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Dial D for Democracy: How Russia is far more democratic than many realise

Russia is actually becoming a more democratic society than is true of many states in the West.

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Democracy is to a politically curious man or woman what sex is to a young adolescent. They have all heard the word, they are intrigued by the concept, but only have a cursory idea of what it actually is.  The latter is generally resolved through a natural process of biological and psycho-sexual maturity.

The former is only solved through education, no matter how old the particular student is. I’d like to explore some of the many manifestations of democracy throughout the world,  paying close attention to the modern democratic process in the Russian Federation, a country which is vastly more democratic than many have been led to believe it is.

What is Democracy?

The English word democracy is derived from the ancient Greek word demokratia, itself a word which combined demos (the populace/people) with kratos (rule/strength). At the time this term came about there was no unified Hellenic state but rather multiple city states amongst the Hellenic peoples. Some, though not all were considered democracies, Athens being the most powerful and hence the best remembered. 

Ancient Athens pioneered something called direct democracy whereby citizens actively participate in the construction, amendment and implementation of laws. It wasn’t always like that, the classical Athenian democracy only developed under the reforms of Solon who took power away from the ancient council of elders, the Areopagus and placed power in the Ecclesia, a popular council open to all male Athenian citizens, though women and non-citizens living in Athens were excluded.

Before moving on to more contemporary variants of democracy, it is necessary to clarify some terms.

Direct Democracy: The full participation of citizens in the making, amending and enforcing of laws. In such a system there are no professional politicians.

Suffrage: This simply means the right to vote. It does not mean one has the right to make law, overturn law and crucially it does not mean democracy. One can have suffrage in a non-democratic fashion (when one votes in a non-binding referendum for example).

Universal Suffrage: Many societies throughout history have allowed certain people to vote although the idea that all citizens have an automatic right to vote is historically speaking, a rather recent phenomenon.  Certain qualifications for the eligibility to vote have traditionally applied, the most common being, wealth, property ownership, one’s sex and in more limited cases education and aptitude. Universal Suffrage is the idea that all citizens or in some cases all residents of a state should have the unqualified right to vote.

Petition: Prior to the 18th and 19th centuries, Petition was the most sacred and common expression of democracy. Although petitions to the throne existed in Imperial China, the most well known example is that of England and later all of Britain. The process was affirmed in the Magna Carta of 1215. A petition is when a subject, citizen or group thereof write their grievance to the sovereign and propose how the issue ought to be redressed.    

Representative democracy (sometimes known as Parliamentary Democracy): This is the most common form of democracy in the world today. It involves citizens using their right to the franchise (suffrage) to elected representatives to a legislative body (or bodies).

Referendum: A referendum is a tool of direct democracy. Here those with the right to vote get to decide on pieces of legislation irrespective of the wishes of professional politicians. There is however a caveat to this, some countries have non-binding referenda, whereby those with the right to vote can express their views but these views can be overruled by professional politicians or in some cases judges.

Initiatives: In an initiative, a group of citizens propose a piece of legislation and if it meets certain qualifications (the amount of citizens proposing the legislation, constitutionality etc) it will then be put to all voters in a referendum.

Demonstration: The right to demonstrate is a legal right of citizens to publically assemble, allowing their views to be unmistakably head by a state’s leadership. It is the vocal version of a petition in many ways, though in most cases doesn’t carry the same legal standing.

Social Contract/Will of the People: This is the idea that there is an uncodified law demanding that the leaders of government have a duty to represent the will, desires and needs of the populace without necessitating any form of suffrage. This harkens to the Platonic/Socratic idea of ‘philosopher kings’, a group of esteemed individuals who earn their right to rule through intellect and merit rather than through direct elections or approval.   

Peace: Peace is the antithesis of war and obviously war the antithesis of peace. In no dictionary or language is democracy the antithesis of war. The concepts are not intellectually related. Whether democracy helps create peace is up for debate. I’ll simply mention some popular theories. Plato would say democracy is more likely to lead to war due to the ‘mob mentality’ he associated with it and his fear of demagoguery whipping up a population against a foreign power. Two popular counter arguments state that if people feel they have a direct say in government they will not resort to civil war. Also, if people have the right to participate in either a demonstration, petition or initiate against a government’s desire to go to war, that it may be effective. Of course, the 1 million people demonstrating against Tony Blair and his government’s desire to invade Iraq in 2003 proved ineffective.

