poking the bear and the neo-con agenda, is suicidal for US hegemony but liberating for everyone else.

3.28.2014

Ukraine's IMF Theft Means Privatization of Assets, Depression and Nuke 'Em Tymoshenko for Prez

Street scene in Greece soon to be seen in Ukraine as well

Today's article by Jack Rasmus, Professor of Economics at St. Mary’s College and Santa Clara University, examines the details of and the reasons why 'Ukraine’s IMF Deal Means Greece-Like Depression'. Rasmus concludes, "But that is the essential and repeated history and legacy of IMF deals globally for the last three decades." Ukrainians are soon going to find out that everything of value in their country is up for sale to foreign buyers, including their precious farmland, their as yet untapped energy reserves, their fresh water...everything.

That - the theft of Ukraine's natural wealth - has been the point of all this all along. The same theft is being perpetrated by the same vultures just as strongly in Iowa and Calif. as it is in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia and Mozambique to name just a few, as it is in Ukraine. The vulture capitalist investment funds use their phoney fiat currency to buy up agricultural land from small farmers who have been forced into bankruptcy when they've taken a bite from the poison apple of debt.

The small farmers can't compete when conglomerates sell their GMO and chemical laden crops at below cost to force the little guys out. Those little guys try hold their land by going into debt by buying equipment they are assured will make them competitive. Of course it doesn't, and then they owe interest as well. So they take another loan, the bankers tell the farmers they have huge land equity to secure however much they want to borrow. It's a death spiral. In the end the little farmers go bankrupt, their land is sold to the highest bidder [guess who?]. Once the corporations have forced the small guys off the land they jack up the prices again.

It's the same everywhere, it's 'The Shock Doctrine', it's globalization, it's a disaster and it's being aided and abetted by the assholes called western leaders and their compliant corporate owned 'free press'. This global theft of humanity's common wealth is global fascism. Water will be next and when they can figure a way out to do it, the air we breathe.

In Ukraine, the state-owned national gas company, Naftogaz, will be the first privatization causality. Rasmus estimates that natural gas prices will increase by 79% as a result of the IMF [International Mother Fuckers] deal. Simultaneously, as gas prices escalate gas subsidies to households,equivalent to 7.5% of Ukraine’s GDP, this will cripple the poor and the elderly. At the same time the conditions of the IMF deal calls for paying western banks and lenders $6.5 billion over the next two years in debt servicing payments. And it indirectly calls for the Ukrainian government to cut spending by at least $8 billion (2.5% of GDP) over the next two years—in the form of cuts in government jobs, wage cuts for government workers, and pension payment reductions of a likely 50% for retirees in general.

It won't be long before every Ukrainian will understand the benevolence of the deal Putin offered them just a few months ago. In a year or two from now every non-fascist in Ukraine will be clamoring for a referendum in the hopes of their own Crimea solution. That's where former Ukrainian Prime Minister and fascist favorite Yulia Tymoshenko comes in. Tymoshenko is the darling of the oligarchs and foreign interests despite her recent 'Nuland' moment.


A few days ago Tymoshenko's conversation with Party of Regions MP Nestor Shufrych bemoaning the state of affairs in Crimea was intercepted and released. In it Tymoshenko brusquely cuts Shufrych off when asks about what will happen to the remaining Russian speakers, saying, "Screw it, we should take up arms and kill the goddamned katsaps" - derogatory Ukrainian slang for Russians - "along with their leader." The conversation posted on YouTube, mostly in Russian, catches Tymoshenko going on to call for all Russians remaining on Ukrainian territory to be killed with an atomic weapon.

The financial and electoral battle lines in May's upcoming Ukraine elections have been drawn. On the one side there's nuke 'em 'til they puke Tymoshenko backed by the western 'democracies' working as handmaidens to the investment vultures. On the other there's us. It doesn't look good. But in other places the downtrodden are standing up to the daemon thieves. The Africans, perhaps because they've already seen what theiving assholes the developed nations are for so long, are organizing and fighting back. They seem to understand that as Vandana Shiva says, " In nature's economy the currency is not money-it is life."

3.27.2014

The IMF's Structural Adjustment Noose Tightens Around the Throats of Old and Poor Ukrainians

Yats is now taking an $18B 'loan' from IMF that will turn Ukraine into Greece

Today's news that the IMF is 'loaning' Ukraine $18B to forestall a sovereign debt bankruptcy is, as usual, being touted a 'good thing' in the compliant western media. In reality it's exactly the opposite. The IMF's structural adjustment requirements, the same requirements that have strangled Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and many others and are the focus of Naomi Klein's 'The Shock Doctrine' require that certain initial conditions are met before a 'loan' is granted and that should the borrower not be able to repay, other, increasingly inhumane, adjustments will be adhered to.

Ukraine has had IMF loans upon loans going back to their independence in '91 and then more when the Orange Revolution happened in 2004. The Orange folks, being pink on the inside like the rest of us, wanted to believe in the IMF's miracles and almost immediately steered one of the globe's richest natural resource areas into a nosedive. Which of course they 'corrected' by taking out more loans. Much of the actual money went to the corrupt leaders and their cronies, just as it almost always does,

The IMF and World Bank are really a conglomerate of the big western banks. Banks are corporations, they serve only one master - shareholder profits and dividends. The big banks use terms like structural adjustments instead of the seizure through privatization of common assets because it sounds better, but the reality is that our boy Yats has already announced that as of April 1st pensions will be cut in half as part of the pre-conditions and that on May1st the price of natural gas will double. Of course the 'adjustments' you'll never hear announced are an increase in taxes on the rich or the confiscation of the assets of the oligarchs who stole the money they borrowed earlier.

Ukraine is bankrupt, it owes Russia over $20B in unpaid energy bills alone. Ukraine couldn't or wouldn't pay their bills even as over the years Russia has charged them roughly half of what they've charged EU countries like Germany. That's over, Russia has already said Ukraine will pay world prices from now on. So even if Yats were to pay Russia what it owes they'd just go backwards in the coming months.

But have no fear, Yats has no intentions of using the money to pay the bills other than the interest Ukraine owes on existing IMF loans [another of the pre-conditions]. Instead Yats will use the money to buy arms for his uber-right wing dominated National Guard. This is the worst thing Yats could do and it's exactly what the US and NATO put him in power to do. It's a huge mistake that in the end will cost Ukraine its independence and is 'real' wealth, while along the way further impoverishing those in need.

Anyone with a brain knew this kind of 'austerity' was coming. The EU is going to pillage Ukraine, the Ukrainians, already under the kind of pressure that creates scapegoat type divisions like we're seeing everywhere there will react with more ethnic violence and the US is going to use this turmoil to start a conflict with Russia (nothing solves money-printing issues like a war.) Don't get me wrong, not all Americans support the neo-con line, the hawks have almost zero credibility with Americans except a very small hardcore, and of course the rich to whom they pander.

