Archive for January, 2012

Battlefield Iran

Posted in OIL with tags , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by pajazzoproductions

This is a State of Grace-moment, with Gary Oldman/Jackie Noonan blowing the glowing tip of his cigarette, tiny sparks whirling around in a longstretched hallway drenched in gasoline, he´s looking over at Sean Penn/Terry with a slightly demented smile, threatening to drop his smoke: “You wanna race? Huh? You wanna race Terry?”

We´ve got an mexican stand-off in the middle east; a gang of broiler beach-bums flexing their muscles, fake-tanned and full of testosterone. But the real danger comes when the posturing of this nuclear chicken race turns into a mosh-pit of decapitated poultry flapping their wings around in fear and panic.

The fifth fleet of the american navy recently passed through the strait of Hormuz. That´s the gateway for 17 million barrels of oil a day, it´s one fifth of the worlds consumption. The Iranian government threatens to close it down if the oil-embargo against them becomes a reality. The Israelis are lurking next door with itchy triggerfingers. Everybody´s holding their breath.

Nuclear or oil. The top two reasons for the west to meddle in the middle east, but nuclear is an easier sell for popular support on in-house western markets. Oil can at best be the sidebar to a more noble issue: like democracy.

Iran really spawned the first seeds of the Arabic Spring. They had a green summer of hope in 2009, when the upcoming elections brought about a wind of change. Opposition candidate Mousavi seemed to be heading towards an overwhelming victory.

Then the internet system was shut down. Mobil phones went flatbarred. Foreign journalists got a one way ticket out. And president Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with some 3,5 million votes, 69%.

During the protests swarming the streets in the wake of this rigged charade, activists, busdrivers, schoolteachers, students, old people, kids- many of them got to see the inside of the infamous Kahrizak prison. Some of them didn´t make it out again. Some of them were raped with bottles our sticks, or when the inspiration wasn´t there, just the good oldfashioned way.

In the meantime: Greece, Spain, Italy, harvesting 60% of their energy demands out of Iranian soil. Everybody happy to see the pipelines flow.

Despite everything, we western voters keep doing it the Matrix-way, swallowing whatever colour of the pill that validates a selfimage we can live with, although the breastnotes of nobility has been wearing weak and unconvincing for a long time, in front of rolling cameras. But we still can´t quite muster up the courage to see the bottomlines of the democracy our representatives are crusading: money, oil, pussy, people. In that order.

Bahrain was also a part of the arabic spring. People took to the streets, gathered around the Pearl roundabout. Before police and militia opened fire straight into the crowd. The Royal Family declared the only public hospital treating the wounded as a nest for terrorists. Doctors and nurses working there got beaten up, kidnapped, killed.

A female poet who read a few lines at a rally at the Pearl roundabout, were held in detention, questioned by a couple of policemen whom pried open her mouth and took turns spitting in it. The coalition forces of the Arab Gulf states provided the military capacity needed for the Royal Family to maintain its position. At the helm of the military wheel sat Saudi Arabia. USA had its fifth fleet stationed in Bahrain.

In the meantime: the Khadaffi regime had been ousted. Obama held a pressconference, stating: “Wherever there are people longing for freedom… they have a friend in America.”

Well, well. Swallow your pill.

In State of Grace, Jackie flicks away the butt of his cigarette and they do a hundred yard dash through a hallway engulfed in flames.


Battlefield Arctica

Posted in OIL with tags , , , on January 21, 2012 by pajazzoproductions

As they say in The Wire: “The game the same. It just gone more fierce.”

And the hustle is for the final source of untapped fossil fuels, more potently addictive than any laboratory magic ever invented, there´s not a single soul who´s not directly hooked on the highs it brings to the table. The cornerboys of this drama are the drill-operators up to the lobbyist pushing their heart out to keep selling you the dream; they´re just on different streetcorners, in different parts of the nittygritty.

The Big Kahunas are not the corporate suits, it´s the guy with the Texan drawl dallying on into the office with a hawaii-shirt and a stetson hat and a harem of russian mailorder brides- no he´s not a polygamist, rules don´t apply to him, he´s bigger than life.

The Big Kahunas isn´t the CEO of some mesely bank making a hundred million a year- they scoff at him at their weekly Freemason gatherings- it´s the hedge fund broker making a billion. So there´s your players.

