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Nigeria Labor Talks Collapse, Could Disrupt One Of The Largest Oil Exporters To The US

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AP | Jan. 15, 2012, 12:24 AM

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s government and labor unions failed Saturday night to end a paralyzing nationwide strike over high gasoline costs, potentially sparking an oil production shutdown in a nation vital to U.S. oil supplies.

It was not immediately clear early Sunday whether a major oil workers’ union had gone ahead with its threat to have its members walk off their jobs starting at midnight in an effort to halt oil production.

Nigeria, which produces 2.4 mi lion barrels of oil a day, is the fifth-largest oil exporter to the United States. Any disruption to oil production could roil the oil futures market at a time traders remain concerned about world supply.

President Goodluck Jonathan did not show up for a meeting with union representatives held Saturday night at the presidential villa in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, nor did Vice President Namadi Sambo. Instead, the nation’s Senate president and its House speaker represented the government along with other officials.

After the meeting, Nigeria Labor Congress President Abdulwaheed Omar told waiting journalists: “We have not reached a compromise.”

Asked whether oil production would immediately halt, Omar said: “We are taking these things gradually.”

Nigeria has been gripped by a paralyzing strike since Monday when labor unions called the nationwide work stoppage in response to a government decision to remove subsidies, causing fuel prices to more than double in Africa’s most populous nation. However, oil workers mostly remained on the job.

On Thursday, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria threatened to stop all oil production in Nigeria at midnight Saturday. President Babatunde Ogun and other union officials were not immediately available to confirm whether its members had left their posts.

The union’s ability to enforce a shutdown across the swamps of Nigeria’s southern delta to its massive offshore oil fields remains in question. But the threat of a strike caused jitters on global oil markets Friday.

The strike began Monday, paralyzing the nation of more than 160 million people. The root cause remains gasoline prices: President Goodluck Jonathan’s government abandoned subsidies that kept gasoline prices low on Jan. 1, causing prices to spike from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter). The costs of food and transportation also largely doubled in a nation where most people live on less than $2 a day.

Anger over losing one of the few benefits average Nigerians see from being an oil-rich country, as well as disgust over government corruption, have led to demonstrations across this nation and violence that has killed at least 10 people. Red Cross volunteers have treated more than 600 people injured in protests since the strike began, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday.

Even if strikers are only partially successful, fears of tightened global supplies could raise oil prices by $5-$10 per barrel on futures markets next week. Gasoline prices would follow, rising by as much as 10 cents per gallon and forcing U.S. drivers to spend an additional $36 million a day at the pump.

Experts predict the national average in the U.S. could rise as high as $4.25 per gallon ($1.12 a liter) in 2012.

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by ANDY STERN: Obama’s other Buddy

China’s Superior Economic Model

The free-market fundamentalist economic model is being thrown onto the trash heap of history.

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By ANDY STERN

Andy Grove, the founder and chairman of Intel, provocatively wrote in Businessweek last year that, “Our fundamental economic beliefs, which we have elevated from a conviction based on observation to an unquestioned truism, is that the free market is the best of all economic systems—the freer the better. Our generation has seen the decisive victory of free-market principles over planned economies. So we stick with this belief largely oblivious to emerging evidence that while free markets beat planned economies, there may be room for a modification that is even better.”

The past few weeks have proven Mr. Grove’s point, as our relations with China, and that country’s impact on America’s future, came to the forefront of American politics. Our inert Senate, while preparing for the super committee to fail, crossed the normally insurmountable political divide to pass legislation to address China’s currency manipulation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama all weighed in with their views—ranging from warnings that China must “end unfair discrimination” (Mrs. Clinton) to complaints that the U.S. has “been played like a fiddle” (Mr. Romney) and that China needs to stop “gaming” the international system (Mr. Obama).

As this was happening, I was part of a U.S.-China dialogue—a trip organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Center for American Progress—with high-ranking Chinese government officials, both past and present. For me, the tension resulting from the chorus of American criticism paled in significance compared to reading the emerging outline of China’s 12th five-year plan. The aims: a 7% annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of six million homes; and expanding next-generation IT, clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection—all while promoting social equity and rural development.

Some Americans are drawing lessons from this. Last month, the China Daily quoted Orville Schell, who directs the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, as saying: “I think we have come to realize the ability to plan is exactly what is missing in America.” The article also noted that Robert Engle, who won a Nobel Prize in 2003 for economics, has said that while China is making five-year plans for the next generation, Americans are planning only for the next election.

