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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Oil"

Alexandria skin care boutique now offering exclusive plant-based products

Westlake Legal Group sarah-akram-in-white Alexandria skin care boutique now offering exclusive plant-based products treatments treatment skin cleanser skin care Skin Sarah Akram Boutique routine product Oil facial cleanser Face essential oil boutique beauty products Beauty
Photo courtesy of Sarah Akram Skincare

From a former row home in Old Town, board-licensed esthetician Sarah Akram offers customized skin care to the local community. Since starting her concept five years ago, and officially opening a boutique, storefront location in 2018, Akram has made a point to use only the finest, all-natural products when offering facials, hair removal and lash and brow services.     

Last month, Akram added a new company to her lineup of products at Sarah Akram Skincare—Vintner’s Daughter—a Napa Valley-born brand founded on the desire to create products that would provide multi-correctional results for myriad skin issues. 

In honor of the recent launch, we chatted with Akram to find out how Vintner’s Daughter will benefit the beauty-focused clientele of NoVA. Highlights from our conversation below. 

 

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Why not elevate skincare’s super ingredients even further? Active Treatment Essence leverages the latest advancements in natural science to take a tried-and-true skincare star—vitamin C—to new heights. For extra brightening our formula uses stabilized vitamin C. Famously unstable when exposed to light and air, vitamin C can easily lose potency. The stabilized form of vitamin C in Active Treatment Essence meets clinical percentages of activity high enough to replace a stand-alone vitamin C serum. The aqueous solution instantly absorbs, so nothing is lost to oxidation on the surface, and our dark glass bottles prevent light exposure for lasting activity.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #ingredientdriven #activetreatmentessence #vintnersdaughter

A post shared by Vintner’s Daughter (@vintnersdaughter) on Feb 26, 2020 at 7:00pm PST

What inspired you to open this concept, and what it has been like growing in Old Town over the past five years?

I have always been a proponent of a natural, noninvasive approach to skin care—including post-treatment skin care. I’ve been able to combine my techniques with innovative technologies and products to deliver game-changing results. I love Old Town—first starting on a second floor space on King Street to then graduating to our current space on South Fairfax Street—the history, the people (shout out to my clients!), the close-knit community of other small businesses, it’s been completely amazing. 

Talk to me about Vintner’s Daughter products and how they will benefit your clients.

We are very excited to be the exclusive retailer of Vintner’s Daughter products in Alexandria—Vintner’s has two signature products that are both plant-based: the Active Treatment Essence (ATE) and the Active Botanical Serum (ABS). ATE delivers optimal nutrition, micro-exfoliation, brightening, firming and multilevel hydration to noticeably improve the overall appearance of skin. It’s a corrective-hydration step meant to be used after cleansing and before ABS.

ABS is a powerful, multicorrectional face oil infused with 22 of the world’s most nutrient-rich botanicals. ABS delivers optimal ratios of healing phytonutrients, balancing minerals, free-radical fighting antioxidants, strengthening phytoceramides, nourishing fatty acids and brightening vitamins to renew, repair, protect and tone the skin.

We pride ourselves on making sure we carry all natural products—I’m eight months pregnant and regularly use the lines I carry daily.

Do you have any in-house events coming up this spring?

We offer a comprehensive, 30-minute skin consultation that leverages facial imaging technology designed to take an in-depth snapshot of a client’s skin that can be monitored over time. This consultation is complimentary when reserving a facial. // 125 S. Fairfax St., Alexandria

For more fashion-forward news and beauty tips, subscribe to our weekly Shopping newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

U.S.Treasury Dept tosses Guaido a lifeline: Citgo refineries at stake

Westlake Legal Group bd35da57-6eff-4d4e-b565-e0105d7290c3 U.S.Treasury Dept tosses Guaido a lifeline: Citgo refineries at stake Venezuela U.S. Treasury The Blog Sanctions refineries Oil Nicolas Maduro Juan Guaido Citgo

The White House suspended some of the financial sanctions on Venezuela on Thursday, but it’s no lifeline to dictator Nicolas Maduro. Instead, Juan Guaido has been given three months to “restructure or refinance payments”. The opposition to dictator Nicolas Maduro is counting on Citgo’s profits to rebuild Venezuela if or when Maduro is ousted from power.

The U.S. Treasury Department issued an order giving Guaidó’s team three months to “restructure or refinance payments,” by suspending the terms of some financial sanctions that were originally intended to pressure Maduro from office. A likely failure to make $913 million debt payment due Monday could have triggered foreclosure.

Guaidó said U.S. officials are helping protect Venezuela’s assets that Maduro’s government exploited at the people’s expense.

This is a move to shield Venezuela’s opposition leader from losing control of Citgo’s refineries. It is important for Guaido to hold on to control of Citgo, a Houston-based company with U.S.-based refineries, owned by Venezuela since the 1980s as part of the state-run oil company PDVSA. The U.S. refineries are in Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois, with a network of pipelines crisscrossing 23 states also in the mix.

Guaido tweeted in response (translation is shown):

“For years, the regime indebted the Nation, mortgaging the future of Venezuelans who today suffer from a complex humanitarian emergency. Thanks to the support of the Gob of the #EEUU , and its confidence in our management, we are managing to maintain the assets that the regime looted.”

