miercuri, 11 septembrie 2013

Gabriel Resources da Romania in judecata. Dar spaga?

Gabriel CEO says Romania will lose out if Canadian-controlled gold mine killed Add to ...

Gabriel Resources Ltd. will sue the Romanian government for billions of dollars if parliament next week votes to kill the Canadian company's Rosia Montana mine, Europe's biggest gold mining project.
"If the lower house [of parliament] does reject the project, we will go ahead with formal notification to commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties for up to $4-billion (U.S.)," CEO Jonathan Henry said in an interview Wednesday morning from London, where he is based. "Our case is very strong and we will make it very public that Romania's effort to attract foreign investment will suffer greatly."
Mr. Henry said he expected the government's upper house, the senate, to reject on Tuesday draft legislation that would allow the mine to open. But any decision, for or against, would not be binding unless the bill also goes to a vote in the much more powerful lower house, the chamber of deputies.
While Gabriel holds out some hope that the lower house will hold a serious debate that will result in a "yes" vote, prime minister Victor Ponta on Monday suggested that it was game over for the Canadians, who have been trying to develop the mine for almost two decades. Mr. Ponta noted that a majority of lawmakers opposed Gabriel's plan, which would re-open and greatly expand mines in Transylvania that were exploited by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago. "As long as it is obvious that there is a majority opposed to the bill, it is useless to waste too much time on it," he said.
His statement sent Gabriel shares into free fall as investors, convinced the project could not overcome the political hurdle, has no future. Gabriel's Toronto-listed shares, which closed Tuesday at 65 cents (Canadian), have lost 53 per cent this week. In 2010 and 2011, when Gabriel was confident the project's approvals were imminent, the shares traded as high as $8.
Mr. Henry, an Irishman who joined the company three years ago, hinted he would step down if a lawsuit is launched against the Romanian government. "I am a mining CEO, not a litigant," he said.
Mr. Henry would not say which investment treaties would be used to support the lawsuit, though they presumably would include the European Union's trade and investment laws and those of the World Trade Organization. Romania has been an EU member since 2007.
In a note published Wednesday morning, Scotiabank analyst Craig Johnston said rejection of the Rosia Montana mine would deliver a serious blow to Romania's ability to attract foreign investment. "Investment capital is scarce and becoming harder to attract to the mining and resource industries," he said. "As such, we wonder what the future will be for Romania if it does not follow its own process for evaluating a world-class project that meets European Union standards and ask for no exemptions from any laws."
The Rosia Montana project has been held up by well-organized and well-funded protesters, ranging from local farmers, who do not want their properties seized to make way for the enormous mine, to billionaires such as George Soros and celebrities such as Vanessa Redgrave, for about 15 years. Gabriel has spent $550-million (U.S.) on development plans and gone through six CEOs since the company's launch in the mid-1990s. Five of those six failed to get the project approved, though a few of them were convinced they were on the verge of breakthroughs before giving up hope. Mr. Henry may be the sixth to get nowhere.
The Rosia Montana project would cost about $1-billion to develop. It has gold reserves of 17.1-million ounces and silver reserves of 81.1-million ounces.
The project has been reviewed and studied thoroughly by various Romanian governments and its agencies for more than a decade, probably making it Europe's most analyzed mining project. Gabriel has said the project will add about $24-billion to Romania's gross domestic product (based on a $1,200 an ounce gold price) and generate about 3,000 jobs over its 16-year mining life in a region that suffers from high unemployment and poverty.
"I fundamentally believe this project is the right project for the people of Rosia Montana," Mr. Henry said. "This is not just about shareholder value….Without this project, Rosia Montana will die. People will leave. There are no jobs."
Last week, thousands protesters took to the streets of Bucharest to condemn the project. The protesters have argued for years that the mine is an environmental threat, because it uses cyanide to leech the gold from the ore, violates human rights and will destroy the region's rich heritage, including much of the remnants of the vast, ancient Roman mining galleries.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Alburnus Maior Association, the local group that opposes the mine, vowed to keep the protests going until the project is officially dead and a ban is put on use on cyanide in mining.
Gabriel argues that it is using cyanide concentrations that are well below EU and international limits and that the mining area will not pollute the local waters. Cyanide levels in the waste water that will go to the tailings damn will reach only 3 parts per million, Mr. Henry said; the EU's limit is 10 parts per million while the limit in Nevada, where Barrick Gold has enormous mines, is 50 parts per million