I read some excerpts of an interview done with a representative of The Stockholm think-tank. Renowned for their take on issues concerning the future of High North, the rep didn´t seem too worried about the scenario of military presence crowding around the multinationals.

He based his conclusions on the same merits that made some top dogs back in the day proclaim the 20:th century as the era of peace: just a few years prior to World War One. They deemed conflict between the leading nations virtually extinct since everybody had money and hands in eachothers pockets.

Now we´ve gone a couple of hundred degrees more globalized since, but I think there´s a danger in underestimating the deep roots of patriotism, its near primal functions, it´s not only an opium for the masses but cuts through social layers all the way to the top.

In a tense environment of a dog-eat-dog scramble for resources, the intertwinement of nations in oil and gas-companies isn´t like antibiotics to chlamydia. And a gut-reaction of torned patriotic pride could in pressing circumstances snowball all over the diluted hope we put in political common sense.

But I agree that we´ve evolved into a species were greed has got the upper hand on almost anything else, so fingers crossed, the thirst for that gooey black gold will keep any military dealings at a low-intensity cold war level, just as a show of potential force; nuclear submarines under a variety of flags navigating below the surface through a thick forest of oil rig pillars cemented deep into the sea-bed.

After a shift the captains of said submarines can share a beer in some harbour boomtown on Greenland, bragging on who´s sitting on most megatons, giving away government secrets at closing time after rounding it all up with a tray of tequila-slams.

The Pipeline Palooza Hangover

Posted in OIL with tags , , , , on January 21, 2012 by pajazzoproductions

It seems to me president Obama didn´t say “no” to the Keystone XL Pipeline- this massive stretch of an oily steelsnake running a proposed course from the western canadian tar sands over enviromentally sensitive areas in Nebraska and finally hawking up its crude bitumen in refinerys way down in Texas and the Mexican Gulf- he said “wait a minute”.

Because much like Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon, he likes to get kissed when he´s getting fucked, and he didn´t appreciate the rushed deadline slapped on to the approval-decision by republicans and Big Oil. In short: he didn´t want to be bullied into it. And he wanted to wet his finger, put it up in the air to see where the wind blows.

And the supporters of yet another major investment in a dead-end industry was so sure that if their humanitarian cause of creating tens of thousands of new job-opportunities wouldn´t make Obama buckle under pressure, the energy security issue would.

I´m afraid it will. He´ll force them to draw another route avoiding the pinpointed strip in northern Nebraska, trying to score some political goodwill in both camps. The alternative just isn´t there, and environment has not only taken a backseat, it lays gagged and bound in the trunk of a big wheeled cityjeep ready to devour every last drop of organic muck we´re able to suck up.

With recession and unemployment, there´s no time like the present to make a sound economic argument- not only that hippie tree-hugging shit of saving mother earth- to going all in for a green industry, but the Durban-summits was sort of the final curtain for rallying worldwide signed/sealed support for this transition. It didn´t happen.

There´s a lot of numbers in the air surrounding the pipeline project, how many jobs it actually would create in the long run, after the initial phase of getting the structure in place, but maybe the tar sands is the way to go since it appears a bit more labour intensive than the maintenance of a pipeline or an oil rig. The tar sands swallows whole communities of Indigenous people, making shareholders out of hunters.

Then, after the arctic is really opened up and we dig our heels in and do a solid job of spills and thrills, the post Exxon Valdez 25 year clean-up raid will seem like nothing, so we´ll have a steady workforce stationed up there  picking up oil-drenched birds and dead fish long after the last oil rig left to rot and rust crumbles into the Arctic ocean.

At least when the time comes, we can light up our cigarettes, fill up our tanks and let our combustion engines roar as we speed towards the sunset.

Slowly roasting like little baby-chickens.

The Interrupters

Posted in The South America Tales with tags , , , , on January 19, 2012 by pajazzoproductions

I saw a documentary last night, called “The Interrupters”. It was centered around a Chicago-based group of ex-cons, trying to mediate in the violent conflicts constantly flaring up all over the poor, almost war-torned streets of innercity neighbourhoods.

I´m aware that every method got its pros and cons but if the participants are trully dedicated and committed, and able to disect their troubled past in a clear-eyed manner, I believe it to be a more effective system than an whole armada of trained social workers. Just like a recovering drugaddict have a far better opportunity of establishing contact with someone still intangled in the chains of abuse; and make no mistake, violence can be every bit as addictive as any chemical substance.

