region:gulf coast

  • Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect - Iran - Haaretz.com

    Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect
    U.S. officials rushed to point to Tehran, but somehow the world’s leading intelligence services failed to discover who is actually behind the strike. And even if they knew, what could be done without risking all-out war?
    Zvi Bar’el | Jun. 14, 2019 | 8:36 AM | 3
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/.premium-oman-attack-iran-is-the-immediate-but-unlikely-suspect-1.7368134


    A unnamed senior U.S. Defense Department official was quick to tell CBS that Iran was “apparently” behind the Thursday attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, followed by State Secretary Mike Pompeo who later told reported that it was his government’s assessment. There’s nothing new about that, but neither is it a decisive proof.

    Who, then, struck the tankers? Whom does this strike serve and what can be done against such attacks?

    In all previous attacks in the Gulf in recent weeks Iran was naturally taken to be the immediate suspect. After all, Iran had threatened that if it could now sell its oil in the Gulf, other countries would not be able to ship oil through it; Tehran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, and in any case it’s in the sights of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But this explanation is too easy.

    The Iranian regime is in the thrones of a major diplomatic struggle to persuade Europe and its allies, Russia and China, not to take the path of pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement. At the same time, Iran is sure that the United States is only looking for an excuse to attack it. Any violent initiative on Tehran’s part could only make things worse and bring it close to a military conflict, which it must avoid.

    Iran has announced it would scale back its commitments under the nuclear deal by expanding its low-level uranium enrichment and not transferring the remainder of its enriched uranium and heavy water to another country, as the agreement requires. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s reports reveal that it has indeed stepped up enrichment, but not in a way that could support a military nuclear program.

    It seems that alongside its diplomatic efforts, Iran prefers to threaten to harm the nuclear deal itself, responding to Washington with the same token, rather than escalate the situation to a military clash.

    Other possible suspects are the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who continue to pound Saudi targets with medium-range missiles, as was the case last week with strikes on the Abha and Jizan airports, near the Yemeni border, which wounded 26 people. The Houthis have also fired missiles at Riyadh and hit targets in the Gulf. In response, Saudi Arabia launched a massive missile strike on Houthi-controlled areas in northern Yemen.

    The strike on the oil tankers may have been a response to the response, but if this is the case, it goes against Iran’s policy, which seeks to neutralize any pretexts for a military clash in the Gulf. The question, therefore, is whether Iran has full control over all the actions the Houthis take, and whether the aid it gives them commits them fully to its policies, or whether they see assaults on Saudi targets as a separate, local battle, cut off from Iran’s considerations.

    The Houthis have claimed responsibility for some of their actions in Saudi territory in the past, and at times even took the trouble of explaining the reasons behind this assault or the other. But not this time.

    Yemen also hosts large Al-Qaida cells and Islamic State outposts, with both groups having a running account with Saudi Arabia and apparently the capabilities to carry out strikes on vessels moving through the Gulf.

    In the absence of confirmed and reliable information on the source of the fire, we may meanwhile discount the possibility of a Saudi or American provocation at which Iran has hinted, but such things have happened before. However, we may also wonder why some of the most sophisticated intelligence services in the world are having so much trouble discovering who actually carried out these attacks.

    Thwarting such attacks with no precise intelligence is an almost impossible task, but even if the identity of those responsible for it is known, the question of how to respond to the threat would still arise.

    If it turns out that Iran initiated or even carried out these attacks, American and Saudi military forces could attack its Revolutionary Guards’ marine bases along the Gulf coast, block Iranian shipping in the Gulf and persuade European countries to withdraw from the nuclear deal, claiming that continuing relations with Iran would mean supporting terrorism in general, and maritime terrorism in particular.

    The concern is that such a military response would lead Iran to escalate its own and openly strike American and Saudi targets in the name of self-defense and protecting its sovereignty. In that case, a large-scale war would be inevitable. But there’s no certainty that U.S. President Donald Trump, who wants to extricate his forces from military involvement in the Middle East, truly seeks such a conflict, which could suck more and more American forces into this sensitive arena.

    An escape route from this scenario would require intensive mediation efforts between Iran and the United States, but therein lies one major difficulty – finding an authoritative mediator that could pressure both parties. Russia or China are not suitable candidates, and ties between Washington and the European Union are acrimonious.

    It seems that all sides would be satisfied if they could place responsibility for the attacks on the Houthis or other terror groups. That is not to say that the United States or Saudi Arabia have any magic solutions when it comes to the Houthis; far from it. The war in Yemen has been going on for five years now with no military resolution, and increased bombardment of concentrations of Houthi forces could only expand their efforts to show their strength. But the United States would pay none of the diplomatic or military price for assaults on the Houthis it would for a forceful violent response against Iran itself.

    If sporadic, small-scale attacks raise such complex dilemmas, one can perhaps dream of an all-out war with Iran, but it is enough to look at the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan to grow extremely cautious of the trajectory in which such dreams become a nightmare that lasts for decades.❞
    #Oman #Iran
    https://seenthis.net/messages/786937

    • UPDATE 1-"Flying objects" damaged Japanese tanker during attack in Gulf of Oman
      Junko Fujita – June 14, 2019
      (Adds comments from company president)
      By Junko Fujita
      https://www.reuters.com/article/mideast-tanker-japan-damage/update-1-flying-objects-damaged-japanese-tanker-during-attack-in-gulf-of-om

      TOKYO, June 14 (Reuters) - Two “flying objects” damaged a Japanese tanker owned by Kokuka Sangyo Co in an attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, but there was no damage to the cargo of methanol, the company president said on Friday.

      The Kokuka Courageous is now sailing toward the port of Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates, with the crew having returned to the ship after evacuating because of the incident, Kokuka President Yutaka Katada told a press conference. It was being escorted by the U.S. Navy, he said.