As a quick refresher, since the dire situation in Venezuela often gets overlooked in the 24/7 news cycle focused almost entirely on President Trump’s impeachment, Guaido is the head of the opposition-led National Assembly. In January he declared himself as president and in control of presidential powers. National Assembly’s goal is to end Maduro’s presidency and over twenty years of socialist rule. The Trump administration recognized Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. A board was appointed by the opposition to take control of Citgo, with the approval of U.S. courts. Citgo’s value is estimated at $8 billion. Venezuela provides between 5% and 10% of U.S. gasoline. It is to the benefit of the United States to support Guaido, and President Trump’s administration realizes it.

The battle for control of Citgo in Venezuela is not a new one. In 2016 National Assembly opposed Maduro’s deal with creditors.

In 2016, Maduro’s government made a deal with some bondholders of the state-owned oil company PDVSA, agreeing to swap their bonds for new ones maturing in 2020.

Maduro gave the creditors 50.1% of Citgo as collateral over objections from the opposition-led National Assembly, which argued the deal was illegally carried out without their approval.

Maduro accuses the opposition of illegally getting control of Citgo, saying it is part of the “imperialist” United States’ attempt to install Guaidó as a “puppet” government.

When Maduro is removed from power, if the actions from the National Assembly are successful, Citgo will be a substantial source for funding the rebuilding of Venezuela. Venezuela has vast oil reserves; Citgo is the cash cow. The crude oil can be sold or refined as needed. At a time when the country is failing, unable to provide for its population, all because the country’s wealth has been squandered by corrupt dictatorships for decades, this is a lifeline of hope for those working to save their own country. It’s a good move by the Trump administration.

The post U.S.Treasury Dept tosses Guaido a lifeline: Citgo refineries at stake appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group bd35da57-6eff-4d4e-b565-e0105d7290c3-300x153 U.S.Treasury Dept tosses Guaido a lifeline: Citgo refineries at stake Venezuela U.S. Treasury The Blog Sanctions refineries Oil Nicolas Maduro Juan Guaido Citgo  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Kurds throw potatoes at U.S. convoy leaving northern Syria

Westlake Legal Group k Kurds throw potatoes at U.S. convoy leaving northern Syria withdrawal US Turkey The Blog Syria rocks Qamishli Potatoes Oil northern Kurds erdogan american

I can’t believe you-know-who hasn’t already tweeted out these clips this morning calling the Kurds “INGRATES!”

He’ll get around to it eventually. He’s probably busy cooking up something good about Mitt Romney’s secret Twitter feed.

The bad news is that the Kurds left behind in northern Syria will shortly be fed into Erdogan’s meat grinder unless Putin comes up with a way to restrain him in their summit tomorrow. The good news is that a few hundred U.S. troops will remain in parts of Syria to secure something more precious than human life — sweet, sweet oil:

President Trump is leaning in favor of a new Pentagon plan to keep a small contingent of American troops in eastern Syria, perhaps numbering about 200, to combat the Islamic State and block the advance of Syrian government and Russian forces into the region’s coveted oil fields, a senior administration official said on Sunday…

The senior administration official said it was highly likely that troops would be kept along the Iraqi border area — away from the cease-fire zone that Vice President Mike Pence negotiated with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey last week. The main goal would be to prevent the Islamic State from re-establishing all or parts of its religious state, or caliphate, in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

A side benefit would be helping the Kurds keep control of oil fields in the east, the official said.

So that’s what he meant by those mysterious “we have secured the oil” comments over the past few days. Whatever the reason, it’s at least some comfort that Americans will remain in place to snuff out the ISIS brush fires that’ll start now that the Kurds aren’t around in the north.

It sounds like the Kurds won’t let their hard feelings about the American pullout in the north stop them from continuing to partner with American troops in the east. They need those oil fields, after all, and it’d be foolish to reject U.S. help out of pride at a moment when it’s unclear how far Erdogan — or Assad, or Russia, or ISIS — might try to advance into Kurdish territory. Even a weak American commitment is worth something in deterrence, especially with Trump under pressure from his own party not to retreat further. If Kurdish forces rejected his offer of help in the east, it’d be a perfect pretext for him to withdraw from Syria entirely:

The commander of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazlum Kobani, whose fighters switched sides to join Syrian government forces after Mr. Trump announced the American withdrawal, said on Saturday that despite the Turkish offensive, his troops had resumed counterterrorism operations near Deir al-Zour.

American officials widely interpreted the comments as a signal to Washington that the Syrian Kurds were still willing to fight in partnership with the United States against the Islamic State in eastern Syria, despite their abandonment in other parts of the country.

A Kurdish official told the AP that Kurdish forces are complying with Trump’s ceasefire with Erdogan by withdrawing from the buffer zone near the border. The issue for the Kurds isn’t keeping their *troops* in place, it’s keeping Kurdish *civilians* who live in the area in place. Military withdrawal is one thing, ethnic cleansing is another. The commander of Kurdish forces reportedly emphasized this to Lindsey Graham in a call on Friday:

Are we headed towards a proposal for international peacekeepers in the border buffer zone? The Kurds might agree to that. Trump certainly would agree to it, so long as those peacekeepers aren’t American. Would Erdogan agree? How about Putin? Maybe Russian soldiers can walk the beat as Erdogan resettles millions of Syrian refugees in the area and ethnic tensions with the Kurds gradually begin to rise.

