Did Obama Admin Just Sell Out the Military?

No one doubts the seriousness of the Iran nuclear deal; the problem is, few believe the U.S. has found a way to lead the rest of the world in accomplishing it. No one, with the exception of Secretary of the State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the rest of the Obama Administration, believes the solution presented is the solution that prevails.

Last week, we saw an interesting – and uncomfortable – debate unfold when Kerry, Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary, and Jack Lew, the treasury secretary appeared before the Senate. If you didn’t see it, you should – it’s fascinating to watch these folks go nine rounds, all the while knowing it serves no purpose in the long run. We heard Kerry’s vehement disgust over the 47 senators who wrote to Iran’s leaders before the nuclear deal was signed. He insisted that act could have jeopardized world security (and in all fairness, that stunt by the Republicans, whose pockets are lined by the big oil companies, was done for very selfish reasons. Read about it here.) We also heard Senator Bob Corker (R TN), Senator Jim Risch (R ID) use words like “bamboozled” and “fleeced”: as in “You were bamboozled with this deal and now you’ve fleeced the American people”. Oh, and a delightful scolding from Barbara Boxer towards both Corker and Risch for using the words “bamboozled” and “fleeced”.

But let’s not forget this little well-hidden nugget:

Kerry claimed the U.S. has “the capacity’ to ‘knock out ISIL’ on its own, but we’re not going to get suckered into that.”

Yes. He really said that. And then skipped to the next topic.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Ash Carter was sent to the Middle East to soothe those frantic fears many of our allies (and even our enemies) have these days. Here’s what’s so disturbing, though: the way the media reported these visits and the quotes it used vary significantly. They’re subtle, but take a look –

Carter is trying to respond to regional concerns about Iran by proposing intensified military cooperation with its longtime allies. With the Saudis, there will be talk of training special forces, cyber security, anti-missile defence and other issues. July 23, 2015 (Read the article here)

and

In an effort to calm these worries, Carter proposes to intensify military cooperation with Washington’s traditional allies in the Middle East. July 22, 2015 (Read the article here)

and

Carter told reporters en route to Tel Aviv.But the point of the nuclear deal is to get the result of no Iranian nuclear weapon without carrying out a military strike.” July 19, 2015 (Read the article here)

The first quote comes from a Pakistani media site, Dunya. The second is Al Arabiya, a Middle Eastern media site. The third quote is from The Washington Post.

It’s amazing how small tweaks in a sentence can change the meaning in its entirety. Any other time, it would matter none and would seem petty, but Google the first two quotes. Not a single American media site comes up; no CNN, MSNBC, USAToday, Fox News. Not one.  The third quote, when Googled, returns The Washington Post and a number of other American based media. Depending on who Carter is speaking with, the U.S. is either wheeling and dealing with propositions to increase our military and other efforts as sort of a reminder to Iran or the U.S. is moving mountains to ensure no military action.

Kerry was quick to remind his adversaries on Capitol Hill that everyone supported this deal. Ash Carter spent the week reassuring the media of the same thing. Only problem is, he was the only one commenting after these meetings.

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VOA

nytimes

NY Times

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Times of Israel

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If there is any question at all about the possibility of sincerity from Iran, this should clear it all up:

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Finally, this is off topic, but I come across it while I was researching this post. It’s going to be a huge problem as things begin heating up with the Cuba brouhaha. With embargoes lifted, there’s a new focus and those in the oil industry are definitely paying attention. Back in the 60s, part of the embargo with Cuba included sanctions for any country that sold to Cuba anything made with more than 10% of American supplies/materials. Now, though, allbets are off. Cuba is gearing up to begin drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in what many are saying includes a wealth of oil. Actually, there are four areas that Cuba is focusing on. America could, for all intents and purposes, furnish the wells that will drill the oil. In case you’ve not been following the massacre in the energy sector, oil closed below $48 a barrel on Friday.  Another country entering into the oil market? Not good.

