French-Italian proxy oil war in Libya continues


This 8 May 2019 video says about itself:

Italy Pressures France Over Support For Libya’s Rebels

France has backed Libyan rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s efforts … But after complaints from the Italian government, the French have apparently backed off their vocal support of Haftar’s advance on Tripoli. But the head of Libya’s Taghyeer Party says Haftar is taking advantage of diverging international interests in Libya to get ahead.

Guests:
Guma el Gamaty
Head of Libya’s Taghyeer Party

Mohamed Eljarh
Founder and CEO of Libya Outlook

Anne Giudicelli
CEO of Terr(o)Risc

By Alex Lantier in France:

Bombing of Turkey’s Watiya base escalates Franco-Italian proxy war in Libya

8 July 2020

Even as COVID-19 spreads, the decade-long civil war between rival imperialist-backed warlords triggered by the 2011 NATO war in Libya is spiraling out of control.

On July 5, unidentified warplanes bombed al-Watiya airbase, which Italian-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces recently retook from French-backed Libyan National Army (LNA) forces of Khalifa Haftar. The attack damaged hangars and destroyed military equipment from Turkey, which is coordinating its support for the GNA with Italy. LNA official Khaled al Mahjoub told Al Arabiya that “other attacks similar to the one on the base will soon be carried out. … We are in a real war with Turkey, which has oil ambitions in Libya.”

Turkish military sources told Spanish news site Atalayar the raid included “nine precision airstrikes against Turkish air defense systems,” which wounded several Turkish intelligence officials. They added that the attacks were “successful” and left “three radars completely destroyed.” However, Atalayar refuted reports that MiG-29 or Su-24 jets Moscow has given the LNA carried out the strikes, saying that it was the work of French-made Rafale jets.

Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and France itself all field Rafales, support the LNA, and could have bombed al-Watiya. On June 21, Egyptian dictator General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi threatened to intervene in Libya against Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office reacted to the strike by tweeting that Turkey would escalate operations in Libya, attacking the coastal city of Sirte and Al Jufra, Libya’s largest airbase, both located in central Libya and held by LNA forces. It cited control of oil supply lines and Russian support for the LNA to justify its intervention.

The bombing of al-Watiya, barely 150km from Tripoli, followed visits by Turkish and Italian officials. It came only a few hours after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar concluded a trip to Tripoli, during which he proclaimed, “Turkish sovereignty and our return, after the withdrawal of our ancestors, to return forever in Libya.” This apparently referred to the Turkish Ottoman Empire’s control over Libya, until Italy seized Libya and held it as a colony from 1911 until 1943 and its defeat during World War II.

On June 24, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio visited Tripoli, after meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara and amid joint Turkish-Italian naval drills. In Tripoli, he said the war was central to Rome’s strategic interests, calling Libya “a priority for our foreign policy and national security.”

The strike on al-Watiya has revealed the bitter divisions among the NATO imperialist powers, as well as between the regional powers, over the division of the spoils from the 2011 war.

Amid revolutionary uprisings of the working class in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011, Paris, London and Washington pushed NATO to bomb Libya and arm Islamist and tribal militias to topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Berlin declined to join the war, and the belligerent powers ran roughshod over initial Turkish objections. Western media and petty-bourgeois pseudo-left groups like France’s New Anti-capitalist Party claimed it was a humanitarian war to protect Libyan protesters, but it was an imperialist rape of Libya.

It set the stage not only for the ongoing proxy war in Syria between Russia and NATO, which sent to Syria many Islamist proxy militias it had mobilized in Libya, but for a ruthless struggle to carve up Libya and its massive oil reserves.

Thousands have died in fighting between rival militias unleashed by the 2011 war, and the coronavirus pandemic is now ravaging Libya. The number of cases doubled in the last two weeks of June, to 713, and now stands at 1,117. Only 269 have recovered while 34 have died, as the disease spreads across a country whose health and industrial infrastructure have been shattered by a decade of bloodshed.

This month, the International Rescue Committee reported: “This year Libya has recorded the highest number of attacks on health facilities of any country in the world. Just yesterday, an ambulance was hit by an airstrike, severely damaging the vehicle and the health facility close by. Last week two doctors were killed by a mine that exploded under a body they were moving from a hospital. With Libya’s health system already on its knees, continued attacks such as these are making it even harder for medical teams in the country to respond to the pandemic.”

