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Russia And China Stand In Agreement On Ukraine – And That Is Very Bad News For The United States




By Michael Snyder

Russia And China Stand In Agreement On Ukraine – And That Is Very Bad News For The United States


Vladimir_Putin_with_Zhang_Deguang-300x300So much for “isolating” Russia.  The Chinese government is publicly siding with Russia on the crisis in Ukraine, and that is very bad news for the United States.  Not only does it mean that the U.S. is essentially powerless to do anything about the situation in Ukraine, it also means that Russia and China are starting to understand how much economic leverage that they really have.  Yes, the Obama administration can threaten to slap “sanctions” on Russia or threaten to kick Russia “out of the G8“, but those actions would not actually hurt too much.  On the other hand, Russia and China hold approximately 25 percent of all foreign-owned U.S. debt, and if they started massively dumping U.S. debt it could rapidly create a nightmare scenario.  In addition, it is important to remember that Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil in the world.  And China now imports more oil than anyone else on the planet does, including the United States.  If Russia and China got together and decided to kill the petrodollar, they could do it almost overnight.  So when it comes to Ukraine, it is definitely not the United States that has the leverage.

If China and the rest of the world abandoned Russia over Ukraine, that would be one thing.  But that is not happening at all.  In fact, China has chosen to publicly stand with Russia on this issue.  The following is from a Sky News article entitled “Russia And China ‘In Agreement’ Over Ukraine“…

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Ukraine by telephone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Monday, and claimed they had “broadly coinciding points of view” on the situation there, according to a ministry statement.

And Chinese state news agency Xinhua is publicly rebuking the West for their handling of the Ukrainian crisis…

China’s state news agency Xinhua accused western powers of adopting a Cold War- like mindset towards Russia, trying to isolate Moscow at a time when much needed mediation is need to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Crimea.
“Based on the fact that Russia and Ukraine have deep cultural, historical and economic connections, it is time for Western powers to abandon their Cold War thinking. Stop trying to exclude Russia from the political crisis they failed to mediate, and respect Russia’s unique role in mapping out the future of Ukraine,” Xinhua wrote in an opinion piece.

Apparently clueless as to how the geopolitical chips are falling, the Obama administration is busy planning all sorts of ways that it can punish Russia

Behind the scenes, Obama administration officials are preparing a series of possible battle plans for a potential economic assault on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, an administration source close to the issue told The Daily Beast. Among the possible targets for these financial attacks: everyone from high-ranking Russian military officials to government leaders to top businessmen to Russian-speaking separatists in Ukraine. It’s all part of the work to prepare an executive order now under consideration at the Obama administration’s highest levels.

Does the Obama administration really want to start an “economic war” with Russia and potentially against China as well?

Considering how much money we owe them, and considering the fact that we desperately need them to continue to use the petrodollar, we stand to lose far more than they do.

This is one of the reasons why I have always insisted that the national debt was a national security issue.  By going into so much debt, we have given other nations such as Russia and China a tremendous amount of leverage over us.

Unfortunately, the debtmongers in Washington D.C. never have listened to common sense.

When it comes to Ukraine, there are other economic considerations as well.

For example, about 25 percent of the natural gas that Europe uses comes from Russia, and Ukraine only has about four months of natural gas supplies stockpiled.

If Russia cut off the natural gas, that would create some huge problems.  Fortunately, winter is just about over or the Russians would have even more leverage.

In addition, Ukraine is one of the leading exporters of wheat and corn on the planet, and a disruption in the growing of those crops could make the emerging global food crisis even worse.

But of course the biggest concern is that the Ukraine crisis could ultimately spark a global war.

Unfortunately, there is a treaty that requires the United States to defend Ukraine if it is attacked…

President Bill Clinton, along with the British, signed in 1994 a nearly forgotten agreement to protect Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine now is appealing to the countries that signed the agreement.
As the British Daily Mail points out, it means that, technically, if Russia were to invade Ukraine, it would be difficult for the U.S. and Britain to avoid going to war.
Given that the late Russian president, Boris Yeltsin also signed it, it was apparent that it wasn’t expected that the Russians would take the action that Putin now is undertaking.

And top Ukrainian politicians are now asking western nations to come to the aid of Ukraine militarily

Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has appealed for the West to adopt ‘strongest means’ to intervene in Russia’s occupation of Crimea if diplomacy fails.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Tymoshenko, freed last week after the riots throughout the nation, said if Russia is allowed to ‘take away’ Crimea, life will change ‘practically everywhere in the world.’
She added: ‘Then we have to accept… an aggressor, can violate all the international agreements, take away territories, whenever she likes.’