Jon Stewart, Obama, Kerry and Syria

Șahul, Putin și Siria

The incredible story of how Putin used secret KGB chess tactics to outwit the US

Kavlov in 1949, a secret photograph taken by US intelligence camera concealed in his chess board
Russia’s incredibly quick response to John Kerry’s suggestion yesterday that Syria could avert a US strike if it handed its chemical weapons was a masterful tactical move by the Kremlin master. Putin instructed his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to make a statement that Russia will ensure that Syria will surrender and agree to the destruction of its chemical weapon, extending a process a lifeline to president Obama who was struggling to convince US representatives of the necessity of attacking Syria.

Many commentators have pointed that Putin’s quick thinking has offered a convenient solution for all involved, but few have recognised the role that chess played in this incident. Keen enthusiast of the game will recognise that Putin’s proposal was a variation on the classic ‘Jabowntski sacrifice’, in which a functionally-degraded chess piece is sacrificed to create space for manoeuvre elsewhere. But that is only half the story.

Few people will know of the role chess played in Soviet strategic thinking and the various programmes that the USSR established to train its military and intelligence elites in the art ofZevsebia, or chess-think. Chess-think was for the USSR what game theory was for the US during the Cold War, but the Soviets went further than the Americans in making chess-think second nature to their cadres.

According to Soviet documents that were declassified in 2004, the first Zevsebia programme was initiated in 1932 when Stalin, an obsessive chess player, put the man who would later head the NKVD Beria in charge of running the programme. Beria recruited Russian chess grandmaster Kavlov, also a keen amateur boxer who won a bronze medal in the 1924 Olympics, and charged him with developing the outline of the programme.

Kavlov’s template was to survive almost unchanged until 1986, when Gorbachev, who had an aversion to chess, cancelled the programme after decades of successful operation during which it trained hundreds of the top Soviet cadres. Kavlov’s combination of intellectual and physical rigorous training provided a winning formula for the programme, and Stalin often joked that graduates were ‘our own Supermen’.
One of the few known Jabowntski sacrifice notations 

The programme was only offered however to a small number of top operatives that had the appropriate levels of mental and physical fitness to pass the rigorous training. In the KGB for example, only agents promoted to the prestigious X2, nicknamed the steel professors, were allowed to receive a Zevsebia training. The X2, as you might have expected, was Vladimir Putin’s old unit in the KGB. An even more interesting fact is that the six remaining Zevsebiagraduates are all associated with Putin’s inner policy circles, as former Kremlin insider Yuri Nodov revealed in his critical but obscure 2008 book ‘The Circle’.

In one of the few available written documents on Zevsebia, Nodov published a description of the programme and its training routines in his book, providing a valuable insight that has gone largely unnoticed in the West. Not only were the trainees subjected to intensive training in tactics, military theory, chess and physical fitness, they were forced to compete in chess under extreme conditions. For example, the trainees were forced to play rounds of chess inside refrigerator rooms at below-zero temperatures. They were also made to compete inside very hot rooms, invariably while hopping one foot or doing push-ups. It isn’t surprising than fewer than fifteen per cent of all candidates graduated from the programme. It won’t come as a surprise that Putin came top of his class.