Similarly, Yats has almost no credibility in Ukraine. The people there understand Yats is a puppet put in place by Washington that has lost what little control he ever had to organized and armed neo-nazis, who are attacking Jews, Russians, and intimidating Ukrainian politicians. Fascist gangs now patrol the streets. But they are also in Kiev's corridors of power. The far right Svoboda party, whose leader has denounced the "criminal activities" of "organised Jewry" and which was condemned by the European parliament for its "racist and antisemitic views", has five ministerial posts in the new government, including deputy prime minister and prosecutor general. The leader of the even more extreme Right Sector, at the heart of the street violence, is now Ukraine's deputy national security chief."

It's time for calm realism and common sense on Ukraine from our western leaders. Instead frustrated cold warriors filling armchairs in the outdated “strategic” think tanks that litter Washington will continue to howl at the moon and flap their chickenhawk wings. Instead of realism we have neo-con evangelical bible thumpers who think Russia is the 'evil empire' wanting to act out Ezekiel 27 and 28 and initiate their beloved Rapture.

Please watch this short, well documented, video [in full screen if possible] that explains what you’re not being told about Yats and Ukraine's neo-nazi leaders.

3.25.2014

The G? Hypocritically Expels Russia for Illegal Acts But Silence on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Drones, etc

Crimeans and their best friends celebrate referendum results

More dangerous bullshit posturing out of Brussels yesterday, duly regurgitated verbatim by the compliant corporate western media, says "In a joint statement, dubbed the "The Hague Declaration," G7 leaders condemned Russia's actions over Ukraine and threatened to "intensify actions" against the country. This clear violation of international law is a serious challenge to the rule of law around the world and should be a concern for all nations." With nary a word about the ringing condemnation from every corner of the globe pointing out the hypocrisy of the west in relation to violations of international law.

If the US, UK, NATO, Canada et.al, were to be thrown out of the G? for their violations of international law it's now be called the G0. When the US, UK and 'coalition of the willing' invaded Iraq it was an obvious violation of international law. When they, including Canada this time, invaded Afghanistan it was too. The US-CIA drone strikes on sovereign nations are all violations, are all condemned in the UN by huge majorities in the General Assembly. When the NATO got UN permission to establish a no-fly zone over Libya then proceeded to bomb the piss outta the Qaddafi's forces, they were condemned by all, especially Russia. When Israel builds settlements on other countries territory they are violating international law. For which they are nearly unanimously condemned around the world yet Canada and the US vote in their favor every time and state that they will always support Israel on matter how flagrantly they violate international law. It's bullshit.

When these 'leaders' of the US-UK-EU say that the Crimea Referendum was illegitimate when 82% of eligible voters did vote in the referendum and 95% of them voted yes to annexation to Russia, even if every one of the other 18% of eligible voters said no, that still means about 80% of Crimeans, for better or worse, support Russian annexation. Clearly this is a legitimate majority and the west's leaders and media are purposefully mis-representing the facts.

Ron Paul, hardly a left-winger, made an important point about the hypocrisy of the western leaders spin on the Crimean referendum in his op-ed last week in USAToday when he said, "Critics point to the Russian 'occupation' of Crimea as evidence that no fair vote could have taken place. Where were these people when an election held in an Iraq occupied by U.S. troops was called a 'triumph of democracy'?"

There are so many well written articles denouncing the western propaganda campaign and the compliant corporate media who Paul Craig Roberts calls "presstitutes" that it's impossible to mention them all. Stephen Lendman, Michel Chossudovsky, Rick Rozoff and Paul Craig Roberts do their best everyday to counter the propaganda who's words and phrases like 'storming' and 'invasion' and 'turned bloody ' are used to exaggerate and inflame the fears of the un-informed.

During this last few weeks The Mud Report has tried to write in-depth background pieces about Ukraine in an a attempt to calm the flames of irrational fear being fanned by the neo-cons and their mouth-pieces. These assholes are more than ignorant, they are dangerous. Tomorrow's piece will begin a new series on just how dangerous the neo-con lies really are.

3.24.2014

Harper's Agenda On Every Issue Be It Ukraine, Free Trade, Pipelines or Pot is to Enrich His Supporters

Harper's latest ME TOO tour of Ukraine yesteday and the 'G7' meeting today are the latest example of his shallow domestic re-election agenda. Internationally, nobody cares what Harper says or does in regard to the Ukraine. His hypocritical performance in in Kiev yeserday was aimed totally at the 1.1million Ukrainian immigrants living in Canada. Their votes in next year's election could be essential to Harpo retaining control in Ottawa. Control being the keyword.

Today he'll be ME TOO-ing it behind Obama's every word in the hope that this ass-kissing will be the straw that breaks the KXL stalemate in 'merica. Pipelines, Harpo's never seen one he didn't love, are another key aspect to his overall agenda of funneling as much money as he can to his fossil fuel industry bagmen in as short a period of time as possible.

Harpo and his cronies may chant jobs-jobs-jobs, but it's all about short-term 'profits for his supporters. Both the oilmen and Harpo know that someday he'll lose control of the money funnel and all his science bashing laws and resource export uber-alles agenda will be overturned by the same type of 'omnibus bill' he used to push them through.

Energy Security and jobs are the mantra of the Conservative's 'export it now' philosophy but the hobgoblins are starting to peer out from behind the closet door. A few days ago the benefits of the Energy East pipeline were being questioned openly in a report by the Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence, Equiterre and the Council of Canadians. The report says, "The bulk of the estimated 1.1-million barrels of crude oil set to be shipped each day from Alberta to Saint John, N.B., would be exported...The vast majority of this oil, between an estimated 750,000 to one million barrels, would likely be shipped unrefined to places like India, Europe and, possibly, the United States.”

This means the few temporary construction jobs building the pipeline aren't the real agenda, that's getting the crud to an ocean port so his supporters get more money per barrel. Remember that whenever and however they do get it to a world 'market' outside North America the domestic Canadian price will be mandated to rise to equal that price by Canada's Free Trade agreements. Imagine how much damage that will do to jobs in every sector of Canada down the road. Then there's the fact that pipeline jobs are temporary, but oil spills are forever.

Jobs-jobs-jobs eh. Catherine Abreu of the Ecology Action Centre said exporting crude out of Saint John threatens the region’s traditional industries. “Maritimers are not being told the truth. Energy East will not create jobs or prosperity in our region. It will only put jobs at risk as it threatens the Bay of Fundy and turns us into an export terminus rather than a hub of local investment and economic growth.” Again the agenda isn't jobs for citizens it's windfall profits for Harpo's backers.