Last year, the Obama Administration insisted that wouldn’t be a possibility, at least not in the short term. Now, though, Cuba is planning on being up and running by the end of 2015 or the first of 2016. If the U.S. bails and refuses to play a role, Cuba could create a massive environmental mess right off the coast of Florida. That was always the fear anyway when it bought materials and supplies from other countries. The U.S. has, by far, some of the safest extraction methods (though far from perfect) in the world. This is not, and never has been, a real priority for Cuba.

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Greece: Superpowers (and Others) Observing from a Distance

As the Greek “no-win game plan” plays out on the world stage, many are wondering why both the United States and Russia are, for the most part, watching quietly from the sidelines. The argument could be made (and has) that Greece is miniscule in both size and its ability to wreak havoc on a global level. That’s terribly shortsighted and frankly, when has the U.S. ever stood by and simply watched from a distance? For that matter, when has Russia?

With so many events playing out simultaneously, attention gets focused and refocused. It’s easy to feel as though nothing is ever resolved as we constantly turn our attention to the latest breaking news.

The question is: who will really benefit, no matter the outcome? Who knows – but there are a few facts that could be playing a big role in how these decisions are made.

Russia

We know that Russia is looking for better solutions now that the U.S. has tried to sanction it off the map. You’d think Putin would be working magic to take advantage of the weakness Greece now is showing – and you’d be right.

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Greece and Russia have teamed up for the latest pipeline project going through Turkey. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out why Greece didn’t simply bail on the negotiations and leave the Eurozone for Russia’s open arms. Putin’s already said he’s willing to write a check, and let’s face it, Greece gets no respect from its European partners. Proof of that is found in the almost-sad way it’s being treated in these negotiations.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ is now facing a reality that includes his own people feeling as though he sold them out. Even his wife threatened to leave him if he caved. Less than one week later – he caved.

Why would he risk losing everything for a deal that serves no good purpose for his country? The truth is, Germany, France and the others have a lot at stake, too, yet they’re playing hardball on a deal that is pretty much a list of “granted wishes” by Greece. So why is Tsipras being treated like a red-headed stepchild when he’s caved to all of their demands? Maybe this will help:

Greece has the power to veto any Russian sanctions the EU wishes to dole out.

Maybe Tsipras loses more than his country’s faith and his marriage if he doesn’t try to remain where he is, even if it does mean a worse deal in the short term.

Germany

Angela Merkel has her hands full. She and her country’s leaders want Greece ejected. But why? They say Greece is lazy and untrustworthy, but is that really enough for Germany to take such a tough stance?  Russia and Germany have always had a love/hate relationship. Just last month, Germany accused Russia of stockpiling nukes near Russia’s borders. The fact that any one partner can veto anything the EU proposes is probably a bit uncomfortable for Germany, especially considering this slow dance with Russia and knowing Greece and Russia are partners in oil.

Former (as of last week) Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, wrote on Friday:

Based on months of negotiation, my conviction is that the German finance minister wants Greece to be pushed out of the single currency to put the fear of God into the French and have them accept his model of a disciplinarian eurozone.

It’s walking a fine line laid out by Putin, but it also knows that a partner with the power to veto sanctions against Russia is not something any of the countries wish to tackle.

Makes sense. France has the same veto power as Greece. And speaking of France:

France

This is a country with leaders who’ve been busy. President Hollande took the position of bucking Germany and Angela Merkel in order to take Greece’s side. French leaders have spent a significant amount of time in the past 24 hours “oohing and ahhhing” over the latest proposal set forth by Tsipras and encouraging other countries – and most certainly Germany – to follow. France as a cheerleader – who’d have thought?

Adding to this: France is pressuring the United States to close a deal with Iran. French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, said just today, “Now that everything is on the table, the moment has come to decide.”

I don’t reckon that serenade with James Taylor earlier this year had the effect Kerry was hoping for.