Putin no doubt came across the ‘Jabowntski sacrifice’ during his Zevsebia training, as Russian chess players were forbidden to use it in play and it remained a tactic known only to those within the intelligence community. Stalin had good reasons to maintain the secrecy. During the siege of Leningrad, he and Beria and Kavlov implemented a variation of the manoeuvre by offering Hitler forces what appeared to be a valuable strategic position on the outskirts of the Zabvadna, only for the jubilant Nazis to realize too late that this allowed Stalin to outflank them and finally manage to break the long siege. Yaroslav Mitske’s book ‘The Gamble’ has a detailed description of the operation. Mitske also describes how Stalin had the sixty officers who were in charge of the operation shot after the war ended to preserve the secrets of the ‘Jabowntski sacrifice’, no doubt because of his paranoia.
Young Putin at the Zevsebia school, in its trademark uniform. 

For Zevsebia experts, there is no doubt that Putin’s manoeuvre yesterday when he offered to sacrifice the Assad regime’s chemical weapons in return for staving off the US attack was inspired by the classic chess move. The Kremlin will no doubt dismiss those reports as fantasy, as it has done for decades but the evidence is there for all to see. It’s not a little bit ironic that the manoeuvre that allowed the US to save face was developed by the Soviets for precisely the opposite reason.
Stalin and Beria at a visit to the Zevsebia school in 1947.
This guest post was written by my friend, Russian expert Dr Michael Metzger

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duminică, 8 septembrie 2013

Dacă nu Assad, atunci cine?

Syria chemical weapons attack not ordered by Assad, says German press

Bild am Sonntag cites high-level German surveillance source suggesting Syrian president was not personally behind attacks
Protesters Rally Against Possible Syria Strike
A anti-Syria strike demonstration in LA. German paper Bild am Sonntag has cited information saying the Syrian president did not personally order chemical attacks, but this does not exonerate his regime. Photograph: David Mcnew/Getty
President Bashar al-Assad did not personally order last month's chemical weapons attack near Damascus that has triggered calls for US military intervention, and blocked numerous requests from his military commanders to use chemical weapons against regime opponents in recent months, a German newspaper has reported , citing unidentified, high-level national security sources.
The intelligence findings were based on phone calls intercepted by a German surveillance ship operated by the BND, the German intelligence service, and deployed off the Syrian coast, Bild am Sonntag said. The intercepted communications suggested Assad, who is accused of war crimes by the west including foreign secretary William Hague, was not himself involved in last month's attack or in other instances when government forces have allegedly used chemical weapons.
Assad sought to exonerate himself from the August attack in which hundreds died. "There has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people," he said in an interview with CBS.
But the intercepts tended to add weight to the claims of the Obama administration and Britain and France that elements of the Assad regime, and not renegade rebel groups, were responsible for the attack in the suburb of Ghouta, Bild said.
President Barack Obama is urging the US Congress to approve military action to deter the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons and degrade its ability to pursue the two-and-a-half-year civil war against rebel forces.
But Obama is facing stiff resistance from Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives who fear involvement in another Middle East war, and from Assad's main ally, Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has said any military strikes conducted without prior UN approval would be illegal.
Speaking in Paris on Sunday during a European tour to rally support for military action, John Kerry, US secretary of state, said Washington did not rule out a return to the UN security council to seek backing for military strikes, once UN inspectors have completed an on-the-ground investigation of the 21 August attack. Their report is expected by the end of the week.
Obama's main European ally, François Hollande of France, is under increasing pressure to seek a UN mandate for any military action in the face of opinion polls suggesting up to 64% of French people oppose air strikes. In a bid to gain the support of fellow EU countries, Hollande pledged at the weekend to take the UN investigatory report into consideration before acting. Hollande also suggested he might seek a UN resolution, despite previous Russian and Chinese vetoes.
"On President Hollande's comments with respect to the UN, the president (Obama), and all of us, are listening carefully to all of our friends," Kerry said after meeting Arab League ministers. "No decision has been made by the president."
"All of us agreed – not one dissenter – that Assad's deplorable use of chemical weapons, which we know killed hundreds of innocent people … this crosses an international, global red line," Kerry said.
Kerry's meeting with Arab ministers, including from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, followed talks in Lithuania with European foreign ministers, who blamed the attack in Syria on Assad but, aware of overwhelming public hostility to an attack, refused to endorse military action. Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, who faces a general election in two weeks, led the charge to caution.
Only 12 of the G20 countries which held a summit in Russia last week have backed the US position.
The German intelligence findings concerning Assad's personal role may complicate US-led efforts to persuade the international community that punitive military action is justified. They could also strengthen suspicions that Assad no longer fully controls the country's security apparatus.
Addressing a closed meeting of the German parliamentary committee last week, the BND chief Gerhard Schindler said his agency shared the US view that the attack had been launched by the regime and not the rebels. But he said the spy agency had not have conclusive evidence either way, German media reported.
Schindler said that BND had intercepted a telephone call in which a high-ranking member of Hezbollah in Lebanon told the Iranian embassy in Damascus that Assad had made a big mistake when he gave the order to use the chemicals, the magazine Der Spiegel said.
Schindler added that German intelligence believed Assad would likely remain in power for some time – irrespective of any potential US-led military intervention - and that the civil war could drag on for years.