Harpo's ridiculous changes to Canada's medical marijuana laws are an even more blatant attempt to take from the poor [and sick in this case] and give to his supporters. Fortunately, the courts have stepped in to stop the insanity, at least for now. Fortunately for everybody IMO because what the Conservatives are trying to do would hurt the needy immediately for sure, but in the longer run the very business people Harpo was trying to service would have ended up bankrupted because of the huge loans they'd require build their facilities. Added to that are the wages, the equipment and the learning curve they'd face.

These small business folks aren't pot growers they're business people. They'd get killed in the 'market' by the thousands of small, experienced, mom and pop operations everywhere in Canada. The small time growers can drop or raise their prices instantly. Their knowledge of strains, predators and diseases gained through trail and error over the long haul and their long established chain of local consumers make the 'street' prices at about half of the licenced business prices.

This is another clear example that Harpo's agenda is remaining in control not helping Canadians. Canada's political system's, our political system's, greatest flaw is the first-past-the-post voting system IMO. It allows governments to be regularly formed by parties with support of under 40% of actual voters, then holding majority power for full five-year terms. Coupled with turnout levels in the electorate of less than 60%, this can lead to a party obtaining a majority government by convincing as few as one quarter of the electorate to vote for them. Proportional Representation, some form of which is in use by almost all of the world's democracies, is the way around these divide and conquer tactics that have kept both the Conservatives and Liberals in power and denied a voice to the majority in Canada. It's time for a change.

3.23.2014

The Mongols Created Today's Political Landscape Through Tolerance, Innovation and Conquest


The territorial gains of the Mongols persisted into the 14th century in China (Yuan Dynasty), into the 15th century in Persia (Timurid dynasty) and in Russia (Tatar and Mongol raids against Russian states), and into the 19th century in India (the Mughal Empire). They changed the course of history and the geo-political landscape forever.

The Mongol military tactics and organization enabled the Mongol Empire to conquer nearly all of continental Asia, the Middle East and most of eastern Europe. The Great Khans, starting with Genghis, also employed an egalitarian type of leadership that the world had never seen before. They led in battle from the front, they led in philosophy from the bottom-up. As they expanded their Empire into new areas, their troop numbers increased as other peoples were included in their conquests, such as during the battle of Baghdad, which included many diverse people fighting under Mongol leadership.

One of their greatest strengths was religious tolerance. Having been Pantheists, who see god equally in everything [flora, fauna, microbe, mineral, forces and faeries] for millennia, allowed them to see all religions as expressions of the same greater reality. Consequently shortly after their armies defeated Islam, annihilated Baghdad and killed the Caliph the Khans became so impressed by Islam's advanced mathematics, arts, language, engineering and spiritual devotion that their leaders including Genghis and especially Batu converted to Islam.

Even after adopting Islam the Mongols remained as tolerant as before and Batu Khan,  Khan of the Golden Horde, who first became a Muslim, allowed the Rus' to found a Christian bishopric in his capital. Nogai Khan, half a century later, married a daughter of the Byzantine emperor, and gave his own daughter in marriage to a Rus' prince, Theodor the Black.

The original foundation of Great Khan's political and military system was an extension of the nomadic lifestyle of the Mongols. Other elements were invented by Genghis Khan, his generals, and his successors. Useful technologies were adapted from other cultures, and foreign technical experts integrated into the command structures.

 Mongols at the Walls of Vladimir by  Vasily Maksimov The Mongols outside Vladimir presumably demanding tribute or else...

The Mongol invasion of Europe masterminded by General Subutai and commanded by Batu Khan and Kadan in the 13th century involved the destruction of East Slavic principalities, such as Kiev and Vladimir, the invasion of the Crimea, Moldovia, Hungary and Poland and beyond was one essential part of the Golden Horde Empire but only part of the story.

Ögedei Khan was the second Great Khan, Genghis Khan was the 1st, Güyük Khan, Ögedei's oldest son was the 3rd [but ruled only 2 years]. Möngke Khan was 4th, another grandson of Genghis and the first Great Khan from the Toluid line. In his 8 years the Mongols conquered the rest of Iraq and Syria as well as the kingdom of Nanzhao [now Yunnnan in Southern China and parts of Vietnam, Laos, Burma and Tibet].

After Möngke's death in 1259 the long and famous reign of Kublai Khan, the 5th Great Khan, and yet another grandson of Genghis began. In 1279, Kublai completed the long war against the song Dynasty of the Han Chinese and established the Yuan Dynasty, which ruled over present-day Mongolia, China, Korea, and some adjacent areas, and assumed the role of Emperor of China. The summer garden of Kublai Khan at Xanadu is the subject of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 1797 poem Kubla Khan. This poem and Marco Polo's earlier book brought Kublai and his achievements to the attention of a wider audience, and today Kublai is a well-known historical figure.

In about 1360 Tarmashirin Khan a Turko-Mongol ruler of Barlas lineage, historically known as Tamerlane, gained prominence. Tamerlane's Turco-Mongolian heritage provided opportunities and challenges as he sought to rule the Mongol Empire and the Muslim world. According to the Mongol traditions, Timur could not claim the title of Khan or rule the Mongol Empire because he was not a descendant of Genghis Khan. Likewise, Tamerlane could not claim the supreme title of the Islamic world, caliph, because that office was limited to the Quraysh, the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad.

Nonetheless Tamerlane ruled over an empire that, in modern times, extends from southeastern Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, through Central Asia encompassing part of Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and even approaches Kashgar in China. Tamerlane's military talents were unique. His was not a nomadic army, he ruled from his famous palace in Samarkand at the key crossroads of the Silk Road. He planned all his campaigns years in advance, even planting barley for horse feed two years ahead of his campaigns. Tamerlane's descendants founded the Mughal Empire that ruled the Indian sub-continent for centuries.

The Mongol Empire conquered diverse cultures and in so doing untied them into the modern nations and Empires of modern Eurasian history. In their path they spread not only religious tolerance but multiculturalism, literacy, science and technology, military innovation and a philosophy based on their rural pastoral roots and respect for every living thing, along with their brutal response to those who refused to pay tribute.

The Mongols united China, India, Russia and many others into the modern states they are through tolerance and innovation.as well as conquest

3.22.2014

Without the Mongol Conquest of Kiev [Kievan Rus'] the Russian Empire Would Not Have Arisen

Jochi Khan was the eldest son of Genghis Khan, and presumably one of the four sons by his principal wife Börte. Genghis also had a number of brothers. As Genghis death approached these brothers and sons formed alliances that would have torn the Mongol Empire apart. Undestanding this Genghis named his son Ogedei to be the Great Khan. The fact that Jochi accepted his father's wishes instead of demanding, as Mongol tradition dictated, that he, as eldest son, become the successor was one of the biggest reasons why the Mongol conquest continued and why the recent events Russia, Crimea and Ukraine are so pivotal today.