      “The crew told us something came flying at the ship, and they found a hole,” Katada said. “Then some crew witnessed the second shot.”

      Katada said there was no possibility that the ship, carrying 25,000 tons of methanol, was hit by a torpedo.

      The United States has blamed Iran for attacking the Kokuka Courageous and another tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, on Thursday, but Tehran has denied the allegations.

      The ship’s crew saw an Iranian military ship in the vicinity on Thursday night Japan time, Katada said.

      Katada said he did not believe Kokuka Courageous was targetted because it was owned by a Japanese firm. The tanker is registered in Panama and was flying a Panamanian flag, he said.

      “Unless very carefully examined, it would be hard to tell the tanker was operated or owned by Japanese,” he said. (...)

  • Twelve Empty Supertankers Reveal Truths About Today’s Oil Market - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-21/twelve-empty-supertankers-reveal-truths-about-today-s-oil-market

    They are slowly plowing their way across thousands of miles of ocean toward America’s Gulf of Mexico coastline. As they do, twelve empty supertankers are also revealing a few truths about today’s global oil market.

    In normal times, the vessels would be filled with heavy, high sulfur Middle East oil for delivery to refineries in places like Houston or New Orleans. Not now though. They are sailing cargo-less, a practice that vessel owners normally try to avoid because ships earn money by making deliveries.

    The 12 vessels are making voyages of as much as 21,000 miles direct from Asia, all the way around South Africa, holding nothing but seawater for stability because Middle East producers are restricting supplies. Still, America’s booming volumes of light crude must still be exported, and there aren’t enough supertankers in the Atlantic Ocean for the job. So they’re coming empty.

    What’s driving this is a U.S. oil market that’s looking relatively bearish with domestic production estimates trending higher, and persistent crude oil builds we have seen for the last few weeks,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING Bank NV in Amsterdam. “At the same time, OPEC cuts are supporting international grades like Brent, creating an export incentive.

    The U.S. both exports and imports large amounts of crude because the variety it pumps — especially newer supplies from shale formations — is very different from the type that’s found in the Middle East. OPEC members are likely cutting heavier grades while American exports are predominantly lighter, Patterson said.

    • Trois jours plus tard, Bloomberg remet une couche…

      des supertankers traversent l’Atlantique chargés d’eau de mer (sur ballast, quoi…)

      Rise of Shale Oil and OPEC Cuts Leave Supertankers Empty - Bloomberg
      https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-02-24/rise-of-shale-oil-and-opec-cuts-leave-supertankers-empty

      Supertankers hauling seawater across the Atlantic? That’s just one of the odder results of the U.S. shale boom.

      Crude oil has always flowed backwards and forwards across the world’s oceans. A typical voyage by one of the global fleet of around 750 of the giant ships currently in service might see it haul Middle Eastern exports across the Atlantic to a refinery on the U.S. Gulf coast, then pick up a cargo from Venezuela for delivery to China or India, before returning to the Persian Gulf.

      Vessels only earn money when they’re full, so being able to haul cargoes in both directions across the seas makes a great deal of sense for ship owners. But soaring U.S. production, OPEC output cuts and sanctions on Iran and Venezuela are turning the global crude oil trade on its head.
      […]
      Add to this a pickup in the flow of oil out of the Caribbean – Venezuela is shipping more of its crude east now that U.S. sanctions prevent it from targeting its traditional buyers on the Gulf coast.

  • Being poor, by John Scalzi
    https://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/03/being-poor

    Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

    (...)

    Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

    (...)
    Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.
    (...)
    Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

    Being poor is not taking the job because you can’t find someone you trust to watch your kids.
    (...)
    Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

    Being poor is knowing you’re being judged.

    Follow-up post: “Being Poor,” Ten Years On
    https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/09/03/being-poor-ten-years-on

    Ten years ago today, I put the essay “Being Poor” on Whatever. I wrote the piece, as I explained later, in a rage at the after-events of Hurricane Katrina, when so many people asked, some genuinely and some less so, why many of the poor people didn’t “just leave” when the hurricane smashed into the Gulf Coast and New Orleans flooded.

    #poverty

  • Shale Surge Crashes Into Bottlenecks From Pipelines to Ports - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-29/shale-s-surge-crashes-into-bottlenecks-from-pipelines-to-ports

    The U.S. shale surge is crashing headlong into a barrage of bottlenecks.

    From West Texas pipelines to Oklahoma storage centers and Gulf Coast export terminals, the delivery system for American crude is straining to keep up with soaring production. That’s limiting the industry’s ability to take full advantage of growing worldwide demand, with U.S. barrels forced to take an a $9-a-barrel price discount to international crude.

    Barclays Plc analysts on Tuesday predicted “a new shock" for energy markets as a dearth of pipeline capacity near a key Oklahoma storage hub threatens the flow of oil. Pipeline shortages in Texas’ Permian basin, meanwhile, may not clear until late 2019. The problems undercut hopes American output will stabilize global prices as crude from Venezuela and Iran is increasingly at risk.
    […]
    Pipelines aren’t the only problem. The U.S. currently has only one export terminal that can accommodate the 2 million-barrel supertankers preferred by Asian and European customers, and expansions at other ports aren’t expected to be complete before 2020, according to Sandy Fielden, director of oil research at Chicago-based Morningstar Inc.

  • Trump’s sending troops to the border to take on 200 kids and parents

    According to President Donald Trump, the mightiest, richest country in the world is under a threat so huge and scary that it will require the deployment of military forces — as many as 2,000 to 4.000, Trump said Thursday — along its 2,000-mile southern border. The danger consists of a ragtag caravan formed by several hundred impoverished people, many of them children from tiny Central American nations. Yes, the time has come to protect America from marauding youngsters and their parents.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/05/opinions/trump-has-no-shame-on-immigration-fernandez-kelly-opinion/index.html?sr=twCNN040518trump-has-no-shame-on-immigration-fernandez-ke
    #Trump #frontières #armée #militarisation_des_frontières #USA #Etats-Unis

    • The cost of 2 National Guard border arrests would help a homeless vet for a year

      President Donald Trump’s decision to send #National_Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border has drawn a mixed response. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed the move, while California Gov. Jerry Brown’s National Guard said it would “review” the request.

      Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., had a specific complaint: He said it was a poor use of tax dollars.

      “Using the National Guard to do border security is very expensive,” Gallego tweeted April 3. “For what it would cost the Guard to make just TWO arrests at the border, we could give a homeless veteran permanent housing for an entire year.”


      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/apr/05/ruben-gallego/arizona-rep-cost-2-national-guard-border-arrests-w
      #USA #Etats-Unis #coût #économie #prix #surveillance_des_frontières

    • Guard border deployment creates issues for Pentagon

      Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have now sent two requests for assistance to the Pentagon’s new Border Security Support Cell, which was hastily established to help coordination between the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Homeland Security.

      It’s estimated that it will cost $182 million to keep 2,093 guardsmen at the border through the end of September, which represents just more than half of the personnel approved.

      The amount covers $151 million in pay and allowances for the 2,093 personnel, as well as $31 million for 12,000 flying hours for 26 UH-72 Lakota helicopters, according to a defense memo on the amount.

      http://thehill.com/policy/defense/386617-guard-border-deployment-creates-issues-for-pentagon

      #CBP #gardes-frontière #frontières

    • The Cal. National Guard Is Working At the Mexican Border, But Mostly Behind The Scenes

      In California - a state with strong differences with the White House on immigration policy - about 400 troops are on border duty. But they’re keeping a low profile.


      http://tpr.org/post/cal-national-guard-working-mexican-border-mostly-behind-scenes

      Signalé par Reece Jones sur twitter, avec ce commentaire:

      What are US National Guard troops doing at the border? Analyze intelligence, work as dispatchers, and monitor cameras “but not cameras that look across the border into Mexico”

    • L’armée américaine mobilisée pour défendre la frontière

      En campagne pour les élections américaines de mi-mandat, le président Trump a focalisé son discours sur la caravane de migrants d’Amérique centrale qui fait route à travers le Mexique. Il a promis de tout faire pour empêcher ces demandeurs d’asile de pénétrer sur le territoire américain (“Personne n’entrera”), y compris de déployer “entre 10 000 et 15 000 soldats” en plus de la police aux frontières et de la police de l’immigration.

      L’armée estime que seuls 20 % des migrants, soit 1 400 selon les estimations les plus hautes, iront jusqu’à la frontière qui se trouve encore à quelque 1 300 kilomètres et plusieurs semaines de marche, rapporte le Los Angeles Times. Le chiffre de 15 000 hommes correspond à peu près au nombre de soldats déployés en Afghanistan, observe le même quotidien. Les militaires envoyés à la frontière peuvent se poser des questions sur le sens de cette mission, comme l’illustre ici le dessinateur Chappatte.


      https://www.courrierinternational.com/dessin/larmee-americaine-mobilisee-pour-defendre-la-frontiere

    • U.S. Troops’ First Order at the Border: Laying Razor Wire

      Soldiers fill local hotels, joke about finding ways to keep busy.
      On Monday morning in this border town, about a dozen U.S. Army soldiers unfurled reams of razor wire on top of a wrought-iron fence alongside a bridge to Mexico.

      The soldiers from the 36th Engineer Brigade at Fort Riley, Kan., who wore helmets but didn’t appear to be armed, are among thousands of troops deployed in recent days to the southwest U.S. border as part of Operation Faithful Patriot.

      Around border crossings throughout Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, military personnel have filled up hotels and delivered trucks packed with coils of razor wire as they begin to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
      The personnel were sent in advance of the anticipated arrival of thousands of Central Americans, including children, traveling in caravans currently several hundred miles south of the nearest U.S. border crossing.

      At the DoubleTree Suites Hotel in McAllen, Texas, the bar did brisk business Sunday night as soldiers who had changed into civilian clothes chatted over drinks. Some joked about needing to find ways to keep soldiers busy during their deployment.

      The Anzalduas International Bridge, where the Kansas-based troops were working, is used only for vehicle traffic to and from the Mexican city of Reynosa. The wire was placed on top of fences at least 15 feet high along each side of the bridge that sat several dozen feet above an embankment.

      Outside the port of entry where vehicles from Mexico are stopped after crossing the bridge, shiny razor wire recently placed around the facility glistened in the afternoon sun.

      Migrants seeking asylum who cross the border illegally generally don’t come to the port, but swim or wade across the Rio Grande and turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents.

      Near another bridge connecting Hidalgo, Texas, to Reynosa, a concertina wire fence was recently erected along the river edge, a placement more likely to impede illegal migrants who arrive on foot.

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have determined where the military placed razor wire, Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Monday during a briefing.

      It is part of an effort previously announced by Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, to “harden the points of entry and address key gaps.”

      Near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge about 22 miles southeast of McAllen, troops on Monday were working on what looked to be a staging area to prepare for coming work. Two armed military police officers stood guard, opening and closing a gate as flatbed trailers carrying heavy military trucks and transports with troops inside arrived. At least one tent apparently intended to house troops was in place Monday.

      President Trump ordered the deployment last month after the first caravan made its way into Mexico. He had described the impending caravan’s arrival as an “invasion.”

      The Pentagon said Monday that more than 5,000 troops are at or would be on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of the day, with about 2,700 in Texas, 1,200 in Arizona and 1,100 in California. Eventually, nearly 8,000 will be deployed, according to a U.S. official. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security have said the troops won’t be used to enforce immigration laws but will provide backup for Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers.