The post Kurds throw potatoes at U.S. convoy leaving northern Syria appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group k-300x159 Kurds throw potatoes at U.S. convoy leaving northern Syria withdrawal US Turkey The Blog Syria rocks Qamishli Potatoes Oil northern Kurds erdogan american  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Bob Seely: Iran seeks to hit the West where it hurts – at the petrol pumps

Bob Seely is MP for the Isle of Wight.

Is Iran pushing up the price of oil as an act of policy – a political and economic weapon, if you like – in its proxy war against Saudi Arabia and the US?  That is one likely conclusion after the drone attacks last weekend which hit two major oil Saudi refineries.

Iran’s allies in Yemen, the Houthi, claimed that they had launched armed drones on Saturday, striking Abqaiq oil processing plant, the world’s largest, and the oilfield of Khurais. However, there seems little doubt that this attack would not be sanctioned without Iranian support, and indeed it is almost certainly an Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia, using the Houthi as a ‘deniable’ fig leaf.

These strikes were the latest escalation in the Iran crisis. So why did this happen? Is the timing significant, and what does it tell us about Iranian foreign policy?

In May 2018, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran Nuclear Deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – whereby Iran agreed to limit its nuclear development and allow in international inspectors in return for a lifting of sanctions. European states, including the UK, remain committed to the deal, although some in our country oppose it.

New US sanctions since, targeting energy, shipping and finance, have hit the Iranian economy hard, even surprising some in the US with their effectiveness. In response, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has decided on a course of using “pressure tools” against Washington.

Iran’s foreign policy is now simple: if we are suffering, we will find ways of making others suffer too. The Iran crisis is being internationalised.

Since the Spring the crisis has escalated. In May, Iran said it would withdraw from elements of the deal. In June, Iran seized a UK-registered tanker. There have been other attacks on US military bases in Iraq.

This weekend’s drone attack is one of the most high-profile examples in recent years of what military experts call asymmetric warfare. It’s a new name for the sort of warfare which has been practiced for centuries. It’s roughly defined as warfare tactics used by the weak which target the vulnerability of the strong.

Western states are still technologically dominant. Iran cannot match our technology. It does not need to do so. It can target our weaknesses. In this case it is dependence on Saudi oil, nervousness over the world economy and the threat of an ‘oil shock’ that could tip the world into recession.

Whilst a single drone attack will not have a profound effect on oil prices, it has made markets nervous. Oil prices rose sharply on Monday – 15 percent – returning prices to where they were in the Spring. Even Monday’s one-off attack will add 20 cents to petrol prices. In the US, that will like cost families an $18 at the petrol pump. It is not impossible that price hike will result in political hit for President Trump, with one analyst arguing that a prolonged price increase could led to Republican voters staying at home. If Iran is conducting these attacks with an eye on US politics, it will be following the malign example set by Russia, which manipulated the 2016 US Presidential elections.

The attack has also exposed the vulnerability of Saudi oil fields, which may now delay the floating of the Saudi oil giant, Aramco. The attack hit five percent of world oil production, some 5.7 million barrels a day.

Iran’s threat to destabilise oil prices may be the most powerful card it has, and it is now playing it. It may also explain the reluctance of Saudi and the US to take military action in response to what is to all intents an attack by one state on another that, without the Houthi figleaf, would expect a military response.

What next? Until the Iranian regime is changed – virtually impossible – or Iran backs down – unlikely but not impossible – or a version of the JCPOA is readopted, this crisis will worsen. Iran has proxies and allies in several countries: Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. They could be influenced to strike targets that will hurt the Western states. Iranian small boat swarms may attack, seize or sink more tankers in the Persian Gulf. There is the remote chance of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks in Western states. Iran may seize more Western hostages in its country and hold them hostage.

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, has outlined 12 US demands. Some of these are unrealistic, but there is some chance for a more modest set of US proposals being put forward that Iran could sign up to, or at least use as the basis for negotiation.

For the UK, we are aligned in military policy with the US, and with Europe in our continued support for the JCPOA. It is an increasingly difficult path to follow as the threat of overt as well as covert warfare increases. Without resolution, a more generalised crisis is only a matter of time.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump hits back at Lindsey Graham: If you think it was weak not to bomb Iran, remind yourself how Iraq turned out; Update: Bolton rips Trump policy at private event

Westlake Legal Group t-9 Trump hits back at Lindsey Graham: If you think it was weak not to bomb Iran, remind yourself how Iraq turned out; Update: Bolton rips Trump policy at private event Trump The Blog Saudi Arabia Oil missile Lindsey Graham Iraq Iran intervention bomb

My favorite thing about Trump is how little he gives Graham on foreign policy despite Graham kissing his ass relentlessly in hopes of turning him into a hawk. It’s commendable on the merits, in that Trump’s reluctance to wage war is a welcome corrective to the McCain/Graham-style of hyperinterventionism that ruled the GOP for years. But it’s also gratifying on a gut level, even as a Trump skeptic. “One of Trump’s more likable qualities is his penchant for publicly humiliating all the lickspittle Republicans who try and ride his coattails,” writes C.J. Ciaramella of Reason, remembering how Chris Christie was treated during the 2016 campaign. It’s true! What could be more enjoyable than watching Graham toady to the president day and night after dismissing him as a “kook” and a national security threat in 2016, believing that it will buy him influence over foreign policy, and as his reward having him endure daily reminders that Trump is far more inclined towards Rand Paul’s fopo views than Lindsey’s?

