An excellent 5 minute video explaining* the players in the Syrian war (Plus what’s really going on there.)

Image: Mint Press News

War is fundamentally crony. There is death and destruction and despair for most, but for some people, companies, and governments there is money to be made too. Sometimes very big money indeed. The conflict in Syria is an example. It’s not really about religion and terrorism. (Though these are hugely important factors.)

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On Obama securing Iran deal: PBS’s Gwen Ifill, “Take that Bibi.” (PBS’s calls Ifill’s tweet a “self inflicted wound”)

Seriously, this is a journalist? This is someone who has moderated presidential debates, presumably will moderate more, and who hosts the PBS Newshour? This is not OK.

Look, Bibi Netanyahu isn’t my favorite guy in the world. I have serious issues with Israel and particularly with how Israel influences our foreign policy and with the never ending flow of American tax dollars which finds its way into the pockets of the powerful in Tev Aviv and Jerusalem.  But this sort of thing from yet another news anchor just reflects how completely full of themselves the #oldmedia are.

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Why gas prices are rising despite oil’s plunge

Remember that downdraft in gasoline prices right before Christmas? That was a nice stocking stuffer for many Americans. I know I liked it and I don’t even have to commute. Indeed that was the first economic break the middle class had gotten in quite a while. And we can thank the Saudis for opening the oil spigots which ultimately drove the price of gasoline down.

We are now seeing another push down in oil prices, but to date we have not seen a commensurate decline in gasoline prices.

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With an Iran/US agreement will we soon see $20 a barrel oil?

Many believe that the precipitous decline in the price of oil that the world just saw was Saudi Arabia’s reaction to Obama cozying up with Riyadh’s sworn (literally) enemy, Iran. Saudi Arabia essentially dropped an “oil bomb.” The blast from which the world appears to have absorbed for the most part.

Now the spigots are still on but the flow of oil isn’t increasing. As such the price of crude has more or less stabilized at between $45-$55/barrel.

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Bloomberg: How OPEC Weaponized the Price of Oil Against U.S. Drillers

Cheap gas feels good. It made for a more pleasant Christmas. But it should be remembered that many of the very best, highest paying jobs created since the onset of the great economic slowdown (in 2013 oilfield workers in North Dakota made on average over $112,000/year – many without a college degree) in the USA have been in the energy sector, and primarily in hydraulic fracking. Say what you want about the practice but it has been a (the?) key source of economic growth (such as it has been) for the United States over the last 4 years.

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Conrad Black: The Saudis believe the West is about to give in to Iranian demands. Crashing the price of oil is how it fights back

Guess who doesn’t like the Iranians almost as much as Israel? Saudi Arabia. And the Saudis are very unhappy about the spread of Shiite influence through the upper Middle East, and apparently in official corners of Washington. The princes fear a rising Iran, and that, according to Black is why the Saudis are moving now.

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Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side? (If he initiates action against Syria)

I suppose we’ve come full circle. It is we who helped create the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, the guerrilla army which morphed into Al Qaeda. Now again we may be fighting on the same side. We appear to have learned nothing from our 3 decades of wandering (while being shot at) in the desert.

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