The world has been made “flat” by the technological miracles of Andy Grove, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. This has forced all institutions to confront what is clearly the third economic revolution in world history. The Agricultural Revolution was a roughly 3,000-year transition, the Industrial Revolution lasted 300 years, and this technology-led Global Revolution will take only 30-odd years. No single generation has witnessed so much change in a single lifetime.

The current debates about China’s currency, the trade imbalance, our debt and China’s excessive use of pirated American intellectual property are evidence that the Global Revolution—coupled with Deng Xiaoping’s government-led, growth-oriented reforms—has created the planet’s second-largest economy. It’s on a clear trajectory to knock America off its perch by 2025.

As Andy Grove so presciently articulated in the July 1, 2010, issue of Businessweek, the economies of China, Singapore, Germany, Brazil and India have demonstrated “that a plan for job creation must be the number-one objective of state economic policy; and that the government must play a strategic role in setting the priorities and arraying the forces of organization necessary to achieve this goal.”

The conservative-preferred, free-market fundamentalist, shareholder-only model—so successful in the 20th century—is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century. In an era when countries need to become economic teams, Team USA’s results—a jobless decade, 30 years of flat median wages, a trade deficit, a shrinking middle class and phenomenal gains in wealth but only for the top 1%—are pathetic.

This should motivate leaders to rethink, rather than double down on an empirically failing free-market extremism. As painful and humbling as it may be, America needs to do what a once-dominant business or sports team would do when the tide turns: study the ingredients of its competitors’ success.

While we debate, Team China rolls on. Our delegation witnessed China’s people-oriented development in Chongqing, a city of 32 million in Western China, which is led by an aggressive and popular Communist Party leader—Bo Xilai. A skyline of cranes are building roughly 1.5 million square feet of usable floor space daily—including, our delegation was told, 700,000 units of public housing annually.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government can boast that it has established in Western China an economic zone for cloud computing and automotive and aerospace production resulting in 12.5% annual growth and 49% growth in annual tax revenue, with wages rising more than 10% a year.

For those of us who love this country and believe America has every asset it needs to remain the No. 1 economic engine of the world, it is troubling that we have no plan—and substitute a demonization of government and worship of the free market at a historical moment that requires a rethinking of both those beliefs.

America needs to embrace a plan for growth and innovation, with a streamlined government as a partner with the private sector. Economic revolutions require institutions to change and maybe make history, because if they stick to the status quo they soon become history. Our great country, which sparked and wants to lead this global revolution, needs a forward looking, long-term economic plan.

The imperative for change is simple. As Andy Grove pointed out: “If we want to remain a leading economy, we change on our own, or change will continue to be forced upon us.”

Mr. Stern was president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and is now a senior fellow at Columbia University’s Richman Center.

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Big Soros Money Linked to “Occupy Wall Street”

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Labor unions, communists, “community organizers,” socialists, and anti-capitalist agitators have all joined together to “Occupy Wall Street” and protest against “greed,” corporations, and bankers. But despite efforts to portray the movement as “leaderless” or “grassroots,” it is becoming obvious that there is much more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye.

Billionaire financier George Soros’ fingerprints, for example, have been all over the anti-Wall Street campaign from the very beginning. And this week, the infamous hedge-fund boss publicly announced his sympathy for the protesters and their complaints about bailouts — despite the fact that he lobbied for even greater unconstitutional handouts to bankers in 2009.

