Daily Archives: January 27, 2014
Market Disruptor: Nuclear Restarts Spells Trouble for LNG
There are two major factors that have emerged in the last five years that have sparked a surge in LNG investments. First is the shale gas “revolution” in the United States, which allowed the U.S. to vault to the top spot in the world for natural gas production. This caused prices to crater to below $2 per million Btu (MMBTu) in 2012, down from their 2008 highs above $10/MMBtu. Natural gas became significantly cheaper in the U.S. than nearly everywhere else in the world.
The second major event that opened the floodgates for investment in new LNG capacity is the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. Already the largest importer of LNG in the world before the triple meltdown in March 2011, Japan had to ratchet up LNG imports to make up for the power shortfall when it shut nearly all of its 49 gigawatts of nuclear capacity. In 2012, Japan accounted for 37% of total global LNG demand.
The combined effect of shale gas production in the U.S. and skyrocketing LNG demand from Japan opened up a wide gulf between the Henry Hub benchmark price in the U.S. and much higher oil-linked prices around the world. LNG markets, which are not liquid, could not meet the surge in Japanese demand. Platts’ Japan/Korea Marker (JKM) price for spot LNG floated between $4-$10/MMBTu the year and half before Fukushima. In the few months after the meltdown, the JKM price quickly jumped to $18/MMBTu. Almost three years later, the JKM price for month-ahead delivery in January 2014 hit $18.95/MMBTu.
In contrast, Henry Hub prices – despite reaching a more than two year high – were only $4.50/MMBTu for the first week of 2014. After factoring in the costs of liquefaction and transportation – somewhere in the range of $4-$5/MMBTu – companies could still make a substantial profit taking U.S. gas and exporting it to Asia.
Thus ensued a scramble to permit and build LNG export facilities in the U.S., often by retooling and turning around what were once import terminals. As of December 6, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy had 28 applications for LNG export facilities to countries without which the U.S. has a free-trade agreement (five of them have been approved).
Cheniere Energy (NYSE: LNG) has been the primary beneficiary of DOE’s policy to incrementally approve LNG exports. Cheniere has already signed contracts to deliver gas to Britain’s BG Group, France’s Total, India’s Gail, Spain’s Gas Natural Fenosa, and South Korea’s Kogas. Its stock price has soared since it received permission to begin construction on its Sabine Pass liquefaction facility on the U.S. Gulf Coast, which would allow the export of 18 million tonnes of LNG per annum (MTPA) in Phase 1. From August 6, 2012 – the day before it received its permit – until the market close of January 10, 2014, Cheniere’s stock price climbed from $14.66 to $46.37 per share, more than a three-fold increase.
Other companies are lobbying the government to quickly approve more export terminals, but it is more than likely that only the first-movers will make some serious money with the stragglers left behind. While its competitors are awaiting permit approvals, construction is already underway at Cheniere’s Sabine Pass liquefaction facility.
LNG Expansions Around the World
Australia plans to triple its LNG capacity over the coming four or five years, which will allow it to surpass Qatar as the largest LNG exporter in the world. There are seven liquefaction facilities under construction in Australia, with a capacity of 62 million tonnes per year. This means that by 2017, according to the International Gas Union (IGU), Australia’s LNG export capacity will reach 83 MTPA.
Australia’s projects are further along and closer to their target market of Japan, so many will beat out U.S. proposals. Despite all the buzz in the U.S. about LNG export terminals, and the more than 190 MTPA of applications on backlog with the DOE, very little of that will be actually constructed (it is pretty easy to merely submit an application). The IGU estimates the U.S. will only bring online an additional 8 MTPA or so over the next four to five years, up from about 2 MTPA last year. Australia is where the action is.
Chevron (NYSE: CVX) is heavily invested in Australian LNG and already has several terminals up and running with more capacity coming online in 2015. BG Group (LON: BG) is scheduled to start exports of LNG at its Queensland Curtis facility this year. These companies are well-positioned to serve the insatiable demand from Japan.
Market Disruptor – Japan’s Nuclear Restarts
So conventional wisdom tells us that there is a boat load of cash to make riding the LNG wave. But aside from the historic price volatility for natural gas that should give investors reason for pause, looking over the horizon, there is one big factor that could disrupt LNG investments: if Japan moves to restart some or all of its nuclear reactors, many LNG terminals may cease to be profitable.
Japan was once the third largest producer of nuclear power after the U.S. and France. After the Fukushima meltdown, Japan replaced its 49 GW of nuclear capacity with imported LNG (which jumped 24%) as well as imported coal and oil. Yet Japan may be in the cusp of a return to nuclear. According to DNV GL’s LNG blog, the restart of all of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors would mean it could displace about 51 million tonnes of imported LNG.
This amounts to about one-fifth of the entire global LNG trade, and would cause a significant drop in the JKM spot price. This means the spread between the landing price of LNG in Asia and the wellhead prices of say, Australia, or the United States, would narrow. Without that arbitrage, it wouldn’t make sense to send liquefied gas around the world from many places. Marginal projects would be forced out virtually overnight.
