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U.S. Gasoline Futures Hit 25-Month High

Gasoline futures spiked on Wednesday as refiners and other members of the field-to-pump supply chain began to report damages caused by Hurricane Harvey, according to a report by Reuters. Crude oil futures fell by 2.5 percent the same day, as demand for the raw resources fell due to infrastructural failures. Gasoline spot prices had spiked 6.19 percent on Wednesday by 4:00pm EST, trading at $1.8936. Extensive flooding caused the administration of the Motiva Port Arthur refinery, the country’s largest, to consider temporarily shutting down…

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Israel demolishes Palestinian home in Lod

Israeli forces’ bulldozers razed today a Palestinian house in the occupied city of Lod (al-Lod) in the central district of Israel under the pretext of unlicensed construction. According to local sources, the house belonged to the Palestinian Al-Faqir family. Eyewitnesses told Quds Press that the Israeli police have blocked the area and prevented the Al-Faqir family from reaching their home, while the occupation bulldozers were demolishing the house under the protection of the police special forces. Sanad Al-Faqir, the house owner, told the agency that he has repeatedly applied for a construction permit, but the Israeli municipality has declined his requests. Read More: France condemns Israel’s demolition of Palestinian schools He pointed out that the demolition order was issued last March, […]

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How Much Is Too Much?

Authored by Michael Lebowitz via,
The amount of monetary stimulus increasingly imposed on the financial system creates false signals about the economy’s true growth rate, causing a vast misallocation of capital, impaired productivit…

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Hurricane Harvey Is A Disaster For OPEC

The skies are clearing over Houston, but the damage from the remaining elements of Hurricane Harvey has spread east to Port Arthur and Lake Charles along the Texas-Louisiana border. That has knocked more refineries offline, including the largest refinery in the United States. In the aftermath of the storm, the most serious threat to the energy industry is the extended outage of refineries and pipelines, according to Goldman Sachs. The problem actually looks worse than it did earlier this week as the deluge has shifted towards Port Arthur, another…

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European Refiners Set To Benefit From Gulf Coast Chaos

The refinery outages from Hurricane Harvey have left a very large, if temporary, void in the refined product supply, a space set to be filled by refiners located far from the flood ravaged coast of Texas. European refiners stand to benefit from the disruptions, as a sudden shortfall in refined products has led to a surge in margins. European refiners are expected to ramp up capacity and exports to fill the gap, enticed by surging prices. Crack spreads for European gasoline are at a two-year high, according to PVM Oil Associates, and at a record…

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Tokyo Seeks Tough U.N. Response To North Korean Missile Launch

A day after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, Tokyo is pushing the United States to encourage the United Nations to levy new sanctions against Pyongyang, including choking off North Korea’s oil supplies, a new Reuters report said. New measures could be designed to target North Koreans who work abroad or oil supplies. The U.S. is usually the nation author of all drafts of the U.N.’s sanctions on North Korea. American diplomats then negotiate any potential sanctions with China, Pyongyang’s main ally in international…

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Federal Reserve Board announces approval of proposal by Sterling Bancorp

Federal Reserve Board announces approval of proposal by Sterling Bancorp
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Arkema CEO: “No Way To Prevent Imminent Explosion” At Flooded Texas Chemical Plant

Yesterday we reported, that in a potentially disastrous outcome from the Harvey flooding, a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas belonging to French industrial giant Arkema SA, has announced it is evacuating workers due to the risk of an explosion, after Tropical Storm Harvey knocked out power and flooding swamped its backup generators. The French company said the situation at the plant “has become serious” and said that it is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the State of Texas to set up a command post in a suitable location near our site.

The plant, which produces explosive organic peroxides and ammonia, was hit by more than 40 inches of rain and has been heavily flooded, running without electricity since Sunday. The plant was closed since Friday but has had a skeleton staff of about a dozen in place. Following the flood surge, the plant’s back-up generators also failed. The threat emerged once the company could no longer maintain refrigeration for chemicals located on site, which have to be stored at low temperatures. The plant lost cooling when backup generators were flooded and then workers transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers.

On Tuesday afternoon, the company released a statement which admitted that “refrigeration on some of our back-up product storage containers has been compromised due to extremely high water, which is unprecedented in the Crosby area.  We are monitoring the temperature of each refrigeration container remotely.” It then warned that “while we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real.”

One day later, and with the torrential rains finally over, has the situation at the giant peroxide chemical plant stabilized? Unfortunately, according to Reuters, the answer is no.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Richard Rowe, the chief executive of Arkema’s American operations said that “the company has no way of preventing chemicals from catching fire or exploding at its heavily flooded plant.” Rowe added that the company now expects chemicals on site to catch fire or explode within the next six days. Since the plant remains flooded by about six feet of water, “the company has no way to prevent” this worst-case outcome.

Anticipating the worst, the company earlier evacuated all remaining workers, while Harris County ordered the evacuation of residents in a 1.5-mile radius of the plant that makes organic chemicals.

Previously, Arkema said that it was working with Homeland Security and the state of Texas to set up a command post near the site. As we reported on Tuesday, Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, wrote on Twitter that the Crosby plant “is in danger of fire/explosion. The local area is being evacuated. Stay out of area.”

Chemical Plant that makes ammonia in Crosby is in danger of fire/explosion. The local area is being evacuated. Stay out of area. #Harvey

— Ted Poe (@JudgeTedPoe) August 29, 2017

Previously Reuters added that other chemical plants have also shuttered production in Texas because of the hurricane, however none are in such a precarious state. These include Anglo-Swiss chemicals firm Ineos Group Holdings, which said it has been forced to shut down facilities in Texas. Chocolate Bayou Works and Battleground Manufacturing Complex, and INEOS Nitriles’ Green Lake facility are following hurricane procedures and are temporarily shut down, spokesman Charles Saunders said. Huntsman Corp said it has closed six chemical plants in Texas, along with its global headquarters and advanced technology center in Texas.