The NATO powers are not bringing medical and humanitarian aid, however, but plundering Libya and threatening to escalate the fighting into an all-out regional war. Several regional powers play a major role—with Turkey and Algeria backing the GNA, and Egypt and the UAE backing the LNA. Moscow has also intervened to back the LNA against the Islamist-dominated GNA. However, a decisive aspect of the conflict is between major oil corporations like France’s Total and Italy’s ENI.

On July 3, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency wrote that the GNA is “advancing on Sirte, the gateway to the east of the country and oil fields.” It called Sirte “crucial” for two reasons: “First, Sirte has significant economic value as a gateway to Libya’s oil crescent region, consisting of vital ports such as al-Zuweytinah, Ra’s Lanuf, Marsa al Brega, and as-Sidr, which reportedly supplies 60 percent of Libya’s oil exports. Secondly, it is a strategic city that could enable the GNA to take control of the Libyan coastline from the capital to the west and Benghazi to the east.”

ENI dominates the oilfields in GNA-held northwestern Libya. But many of the oil reserves and refineries in the “oil crescent” region are held by Total and LNA militias in the Cyrenaica region around Benghazi, the center of the NATO-backed revolt against Gaddafi, and in the Fezzan. This region in southern Libya borders two former French colonies, Niger and Tchad, that Paris exerts control over as part of its so-called war on terror in Mali and the Sahel.

Conflicts between the NATO imperialist powers are increasingly evident. Commenting on French support for Haftar, Tarek Megerisi of the European Council on Foreign Relations told the Financial Times: “France has different interests to Germany and Italy in Libya, and it has moved to protect these interests. It has security interests in the Sahel and a wider security partnership that it is building with the United Arab Emirates—and in which Egypt is a big part.”

Dorothée Schmid of the French Institute on International Relations (IFRI) said there is “strategic panic” in Paris at Haftar’s recently suffered reverses. She pointed to growing chaos and uncertainty in NATO: “France is rather isolated in this affair, and everyone is waiting for the American elections.”

The only way to avert a further escalation is a mobilization of the working class in Africa and the Middle East, resuming the struggles launched a decade ago, and the unification of these struggles with growing strikes and protests in America and Europe in a socialist anti-war movement. Absent a revolutionary intervention of the working class, the ruling elites are all sliding towards war.

Naval tensions continue to grow in the Mediterranean. France withdrew from NATO operations in the Mediterranean on July 1, protesting that a Turkish warship allegedly threatened to fire on a French frigate as it tried to inspect a merchant ship bound for Libya. Egypt has for its part reportedly acquired a Russian “Bastion” coastal defense battery amid reports that Turkey intends to set up a naval base in the Libyan city of Misrata.

Big Oil gets billions of taxpayers’ money


This 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

The Cost of Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Understanding how subsidies affect fossil fuel production is crucial to tackling climate change.

This video looks at the latest research into the impact subsidies and support have on the fossil fuel industry, the effect on oil prices and how things may change going forward.

The latest data on US fossil fuel subsidies along with the cost of subsidies and the impact of fossil fuel subsidies are examined and reported. Whilst much discussion on the impact of fossil fuel support and subsidies recently has been on the coal market, the oil and gas subsidies are equally as important. Total US fossil fuel subsidies matter as they are crucially important for climate change. The most recent numbers for fossil fuel subsidies 2016 show that over $300bn is spent annually.

Translated from Daphné Dupont-Nivet and Belia Heilbron in Dutch weekly De Groene, 1 July 2020:

European Union countries support the fossil fuel sector with 137 billion a year …

Henk Kamp is sure: “Fossil fuels are not subsidized in the Netherlands, not even through fiscal measures,” the then Minister of Economic Affairs told the House of Representatives five years ago. The reason was a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that showed that worldwide $ 5300 billion is involved in fossil subsidies. Not from the Netherlands, he thought. His successor Eric Wiebes said it just as clearly in the summer of 2017: “There is no policy to support the fossil sector in particular.” …

The Netherlands has a hodgepodge of tax measures that favour the fossil fuel sector.