The Japanese government put in place new safety regulations last summer that utilities must meet in order to receive approval to restart their reactors. Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) is currently reviewing applications from seven utilities to restart a total of 16 nuclear reactors, or about one-fourth of Japan’s nuclear fleet. More applications are in the offing.
While anti-nuclear resentment runs strong in Japan these days, the government is facing quite a bit of pressure to return to its nukes. Post-Fukushima, Japan posted a trade deficit for the first time in decades due to the huge cost of importing coal, gas, and oil. By one estimate, turning half its nuclear fleet back online could save $20 billion per year, good enough to wipe out a big chunk of its trade deficit – which widened to $12.6 billion in November 2013. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe supports nuclear power, making a return to nuclear more likely.
If the Japanese public and government can begin to trust the new regulatory regime, and accept a return to nuclear power, its LNG demand will plummet. As the largest LNG importer in the world by far, this would leave many LNG projects stuck at sea.
In particular, LNG terminals in the U.S. – which are not the lowest cost producers – would be in trouble. Not all companies that have applied for permits will actually move forward with investment, and thus, would be less vulnerable to nuclear restarts. But the ones that do move forward are taking on the risk as well as the potential reward. But with LNG projects proliferating around the world, many companies will be competing for a smaller pie should Japan return to nuclear power.
Cheniere Energy is the first that comes to mind. Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) is another. Dominion hopes to move forward with a $3.8 billion retrofit of its Cove Point facility on the Chesapeake Bay, which is also the subject of a growing environmental backlash. Some Australian projects that are further behind may lose out as well, such as the Arrow LNG project, a 50-50 venture between Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) and PetroChina (NYSE: PTR). Woodside Petroleum (WPL) has already scrapped its original plans for the Browse LNG project because of high costs. Its Sunrise project, mired in political disputes, may yet get off the ground, but would be vulnerable to Japanese reactors. Russia has major LNG expansion plans, which would face stiff competition if Japan’s reactors turn back on. Novatek (LON: NVTK) has plans to invest $15-$20 billion in its liquefaction facility on t he Yamal peninsula, and Gazprom hopes to put $13.5 billion into a facility at Vladivostok – although the latter would at least be in a very advantageous location.
The future of LNG may indeed be bright, especially when considering that global energy demand has nowhere to go but up. But, investors should be aware of the very large threat that Japanese nuclear reactors present to upstart LNG projects.
By. Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
Our Muslim Kosovo: Throw Mormons from the Stairs
By: Julia Gorin
While the United States and Germany are browbeating Serbia into the last leg of surrendering Kosovo to the narco-terrorist mafia demanding it, the latter are beating up female missionaries.
It happened this past November, and for almost two weeks was kept quiet and out of the news. And it happened in the very capital of our Kosovo “success,” Pristina. The Albanian perpetrators attacked Americans, their stubbornly eternal benefactors at Christian-Orthodox expense. (And of course at the expense of local Roma, Turk, Bosniak, Ashkali and Gorani Muslims who were just fine with rule from Belgrade.) When the news did finally get out, via an AP report, it was carried only locally and in Utah:
2 LDS sister missionaries attacked in Kosovo (Fox 13 Now, Nov. 13, 2013)
SALT LAKE CITY — Two American missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were attacked in Kosovo; it happened in the city of Pristina ten days ago, but news reports of the beating just surfaced late Wednesday afternoon.
The incident is being tied to terrorism and the suspects responsible have been arrested.
[An actual arrest is unusual for Kosovo; then again, the victims weren’t among Kosovo’s ethnic minorities, so they count for something.]
Fox 13 News has learned two sister missionaries were beaten by Albanians, who are also tied to plotting a terrorist attack. The LDS Church said the two young women are out of harm’s way and doing OK.
[Also unusual: This local Fox affiliate actually identified the perpetrators directly as Albanians.]
Kosovo is tucked away in the Eastern block of Europe; the country is no stranger to political strife. Video from 2004 shows the break-away Balkan territory suffering from bombings, protests and riots. Civil unrest was not uncommon during that time, and today there are growing concerns about the rise of Islamic extremism in the country.
[Now there’s a nice, neutral way of putting it. Why provide readers/viewers context for what just happened to their fellow Mormons, such as being specific about who was rioting and hurling those Molotov cocktails in 2004? Specifically, Albanians continuing their ethnic and religious purification process while sending a message to the internationals to hurry up with the hand-over of the cleansed Serbian territory.]
Six Albanians suspected of plotting a terrorist attack were arrested ten days ago, and authorities believe two of them beat two sister missionaries in the capital city of Pristina on Nov. 3.
The LDS Church released a statement saying, “We can confirm two sister missionaries were beaten in Kosovo and have been moved out of the area. Gratefully they are making a full recovery.” […]
The video at the link below also uses that oh-so-controversial identifier “…attacked by a group of Albanians.” (As opposed to terms preferred by polite society, like “former Yugoslavs”; “Kosovars”; or “in Serbia.”) The accompanying report mentions that two of the total six arrested reputedly fought alongside Syrian rebels:
2 LDS Sister Missionaries Attacked in Kosovo
SALT LAKE CITY — Two suspected terrorists are being held in Kosovo after a Nov. 3 attack on two American women serving as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A total of six men were arrested Nov. 5 in connection with an alleged terrorist plot “inspired by extreme Islamist ideology.” Two of the six are suspects in the investigation of the attack on the LDS missionaries, a senior police official involved with the investigation told the Associated Press.