Jochi's armies, masterminded by General Subutai and commanded by his sons Batu Khan and Kadan, continued the conquest of the territories would become the Jochid Ulus part of the Golden Horde empire including Crimea, Ukraine and Kievan Rus the biggest city in eastern Europe then and capital of what we now call Russia.

The Mongols invaded and destroyed Volga Bulgaria and Kievan Rus', before invading Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, and others. Over the course of three years (1237–1240), the Mongols destroyed and annihilated all of the major cities of Eastern Europe with the exceptions of Novgorod and Pskov. Along the way many thousands of nomadic tribesmen joined the Mongol armies for a variety of reasons including the spoils of war, philosophical agreement with Mongol traditions and the thrill of victory over longtime enemies. The largest groups to join Jochi Khan's armies were the Tatars and the Turkic tribesmen from what is now Kazakhstan.

The vast Mongol hordes of around 35,000 mounted archers, 20,000 Tartars and 80,000 Turkics, commanded by Batu Khan and Subutai, crossed the Volga River and invaded Volga Bulgaria in the autumn of 1236. It took them a year to extinguish the resistance of the Volga Bulgarians, the Kipchaks/Cumans and the Alani. In the summer of 1238, Batu Khan devastated the Crimea and pacified Mordovia. In the winter of 1239, he sacked Chernigov and Pereyaslav. Then turned their attention on Kievan Rus' the largest city in Eastern Europe at the time and the capital of what we now call Russia.

During the invasion of Kievan Rus', the Mongols used the frozen Dnieper's river as a highway. Winter, the time of year usually off-limits for any major activity due to the intense cold, became the Mongols' preferred time to strike. The Siege of Kyiv [the Tatar Yoke] by the Mongols took place between November 28 and December 6, 1240, less than a week. Chinese engineered siege engines[catapults] were used by the Mongols to raze the walls of Kiev.

Out of 50,000 inhabitants before the invasion, about 2,000 survived. Most of the city was burned and only six out of forty major buildings remained standing. Huge cities such as Kiev took centuries to rebuild and recover from the devastation of the Mongol's attack. The victory by Batu and Kadan allowed them to proceed westward into Europe.

Under Genghis's successor Ögedei Khan the speed of expansion reached its peak. Jochi's armies got as far as the gates of Budapest in Hungary, and the only reason they turned back in 1241 was because the Great Khan Ogedei died and they had to go back to choose his successor.

The Ulus of Jochi in 1241

This time, instead of moving on, the Mongol armies stayed and built a capital for Jochi's Ulus, called Sarai, on the lower Volga. Here the commander of the Golden Horde, as the western section of the Mongol empire was called, fixed his golden headquarters and represented his sovereign the Grand Khan who lived with the Great Horde in the Orkhon Valley. Here they had their headquarters and held parts of Eastern Europe and of Rus' in subjection for nearly three centuries.

Without Jochi's agreement to accept his brother Ogedei as Great Khan the Mongol destruction of Kievan Rus' that the Tsardom of Russia, and subsequently the Russian Empire, would not have arisen. Trade routes with the East came through the Rus' lands, making them a center for trade from both worlds. In short, the Mongol conquests, while destructive in the extreme to their enemies, had a significant long term effect on the rise of modern Russia, Ukraine, Crimea and Belarus.

3.21.2014

Genghis Khan Expanded Trade Routes, Freedom of Religion, Peasant Literacy and Military Innovation

Life sized bronze of Ghenghis Khan at the Fernbank Natural History Museum in Atlanta

Heartless murderer, bloodthirsty conqueror, brutal savage...Genghis Khan's influence was more complex than the one-sided caricature you and i were taught in world history class. Genghis Khan brought the Silk Road under one political unit allowing  communication and trade between Europe, the Middle East, Asia, India, Persia and Africa thus expanding the horizons culturally and economically in al of them. He exempted the poor from taxes, encouraged peasant literacy and freedom of religion which is why so many joined his army voluntarily. As the Mongol armies conquered other peoples, they recruited the male nomads. Therefore, as they expanded into new areas, their troop numbers increased.

Before Genghis Khan the Silk Road overland route was very dangerous as robbers attacked the caravans relentlessly. The Persians built fleets that sailed around India and Malaysia to avoid these dangers before Genghis Empire solved this problem. Contrary to popular belief, Genghis Khan did not conquer all of the areas of the Mongol Empire. At the time of his death, the Mongol Empire stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Japan. The empire's expansion continued for generations after his death in 1227.

Genghis armies first headed south and east starting in about 1204 conquering Korea, northeasten Siberia and much of China before returning to Mongolia to raise another, much larger, army that headed west while the original army held the east and south. When Genghis left Mongolia this time he led 135,000 mounted warriors, mostly Mongol but with already a few important volunteers including a team of Chinese and Persian engineers.

Genghis Khan's Empire when he died in 1227

One of the many key military innovations Genghis introduced was bringing the engineers with the army to build whatever siege weapons were necessary from the materials at hand, whereas western armies were always slowed to a crawl by having to carry both machines and a huge logistic supporting cast along with them.

Each Mongol soldier typically maintained 3 or 4 horses and since most of the Mongols' mounts were mares, they could live off their horses' milk or milk products when needed. Changing horses often allowed them to travel at high speed for days often covering up to 100 miles (160 km) per day without stopping or wearing out the animals.

Their ability to live off the land, and in extreme situations off their animals, mare's milk especially, made their armies far less dependent on the traditional logistical apparatus of other armies. In addition, Mongolian horses were extremely durable and sturdy, allowing the Mongols to move quickly, often surprising enemies that had expected them to arrive days or even weeks later.

The Mongols stuck to being pastoralists, they hung around with their horses out on the bordering grasslands of towns and cities and sent in a few official to collect tribute. As long as the people paid they never even saw the mongols. If they didn't pay they got a 48 hour warning, on the 49th hour the mongols rode in, often 20,000 men on horses, and burned everything down. they'd always let a few people live so they could go around and tell all the others in the surrounding area what happens if you don't pay...few didn't pay.

All of the great slaughters we were taught about in world history class were those who didn't pay tribute. As befitting the greatest conqueror in history, Genghis Khan had a huge harem and many children. When he was nearing death the conflict among them to be his successor was threatening to destroy the Empire. Ghengis in his last days named his son Ogedei to be the Great Khan. Though he wasn't the eldest, Ogedei was accepted by the others because it was Ghengis' desire. Thus the conquest continued unabated.

Tomorrow The Mud Report will explain how Jochi Khan - one of Genghis' sons - nominally led the armies into what is now western Russia. There, masterminded by General Subutai and commanded by Batu Khan and Kadan, both grandsons of Genghis Khan, they conquered territories would become part of the Golden Horde empire including Crimea, Ukraine and Kievan Rus the biggest city in eastern Europe then and capital of what we now call Russia.