For example, the tax exemption on kerosene in aviation and shipping accounts for about 3.5 billion subsidies per year. In addition, there are tax advantages for energy use in greenhouse horticulture and big consumers such as the fossil fuel industry themselves have to pay less energy tax than households. It is less known that the Dutch government provides insurance with which oil refineries are constructed in Kuwait and Oman. …

While parliament is waiting for the inventory, support for fossil fuels is being expanded. Eg, Wiebes has now prepared a bill to expand and increase the investment deduction for the extraction of gas in the North Sea, from 25 to 40 percent. In this way, the Netherlands must be able to compete again with the United Kingdom and Norway, which previously implemented the increase. …

In addition to its activities in Kuwait, the Netherlands supports the installation of oil platforms for the Mexican state oil company Pemex with nearly two hundred million euros, and more than 250 million guarantees for the construction of a new bulk terminal for oil on the coast of Oman, in a nature reserve with protected animal species including four species of sea turtles and the Arabian humpback whale. …

Of all [Dutch taxpayer subsidized] energy projects, 98 percent of the money went to fossil fuel and only two to renewable. …

That does not fit with the climate goal of “Paris” [climate agreement], the Advisory Council on International Affairs, the independent advisory body for government and parliament on international issues, said in July last year. The Council emphasizes that “subsidies, export credits and tax money are currently used for international trade and investment in fossil fuels” …

However, with 1.5 billion euros a year, the Netherlands provides more aid to the fossil fuel industry through export credit insurance than France, Germany or Russia.

French, Turkish NATO partners’ Libyan oil conflict


This 2019 video is called France and Italy on Different Sides of Libya’s Civil War.

There is a proxy war in Libya between French President Macron and French Total oil on one side, and the Italian government and Italian Eni oil on the other side.

In which Macron supports warlord Haftar; and the Italian government the jihadist-supported government in Tripoli.

The Turkish Erdogan regime, a NATO ‘partner’ like Italy and France, supports the Tripoli government as well.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Nato probe into stand-off in Libyan waters

NATO has opened investigations into a stand-off between French and Turkish ships off the coast of Libya with Ankara accused of continuing to breach a United Nations arms embargo.

Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Nato would look into claims that the Turkish navy ignored French calls for an inspection earlier this month.

Paris has consistently accused Ankara of shipping arms to Libya and wanted to check the ship’s consignment as it was behaving suspiciously, turning off its transponder and failing to give its final destination.

Syrian villagers drive away Trump’s occupation soldiers


Barley crop ablaze in Sweida province in Syria – US forces are using Apache helicopters to drop ‘thermal balloons’ to set the crops alight

This photo shows a barley crop ablaze in Sweida province in Syria – US forces are using Apache helicopters to drop ‘thermal balloons’ to set the crops alight.

From daily News Line in Britain, 30 May 2020:

SYRIAN VILLAGERS DRIVE OUT US MILITARY VEHICLES – as US planes drop ‘thermal balloons’ to set grain fields ablaze

SYRIANS in the villages of al-Qahira and al-Dushaisha – in Tal Tamir in Hasaka northern countryside – have intercepted US occupation force vehicles and driven them back to another of their illegitimate bases in the region.

(Syrian Arab News Agency) SANA’s reporter in Hasaka said that a number of US occupation armoured vehicles had tried to cross the road that passes through the lands of the villages of al-Qahira and al-Dushaisha, in the Tal Tamir.

But locals intercepted them, threw stones, chanted slogans against the occupation and forced them to return back where they came from. …

Meanwhile the Western military coalition, purportedly fighting the Daesh [ISIS] Takfiri terrorist group,

United States President Donald Trump, in moments of honesty between his many lies, has repeatedly admitted that United States soldiers in Syria are in fact waging a war for oil.

has according to reports deployed three Patriot missile batteries at a US base in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

The Arabic-language al-Alam television news network, citing local sources, reported on Wednesday that the batteries were deployed to the base set up at the Koniko gas field – which is located about 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) east of the provincial capital city of Dayr al-Zawr – during the past few days.

Koniko is one of the largest gas plants in Syria. The sources added that the US-led coalition forces are working to install similar batteries in several other locations in the province. …

Since late October 2019, the United States has been redeploying troops to the oil fields … in eastern Syria, in a reversal of President Donald Trump’s earlier order to withdraw all troops from the Arab country.