After being treated in Pristina, the two women left Kosovo to return to the mission home in Tirana, Albania, about a three-hour drive. The women are part of the Adriatic South Mission, which includes Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia. [What a lucky assignment for two women!]
Six ethnic Albanians suspected of plotting a terrorist attack inspired by extreme Islamist ideology, including two believed to have fought alongside Syrian rebels, have been arrested in Kosovo, officials said Tuesday.
A seventh suspect remains at large.
One last report had the detail of a flashlight being used to hit the women in the head:
Two LDS Sister Missionaries Recover after Attack in Kosovo (KUTV, Nov. 13)
…On November 5th, the beating suspects and four others, all ethnic Albanians, were arrested for allegedly planning a terrorist attack. Police said they found a sniper rifle, handguns and explosive materials at the suspects’ houses.
An elder serving in the same mission, posted on his blog that the American embassy in Kosovo reported that the attackers were part of a larger group that has unfriendly feelings toward the LDS church. That missionary also said the sister missionaries were beaten with flashlights and that since the attack, missionaries in that area travel in packs of four.
The mother of one of the victims told us over the phone the two young women are recovering and made the decision to continue serving, although in a different mission area.
Really? Not in safe and stable, multi-ethnic-democracy Kosovo? ( “[Biden] stressed the United States’ continuing, irreversible support for Kosovo’s independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty as a multi-ethnic democracy.” That’s Vice President Biden, who former Defense Secretary Robert Gates this month confirmed “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Meanwhile, what else in the political world is emphatically described as “irreversible,” with use of terms like “eternal,” a hint that Kosovo and the U.S. are condemned to each other, inextricably linked to guard each others’ secrets and crimes like a pair of Clintons.)
It was only thanks to reader J. Brock, a non-Serb outraged over “what the U.S. and other governments are doing to Serbs,” and his puzzlement that most everyone is fooled, that I even learned of this incident. He himself came upon it through some twitter post with a link to an angry ex-Mormon’s blog raging over the incident. So, it was only local Utah news and Mormons or ex-Mormons on forums or blogs, who wrote or knew of it. Some unreported details came from that ex-Mormon blogger — Utahnite — who claims that local media only covered it after community forums such as his shamed them into it:
It was 2 sister missionaries, who were beaten severely with a sharp [or blunt] object to the head & shoved down a flight of stairs…They had to have their heads shaved & stitched up & they’re now recovering in the church mission home & YES, OF COURSE, brainwashed as they are..PLAN TO FINISH THEIR MISSIONS! If their parents had ANY SENSE..they’d demand they come home, NOW!
Utahnite also wondered what Mormon missionaries were doing in Kosovo to begin with. According to an August 2012 article, the LDS Church established itself in Pristina in mid 2011, and Adriatic South Mission president Andrew Ford “says the country is ‘just another place, and we’re used to all sorts of places’ …There are plans to…introduce women (or ’sister missionaries’) into the country next year.”
That doesn’t seem to be going so well.
Kosovo’s being tough for Christian missionaries is a theme that’s come up before. A 2010 article in Cornerstone University’s The Herald (which has since been removed, and the young missionary couple — an American and her converted Albanian husband — asked that their names not be mentioned), read in part:
Kosovo is a Muslim country…religion is not just a faith for them — it is a culture… “When a person converts to Christianity in Kosovo it seems like you are betraying heritage, family, culture,” [____] said. Because of this, [her husband] could not openly tell others that he is a Christian. He needed to wait until the right time and build the right relationships. [His] faith is still a secret to some of his friends and family…
Another Christian group had the misfortune of operating in Kosovo in time for the 2004 riots. If one follows the World English Institute’s “Kosova” chronicle (Prizren, Kosova Church of Christ; the church in Kosova is under persecution) one will notice these excerpts:
The church grew in number and in spirit for a period. In April 04, the people of Prizren raided the school stealing property.
The church has changed significantly recently. Jim is back in Scotland. Several moved to Prishtina for university studies. The Muslim community has become violent, and the assembly is now in the home of Ismajl…”
Comments: The church in Prizren is in a city subject to conflicts between the resident Muslims and a few Serbs. The Serbs, confined to their homes for the most part, recently have seen their church buildings burned. NATO failed to halt this conflict. WEI’s school and the church in Prizren suffered loss of some items in their building and are now meeting in homes, appropriately.
Note: August 04
It has been reported that shots were fired over the house where the church meets. This is the home of Ismajl who not only hosts the assemblies, but he regularly teaches students using WEI’s lessons.”
Thanks for your words of encouragement.