This exchange last night on Twitter was especially humiliating for Graham, and thus especially enjoyable.

My first thought when I saw Trump’s tweet was that he meant it was Iran, not Graham, that didn’t understand his decision not to attack several months ago was a show of strength. They should have come to the table then, Trump was saying (I thought). Instead they went and attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, destabilizing energy markets, and now they’ll have to absorb some pain.

But no, he was definitely talking about Graham.

You will not be surprised to learn that Graham’s preferred course of action is to start bombing Iranian oil refineries. You also won’t be surprised to learn that Trump is reluctant to order military action, dispatching Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia instead to “coordinate” an international response — whatever that means. U.S. intelligence sounds confident that the attack on the Kingdom did indeed come from Iran, partly because Saudi missile defenses were trained on Yemen and the Strait of Hormuz in the belief that any potential attack would originate there. Instead the missiles and drones that struck the oil sites came from southwestern Iran, evading detection. The Saudis could take the evidence to the UN Security Council with U.S. support and demand action, but Iran’s friends in Russia are likely to block any resolution imposing consequences. Trump could attack unilaterally, of course, either with conventional military action or cyberwarfare like that mysterious incident with the Iranian missile launch a few months ago.

Or he could back off and let the Saudis handle this, which would be dangerous.

“I’m a little concerned that he’ll go full Trumpian and greenlight a Saudi retaliation,” said Mark Dubowitz, head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank that advocates a hard line against Iran. Dubowitz said such a “worst case scenario” could lead Riyadh to act with impunity if Trump kept the U.S. out of the fray, and that could prompt a serious Iranian retaliation that leads to an escalating cycle of violence.

“I’m of the view, based on decades of [Iranian] revolutionary response to American power, that if the United States uses military power, the regime is likely to back down, not escalate. If the Saudis use military power, the regime is likely to escalate,” Dubowitz said.

A Saudi attack rather than a U.S. attack might be a recipe for protracted regional war. Where does that leave the “realist” view on this? Realists sneer at neoconservatives that their regime-change fantasies never work as planned and are in fact based on the foolish conviction that democracy will somehow liberalize fundamentally illiberal cultures. We should only use military force when it serves a concrete American interest, they warn. Well, there’s a looming Sunni/Shiite war in the region right now that’ll disrupt global oil supplies for God knows how long if it gets hot. Does that mean the “realist” view is to hit Iran ourselves, expecting — fingers crossed! — that they’ll absorb the blow and not dare retaliate? Or is the realist view to eschew bombs and tighten sanctions further even though our current sanctions are already onerous and the marginal utility in increasing them is diminishing? Further, Graham is certainly right that *at some point* inaction in the face of provocation signals weakness, which will invite further provocation. If Trump decides to slap Iran on the wrist for the Saudi attack and then Iran hits more oil facilities next month, what’s the move then? America’s posture can’t be “please, please sit down with us and talk!” in response to every move Iran makes.

Exit quotation from Pompeo, speaking in the Kingdom today: “The Saudis were the nation that were attacked. It was on their soil. It was an act of war against them directly.” Gulp.

Update: Well, here we go. Nothing’s going to get an all-out war of hawks versus doves going like a standoff with Iran.

John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s fired national security adviser, harshly criticized Trump’s foreign policy on Wednesday at a private lunch, saying inviting the Taliban to Camp David sent a “terrible signal” and that it was “disrespectful” to the victims of 9/11 because the Taliban had harbored al Qaeda…

Bolton also said more than once that Trump’s failure to respond to the Iranian attack on an American drone earlier this summer set the stage for the Islamic Republic’s aggression in recent months.

At one point, Bolton, a previous chairman of Gatestone who has resumed his title at the think tank, suggested that had the U.S. retaliated for the drone shootdown, Iran might not have damaged the Saudi oil fields.

I trust the president will receive this news with his characteristic good cheer. An interesting detail to the story: Bolton was introduced as “the best national security adviser our country could have hoped for” by … Rebekah Mercer, one of Trump’s top patrons in 2016 and one of Breitbart’s top patrons to this day (as far as I know). Is Mercer siding with the hawkish establishment against the dovish populists on this one?

The post Trump hits back at Lindsey Graham: If you think it was weak not to bomb Iran, remind yourself how Iraq turned out; Update: Bolton rips Trump policy at private event appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group t-9-300x159 Trump hits back at Lindsey Graham: If you think it was weak not to bomb Iran, remind yourself how Iraq turned out; Update: Bolton rips Trump policy at private event Trump The Blog Saudi Arabia Oil missile Lindsey Graham Iraq Iran intervention bomb  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump hits back at Lindsey Graham: If you think it was weak not to bomb Iran, remind yourself how Iraq turned out; Update: Bolton rips Trump policy at private event

Westlake Legal Group t-9 Trump hits back at Lindsey Graham: If you think it was weak not to bomb Iran, remind yourself how Iraq turned out; Update: Bolton rips Trump policy at private event Trump The Blog Saudi Arabia Oil missile Lindsey Graham Iraq Iran intervention bomb