3.20.2014

Crimea's Tatars are the Native Crimean Nomads Interbred with the Mongols of Genghis Khan's Army

The Mongol Empire in 1294

The group of people now know as the 'Crimean Tatars', unlike the Russians or Ukranians, didn't come from anywhere, at least as far back as recorded history goes. The Crimean Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group native to the Crimea, they are the native Crimeans. The name 'Tatars' was used an alternative term for the Shiwei, a nomadic confederation to which these Crimean native people belonged.  As various of these nomadic groups became part of Genghis Khan's armies  in the early 13th century, a fusion of Mongol and Turkic elements took place creating the Turko-Mongol ethnic group we now call the Crimean Tatars.

Remember, the Mongols didn't stop in Russia - they got as far as the gates of Budapest in Hungary, and the only reason they turned back in 1241 was because the Great Khan Ogedei [son of Genghis who died in 1227] died and they had to go back to choose his successor., including Batu Khan leader of the western part of the empire, known as the Golden Horde. But the Tatars stayed put and later emerged as an independent nation at the time of the Crimean Khanate, a Turkic-speaking Muslim state which was among the strongest powers in Eastern Europe until the beginning of the 18th century. The nobles and rulers of the Crimean Tatars were the progeny of Hacı I Girai, a Jochid descendant of Genghis Khan and thus of Batu Khan of the Mongol Golden Horde.

Down through recorded history Crimea was invaded or occupied successively by the Goths (AD 250), the Huns (376), the Bulgars (4th–8th century), the Khazars (8th century), the state of Kievan Rus' (10th–11th centuries), the Byzantine Empire (1016), the Kipchaks (Kumans) (1050), and the Mongols (1237). In the 13th century, the Republic of Genoa seized the settlements which their rivals, the Venetians, had built along the Crimean coast and gained control of the Crimean economy and the Black Sea commerce for two centuries. They were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire in the 15th to 18th centuries. In the 18th century Crimea became part of the Russian Empire. In 1921 the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic [SSR] was created. In 1954 Crimea was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of the newly independent Ukraine. Independence was supported by a referendum in all regions of Ukrainian SSR, including Crimea.

The Tatars are the Crimeans, nonetheless, on 18 May 1944 , the entire population of the Crimean Tatars [pictured at left in traditional dress] were forcibly deported in the "Sürgün" (Crimean Tatar for exile) to Siberia by Joseph Stalin's Soviet government as a form of collective punishment on the grounds that they had collaborated with the Nazi occupation forces.

In 1967 a Soviet decree removed the charges against Crimean Tatars but the Soviet government did nothing to facilitate their resettlement in Crimea or to make reparations for lost lives and confiscated property. Today, more than 250,000 Crimean Tatars have returned to their homeland but the Ukrainian government has done little to settle the land title disputes and almost all Tatars still live on 'squats'.

The Great Khans conquered most of Eurasia between 1206 and 1294 on horseback. i've spent a buncha very interesting time lately learning about Genghis Khan...and, for today i'll just say the Mongols were pretty cool as far as hordes go. They stuck to being pastoralists, they were shamanists [today we'd call them panthesists]. Unlike most conquers they didn't proselytize, they didn't even go into the towns or cities, they just hung around with their horses out on the bordering grasslands. They sent in a few officials to take a census [they invented the census] and as long as the area paid taxes [tribute] they never even saw the mongols. If they didn't pay, well...

The story of the Great Khans is the history of Russia. The Russian Princes paid the tribute, in part because they feared the Teutonic Knights and hoped the Golden Horde would subdue them, in part because they woulda lost anyway. Instead of having their towns burned to the ground the Russian Princes lived and as the Mongol Empire retreated over the coming centuries the Russians filled the vacuum. It's a great story...to be continued in the days to ahead on The Mud Report because of how it pre-determined the events today in Crimea, Ukraine and all of Eurasia and also because it's a very neat story.

Genghis Khan said in the hours before his death in 1227  "It's not how many breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away."

3.19.2014

Ron Paul's Editorial and Putin's Address Point Out the One-Sided Story Being Spun in the West

Former representative Ron Paul, R-Texas

The Crimea story, like every story, has two sides. When only one side's point of view is reported it's called propaganda not news. Journalism's credibility rests on the concept of giving voice to both sides of issues. That's certainly not the case in the coverage of Ukraine generally and Crimea most acutely. That this one-sided coverage so blankets the mainstream media in the west is frightening to me. Imagine how little even-handed information past generations had before the Internet age.

Two days ago. March 17th, Ron Paul published an editorial titled 'Crimea secedes. So what?' in USA Today that broke the mold. Numerous anti-establishment media sites have referred and linked to it, but very few others. My congratulations to USA Today for having the courage to publish Ron Paul's piece. This piece by Dr. Paul isn't as revolutionary as many he's written, it's totally consistent with his views on foreign relations but what it doesn't do is toe the Empire's line. One point Dr. Paul makes about the hypocrisy of the US's spin on the Crimean referendum is outstanding, he says, "Critics point to the Russian 'occupation' of Crimea as evidence that no fair vote could have taken place. Where were these people when an election held in an Iraq occupied by U.S. troops was called a 'triumph of democracy'?"

In view of this blackout by the MSM of any other than the 'offical' story it's more important than ever to read the address Russian President Vladimir made March 18th, yesterday, to the heads of Russian regions and civil society representatives in the Kremlin [full English translation here]. In it Putin calmly and logically counters every one of the propaganda points that the western MSM unquestioningly recites.

For instance, Both Paul and Putin say the opponents of the Crimea vote like to point to the illegality of the referendum. But self-determination is a centerpiece of international law. Article I of the United Nations Charter points out clearly that the purpose of the U.N. is to "develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples." Putin adds, "Incidentally, I would like to remind you that when Ukraine seceded from the USSR it did exactly the same thing, almost word for word. Ukraine used this right, yet the residents of Crimea are denied it.  Why is that?"

Putin also talks about the well-known Kosovo precedent in which the UN International Court agreed with this approach and made the following comment in its ruling of July 22, 2010, and I quote: “No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to declarations of independence,” and “General international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence.”

Most importantly IMO Putin talks about the Crimean Tatars and apologizes for their unfair treatment under Stalin's dictatorship. Adding, "I believe we should make all the necessary political and legislative decisions to finalise the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars, restore them in their rights and clear their good name. We have great respect for people of all the ethnic groups living in Crimea. This is their common home, their motherland, and it would be right – I know the local population supports this – for Crimea to have three equal national languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar."

Near the end of his address Putin says, "Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall."