So which modern state is the most democratic? That’s an easy one, Switzerland. Switzerland employs constitutional initiatives, popular referenda and indeed demands referenda on the most crucial matters of government. Switzerland’s form of government is the closet of any to a direct democracy.  I did say I would talk about Russia and I will. Russia is much less democratic than Switzerland, but it is quite a bit more democratic than Britain, The United States, Germany, France, Canada and Poland (to name but a few).

The Political System in Russia

The Russian Federation is a representative democracy in which all male and female citizens of adult age cast votes for a political party to represent them according to the proportional representation system of elections which is used throughout much of Europe. In Britain members of the Green Party, Liberal Democratic Party and UKIP have often proposed the implementation of proportional representation, as they feel the so-called ‘first past the post’ system in modern Britain is insufficiently democratic.

The proper way to measure the level of democracy in a representative democracy like Russia’s or for that matter like Britain’s or America’s is by analysing the diversity of opinion amongst the parties which people have elected to a legislative body. In this respect Russia is a clear winner. In what other democratic legislature can one find a party which is the successor to the once most powerful Communist Party in the world and on the other hand a party whose leader has called Lenin a terrorist and has publicly proscribed Communism in the Council of Europe?  It’s hard to frankly compete with such levels of political diversity. In order to better understand this, it is necessary to catalogue the four major parties of Russian politics beginning with the oldest.

Political Parties in Russia

The Communist Party of The Russian Federation: This is the successor party to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and has traditionally polled a strong second in most elections to the Duma as well as presidential elections. This is a traditional Marxist-Leninist party which under the lengthy leadership of  Gennady Zyuganov has repudiated both the de-Stalinisation of Khrushchev as well as the reforms of Gorbachev. Whilst strictly an atheistic party as the CPSU always had been, Zyuganov offers a conciliatory approach to religion constituting a divergence from early Stalinist views on religion.

The LDPR (formerly Liberal Democratic Party of Russia): This was the second officially registered party in the Soviet Union. Founded and still led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the party places a great deal of emphasis on Russia’s historical role in geo-politics as well as traditional Russian culture. Whilst often described as right-wing or even far-right, the domestic policies of the LDPR tend to be a mix of market capitalism and state regulation with an emphasis on the need for cooperation between free individuals and the need of government to facilitate industrial, agricultural and infrastructural development. In terms of overarching ideology it is stridently anti-fascist and anti-nationalist, whilst embracing a uniquely Russian sense of conservatism.  Zhirinovsky himself is a professional historian and a multi-lingual expert in world affairs. Known for a flamboyant and often adversarial rhetoric, his speeches on the importance of foreign affairs in the daily lives of individuals are an instructive viewing.

United Russia: Founded in 2001, United Russia remains the most powerful and politically active party in Russia. Whilst since the 2012 Presidential Election, Vladimir Putin hasn’t been an official member of the party, United Russia openly endorses Putin and is currently chaired by the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The party offers generally centrist policies but on the whole promotes the free market with some mixed economic elements. In foreign affairs United Russia is fully aligned with official Presidential policy.

A Just Russia: Led by Sergey Mironov, A Just Russia is the newest of Russia’s major parties. It is a social democratic party which campaigns on increased social welfare programmes, better treatment of pensioners and has been highly critical of the internal workings of United Russia, presenting itself as a more honest party. Mironov has campaigned for the votes of both United Russia supporters as well as those who traditionally vote Communist, promising the social interventions Communist favour with a more centrist and ‘modern’ approach that tends to appeal to United Russia voters. Although sprung from disorganised beginnings, it is now the third largest party in the State Duma.

Russia’s Duma is indeed diverse, far more so than those challenging Russia’s democratic credentials.

