Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fighter jet shot down near Ukraine’s city of Kramatorsk - ITAR TASS

Fighter jet shot down near Ukraine’s city of Kramatorsk, witnesses say
April 15, 18:54 UTC+4
As follows from what the people say four fighter planes, presumably Sukhoi-27 were hovering over Kramatorsk
http://videocdn.itar-tass.com/tass/m2/en/uploads/i/20140415/1020934.jpg
© ITAR-TASS/Marina Lystseva
Gallery
7 photoRedislocation of armaments and military hardware from Crimea to Ukraine
KIEV, April 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Shots are being fired at the airdrome near the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, and one fighter plane has been shot down, witnesses report from the scene.
As follows from what the people say four fighter planes, presumably Sukhoi-27 were hovering over Kramatorsk. At a certain point they opened fire at the local airdrome. Who commanded the planes and who downed the fighter remains unclear. Witnesses claim there have been casualties at the airdrome. An ambulance is on the way to the scene.
Earlier, a Ukrainian daily reported with reference to witnesses that shots and explosions were heard at the military airdrome near the city of Kramatorsk.
According to the website of the daily Novosti Kramatorska, a military aircraft circled over the airdrome for a while.
}“Witnesses say it was a MiG-25 or Sukhoi-27 plane. It was flying at a very low altitude,” the paper said.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Small U.S. Colleges Battle Death Spiral as Enrollment Drops - Bloomberg

Small U.S. Colleges Battle Death Spiral as Enrollment Drops
By Michael McDonald Apr 15, 2014 12:44 AM GMT+0800

http://www.bloomberg.com/image/i506yV9p7LCg.jpgPhotographer: Michael McDonald/Bloomberg

At a Dowling College campus on Long Island’s south shore, a fleet of unused shuttle buses sits in an otherwise empty parking lot. A dormitory is shuttered, as are a cafeteria, bookstore and some classrooms in the main academic building.
“There’s a lot of fear here,” said Steven Fournier, a senior who lived in the now-closed dorm for his first three years. “It’s not the same college I arrived at.”
Dowling, which got a failing grade for its financial resources from accreditors last month, epitomizes the growing plight of many small private colleges that depend almost entirely on tuition for revenue. It’s been five years since the recession ended and yet their finances are worsening. Soaring student debt, competition from online programs and poor job prospects for graduates are shrinking their applicant pools.
“What we’re concerned about is the death spiral -- this continuing downward momentum for some institutions,” said Susan Fitzgerald, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in New York. “We will see more closures than in the past.”
Moody’s, which rates more than 500 public and private non-profit colleges and universities, downgraded an average of 28 institutions annually in the five years through 2013, more than double the average of 12 in the prior five-year period. http://www.bloomberg.com/image/iHYyZi7EsQ5Q.jpgSource: Dowling College via Bloomberg