On the other side, deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has formally requested that Russia militarily intervene in his nation…

Russia’s U.N. envoy said Monday that ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych asked Russia to send troops to “establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability, and defending the people of Ukraine.” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin read a letter from Yanukovych at the U.N. Security Council meeting.
“Ukraine is on the brink of civil war. In the country, there is chaos and anarchy. The life, the security and the rights of people, particularly in the southeast part in Crimea are being threatened. So under the influence of Western countries, there are open acts of terrorism and violence. People are being persecuted for language and political reasons,” the letter said. “So in this regard, I would call on the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability, and defending the people of Ukraine.”

And it is very important to note that Yanukovych would have never issued this letter if the Russian government has not asked him to.

So the stage is set.

Russia has already grabbed Crimea, and it is eyeing other territories in eastern Ukraine.

China is publicly backing Russia, and collectively they have a tremendous amount of economic leverage.

The Obama administration is barking loudly about what Russia has done, but the reality is that the U.S. has very little economic leverage at this point.

What the U.S. does have is the strongest military on the entire planet, but let us hope and pray that Obama does not decide to get the U.S. military involved in Ukraine.  That would be absolutely disastrous.

In the end, the U.S. has no good options in Ukraine.  The Obama administration helped aid and organize the violent revolution that overthrew the Ukrainian government, and now we have a giant mess.

Nobody is quite sure what comes next, but one thing is certain…

The relationship between the United States and Russia will never, ever be the same again.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.




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California’s Record High Fuel Prices a Glimpse of Things to Come



By Kimberly Paxton

California’s Record High Fuel Prices a Glimpse of Things to Come

Gas stations in California are locking their doors as they run out of fuel.  Today prices have reached a record-setting high of an average of $4.61 per gallon, with many stations charging premium prices for the limited amount of fuel on hand.  The current shortages and price increases are a harbinger of the rapidly changing situation across the country.

The current price spike comes after an Exxon refinery in Torrance suffered a power outage earlier in the week.  Many stations are charging more than $5 per gallon for regular,some stations ran out of gas because of fuel rationing by their suppliers,  while still other stations are running out of gas because they refused to pay the high wholesale prices. Fifteen Costco stations were among those who refused to pay the exorbitant prices.

California already has the highest fuel prices in the country. A special blend designed to meet strict environmental guidelines costs more and is highly taxed by the state government. This blend is made only at a few specific West Coast refineries, which is why the state was particularly hard-hit by the Torrance power outage issue.

According to the New York Times, the prices should soon level off.

Refining experts said the rationing and exceedingly high prices would probably last a couple of weeks at the most. Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, said California customers might get some relief in the next few days because traders were suddenly lowering the prices of their bulk sales almost as fast as they were raising them over the last few days. He said the wholesale price for gasoline on the West Coast dropped 50 cents on Friday from a high of $4.25 a gallon.

“The prices are incredibly erratic,” Mr. Kloza said. “It’s gone from incredibly excessive pricing to just plain excessive.”

However, the relief may be short-lived as tensions in the Middle East continue to rise.  Oil prices in general rose after the Turkish military fired on Syria. The Middle East and North Africa are responsible for about a third of the world’s oil supply.  As well, American attempts to enforce economic sanctions on Iran may backfire by affecting the prices Americans pay at the pumps.


Naval Power Massing in Gulf as Israel Prepares Iran Strike



An armada of US and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s covert nuclear weapons programme.


An armada of US and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s covert nuclear weapons programme.

The Strait of Hormuz is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point Photo: ALAMY

Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.


DHS and US Military Make Final Preparations Before Announcing Martial Law



By Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism
August 8, 2012

DHS and US Military Make Final Preparations Before Announcing Martial LawInformants and military personnel are coming forth anonymously to confirm that martial law “is right around the corner.” However, right now we are under a silent martial law and citizens are reporting strange and unexplainable activity from the US armed forces and multiple federal agencies that point to a covert preparatory operation to completely lock down America in the very near future.

Sources from multiple locations across the nation have independently confirmed that the US military are repositioning soldiers in conjunction with allied foreign troops in the initial stages of martial law.

The US military are secretly moving massive amounts of “equipment” across the country consistently for more than a year. In Phoenix, Arizona, tractor-trailers transporting tanks on public highways have been spotted. One witness stated that he saw these flatbeds multiple times in the month of June. Eye witness reports are coming primarily from the northern and southern Border States.

Peter Santilli, an ex-marine informant who was a specialist in aviation deployed weapons, explains that a refrigerated truck, allocated by the administration department on base, was directed to the commissary, where the unsuspecting driver believed that he was transporting food. The weapon was placed at the head of the trailer, and covered up with either food stores (like cans of soup) or body bags. In the event that the truck is stopped en route, the weapon would be well hidden and go undetected by inspectors on the public highways.

Santilli, who was assigned to ride in the cab of the truck with the driver, says that his orders were to make sure the truck arrived at its destination. If there were problems concerning potential civil unrest, he was to radio into his superiors for aid by either air or ground support. Should the situation warrant serious attention; crowd control methods would be implemented.


