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Member since: Thu Dec 30, 2004, 03:05 PM
Number of posts: 15,741

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Crimea Vote: 83% of Eligible Voters. Salaries & Pensions (SS) to Double. Retirement Age Drops:

The Hindu (the third most widely-read English newspaper in India) Reports:

Nearly 97 per cent of voters said “yes” to revert to Russia, from which Crimea had been separated when the Soviet Union broke up just over 20 years ago. A mere 2.5 per cent voted in favour of staying with Ukraine....

The turnout was a record-breaking 83 per cent of Crimea’s 1.5 million eligible voters. With ethnic Russians constituting 58 per cent of the region’s population, the vote results indicate that many ethnic Ukrainians, who account for nearly a quarter of Crimeans, voted for reunification with Russia. The Medjlis of Crimean Tatars said 95 per cent of its followers boycotted the vote. Crimean Tatars, who make up about 12 per cent of Crimea’s population, still smart from painful memories of their deportation by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin during World War Two....

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will address a joint session of the Russian Parliament on Tuesday in connection with the Crimean referendum. The process of Crimea’s accession may take two to three months, according to experts. Crimean authorities said the region will begin replacing Ukrainian hryvnia with the Russian rouble within the next two weeks.

The Russian government has promised to raise the salaries and pensions for Crimean residents to the average Russian level, which is two to three times higher.


Washington Post reports this:

For example, the average monthly pension in Russia is said to be about $270, almost double the $150 paid in the average Ukrainian’s monthly pension. And the retirement age will drop by five years, to 60 for men and 55 for women.


The Star Reports:

Many Russian-speakers voted for the union because they had hopes of seeing their meagre pensions raised and Soviet-style housing and medical benefits restored.


Do you realize.....

"Ukraine's government mulling privatization of energy sector - Yatseniuk"

The government of Ukraine has the idea of privatization of the energy sector in the country, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk has said.

"I'll tell you about the idea of privatization of the energy sector at transparent auctions: Chornomornaftogaz and other companies, which are part of Naftogaz Ukrainy," he said at a meeting with the business community in Kyiv on Monday.

The premier stressed that Naftogaz Ukrainy is "a burden for the budget and a non-transparent monster." According to him, privatization will help stop corruption in the energy sector.


Tell me this is not whats happening:

That was fast. Right after eliminating Russian as an official language. Priorities of the new government: 1) Xenophobia 2) Looting of public assets 3) Austerity for the majority 4) Destruction of local industry (EU free trade) 5) Joining the American Empire (NATO) - Gabe Haythornthwaite · Simon Fraser University

"To Understand What's Really Happening in Ukraine, Follow the Gas Lines on This Map"

What about America?

Washington is making moves. The U.S. doesn't export natural gas yet. But congressional Republicans especially are calling to loosen U.S. export restrictions, with the idea that if Washington puts more gas on the market, it can (economically) cut Russia down to size.

The U.S. Department of Energy is issuing permits to American corporations that will let them start exporting gas in 2015.

Fun fact: Who is now leading the U.S. State Department's new Bureau of Energy Resources? It's Carlos Pascual, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

So what about that new global order?

In recent weeks Eurasia experts and political hacks have been talking big about a new global energy order inspired by events in Ukraine.

Chaos in Ukraine, goes this logic, will threaten natural gas supplies and push Europe to look for non-Russian gas sources.

It's already happening. U.S. energy behemoth Halliburton Co. will soon start fracking in Poland. Royal Dutch Shell will start hunting for natural gas in Ukraine next year.


Haliburton and fracking.... what more could you want. It's just another war for oil and gas brought to you by the usual suspects.

In my view, we need to leave Ukraine alone until we fix our own problems at home - fracking being one of them!

The war for oil in Iraq cost us 3+ trillion dollars... for that kind of money we could have built a complete renewable energy infrastructure. Instead, we are destabilizing the world for big oil. Not funny. Out of the Ukraine now, before we waste another 3+ trillion and countless lives.