The fate of the Tatars holds the key IMO to the long-term peaceful future of Crimea. The Tatars have a long and proud history. They are the descendants of the armies of Genghis Khan who conquered and ruled most of the Eurasian continent for hundreds of years. They currently make up 12% of Crimea's population. They understandably hate and fear Russia because the entire Tatar population was forcibly deported from Crimea in 1944 by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Many of the Tatars boycotted the referendum and many others worry that should Tatar rights be trampled they will form an insurgency and undertake a guerrilla war. According to Tatar spokesman Imiril Mirov, "We have no armed units, no self-defence, nothing at all,” Mirov told IPS. "The primary goal is to avoid bloodshed, there is no sign of any Tatar resistance movement."

When you consider that 82% of eligible voters did vote in the referendum and 95% of them voted yes to annexation to Russia, even if every one of the other 18% of eligible voters said no, that still means about 80% of Crimeans, for better or worse, support Russian annexation. Clearly this is a legitimate majority and the west's leaders and media are purposefully mis-representing the facts.

3.18.2014

Free Trade - the Rich's Global Corporate Weapon, Fair Trade - the People's and Gaia's Defense

The popular resistance to Free Trade as Tyranny is growing

As the Sierra Club's recent report 'NAFTA's Deadly Legacy: Corporate Profits Over People and Planet Corporate Profits Over People and Planet; points out: "The environmental legacy of the trade pact is both widespread and varied. From fueling the proliferation of Genetically Modified (GM) agriculture in Mexico to encouraging the development of Alberta tar sands, the results have been a disaster for people and the environment." Free trade isn't just words to be parsed, it's a whole globe girdling, planet pulverising, paradigm.

As Maude Barlow puts it, " I'm referring to those awkward facts about free trade, like that Canada lost 334,000 manufacturing jobs in the first five years after the Canada-U.S. deal was signed - a decline that continued under NAFTA and continues to this day. Good paying full-time jobs are more often than not replaced by precarious part-time work, which contributes to Canada's stagnating middle-income wages over the past 20 years. It's a harsh reality of the free trade era that most of the new wealth created - and free trade does create wealth - went straight to the top, to the richest one per cent in Canada and globally."

NAFTA, has been around long enough to prove itself a pack of lies. More recently these deals have been concluded behind closed doors and have included even worse because they are investor-state treaties. For instance, according to Elizabeth May, if/when the Canada-China Investment Treaty is ratified, the treaty would be binding on Canada and on future Canadian governments for a minimum of 31 years. This type of treaty is often called a Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPPA or FIPA). Interestingly Australia recently undertook a cost-benefit study of investment treaties, which showed that these treaties create far greater costs than benefits. Harpo and his neo-con corporate stooges meanwhile keep singing 'Don't Worry Be Happy'. Well, like millions of people and fair Gaia herself, we're worried and we're not happy.

The stakes for our children and grandchildren globally are immense. The American 'Popular Resistance' website has a comprehensive 'Fifteen Core Issues The Country Must Face' page who's comprehensive insights can easily be translated to any region or country. The fact is national boundaries are meaningless in this global battle against over-consumption driven extractive capitalism.

None-the-less, i live in Canada so as in the eating of any elephant, one bite at a time is the best way forward. Canada is currently run by the Conservative Party [think Tea Party], they have never seen a corporate swindler they didn't love and support. Of course to be fair, the corporate swindlers love and support them too. There isn't bigger Free Trade booster on the planet than Harpo.

The official opposition - the NDP - once upon a time held moderately progressive anti-Free Trade positions that are, now that Jack Layton has died and Tom Mulcair has taken over, just a fond memories. As my neighbor Murray Dobbin asked in 'Is The NDP Becoming 'Liberals-lite'?': "Will Tom Mulcair do anything for a vote?" Apparently the answer is yes. The NDP has dropped all talk of rescinding or reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal the NDP has stridently opposed in the past and it's urging the World Trade Organization to re-start global trade talks, which the NDP used to protest against. Free Trade is a weapon of the 1%, Fair Trade is a tool of the 99% That is, IMO, Mulcair's mistake.

Then there's the Liberals who currently rank #3 but have been in power for most of the last half century and despite opposing Free Trade when it was first proposed and they were not in office immediately flip-flopped when elected. Their current leader- Prince Justin Trudeau - makes noises about Fair Trade but in reality the Free Trade and globalization agenda of both the Conservatives and Liberals in Ottawa have played equal roles in destroying Canada's economy. On top of that the Liberals have always professed sincerity for whatever wind was blowing at the time, then changed course as soon as it suited them. At least Harpo's neo-cons say they are assholes and prove it with their actions. The Liberals always try to stand in the mushy middle and never do what they say.

Which brings me to Canada's Green Party led by Elizabeth May. They are the only party that has consistently stood against the corporate Free Trade juggernaut. The Greens stand alone and lead the battle for Fair Trade. Of course, i don't agree with everything Elizabeth and the Greens propose but no matter where you live, i suggest reading their most fundamental policy document - Vision Green.

Like everywhere, Canada is conflicted by a wide variety of people, with a wide range of opinions.

3.17.2014

A Fair Trade Song We Might Learn From St. Paddy's Day History and Pipelineistan Now is R-E-S-P-E-C-T

British tax policy once required landlords to pay the taxes of their tenant farmers, leading many landlords to forcibly evict struggling farmers.

Bill Bigelow's moving St. Paddy's day piece 'The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools' moved me to consider how the inhumane logic in the paragraph: "Thomas Gallagher points out in Paddy’s Lament, that during the first winter of famine, 1846-47, as perhaps 400,000 Irish peasants starved, landlords exported 17 million pounds sterling worth of grain, cattle, pigs, flour, eggs, and poultry—food that could have prevented those deaths. Throughout the famine, as Gallagher notes, there was an abundance of food produced in Ireland, yet the landlords exported it to markets abroad." related to the swarm of bees buzzing between my ears.

Today my bees are singing a Fair Trade not Free Trade song. The gentry of 1800's didn't use the term 'Free Trade' but they used the logic of globalization to steal the land base from under the feet of a population of peasants, which provided them with meaningful work and enough to have fed their families sustainably for thousands of years. For sure, peasants traded with other peasants, chickens for peat, or milk for produce or ?. It was FAIR TRADE because at it's base was respect for equal hard work, respect of each other, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Aretha Franklin taught us, is the key.

The gentry of those times morphed into the bankers and business people of our times. For sure, less folks are starved to death nowadays in our western world where land 'consolidation' has already succeeded in stealing our family farms. But in other parts it where the corporations and investors are busy grabbing agricultural land with fiat currency from poor peasants there are 800,000,000 starving people who could in large part live off those lands that now produce cash crops for corporate 'profits'. The trouble with the past is it ain't past, it's just re-labeled.

But right now my bees are saying stick to your topic - Fair Trade not Free Trade - in the present and in your area. i gotta agree with them, it's a huge world and this is one small blog, so i'll buzz back to how it relates to my 'Pipelineistan' issue of late.