Enrollments Fall
Dozens of schools have seen drops of more than 10 percent in enrollment, according to Moody’s. As faculty and staff have been cut and programs closed, some students have faced a choice between transferring or finishing degrees that may have diminished value.
Fournier, an aviation management major who grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut, said he considered transferring as Dowling downsized. With graduation coming in May he said he’s applied for jobs with seven airports, though hasn’t had any interviews, and is now looking outside his intended field. http://www.bloomberg.com/image/ic0Odi2odZYE.png
“This has been very depressing,” Fournier, 23, said.
The number of private four-year colleges that have closed or were acquired doubled from about five a year before 2008 to about 10 in the four years through 2011, according to a study last year by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, citing federal data. Plus, among all colleges, 37 merged in the three years through 2013, more than triple the number from 2006 to 2009, according to Higher Education Publications Inc., a Reston, Virginia-based directory publisher.
‘Difficult Steps’
“There will clearly be some institutions that won’t make it and there will be some institutions that will be stronger because of going through these difficult steps,” said David Warren, president of the Washington-based National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. http://www.bloomberg.com/image/iQY6Fqypxf1Q.jpgPhotographer: Michael McDonald/Bloomberg
Steven Fournier, a senior at Dowling College who is majoring in aviation, stands on the... Read More
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has predicted that as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years. The growing acceptance of online learning means higher education is ripe for technological upheaval, he has said.
“I’m not sure a lot of these institutions have the cushion to experiment with how to stay afloat,” said Michelle Weise, a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a think tank the Harvard professor helped establish in San Mateo, California.
Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, said in January that it would discontinue six majors, said Lisa Murray, a spokeswoman for the school, which has about 1,400 undergraduates.
Ratings Cut
Net tuition revenue fell 14 percent to $30.3 million last year from 2009 as Franklin Pierce boosted financial aid to attract freshmen and keep students from transferring. Standard & Poor’s cut the Rindge, New Hampshire-based school’s credit rating last year to B, five steps below investment grade, from BB. Moody’s reduced its rating to B3 from B1 the year prior.
“Disheartening is certainly a valid term,” said Carl Brezovec, a math professor whose program will no longer be offered as a major, the second time it’s been cut in a decade.
Ashland University, a 136-year-old college in Ohio, reduced tuition by about $11,000 -- and direct aid commensurately -- for the coming school year, with the goal that a lower-tuition/lower-discount model will eliminate sticker shock and lure students. In November, Moody’s downgraded Ashland’s rating to Caa2, eight levels below investment grade, saying the probability it will default has increased after three years of enrollment declines.
Steven Hannan, an Ashland spokesman, didn’t return calls seeking comment.
Enrollment Targets
Even wealthier schools are working to plug budget gaps. Yeshiva University in New York, which has a $1.2 billion endowment, has been selling real estate around its campus.
Some colleges are looking beyond belt-tightening for more permanent solutions. Morgan State University in Baltimore, a historically black college, is targeting more Hispanic applicants and those of other ethnicities, according to Moody’s. Chatham University in Pittsburgh, whose undergraduate program is women-only, said in February it was considering going co-ed to boost enrollment.
All of the schools in the Vanderbilt study that closed in recent years were small, with fewer than 1,000 students and average assets of less than $50 million. Most had endowments of about $1 million. Many were religious, such as Bethany University in Scotts Valley, California, which shut in 2011. Some folded into other colleges such as Southern New England School of Law, whose assets were acquired by the University of Massachusetts in 2010.
Investment Return