Maybe France is still angry at the U.S. for forcing it to cancel its contract with Russia regarding its Mistral program this past November. It was a big contract for France, but it did not bode well with us and a few other countries.

Russia, surprisingly enough, negotiated with the country and ended up with a deal that simply allowed for a refund to Russia. That’s generous, considering the massive contractual dynamics that France annihilated and the realization that Russia could have made things extraordinarily hard for France. But maybe there were a few promises made that could place Russia in a strategic position in the very near future, especially if Grexit comes full circle.

Iran

Iran doesn’t have a dog in the hunt with Greece/Europe battle, but it does play a role in the very near future, especially if Greece leaves EU.

Iran is vehement in its efforts of convincing those involved in the nuclear talks to lift the UN arms embargo and end the long-standing ban against the missile program. In fact, those are likely the two biggest challenges at this point. Naturally, Russia is in agreement with Iran, which further complicates matters, especially considering the two countries have enjoyed a mutually beneficial nuke program for many years. And let’s not forget, Obama is fine and dandy with Russia holding Iran’s nuke materials as part of the deal. That’s like handing me a freezer full of shrimp and telling me not to cook it. That shrimp is going to get cooked!

But there’s another reason Russia and Iran are acting more like BFFs. In BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), U.S. sanctions play no role at all. This could mean that Iran, if the new agreement falls through (or even if they don’t), can still bypass any sanctions and keep its product in the market. Iran has already stated on more than a few occasions over the past few years that it wants to join BRICS. While Greece couldn’t become a full member at this time, it can benefit from the many advantages BRICS provides.

“Iran supports the BRICS group and is prepared for membership and presence in BRICS’ fund.”

– Iran’s Deputy Economy Minister Behrouz Alishiri

And then there’s this little gem from two years ago: BRICS leaders released a statement after one of its summits:

“We are concerned about threats of military action as well as unilateral sanctions, and hope that all outstanding issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme will be resolved through discussions and diplomatic means. We believe there is no alternative to a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, and recognize Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with its international obligations.”

Russia has at least 33 nuclear reactors and India has nearly as many while Brazil and South Africa have two or three nuclear reactors each.

Yet, Iran is the country that leaders say is the threat on the nuclear front. And God forbid Greece embarrass the EU and make a beeline for the other side that includes nuke supporters.

Finland

Finland is another country that stated it would not vote in favor of Greece’s stay in the EU. This is a small country and while it is part of the EU, really, what could taking a stand against Greece cost the country? Why remain stone silent and at the 11th hour, find your voice? Maybe Russia knows the answer.

For 40 years, the Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe has hosted a meeting with leaders from many countries, including Russia. This year, however, Russia was uninvited. Russia counted on Finland to take its side by not supporting a travel ban that prevented many of Russia’s delegates to attend. Finland chose not to.

Russia’s response? Nikolai Kovalev made it clear the damage to the relations between Finland and Russia was permanent.

Susanna Turunen, YLE editor, was a bit more definitive in her statements:

“Russia sees the situation differently and is now considering counter measures that could involve further trade sanctions specifically targeting Finland…failure is the inevitable outcome of denying entry of the Russian delegation.”

Unfortunately, Finland is the one country that is 100 percent dependent on Russia for its energy.

Maybe Finland is hedging its bets if Greece is ejected. It could be the one country Russia relies on to veto sanctions in the EU. France certainly can’t do it without massive repercussions.

By the way, the countries in the EU have their energy needs met by Russia. In fact, more than half of its energy comes from Russia. It’s like a game of chess for Putin.

Russian expert and economist Edward Lucas sums it up:

If you rely on Russia for your oil reserves, or for a big proportion of your sales, you turn yourself willy-nilly into a hostage. The demands may not be conspicuous. They may not come immediately. But just as water flows downhill, so the power of the Kremlin finds the weakest spot and exploits it.

United States
So now we know why Russia is, for the most part, taken a passive position. But what about the U.S? What is Obama doing?