My favorite thing about Trump is how little he gives Graham on foreign policy despite Graham kissing his ass relentlessly in hopes of turning him into a hawk. It’s commendable on the merits, in that Trump’s reluctance to wage war is a welcome corrective to the McCain/Graham-style of hyperinterventionism that ruled the GOP for years. But it’s also gratifying on a gut level, even as a Trump skeptic. “One of Trump’s more likable qualities is his penchant for publicly humiliating all the lickspittle Republicans who try and ride his coattails,” writes C.J. Ciaramella of Reason, remembering how Chris Christie was treated during the 2016 campaign. It’s true! What could be more enjoyable than watching Graham toady to the president day and night after dismissing him as a “kook” and a national security threat in 2016, believing that it will buy him influence over foreign policy, and as his reward having him endure daily reminders that Trump is far more inclined towards Rand Paul’s fopo views than Lindsey’s?

This exchange last night on Twitter was especially humiliating for Graham, and thus especially enjoyable.

My first thought when I saw Trump’s tweet was that he meant it was Iran, not Graham, that didn’t understand his decision not to attack several months ago was a show of strength. They should have come to the table then, Trump was saying (I thought). Instead they went and attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, destabilizing energy markets, and now they’ll have to absorb some pain.

But no, he was definitely talking about Graham.

You will not be surprised to learn that Graham’s preferred course of action is to start bombing Iranian oil refineries. You also won’t be surprised to learn that Trump is reluctant to order military action, dispatching Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia instead to “coordinate” an international response — whatever that means. U.S. intelligence sounds confident that the attack on the Kingdom did indeed come from Iran, partly because Saudi missile defenses were trained on Yemen and the Strait of Hormuz in the belief that any potential attack would originate there. Instead the missiles and drones that struck the oil sites came from southwestern Iran, evading detection. The Saudis could take the evidence to the UN Security Council with U.S. support and demand action, but Iran’s friends in Russia are likely to block any resolution imposing consequences. Trump could attack unilaterally, of course, either with conventional military action or cyberwarfare like that mysterious incident with the Iranian missile launch a few months ago.

Or he could back off and let the Saudis handle this, which would be dangerous.

“I’m a little concerned that he’ll go full Trumpian and greenlight a Saudi retaliation,” said Mark Dubowitz, head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank that advocates a hard line against Iran. Dubowitz said such a “worst case scenario” could lead Riyadh to act with impunity if Trump kept the U.S. out of the fray, and that could prompt a serious Iranian retaliation that leads to an escalating cycle of violence.

“I’m of the view, based on decades of [Iranian] revolutionary response to American power, that if the United States uses military power, the regime is likely to back down, not escalate. If the Saudis use military power, the regime is likely to escalate,” Dubowitz said.

A Saudi attack rather than a U.S. attack might be a recipe for protracted regional war. Where does that leave the “realist” view on this? Realists sneer at neoconservatives that their regime-change fantasies never work as planned and are in fact based on the foolish conviction that democracy will somehow liberalize fundamentally illiberal cultures. We should only use military force when it serves a concrete American interest, they warn. Well, there’s a looming Sunni/Shiite war in the region right now that’ll disrupt global oil supplies for God knows how long if it gets hot. Does that mean the “realist” view is to hit Iran ourselves, expecting — fingers crossed! — that they’ll absorb the blow and not dare retaliate? Or is the realist view to eschew bombs and tighten sanctions further even though our current sanctions are already onerous and the marginal utility in increasing them is diminishing? Further, Graham is certainly right that *at some point* inaction in the face of provocation signals weakness, which will invite further provocation. If Trump decides to slap Iran on the wrist for the Saudi attack and then Iran hits more oil facilities next month, what’s the move then? America’s posture can’t be “please, please sit down with us and talk!” in response to every move Iran makes.

Exit quotation from Pompeo, speaking in the Kingdom today: “The Saudis were the nation that were attacked. It was on their soil. It was an act of war against them directly.” Gulp.

Update: Well, here we go. Nothing’s going to get an all-out war of hawks versus doves going like a standoff with Iran.

John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s fired national security adviser, harshly criticized Trump’s foreign policy on Wednesday at a private lunch, saying inviting the Taliban to Camp David sent a “terrible signal” and that it was “disrespectful” to the victims of 9/11 because the Taliban had harbored al Qaeda…

Bolton also said more than once that Trump’s failure to respond to the Iranian attack on an American drone earlier this summer set the stage for the Islamic Republic’s aggression in recent months.

At one point, Bolton, a previous chairman of Gatestone who has resumed his title at the think tank, suggested that had the U.S. retaliated for the drone shootdown, Iran might not have damaged the Saudi oil fields.

I trust the president will receive this news with his characteristic good cheer. An interesting detail to the story: Bolton was introduced as “the best national security adviser our country could have hoped for” by … Rebekah Mercer, one of Trump’s top patrons in 2016 and one of Breitbart’s top patrons to this day (as far as I know). Is Mercer siding with the hawkish establishment against the dovish populists on this one?