Tennessee man charged $85,000 for a tank of gas



By Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo! News | Nashville News, Weather

Feel like gas prices are making a dent in your budget? Imagine how Ray Crockett felt when he received a bill for nearly $85,000 after filling his gas tank.

Nashville’s News Channel 5 reports that Crockett charged about $30 in gas from a local station to his Citibank debit card last week during a seemingly routine fill-up.

“I stopped here because they had the cheapest gas at the time,” Crockett told the station. But that’s not what his bank statement showed. “$84,522.54 to be exact,” Crockett said.

Crockett says he made the discovery when he attempted to use the card to buy lunch, and the card was denied. When he checked his balance, his statement claimed he was more than $84,000 overdrawn.


Clinton tours Arctic as big powers vie for resources



By Arshad Mohammed

TROMSO, Norway, June 2 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton boards a research ship on Saturday to tour the Arctic, where big powers are vying for vast deposits of oil, gas and minerals that are becoming available as the polar ice recedes.

The top U.S. diplomat took the unusual step of visiting Tromso, a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle, to dramatize U.S. interests in a once inaccessible region whose resources are up for grabs as the sea ice melts with climate change.

“From a strategic standpoint, the Arctic has an increasing geopolitical importance as countries vie to protect their rights and extend their influence,” Clinton told reporters in Oslo before making the nearly two-hour flight north to Tromso.

“We want to work with Norway and the Arctic Council to help manage these changes and to agree on what would be, in effect, the rules of the road in the Arctic, so new developments are economically sustainable and environmentally responsible,” she added.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic holds about 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas.

Beyond the energy resources, as the ice melts Arctic sea passages are opening for longer periods each year, cutting thousands of miles off trade routes between Europe and Asia.

On an eight-day trip to Scandinavia, the Caucasus and Turkey, Clinton is the latest high-profile visitors to the Arctic as it enjoys unprecedented political and economic power.

While energy development costs could be twice as high as those of conventional onshore resources, that has not stopped of the oil industry’s top players from moving in.

Exxon Mobil is working with Russia’s Rosneft to develop blocks in the Kara Sea, off Siberia, despite the presence of sea ice for up to 300 days a year.


Paul: Shrinking dollar behind higher gas prices



By Bill Robinson

The gasoline prices are nearly double what they were a year ago because the value of the U.S. dollar is shrinking, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told a join meeting of the Richmond and Berea chambers of commerce Friday.

“Gasoline is not more scarce than it was a year ago,” he said. “The value of your dollar is shrinking because your government runs up a massive debt and then prints money to pay it.”

Working-class people, the elderly on fixed incomes and new graduates entering the work force need to realize, “Big government is not your friend,” the senator said.

“When they say, ‘We’re going to give you this. It’s free.’ It’s not free. They’re destroying the dollar,” he said. “This year you’ll pay four bucks for a gallon of gas. Next year you’ll pay five.”

About 40 percent of every dollar the federal government spends is borrowed, Paul continued. That is about $4 billion a day and adds up to more than $1 trillion a year.

“This is unsustainable,” Paul said.

America is close to having half of its people receiving a government check, he said, and that promises to induce an economic crisis such as Europe is experiencing.


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Gas must hit $4.50 to make electric cars cost-effective



Harvard University’s Belfer Center has released a study arguing that Americans will eventually buy electric cars, but for now the green vehicles remain more expensive than conventional gas-powered automobiles, even when gasoline is taken into account.

Due to the high cost of electric car batteries, the study authors, Henry Lee and Grant Lovellette, allowed that electric vehicles currently cost between $4819-$5377 more than conventional vehicles over the life of the car. Gas prices must rise to between $4.50-$5.50, the study authors suggest, for electric vehicles to become less expensive to own than gas-powered vehicles.

The limited range of most electric vehicles also impedes consumer demand for the eco-friendly cars, say Lee and Lovellette. The authors seem to think “range anxiety” is a poor but common reason to dislike electric cars, “since urban drivers, on average, drive less than 20 miles per day, but no one has ever asserted that consumers base their car purchases solely on rational calculations.”

Lee and Lovellette reveal to some degree the importance of government in making electric vehicles a viable commercial product. Government subsidies for battery technology research “and a willingness by Congress to place a cost on oil imports and conventional and unconventional air pollutants would accelerate [the] process,” they write.

Of course, this omits the other method of making electric cars competitive — enact fuel efficiency standards that make gas-powered vehicles illegal to make or impossibly expensive. Given President Obama’s announcement today that fuel economy standards are set to rise to 54.5 mpg between 2017 and 2025, it seems that the electric vehicle industry is getting the government props necessary to make consumers buy the cars.

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