Comparing Democracy: Russia and the West

How could Russia improve its democracy? I would say the same way the United States could do, by allowing for referenda and initiatives at a national level. Apart from that, Russia’s election system is according to all international observers, free and fair, its parties represent diverse views and Russia’s president has a far higher popularity rating amongst his people than his equivalents in most representative democracies.

So if Russia is more rather than less democratic than many of its neighbours let alone its international detractors, why do many in Europe and North America not understand this? For this one must turn to the nature of the media. I would say Russian media offer a much wider breadth of debate than say the BBC or New York Times.

Take for example the recent events in Turkey. The Russian media have published and aired many alternative views, some anti-Ergodan and some pro with many not even willing to take a side at this early stage in what promises to be a season of political turmoil in Turkey.

By contrast, when Russian politics are discussed in western media it is almost always negative or defamatory. Parts of the western media remind me of something else Switzerland is famous for…not its admirable democracy but something filled with holes and when left out in the open for too long, it begins to stink

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More evidence of Clinton election meddling, as calls for investigation grow louder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 85.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the real case for Russia collusion before and during the 2016 US Presidential election, not against Donald Trump, but the Clinton’s and the Democrat Party.

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Authored by John Solomon, via The Hill


With Republicans on both House and Senate investigative committees having found no evidence of Donald Trump being guilty of Democrat-inspired allegations of Russian collusion, it is worth revisiting one anecdote that escaped significant attention during the hysteria but continues to have U.S. security implications.

As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton worked with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-President Dmitri Medvedev, to create U.S. technology partnerships with Moscow’s version of Silicon Valley, a sprawling high-tech campus known as Skolkovo.

Clinton’s handprint was everywhere on the 2009-2010 project, the tip of a diplomatic spear to reboot U.S.-Russian relations after years of hostility prompted by Vladimir Putin’s military action against the former Soviet republic and now U.S. ally Georgia.

A donor to the Clinton Foundation, Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, led the Russian side of the effort, and several American donors to the Clinton charity got involved. Clinton’s State Department facilitated U.S. companies working with the Russian project, and she personally invited Medvedev to visit Silicon Valley.

The collaboration occurred at the exact same time Bill Clinton made his now infamous trip to Russia to pick up a jaw-dropping $500,000 check for a single speech.

The former president’s trip secretly raised eyebrows inside his wife’s State Department, internal emails show.

That’s because he asked permission to meet Vekselberg, the head of Skolkovo, and Arkady Dvorkovich, a senior official of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear giant seeking State’s permission to buy Uranium One, a Canadian company with massive U.S. uranium reserves.

Years later, intelligence documents show, both the Skolkovo and Uranium One projects raised serious security concerns.

In 2013, the U.S. military’s leading intelligence think tank in Europe sounded alarm that the Skolkovo project might be a front for economic and military espionage.

“Skolkovo is an ambitious enterprise, aiming to promote technology transfer generally, by inbound direct investment, and occasionally, through selected acquisitions. As such, Skolkovo is arguably an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage — with the additional distinction that it can achieve such a transfer on a much larger scale and more efficiently,” EUCOM’s intelligence bulletin wrote in 2013.

“Implicit in Russia’s development of Skolkovo is a critical question — a question that Russia may be asking itself — why bother spying on foreign companies and government laboratories if they will voluntarily hand over all the expertise Russia seeks?”

A year later, the FBI went further and sent letters warning several U.S. technology companies that had become entangled with Skolkovo that they risked possible espionage. And an agent in the bureau’s Boston office wrote an extraordinary op-ed to publicize the alarm.

Skolkovo “may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote in the Boston Business Journal.

The FBI had equal concern about Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One. An informer named William Douglas Campbell had gotten inside the Russian nuclear giant in 2009 and gathered evidence that Rosatom’s agents in the United States were engaged in a racketeering scheme involving kickbacks, extortion and bribery.

Campbell also obtained written evidence that Putin wanted to buy Uranium One as part of a strategy to obtain monopolistic domination of the global uranium markets, including leverage over the U.S.