There were two days of “demonstrations” in Kosova on the 18th and 19th of March. About 30 people were killed around the country, including several UN workers. I arrived the following week, and by then all was calm….all of the windows had been broken out of the WEI office and church meeting place. However, they had regrouped, as it were, and were meeting in one of the members home…In Christ and for His sake,
One is reminded to be dismayed that the flood of Christian groups into post-war Kosovo has focused on Albanians more than on helping their Orthodox brethren, who needed food, clothes, medicine, housing and support. And of course this one uses the majority-Muslim usurper’s pronunciation and spelling of the Christian-Serb province.
Between the LDS news and this weekend’s shooting at Columbia Mall in Maryland, it’s become relevant to bring up a certain other mall shooting. This past October NY Post carried a noteworthy item by Paul Sperry, which deigned to bring up the 2007 Valentine’s massacre at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City. The Post article also dared to utter the Bosnian-Muslim name and origin of the perpetrator, Sulejman Talovic, and to be emphatic via photos and a TV news clip. (Do check out the last sentence of that two-minute report.) “Dared,” because the Bosnian Muslims are our other protegees at Orthodox-Serb expense. Significantly, Trolley Square was the first deadly mall shooting in America. Links and bold emphasis added:
Could the Kenya attack happen here? It did (NY Post, Oct. 12, 2013)
After Islamic gunmen attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, the collective reaction from the US media was to speculate whether such terror could happen here, as if a jihadist assault on a mall inside America had never before been tried.
CNN was typical: “Can it happen here? Yes, say security experts, but it hasn’t.”
News flash: it did.
On the evening of Feb. 12, 2007, a young Muslim man walked into the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City with a pistol-grip, 12-gauge shotgun and a 38-caliber revolver and opened fire on shoppers, killing five and wounding four others, including a pregnant woman.
Police say he “sought to kill as many people as possible.” He had a backpack full of ammunition, enough firepower to massacre dozens of innocent people. But fortunately, an off-duty cop returned fire and eventually, with the help of other police, put an end to the terrorist’s life and grand plans.
Twice as many people were killed at the Utah mall than the Boston Marathon. Yet the attack garnered few national headlines.
Local media wrote it off as the act of a madman, parroting the quick conclusion of law enforcement.
Officially, the FBI declared the mass shooting was not an act of terrorism.
“We were unable to pin down any particular motive,” said Tim Fuhrman, then-special agent in charge of the bureau’s field office in Salt Lake City. “Unfortunately, his motivations went to the grave with him.”
But the FBI ignored much of the shooter’s background.
A Salt Lake City police officer inside the Trolley Square Mall Feb., 12, 2007, the night of the shooting
The shooter was Sulejmen Talovic, an 18-year-old Bosnian immigrant named after Suleiman the Magnificent, the 16th-century jihadist-turned-sultan.
As early as 2004, police were called to Talovic’s school after it was discovered that he was looking at Tek-9 semiautomatic firearms on the Internet and boasting that his “grandfather was in the jihad.”
It was a reference to the 1990s holy war between Bosnian Muslims and Christian Serbs in which his grandfather was reportedly killed.
And yet, even with this boastful admission, our news media and so-called law enforcement insisted that the boy probably became demented by the fighting that resulted from that jihad rather than by a family history of violence in the jihad itself. (Again, check out the last sentence of that news clip.)
Apparently, Talovic had prepared for his own martyrdom. He told a friend before the attack that “tomorrow is going to be the happiest day of my life, but it will happen only once.”
“One interpretation of this statement is that Talovic was happy that he was going to be a shahid — that he would be committing jihad and go to paradise,” according to a July 2, 2007, electronic communication from the Salt Lake City field office to the counterterrorism division of the FBI.
Before leaving for the mall, which was located just a few minutes from the mosque he attended, he showered and put on a necklace featuring a miniature Koran, a gift from his father [also a jihad veteran].
Prior to his death, some witnesses overheard Talovic shouting “Allahu Akbar!” — or “Allah is greatest!” — a ritual cry of suicide terrorists.
Talovic was “described as religious,” according to the FBI communiqué, marked “Secret.” “He had attend[ed] the mosque regularly for Friday prayers.”
That mosque was the Al-Noor Mosque, led by a Somali national. Some investigators suspect Talovic was radicalized there.
These details are buried in the more than 745 pages of investigative reports generated in the case by the FBI, the same agency that officially claims it found no evidence Talovic’s religion was a factor.
“Clearly, he had some religious beliefs,” Fuhrman said, “but just because someone has religious beliefs doesn’t mean anything is a terrorist act.”
No, but it strains credulity that Talovic wasn’t animated by his faith. There was an abundance of clues he was motivated at least in part by jihadist impulses. […]
According to a Utah-local report on Feb. 21, 2007 (link no longer available), Talovic’s initial target may have been an LDS church:
“Was Talovic Spotted at LDS Church?”
A security worker for the LDS church reveals to ABC 4 News, security guards watching over the crowds at Music and the Spoken Word the Sunday before the Trolley Square shootings were trailing a man he believes was Sulejmen Talovic… “There was a suspicious man with an overcoat and a back pack…[He] appeared to be carrying something inside the coat that he kept adjusting.”