      At the Vaquero Hangout, an open-air bar within eyesight of the Anzalduas bridge, a flag declaring support for the U.S. military hung from the rafters. It was business as usual on Sunday evening. Some patrons watched the Houston Texans’ NFL game, while others were focused on a live band, George and the Texas Outlaws.

      A few folks briefly took notice of flashing lights from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle parked on the bridge as the soldiers lay down razor wire, an effort they would continue the next day.

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-troops-first-order-at-the-border-laying-razor-wire-1541509201
      #fil_barbelé #barbelé

    • Pentagon to begin drawdown of troops at border: report

      The Pentagon is planning to begin a drawdown of troops at the southern border as soon as this week, the Army commander overseeing the mission told Politico on Monday.

      Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan told the news outlet that the 5,800 active-duty troops sent to assist Customs and Border Protection at the U.S.-Mexico border should be home by Christmas.
      ADVERTISEMENT

      “Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” said Buchanan, who is overseeing the mission from Texas.

      Buchanan said engineer and logistics troops, which make up the largest parts of the deployment, will begin returning home soon.

      According to Politico’s report, some troops will begin leaving the area before the so-called migrant caravan arrives at the border.

      The news of the troops’ return comes as critics call President Trump’s request to send thousands of troops to the border a “political stunt.”

      Trump before Election Day stoked fears over an approaching group of Central American migrants heading towards the southern border, which he referred to as an “invasion.” He requested the deployment of thousands of troops to the border in a support mission just before Nov. 6.

      Some lawmakers have accused Trump of wasting resources and manpower on the mission, as reports have emerged that the troops are restless and underutilized.

      Thousands of participants in the caravan over the weekend reached Tijuana, Mexico, where they were met with vast protests. Some of the protesters are echoing Trump’s language, calling the group a danger and an invasion, The Associated Press reported.

      Most of the members of the caravan are reportedly escaping rampant poverty and violence in their home countries.

      https://thehill.com/policy/defense/417503-pentagon-to-begin-drawdown-of-troops-at-border-report

      –-> commentaire sur twitter:

      Just 3 weeks after deployment, Trump’s Pentagon is sending the military home from the border. They’ve served their purpose as the GOP’s 11th hour campaign force. Now we’re stuck with a hundred miles of trashy concertina wire and a $200 million bill.

      https://twitter.com/LaikenJordahl/status/1064644464726048768

    • Troops at U.S.-Mexican border to start coming home

      All the troops should be home by Christmas, as originally expected, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said in an interview Monday.

      The 5,800 troops who were rushed to the southwest border amid President Donald Trump’s pre-election warnings about a refugee caravan will start coming home as early as this week — just as some of those migrants are beginning to arrive.

      Democrats and Republicans have criticized the deployment as a ploy by the president to use active-duty military forces as a prop to try to stem Republican losses in this month’s midterm elections.

      The general overseeing the deployment told POLITICO on Monday that the first troops will start heading home in the coming days as some are already unneeded, having completed the missions for which they were sent. The returning service members include engineering and logistics units whose jobs included placing concertina wire and other barriers to limit access to ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border.

      All the troops should be home by Christmas, as originally expected, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said in an interview Monday.

      “Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” said Buchanan, who leads the land forces of U.S. Northern Command.

      The decision to begin pulling back comes just weeks after Trump ordered the highly unusual deployment.

      In previous cases in which the military deployed to beef up security at the border, the forces consisted of part-time National Guard troops under the command of state governors who backed up U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agencies.

      But the newly deployed troops, most of them unarmed and from support units, come from the active-duty military, a concession the Pentagon made after Trump insisted that the deployment include “not just the National Guard.”

      Buchanan confirmed previous reports that the military had rejected a request from the Department of Homeland Security for an armed force to back up Border Patrol agents in the event of a violent confrontation.

      “That is a law enforcement task, and the secretary of Defense does not have the authority to approve that inside the homeland,” Buchanan said.

      The closure earlier Monday of one entry point along the California border near Tijuana, Mexico, was only partial and did not require more drastic measures, Buchanan said.

      “About half of the lanes were closed this morning, but that’s it,” he reported. “No complete closures.”

      Other ports might be closed fully in the future, he said, but he did not anticipate any need to take more drastic measures.

      “If CBP have reliable information that one of their ports is about to get rushed with a mob, or something like that that could put their agents at risk, they could ask us to completely close the port,” Buchanan said. “You understand the importance of commerce at these ports. Nobody in CBP wants to close a port unless they’re actually driven to do so.”

      The troop deployment should start trailing off as engineer and other logistics troops wind down their mission of building base camps and fortifying ports of entry for the Border Patrol.

      Army and Marine engineers have now emplaced about 75 percent of the obstacles they planned to, including concertina wire, shipping containers, and concrete barriers at ports of entry. “Once we get the rest of the obstacles built, we don’t need to keep all those engineers here. As soon as I’m done with a capability, what I intend to do is redeploy it,” Buchanan said. “I don’t want to keep these guys on just to keep them on.”

      Logistics troops, too, will be among the first to head home. “I will probably ask to start redeploying some of our logistic capability,” Buchanan predicted. “Now that things are set down here, we don’t need as many troops to actually build base camps and things like that, because the base camps are built."

      Among the troops who will remain after construction engineers and logisticians start departing are helicopter pilots, planners, medical personnel, and smaller “quick response” teams of engineers who can help Border Patrol personnel shut down traffic at their ports of entry.

      In contrast to the speed of the deployment in early November and the fanfare surrounding it, the withdrawal promises to be slower and quieter — but Buchanan expects it to be done before Christmas.

      “That doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” he added. “But right now, this is a temporary mission, and we’re tasked to do it until the 15th of December.”

      https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/19/troops-us-mexico-border-come-home-1005510

    • Trump’s Border Stunt Is a Profound Betrayal of Our Military

      The president used America’s military not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election.