Campbell also warned that a major in-kind donor to the Clinton Global Initiative was simultaneously working for Rosatom while the decision for U.S. approval was pending before Hillary Clinton’s department. Ultimately, her department and the Obama administration approved the transaction.

The evidence shows the Clintons financially benefited from Russia — personally and inside their charity — at the same time they were involved in U.S. government actions that rewarded Moscow and increased U.S. security risks.

The intersections between the Clintons, the Democrats and Russia carried into 2016, when a major political opposition research project designed to portray GOP rival Donald Trump as compromised by Moscow was launched by Clinton’s presidential campaign and brought to the FBI.

Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS research firm was secretly hired by the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party through their law firm, Perkins Coie.

Simpson then hired retired British intelligence operative Christopher Steele — whom the FBI learned was “desperate” to defeat Trump — to write an unverified dossier suggesting that Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the election.

Simpson, Steele and Perkins Coie all walked Trump-Russia related allegations into the FBI the summer before the election, prompting agents who openly disliked Trump to launch a counterintelligence probe of the GOP nominee shortly before Election Day.

Simpson and Steele also went to the news media to air the allegations in what senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr would later write was a “Hail Mary” effort to influence the election.

Congressional investigators have painstakingly pieced together evidence that shows the Clinton research project had extensive contact with Russians.

Ohr’s notes show that Steele’s main source of uncorroborated allegationsagainst Trump came from an ex-Russian intelligence officer. “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.,” Ohr scribbled.

Steele’s dossier also relied on information from a Belarus-born Russian businessman, according to numerous reports and a book on the Russia scandal.

Steele and Simpson had Russian-tied business connections, too, while they formulated the dossier.

Steele worked for the lawyers for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and tried to leverage those connections to help the FBI get evidence from the Russian aluminum magnate against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The effort resulted in FBI agents visiting Deripaska in fall 2016. Deripaska told the agents that no collusion existed.

Likewise, Simpson worked in 2016 for the Russian company Prevezon — which was trying to escape U.S. government penalties — and one of its Russian lawyers, Natalia Veselnitskaya. In sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Simpson admitted he dined with Veselnitskaya both the night before and the night after her infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Simpson insists the two dinners sandwiching one of the seminal events in the Trump collusion narrative had nothing to do with the Trump Tower meeting, a claim many Republicans distrust.

Whatever the case, there’s little doubt the main instigators of the Clinton-inspired allegations against Trump got information from Russians and were consorting with them during the political opposition project.

This past week, we learned from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) that his committee came to the same conclusion as the House: There is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

But now there is growing evidence — of Democratic connections to Russia. It’s enough that former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) believes a probe should be opened.

There is “obvious collusion the Democrats had through Glenn Simpson and through Fusion GPS, that they were talking directly to Russia,” Nunes told Hill.TV’s “Rising” in an interview to be aired Monday.

Collusion can be criminal if it involves conspiracy to break federal laws, or it can involve perfectly legal, unwitting actions that still jeopardize America’s security against a “frenemy” like Russia.

There is clear evidence now that shows Hillary Clinton’s family and charity profited from Moscow and simultaneously facilitated official government actions benefiting Russia that have raised security concerns.

And there’s irrefutable evidence that her opposition research effort on Trump — one that inspired an FBI probe — was carried out by people who got information from Russia and were consorting with Russians.

It would seem those questions deserve at least some of the scrutiny afforded the Trump-Russia collusion inquiry that is now two-plus years old.


NOTE: This story has been updated from the original to correct that Uranium One is a Canadian company and to clarify that House and Senate investigating committees have cleared the president.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video

 

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Douma chemical weapons hoax exposed by BBC producer

Very frightening for us all is the coordination of propaganda between the States of US, Britain, France and Israel.

Richard Galustian

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It is beyond doubt that the White Helmets ‘staged’ the false flag operation at the Douma hospital that caused President Trump to attack Syria last April.

Days after the attack the much to be admired, yet still maligned by many, investigative reporter, Robert Fisk was on the ground in Douma and interviewed countless people, videoed the scene, made it public in the newspapers and by TV the fact of the fake sarin attack.