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Armed Antifa Group Declares “Everywhere a Battlefield”


The Austin based ‘Anti-fascist’ group, Red Guards Austin, has been gaining prominence in the Texas Antifa movement. As we have previously reported, they are a self described autonomous Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collective and their website contains multiple reports on their confrontational and often armed demonstrations.

Austin Red Guard 1
Austin Red Guard 2
Austin Red Guard 3

They also openly advocate for violent revolution against capitalism.

“we must seriously take up the task not only of self-defense on the personal and community level, but we must also struggle to unite all genuine antifascists behind the necessity of revolution.  Revolution means the long fight for communism and nothing less.”

In a recent blog titled “Everywhere a Battlefield“, this trend continues as they claim “The war is not coming—it is here and now” and then discuss the need for weapons training and more “revolutionary violence”.

FB page

The war is not coming—it is here and now. We must take our historic task seriously. We must accumulate forces and steel them in small-scale street battles. We must respond accordingly to the apocalyptic reality that capitalism-imperialism has forced on us.” 


“So what does self-defense mean for the rest of us? What does it mean for enemies of the state? It can only mean that we must develop red physical culture. It means that we must contend for ground that has been ceded to the enemy. That we train in both hand-to-hand combat and in weapons. We must take community self-defense seriously. We must walk away from the comfort zone of the legal left, and by extension it means that those who protect them are sure to attack us. It means that we return to our filthy neighborhoods of cramped apartment complexes and organize right there among our class. It means that we choose the field of combat thoughtfully and not out of uninventive and timid habit. We cannot expect a mass antifascist movement to develop its necessarily revolutionary character unless we move away from the state-ordained protest zones. 


Reclaiming violence means making revolutionary violence available to be utilized by all types of comrades at all levels and all abilities. It means training physically in flexible ways applied to the specific conditions of specific groups. Everyone, regardless of ability, can improve. This is not to do away all at once with the division of violent labor; the science of revolutionary violence is universal, and it must at the same time be applied with great care to the specific. In this process of trial and error we sharpen and broaden our skillsets. Martial arts, firearms, and sports must be seen as cultural battlefields as well as invaluable tools in our revolutionary toolkit.”

For months, militant antifa groups have been engaging in targeted political violence. They claim they exist to fight racists, bigots, and white supremacists; and their allies in the media often echo these claims. But if the actions from the Red Guards Austin is any indication, this is nothing more than a public relations campaign to recruit moderates. Their end goal is communism, a political ideology responsible for over 94 million deaths in the 20th century.


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The Hajj journey for average Pakistanis

Thu, 2017-08-31 03:00

ISLAMABAD: Asif Mohammed Khan, a resident of the northwestern Pakistani city of Abbottabad, has been anxiously waiting to receive good news from the government-run draw for Hajj visas for his retired parents.
In 2011, unaware of the application procedures and being warned that Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has a selective system favoring those able to pay under the table, Khan sought help from his uncle working for a government department to apply under the official quota, hoping to increase his chances of obtaining the visa, but to no avail.
“There are some people working in his department who applied the same year and were selected. I asked my uncle how that was possible and he said they were lucky — without going into further details. I don’t believe that,” Khan told Arab News. “Is our luck so bad that in six years we haven’t been chosen?”
Like Khan, many people residing in rural areas or small cities are oblivious to application procedures or contact details stated on the ministry’s website, and ask for help from relatives or agents to fulfill the prerequisites to place their name in the yearly draw.
However, those who are informed through advertisements or public notices published by the ministry, and reach the government designated Hajji camps, are faced with the dilemma of financing their pilgrimage. The Saudi fee for a Hajj visa is Rs. 55,000, or SR2,000 ($533) and the fee for the complete government package is approximately Rs. 270,941 according to the government’s Hajj scheme, which will likely increase next year.
Ibrar Hussain, with an average income of Rs. 20,000 per month, has been saving for several years to send his parents on Hajj but has been unable to accumulate enough.
“It is already hard enough for me to survive on my salary, though I am provided accommodation and food by my employer, but I have to send some of my money to my parents and save some. I am eligible for a bank loan also but I can’t send them on Hajj and later pay monthly interest to the bank on the installments. That’s haram [forbidden],” Hussain told Arab News.
He questions why the government can’t provide an interest-free installment package for pilgrimage and also do away with the lottery scheme.
Of the top 10 countries awarded Hajj visas, Pakistan ranks second, receiving a visa quota of 179,210. According to the director general of Hajj, 107,526 Pakistanis received visas from the government balloting scheme and the rest through private operators or Hajj. “Those who can afford it take the packages between Rs. 700,00 up to Rs. 1.1 million,” says a private Hajj company CEO, Farhan Ahmed.
This is beyond the means of a majority of people, but the incumbent PML-N government has made several improvements to make Hajj affordable, easier, with quality accommodations and three meals, said Ahmed, speaking to Arab News.
A mid-level official at the Ministry of Religious Affairs who requested anonymity, told Arab News, that simply doing away with the balloting system would send the Hajj visa scheme into chaos as the number of applications the ministry receives is overwhelming.
“If we allow everyone, it would turn in to a disaster,” he said. “The mechanism is in place to provide equal opportunity to all. Those who are 90 years or above are given visas first, without going through the draw program, so we understand the sentiments of the people and are doing our best.”
However, he agreed that nepotism and selective balloting could not be ruled out, but the new policy barring government employees who have made the journey in last five years from performing Hajj, has had a beneficial impact for those who have queued on the waiting list.

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