The security worker says the young man resembled Talovic and in the week following the Trolley Square killings, many of his peers in LDS security agree Talovic was amidst the crowd at the conference center just one day before the shootings. “If we wouldn’t have been on our toes something could have happened. We highly believe it was him.”
ABC 4 News spoke with LDS church spokesperson Scott Trotter, who confirmed video tape was rolled on the suspicious person, and that the person had a similarity to Talovic…The security worker tells ABC 4 News he believes the man left after seeing that security procedures dictate purse and back pack searches before entrance to the conference center is permitted. […]
But the dossier on Bosnia and Kosovo be damned: Always in step with U.S. policy on the Balkans and Eastern Orthodoxy, “Hollywood has resolutely kept its eye on the real threat. Serbian terrorism,” Daniel Greenfield wrote last Friday. “The United States has remained unscathed by Serbian terrorism, though…this weekend, ‘Ride Along’…once again takes on the terrible threat of: Serbian terrorism. When the Serbs aren’t available, the Russians have to step in…When ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ featured a terrorist cell in Dearborn, even though Muslims dominate the area, the villains were shown operating out of a Russian Orthodox church and getting their cues from a priest reading the bible while the terrorists cried out, ‘Slava Bogu’ or ‘Praise God.’”
In closing, one must linger on a sentence contained in the NY Post item above: “[T]he Islamic element was so efficiently scrubbed from the Trolley Square terrorist attack that Salt Lake charities and local Mormons helped raise funds for Talovic’s family to prepare and ship their son’s bullet-ridden body to Bosnia for an Islamic burial.”
The United Suckers of America have similarly stepped up for Kosovo, in one case donating and transporting a fire truck (link no longer available):
“2012 – Mason helps Kosovo, Dart grows and Dansville gets tech” (Lansing Journal, Dec 31, 2012)
INGHAM COUNTY — An international act of charity and growth for a company that has its international headquarters in Mason were top stories for southern Ingham County in 2012.
The Leslie School District opened a 100-acre nature center and Dansville Public Schools gave every student an iPad this year as well.
An unfortunate setback for a plan for Mason to donate a fire truck from Mason to Kosovo turned into [an] example of vigorous community support.
After two years of red tape, inspections and planning, the 1984 decommissioned fire truck donation from the Mason Fire Department was on its way to Selfridge Airforce Base when on Aug. 6 when it broke down near Brighton.
Mason Mayor Leon Clark was driving the truck in what he thought was its final ride in America before taking a 5,000-mile trip by cargo plane to Germany, than to the town of Vitina in Kosovo.
But instead it had to miss its flight because of a costly blown head gasket.
Undeterred, the community stepped up again to not only help get the truck repaired but raise funds to send people along with it.
An all-day fund-raiser on Sept. 10 at the Mason A & W raised $1,700 towards the cost of sending people, along with a $1,000 donation from the Ingham County Mounted Division and $1,000 private donation from a member of the Mason Rotary Club.
“If you add in the over $2,000 worth of repairs donated by Mark Hildebrandt at Done Right Auto and RV, you can see that this has truly become a community wide project, that everyone is proud of,” he said.
The truck and four Mason officials eventually made it to Kosovo along with extra equipment in November.
Fire truck that was headed for Kosovo. Poor fire truck.
From another report:
…The city seems to have a fondness for Kosovo: shortly after its civil war, eight refugee families moved to Mason. Jakup Jahiri, a Kosovo native, came to the city two years ago to visit his son and was amazed at the amount of firefighting equipment Mason had when his own city had so little.
“[Jahiri] said, ‘You must sleep very peacefully at night to have this amount of trucks and equipment for the size of town that you have,’” said Mason Fire Chief Kerry Minshall. “That led to the discussion about what they do and don’t have over there and we decided to see what we could do to get this donated to them.”
This time around, Clark, along with three other Mason firefighters, are accompanying the truck across the Atlantic. But the donations don’t stop there — they are also donating lightly used supplies, including coats, pants, boots, gloves, helmets, hoses, exhaust fans and a set of jaws of life. Clark and his team are going to spend some time in Vitina after the delivery showing the local firefighters how to use some of the equipment and making sure everything gets delivered intact — and with no breakdowns.
A reference point on Vitina, among countless others: Kosovo: Serb house destroyed in fire (B92, Oct. 1, 2007)
KOSOVSKA VITINA, Oct 1 (Tanjug) – A local Serb’s house burned in a fire that broke out late Sunday in the village of Klokot, near Kosovska Vitina. The house belonged to Milan Nedeljkovic, who escaped unharmed. Locals suspect that the incident was the work of arsonists…[T]he Nedeljkovic family moved to their old house because it is located in “a better protected part of the village.”
A week ago, in the same village, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a store owned by local Serb Bora Spasic. Although a dozen people were inside the store at the time of the attack, no one was injured.
So, who’s sleeping less “peacefully at night”? Kosovo’s Albanians, because there aren’t enough fire trucks? Or Kosovo’s non-Albanians, because the Albanians habitually set their houses, schools, and churches on fire? Knowing, of course, that there aren’t enough fire trucks.