What happened next were attempts to rubbish Fisk’s story; a almost frightening Orwellian propaganda machine kicked in….and went into overdrive. That is to say a combination of ‘corrupt’ reporters; some just naive or dumb, many of whom had never been to Douma or even Syria, plus the full weight of the US, British and French Governments and finally, not forgetting, one of the greatest fraudsters of this century an absolute nobody, that calls himself Eliot Higgins and his ‘Bellycat Organisation’, all weighed in to accuse Fisk of lying.

Clearly not in order of importance but suffice to say Elliot Higgins, is now obviously ‘used’ as a convenient tool for Russia bashing by certain Western powers, but is a total fraud. Rather than write too much about this person, judge by reading an exposé that couldn’t be more revealing, uncovering his lie in the Daily Telegraph (link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10730163/The-blogger-who-tracks-Syrian-rockets-from-his-sofa.html).

Not much more need be said about this con-man turned ‘G-Man’. However later in this piece, I will quote some of the Douma ridiculing propaganda of Higgins/Bellingcat, as it is too crass not to be reminded of the way our governments operate.

So based on a complete lie, President Trump ordered an attack on an Assad controlled area in Syria using several bombs including 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 19 JASSM-ER (fired from USAF fighters, air to surface standoff missiles). The price for all was around $200million. Much needed money wasted that belongs to the people of US in these austere times.

That by the way does not include the cost of the coordinated attack by the British and French of a total (together) of 17 stormshadow missiles dropped from fighters. Its worth mentioning that in a pathetic display of oneupmanship directed at the British, the French made a last minute decision to add a meagre three more missile types to their attack; ‘Missiles de Croisière Navals’.

As said earlier it is important to remember the Orwellian ‘anti-truth’ propaganda and instead of commenting on it, I’ll just quote what Higgins/Bellingcat said at the time. “The OPCW-FFM report on the February 4 2018 chemical attack in Saraqib, Idlib, reveals not only information about the Saraqib attack, but also the broader use of chemical weapons in Syria by Assad, and additional evidence to support the theory that Assad’s Syrian government forces were behind the April 7 2018 chemical attack in Douma, Damascus. Consistent with Bellingcat’s earlier investigation into the Saraqib chemical attack, the OPCW-FFM report establishes it was the same case in Douma.”

Nonsense.

This scandal of this and other fake White Helmets videos is developing as more details emerge daily, so expect more facts matched with more disinformation and lies from the US and UK.

What we have is first a copy of a twitter exchange which is self explanatory:

So as to be absolutely clear, on February 13th, BBC Syria’s Producer said he could “without a doubt” prove that the Douma hospital scene was false, a White Helmets (WH) fake event.

He said “the Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital. All the WH, activists and people I spoke to are either in Idlib or Euphrates Shield areas.

Only one person was in Damascus.”

The evidence is seen above in the tweet at 05:33 – 13 February 2019, the BBC Producer wrote on his personal, verified Twitter account, which has since been made private or perhaps blocked by persons or governments unknown, anyway someone who controls Twitter.

So some sort of what clearly must have been a false flag attack did happen at Douma but it was like a film scene, staged, using as left over evidence, cylinders filled with say oxygen even chlorine, anything but poison gas and certainly not Sarin gas. The cylinders were left in tact, undamaged as if laid there on the site rather than dropped from thousands of feet from the sky – and who can prove Assad’s airforce dropped them? – and how come they remained undamaged when hitting the ground? – ridiculous; how stupid do our governments think we, the people, are.

“Everything around the attack was manufactured for maximum effect.”

Adding “I can tell you that Jaysh al-Islam ruled Douma with an iron fist. They co-opted activists, doctors and humanitarians with fear and intimidation.”

In fact, one of the 4 people filming the scene was Dr. Abu Bakr Hanan, whom the BBC Producer described as a “brute and shifty” doctor affiliated with Jaysh Al-Islam. The Producer further stating that the narrative should be that “there weren’t enough doctors”. That said, there was one even (seen and filmed) filming and not taking part in the rescue efforts.” A joke!