“We haven’t hit bottom yet,” said Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and author of the book, “The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education From Itself.” Students are shopping for a less expensive education as the cost of college has increased and the job market worsened, he said.
“It’s a question of return on investment,” Reynolds said.
Declining enrollment has forced many colleges to offer deeper tuition discounts to attract students, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The average freshman discount rate rose to 45 percent in 2012 from about 40 percent in 2008, according to Nacubo.
Moody’s found that expenses are outpacing revenue at 60 percent of the schools it tracks even as many try to slash their way to balanced budgets, according to Fitzgerald.
Vanderbilt Estate
Dowling traces its origins to Adelphi University, a private nonprofit college based in Garden City, New York, that began expanding eastward on Long Island in the 1950s. In the 1960s, Adelphi bought a more permanent home -- the remains of a 900-acre estate in Oakdale that the grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt built on the Connetquot River in the 1880s.
That campus became independent in 1968 and was named for Robert Dowling, a real estate planner who gave $3 million to the institution.
Dowling sought to distinguish itself with practical training, targeting Long Island school teachers required by the state to get a master’s degree.
In the 1990s, it built a second campus next to the Brookhaven Airport in nearby Shirley, which includes an aviation and transportation center as well as sports fields.
Smaller Faculty
As the economy went into decline, enrollment at Dowling began to slide, falling 45 percent to 2,438 full-time-equivalent students last year from 2009, according to Moody’s. While local budget cuts undermined the demand for teachers, the aviation center on the new campus failed to live up to its promise of attracting students from around the world.
To stay solvent, Dowling laid off staff, and through attrition and buyouts shrank the faculty to less than 80 from more than 120, according to Nathalia Rogers, executive chair of the full-time faculty. It borrowed from its endowment and sold land to one of its trustees, according to the school’s annual reports.
“We were a training center for people who were no longer being hired and people already employed who didn’t need degrees,” said Norman Smith, who became Dowling’s president in June and is its fifth leader in five years.
Smith came to Dowling after turning around Wagner College on Staten Island. That school almost closed in the late 1980s because of financial troubles, according to its website.
Brookhaven Shuttered
Two weeks before Dowling’s Fall term began, Smith shuttered much of the Brookhaven campus. Before he arrived at the school, much of the aviation program had been outsourced to a local company, which also bought the college’s small fleet of planes. The satellite campus accounts for most of the college’s $55 million of debt, according to Smith, who said he’s currently negotiating with creditors who hold bonds for the facilities.
Closing that campus reduced costs and bought time. Smith then initiated a marketing campaign to target students from beyond Long Island, which is helping to stabilize enrollment, he said. He’s also working to rebuild the Board of Trustees -- down to 11 members now from more than 20 in years past -- and revive a moribund fundraising operation that has failed to bolster the school’s $2 million endowment.
Moody’s downgraded the college in March to Ca from Caa1, warning of a “higher probability of default.” Two weeks ago, preliminary results of a review by the college’s accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, found Dowling met standards on 11 points, mostly academic, while failing three, including financial resources.
“It really is a school that should be doing extremely well,” Smith said from his office on the second floor of the old Vanderbilt mansion, whose rich wood paneling and decor belie the financial disorder. “Given time, this school can be very successful, in the top 25 of small schools in the Northeast. We have to retool.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael McDonald in Boston at mmcdonald10@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net Chris Staiti
Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Guest Post : Ukraine Accuses Russia Of Economic Aggression