I leave you with a Vitina news item that opened 2013, with its festivities for Kosovo’s five-year independence anniversary:
KPS suspend members over WW2 memorial incident (Beta, Jan. 22, 2013)
PRIŠTINA — The Kosovo police, KPS, have announced that five of their members were suspended over an incident that occurred on Monday in the town of Vitina. They include the police station and operations chief, according to a statement.
According to a Beta report, it was said that “despite announcements” from the directorate in Priština, they did not undertake the measures to prevent the tearing down of a monument.
The memorial was dedicated to the fighters of the WW2 anti-fascist Partisan troops (NOV).
According to the news agency, “a group of about 100 citizens led by the president of the organization of veterans of the former KLA” yesterday attacked and brought down the memorial.
The incident – filmed and posted on YouTube – was one in a series in Kosovo on Sunday and Monday, when ethnic Albanians targeted Serb cemeteries and memorial sites.
Forum: Do You Feel We Are Moving Closer To A Police State?
Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: Do You Feel We Are Moving Closer To A Police State?
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Whoa! What a question!!
If you haven’t been on the rec’ving end of coppers gone mad with their own power – YaY! for you!!
Because once you have – you see how scary things are going. As Sir Paul (or maybe it was Spongebob or the O”Reilly Factor cat) once LOL’d – “A nation of sheep has a government of wolves.”
The reality of our age is this: if the government chooses to crash through our doors, listen to our phone calls, read our emails and text messages, fine us for growing vegetables in our front yard, jail us for raising chickens in our backyard, forcibly take our blood and saliva, seize and search us, there’s little we can do to stop them. At least, not at that particular moment. When you’re face to face with a government agent who is not only armed to the hilt and inclined to shoot first and ask questions later, but also woefully ignorant of the fact that he works for you, if you value your life, you don’t talk back.
It used to be that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which enshrines the rights to free speech, free press, assembly, religious exercise and petitioning one’s government for a redress of grievances, was considered the most critical of the amendments in the Bill of Rights.
The right to speak freely doesn’t help you when your home is being invaded by a SWAT team or the government is spying on your emails and phone calls, and tracking your whereabouts. It certainly doesn’t help you when you’re in the back of a police cruiser or face-to-face with a cop hyped up on the power of his badge. In fact, exercising your right to free speech in such scenarios today, even nominally, will more than likely get you pepper sprayed, tasered, shot or at the very least charged with resisting arrest or disorderly conduct.
No, see, it’s the Fourth Amendment, which demands that we be “secure” in our persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government and, consequently, stands as a bulwark against the police state, is, in fact, the most critical.
Unfortunately, we get so focused on the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant before government agents can invade our property (a requirement that means little in an age of kangaroo courts and rubberstamped warrant requests) that we fail to properly appreciate the first part of the statement declaring that we have a right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects.”
What this means is that the Fourth Amendment’s protections were intended to not only follow us wherever we go but also apply to all that is ours—whether you’re talking about our physical bodies, our biometric data, our possessions, our families, or our way of life.
However, in an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King (2011), the U.S. Supreme Court sanctioned SWAT teams smashing down doors of homes or apartments without a warrant if they happen to “suspect” you might be doing something illegal in your home.
Illegal, invasive spying on Americans. There is no form of digital communication that the government cannot and does not monitor—phone calls, emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, internet video chats, etc., are all accessible, trackable and downloadable by federal agents. In other words, there is nothing private from the government, which has used a variety of covert, unconstitutional tactics to gain access to Americans’ personal data, online purchases and banking, medical records, and online communications. The government’s methods include the use of supercomputers to hack through privacy settings, collaborations with corporations to create “back doors” for government access into encrypted files, and the use of strong-arm tactics against those technology and internet companies who refuse to cooperate. It is estimated that the National Security Agency has intercepted 15 to 20 trillion communications of American citizens since 9/11.
Police shootings of unarmed citizens. No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. This trend originates from a police preoccupation with ensuring their own safety at all costs, with tragic consequences for the innocent civilians unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, consider the 16-year-old teenager who skipped school only to be shot by police after they mistook him for a fleeing burglar.
SWAT team raids. On an average day in America, at least 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams (although estimates as high as 300 a day), which are increasingly used to deal with routine police matters: angry dogs, domestic disputes, search warrants, etc. Unfortunately, general incompetence (officers misread the address on the warrant), collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids (officers barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building) tend to go hand in hand with this overuse of SWAT teams, with tragic consequences for the homeowner who mistakes a SWAT raid for a home invasion, such as the 107-year-old Arkansas man killed after a “shootout” with a SWAT team or the 19-year-old Seattle woman who was accidentally shot in the leg by police after she refused to show her hands.
Arresting Americans for altogether legal activities such as picking their kids up from school, holding Bible studies at home, and selling goat cheese. Unfortunately, our government’s tendency towards militarization and overcriminalization, in which routine, everyday behaviors become targets of regulation and prohibition, have resulted in Americans getting arrested for making and selling unpasteurized goat cheese, cultivating certain types of orchids, feeding a whale, holding Bible studies in their homes, and picking their kids up from school. This last incident actually happened in Tennessee, when Jim Howe, a father of two elementary school-aged kids, was arrested and jailed after insisting on walking his son home as soon as school let out rather than waiting 35 minutes for carpoolers to get their kids first.
