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Gates: Don't test Obama administration
US Defense Secretary speaks before Persian Gulf leaders in Bahrain, warns terrorists: 'Anyone who thought upcoming months present opportunities to 'test' new administration is sorely mistaken', adds US seeking to change Iran's behavior
Industry sources said they have never seen rates fall so low. "This is a whole new ball game," said one trader.
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) which measures freight rates for bulk commodities such as iron ore and grains crashed several months ago, falling 96pc. The BDI – though a useful early-warning index – is highly volatile and exaggerates apparent ups and downs in trade. However, the latest phase of the shipping crisis is different. It has spread to core trade of finished industrial goods, the lifeblood of the world economy.
Trade data from Asia's export tigers has been disastrous over recent weeks, reflecting the collapse in US, UK and European markets.
Cargo letup weighs on nonunion dockworkers
The waterfront was booming in 2005 when Joey Hurtado inherited his uncle's longshore card.
Consumers were spending, and the toys, clothes and other goods they bought had to be hauled across the Pacific from factories in Asia. As a nonunion "casual" on the wharves in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Hurtado got the chance to train and work at one of the nation's highest-paying blue-collar jobs.
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"I was there religiously," said Hurtado, who joined a throng of hopefuls every morning at a sprawling open-air hiring yard near the ports. Three or four days of work a week was the norm.
Early one recent morning, Hurtado, 27, was at the same hiring spot. The workload was light even for the union dockworkers who are always chosen first. For Hurtado, there was "nothing. I haven't worked in a month."
Abu Musa, an island in the Persian Gulf, is claimed by both Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The island is valued by these two countries for economic, security, and environmental reasons. One significant feature about this island is that it is potentially full of oil reserves. Currently, oil is being extracted from a field close to the shores of Abu Musa. The dispute over the island is unresolved and could ignite an international crisis at some point in the future. In addition to the conflict, there are also environmental concerns that are associated with Abu Musa. If there were to be an oil spill on or around this island it could have grave consequences on the environment and the nearby animal life. Therefore, the dispute over Abu Musa will be examined for its importance in trade, environmental, and security issues.
When Iraq made threatening moves toward Kuwait in October 1994, Iran increased its military presence on Abu Musa. Although, when the crisis subsided, Iranian troops remained on the island. Then in 1995, Iran increased its troops to 4,000 from 700 in just five months and deployed SA-6 surface-to-air missiles, 155- millimeter artillery, and "Seersucker" anti-ship missiles. In addition, Secretary of Defense Perry noted that Iran had deployed chemical weapons in the Gulf.(8) Iran opened an airport on Abu Musa in March 1996 and there are reports that it also plans to build a port.(9)
The UAE has been careful to maintain some contact with Iran because of the large number of Iranian expatriates in the UAE and because of Iran's proximity. The UAE has urged Iran to agree to taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Iran has responded by stating that its sovereignty over the islands is not negotiable, although it has called for bilateral talks with the UAE to clear up any "misunderstandings
Qeshm (Persian: قشم - pronounced kē´shm is an island situated in the Strait of Hormuz off the south coast of Iran and east of the Persian Gulf (26°50′N 56°0′E / 26.833, 56). Qeshm Island is located a few kilometers off the southern coast of Iran, opposite the port cities of Bandar Abbas and Bandar Khamir. The island, which hosts a 300 square kilometer free zone jurisdiction, is 135 km long, and lies strategically in the Strait of Hormuz, just 60 kilometers from the Omani port of Khosab and about 180 kilometers from the UAE port of Rashia. The island, at its widest point, located near the center of the island, spans 40 kilometers. Similarly, at it narrowest point, the island spans 9.4 kilometers. The island has a surface are of 1491 square kilometers and is 2.5 times the size of Bahrain and 3 times the size of Singapore. Qeshm city, located at the easternmost point of the island is 22 kilometers from Bandar Abbas while the closest point of the island is but two kilometers from the mainland.
The world's second largest oil reserves are in Turkmenistan and the surrounding regions of the Caspian Basin. Familiarize yourself with this region. In brief: Afghanistan is the bridge between Turkmenistan and Pakistan's Indian Ocean ports. The Taliban denied US oil companies a contract to build an oil and natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan, granting it instead to the Bridas Oil Corp. of Argentina.
The US gov't had plans in place prior to 9/11 for invading Afghanistan, largely to steal the country for their pipeline. The Pentagon is now building US military bases across the country in a path which would allow Chevron, BP, Mobil, etc to be guarded by US troops. Such collusion between government and big business is FASCISM.
You won't find much if anything about this in the mainstream media, but Karl Schwarz, former beltway Repulican of HW Bush and WBush, got sufficiently disgusted with the administrations' covert and disgusting GREED and abandoned the administration. His information is crucial to understanding the groundwork of our massive Middle Eastern military presence.