About a year ago The Mud Report published 'Alberta's Budget Woes Began When Free Trade Forced MORE Resource Exports'. It made the point that back in the days before Mulroney, before 'Free Trade', Alberta had a much broader based economy, just like the rest of Canada. Back then Albertans didn't just export stuff they made stuff and most of the stuff they didn't make they bought from other places in Canada that made the stuff. In exchange the other folks in Canada bought stuff from Alberta. Much more of a respectful Fair Trade among equals type of economy eh.

For sure mosta that stuff we traded could be made cheaper in Mexico or China or India, and for sure the corporations and bankers would make lots more money by eliminating the duties that protected the well paid Canadian jobs. Today's jobs-jobs-jobs mantra is bullshit, as any parent of a boomerang-er or the lineup for minimum wage, low respect, jobs at Tim Horton's shows.

Almost immediately factories starting closing and well paid, family supporting, manufacturing jobs started disappearing. As government revenues from both employers and employees plummeted along with the jobs, governments, even Alberta's, were feeling the pinch. Along came the cash cow called the Tar Sands, surely if the extractors could just extract MORE of it fast enough [with the help of government subsidies of course] and export MORE of it fast enough all would be well. As the manufacturing jobs turned into 'service' jobs the price of oil climbed and the Tar Sands expended as fast as possible because everybody knew MORE was better.

In the good old days, only 30 years ago, Canada had a strong and stable economy, a proud workforce motivated by mutual respect and was envied around the world. Then it adopted 'Free Trade' which cut thousands of manufacturing jobs which in turn cut governments revenues. In response Canada opted for all out natural resource exploitation and export which caused Canadian currency value to jump which meant even larger job loses and lower government revenue. This is the Dutch Disease that led to the Pipelineistan of today..

In response Canada, and especially Alberta, doubled down and exported even more resources resulting in a flooded market that has sent the price of their Tarsands crud into the toilet and their budget into a deficit. Canada's Dutch Disease inflated currency makes it easier for those who still have a middle class lifestyle to buy more needless imported crap. But overall the quality of life in Canada has gone in the toilet along with the manufacturing base that used to provide decent jobs, that used to make Canadians happy and secure. Now Canadians have more folks lined up at Starbuck's for a job, more poverty, more stress, more, more, MORE of everything, except mutual respect.

Free Trade's most popular song is tittled 'Jobs-Jobs-Jobs', but all jobs aren't equal no matter how much they pay. For instance, pipeline jobs are temporary, but oil spills are forever. Fair Trade's most popular song might be R-E-S-P-E-C-T because Fair Trade is based on not only equal work but equal rights, equal protection from abusive landlords and bosses, equal protection against industrial and agricultural toxins, equal respect. Tomorrow the bees will still be buzzing about how Canada got itself into the Free Trade darkness and how it might find a way out.

3.15.2014

The Neo-Knucleheads Love the Deceitful Trickle Down Song, Should We All Sing Along?


Trickle down economics [TDE] is a failed economic policy that asserts that if you give tax cuts to the rich the profits will trickle down to the lower classes. Time has shown that this Thatcher-Regan policy is nothing more then a scam to give the rich a Free Lunch paid for by the privatization of the common wealth. Thatcher-Regan's economic policies were guided by one principle: that wealth will ‘trickle down’ to the masses from the top.

The rich sang the same tune nearly 100 years ago in Teddy Roosevelt’s time. The lyrics go:  'The market will take care of everything' If only we cut more regulations and cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy – our economy will grow stronger. It’s a simple song, one that fits on a bumper sticker. The problem is it was bullshit 100 years ago and it still is. TDE has never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression and it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decades leading up to the Great Recession.

Recently the Tyee published 'The Verdict on Thatcherism Is Clear' that compared how Thatcher's theory UK squandered its oil wealth compared to Norway who refused to privatize their natural resources and demanded much higher royalties then used those monies to create a heritage fund for the future 'many' instead of a short-term windfall for the 'few'. Norway is currently ranked number one in the world on the Human Development Index.

Regan-Thatcherism is summed up with this quote from the Iron Lady: "There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers' money." This is the nucleus of neo-knucklehead thought and it's bullshit. Wealth flows from the earth, and the North Sea oil represented $8 trillion of commonly owned resources. Honest governments see resource development as a hard-nosed negotiation with their private corporate developers. They aggressively fight for their taxpayers against outside interests who naturally want to keep as much of that money as they can for themselves. Norway did a far more competent job managing their oil wealth than the ideologues in the U.K. then or the Canadians are now  The numbers speak for themselves.

Thirty-five years later Regan-Thatcherism, despite being an obvious failure for 'we the people', has become a wildly successful well-funded tactic used by corporations seeking to access public resources around the world at rock-bottom prices. The Tyee article uses the UK-Norway yardstick to examine the Alberta and Saskatchewan approaches to natural resource exploitation saying, "Alberta has sold off oil as fast as foreign investors could pump it out of the ground, with criminally low royalty rates and a sop of a heritage fund that limps along lifeless at a billion or so. I once read that if Alberta had taken the Norwegian approach, that fund could be well over $100B Sask, on the other hand, knew the oil wasn't going anywhere would not sell out cheap to make profit today at the expense of future generations. They demanded high royalty rates from the beginning, knowing that eventually the market would agree to pay." Alberta, despite being one of the richest areas of the world in natural resources is virtually bankrupt. Saskatchewan has huge budget surplus.

The governments of Canada and Alberta aren't alone in this race to the bottom, one jurisdiction after another has a-greed to the corporation's terms of surrender. Publicly the 'leaders' say they must remain competitive, privately they happily accept the 'donations' to their party's coffers, the offshore bank accounts and the high paid jobs for their relatives and cronies. These 'leaders' elected or not know the score.

The 'leaders' willingly deceive their citizens by selling off their common wealth to the corporations in exchange for their own selfish interests. The 'leaders' and their cronies then sing their song in the equally corrupted corporate media. You remember the song:

'The market will take care of everything
If only we cut more regulations and taxes,
If we sell our resources competitively
Our economy will grow stronger.
A rising tide lifts all boats."

Another verse in the  Regan-Thatcher 'Rush to the Bottom' song is about the Medusa like Free Trade deception. Tomorrow we'll focus on how that deception has also been used to hypnotize the many in order to undermine the common good and common sense.

3.14.2014

Palm Beach and Eagle River Estuary See Spawning Herring For the First Time in Decades, WAHOO

Palm Beach and Eagle River Estuary in the foreground, Stillwater Bluffs to the left, Texada Island to the right, Malaspina Strait in the middle and the Sea Lion Sanctuary in the distant left.