Why, we must all ask, has no major newspaper or TV any large media outlet in US, UK or France headlined or even mentioned these new facts, that Douma was a lie, that it was staged?

On 9 February, James Harkin, published in ‘The Intercept’ an article where Harkin speaks about Jaysh al-Islam’s rule in Douma, among others. His article ends with “What government pummels its citizens with bombs and chlorine to get them to pressure rebels to leave their city? At the same time, Jaish Al-Islam was sending volleys of improvised rockets into Damascus and snatching activists and members of religious minorities for ransom or to be disappeared. It’s between these two violent truths that the real story of the Syrian conflict begins to emerge not in a bewildering collage of images sent from a war zone, designed to terrify and outrage.”

To conclude, the BBC Producer was so disgusted at pro-rebel activists and rebels’ conduct and the seeming complicity of Western officials, he decide to speak out.

As far as the Russian government is concerned, they now are counter accusing the British government of ordering the White Helmets to fake a chemical attack to help persuade President Trump to unleash cruise missiles. The Russian response was to an allegation by the British government that the “demonisation” of the (thoroughly already discredited) White Helmets comes from the Russian government itself.

Which version do you believe?

Very frightening for us all is the coordination of propaganda between the States of US, Britain, France and Israel.

ALL these wars must stop.

I am neither pro-nor against Russia, but it is very clear to anyone that these wars and attempts at regime changing is a US/British/Israeli idea.

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Here’s Where America’s Imported Oil Comes from: Venezuela Is Currently the 4th-Largest

Saudi Arabia used to be the top foreign source of oil imported into the US, but now it’s only a very weak second-place to Canada.

Eric Zuesse

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Originally posted at strategic-culture.org:


At the present time, the latest month for which the US Department of Energy publishes the number of barrels per day (bpd) of oil that’s exported to the US is November 2018. Here are the rankings:

1. Canada        142,206 bpd

2. Saudi Arabia  30,028

3. Mexico        18,020

4. Venezuela     16,889

5. Iraq          11,767

6. Colombia      7,769

7. Russia        7,611

8. Ecuador       5,866

9. Nigeria       5,392

10. Algeria      4,848

11. UK           4,653

12. Norway       4,073

13. Kuwait       3,027

14. Brazil       2,777

15. Belgium      2,075

16. S. Korea     1,927

17. Netherlands  1,462

18. Egypt        1,405

19. UAE          1,771

20. China        1.268

21. France       1,239

22. Singapore    1,232

23. Indonesia    1,204

24. Argentina    1,101

25. Peru         1,061

26. Denmark      1,000

27. Brunei       961

28. Spain        846

29. Angola       833

Here were the top 10 for the entire year of 2015 as reported by Bloomberg Finance at Forbes. For comparison to today, the country’s sales and rank in November 2018 is also indicated [between brackets]”

1. Canada        3.2 million bpd  [1. Canada 142,206]

2. Saudi Arabia  1,1 [2. Saudi Arabia 30,028]

3. Venezuela     780,000 bpd [4. Venezuela 16,889]

4. Mexico        690,000 [3. Mexico 18,020]

5. Colombia      370,000 [6. Colombia 7,769]

6. Iraq          230,000 [5. Iraq 11,767]

7. Ecuador       225,000 [8. Ecuador 5,866]

8. Kuwait        210,000 [13. Kuwait 3,027]

9. Brazil        190,000 [14. Brazil 2,777]

10. Angola       190,000 [29. Angola, 833]

Clearly, the figures change over time. Whereas Angola was #10 in 2015, it’s #29 now; and whereas Russia, Nigeria, and Algeria, weren’t in the top 10 in 2015, they now are.