Jailing Americans for profit. At one time, the American penal system operated under the idea that dangerous criminals needed to be put under lock and key in order to protect society. Today, as states attempt to save money by outsourcing prisons to private corporations, imprisoning Americans in private prisons run by mega-corporations has turned into a cash cow for big business, with states agreeing to maintain a 90% occupancy rate in privately run prisons for at least 20 years. And how do you keep the prisons full? By passing laws aimed at increasing the prison population, including the imposition of life sentences on people who commit minor or nonviolent crimes such as siphoning gasoline.
Transforming the schools into quasi-prisons and teaching young people that they have no rights. Zero tolerance policies which criminalize childish behavior continue to destroy the lives of young people such as the 14-year-old arrested for texting in class; the 6-year-olds suspended for using their fingers as imaginary guns in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers; the 12-year-old hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker; or the 17-year-old charged with a felony for keeping his tackle box in his car parked on school property, potentially derailing his chances of entering the Air Force.
Simply Jews: I think that we all (all technologically developed countries) are moving to a situation where eavesdropping of the high-tech kind becomes more and more available and cheap to the level of commodity. Even a private person, sufficiently technically-minded and of an exceedingly voyeuristic mind, is able today to listen to our mobile calls and track our location. For the states, suitably equipped and able to bend the law’s ear, all possible means to do the same on a grander scale are more easily available, of course.
Since the curious state of affairs, where the act of secret surveillance itself is covered by another set of laws or regulations that make the mere intent of such surveillance secret, a person under watch may never know he/she is spied upon.
But the real test of our freedom comes when the use of the surveillance crosses the border between protection of state and its citizens’ well being into interference with our rights. Be it a hacker that divulges our private information for the sake of it or the state that applies pressure on us in pursuance of some murky goals – we all are vulnerable to unethical use of our private information, even the most innocent and pure.
And if we don’t succeed (and quite soon) to build into our democracies enough protective measures to prevent misuse or malicious use of information against us: the whole idea of democracy and our personal freedom may go down the drain.
JoshuaPundit: There’s no question in my mind that we are slowly evolving into a police state. And I don’t see it as a question of technology so much as the attitude of our ruling class. After all, it isn’t the tools that do the work, but the hands that control them. While the NSA spying is troublesome, (particularly without our being in a declared state of war) the real problem lies in who the data collected is going to be controlled by, and the political use it will be put to. I think we’re already seeing that.
We have a president and an administration with utter contempt for the Constitution, who feel no compunction at changing laws at will, using the IRS as their personal goon squad to go after perceived political enemies, using the Justice Department to suppress ‘enemy’ votes in two separate election while encouraging voter fraud where it suits them and defying the will of Congress repeatedly.
And they’ve largely gotten away with it, something new in our history. Any president in the past guilty of these things would have been impeached long ago.
This is the end result of the Gramschian warfare the Soviet Comintern unleashed against America in 1920. The Comintern and the Soviet Union may be history, but the corruption of our institutions and culture and the poisonous ideology that spawned is alive and well.
I even see it in the attitudes the American people are developing. The majority of Americans no longer trust their government, but have become used to the idea of an entrenched Ruling Class manipulating the country for its own benefit and plundering it at will. Many of them see the police nowadays as simply enforcers for the Ruling class and its diktats, not protectors of the average person. They largely no longer trust the media, and with good reason. This is very different from how things were even in the recent past.
These are all radical changes that are evolving slowly, but have become much obvious and strongly implemented in the last 5 years. We still have many of the apparent trappings of freedom, but the walls are definitely closing in, and unless this process is reversed even those will gradually erode away.
I can feel it.
Liberty’s Spirit: Many will talk about the NSA spying, drone warfare, rendition, Gitmo, IRS scandal and other questionable actions by our government. But in truth the Supreme Court has overseen, or will oversee, these abuses and will honestly decide what will become of those laws and governmental actions. Does it move us toward a police state or is this just the reality in our technological age? Balancing scientific discovery with war, politics and economic reality is not easy. Our society has to develop a way to deal with these new challenges and deal with them honestly.
Furthermore, as long as discussion and political argument can be had then we have not reached a point of no return. As long as we have members of the political class who are willing to counterbalance the extremes of the alternate party then we are still a free nation. As long as we have access to alternative media that can smoke out the lies and disingenuous nature of the ruling party then we have not lost our freedom. As long as we can move about, educate ourselves as we please, or work at our preferred profession, then we have not lost our way and a police state is not a reality.
But ultimately, the true test of whether we are moving toward a police state will occur when the people no longer have the ability to defend themselves against a totalitarian government. History has shown us that the first thing a dictator does is to confiscate its citizens’ guns. When our government places so many restrictions on owning a weapon that it makes it onerous to defend your own home, then and only then will we move toward a police state.