Well, he’s freeing federal prisoners right after an NAACP luncheon focused on the disproportionate number of men and women of color who are incarcerated.

Oh, and he’s also “integrating races into wealthy communities”. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

He’s creating new national monuments.

Basically, it looks as though “the leader of the free world is indulging in a week of summer vacation” but wrapping it up delightfully as a strategic move in case a deal is struck with Iran.

The One Thing it Always Comes Back to

capture-20150329-204841Weeks ago, people were dismissing the possibility of the real reason behind the complicated nuclear talks with Iran. No one quite believed it was as much about oil as it was nukes. But let’s be honest – the U.S. can annihilate Iran in a Heaven’s heartbeat – no nukes required. We have the best military in the world – the best. The truth is, this entire Iran nuclear nonsense has been going on far longer than many realize. In fact, this little gem from the National Security Archive is like a page ripped from today:

U.S.-Iran Nuclear Negotiations in 1970s Featured Shah’s Nationalism and U.S. Weapons Worries

You can see the actual DoD unclassified document here.

It’s from the mid-1970s, declassified in 2009. No, seriously, I promise – the mid-70s. Don’t feel bad if you get bored reading it because it’s so similar to what we’re seeing today, with a few distinctions. Some of the language is verbatim. Note too that there are links to more than this one document on the NSA page, all having to do with Iran’s need/desire/demand for nuclear weapons. More importantly, it’s indicative of just how long this nice little waltz has been going on, especially between the U.S. and Iran.

Keep in mind, too, it goes even further back, but the Carter Administration is especially notable for a particularly dark time in American and Iranian relations, which is why I focused on this time period.

So, then, if this isn’t a new song and dance, why the strong focus right now? Remember, we can drop kick Iran in two seconds. It comes back to oil. It always comes back to oil.

The big oil companies have been storing the surplus of oil in huge barges, keeping it safe, ready to sell it at higher prices once the market rebounds. This is one reason why we didn’t hear much complaining from the big players early on, when the price of oil began its freefall. I don’t think anyone believed it would continue for as long as it did. The U.S. has placed sanctions on what seems like the entire world, so it’s not like these oil conglomerates were worried about Iranian oil (or anyone else for that matter). They, along with the Obama Administration, thought they could wait out the OPEC stubbornness. And then Iran popped up.

Turns out, Iran has its own surplus stored in its own barges. They’ve been hoarding their oil ever since we put sanctions on them a few years ago, just waiting for the golden opportunity to say, “Hey, U,S., lift those sanctions and buy our oil.” The U.S. is dealing with job losses in energy – with more to follow and Obama has, frankly, alienated nearly every ally we have, not to mention his remarkable failure as this nation’s leader. Iran knows it may not get other countries on its side, but having our allies turn their backs on us? That works out beautifully, even if it was unintentional. Here are a few of those Obama failures:

Chechen leader threatens to send weapons to Mexico if U.S. arms Ukraine Fox News

Obama to ‘reassess’ Israel relationship CNN

Barack Obama, the Iranian Candidate Washington Times

Obama-Netanyahu Rift Threatens US-Israel Bond Defense News

Yemen crisis threatens Obama Iran nuclear talks, further clouds Middle East policy Washington Times

So, we have PM Netanyahu wondering why Obama declassified his country’s documents, we have James Jeffrey, who served as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq and was a top national security aide in the George W. Bush White House, exclaiming “We’re in a goddamn free fall here,” in reference to the U.S. and the collective Middle East and we have the rest of our allies, including the UK, Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands joining China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the past two days alone. In fact, the media in the UK says it like this: US isolated as Australia and Russia join China’s development bank.

Did I leave any allies out?

Meanwhile, we have the Republicans who are so angry and worried about the oil crisis that comes if Obama lifts Iran’s oil sanctions, they’re not even considering the big picture and we have Obama who’s in his own world that makes sense only to him. Remember, 47 Republican leaders sent Iran that nice little love letter a few weeks ago.