      A week before the midterm elections, the president of the United States announced he would deploy up to 15,000 active duty military troops to the United States-Mexico border to confront a menacing caravan of refugees and asylum seekers. The soldiers would use force, if necessary, to prevent such an “invasion” of the United States.

      Mr. Trump’s announcement and the deployment that followed (of roughly 5,900) were probably perfectly legal. But we are a bipartisan threesome with decades of experience in and with the Pentagon, and to us, this act creates a dangerous precedent. We fear this was lost in the public hand-wringing over the decision, so let us be clear: The president used America’s military forces not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election outcome, an unprecedented use of the military by a sitting president.

      The public debate focused on secondary issues. Is there truly a threat to American security from an unarmed group of tired refugees and asylum seekers on foot and a thousand miles from the border? Even the Army’s internal assessment did not find this a very credible threat.

      Can the president deny in advance what could be legitimate claims for asylum, without scrutiny? Most likely, this violates treaty commitments the United States made as part of its agreement to refugee conventions in 1967, which it has followed for decades.

      The deployment is not, in the context of the defense budget, an albatross. We are already paying the troops, wherever they’re deployed, and the actual incremental costs of sending them to the border might be $100 million to $200 million, a tiny fraction of the $716 billion defense budget.

      Still, we can think of many ways to put the funds to better use, like improving readiness.

      It’s also not unusual for a president to ask the troops to deploy to the border in support of border security operations. Presidents of both parties have sent troops to the border, to provide support functions like engineering, logistics, transportation and surveillance.

      But those deployments have been generally in smaller numbers, usually the National Guard, and never to stop a caravan of refugees and asylum seekers.

      So, generously, some aspects of the deployment are at least defensible. But one is not, and that aspect is the domestic political use — or rather, misuse — of the military.

      James Mattis, the secretary of defense, asserted that the Defense Department does not “do stunts.” But this was a blatant political stunt. The president crossed a line — the military is supposed to stay out of domestic politics. As many senior military retirees have argued, the forces are not and should not be a political instrument. They are not toy soldiers to be moved around by political leaders but a neutral institution, politically speaking.
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      Oh, some might say, presidents use troops politically all the time. And so they do, generally in the context of foreign policy decisions that have political implications. Think Lyndon Johnson sending more troops to Vietnam, fearing he would be attacked for “cutting and running” from that conflict. Or George W. Bush crowing about “mission accomplished” when Saddam Hussein was toppled. Those are not the same thing as using troops at home for electoral advantage.

      Electoral gain, not security, is this president’s goal. Two of us served in the military for many years; while all troops must obey the legal and ethical orders of civilian leaders, they need to have faith that those civilian leaders are using them for legitimate national security purposes. But the border deployment put the military right in the middle of the midterm elections, creating a nonexistent crisis to stimulate votes for one party.

      When partisan actions like this occur, they violate civil-military traditions and erode that faith, with potentially long-term damage to the morale of the force and our democratic practice — all for electoral gain.

      The deployment is a stunt, a dangerous one, and in our view, a misuse of the military that should have led Mr. Mattis to consider resigning, instead of acceding to this blatant politicization of America’s military.


      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/opinion/president-trump-border-military-troops.html

    • The Military Is ’Securing’ a 1,900-Mile Border with 22 Miles of Razor Wire

      #Operation_Faithful_Patriot” is nothing more than a very expensive, politically motivated P.R. campaign.
      Skim through the Pentagon’s media site for Operation Faithful Patriot—the fittingly ridiculous name for the deployment of some 7,000 American troops to various spots along the Mexican border—and you’ll see lots of razor wire.

      There are photos of American troops laying razor wire (technically known as concertina wire) along the California-Mexico border. Of wire being affixed to the top of fences and to the sides of buildings. Everywhere you look on the Pentagon’s site, you find wire, wire, and more wire. Photos of soldiers carrying rolls of unused wire, snapshots of forklifts bringing more of the stuff to the border, and even videos of wire being unrolled and deployed. It’s thrilling stuff, truly.

      The message is not subtle. President Donald Trump might not have convinced Congress to blow billions for a fully operational border wall, but good luck to any immigrant caravan that happens to stumble into the thorny might of the American military’s sharpest deterrents.

      The focus on concertina wire isn’t just in the Pentagon’s internal media. The Wall Street Journal dedicated an entire Election Day story to how troops in Granjeno, Texas, had “unfurled reams of razor wire on top of a wrought-iron fence alongside a bridge to Mexico.” Troops stringing wire also appeared in The New York Post, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.

      There is so much concertina wire deployed to the southern border that if it were all stretched out from end to end, it would reach all the way from Brownsville, Texas, on the Gulf Coast to....well, whatever is 22 miles west of Brownsville, Texas.

      Yes. Despite the deluge of photos and videos of American troops are securing the southern border with reams of razor wire, Buzzfeed’s Vera Bergengruen reports that “troops have deployed with 22 miles of the wire so far, with 150 more available.”

      The U.S.–Mexico border is roughly 1,950 miles long.

      The wire doesn’t seem to be getting strung with any sort of strategic purpose, either. That WSJ story about the troops in Texas hanging wire from a bridge says that the “wire was placed on top of fences at least 15 feet high along each side of the bridge that sat several dozen feet above an embankment” while the bridge itself remains open to vehicle traffic from Mexico. If there is a goal, it would seem to be making the border look more prickly and dystopian while not actually creating any sort of barrier.

      It’s no wonder, then, that the troops deployed to the border are confused about why they are there. On Wednesday, when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited some of the troops stationed near McAllen, Texas, he was met with lots of questions and provided few answers.

      “Sir, I have a question. The wire obstacles that we’ve implanted along the border....Are we going to be taking those out when we leave?” one of the soldiers asked Mattis, according to Bergengruen. Another asked Mattis to explain the “short- and long-term plans of this operation.”