The Pentagon claims that move aims ‘to protect’ the fields and facilities from Daesh attacks. That claim came although Trump had suggested that Washington sought economic interests in controlling the oil fields – and Syria, which hasn’t authorised the presence of US military in its territory, says Washington is ‘plundering’ the country’s oil.

In fact, the presence of US forces in eastern Syria has particularly irked the civilians, and local residents have on several occasions stopped American military convoys entering the region.

Burning agricultural crops in the Syrian al-Jazeera region, especially wheat, to empty the Syrian basket of its bounties is another goal that unites the American and Turkish occupation forces in aggressive behaviour and a violation of international laws that amounts to a war crime – added to other crimes committed by those occupying forces against the Syrians

‘Deliberately setting fire to the strategic wheat crop through which the Syrians have achieved over dozens of years of self-sufficiency (and which) has constituted a major pillar of food security in the country, nowadays . . . has become a clear target in the context of an economic war and unjust starvation policy practised by the US and the new Ottoman Turkish regime against the Syrian people’. …

‘The crime of burning wheat crop in Syria comes in the context of the American and Western terrorist and economic war against the Syrian people, and it is an American plan prepared in advance in implementation of direct orders from US President Donald Trump – according to an international media report published by the “International Business Times” news website in its version issued in Singapore a few days ago.

‘This indicated that: “The US occupation forces were carrying out orders approved by the White House and that Trump signed orders to burn agricultural lands in Syria.” And the fires which have erupted in the fields in southern Syria may be part of that plan as observers say.

‘The vandalism and destruction agendas prepared by the US administration integrate with the aggressive behaviour of its regional client in the region, namely Erdogan and his terrorist mercenaries.

In light of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, they make US-Turkish practices rise to the level of war crimes as they expose hundreds of thousands of people to the risk of falling into poverty and famine.’

After BP disaster, another big oil spill?


This 17 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

2010: Blowout: The Deepwater Horizon Disaster

A survivor recalls his harrowing escape; plus, a former BP insider warns of another potential disaster

U.S. MORE AT RISK THAN EVER OF MAJOR OIL SPILL On April 20, 2010 BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded while drilling an exploratory well off the coast of Louisiana. The catastrophic event killed 11 workers and unleashed more than 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico ― the largest oil spill in U.S. history. A decade later, experts and environmental advocates warn that the U.S. remains woefully unprepared for a major spill ― and is perhaps even more at risk of one due to the Trump administration’s relentless push to expand offshore drilling and gut environmental regulations. [HuffPost]

From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the USA:

What did scientists learn from Deepwater Horizon?

April 20, 2020

Ten years ago, a powerful explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others. Over a span of 87 days, the Deepwater Horizon well released an estimated 168 million gallons of oil and 45 million gallons of natural gas into the ocean, making it the largest accidental marine oil spill in history.

Researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) quickly mobilized to study the unprecedented oil spill, investigating its effects on the seafloor and deep-sea corals and tracking dispersants used to clean up the spill.

In a review paper published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, WHOI marine geochemists Elizabeth Kujawinski and Christopher Reddy review what they — and their science colleagues from around the world — have learned from studying the spill over the past decade.

“So many lessons were learned during the Deepwater Horizon disaster that it seemed appropriate and timely to consider those lessons in the context of a review,” says Kujawinski. “We found that much good work had been done on oil weathering and oil degradation by microbes, with significant implications for future research and response activities.”

10 years after BP disaster, still oil pollution


This 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

The Gulf Oil Spill Disintegrated This Island | National Geographic

Cat Island was once one of the four largest bird-nesting grounds in Louisiana. But the Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed the mangroves growing there, destroying the root system that held the island’s sediment in place. Since 2010, the 5.5 acre island has been washing away into the Gulf of Mexico, and migratory birds find their home disappearing before their eyes.

From the University of South Florida (USF Innovation) in the USA:

First Gulf of Mexico-wide survey of oil pollution completed 10 years after Deepwater Horizon

April 15, 2020

Since the 2010 BP oil spill, marine scientists at the University of South Florida (USF) have sampled more than 2,500 individual fish representing 91 species from 359 locations across the Gulf of Mexico and found evidence of oil exposure in all of them, including some of the most popular types of seafood. The highest levels were detected in yellowfin tuna, golden tilefish and red drum.