And, then, of course – there’s Russia.

But speaking of the oil – because again, it always comes back to the oil – here’s what Miswin Mahesh, an analyst at Barclays in London told Bloomberg a few hours ago:

“The first wave to look out for when these sanctions are removed is that stored oil coming back into the market”

He’s referring to the Iranian oil, of course.

And when all of the dust settles, when all of the feelings have been hurt, the promises have been broken and the truths come out, where do you think that leaves Americans? What do you think that does for an already-rickety economy? How will the Obama Administration explain, first, that it’s been doctoring the unemployment numbers, and second, how will it explain to the thousands more in the collective energy sector, why they no longer have jobs in an industry that should have been a sure thing? Because even after then, the truth remains: This is not about Iran’s nuclear dream; it’s about oil.

How -and Why -the 47 Senators Blew It

What possessed the forty-seven Republican senators to strike out in a move, specifically that letter to Iran, that would surely further divide the politics in this nation is beyond comprehension. Maybe they were trying to send a big “we’ll get even” with O & Co. over the poor manners and behavior shown to Prime Minister Netanyahu during his recent visit. Maybe they’re concerned about a successful deal and what it might mean for the future of oil. Who knows? Either way, surely they knew as soon as they did it, they’d likely made a mistake (at least, I hope they did). Now, though, they’re coming full circle on just how disastrous that letter has truly become. Worse, they’re also beginning to see the divide they’ve created, not only on a national, but an international level.

Reuters is reporting exclusively that there are now secret talks taking place that would end the Iranian sanctions. Sounds good, right? Not if you’re one of those 47 senators. Had they kept their pride in check and their mouths closed, they might could have prevented what’s now going down. The five senior members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. – are looking for ways to ensure any incoming U.S. president won’t be able to undo whatever it ultimately becomes, something those Pubs touted in their letter. They stated, “The next president could revoke such as executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”  Turns out, a Security Council resolution indeed can prevent that from happening and it’s legally binding.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter, because this is where it’s going to sting.

First, let’s look at the list of 47 signatures:

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Now, let’s look at who benefits from oil. The top Republicans who benefited financially from oil and gas companies, in order of the amount received and according to Open Secrets (You can see the entire list here). There are four who did not sign the letter in the top ten – three of them are Democrats and the one lone Republican who did not sign the letter is from Mississippi, Thad Cochran.

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In other words, the Republicans who benefited most from the oil industry were more than happy to sign the letter. If you’re wondering why, consider this:

The announcement alone of an agreement with Iran that removes international sanctions would accelerate the current steady downward trend of the global oil price. Thus, the oil price would be affected even before increased physical supplies of Iranian oil reached the market. And more oil would gradually return to the market, helping keep global oil prices low and perhaps depressing them even further. Burdened by sanctions, Tehran has offered discounts to regular buyers such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. The end of sanctions would most likely mean that such consumers would pay a price more in line with global prices. Accordingly, this could create an opportunity for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers to increase their market share. The Washington Institute

One final point about Senator Cochran:

Thad Cochran’s biggest thorn (and the state’s as a whole) wasted no time in jumping on that and saying Cochran hasn’t taken a “principled stand in years”. This is exactly why voters chose experience over one who’s done little more than whined about his loss. You can read more about Senator Cochran’s decision here.

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Stories You Might’ve Missed, Courtesy of #DeflateGate

This whole Deflate Gate silliness has fascinated us this week – even I’m getting a kick out of it, mostly because the tweets just write themselves. It’s almost too easy, yes? Ah, but while we were trumping one another with our cracks about Tom Brady and footballs and broken rules, real life was marching on, even if things are happening we’ve not yet been made aware of. As we get ready to kick the weekend into high gear, here are a few of the really important stories that are breaking and that serve as, first, proof that mainstream media is picking and choosing what it collectively feels it needs to report , and more importantly, these stories have long reaching repercussions for all of us – even Tom Brady.

