Thursday, August 21, 2014
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has signed a multi-billion dollar, 30-year gas deal with China.
The deal between Russia's Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has been 10 years in the making.
Russia has been keen to find an alternative energy market for its gas as it faces the possibility of European sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.
No official price has been given but it is estimated to be worth over $400bn.
President Putin said in a statement to the Russian news channel Rossiya: "The price is satisfactory for both sides.
"It is tied, like it is envisaged in all our international contracts with Western partners, specifically our partners in Western Europe, to the market price on oil and oil products. It is an absolutely calibrated, general formula for pricing."
Gazprom shares rose 2% on the news.
The agreement, signed at a summit in Shanghai, is expected to deliver some 38 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year eastward to China's burgeoning economy, starting around 2018.
The main argument has been over price and China is thought to have been driving a hard bargain.
Over the last 10 years it has found other gas suppliers. Turkmenistan is now China's largest foreign gas supplier, and last year it started importing piped natural gas from Myanmar.
Alexei Miller, Chief Executive of Gazprom said the new deal was "the biggest contract in the entire history of the USSR and Gazprom - over 1 trillion cubic metres of gas will be supplied during a whole contractual period."Analysis: Jamie Robertson, BBC News
The gas deal between Russia and China was signed at 04:00 China time, which gives some indication of the level of urgency over these talks. Mr Putin appears to have been determined not to leave Shanghai without a deal - and he got one.
But the financial details are a "commercial secret", so we don't know how much he had to give away to get it. Certainly China needs the gas to help it cut its coal-fired smog levels, and it wants to diversify supply. But it had the luxury of time in which to negotiate, something Mr Putin was short of.
The perceived motive for the deal is that Russia needs a second market for its gas, so it can face up to European sanctions. Given that the "Power of Siberia" pipeline won't start pumping gas into Chinese factories until 2018 at the earliest, its economic effect on the European crisis will be limited.
More important may be the investment that China will make into Russia's power and transport infrastructure. Putin may not have managed to sign the most advantageous of gas deals on Wednesday but the opening of economic doors with China could well be the greater achievement.
Rain Newton-Smith, head of emerging markets at Oxford Economics, said: "The whole tenet of the deal has a symbolic value - it says that the two countries are prepared to work with one another. For instance there were other elements such as Chinese participation in Russian transport infrastructure and power generation.
"It is similar in many ways to China's investments in Africa where they drive a hard bargain over the price of raw materials but then provide infrastructure for the economies they are doing business with.
Jonathan Marcus, the BBC's defence and diplomatic correspondent said tensions between Russia and the west were not just over Ukraine: "There are fundamental differences over Syria and about the whole direction in which President Vladimir Putin is taking his country.
"Thus this deal could symbolise an important moment of transition - when both in economic and geo-political terms, Russia's gaze begins to look more towards the East than towards the West."Siberian power
Another sticking point on the deal has been the construction of pipelines into China.
Currently there is one complete pipeline that runs across Russia's Far East to the Chinese border, called The Power of Siberia. It was started in 2007, three years after Gazprom and CNPC signed their initial agreement in 2004.
But financing the $22-30bn cost of sending it into China has been central to the latest discussions.
China is Russia's largest single trading partner, with bilateral trade flows of $90bn (£53bn) in 2013.
The two neighbours aim to double the volume to $200bn in 10 years.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
NIGHT OF PAIN – NIGHT OF RAGE
© ’14 Mumia Abu-JamalColumn written, August 11, 2014
© ’14 Mumia Abu-JamalColumn written, August 11, 2014
Once again, a Black unarmed youth has been killed by a cop.
And while the facts surrounding the shooting are presently unclear, what is clear is that a cop shot 18 year old Michael Brown 8 times.
According to at least one eyewitness, Brown was shot as he stood with his hands up in the air.
To anyone who knows American history, this is not a rarity.
It is the result of a systematic function of police across the country, to repress, track and target the nation’s Black population.
That has been the case for generations.
We shall see voices trotted out to call for calm, as outrage arises in Black hearts in response to outrageous treatment. Never do those calling for calm become voices calling for true justice, for justice is equality; and who dare demand that cops be treated like the people that they oppress?
For they have no influence over the repressive forces, and in fact, no political office in America does. They have been bought off, paid off – or both.
Listen to the voices of ‘Black’ politicians.
Indeed, listen to the voices of white politicians.
Listen to the raging silence.
Needed in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri – and in every Black community in America – are independent, and uncompromising Black revolutionary collectives – determined to protect the lives and wellbeing of Black people –period.
Existing political structures – silent in the face of these outrages –have failed us, and cannot be made to serve our interests.