Ukraine Accuses Russia Of Economic Aggression


Gas is Getting Expensive
Quoted by 'Eurasia Review' and other media, April 7, Ukraine's SBU internal security force said it had detained 15 persons it called plotters who it said possessed a large cache of weapons and explosives and were attempting to overthrow pro-Kiev forces in the Russian-speaking east of the country, near the town of Luhansk. In Donetsk, a group of protesters estimated at about 2000 persons barricaded themselves inside the regional administration building and threatened to set up a “people’s council”, demanding a referendum like the one organized in Crimea, on whether the region should join Russia.

This action came on the heels of Ukraine's “acting prime minister”, of the self-declared, self-elected Kiev Flash Mob government, Arseniy Yatsenyuk accusing Russia of “economic aggression” following recent price hikes for natural-gas supplies. Russia twice last week raised the price of gas for Kiev's government, from $285.50 per thousand cubic meters at the start of last week, to $485.50 by the end of the week, an 81% raise from about $7.60 per million BTU, to around $13.85 per million BTU. This second price is aligned with major west European gas hub prices as of early April. US natural gas prices, 7 April, are about $4.50 per million BTU.
Ukraine's acting PM Yatsenyuk blasted this action by Gazprom and Russia calling it an attempt to “implement plans to seize Ukraine through economic aggression." Gazprom's Alexei Miller contends that the Kiev government already owes Russia $2.2 billion for gas taken, but not paid for in March, and the previous deep discount on the price of gas supply to Ukraine was related to subsidies by Russia for offsetting agreed charges on Russia continuing to use the port of Sebastopol to 2017 or later. Russia's Foreign ministry now says that following the Crimean referendum decision, Ukraine also owes Russia about $11.4 billion for Sebastopol rental charges already paid by Russia.
Including gas arrears and the termination of future Russian payments to Ukraine for use of Sebastopol, and the Russian demand for reimbursement of Sebastopol payments already made to the former Yankovych government of Ukraine, the Kiev government now owes Russia about $13.6 billion.
Take and Not Pay
Yatsenyuk's government says it will not pay the new gas price and will take the dispute to the Stockholm Arbitrage court which was selected by the two countries, in 2010, at the time of Yulia Tymoshenko's attempt to firstly increase Ukrainian domestic gas prices to around $450 per thousand cubic meters, and pay Russia arrears on gas supplied to Ukraine but not paid for. Kiev's demand for arbitrage may however be rejected by Russia and the potential for a complete shut-down in gas supply to Ukraine is now large.
The Kiev government has little leverage – with Russia – in the matter of gas prices and arrears on previous supplies, but the Kiev government's acting  Interior minister, Arsen Avakov, has accused Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovych of “ordering and paying for separatist turmoil” in the east of the country and this may lead to cuts in gas moving through Ukraine's pipelines to consumers in western Europe. Reported by western media including 'Wall Street Journal', acting PM Yatsenyuk told his Kiev government colleagues, this weekend, that Ukraine "will not touch any gas destined for Europe” if Russia limits or shuts down supply for Kiev's government.
To be sure, when or if Russia shuts down supplies, Kiev can “up the ante” with its western protectors by cutting gas supplies to them. This will force the crisis atmosphere one notch higher. Not unrelated, the US-educated president of the Czech President, Milos Zeman has said the West should take strong measures if Russia tries to annex the eastern part of Ukraine, and speaking on Czech public radio, April 6, he said that such options should possibly include sending NATO forces to Ukraine.
This, conveniently for Kiev, swivels the issue away from one of money owed by Ukraine to Russia. Both Gazprom and several Russian ministries, including the Economic and Finance ministries have claimed that gas arrears dating from 1991, when the Ukraine separated from the USSR, to the Tymoshenko era of 2010, stood at around $15 billion. When added to the present Russian claims, this totals about $28 billion. Making things complicated for Kiev's western allies, agreements signed with Russia by the Tymoshenko government of Ukraine, in 2009-2010, included clauses providing for payments of gas arrears, and for raising prices to around the level set, this week, by Russia.
West European governments have played along with the “its not about money” line used by the Kiev Flash Mob government, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying, this weekend, that Europe was ready to impose broader economic sanctions against Russia if it pushed any harder against Ukraine. “If the territorial integrity of Ukraine continues to be violated, then we will have to introduce (more) economic sanctions,” Merkel said. Any decision on further sanctions threatens to intensify the already furious diplomatic row between Moscow and the West. Sanctions already imposed on selected Kremlin figureheads make them more diplomatically isolated than at any stage since the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
The direct link with gas supplies and prices – for western Europe – was made by acting PM Yatsenyuk, quoted by AFP, April 5, saying that he was busy “trying to seal agreements with Ukraine’s western neighbours on gas deliveries”, adding that he intended to get this gas at about $150 per thousand cubic metres less than Gazprom’s new price for Kiev. Yatsenyuk said his government has already received small quantities from Poland and Hungary, despite Russian disapproval, and the he was keen to also secure an agreement with Slovakia, which receives 100% of its gas from Russia, to “reverse flow”  its cheaper gas to Ukraine.
Gazprom's chief Miller has already warned that Russia will be looking closely at any independent deals its gas client states reached with Ukraine, telling Russian state television, 6 April, that  “European companies that are ready to provide reverse flow deliveries to Ukraine should take a very careful — very careful — look at the legitimacy of such types of operations”.
Pure Aggression
John Kerry has stolidly done what he can to up the ante, concerning Russian-Ukrainian disputes that in large measure started, if not ended with the basic subject line of money.  Kerry has consistently supported the outbursts of Yatsenyuk and his unelected Kiev government,  for example from March 3, Kerry told Vladimir Putin to back off on his “brazen act of aggression or face harsh retaliation”. Yetsenyuk has repeatedly said that “this means war”, for example from early March saying that “If President Putin wants to be the president who started a war between two neighboring and friendly countries, between Ukraine and Russia, he has reached his target”.
This of course is a whole lot more Alpha Male than paying Russia what it is owed. European dreaming can move on and up to the “energy security” theme of the elites, enabling all kinds of new mega-spending, paid for by higher energy prices and by government borrowing to Protect the Union. Never once included in elite speeches on this theme, other major gas suppliers to Europe including Norway, Algeria and the world's LNG suppliers operate exactly the same price, for European deliveries, as Russia. The European anti-fracking taboo, which is already shaky but still stands, also helps make Europe import-dependent – but who would want to say a thing like that?
Cooking up war hysteria is so awfully traditional – for the degenerate minded – and so much nicer than paying for what you take and use.
By Andrew McKillop
Contact: xtran9@gmail.com
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