The post Trump hits back at Lindsey Graham: If you think it was weak not to bomb Iran, remind yourself how Iraq turned out; Update: Bolton rips Trump policy at private event appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group t-9-300x159 Trump hits back at Lindsey Graham: If you think it was weak not to bomb Iran, remind yourself how Iraq turned out; Update: Bolton rips Trump policy at private event Trump The Blog Saudi Arabia Oil missile Lindsey Graham Iraq Iran intervention bomb  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iran seizes oil tanker for “smuggling” — but no one knows which ship?

Westlake Legal Group OilTanker Iran seizes oil tanker for “smuggling” — but no one knows which ship? UAE The Blog Strait of Hormuz Oil IRGC Iran

With tensions already high around the Strait of Hormuz, the Iranians have upped the ante … or at least so they say. Their state media reported that the IRGC had seized a tanker on a mission to smuggle oil through the Persian Gulf. The seizure reportedly took place in Iranian waters, and the ship was “foreign,” according to the Iranians:

The statement says the tanker was carrying 1 million liters of smuggled oil that it had picked up from small Iranian ships and was sailing towards foreign ships with it. The ship was seized south of Lark Island in the Strait of Hormuz, the IRGC statement quoted by Fars says.

“During the patrolling mission in the Persian Gulf aiming at the discovery and confrontation with organized smuggling on Sunday, 14th of July2019, the IRGC’s first region navy patrol made the seizure of a foreign vessel in surprise after it made sure the vessel was carrying one million liters smuggled fuel. The seizure was coordinated with the judiciary and happened in the south of Lark Island.

“This ship which has the capacity of carrying 2 million liter of oil, had 12 crew members on board and was sailing towards foreign ships farther away to take the smuggled oil it had got from Iranian dhows. But the mission was failed with IRGC fighters’ smart move,” the IRGC statement added.

A day earlier, however, Iran’s Foreign Ministry had claimed that the IRGC had come to the ship’s rescue after a distress call and a “glitch”:

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has said that security forces recently came to the aid of a foreign oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, hours after reports that Iran might have seized a tanker from the United Arab Emirates in the area.

Abbas Mousavi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that Iranian forces had rushed to the aid of an unidentified tanker that had sent a distress call after a “technical glitch,” according to reports Tuesday night from the semiofficial Iranian news agency Press TV. He said that tugboats had towed it toward Iranian waters for repairs.

It’s the same ship, Al Jazeera reports this morning, so we’re not dealing with two separate incidents. The Iranians tell AJ that the operation started as a rescue and then the IRGC realized the ship was smuggling after being towed back to Larak Island. So much for the “smart move,” explanation, but that doesn’t explain much of anything at the moment. There are more basic questions on the table, such as: which ship did the Iranians seize, and better yet, to whom does it belong?

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that a ship from the United Arab Emirates went missing in that same area a few days ago. Even at that point, the AP wondered whether the Iranians had grabbed it:

A small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker three days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region.

Iranian state media quoted its Foreign Ministry spokesman early Wednesday as saying the Islamic Republic had aided a foreign oil tanker with a malfunction, but the report didn’t explain further. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

The Panamanian-flagged Riah turned off its transponder late Saturday night but an Emirati official said it sent no distress call. The concern over its status comes as Iran continues its own high-pressure campaign over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord over a year ago.

At least for now, though, the UAE says it’s not their ship:

But an Emirati official told NBC News on Tuesday that the “tanker in question is neither UAE owned nor operated, does not carry Emirati personnel, and did not emit a distress call.”

The motive for seizing a ship is patently obvious. It’s retaliation for the British seizure of a ship near Gibraltar carrying Iranian oil to Syria, which the UK seized for violations of EU sanctions on Bashar al-Assad. They also arrested several members of the crew, which the Iranians claimed to have done in this instance as well. It’s a tit-for-tat response, but it’s tough to know exactly who it’s aimed at until the identity of the ship is made clear. And let’s not forget that the seizure by the UK followed attacks on ships in the Persian Gulf by Iran.

The Iranians are playing with fire with another attack on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. That will significantly impact the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, but it will cripple Iran if those countries and the US act to shut down Iranian shipping. They have nowhere else to go, and their economic situation is already reaching a desperate crisis. Iran’s playing an economic game of chicken with a Yugo while its opponents drive a Mack truck.

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Richard Ritchie: We all benefit from the oil and gas industry. Why is this Government, in thrall to a moral panic, unwilling to say so?

Richard Ritchie is is Enoch Powell’s archivist, a former Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, and is author of Without Hindsight: A History of the Progress Trust 1943-2005. He was BP’s director of UK Political Affairs. 

The row over whether arts organisations such as the National Portrait Gallery should accept sponsorship from companies like BP may not immediately appear to carry political significance. But to so believe would be a mistake. Deep issues of principle are involved which should certainly interest the Conservative Party and its new leader – once he emerges.

The first concerns the role of energy companies. There is clearly a campaign underway to brand the oil and gas companies as the new tobacco or armaments industry. The suggestion is that no self-respecting person should own shares, work for or benefit financially from the operations of the oil industry. The Climate Extinction Rebellion is out to name and shame anyone involved with fossil fuels, and sees any action to disrupt their development as legitimate.

One might have thought that a political party which believes in free enterprise and the rule of law would have sprung to its defence. The energy industries have over decades provided an essential public service. No hospital or school could have operated, no fire could have been put out, no pensioner could have been kept warm, no supermarket shelf could have been stocked and no travel could have been undertaken without reliable and affordable supplies of energy.