“Actually I can understand their sentiment, frankly,” he told reporters while announcing a large donation to the United Nations. “I can sympathize with their grievances.”
But Soros’ support for the protesters goes far beyond his tepid public statements. In fact, the original call to “Occupy Wall Street” came from the magazine AdBusters, an “anti-consumerist” publication financed by, among other sources, the Soros-funded Tides Foundation.
Other Soros-backed outfits promoting big government — some with myriad ties to the Obama administration — are also publicly driving the occupation campaign. MoveOn.org, for instance, has received millions of dollars from the billionaire banker. And now, the group is urging its supporters to join the Occupy Wall Street movement as well.
“Over the last two weeks, an amazing wave of protest against Wall Street and the big banks has erupted across the country,” MoveOn said in a recent e-mail to supporters, praising the “brave” demonstrators. “On Wednesday, MoveOn members will join labor and community groups in New York City for a huge march down to the protest site — the biggest yet.”
On top of supplying activists to join the demonstrations, MoveOn is also staging what it calls a “massive ‘Virtual March on Wall Street’ online.” The Internet-based demonstrations are a collaborative effort with another radical and well-connected outfit tied to Soros called Rebuild the Dream.
Led by self-described communist and former Obama administration czar Van Jones, the “Dream” movement is a partnership between a host of Soros-financed “progressive” groups. Big Labor and even Planned Parenthood — the largest abortion provider in America, which receives hundreds of millions of tax dollars each year — are partners, too.
“Together, we’ll add hundreds of thousands of voices of solidarity from the American Dream Movement for the protests across the country and show just how widespread outrage at the Wall Street banks really is,” MoveOn boasted in its e-mail.
Other groups working with Rebuild the Dream are also publicly hyping the demonstrations. And more than a few of them are on the Soros payroll as well. Some examples include People For The American Way, Planned Parenthood, Campaign For America’s Future, Democracy For America, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, Common Cause, Public Campaign, and many more.
Soros, of course, has a long history of financing organizations targeting the American system of government. He has also served on the board of the immensely influential global-governance-promoting Council on Foreign Relations.
Just last year, Soros claimed that the brutal communist dictatorship ruling mainland China should lead what he calls the “New World Order.” The Chinese tyrants, meanwhile, have also been touting Occupy Wall Street through the regime’s propaganda organs.
But Soros does not love the despots in Beijing for their commitment to “equality” or “democracy.” As The New American reported, behind Soros and his tens of billions lies even more wealth and power: the unimaginably vast Rothschild banking empire.
One of the richest men in the world today, Soros has been in legal trouble for corruption before — in France, for instance, he was fined more than $2 million for his illegal scheming. So, critics noted, it might seem ironic that the textbook example of a “corrupt financier” would finance a protest supposedly aimed at corrupt financiers. But the irony hardly ends there.
Union bosses and others intimately linked to President Obama — whose top campaign contributors included Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and other big banks — are also playing a key role in the Wall Street protests. The protesters are even recycling administration talking points such as the old “the rich should be forced to pay their ‘fair share’” — despite the fact that the “Buffett rule” tax proposal being advanced would almost exclusively soak what remains of the middle class.
But that might be the point. According to reports and analysts, the whole anti-Wall Street movement has been carefully orchestrated by the Obama-linked anti-capitalist union titans and tax-funded “community organizers.” A troubling plot to essentially finish off capitalism was exposed earlier this year, and at the time it was blasted as “economic terrorism.” Even more disturbing: It was uncannily similar to the growing Wall Street demonstrations.
Community organizer Stephen Lerner of the SEIU, a regular White House guest, was caught on video in March discussing the scheme to “bring down the stock market” and “destabilize” the nation — all with the stated goal of “redistributing wealth.” And while the whole conspiracy was not revealed because Lerner suspected police were present, the strategies he mentioned included civil disobedience and mass anti-banker protests.
Another conspirator said to be pulling the strings, disgraced ACORN founder and union boss Wade Rathke, was advocating massive “Day of Rage” protests targeting bankers earlier this year. And he is also closely tied to Obama, who actually used to work for Rathke’s “community organizing” outfit.
ACORN, of course, was recently exposed engaging in widespread criminal activity while receiving millions of federal tax dollars. But after the organization filed for bankruptcy, its tentacles are taking over under new names — and still receiving government handouts.
Rathke is also a founding board member of the Soros-funded Tides Foundation, a key source of money for AdBusters magazine (which first called for the Wall Street occupation) and countless other anti-business groups. And he is directly tied to more than a few unions including the SEIU.
Beyond Big Labor and Soros “front groups,” as critics call them, is also a vast collection of socialist and Marxist organizations supporting the demonstrations. The Socialist Party USA, the Marxist-oriented Workers World Party, the International Committee of the Fourth International, and the Communist Party USA-affiliated People’s World are all publicly and openly backing the movement.
While the occupation movement purports to be “leaderless,” in reality, critics say its leaders and financiers are barely concealed. According to analysts, the protests — which are quickly spreading to cities across the United States, Canada, and Europe — actually represent a well-orchestrated operation being used by the very same elite “one percent” supposedly being protested against.
The “official” goals remain murky so far, almost certainly not by chance. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that liberty and honest money are not among the demands. Rather, bigger government, higher taxes, and an end to what remains of the free market system seem to be at the top of the list.

Related articles:

Police Brutality, Mass Arrests Draw Attention to “Occupy Wall Street”

Unions, Socialists Join Forces to “Occupy Wall Street”
“Day of Rage” Wall St. Occupation Sparks Fears

George Soros Funded by the House of Rothschild

George Soros Touts China as Leader of New World Order
Former SEIU Union Official Exposes Plot to Collapse U.S. Economy
Union Leader Describes Plan to Destroy Capitalism
Union Leader Proposes Economic Terrorism — Where Is the DOJ?
ACORN Keeps Members’ Dues After Bankruptcy
Fed Manipulations in the Crosshairs

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