Guest Post : Peak Oil And Global Warming – A Question Of Culture

Peak Oil And Global Warming – A Question Of Culture

In The Beginning Was the Word
Certainly for the last 20 years these two themes have tunneled into political consciousness, but there are huge differences. Peak Oil was never “official”, but Global Warming or at least anthropogenic global warming quickly became official, in the UN system, EU28 countries, the US, Japan, Canada and Australia, and some other developed countries. Today, in the cases of Japan, Canada and Australia the political commitment has already gone, and the downstream financial spinoff from the global warming theme, which enabled market operators to concoct and play with climate credit default swaps and a host of other all-new paper assets, has seriously ebbed. Outside of these countries, in the G20 and Russia, global warming always had a much tougher ride. Yet another stark Russia-versus-the West split occurred on this issue. Russia has a long and tortuous politically-charged obsession with a coming Ice Age – not the swamping of all coastal cities by global warming melting the planet's ice caps.

Peak Oil faced and faces the same trial, by politics. Saudi Arabia, for example is not interested, to say the least, in either theory due to the explicit political-economic linkage between them.
Although seemingly farcical, even the first global warming, or at least climate change theory linked to fuel burning, led to major political unrest. This theory was based on the concept that gas emissions from burning wood and coal were causing dangerous, life-threatening changes to the local climate and weather and was developed and promoted by the renowned English scientist Joseph Priestley in the 1790s. Very soon after he published his theory on “phlogiston emissions” causing a menace to human life and survival in the English Midlands which was then rapidly industrializing, and rapidly increasing its fuel burn of firstly wood fuel then coal, Priestley was accused of treason. He was subjected to mob attack, his house was burnt to the ground and he was lucky to escape with his life – to America. Priestley was so extremely alarmed by the “phlogiston crisis” that he developed, that he militated for the American Revolution thinking that victims of “phlogiston” build-up in the air, in England, could be evacuated en masse to what the English elite of the time called the Rebel Colony of America.
Peak Oil theories also do not date from yesterday or year 2000, either. Apart from elite political and scientific concern, again in England but dating from the late 19th century on the possible rapid depletion and exhaustion of British coal reserves, leading to a collapse of industrial civilization – called The Coal Question and heavily developed by W. S. Jevons – the concern over potential rapid depletion of oil resources was already a significant theme by the 1930s. The so-called Noosphere theory of Russia's Vladimir Vernadsky called for and featured the massive worldwide development of nuclear power, partly to head off oil, gas and coal depletion and establish a veritable human paradise on Earth, sealing the triumph and summation of the human mind's power over the planet. Vernadsky was careful to not offend Stalin's totalitarian ideology by ensuring his Noosphere concept never avowed its blueprint in the Christian religious ecstatic philosophy of Teilhard de Chardin, Henri Bergson and others.
The IPCC of today, we can surmise, makes a point of not explaining its philosophy. For example it does not publicly attack the neo-pagan Gaia theory. This could be called a clever piece of (in)action by the IPCC, because the Gaia theory was developed by arch-warmist James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, on their admitted blueprint of late 19th and early 20th ecstatic or heroic philosophies such as those of Nietsche, de Chardin, Heidegger, Vernadsky and others. Among the far-flung New Age fantasies embarked in “Gaia theory”, the chemical make-up of the Earth's atmosphere is presumed and said to be under attack by humans and needs permanent defence.  As we know the IPCC and its partners have issued an edict that CO2 levels in the atmosphere must never, ever exceed 450 parts per million. Why that frequently happened in the geological past is naturally and of course outside the interest zone of the IPCC, like any serious explanation from the IPCC, of the Medieval Warm Period.
Thesis and Antithesis – Opportunity or Threat
Any emerging philosophy and dependent political-economic doctrine, such as the claimed Great Theories of AGW and PO, almost instantly generates its antitheses. Opposition, to be sure, can be scientific or rational – but it is also obligatorily political, cultural and ideological. Mixing and melding these different strands ensures that no rational yes-or-no conclusion can be made that will satisfy all persons and all interest groups. For a very simple example, the ASPO (Association for Study of Peak Oil) has been financially supported by major oil companies – and opposed by major oil companies, often the same ones!
To be sure, this could or might be called keeping a handy enemy alive a little while longer, until that enemy or Straw Man is no longer useful. But it is also another key example of how human beings and society act with a permanent split mind – wanting to believe, and not wanting to believe. Bathed in splendidly erudite-seeming confusion, we can muddle along! Try proving the contrary.
Ethologists identify the fight-or-flight herd instinct as a prime determinant of social behavior, and for the political-economic elite this translates to the question, for elites, of the threat-or-opportunity any new or growing major theme or theory poses, for them. Peak Oil was quickly treated by the elites as a threat, but they very quickly saw Global Warming as an opportunity. As a direct result, media coverage of peak oil is almost absent – but global warming is trumpeted by elite-friendly (and elite-owned) media, still today in 2014, despite consumer fatigue with the issue becoming rampant.