Furthermore, one might add, no alternative to fossil fuels can be found without the profits from their development. But very few Conservative politicians are prepared to point this out. They think that to do so would place them on the wrong side of the climate change debate, and alienate young voters.

Now artists are jumping on the band-wagon – with BP especially in their sights. The arrogance of the artistic world knows no bounds. First, those concerned never ask themselves whether there might not be something morally reprehensible in living off state subsidies paid for by the poor, rather than from the purses of those with an interest in the arts. And when an alternative form of financial support becomes available, such as corporate sponsorship at the expense of shareholders rather than taxpayers, they claim moral superiority in arguing these funds should be rejected.

It does not occur to them that perhaps this is just what many shareholders would like to happen. Most major arts sponsorships are driven by the people at the top of corporate companies. Company chairmen and senior managers enjoy their night at the opera or at a private viewing, often with lavish hospitality, paid for at the expense of their shareholders.

But when it comes to ordinary shareholders and employees, it’s very different. They don’t enjoy the perks or receive the accolades. Indeed, many of them would be delighted if companies like BP were to desist from arts sponsorships altogether – especially if all they get in return is criticism from actors such as Mark Rylance, or from artists whose pictures would have no chance of public display if left to the market place.

If BP were to cancel all its arts sponsorship tomorrow, it would arguably make no difference to its sales or its public reputation. Long before the artists started complaining, there have been considerable misgivings within companies and amongst economists over whether any attempt to protect a ‘licence to operate’ via social programmes performs any benefit for shareholders. If these programmes are now to be held in contempt by the one group of people who really do stand to benefit from them, why on earth should the companies continue with them?

Where does government stand in all this? A Conservative Government should be pointing out that the climate threat can only be addressed by technological advances that only successful capitalist companies can afford. A Conservative Government should remind green campaigners that it is only through today’s profits from oil and gas that a solution to climate change can be found – moreover, without reducing us all to penury in the process. A Conservative Government should be reminding the country that the oil and gas industry is indeed an essential service to the public, without which life would be very grim indeed. A Conservative Government should be pointing out that if artists are so unwilling to accept the support of industrial companies, perhaps they should be prepared to live off box office receipts alone – and certainly not off the backs of poorer taxpayers who must dispense with the pleasures of seeing a Mark Rylance or an Emma Thompson on stage.

But the Conservative Party – and big business – has lost the will to say such things. When challenged, how nice it would be if a BP or Shell were simply to say to Rylance, and others of his ilk, that if they regard oil money as tainted, “that’s fine by us.” Shareholders would give out a genuine cry of relief that the charade was over.

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Bernie: No, I don’t believe Trump and Pompeo when they say that Iran attacked those oil tankers

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Another reminder of how strange it is that an anti-war conspiracy theory is circulating in respectable-ish wings of American politics and not only is Donald Trump not a proponent, he’s the head of the government that’s being targeted by it.

Bernie’s British counterpart, Jeremy Corbyn, also questioned Iran’s culpability in the tanker attack recently and got ripped for it by the Tory foreign secretary:

Sanders won’t be so easily shamed. He came to his MSNBC interview today armed with the proverbial receipts for his position, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Saddam WMD fiasco, and he enjoys some unlikely support for his skepticism among top U.S. allies. In particular, the Japanese government is reluctant to spoil its friendly relations with Iran by accepting American claims that Iran bombed the tankers without further proof:

But Japanese government officials remain unconvinced, the sources said. “The U.S. explanation has not helped us go beyond speculation,” said one senior government official.

Japan has been seeking more concrete evidence through various channels, including Foreign Minister Taro Kono who is likely to have made the request during a call with his counterpart on Friday, the sources said…

If having expertise sophisticated enough to conduct the attack could be a reason to conclude that the attacker was Iran, “That would apply to the United States and Israel as well,” said a source at the Foreign Ministry.

Iraq is on their minds too:

“We can’t make any statement based on a presumption,” said the senior diplomat, adding that the U.S. government should disclose more information on the Hormuz incident.

Another government source referred to the Iraq war, which the United States initiated after intelligence analyses of Iraq falsely pointed to the country possessing weapons of mass destruction…

A former Cabinet member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party even suggested the possibility of a U.S. conspiracy behind the tanker attacks.

Angela Merkel has been more diplomatic about it, claiming that she takes the United States’s allegations about Iranian culpability “very seriously,” but she’s noncommittal too. Germany’s more worried about what remains of the nuclear deal falling apart if Iran doesn’t get some relief from U.S. sanctions soon. Siding with Trump on the tanker incident might rupture relations between Tehran and Europe, raising tensions in the Gulf further, risking a U.S.-Iran war, and possibly leading Iran to attempt a nuclear “breakout.”

As Ed noted earlier, Trump himself is attempting to find a path between his hawkish advisors on the one hand and his interest in some sort of grand bargain with Iran on the other. He’s siding with U.S. intelligence (this time) in accusing Iran of bombing the tankers — but he’s downplaying the incident, calling it “very minor,” certainly not grounds for war. That’s one thing that makes Bernie’s false-flag insinuations here ring hollow: There’s little evidence that Trump himself wants a military conflict, in which case the alleged “false flag” with the tankers is supposedly a pretext for … what, exactly? Presumably Sanders would say that he’s less concerned about Trump’s appetite for war than about Bolton’s and Pompeo’s, but Trump’s advisors haven’t led him around by the nose on foreign policy. His two summits with Kim Jong Un doubtless made his hawkish deputies’ skin crawl, but they happened anyway. CNN is reporting this afternoon, in fact, that Trump has warned his staff recently that “he isn’t interested in wading into another conflict in the Middle East” and “regime change should not be in the cards.”