The study, just published in Nature Scientific Reports, represents the first comprehensive, Gulf-wide survey of oil pollution launched in response to the Deepwater Horizon spill. It was funded by a nearly $37 million grant from the independent Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) to establish the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE), an international consortium of professors, post-doctoral scholars and students from 19 collaborating institutions.

Over the last decade, USF scientists conducted a dozen research expeditions to locations off the United States, Mexico and Cuba examining levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the most toxic chemical component of crude oil, in the bile of the fish. Bile is produced by the liver to aid in digestion, but it also acts as storage for waste products.

“We were quite surprised that among the most contaminated species was the fast-swimming yellowfin tuna as they are not found at the bottom of the ocean where most oil pollution in the Gulf occurs,” said lead author Erin Pulster, a researcher in USF’s College of Marine Science. “Although water concentrations of PAHs can vary considerably, they are generally found at trace levels or below detection limits in the water column. So where is the oil pollution we detected in tunas coming from?”

Pulster says it makes sense that tilefish have higher concentrations of PAH because they live their entire adult lives in and around burrows they excavate on the seafloor and PAHs are routinely found in Gulf sediment. However, their exposure has been increasing over time, as well as in other species, including groupers, some of Florida’s most economically important fish. In a separate USF-led study, her team measured the concentration of PAHs in the liver tissue and bile of 10 popular grouper species. The yellowedge grouper had a concentration that increased more than 800 percent from 2011 to 2017.

Fish with the highest concentrations of PAH were found in the northern Gulf of Mexico, a region of increased oil and gas activity and in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon spill that gushed nearly four million barrels of oil over the course of three months in 2010. Oil-rich sediments at the bottom where much of the oil settled are resuspended by storms and currents, re-exposing bottom-dwelling fish.

Oil pollution hot spots were also found off major population centers, such as Tampa Bay, suggesting that runoff from urbanized coasts may play a role in the higher concentrations of PAHs. Other sources include chornic low-level releases from oil and gas platforms, fuel from boats and airplanes and even natural oil seeps — fractures on the seafloor that can ooze the equivalent of millions of barrels of oil per year.

“This was the first baseline study of its kind, and it’s shocking that we haven’t done this before given the economic value of fisheries and petroleum extraction in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Steven Murawksi, professor of fisheries biology at USF, who led the international research effort.

Despite the detected trends of oil contamination in fish bile and liver, fish from the Gulf of Mexico are rigorously tested for contaminants to ensure public safety and are safe to eat because oil contaminants in fish flesh are well below public health advisory levels. Chronic PAH exposure, however, can prevent the liver from functioning properly, resulting in the decline of overall fish health.

These studies were made possible by BP’s 10-year, $500 million commitment to fund independent research on the long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill administered by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. This year marks the end of that funding.

“Long-term monitoring studies such as these are important for early warning of oil pollution leaks and are vital for determining impacts to the environment in the case of future oil spills,” Pulster said.

BP’S TOXIC LEGACY Ten years ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and spilling 200 million gallons of Louisiana crude. HuffPost spoke with people who are still suffering from the health and economic fallout of cleaning up the toxic spill. [HuffPost]

Pro-Big Oil Trump fights hungry people, not coronavirus


This 5 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

How cuts to food stamp program could increase ‘poor outcomes’ for the food insecure

The Trump administration is making some major changes to the food stamp program, known as SNAP. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized a new rule expected to end access to the benefit for nearly 700,000 people by enforcing tougher work standards and limiting exemptions. The Urban Institute’s Elaine Waxman joins Amna Nawaz to discuss.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WON’T POSTPONE FOOD BENEFIT CUT Since last week, Democrats have called on President Donald Trump’s administration to delay a planned food benefit cut because of the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak, but administration officials have said no. Starting next month, rules will tighten for unemployed adults who don’t have minor children or disabilities, a policy that will shrink food benefit enrollment by 700,000, or about 2% annually. [HuffPost]