On this Holocaust Remembrance Day it is also important to remember that everything that dictatorships did, or still do, everything the Nazis, the Communists and even the brutal evil we see today in Syria, was allowed by a nation’s law. Law will not protect us if we do not stand up for what is right and just in this world. We cannot have freedom at the point of the government’s gun or when we live in fear of our own government.
The law and the US Constitution do not give us the right to defend ourselves. Our rights come from nature and nature’s God. It is our human right to be a free people. And a free people have the right of self-defense.
As Jefferson wrote, “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” Molon Labe.
The Glittering Eye: I’m not sure how you’d go about quantifying that. While I’m concerned about the rule of law and excessive police power, I think there are also countervailing forces. It’s becoming harder and harder to do anything without leaving a record of it and once there’s a record it will have a way of becoming public with alarming speed.
Although the authorities are trying their darnedest to prevent the recording and public recording of their activities, that’s fighting an uphill and, I think, ultimately futile battle. Sunlight is our friend.
Nice Deb: Wikipedia defines a police state as “a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the population. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.
The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement. Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state.”
Yes, we’re moving closer to a police state and it started with Holder’s refusal to prosecute the New Black Panthers for clear voter intimidation in 2009 – a clear signal that under his leadership at the DOJ, there would be selective enforcement of the nation’s laws. After five years of Holder’s corrupt, discriminatory hiring practices, we now have the most radically political DOJ in history. They strictly apply the letter of the law when it comes to conservatives, but totally disregard laws that effect favored constituencies. A complete housecleaning of the DOJ is going to be needed if a Republican ever wins another national election. And by complete housecleaning, I mean EVERYBODY.
As it stands, with left-wing radicals in places of power throughout the government, it should come as no surprise to anyone that entire departments have been weaponized to target the president’s enemies. One of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included his alleged attempt at misusing of the IRS. What Obama has done with the IRS goes way beyond that.
Just the way the president and his allies speak about conservatives – as if they’re dangerous “extremists” in need of some kind of check – is a scandal in and of itself. They talk about the decent, God-fearing, law abiding, patriotic, constitution-loving tea party as if they’re enemies of the state. And this in turn inspires the Regime’s depraved fellow travelers throughout the institutional left – low-lifes who exemplify everything that is wrong with America – to pile on with even more vicious and deplorable language. They are the Regime’s shock troops.
And we have the perfect storm with an MSM that looks the other way when Wendy Davis’ allies chant “hail Satan” in the Texas State House (nothing to see here!) – but gang up on Mike Huckabee with a vengeance when he ridicules Democrats for over-politicizing female reproductive issues. What’s truly pathetic is – when an authoritarian Regime took over a country in the past, the press didn’t voluntarily give up their freedom to communicate political truths. Our MSM does it quite cheerfully and eagerly. They operate under the assumption that the public doesn’t have a right to know what it doesn’t need to know – i.e. that which stands in the way of “fundamental transformation.”
Obama has been as clear as he can possibly be that he will bypass Congress to inflict his ruinous policies on the American people. He has dictated from on high what parts of ObamaCare can be followed, and which parts can be delayed – because we’re now living in a country in which the president can bully insurance companies into doing whatever he tells them to do regardless of the law. The law is apparently whatever Obama wants it to be at any given moment – an exercise of raw political power by the executive – that’s pretty much the dictionary definition of “police state.”
The Independent Sentinel: I don’t think we are living in a police state but I do think we are headed in that direction and it could happen.
The Administration is completely lawless.
Our rule of law is not being followed.
Eric Holder will prosecute crimes against whites but not blacks if J. Christian Adams is to be believed and if the facts are to be believed. Holder wouldn’t prosecute the New Black Panthers but he will prosecute one of the few whites guilty of a knockout crime. Knockout crimes are also known as polar bear hunting because they are aimed at whites generally.
The military is being transformed into a social work agency and the people working in government agencies are being armed.
Chuck Schumer just told the IRS to target conservatives again and no one in the mainstream media cares because they are of the same mind as he is. We no longer have a free press.
The president will give a speech on Tuesday in which he will declare his right to disregard the Separation of Powers.
Everything seems upside down but it’s not if you believe we are heading towards totalitarianism and if you believe what we are dealing with is tyranny.
It reminds me of an incident I observed in Italy. A gypsy put a piece of cardboard under the chin of a tourist and at the same time, she started to pull his camera off from around his neck. I yelled at her to stop while the victim stood dazed and confused – helpless really.
She ran off without the camera and he wandered off without saying thank you. The reason it went down like this was because his mind didn’t accept what was taking place – it was too strange and unexpected. That’s what the activities of this government feel like.
The Tea Party people are terrorists because they are waving flags and quoting the Constitution but it’s perfectly fine for a governor to tell conservatives they aren’t welcomed in his state. Occupiers, who were almost totally comprised of communists and socialists and who seek the overthrow of our government, are admired, and courses are given in colleges extolling them.
This is not normal.
This president is trying to change our core belief systems, our work ethics, our adherence to religious values.
Anything could happen under this Administration and in this climate. A police state is possible.
Well, there you have it.
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