Saudis ready to dump cheap oil by the boatload — and more!

Saudi Arabia’s state-run shipping company has hired multiple very large crude carriers to carry all the extra oil it plans on exporting next month—a rare move indeed for the shipping company that sports its own fleet of 41 tankers, according to Bloomberg sources.

Bahri, as the Saudi’s shipping company is known, has booked passage for its crude oil on three VLCCs, each with the capacity to haul 2 million barrels of crude. The preliminary bookings are heading to the US Gulf Coast, the sources say—but the bookings could still fail…

Next month, Saudi Arabia has plans to increase shipments of crude to its prized market, Asia, who will be more than happy to take on more oil at the substantial discount that the Saudis are selling their oil for as part of its oil war strategy. However, trips from to the US take 40 days, and Bahir’s own tankers would not return to Saudi Arabia in time to load these extra volumes.

But all that could change in the blink of an eye.

More tankers. More oil. Cheaper retail. What could possibly go wrong?

40 questions for Jeff Sessions: Will Senators ask any/all of these? Which will be answered?

❝ US Attorney General…Jeff Sessions will testify in open session Tuesday afternoon before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

It will be his first public appearance on the Hill since Jan. 10, when he falsely said at his confirmation hearing: “I did not have communications with the Russians.”

❝ Here are a few of the subjects the nation’s chief law enforcement officer is likely to be pressed on during his testimony, which will take place in the same hearing room where Comey appeared last week:

Does Sessions believe Trump’s version of events over Comey’s? Does he take contemporaneous notes about his conversations with the president?

Sessions was involved in selecting Christopher Wray as FBI director. Did Sessions discuss either Comey’s termination or the Russia investigation during his job interview?

Does Sessions know if the tapes exist? If the tapes exist, does he believe the president is obligated to release them?

It goes on and on with sensible, questions requiring firsthand knowledge to answer – or fear to answer. I’m looking forward to seeing how many of these questions get asked by our leading Senators?

RTFA for the whole assembly of questions.

Blackwater top thug in secret meeting to establish back channel for Trump-Putin communications

❝ The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.

❝ Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian.

❝ Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.

U.S. officials said the FBI has been scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged contacts between associates of Putin and Trump…

Click the link to the article. Read through the whole sordid affair. Just the sort of tabloid reality you’d expect creeps like Prince to engage on behalf of Trump.

Allies march alongside Russians on Victory Day, once again


U.S. infantry march through Red Square

President Dmitry Medvedev struck a conciliatory note at Russia’s Victory Day military parade on Sunday, urging world powers to unite for peace and defending his decision to invite NATO troops to march on Red Square.

For the first time since Stalin began commemorating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, serving U.S., British Polish and French troops joined over 11,000 Russian soldiers to parade past the Kremlin’s red walls in bright sunshine.

The opposition Communists and some Soviet war veterans condemned the move but Medvedev said in a speech that the lesson from World War Two was “to urge us to unite in solidarity” to counter present-day threats and ensure global security.

“Today, at the military parade, soldiers of Russia, of countries of the (former Soviet Union), and of the Allied powers will march together, in one column which is evidence of our common readiness to defend peace,” he said.

Symbolic – for those of us with personal memories of the war – of the united battle to the death against murder, corporate control of national and global economies, genocide and greed.

Welsh Guards from the British military marched in their trademark black bearskin hats ahead of 70 troops from the U.S. 170th Infantry Brigade in a section reserved for the Soviet Union’s war allies.

Underlining the message of reconciliation, a 1,200-strong military band closed the parade with a moving rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Hu Jintao and other world leaders looked on…

President Barack Obama, unable to come to Moscow because of a scheduling clash, praised the historic invitation to NATO troops, saying Medvedev had shown “remarkable leadership in honoring the sacrifices of those who came before us…”

Victory Day is one of Russia’s most important public holidays and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said this year’s commemorations would be among the biggest, with over 102,000 troops marching in cities across this vast country.

Americans and Brits raised on movies about “how we won the war” will know little of the Soviet Forces that had pushed the Nazis back 1,000 miles by D-Day. Though our neighbors across the pond do celebrate V-E Day as I remember it. A crucial triumph against fascism. War’s end in Europe.

The last of my kin who joined up with Soviet forces at the Elbe River is gone, now. A few of us still remember – proudly.

Killing Russians, one cigarette at a time

The average life expectancy of male Russians hovers around 60, and health analysts say the heavy rate of smoking here plays a big role in a looming population drop that has economists here quite worried.

Yet the Russian government seems reluctant to tackle the high smoking rate. Even as it tries to forestall a sharp drop in the population with campaigns that heavily promote family life and a higher birthrates, it has barely invested in anti-tobacco ads and education. A pack of cigarettes here can cost 7 rubles or less, or about 25 cents, because, unlike in the United States and many West European countries, in Russia, tobacco is hardly taxed.

The government appears to have allowed cigarette sales and smoking to flourish in part because it is wary of engaging in the kind of anti-vice campaigns that have historically produced a sharp backlash in Russia.

“The ineffectiveness of these antitobacco measures is connected to the state being scared of provoking the protests of various social groups,” said Dmitri Yanin.

When the Soviet government ran low on state-brand cigarettes in the late 1980s, smokers took to the streets in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev. Mikhail Gorbachev, then the Soviet leader, had to appeal to international tobacco manufacturers to send an emergency shipment of 34 billion cigarettes.

Since then, foreign tobacco companies have become among Russia’s biggest foreign investors.

Of course. No one ever blames the provider of the means of suicide – except on an individual basis. Mass suicide is business as usual.