Sheldon Silver Arrested

Ever heard of Sheldon Silver? If you rely on Fox, CNN, ABC and CBS, you may not have. Silver is the longtime Speaker of the New York State Assembly. The 70 year old was arrested this week on a multitude of charges and guess who the federal prosecutor is? That’s right – none other than Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District. The one man who serves as a threat to Jamie Dimon and other big bankers. The one who the press simultaneously loves and hates. The one who’s a glorious smartass, makes no apologies and just fearless enough to call it as he sees it. He is the one federal prosecutor who could care less which political party is affected by his aggressive legal tactics because they know that he knows where the proverbial bodies are hidden. Worse, they know he’s on a mission to uncover them all. They’re just hoping to be out of the line of fire, politically speaking, when he begins his search in their respective back yards.

So what’s going on with Silver? He was arrested on Thursday and is being accused of federal corruption, mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion. The fact that he kept his position during five gubernatorial administrations speaks volumes about how big this case can potentially grow.

Bharara’s complaint details accusations of Silver “using the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.” It also says probable cause exists that support Silver receiving millions of dollars masked as attorney referral fees, though Silver did no work for the money.

Federal prosecutors seized approximately $3.8 million from Silver on Thursday.

As you can see, mainstream media is not pursuing this. In the top search engine results, there is no Fox News or CNN or MSNBC. It’s too politically dangerous for any of the bigger outlets, despite the long reaching implications of how it will play out.

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Is This Why Obama is Bowing to Iran?

The big brouhaha this week, in terms of how the Obama Administration has embarrassed us yet again, is the rudeness the president displayed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As everyone knows, Speaker John Boehner extended an invitation to PM Netanyahu earlier this week to speak before Congress. The top of the agenda is the current Iran soon-to-be-huge crisis. O & Co., including Senator Diane Feinstein, immediately began crying “foul”.

Then we learn that just this week, the Obama administration wrote a check for $490 million in cash assets to Iran, bringing the total to $11.9 billion paid to the Islamic Republic by June. This comes from the State Department. This payment marks the third in a series of checks we’ve written JUST IN ONE MONTH.

Iran is the benefactor of $4.9 billion of what the State Department says are “unfrozen cash assets”, otherwise known as your tax dollars, through 10 separate payments. The rest of this total will be paid out by June, as mentioned.

And why are we shelling out massive amounts of money to Iran? Take a look:

Iran received $4.2 billion in under a 2013 interim agreement with the U.S. and then given another $2.8 billion by the Obama administration last year in a bid to keep Iran committed to nuclear talks. By the way, Iran’s not wavered, yet the money is still coming.

There are absolutely no strings attached, which is unfortunate considering the Pentagon estimates Iran has spent between $100 and $200 million EVERY year funding Hezbollah.

If you’re wondering, Iran has not slowed down its efforts of creating plutonium track, which provides it with a “second path” to a nuclear bomb. Further, Iran President Hassan Rouhani announced three days before this latest payment that his country has begun constructing two new light water nuclear reactors. The U.S. State Department says, “No problem. That’s not a deal breaker”.

In this instance, Fox News did report on this story, but no CNBC, CBS, or the others:

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But you know there’s more to it. The U.S. pressured Russia to not provide assistance to Iran, only to turn around and pay out these millions of dollars to, of course, help Iran. So what does Russia do? We’re about to see firsthand, but it’s announcing it will, after all, fulfill the delivery of S-300 air defense missile systems that the U.S. convinced it not to do.

Sort of puts the Netanyahu visit into a different perspective, yes? If I were anyone in the Obama Administration, I wouldn’t want to face him either.

Huge Sell Off of Shale Assets

Oil Tycoon Harold Hamm just sold a whopping $3 billion in his shale assets. He’s going through an ugly divorce, but let’s face it, he knows when he’s whooped. Oil continues its free fall and the news that Kinder Morgan announced it would be buying shale assets from Hiland Partners (owned by Hamm), for many, it was just proof of what so many have suspected all along: shale is too expensive and not likely going to be the cure-all for the OPEC-U.S. standoff.