It’s time to learn from this, and build for our future necessities.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The Crisis in Black Homeownership
How the recession turned owners into renters and obliterated black American wealth.In 2005, three years before the Great Recession, the median black household had a net worth of $12,124. Yes, this was far behind the median white household—which had a net worth of $134,992—but it was a huge improvement from previous decades, in which housing discrimination made wealth accumulation difficult (if not impossible) for the large majority of African-American families.
By the official end of the recession in 2009, median household net worth for blacks had fallen to $5,677—a generation’s worth of hard work and progress wiped out. (The number for whites, by comparison, was $113,149.) Overall, from 2007 to 2010, wealth for blacks declined by an average of 31 percent, home equity by an average of 28 percent, and retirement savings by an average of 35 percent. By contrast, whites lost 11 percent in wealth, lost 24 percent in home equity, and gained 9 percent in retirement savings. According to a 2013 report by researchers at Brandeis University, “half the collective wealth of African-American families was stripped away during the Great Recession.”
It was a startling retrenchment, creating the largest wealth, income, and employment gaps since the 1990s. And, if a new study from researchers at Cornell University and Rice University is any indication, these gaps are deep, persistent, and difficult to eradicate.
In the study, called “Emerging Forms of Racial Inequality in Homeownership Exit, 1968–2009,” sociologist Gregory Sharp and demographer Matthew Hall examine the relationship between race and risk in homeownership. Simply put, African-Americans are much more likely than whites to switch from owning homes to renting them.
“The 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act outlawed housing market discrimination based on race,” explained Sharp in a press release. “African-American homeowners who purchased their homes in the late 1960s or 1970s were no more or less likely to become renters than were white owners. However, emerging racial disparities over the next three decades resulted in black owners who bought their homes in the 2000s being 50 percent more likely to lose their homeowner status than similar white owners.”
This wasn’t a matter of personal irresponsibility. Even after adjusting for socio-economic characteristics, debt loads, education, and life-cycle traits like divorce or job loss, blacks were more likely to lose their homes than whites.
If you’re familiar with American history and housing policy, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.The explicit housing discrimination of the mid-20th century has left a mark—arguably a scar—on the landscape of American homeownership. The combination of redlining, block-busting, racial covenants, and other discriminatory measures means that, even now, a majority of blacks live in neighborhoods with relatively poor access to capital and mortgage loans. What’s more, this systematic discrimination has left many black households unable to afford down payments or other housing costs, even if loans are available.
And in the event that black households are able to save and afford a home, they aren’t as financially secure as their white counterparts. To wit, middle-class African-Americans are more likely to belong to the lower middle class of civil servants and government workers—professions that, in the last five years, have been slashed as a consequence of mass public-sector downsizing. All else being equal, a black schoolteacher who loses her job to budget cuts is less likely to have savings—and thus a safety net—than her white counterpart.
But this isn’t just a story of legacies and effects. In addition to showing the consequences of past discrimination, Sharp and Hall argue that African-Americans have been victimized by a new system of market exploitation. Banks like Wells Fargo steered blacks and other minorities into the worst subprime loans, giving them less favorable terms than whites and foreclosing on countless homes. In a 2012 lawsuit, the ACLU and National Consumer Law Center alleged that the now-defunct New Century Financial, working with Morgan Stanley, pushed thousands of black borrowers into the riskiest loans, leaving many in financial ruin. As early as 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported that blacks were twice as likely to receive subprime loans. And in a New York University study published last year, researchers found that black and Hispanic families making more than $200,000 a year were more likely to receive subprime loans than white families making less than $30,000.
Together, all of this means that—according to Sharp and Hall—African-Americans are 45 percent more likely than whites to lose their homes. That means they’re more likely to lose their accumulated wealth and to slide down the income ladder, and less likely to pass the advantages of status and mobility to their children.
Apropos of that observation, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an incredible level of youth unemployment for blacks and Latinos. More than 21 percent of African-Americans aged 16 to 24 are out of work, compared with a national average of 14.2 percent. For black teenagers in particular, joblessness soars to nearly 40 percent. It’s a catastrophe with serious economic consequences. The Center for American Progressestimates that the young adults who experienced long-term unemployment during the worst of the recession will lose more than $20 billion in earnings over the next 10 years. And given the slow recovery, odds are good they’ll never recover those lost earnings.
It’s tempting to treat these as subsets of broader problems: poor assistance to homeowners and too much austerity. But they’re not. Even during the boom economy of the 1990s, black employment lagged behind the national average. And the racial wealth gap is a persistent fact of American life.
Likewise, the challenges of black homeownership are a function of discriminatory housing policy, as are a whole host of other problems, from mass incarceration and overly punitive policing to poor air quality and food access. These challenges are heavily location-dependent, which is another way to say they are heavily racialized and most prevalent in the segregated, working-class or low-income communities that characterize life for most African-Americans, even those with middle-class incomes.