To my mind, the best argument for believing that Iran really is behind the tanker attacks is how “very minor” they were. An enemy power looking to frame Iran for the bombing wouldn’t have an incentive to go small; they should have wanted to go big, making the attack as devastating as possible. The more blood and oil spilled in the explosion, the more ruthless and renegade Iran would appear. In reality, the mines that exploded on the tankers’ hulls not only didn’t do much damage, they were placed safely above the water line seemingly to ensure that the ships wouldn’t be flooded. The bombings smacked of a symbolic gesture, something calibrated to send a message without damaging the ships so heavily that a military response would be required. That’s exactly in line with Iran’s goals. They wanted to signal their impatience with U.S. sanctions and to suggest to their European friends that they might close oil commerce in the Gulf if they don’t get economic relief soon, but they didn’t want to risk a conflagration from it. So they took a couple of potshots at the tankers. Point made, no harm done. Who else in the region would have that same incentive?

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No war for oil, says … Donald Trump?

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Did attacks on oil shipping in the Gulf of Oman create a cassus belli for the US to attack Iran? Tehran has accused the Trump administration of conducting a false-flag operation in order to start a war, but Donald Trump told Time Magazine that he’s not likely to start a war over oil shipping. The attacks were “very minor,” Trump said, and don’t have much impact on US energy anyway.

Nuclear weapons — now that’s another story, Trump warned:

Facing twin challenges in the Persian Gulf, President Donald Trump said in an interview with TIME Monday that he might take military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but cast doubt on going to war to protect international oil supplies.

“I would certainly go over nuclear weapons,” the president said when asked what moves would lead him to consider going to war with Iran, “and I would keep the other a question mark.” …

Speaking to TIME, Trump argued that the Gulf of Oman is less strategically important for the United States now than it used to be, citing China and Japan as nations that still rely on the region for significant proportions of their oil. “Other places get such vast amounts of oil there,” Trump said. “We get very little. We have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half years in energy. And when the pipelines get built, we’re now an exporter of energy. So we’re not in the position that we used to be in in the Middle East where … some people would say we were there for the oil.”

That’s not much of a surprise coming from Trump. During the Republican primary debates, he accused George W. Bush of launching a war for oil in Iraq, and has long been on the non-interventionist side of the fence. He’s also correct about our position in the energy markets, although that doesn’t make interruptions in supply from the Middle East a non-problem for the US. There are security concerns attached to that, especially if Saudi Arabia finds itself unable to ship its product. We might not fight a war over oil, but some of our regional allies might have no better reason than oil to start a war with Iran. It’s not too tough to figure how we’d get pulled into such a conflict.

Perhaps with that in mind, the Pentagon continues to send more troops to the region specifically to deal with that threat in mind. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has ordered 1,000 more troops to the region. That’s on top of the 1,500 deployed a few weeks earlier:

Iran now says it won’t start a war with the US, but they also at one time claimed that they had no interest in making nuclear weapons. Now they’re warning that they may start refining their uranium to weapons-grade material soon. Their demurrals should be taken with a major grain of salt.

Tehran also claimed that they just rolled up a major CIA espionage network in their country:

“Following clues in the American intelligence services, we recently found the new recruits Americans had hired and dismantled a new network,” state news agency IRNA said, quoting an intelligence ministry official.

It said some members of the CIA network had been arrested and handed over to the judiciary, while others still required “additional investigations”.

In what it termed a “wide-reaching blow” to US intelligence, IRNA said Tehran had carried out the operation in cooperation with “foreign allies”, without naming any state.

This could be just blowing smoke, but if it’s true, it comes at a tough time. The US needs good intel on the Iranian regime not just to navigate its way through this conflict but also to keep track of what Iran plans for its proxies in the region. Generally speaking, nations that actually roll up major networks keep their mouths shut about it, especially totalitarian states with no accountability or transparency to serve anyway. It sounds more like a propaganda claim for domestic consumption, but only the CIA would know for sure what’s happening — and whether they got the real spies.

As NBC says, the tensions are escalating, but Trump tells Time that he thinks the Iranians are backing down, at least rhetorically:

Trump said he agrees with the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Iran was behind the attacks, saying, “I don’t think too many people don’t believe it.” But he also downplayed Iran’s aggression, arguing that the country has adopted a less hostile posture towards the United States since he became president. “If you look at the rhetoric now compared to the days when they were signing that agreement [the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from], where it was always ‘death to America, death to America, we will destroy America, we will kill America,’ I’m not hearing that too much anymore,” Trump said. “And I don’t expect to.”

That sounds more wishful than realistic. Perhaps they’ve toned down the public rhetoric, but no one should doubt that Iran aspires to destroy the US as well as Israel. The mullahs of Tehran have a religious vision of global extremist Shi’a Islam run by themselves, imposed by any means necessary. For them, oil and nuclear weapons are just means to that end. President Trump should not forget it.

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