      “Short-term right now, you get the obstacles in so the border patrolmen can do what they gotta do,” Mattis responded. “Longer term, it’s somewhat to be determined.”

      Even at a time when most American military engagements seem to be conducted with a “TBD” rationale, this feels especially egregious. Mattis did his best on Wednesday to make the effort seem like a meaningful attempt to secure the border, while simultaneously admitting that he does not expect the deployed troops to actually come into contact with any immigrant caravans. Lately he’s been talking about how the deployment is supposedly good training for unconventional circumstances.

      It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Operation Faithful Patriot—a name so silly that the Pentagon has decided to stop using it—is nothing more than a very expensive, politically motivated P.R. campaign. Of the 39 units deployed, five of them are public affairs units. There seems to be no clear mission, no long-term objective, and no indication that the troops will add meaningful enforcement to existing border patrols.

      As for all that wire? It doesn’t really seem to be working either.

      https://reason.com/blog/2018/11/19/the-military-is-securing-a-1900-mile-bor
      #Faithful_Patriot #barbelé

  • Et comme ça met en cause la «  sécurité nationale  », les 14 Mds $ pour protéger l’industrie chimique (privée) doivent nécessairement être publics…

    Gulf Coast Needs $14 Billion Storm Barrier, Chemical Makers Say - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-05/gulf-coast-needs-14-billion-storm-barrier-chemical-makers-say

    Chemical companies are pressing federal officials to spend billions of dollars on a coastal flood control system near Houston to protect petrochemical plants, oil refineries and shipping infrastructure from the next hurricane.

    The coastal spine, as the project is called, is among the most important infrastructure investments needed to mitigate damage from major storms, Bob Patel, chief executive officer of LyondellBasell Industries NV, said Monday at an industry conference to discuss lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey.

    The proposed system of seawalls, levies and flood gates in the Galveston, Texas, area would cost an estimated $14 billion, and would be designed to reduce flood damage similar to that seen by Hurricane Ike’s storm surge in 2008.

  • #Diamond_Pipeline disrupts oil flows around U.S.
    https://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL4N1PL4SZ

    The Diamond Pipeline has
    scrambled crude oil flows around the U.S. Gulf Coast and Midwest
    since it opened in December, cutting supply at the Cushing hub
    and hammering Louisiana oil prices.
    The line from Cushing, Oklahoma to Memphis, Tennessee, a
    joint venture between Plains All American Pipeline LP
    and Valero Energy Corp , has dented volumes on the
    Capline system - the nation’s largest crude pipeline that runs
    from the Gulf to key refineries in the Midwest.
    Prices for Gulf Coast crude grades traded in the Louisiana
    region have been hit hard.
    […]
    The 440-mile long Diamond line feeds Valero’s Memphis,
    Tennessee refinery, which has a capacity of about 190,000 bpd.
    Valero has historically moved large volumes from North Dakota’s
    Bakken shale region by rail to Louisiana and then shipped it up
    Capline, a long and expensive route, traders said.
    In December, Marathon Pipe Line LLC said it would reverse
    Capline, pending agreement among owners, to initially send about
    300,000 bpd of crude south beginning in the second half of 2022.
    However, if supply is getting stuck in Louisiana as a result of
    Diamond, the additional crude from Capline could worsen that
    effect.

    http://www.diamondpipelinellc.com/project-overview/maps

  • Qatar says new port will help circumvent Arab sanctions
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-gulf-qatar-port/qatar-says-new-port-will-help-circumvent-arab-sanctions-idUSKCN1BG1RP

    Qatar inaugurated a new $7.4 billion port along its Gulf coast on Tuesday that officials said would become a regional transport hub and help shield its economy against sanctions enforced by neighbouring Arab states.

    The #Hamad_port, 40km south of Doha, is one of the largest such facilities in the Middle East.
    […]
    Qatar has expanded shipping routes to India, Oman, Turkey and Pakistan and announced plans to raise its liquefied natural gas (LNG) output by 30 percent in an apparent effort to prepare for greater economic independence in the long term.

    Hamad port spans 26 square kilometers and will have a capacity of 7.5 million containers a year with terminals built to receive livestock, cereals, vehicles and coastguard vessels, [Qatari Transport Minister Jassim bin Saif al-]Sulaiti said.

    #ميناء_حمد

  • Who Is Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline? Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo | Democracy Now!
    http://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/9/who_is_funding_the_dakota_access

    http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/who%27s-banking-dakota-access-pipeline

    We continue our conversation Food & Water Watch’s Hugh MacMillan about his new investigation that reveals the dozens of financial institutions that are bankrolling the Dakota Access pipeline, including Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase. “They are banking on this company and banking on being able to drill and frack for the oil to send through the pipeline over the coming decades,” MacMillan says. “So they’re providing the capital for the construction of this pipeline.”

    Who’s Banking on the Dakota Access Pipeline? - LittleSis
    https://littlesis.org/maps/1634-who-s-banking-on-the-dakota-access-pipeline

    Resistance to Dakota Access Grows

    Energy Transfer Partners began construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in May 2016, but the company’s plans have hit a snag.

    In late July, the Army Corps of Engineers granted permits for the pipeline to cross beneath the Missouri and Cannon Ball Rivers without approval from the Standing Rock Sioux.

    By late August 2016, more than 1500 people, mostly Native Americans, had responded to the tribe’s call to action and converged at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to protect against construction of “the black snake.” In an historic show of solidarity, 188 First Nations and American Indian tribes have united in opposition.

    Also in August, Youth from Standing Rock completed a 2000-mile relay run to Washington, D.C., to bring the message of their #RezpectOurWater campaign to the White House, in their own show of opposition.

    The Dakota Access pipeline would run through the Dakotas and Iowa to Illinois, where oil would be sent to East Coast markets by train or to the Gulf Coast via another Energy Transfer Partners pipeline being converted to carry oil.