LOW-INCOME COLLEGE KIDS ARE WALKING A KNIFE’S EDGE A growing number of colleges and universities have canceled in-person classes this semester to combat the spread of COVID-19. For the tens of thousands of students who rely on their schools for housing and food, this disruption is going to be particularly painful. “It’s going to be so financially stressful … some of these students are not going to return to college,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University. [HuffPost]

TOP DISEASE EXPERT: THE SYSTEM IS ‘FAILING’ Seven weeks have passed since the first U.S. case of coronavirus was announced, and the government is failing to account for what could be thousands of additional infections because of ongoing problems with testing. “The system is not really geared to what we need right now,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health. “That is a failing. It is a failing, let’s admit it.” [AP]

CDC ONLY TESTED 77 PEOPLE THIS WEEK An examination of state and federal records by Yahoo News finds that American states are, on average, testing fewer than 100 people per day for COVID-19 — while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tested fewer than 100 people total in the first two days of this week. “This is not a problem we can test our way out of,” a top CDC official said. In a nation of 320 million, testing every person will be impossible. [HuffPost]

OUTBREAK COULD MAKE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WORSE The biggest piece of advice coming from public health officials amid the current pandemic is to practice social distancing and, if necessary self-isolate. For some, these measures are inconvenient but ultimately doable. But for others, such as victims of domestic violence for whom work is a necessary respite from the unpredictability of their partner’s abuse, there can be more immediate danger inside the home than outside it. [HuffPost]

Disneyland to close amid pandemic.

THE ABSURDITY OF TRUMP’S BID TO BAIL OUT OIL AND GAS The White House’s nascent effort to bail out oil and gas producers struggling with plunging oil prices could become a political boondoggle, legal and industry experts say, given the difficulty of finding congressional support for offering federal dollars to an industry plagued by reckless financing and devastating effects on the climate. [HuffPost]

More Coverage Of The Coronavirus

Britain: Coronavirus sparks fear for older and ill prisoners in overcrowded jails: here.

Britain: Kids on free school meals could go hungry if schools close due to coronavirus, charities warn: here.

Scottish landlords should not evict tenants struggling to make ends meet as a result of coronavirus: here.

China sends medical experts to support Italy and Spain’s fight against coronavirus. Rome blasts the EU for ignoring its pleas for help: here.

Coronavirus, oil and money


This 9 March 2020 video says about itself:

Bernie Sanders Joins a Roundtable Discussion Regarding Coronavirus

CAMPAIGNING WHILE CORONAVIRUS SPREADS: Bernie Sanders joins a roundtable discussion in Detroit, Michigan regarding the coronavirus outbreak. As large public events and gatherings are being cancelled across the country, campaign rallies featuring Sanders, Biden, and Trump are continuing as planned. As each of the presidential contenders would be the oldest to assume office, they are also each within the most vulnerable age group to a coronavirus infection.

TRUMP’S NEW CHIEF OF STAFF SELF-QUARANTINES Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the incoming White House chief of staff, said he would quarantine himself after potentially coming into contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference last month. His office said he was tested out of an “abundance of caution”, and he would isolate himself for two weeks. President Donald Trump, who also attended the conference, has not been tested. [HuffPost]

TRUMP FLAILS WITH MISINFORMATION AS CRISIS DEEPENS Trump took to Twitter Monday as financial markets tanked on the coronavirus and oil price collapse. First, the president hailed the oil sell-off as good news because consumers will pay less at the pump. Then the president sought to downplay coronavirus fears by emphasizing that “life & the economy” don’t shut down for the seasonal flu each year. Trump’s lies about the coronavirus may finally catch up with him. [HuffPost]

PLUMMETING OIL PRICES COULD FORCE A RECKONING The dramatic fall of oil prices could upend the American fracking industry, analysts said, as panic over the coronavirus outbreak lessened global demand and Saudi Arabia and Russia flooded the market with new supply. Oil prices suffered the steepest tailspin since the United States began bombing Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War. [HuffPost]

Editorial: Saudi slashing the oil price is a desperate gamble: here.

U.S. WARNS COMPANIES NOT TO MAKE FALSE VIRUS CLAIMS U.S. regulators warned seven companies to stop selling products with false claims that they can treat the new coronavirus. Those warned included The Jim Bakker Show. Last month, the disgraced former televangelist‘s program aired an episode in which a guest promoted silver particles in liquid, claiming it had been eliminated previous coronavirus strains in hours. [HuffPost]

Indian Wells Tennis Is First Large U.S. Sporting Event Canceled Over Coronavirus Fears: here.