Travelling in Venezuela, there´s a lot of focus on safety and security. At the busterminal in Maracay, the afternoon news plays out on a tv-screen, reporting 59 murders during the weekend in Caracas. But the underlying structure of violence is the same, from Caracas to Chicago to Mumbai to Stockholm. It manifests itself in varying degrees, correlating to the level of despair and the sheer numbers of the ones who´s got nothing to lose and nowhere to go. And in an economy of perpetual greed that equals the poor.

I´m not trying to be the preacherman, but as I see it there´s a straight line of oppression stemming back to Machiavelli and beyond, that old ABC of hardwhip governing of divide and rule; if the hate and frustration by those at the bottom is constantly turned against their neighbour, there´s really no need for the ruling parties to adress the system of rotten roots sustaining it.

You could claim it´s in their best interest to keep this train a-rolling, since bigger jails and longer sentences is a strong foundation for the campiagn-trail, a reaccuring theme: play the card of fear.Everybody else is a rapist/murderer/terrorist/thief, a shortcut to a couple of million of votes, trust in nothing but God and your sawed-off shotgun and a government who swears to lock up for life any genetically warped monster they´ll get their hands on.

The Interrupters are adapt to the fact that their street interventions isn´t a solution. It´s an emergency exit, brought on by extraordinary circumstances when thirteen year olds both are the ones who get shot at as well as in many cases doing the shooting. When an ordinary day contains another funeral, another bed of flowers marking a crimescene on the curb outside of your house, with handwritten notes of good-byes flapping in the wind.

The Chicago-kids are just an extremely physical expression of an understanding of power that is deeply woven into the fabric of our social core. Violence isn´t some random display of isolated outbursts, it´s not a by-product of nothing, it´s a by-product of societies constructed with it as one of it´s most essential cornerstones. But just as economic crime is done with a gun or a knife on the streets, the only trace the Wall Street thug leaves behind is of paper; moving up the ladder, the assault charge is somewhere along the line transformed into sanctioned acts of heroic proportions, whether you´re a soldier or the guy behind the desk giving the orders.

Safety and security are supposed to be sustained with a state monolopy on that violence. Our history is that of colonized and colonizers, nations are founded with brute force and borders are upheld on a balancing-scale on who´s got the biggest potential of, basically, destroying the earth.It´s not a far stretch to picture that monopoly being abused.

It´s like a politicized version of the big kid in the sandbox, stomping out your castle of sand if your refusing to play the game his way.

So the irony of it all is the white collar presidential candidate shaking his head in disgust over seemingly random acts of youth gone wild, and at the same time refusing to see the dots of systematic violence connecting it to the two marines urinating on the carcasses of their taliban counterparts.

As the teenage gangs of Chicago struggle to define what the conflicts really boggles down to, and not really caring, they conclude that turf is sufficient. One crew is from Altgeld Gardens and the other one is not. It´s plain to see that it´s that old desperate clinging after an identity, and stripped of options they go about it the only way they see how, grabbing on to making that all important name for themselves with the means at hand.

You could take a stroll in their garden of broken family trees,; of dads and aunts and uncles and cousins, so much time spent in the penetentiary it would take several generations to fill the gaps of suspended life.

Follow the yellow brick road. The biggest industry is in winners and losers, us and them. That is the deepest social construction of human kind. And there´s a lot of money invested in keeping it that way.

I need a dollar, a dollar is what I need

Posted in The South America Tales with tags , , , on January 10, 2012 by pajazzoproductions

You´d better bring a healthy stash of that soughtafter green if you´re planning on going to Venzuela. They´ve got an official exchange rate of 4 Bolivares to a dollar, so that´s what you´ll get if you take it to the bank, or the ATM, but nobody is interested in the official rate; in Choroní we head on down to Usamas little surfshop with a wad of cash strapped to various parts of our sunburned bodies.

The unofficial rate is somewhere between 7 or 8 Bolivares to a dollar. They´ve got a different way of doing things here. The buses depart once every hour, but when that “once” occurs nobody knows. It´s a hassle to book anything in advance; hostels, hotelrooms, any kind of ticket for transfers.