    Overall, the “Bakken Crude Pipeline” — to extend over 1,800 miles from near the Canadian border to the Gulf Coast of Texas — is costing about $4.8 billion, and is being sold as a key element of Energy Transfer Partners plans to “capitalize on U.S. energy exports,” thanks to fracking.

    This graph, made by Food & Water Watch for the Standing Rock Sioux and for the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, first revealed the banks banking against the Standing Rock Sioux and against all those responding to the tribe’s call to action. (Food & Water Watch has since produced a second data visualization.)

    #nations_premières #dakota #pipeline #états_unis #resistance #résister

  • Extreme heatwaves could push Gulf climate beyond human endurance, study shows
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/26/extreme-heatwaves-could-push-gulf-climate-beyond-human-endurance-study-

    “Our results expose a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in the absence of significant [carbon cuts], is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future,” said Prof Jeremy Pal and Prof Elfatih Eltahir, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writing in the journal Nature Climate Change.

    They said the future climate for many locations in the Gulf would be like today’s extreme climate in the desert of Northern Afar, on the African side of the Red Sea, where there are no permanent human settlements at all. But the research also showed that cutting greenhouse gas emissions now could avoid this fate.

    • The scientists used standard climate computer models to show that the fatal wet bulb temperature extremes would occur every decade or two after 2070 along most of the Gulf coast, if global warming is not curbed. Using the normal measure of temperature, the study shows 45C would become the usual summer maximum in Gulf cities, with 60C being seen in places like Kuwait City in some years.

      #climat #santé

  • Living Katrina: 10 Years Later | Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma

    http://dartcenter.org/content/living-katrina-10-years-later

    On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we asked seven journalists, a news executive and a clinician from the Gulf Coast to reflect on their experiences and what they’ve learned in the decade since. Scroll down for excerpts, and click to the right for full pieces from Eve Troeh, Clarence Williams, Stan Tiner, Debbie Fleming Caffery, John Pope, Joy Osofsky, June Cross, Russell Lewis and Mark Schleifstein.

    #katrina #nouvelle_orléans #mississippi

  • Editorial. #Katrina, une tempête politique

    Le 29 août 2005, l’ouragan Katrina frappe La Nouvelle-Orléans. Un déluge d’eau, des morts par centaines, 1 million de sans-abri, des quartiers ravagés. Mais alors que les Etats-Unis connaissent l’une des plus importantes catastrophes naturelles de leur histoire, leur président est aux abonnés absents. George W. Bush se repose dans son ranch texan, des vacances qu’il finit par abréger deux jours plus tard pour rentrer à Washington. A bord d’Air Force One, le président américain survole La Nouvelle-Orléans et prend conscience de l’ampleur des dégâts. Mais il est déjà trop tard : en Louisiane et dans tout le pays, la colère monte face à la légèreté du président et l’impéritie de son administration. L’Amérique de Bush a failli.


    http://www.courrierinternational.com/article/editorial-katrina-une-tempete-politique

    • C’est encore ne présenter que la version politiquement correcte que de parler de la légèreté de Bush.
      “Congressman Mike Pence, a leader of the powerful Republican Study Group which helped draft Bush’s reconstruction agenda, emphasised that Republicans would turn the rubble into a capitalist utopia: “We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was” (20).

      Symptomatically, the Army Corps in New Orleans is now led by the official who formerly oversaw contracts in Iraq (21). The Lower Ninth Ward may never exist again, but already the barroom and strip-joint owners in the French Quarter are relishing the fat days ahead, as the Halliburton workers, Blackwater mercenaries, and Bechtel engineers leave their federal paychecks behind on Bourbon Street. As they say in Cajun, — and no doubt now in the White House too — “laissez les bons temps rouler!””
      The predators of New Orleans
      https://mondediplo.com/2005/10/02katrina

  • 10 Years After Katrina - The New York Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/26/us/ten-years-after-katrina.html?_r=0

    NEW ORLEANS — It is a wonder that any of it is here at all: The scattered faithful gathering into Beulah Land Baptist Church on a Sunday morning in the Lower Ninth Ward. The men on stoops in Mid-City swapping gossip in the August dusk. The brass band in Tremé, the lawyers in Lakeview, the new homeowners in Pontchartrain Park.

    On Aug. 29, 2005, it all seemed lost. Four-fifths of the city lay submerged as residents frantically signaled for help from their rooftops and thousands were stranded at the Superdome, a congregation of the desperate and poor. From the moment the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina dismantled a fatally defective levee system, New Orleans became a global symbol of American dysfunction and government negligence. At every level and in every duty, from engineering to social policy to basic logistics, there were revelations of malfunction and failure before, during, and after Katrina.

    Ten years later, it is not exactly right to say that New Orleans is back. The city did not return, not as it was.

    It is, first of all, without the more than 1,400 people who died here, and the thousands who are now making their lives someplace else. As of 2013, there were nearly 100,000 fewer black residents than in 2000, their absences falling equally across income levels. The white population decreased by about 11,000, but it is wealthier.

    The city that exists in 2015 has been altered, by both a decade of institutional re-engineering and the artless rearrangement that occurs when people are left to fend for themselves.

    Empowered by billions of federal dollars and the big ideas of eager policy planners, the school system underwent an extensive overhaul; the old Art Deco Charity Hospital was supplanted by a state-of-the-art medical complex; and big public housing projects, at once beloved and notorious, were razed and replaced by mixed-income communities with housing vouchers.