And another funny side note - they are now using the Ukraine situation they fostered as an excuse to export US gas to Europe.... what ever happened to energy independence that seemed to be so precious a few weeks ago?

Pelosi booed for supporting NSA spying on Americans

Some of the activists attending the annual Netroots Nation political conference Saturday booed and interrupted the San Francisco Democrat when she commented on the surveillance programs carried out by the National Security Agency and revealed by a former contractor, Edward Snowden, The San Jose Mercury News reports (http://bit.ly/19fB6U4).

The boos came when Pelosi said that Snowden had violated the law and that the government needed to strike a balance between security and privacy.

As she was attempting to argue that Obama's approach to citizen surveillance was an improvement over the policies under President George W. Bush, an activist, identified by the Mercury News as Marc Perkel of Gilroy, stood up and tried loudly to question her, prompting security guards to escort him out of the convention hall.

"Leave him alone!" audience members shouted. Others yelled "Secrets and lies!," ''No secret courts!" and "Protect the First Amendment!," according to the Mercury News.


Or is it about oil and gas, too? "Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry"

Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/06/ukraine-crisis-great-power-oil-gas-rivals-pipelines

But US efforts to turn the political tide in Ukraine away from Russian influence began much earlier. In 2004, the Bush administration had given $65 million to provide 'democracy training' to opposition leaders and political activists aligned with them, including paying to bring opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to meet US leaders and help underwrite exit polls indicating he won disputed elections.

This programme has accelerated under Obama.....

So it would be naive to assume that this magnitude of US support to organizations politically aligned with the Ukrainian opposition played no role in fostering the pro-Euro-Atlantic movement that has ultimately culminated in Russian-backed President Yanukovych's departure.

But Russia's Gazprom, controlling almost a fifth of the world's gas reserves, supplies more than half of Ukraine's, and about 30% of Europe's gas annually. Just one month before Nuland's speech at the National Press Club, Ukraine signed a $10 billion shale gas deal with US energy giant Chevron "that the ex-Soviet nation hopes could end its energy dependence on Russia by 2020." The agreement would allow "Chevron to explore the Olesky deposit in western Ukraine that Kiev estimates can hold 2.98 trillion cubic meters of gas." Similar deals had been struck already with Shell and ExxonMobil.

The move coincided with Ukraine's efforts to "cement closer relations with the European Union at Russia's expense", through a prospective trade deal that would be a step closer to Ukraine's ambitions to achieve EU integration. But Yanukovych's decision to abandon the EU agreement in favour of Putin's sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package provoked the protests.


A more recent US State Department-sponsored report notes that "Ukraine's strategic location between the main energy producers (Russia and the Caspian Sea area) and consumers in the Eurasian region, its large transit network, and its available underground gas storage capacities", make the country "a potentially crucial player in European energy transit" - a position that will "grow as Western European demands for Russian and Caspian gas and oil continue to increase."Ukraine is caught hapless in the midst of this accelerating struggle to dominate Eurasia's energy corridors in the last decades of the age of fossil fuels.

Looks like what may be happening is more big oil subsidies provided by the taxpayers in the form of military intervention and strong-arming on behalf of the oil giants, many of whom not only pay no taxes, but receive subsidies directly on top of their dead beat tax status.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 05:01 PM (6 replies)

People's Republic of China publishes White Paper Criticizing US Human Rights Record 2013

Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013

State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China


The State Department of the United States, which posed as "the world judge of human rights," made arbitrary attacks and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in almost 200 countries and regions again in its just-released Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. However, the U.S. carefully concealed and avoided mentioning its own human rights problems. In fact, there were still serious human rights problems in the U.S in 2013, with the situation in many fields even deteriorating.

-- The U.S. engaged in a tapping program, code-named PRISM, exercising long-term and vast surveillance both at home and abroad. The program is a blatant violation of international law and seriously infringes on human rights.

-- The use of solitary confinement is prevalent in the U.S.. About 80,000 U.S. prisoners are in solitary confinement in the country. Some have even been held in solitary confinement for over 40 years.