So why would Kinder take such a risk? Maybe to pay its dividends for the next few years? Maybe it opens the door for more viable areas such as North Dakota? Hiland only employees 430 people, and even though it says it will retain “almost all” of those employees, that’s one breaking news story it can avoid, unlike some of the other news this week of companies laying off thousands in the oil sector.

Meanwhile, when news broke, Kinder stock rose by 17 cents, but fell by $1 in later trading.

Before you kick off your weekend, there’s one more recently-lit fire that needs to be on everyone’s radar. Andrew Lack, who was just named head honcho over the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, announced it was placing RT, once known as Russia Today, on a “challenge list”, right along with ISIS and Boko Haram. Yes, seriously. The U.S. just did that. In an interview with…wait for it…mainstream media, specifically The New York Times, Lack explained it this way:

“We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram,” he said. “But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.”

RT Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan is demanding to know why this media outlet is in the same category as global terrorists:

“We are extremely outraged that the new head of the BBG mentions RT in the same breath as world’s number one terrorist army. We see this as an international scandal and demand an explanation.”

 

Here’s an idea. Check out RT’s track record, including its massive list of awards – AMERICAN awards it boasts. Even the State Department is scratching its head over the “equation of RT with ISIS”.

Nothing surprises me anymore.

NSA? How About DoS?

There’s one reason and one reason alone the U.S. government continues to hound whistleblower Ed Snowden: he makes those running this nation look like idiots. Actually, he reiterates the certainty many share that the nation is being led by idiots. Want proof? Try this:

If you tried to log into your bank in recent months, odds are, you were greeted by a frustratingly slow wait time as your browser spinned. And spinned. And spinned even more. All of the nation’s big banks have been hit:

  • Bank of America
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Wells Fargo
  • Regions
  • and all the rest…

I wrote extensively on this for months, beginning this past September and as recently as a few weeks ago. The group that claims responsibility for these hundreds of attacks is Izz ad-Din al-Quassam Cyber Fighters, a hacker group that promised to keep those attacks coming until and unless a video on YouTube came down. The video insulted the Prophet Muhammad, which insulted many Muslims. The video came down, the hackers backed off, but promised (and is delivering) an even bigger attack this year.

Here’s the kicker though: the government dismissed these attacks and even went so far as to say that the group simply didn’t have the “capability to mount such attacks without outside help” Some placed the blame on Iran, but for the most part, it was ignored. Can’t explain it, can’t fix it – then ignore it. As a result:

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Note the dates that I’ve included in the screen shots and in some instances, the first paragraph (click on any of those images to go to the stories). Also – and this is where it becomes most frustrating – the FDIC is now issuing new warnings that we (as in American banking consumers) could be in for even more oversight. They can’t find the hackers, so their solution is to force us into even more banking laws. If it feels like the “bad guys” are being rewarded for their bad behavior, you’re right.

That’s a problem for a few reasons:

  • The new laws that were put into place over the past two years still haven’t served a purpose (with the one exception of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which was founded to protect consumers from the government – and for once, a government agency is doing exactly what it was intended to do).
  • The bank heavy hitters (including Jamie Dimon) were (and “were” is our operative word here) vehemently opposed to new oversight – until they realized the government can’t be anymore trusted to take two steps for the truth than they can.
  • And the most obvious: Who’s going to pay for all of this new oversight?

Granted, the entire NSA scandal and these cyber attacks have just a few things in common, the most obvious being the privacy of Americans. It’s the differences that provide the ribbons of reality for the average American. Once you think about it, it makes sense:

We have a face to put the NSA scandal that makes the federal government look bad. We don’t have a face to put to the hackers that continue to wreak havoc on our banks and in turn, make the federal government look bad.