US President Donald Trump is bringing down the latest Venezuelan monthly number from 16,889 to close to zero. On 25 August 2017, Reuters headlined two stories, “Trump slaps sanctions on Venezuela; Maduro sees effort to force default” and “Venezuela says US sanctions designed to push Venezuela to default”. The first of those reported that, “US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that prohibits dealings in new debt from the Venezuelan government or its state oil company on Friday in an effort to halt financing that the White House said fuels President Nicolas Maduro’s ‘dictatorship’.” The second reported that Venezuela’s Government daid that Trump’s action “essentially forces the closure of its US refining unit Citgo,” which means bringing an end to Venezuela’s oil exports to the US

Venezuela’s socialized oil company, PDVSA, of which Citgo is the US distributor, had never prepared for the measures that Trump is now imposing, and Reuters’s report said, “As a result, it will be it tricky for PDVSA to refinance its heavy debt burden.” The Reuters report continued:

“Maduro may no longer take advantage of the American financial system to facilitate the wholesale looting of the Venezuelan economy at the expense of the Venezuelan people,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday.

PDVSA, the financial engine of Maduro’s government, is already struggling due to low global oil prices, mismanagement, allegations of corruption and a brain drain.

However, the likely failure of Venzuela’s oil company is due not only to the lowered price of oil, but to the fact that Venezuela’s oil is among the two costliest in the world to produce, because it’s from the dirtiest source, tar sands, much like Canada’s oil is. The difference between Canada and Venezuela is twofold: first, that whereas Canada is a vassal-state of the US empire and so its aristocracy is allied with America’s aristocracy (which controls America’s Government), Venezuela isn’t. And, second, that whereas Venezuela has a monoeconomy that’s based on oil (which accounts for around 95% of Venezuela’s exports), Canada does not.

Saudi Arabia used to be the top foreign source of oil imported into the US, but now it’s only a very weak second-place to Canada in this, exporting only 21% as much oil to the US as does Canada. This is a huge decline for the Sauds.

Whereas Saudi oil is the world’s most “light” or cleanest and least-costly to produce and therefore has the lowest “carbon footprint” of any oil, Canada and Venezuela have the most “heavy” or dirtiest and most-costly to produce and therefore have the highest “carbon footprint” of all the world’s oils.

(NOTE: There are many different ranking-systems for the ‘average’ cost per barrel of oil produced, such as this and this and these, but all tend to vastly underestimate in order to continue the case for fossil fuels. The BBC once noted that its calculation-system “only covers the cost of production, not the cost of exploration and development.” And it also ignored the cost of transit. It also ignored environmental costs. It also ignored the costs to taxpayers for the many subsidies they pay in order for the fossil-fuels investors to continue investing in those companies. The environmental site “The Energy Mix” headlined in April 2018, “Ditched Bitumen Desperately Seeks True Commitment” and reported that fewer and fewer investors were continuing to trust the industry’s reported numbers regarding the costs of tar-sands oils. Also, on 11 February 2019, they headlined “Trans Mountain’s Fee Plan for Fossil Customers Represents $2-Billion Taxpayer Subsidy”. But, mostly, the heavy taxpayer subsidizations to the fossil-fuels industries are ignored, both by consumers and by investors. Realistically, the tar-sands oils in both Canada and Venezuela are costing far more than any per-barrel oil price that’s below $100. They are money-losers, but bring lots of money to the ‘right’ people.)

So: the US is replacing the world’s cleanest oil with the world’s filthiest oil, and that’s not only from Canada but also from Venezuela. However, because the US aristocracy want to take over Venezuela, the US Government now is set to zero-out oil imports from Venezuela, so as to increase the pressure on Venezuela’s Government to place in charge there a leader who will do America’s bidding. Canada has been working right alongside the US to achieve that objective, and will probably be supplying to the US much (if not all) of the 16,889 bpd oil that currently has been supplied by the other producer of very dirty oil: Venezuela. The US produces fracked oil, which is dirty but not as dirty as that from Canada and Venezuela. The US, Canada, and Venezuela, have been committed to ignoring the global warming problem. To the extent that the problem becomes globally recognized, the oil-production in all three of those countries will decline in its marketable price even more than will the oil-production in other countries (especially than Saudi Arabia’s oil-production, since that’s the cleanest); and, so, the profits from those dirty oils will quickly (especially for Canada and Venezuela, where it has already happened) turn into losses. All three governments — Venezuela, Canada, and US — are trying to postpone that, till as late a time as possible.

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