-- The U.S. still faces grave employment situation with its unemployment rate remained high. Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families have topped 21 percent. The homeless population in the U.S. kept swelling and it had climbed 16 percent from 2011 to 2013.

-- There are a large amount of child laborers in the agricultural sector in the U.S. and their physical and mental health was seriously harmed.

-- Frequent drone strikes by the U.S. in countries including Pakistan and Yemen have caused heavy civilian casualties. The U.S. has carried out 376 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, causing deaths of up to 926 civilians.

-- The U.S. remains a country which has not ratified or participated in a series of core UN conventions on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The U.S. government took liberty in monitoring its citizens, which shocked the world. Tortures in the U.S. prisons raised concerns. Elections and the checks-and-balances systems were plagued by malpractices and inefficiency, impairing civil interests.

The U.S. government exercises massive and unrestrained information tapping on its own citizens. Edward Snowden, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, revealed a tapping program carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA), code-named PRISM. Under the program, the U.S. intelligence, by virtue of data provided by nine Internet companies, including the Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo, and other major telecom providers, tracked citizens' private contacts and social activities recklessly (www.washingtonpost.com, June 7, 2013).

The website of The Washington Post revealed on June 7, 2013, that the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were tapping directly into the central servers of some Internet companies, and users' data, extracting their emails, chats, audio and video data, documents and photos in real time, and putting certain targets and their contacts under full surveillance.


In my view, we should clean up our own act before we start shooting off our pop gun around the world in feigned indignation at the abuse of others.

Is it all about AUSTERITY? "Washington's Man Yatsenyuk Setting Ukraine Up For Ruin" - Forbes

Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk, may prove to be arsenic to the beleaguered nation.

“Recall the phone exchange between the Ukraine ambassador and Victoria Nuland (Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs) that got leaked out, where she basically said ‘we want Yats in there.’ They like him because he’s pro Western,” says Vladimir Signorelli, president of boutique investment research firm Bretton Woods Research LLC in New Jersey. “Yatsenyuk is the the kind of technocrat you want if you want austerity, with the veneer of professionalism,” Signorelli said. “He’s the type of guy who can hobnob with the European elite. A Mario Monti type: unelected and willing to do the IMFs bidding,” he said.

Mario Monti was a centrist Italian technocrat who passed an austerity package that called for increased taxes, pension reform and measures to fight tax evasion.

Also today, Yatsenyuk promised to implement “very unpopular measures” to stabilize the country’s finances. The government said it needs $35 billion to support the country over the next two years. His language in a news report broadcast by Bloomberg today indicates he is heading toward a potentially destabilizing austerity campaign:

“The treasury is empty. We will do everything not to default. If we get the financial support from the IMF, the U.S., we will do it. I’m going to be the most unpopular prime minister in the history of my country,” he said. “But this is the only solution. I would never promise any kind of huge achievements. First and the most important issue is to stabilize the situation.”


Is this whole thing just another way to force austerity on yet another beleaguered population?

Corporate America Pays Higher Tax Abroad: Study

Many U.S.-based companies doing a lot of business abroad pay a good deal more taxes overseas than they do here, the study shows. Among 125 Fortune 500 corporations with foreign pretax profits of at least 10 percent of their total worldwide pretax profits from 2008 through 2012, two-thirds paid higher corporate tax rates to foreign governments where they operate (27.3 percent) than they paid in the United States on their domestic profits (15.8 percent), according to the study by the Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) and The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).

Further, the effective foreign tax rate on the 125 companies was 2.7 percentage points higher than their effective tax rate in the United States, says the study, which looks at the profits and U.S. federal income taxes of the 288 Fortune 500 companies that were profitable in each of the five years between 2008 and 2012.

“Corporate lobbyists incessantly claim that our corporate tax rate is too high, and that it’s not ‘competitive’ with the rest of the world,” Robert McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice and the report’s lead author, said in a press release. On the contrary, he added: “Most multinationals are paying lower tax rates here in the United States than they pay on their foreign operations.”

Posted by grahamhgreen | Mon Mar 3, 2014, 09:04 AM (0 replies)
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