For reasons both political and ideological, it’s nearly verboten in mainstream conversation to argue that racialized problems require race-conscious solutions. Knowing what we know about the demographics of foreclosures, for example, we should ensure any program to help underwater homeowners includes a specific measure to assist black victims of predatory lending, who may need additional help to get on sure footing.
For more than anyone else, this is a message for liberals and progressives, who—for all of their racial sensitivity—are still reluctant to tackle the economic dimensions of racism, even as they represent the vast majority of nonwhite voters and draw critical support from African-American constituencies. It’s how Elizabeth Warren could give “11 Commandments for Progressives”—and receive huge applause—without mentioning the deep problems of racial inequality. One of her commandments is “that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.” But solving this problem for African-Americans and Latinos—who tend to live in areas that are segregated from job opportunities—is very different than solving it for whites.
While conservatives and Republicans can play a role here, it’s Democrats who are committed to reducing income inequality and bringing balance to our lopsided economic system. Success on those fronts requires a return to race-conscious policymaking, from programs to increase the geographic mobility of low-income workers—relocation grants for individuals or transportation grants for communities with a spatial mismatch between jobs and housing—to public works programs aimed at low-income minority communities, to race-based affirmative action as a way to boost a flagging black middle class.
There’s little in American life that escapes the still-powerful pull of past and present racism, and effective policymaking—to say nothing of effective problem-solving—requires a response to that racism. Otherwise, we entrench the same disparities for a new generation.
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- Amazing Wealth Surge For Top 0.1 Percent April 2, 2014
- Donors To Elite Institutions Exacerbate Wealth Gap July 15, 2014
- City Governments Build Community Wealth June 26, 2014
The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
& The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
A Message of Solidarity
From Ferguson to Gaza We Charge Genocide
Those standing up against police brutality and state repression in Ferguson, Missouri are leading one of the most important human right struggles of our time.
In the context of the history of Sundown Towns in that region, which legislated that people of color had to leave white towns by sundown, the imposition of a curfew and deployment of the National Guard by the governor represents a racist suppression of the right to self-defense and a gross violation of the freedom of assembly. Its message is clear: the people most likely to rebel against injustice have to be controlled, their right to protest quashed, and the absolute power of the police state restored.
The militarized repression on display in Ferguson is a reflection of a world in crisis. Although separated by thousands of miles, the plight of the people of Ferguson and the Gaza Strip share too much in common for people of conscience to ignore. Michael Brown, an African American youth, could just have easily been a Palestinian youth mercilessly shot by an Israeli soldier.
We understand that in both cases a long history of colonialism and racism justified land dispossession in Palestine and slavery in the US. That history is alive today with the continued gross economic deprivation of these communities and their isolation through universally enforced discrimination in housing. This pattern of ghettoization has been inflicted on both of these communities since the founding of the US and Israel. The systematic exploitation, repression and targeting of these populations by the state has led and continues to lead to genocide. According to a 2012 study, a black person is killed every 28 hours by the police, other security agency, or individuals acting as the police. In Gaza, as of today, there have been more than 2,000 civilians killed from recent Israeli bombing attacks. If we take Gaza’s small population into account this killing is proportional to double the entire population of Providence, Rhode Island.
The same U.S. government policies that arm the State of Israel have also turned police departments across the nation into localized military garrisons armed with sophisticated weapons aimed at citizens. As one Palestinian youth tweetedrecently, "Made in USA teargas canister was shot at us a few days ago in #Palestine by Israel, now they are used in#Ferguson."
This police onslaught in Ferguson is reminiscent of what occurred in Philadelphia in 1985 when the police dropped a military grade, fire-bomb from a helicopter on the MOVE house. That police attack of black people killed 11 MOVE members, including 5 children and burned down 61 homes, destroying an entire African American neighborhood.
Political Prisoner and black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is imprisoned today because during his youth he exposed this kind of systematic police terror against the black community. He stands in solidarity with Ferguson and Palestine and we call for his immediate release.
At a moment's notice any of us could face the terror experienced in Ferguson or Palestine. A people subjugated by racist oppression have a moral right to resist.