The Caspian Basin is a depression in Central Asia, it’s actually 28 meters below sea level, at the bottom of which sits the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest endorheic body of water, meaning that it doesn’t empty into another body of water.
Having once been primarily within the bounds of the Soviet Union before it collapsed, the Caspian is now bounded by five countries; Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Iran. Sitting in a dry, arid, salty region in between the deserts of the Central Asian Steppe, the rocky Caucasus Mountains, and the Iranian Plateau, the Caspian has long been a highway linking three important regions; Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The area has been ruled by the Greeks, the Persians, the Mongols, The Seljuk Turks, and Soviet Russia and the peoples in the area, though rooted in very old tribes, reflect the mixed character of these cultural influences.
So why is it so important now?
One of the Caspian regions distinguishing traits, historically, is that it has been inextricably linked with oil. Rich with petrochemicals, the area has had petroleum extraction activity since the 9th century AD, when the inhabitants refined surface tar into naphtha, a solvent and light burning fuel. The Russians built the first petrol refinery at Baku, Azerbaijan in 1861, at which time the regions oil fields produced 90% of the world’s oil. It is widely accepted that during WWII, Hitler’s disastrous invasion of Stalingrad was a desperate attempt to gain access to the oilfields of Baku, in order to replenish the Third Reich’s dwindling petrol supplies. This would make the Caspian the target of the world’s first real ‘oil war’ (or perhaps more correctly ‘oil battle’), a seemingly ironic and prescient distinction, as it could possibly be the object of the next as well.
If the Middle East is the world’s oil pump, the Caspian Basin is it’s emergency gas can. The Caspian currently has the largest untapped oil reserves left in the world, though by no means the largest left. However, many of the deposits are still completely un-pumped, and are therefore easily extracted using primary extraction techniques which require very low amounts of energy to bring out of the ground. This means that Caspian oil is cheap oil.
Eighteen months earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had transferred the United States Fleet to Pearl Harbor as a presumed deterrent to Japanese agression. The Japanese military, deeply engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials. Commercial access to these was gradually curtailed as the conquests continued. In July 1941 the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable.
The Caspian Sea is the largest land-locked body of water in the world and is surrounded by
Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – the Caspian basin countries. (See
Maps, Appendix 2) In 2000 the international importance of the Caspian basin was set out in
a report by a bipartisan group of influential Americans entitled “America’s National
.... The most promising new source of world [energy] supplies is the Caspian region,
which appears to contain the largest petroleum reserves discovered since the North
Sea. This geopolitical crossroad, which includes Iran, Russia, and a number of newlyindependent
states struggling with post-Soviet modernization and dangers of Islamic
extremism, demands more attention by American policymakers.1
In addition, separatist disputes and more recently nuclear ambitions have emerged as factors
of pressing significance at that “geopolitical crossroad”. The conjunction of these elements,
it is argued, makes the region susceptible to instability.
The competing interests of the littoral states and the larger international considerations is
evident on the Sea itself, which though traditionally dominated by Russia’s Caspian Flotilla,
was used for joint US-Azerbaijan exercises involving Azerbaijan patrol boats in 2003 and
2004. As one observer put it, “Russia as the major power broker in the Caspian Sea, clearly
sees itself - not the USA - as bearing the security burden. Certainly Iran would prefer a
Caspian dominated by Russia to further US encroachment in the region.”2
Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are all successor states to the Soviet Union
and, together with Iran, have a claim to the hydrocarbon (oil and gas) resources under the sea
bed as well as to their own ‘on-shore’ reserves.
Iran is the only one of the five with access to the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea ports,
although, since the mid 1990s it has been subject to a US embargo under the Iran and Libya
Sanctions Act, which has hindered its development and integration into the global economy,
and affected its regional political relations.
Instead, the Bush administration perpetrated a scam. It used the system it set up to dispense reconstruction aid to both the countries it "liberated," Afghanistan and Iraq, to transfer American taxpayer dollars from the national treasury directly into the pockets of private war profiteers. Think of Halliburton, Bechtel, and Blackwater in Iraq; Louis Berger Group, Bearing Point, and DynCorp International in Afghanistan. They're all in it together. So far, the Bush administration has bamboozled Americans about its shady aid program. Nobody talks about it. Yet the aid scam, which would be a scandal if it weren't so profitable for so many, explains far more than does troop strength about why, today, we are on the verge of watching the whole Afghan enterprise go belly up.
What's worse, there's no reason to expect that things will change significantly on Barack Obama's watch. During the election campaign, he called repeatedly for more troops for "the right war" in Afghanistan (while pledging to draw-down U.S. forces in Iraq), but he has yet to say a significant word about the reconstruction mission. While many aid workers in that country remain full of good intentions, the delivery systems for and uses of U.S. aid have been so thoroughly corrupted that we can only expect more of the same—unless Obama cleans house fast. But given the monumental problems on his plate, how likely is that?
The Jolly Privateers