One reason for this, again showing how human beings operate in society, is that peak oil is highly rational, while anthropogenic global warming is an engaging doomster fantasy, well-suited to New Age packaging and massive dumbing down, notably the Gaia theory. Put another way, if global warming was true, there would be precious little that humans could do to “backtrack and unwind” the damage, which the IPCC rather arbitrarily sets at a cut-off date of 1850. Presumably, if the world backtracked to 1850 CO2 emissions, population, urbanization, agriculture and industry, all would be fine. World population, for example, would  be “reset and rewound” to about 1.2 billion, from 7.2 billion today, roughly a 6 on 7 Die Off. Knowing this is impossible, at least politically, the IPCC and its partners concoct elite-friendly financial and technical band-aids of various kinds, strictly to amuse the elite.
Conversely, if peak oil was true, oil prices would tend to be high or very high and world oil supply would grow very slowly or not at all - despite the oil price. Which is what we have. However, high oil prices are a lot more than merely attractive to the oil sector's elite, but also to governments. While peak oil alarmists obligatorily whine that oil prices on the US Nymex briefly attained $147 a barrel in 2008, with a lot of help from Goldman Sachs, they forget to mention that filling station forecourt prices in EU28 countries, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Norway and other recent-or-current official believers in global warming and the need to “decarbonize the economy”, are often $385 a barrel today. Apart from Big Oil's take there is Big Government's take and a major interest in keeping oil prices high.
Technology and Culture
Technology change, which apart from its economic impacts has a complex, long-lasting and major cultural effect on society and social groups, due to technology being inherited and imposed culture change, finally causes radically changed social perceptions. For peak oil, the improvement and development of hydraulic fracturing, and always-growing geological knowledge of the world's stupendous carbon inventories, have been a double hammer blow.
This already sets a simple choice for political deciders. Due to shale gas being so much more abundant and easier to produce than liquid hydrocarbons, the technology-based, rational choice would be to shift from oil to natural gas, starting with road, marine and rail transport. But due to cultural and political uptake being rigorously non-rational, this rational choice will at best happen slowly.
The zero hypothesis or global default theory is that rapid and massive culture change, including globalization, is only tangentially related to energy climate crisis theories. They are at best sideshow issues in a global process – exactly of the type claimed by Vernadsky or de Chardin, packaged as New Age whimsy by Lovelock and Margulis in their Gaia theory. As one simple but highly unwelcome factor for elites still peddling global warming fear, increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere must and will increase biomass productivity. Despite the IPCC bravely claiming, or hoping that adverse impacts of CO2-enrichment of the atmosphere will reduce world food production and intensify world hunger, the opposite is more likely. Former arch-warmist James Hansen, before bowing out and retiring from the global warming talk circus, claimed in 2013 that “coal is greening the planet”, and that increased biomass fixation of CO2 was the reason why the warming trend he so profitably exaggerated, for himself, was no longer happening.
As a bye-bye to James Hansen, not hoping he ever comes back, we can say: Better luck next time!
Cultural anthropologists note that delayed response to, and acceptance of technology change, called skeuomorphism, can exist for centuries rather than decades. The herd instinct is to resist all change and sublimate it all ways it can. Being surprised that peak oil and global warming are now two chaotically confused political-economic doctrines betrays basic simple ignorance of human culture and society.
Also well known from non-western and traditional societies, the recourse to legend, myth and traditionalization of technology change is constant. For modern or “western” society, called advanced technology-industrial, it should be no surprise that peak oil and global warming are now heavily mythologized, legendary, non-scientific, ideology-based issues and themes. The role of these non-science factors is for example shown by the rigorous refusal of car and vehicle makers, and governments to promote the use of natural gas-fueled transport. High priced oil is so much more culturally satisfying than low-priced gas! Oil wars can be rationalized in a jiffy. This is normal.
To be sure, technology or inherited and imposed culture change finally upsets the apple cart. The coal question of W. S. Jevons disappeared as oil and then gas supplies grew. Although fracturing of coal beds, to extract coalseam gas, had been attempted since the start of the 19th century, hydro-fracturing was only industrially perfected by George P. Mitchell in the 1980s and 1990s, creating a state of confusion for remaining defenders of a restricted or absolute peak oil thesis, which demands that oil supplies decline – not just stagnate. Another so-called “pause”, this time the so-called “pause” of global warming since the start of this century, sets a similar ideological challenge for global warming purists, or supposed purists.
Finally, the political-economic result of thesis-antithesis duels and feints on socially-approved and culturally-imprinted Great Theories is the inevitably chaotic state of dominant ideology we have at any one moment, like today.
World oil prices have certainly been swollen by both global warming and peak oil theory, to the point where oil is simply overpriced and simply too expensive. Also, the threat of these two theories to industrial civilization and the so-called New World Order, whatever it may be, has been drastically exaggerated signaling that we now have over-extended, over-mature elite fear themes, ready to collapse and implode at any moment. To be sure, they enabled oil prices to be levered up to extremes, not exactly to everybody's benefit, but they also masked and displaced attention and concern from the real threats to civilization – which are many, powerful and overdue. Probably the elites know this, but their agents and servants have not yet concocted all-new Great Theories to explain it, and deny it.
By Andrew McKillop
Contact: xtran9@gmail.com
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