At the goverment-run busterminal not far from the La Bandera-station, the last remaining tickets for the busy christmas holidays are being auctioned out at 6 a.m on the very same day you wish to travel.We´re here a day to early, a little click of touristy misfits in the midst of a chaotic environment of holiday-stress and a blur of bodies rushing from one ticket vendor to the next.

Overseeing it all is a group of security guards in bright yellow vests, military boots and big guns.

I really wouldn´t wish to attend one of these “socialist ticket auctions”, knowing the level of stress and aggression the slightest mishap or delay in our own public transportation system instigates. If we didn´t have such strict gun regulations, the constant breakdown of the railroads would probably be prone to much more tragic outcomes.

We´ve been schooled that time is money, so ten minutes of tardiness can cause chestpains, and an hour will make you see red as the veins in your forehead goes snap, crackle, pop and the blood seeps into your eyesocket.

Peak Oil

Posted in The South America Tales with tags , , , on January 7, 2012 by pajazzoproductions

There´s an exposé about the Venezuelan oil-business at the Bolivar Plaza; right next to that quaint little park residing in front of the house of parliament, with children feeding peanuts to black squirrels; they gently tap the nut against the tree, and soon enough a little rodent head pops out of its sheltered existence in the crown, making a halfway dash down the base, pausing for a second, playing hard to get, until another little tap makes it go all the way and snap the food right out of the childrens pinches.

The exposé boasts on reserves making Venezuela the largest holder of that black liguid gold in the world, sporting some 300 million barrels it´s the swing producer in troubled times to come. Only problem being they´re not likely to swing the way the West would like them to.

But numbers are politics, and fossil fuels are what the politics and the numbers are all about. So whether or not you question the statistic, fact remains that it´s a non-renewable and it will run out, all the while we put blinders on and scramble for the final frontier of the arctic; because in times of economic hardship, longevity and sustainability and those others words of the day quickly fade into oblivion.

Remember the Kyoto-agreement? The Copenhagen negotiations, which was put on rotation seemingly twentyfourseven, whenever you flicked the switch there was another suit with a grave face at least being forced to acknowledge there was a problem.

Remember Durban? Who does? It passed by like a sneaky fart, we just whiffed with a slight frown and then it was dishelved downwind. Suddenly we europeans are threatened with a future that isn´t automatically spelled constant growth, and we´re faced with third world ratings of desperation and despair in countrys pushed to a threshold that we´re suddenly contemplating on raising; but we shouldn´t be surprised, because the Union was never about solidarity, it was about marketshares and protectionism. It was about the golden days when we had Khaddafi bidding our dirty work, creating incarceration-camps so our borders weren´t swamped with useless labour.

Now we´re left dealing with diseases we thought extinct, or that we at the very least had rendered ourselfs immune to the repercussions of.

But if the economic walls start to crumble, the curse of oil won´t be a tropical fever for long. We put our hands together and hope for a technological renewable solution somewhere along the way, in the meantime the oil-industry and the powerplayers connected to it can have its final heyday in the northern hemisphere, making Stavanger and Murmansk the new Klondyke, offering a quick-fix of a booming market, but it´s still a dragons-fly, it lives for a day, and I bet a chunk of Swedish state bonds that the knowledge of it being the very last drops, will also bring an unprecedented amount of corruption and greed into the hearts and guts of the goverment bodies even in our little sensible corner of the world.

Santos Malandros (Holy Thugs)

Posted in The South America Tales with tags , , , , on January 4, 2012 by pajazzoproductions

If Simon Bolivar is the patron saint- not only of Caracas and Venezuela, but of the entire state of former Grand Colombia- his Caraqueño sidekicks are the santos malandros; a gang of barrio-hoodlums operating back in the 60´s and 70´s, elevated into martyrdom when a sufficient amount of years has passed by to extend a bit of glitter and glamour to their everyday business of robbery and theft.

Ismael is the kingpin, the leader of the pack, depicted in clay-figurines with a cap turned sideways and a sizeable gun tucked in his waistband, a Venezuelan Robin Hood who supposedly never failed to share his violent riches with his cradle community. Constantly with a cigarette whipping from the corner of his mouth, people wallow to sacrifice by his final restingplace, bringing him some cheap rum to satisfy that eternal longing for a stiff cuba libre.

It´s him the modern day malandros go to to bow their head in hope of a succesful carjacking, kneeling next to a single mother praying she and her next of kins won´t fall short of a stray bullet, or for that matter, a bullet with their name on it.

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