Terry L. Brown, 'The Amphibiographer', sent out the letter below that was sent on to me this morning. Terry and his 'partner in life and crime', Jude Abrams, are life long environmental activists who have evolved a very interesting and fun interactive project that focuses on getting people to experience the aquatic wonders around them first hand, or actually head first. The Amphibiographer.tv website has lots of great videos and tips on how to "Get Out and Get Wet!" including the miracles happening in a ditch near you.

Terry's letter:
There was a large spawning of herring at Palm Beach Tuesday March 11, and a smaller one just beyond Eagle River estuary the next day! Palm Beach is mid way between Saltery Bay and Powell River on the Upper Sunshine Coast.

Why am I excited? Well it's the first time I've seen herring spawning here in the 9 years we've lived near Palm Beach. It's decades since the last time they spawned here! Unlike False Creek and Squamish the issue here wasn't habitat destruction. We still have eel grass, rockweed and other algaes suitable for spawning. It was a massive commercial fishery which wiped out these local stocks, from what the 'old-timers' tell me.

As you know local spawnings all over the Strait of Georgia (Salish Sea) were wiped out by overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction. The only spawning that took place was along the inner shores of Vancouver island. Now some local spawns have been happening in the last few years in places like Squamish and even False Creek in Vancouver. Add Palm Beach to the List.

Herring are one of the most important 'forage fish' which feed salmon, lingcod, humpback whales, sea lions and seals, ducks, loons etc. Even Orca benefit since they feed on salmon which feed on herring. More herring means more fish, sea lions and whales!!!!

I'll hopefully have video of the spawning online soon.

Thankful for all the Fish, Terry

Terry's letter inspired my best friend Pancho and i to head down to the estuary and check things out. Like Terry and Jude we too live close to Palm Beach and have enjoyed the miracles unfolding there hundreds of times in the last few years. This morning the tide was out, the sea lions were roaring in the distance, the sea gulls were alternately flying in huge circles and hanging out on the rocks, the ducks were paddling and occasionally ducking, the humans were nowhere to be found though we did meet up with a couple of neighborhood friends of Pancho's who trotted out to greet us. Just another day at Palm Beach.

The Gaurdian of the Malaspina appears at mid-tide when looking from the estuary back up the Malaspina.

3.13.2014

The Common Good and Common Sense Say Refine it in Alberta, Capitalism Says No

The red line is an outline of the Alberta tarsands 54,000 square miles area. Please check out this hauntingly beautiful pictorial essay.

Common sense and the common good are meaningless concepts in our capitalist culture. As anyone whose read the book or seen the documentary knows, a corporation serves only one master - shareholder returns. If the board of directors or CEO of any corporation is found to be putting the common good ahead of shareholder profits they are sued and fired immediately. The tarsands are exploited under contractual conditions between the corporations and the governments. The only party responsible for protecting the common good in the tarsands, or anywhere else in a capitalist country, are the governments.

The governments of Alberta amd Canada have different jurisdictions, different rsponsibilities. But, for today, we'll stick to the corporate economics that determine why they won't be building any new refineries or upgraders in Alberta unless the governments provide huge compensation packages that guarantee profitability. Despite this reality every environmental group, all of the opposition parties in both Alberta and Canada and almost everyone else understands that refining or at least upgrading tarsands crud would eliminate the need for the highly toxic diluents from the inevitable equation. But that's not the deal our governments made with the corporations so...

Why aren't we building refineries or upgraders in Canada? According to most analysts, the precise cost of a new refinery is difficult to pinpoint, some put the initial capital outlay at more than $10 billion. As yesterday's post showed it's getting more profitable by the day for the corporations to send their over-capacity diluent to Alberta to thin out the crud then pipeline the resulting dilbit to their refineries. The upgraders and refinery expansions stateside tend to occur at refineries owned by the same U.S. corporations that are developing Canada’s tarsands. Most of our industry is American owned, and they've decided to build refining capacity elsewhere, rather than in Canada, because it's more profitable.

Official opposition NDP's energy critic Peter Julian says, "Canada’s failure to compete in the refining industry has been as much a result of government policy as economics." And he's right, but that failure has occurred not just under the current Harper-Redford watch, the tarsands have been being mined since 1967 so under successive administrations the situation has gone from bad to worse.

The Liberals, well they're the Liberals, when they were in charge they played kiss-ass with the corporations now they bitch about the situation they had a huge hand in creating. So IMO their opinion is worthless.

The Greens, as Elizabeth May says, "oppose moving bitumen out of Alberta.  It has to be (at least) upgraded to synthetic crude before shipping to refineries. We favour refineries in Alberta.  But this only makes sense in the larger context my article sets out -- a sensible energy policy, carbon reduction plan, and a stabilized planned oil sands production -- ending the crazed plan to triple output." But the politicans won't say how, they won't admit that only through massive subsides can that happen. That contracts have been signed so no government can simply order the corporations to be altruistic, only money talks now. Where that money would come from none of 'em, NDP, Liberal or Green, want to comment on because it'd have to come from either higher taxes on citizens or cutbacks in programs for citizens or by borrowing from future citizens.

Meanwhile, in Alberta, despite a public opinion poll that suggests that the overwhelming majority support government taking steps to increase the amount of oil sands crude that is processed in the province, the move does not appear likely. Premier Alison Redford made clear earlier this year that she intends to let market forces dictate future bitumen upgrading projects, calling the deal the province struck with North West Upgrading “a commitment made by the previous government .”


According to Andrew Leach, an associate professor at University of Alberta School of Business, in explaining the ‘economics’ of upgrading, the degree of government involvement in the NWU project that Redford refers to, means it should not be seen as evidence of the viability of new refineries and upgraders. “What this shows is that with the type of contracts the government is offering, you can get a private company to build a refinery," he said, "but the first part of that sentence is really crucial, because it doesn’t tell you that private companies can make money on refining.”

The 'refine it in Alberta' mantra is nothing more than wishful thinking according to industry analysts. Wonderfilled, moving, prose like in Elizabeth May's article 'Time to Put the Pieces of the Puzzle in Place' that says: "the cover of the box, a glorious sustainable energy roadmap, would depict where we want to be, with: a meaningful carbon reduction plan; phasing out coal across the land; bringing in energy conservation and efficiency standards; producing far more energy from renewable sources; applying cleantech solutions broadly; paying attention to energy security; and shifting from a strategy of rapid export of unprocessed product to managed production at a steady rate of upgraded and refined product, with value-added creating far more employment in oil production while energy efficiency targets create jobs everywhere in overhauling our built infrastructure." Is just that, "where we want to be", not where we are.

Tomorrow we'll focus on how governments of Alberta and Canada have deceitfully avoided their responsibility to protect the common good through their neo-conservative policies and contrast those policies to other jurisdictions like Saskatchewan and Norway.