Guest Post : Doctor Doom on the Fiat Money Empire Coming Financial Crisis

Doctor Doom on the Fiat Money Empire Coming Financial Crisis

Save The Threatened Empire
Almost openly now, the long-running attempt to kick the price of gold down, and keep it down to Save the Money and stoke further frenzied and unreal price growth of equities has overreached. The fiat money empire is more threatened, today, than for decades and the train has hit the buffers. Speaking on CNBC this week, the veteran market expert Marc Faber – often ridiculed by business media as a Doctor Doom who always exaggerates – was given more respect than he normally gets. There were no you-said-it-before jibes when he said a 1987-style “pure financial” market crash is coming. Leading the way, he said, the insanely-overpriced Internet and Biotech stocks will be the first to go. Apart from what he called “cloud cuckoo” stock and asset prices, the basic upstream trigger are the antics of the US Fed, which like other central banks has upped the ante to the point where, Faber said, anybody can see the Fed is a “clueless organization”. Global monetary overreach went viral years ago.

Faber is sometimes called the expert who forecast 12 of the last 2 market crashes, or a broken clock that only tells the right time twice a day, but the US Fed, the ECB, BOJ and BOE have engaged a deadly stampede to print money, and to cap that have launched a terminal – as well as criminal - struggle to rig gold markets. Their childlike belief is that if gold is weak, fiat money will be strong. Gold market specialists repeat they have serial proof of market rigging, day after day and month by month, notably morning market raids to dump naked “paper gold” shorts and kick the price of gold down as much as $20 per ounce in a few minutes. The world's largest bullion buy-sell market association's members, the LBMA, has for months been scrabbling to find physical gold to fill the emptying gold vaults of it members dependent on and predatorily dominated by the so-called bullion banks, starting with JP Morgan. Chinese and Indian demand for physical gold remains at extreme highs, China's monthly imports of the metal running at close to world total mine output.
Real gold is hard to find, but paper gold is cheap! Paper money has drowned the world.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the US Fed and its three partner central banks are running a terminal quest to Save the Money, and they operate with impunity. Governments in each country, in the ECB's case meaning the 18 EU states of the Eurozone, are in thrall to their central banks and supinely nod through the whims of the banksters. The politicians' refusal to act proves they are more than only complicit – they are the glove puppets of the banksters. Unable or refusing to understand what they are doing, political deciders have allowed the banksters to rip apart the foundations of world finance and the economy, while the same political deciders are now stampeding into a US-led Cold War-vintage showdown with Russia, featuring sanctions in the monetary and finance domains.
Gold and Oil
As in every previous market crash since the 1970s, we can expect, and will get extreme moves in the price of gold and oil. To be sure, the crisis parameters and launch process set a different trajectory each time, but in the case of 2014 we firstly have stark evidence that the US Fed and other banksters are running a massive campaign to rig the price of gold as Western gold supplies and bullion bank holdings of the physical metal shrivel to nothing. This means a gold and dollar crisis, for starters, before and during the process of stock markets being slayed. As we know, the US dollar is a “safe haven money” at times of war tension – meaning that the US could or might welcome a military standoff with Russia, as well as the economic and financial standoff, if only to slow the dollar's demise.
This will only be short-term respite. The US Fed “primus inter pares” has most intensely – it would say “diligently” - sapped the bases of the USA's national currency. The Cold War-vintage political antics of the Obama administration and its European allies completes the death cross for the dollar. Goading Russia, treating China like a Third World country of the 1970s, and totally ignoring India as a small and powerless nation on the edge of the world, Obama and his allies can in no way be surprised when – not if – these three powers move to radically shrink the role of the dollar in their bilateral trade, of course including oil and gas trade. The already rampant and obedient action by major Western banks, brokers and currency traders to trash the value of the Ruble can be outfaced, by Russia, through demanding payment exclusively in Rubles for oil and gas supply to Europe. The role of the Chinese yuan will certainly grow despite China's reluctance – to date – to let it happen.
This means a big drop in the demand and need for US dollars in world trade and a corresponding drop in the dollar’s exchange value. Starting with the US, this means inflation as the price in dollars of its imports sharply rises.
All is far from well in the monetary, financial and economic domains of Washington's few allies and partners – which are several but not all EU28 states, and not willingly, Japan. Their political overreach, their atavistic belief they still have massive global power, is underlined by the shrunken size of “the Western alliance”. For this fragile, small alliance haunted by 1950s-era images of its previous power, the increasingly certain take-off of the gold price, followed by a mega-spike and then by a slump for oil prices, as the world value of the US dollar plummets after its own short-lived spike, will be devastating. What will likely start as Faber's “pure financial” market crash will soon rout the economy.
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Unfortunately but inevitably, the political class in all three cases – the US, Europe and Japan – has lost contact with reality and pursued the fantasy of “monetary easing” for at least 5 years. Also very unfortunate, and that is an understatement, the potential for all kinds of conflict with Russia – from economic to military – is almost welcomed with open arms by them as a test of virility, the red line in the sand, a moment of greatness, a show of force, and similar tragic airhead slogans.
Economic and Political Implosion
 