ITALY LOCKS DOWN ENTIRE COUNTRY Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced all of Italy is on lockdown as the country tries to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The northern part of the country was already on lockdown. The new lockdown goes into effect on Tuesday and lasts until April 3. The country, which has about 60 million people, had over 9,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and at least 463 dead as of Monday. [HuffPost]

Unexploded bombs threaten Libyan civilians


This 23 January 2014 video from Switzerland says about itself:

ENI Has No Plans to Exit Libya

Paolo Scaroni, the chief executive of Italian oil major ENI, discusses with [Rupert Murdoch’s] Wall Street Journal‘s Deborah Ball at the World Economic Forum the challenges and opportunities facing the oil and gas sector. Photo: Getty Images

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, February 17, 2020

Unexploded bombs threaten civilians in Libya as truce “hangs by a thread”

UN REPRESENTATIVE to Libya Stephanie Williams has dismissed the UN-backed arms embargo as “a joke”.

The country is spiralling into an increasingly deadly situation as battle rages between the … Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and General Khalifa Hiftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls large parts of the east.

After foreign ministers met in Munich on Sunday, Ms Williams warned: “The situation on the ground remains deeply troubling. The truce is holding only by a thread … the economic situation continues to deteriorate.”

In January a Berlin conference of world leaders agreed to stop sending weapons to the competing Libyan forces in a bid to de-escalate the situation and find a political solution.

But the embargo has been repeatedly breached, in particular by Turkey, which has sent equipment and thousands of jihadist fighters from the battlefields of Syria to support the Western-backed GNA.

‘Western-backed’ is not completely correct. The Italian government and Italian Big Oil corporation ENI support the GNA. But French President Macron, European Union and NATO ally of the Italian government, and French Big Oil corporation Total support warlord Khalifa Haftar.

“The arms embargo has become a joke, we all really need to step up here,” Ms Williams said.

Talks on how to police the influx of weapons into Libya continued yesterday. They were marked by some reluctance to launch another naval mission in the region.

“It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability,” Ms Williams insisted.

UN Mines Action Service spokesman Bob Seddon warned of the increased danger posed by “explosive remnants of war”.

He said: “It is estimated that there are between 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of uncontrolled munitions across Libya.”

Remnants of cluster munitions are alleged to have been found on the battlefields.

At least 900 civilian deaths have been attributed to explosives, the campaign group Action on Armed Violence said.

The foreign ministers of all 27 EU countries agreed to launch a new military mission in Libya on Monday: here.

Fortress Europe’s dirty secret. EU condemned for its continued support of the Libyan Coastguard after the Star reveals the EU’s own reports were warning about the mistreatment of refugees in Libya: here.

Exclusive: Revealed: EU to continue supporting the Libyan Coastguard despite its fears of human rights abuses: here.

Canadian First Nations fight against fossil fuel pipeline


This 13 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

The Wet’suwet’en Fight Against New Pipeline Spreads Across Canada with Blockades & Occupations

A major anti-pipeline struggle continues in Canada, where protests have broken out across the country in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders whose sovereign land in northern British Columbia was raided last week and over the weekend by Canadian police. Dozens were arrested in the days-long raid of unceded indigenous territories, where hereditary chiefs have been in a protracted battle to protect their land from the construction of TransCanada’s 400-mile, $4.7 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline. The raids took place about 700 miles north of Vancouver and sparked outrage across the country. In Ontario, a Mohawk solidarity protest has shut down the Canadian National Railway for days, halting travel for tens of thousands of passengers. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for a quick resolution to the protests on Wednesday. In New York, protesters on Wednesday gathered for a sit-in outside the United Nations headquarters in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders.

For more, we go to Wet’suwet’en territory, where we’re joined by land defender and matriarch Molly Wickham. Her clan, the Gidimt’en Clan, was raided last week by 60 heavily militarized officers with assault rifles and dogs. And in Toronto, we’re joined by Pamela Palmater, Mi’kmaq lawyer and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. She is the chair in indigenous governance at Ryerson University.