    #Nouvelle_Orleans #Katrina #gentrification #remplacement #data #interaction #cartes

  • Urbanization and barrier islands | Panethos

    https://panethos.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/urbanization-and-barrier-islands

    Barrier islands provide a critical (and fragile) natural defense against wave action, swells, storm surges, and coastal storms. In the United States these unique geological features border the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, while on the Atlantic Coast they can be found from Florida northward to New York State. They can also be found along portions of Mexico’s Gulf and Caribbean coasts as well as around Cuba. While found around the globe, long barrier islands do not seem to be quite as prevalent of a geographic, geologic, or topographic phenomenon outside of North America.

    #urban_matter

  • #Louisiana five years after #BP oil spill: ’It’s not going back to normal no time soon’

    The oil giant says the environmental disaster caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blast is nearly over. That’s not how it feels to Gulf coast residents

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/18/lousiana-bp-oil-spill-five-years-not-going-back-to-normal?CMP=twt_gu
    #marée_noire #environnement #mer #pétrole #Etats-Unis #USA

  • Poissons rouges

    29 % des sympathisants républicains de Louisiane pensent qu’Obama est plus à blâmer que Bush pour la gestion des dégâts causés par l’ouragan Katrina en... 2005, soit 3 ans avant son élection à la présidence des USA !

    Twenty-eight percent said they think former President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time, was more responsible for the poor federal response while 29 percent said Obama, who was still a freshman U.S. Senator when the storm battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, was more responsible. Nearly half of Louisiana Republicans — 44 percent — said they aren’t sure who to blame.

    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/poll-louisiana-gopers-unsure-if-katrina-response-was

  • Federal mediators to try to restart talks with dockworkers
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-longshoremen-contract-20120904,0,1523555.story

    Federal mediators will attempt to restart stalled contract talks between the union representing 14,500 East and Gulf coast dockworkers and the group representing their employers in an effort to avert the first strike in 35 years.

    Dockers ? Baltimore ? #the_wire
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv3jf9DHFzk

  • Hurricane Isaac … and the seven years since Hurricane Katrina

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/aug2012/pers-a31.shtml

    31 August 2012

    Whatever the ultimate damage caused by Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf Coast region of the US, the new storm has underscored once again the depths of the social crisis in America and the dramatic failure of its political system.

    No thinking human being can honestly believe it is impossible for the “richest country on earth” to protect its people from a Category 1 hurricane. Yet, once again, parts of Louisiana and Mississippi are being flooded, some 900,000 people are without electricity, and tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents face evacuation.

    Seven years ago, the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina were a damning indictment of American capitalism. The combination of crumbling infrastructure, the official refusal to listen to warnings about the levee system, the overall lack of preparedness, and the conditions of the poorest sections of the population, led to a terrible human tragedy. At least 1,800 died, and 80 percent of New Orleans was submerged, with 70 percent of its housing units damaged and tens of thousands trapped in the city for days without food, drinking water or assistance.

    #etats-unis #katrina #isaac #mississippi #louisiane #nouvelle-orléans #désatres

  • Hurricane Katrina - News - Times Topics - The New York Times

    De très nombreuses ressources et analyse regroupées ici par le NYT

    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/h/hurricane_katrina/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier

    Hurricane Katrina

    Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast with devastating force at daybreak on Aug. 29, 2005, pummeling a region that included the fabled city of New Orleans and heaping damage on neighboring Mississippi. In all, more than 1,700 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of others displaced.

    Packing 145-mile-an-hour winds as it made landfall, the category 3 storm left more than a million people in three states without power and submerged highways even hundreds of miles from its center. The hurricane’s storm surge — a 29-foot wall of water pushed ashore when the hurricane struck the Gulf Coast — was the highest ever measured in the United States. Levees failed in New Orleans, resulting in political and social upheavals that continued a half decade later.

    Katrina ranks as one of the most punishing hurricanes ever to hit the United States. Damage, costing billions of dollars, has made it one of the costliest storms on record. In New Orleans, floodwaters from the breached levee rose to rooftops in the poorest neighborhood, and in many areas residents were rescued from roofs of homes that became uninhabitable. The hurricane’s howling winds stripped 15-foot sections off the roof of the Superdome, where as many as 10,000 evacuees had taken shelter. An exodus of hundreds of thousands left the city, many becoming refugees, finding shelter with nearby relatives or restarting their lives in states as far away as Massachusetts and Utah.

    Experts who studied the disaster say the hurricane was more like four storms — at least — that battered the area in different ways. They say the flood protection system in New Orleans was flawed from the start because the model storm it was designed to stop was simplistic, and led to an inadequate network of levees, flood walls, storm gates and pumps. And experts say that understanding the failings is essential in planning the next generation of flood protection for a rebuilt New Orleans, and for systems nationwide.

    #etats-unis #ouragan #isaac #katrina #mississippi #nouvelle-orléans

  • Mayan 2012 Apocalypse Prediction Might Have Been Mistranslated | Death and Taxes
    http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/164997/mayan-2012-apocalypse-prediction-might-have-been-mistranslated

    Gronemeyer has been studying the stone tablet found years ago at the archeological site of Tortuguero in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

    He said the inscription describes the return of mysterious Mayan god Bolon Yokte at the end of a 13th period of 400 years, known as Baktuns, on the equivalent of Dec. 21, 2012. Mayans considered 13 a sacred number. There’s nothing apocalyptic in the date, he said.

  • TransCanada Pipeline Protesters: Who They Are, Why They Came
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/24/transcanada-pipeline-protest_n_935263.html

    The debate over the Keystone XL oil pipeline reached a fever pitch this week as activists led by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben called on Barack Obama to deny presidential approval to the TransCanada project, which would stretch from tar sands in Canada to oil refineries in south Texas. Tuesday marked the fifth day of protests as well as the arrival of dozens of Gulf Coast residents to sit-ins before the White House.

    The protests, slated to run through Sept. 3, have drawn a geographically diverse group of activists from as far away as California and Montana. As of Wednesday morning, 275 had been arrested by the U.S. Park Police. Hundreds more are on their way to Washington.

    #noKXL