The 2014 crisis, for starters, will be different from 1987 due simply to the global economy and especially the advanced nations' economies still being in slow recovery mode from the 2008 crisis. In all three cases – the US, Europe, Japan – import and trade dependence is basic to the economy. Walking straight into a Cold War-vintage political crisis, able to become military conflict, the political elite in the US, Europe and Japan must understand they are playing with fire when they unknowingly, perhaps, but inevitably  “pull the plug on the dollar”. We can hope they understand, but if not, they will find out.
The political implosion running with the dollar implosion  will be awesome, and nothing like anything since the 1970s era, marked by the oil shocks and the Vietnam War. The “western alliance'” guard dog of Nato, today, is threatened by a host of internal policy conflicts and leadership issues, stemming from its loss of focus and uncertain future. Nato has nowhere to go but down, adding more danger to the standoff with Russia due to this standoff seeming to offer Nato a return to the high ground as the Savior of the West. At least as possible however, Nato action and inaction on Ukraine can further reveal its outdated role and dysfunctionality in the real New World Order of the G20. Following the Ukraine crisis Nato could disappear, either physically or as a serious and credible military organization.
Another international entity that has severely overreached and become dysfunctional – the European Union -  may also emerge from the Ukraine crisis and market crash with heavy, even irreparable damage. Both Nato and the EU are engaged to the hilt in Washington’s reckless Cold War-era standoff with Russia, shown by the near-instant recognition by the EU of Kiev's Flash Mob government, and enthusiastic support to Kiev's use of its internal security forces to put down the uprising in eastern Russian-speaking Ukraine.
Called a shatterbelt in modern geopolitical parlance, and a pivot in older geopolitical terms, Ukraine and its surrounding regions and states are inherently unstable. Marching on these shatterbelts is like treading on broken glass for external powers, again explaining Russia's quick action in Crimea, heading off what could have been the site of Ukraine's first civil war of 2014. The focus for that civil war has now been moved a short distance north and east, by Washington and Brussels, extending the potential conflict zone and enabling more and larger overflow, or “ripple effects” in a widening area.
To be sure and totally certain, the EU does not want conflict with Russia. Europe will deal itself a sure and certain lose-lose with Russia, if it applies more and wider economic sanctions, but EU political deciders are still mesmerized by 1950s-era images of Washington and the US, and remain fearful of Russia due to 1950s-era “race memory” of the Cold War. They are literally sleepwalking to the gallows, putting their heads in the noose that Washington sets for them.
Another, deeper European economic crisis will be sure and certain, unless a very rapid and total halt occurs in a process that is unfortunately building, with its own momentum, each day. Since 2008, the EU has drifted into two camps we can call the Losers and the Still Struggling. Income and employment gaps, in Europe, have widened on a continual basis. Austerity is the buzzword in the EU only masked, at monetary level, by the insanely overvalued euro, and at market level by Europe's insanely overvalued stock markets. On the ground, among ordinary persons and their public opinion - although that is totally unimportant to Europe's political leaders of the current type or ilk – hostility to sanctions and potential military standoff with Russia is large and growing, but the fear component is not war. Average Europeans fear another major economic crisis and its certain negative impacts.
Massive Blowback is Certain
We have a self-willed and decided crisis set by the political elites. Whatever their “we didn't know” claims may be, after the crisis, they are to blame. As an almost sure-fire method to trigger and deepen a classic and major market crash, shred the value of the dollar, and intensify the economic slump that looms in the US, Europe and Japan it is hard to imagine anything more deadly. Other impacts, as already noted, can possibly set in motion the final collapse both of Nato and the EU.
Washington is ensuring itself the worst of all possible worlds. Its reputation of duplicity and arrogance will be hardened – and harder to deny. The already growing disinterest in the US, in Europe, will certainly accelerate as Washington is identified as the main culprit in bringing down a new and worse continent-wide economic crisis. American banks, brokers and financial institutions will lose whatever respect and admiration they still had, outside the US as inside the US, due to their kneejerk execution of Washington's grand strategy in calling a standoff with Russia, using the golden opportunity of Ukirane – to meddle and do harm.  Washington has already badly damaged other countries’ confidence in the US government and shredded remaining belief in American leadership. It is now poised to complete the somber process of self-denigration.
Outside of the US, and especially among G20 leaders including the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaderships, previous attitudes to Washington's post-2000 rampage in small countries – from Afghanistan and Iraq, to Venezuela, Cuba and Libya – included tolerance based on this only concerning small and unlucky countries with too sharply anti-US leaderships. This tolerance has now gone. Iran and Syria were two red lines for the G20. Ukraine is another. Starting with the US, but certainly including political leaders in most EU states and Japan, the current process and sequence of financial, economic and geopolitical crisis is very clearly self-willed and decided. This is lose-lose and “the West” will also lose. Its political elites will carry the blame, and will have immense difficulties playing innocent, after the crash.
By Andrew McKillop
Contact: xtran9@gmail.com
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.