In solidarity with the people of Ferguson, We Call For:
1. The Immediate Arrest of Officer Darren Wilson and an Investigation for Justice with Full Community Oversight
2. Just Reparation for the Brown Family
3. The Withdrawal of the National Guard, the Removal of the Curfew and No Fly Zones and Full Media Access to the Area
4. The Disbanding of Ferguson’s Racist Police Department and the Re-Appropriation of Police Funds for a Massive Jobs, Housing, & Schools Program for the Residents of Ferguson
In Solidarity with the people of Palestine, We Call For:
1. The Right of Return, the Right to Self Determination, and the Right to Self Defense
2. A Free and Independent Palestine
3. A Re-Appropriation of US Supplied Israeli Military Funds for an Economic Reparations Program for Palestine
@bringmumiahome **** www.bringmumiahome.com
Monday, August 18, 2014
Ankh Marketing Presents
THE FREEDOM ARCHIVES BENEFIT CONCERT
Kev Choice, Jennifer Johns, Jahi As PE 2.0, Sellassie, DJ Leydis
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm
$15 Early Bird - $25 DOS
THIS EVENT IS ALL AGES
Under 21 must buy $5 drink ticket at the door.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Blowback in Ferguson
By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
August 15, 2014 "ICH" - The fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager and the ensuing protests in Ferguson, Missouri has rocked America. Even the mainstream media with its aversion to the truth, has been forced to address the militarization of the police in America – albeit years too late.
This is a short call from informing the mainstream media that the country has been living under pseudo martial law for decades.
On April 13, 2013, the ACLU (Shasta Chapter) invited me to be their keynote speaker to talk about government secrecy, drones and militarization of America. The Ferguson shooting and its coverage it the media prompted me to highlight some of the points made during that talk as they relate to today’s events.
Historians and political scientists have warned about dangerous war fever sweeping the United States. America’s entanglements overseas, its imperial ambitions, and the more recent “global war on terror”, a war of indefinite duration against an ill-defined shifting enemy, with no specific definition of victory, poses a grave danger to the very character of American government and society, unraveling the fabric of the Constitution.
The framers of the Constitution recognized such dangers when they carefully subordinated the military to civilian authority and attempted to limit the power of the President to initiate war.Gregory Foster, a former Army officer and West Point graduate who now teaches national security studies at the National Defense University in Washington said that the principle of civilian control of the military—an early building block of American democracy- has been reversed and become the civilian subjugation to the military.
Over half a century ago, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson concluded "by giving way to the passion, intolerance and suspicions of wartime, it is easy to reduce our liberties to a shadow, often in answer to exaggerated claims of security."
That day is here. Aside from constant surveillance, and the notorious “kill list”, war has been internalized and the militarization of the police force has put every American in danger. The biggest threat to Americans now comes from those who are paid to protect them. A threat which has been building for decades.
During the Clinton administration Congress passed what's now known as the "1033 Program. The 1033 Progam formalized Reagan administration's directive to the Pentagon to share surplus military gear with domestic police agencies. Since then, millions of pieces of military equipment designed for use on a battlefield have been transferred to local cops -- SWAT teams and others -- including machine guns, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. The Pentagon's 1033 program has exploded under Obama.
Clinton also created the "Troops to Cops" program, which offered grants to police departments who hired soldiers returning from battle, contributing even further to the militarization of the police force. But what is most alarming about the militarize police their training.
Although the role of the police is to ‘protect and to serve’, they are being taught to kill. Lt. Col David Grossman (retired U.S. Army) is one such teacher. Grossman, unapologetically, told Front Line:
“Prior preparation is the heart of what I do. I teach law enforcement. Today I just came from a conference where I trained 700 SWAT cops. And most of what I do is I train military and law enforcement in what I call the bulletproof mind. Just as today we have body armor that the guys in World War II didn't have, the same way we can have mental preparation that they didn't have. And this bulletproof mind is vital. Prior preparation is that one variable in the equation that we can control ahead of time, and one of the key things is embracing the responsibility to kill.”
“I tell my soldiers, I tell my cops: "You've got the most difficult decision any human being will ever face. You have to decide whether or not to kill another human being."
Well equipped, trained, and encouraged by the likes of [now former] Mayor Michael Bloombergand New York City police commissioner Raymond Kel who proudly brag of “hav(ing) my own army in the NYPD” and who used that army to spy on peaceful Occupy Wall Street protestors.”, it should come as no surprise that a SWAT team should blow a hole in a 2-year old, or the police kill an unarmed teenager, and all other horrific acts of violence we witness every day being committed by the cops.
So why has the media been silent on the militarization of police up to this point? Well, they are the watchdogs of acceptable ideological messages, responsible for manufacturing consent - Their goal is to control the news and information available to society by using censorship and propaganda. Big media is not designed to serve the welfare of the public.
So why break the silence now? The internet has made it virtually impossible to hide facts, and quite possibly, mainstream media has decided to do some damage control and take over the reins in order to control the flow of information. Regardless of what big media wants us to believe, what we witness is a blowback. Our wars have come home to roost.
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar and Independent Researcher.