miercuri, 4 septembrie 2013

About US and Syria

Siria si poker

McCain playing poker on his iPhone

As the hearing continues, our ace photographer Melina Mara reports she spotted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) "passing the time by playing poker on his iPhone during the hearing."
We eagerly await the photographic proof, but generally trust Melina's sharp eye.
Update 5:55 p.m.: And here's the proof:
Senator John McCain plays poker   on his IPhone during a U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing where Secretary of State JohnKerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testify concerning the use of force in Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Tuesday, September 3, 2013. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Senator John McCain plays poker on his IPhone during a U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing where Secretary of State JohnKerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testify concerning the use of force in Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Tuesday, September 3, 2013. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Update 6:38 p.m.: After the photo made the rounds on Twitter, McCain tweeted the following in response:

duminică, 1 septembrie 2013

the Red Line mockery

White House spokesman jokes about Islamic attacks on Christian churches in Egypt

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent
The White House’s deputy press secretary today downplayed Muslim attacks on Christians in Egypt, joking about the savagery  that has left at least six Christians dead.
Press secretary Josh Earnest was asked by Fox News’ correspondent, Ed Henry, if President Barack Obama has a “red line” beyond which he would act against Muslim attacks on Egyptian Christians.
“Well, I didn’t bring my red pen out with me today,” Earnest joked.
After making his joke, Earnest said the administration is “outraged… and concerned” about the Muslim attacks on almost 100 churches, monasteries, orphanages and other marked Christian sites. Many Christians’ shops and homes have also been looted and burned by mobs.
But Earnest didn’t name or criticize the attackers, even though he did charge the military with perpetrating “violence… against peaceful protestors.”
“I can tell you that we have condemned in unambiguous terms all the violence that’s has been perpetrated there in Egypt,” he said.
“We have been concerned and condemned the violence that has been perpetrated by the government against peaceful protestors, and we’re just as outraged and just as concerned about reports that Christian churches have been targeted,” he said.
During the last year, Obama backed the brotherhood-backed elected prime minister, and is now considering whether to strongly push for its return to power.
“The violence in Egypt should come to an end… and that is the way we’re going to facilitate the kind of reconciliation that will allow the interim government to make good on their promise to transition back to a democratically elected civilian government,” Earnest added.
The anti-Christian attacks began shortly after massive public protests prompted the military to remove the president and parliament, all of whom were backed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The brotherhood’s medium-term goal is the creation of an regional Islamic government, in which women and non-Muslims would have a subordinate legal status.
Christians say the attackers are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, who dislike Christianity and who are angry at the Christians’ support of the military rules.
Also, the attacks may be intended to help the brotherhood portray the struggle as a battle between a Christian-backed military government and the vast majority of Egyptians, who see themselves as observant Muslims.
Only 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million population are Christians, after centuries of apartheid-like official discrimination following the Muslim invasion 1,350 years ago.
Christians allege the government’s soldiers and police — nearly all of whom are Muslim — have done little to protect them from the attacks.

Double rainbow

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