SARS-like virus kills British Patient

AP |  FEBRUARY 19, 2013

A patient being treated for a mysterious SARS-like virus has died, a British hospital said Tuesday.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, central England, said the coronavirus victim was also being treated for “a long-term, complex unrelated health problem” and already had a compromised immune system.

A total of 12 people worldwide have been diagnosed with the disease, six of whom have died.

The virus was first identified last year in the Middle East. Most of those infected had traveled to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Pakistan, but the person who just died is believed to have caught it from a relative in Britain, where there have been four confirmed cases.

The new coronavirus is part of a family of viruses that cause ailments including the common cold and SARS. In 2003, a global outbreak of SARS killed about 800 people worldwide.

Health experts still aren’t sure exactly how humans are being infected. The new coronavirus is most closely related to a bat virus and scientists are considering whether bats or other animals like goats or camels are a possible source of infection.

Britain’s Health Protection Agency has said while it appears the virus can spread from person to person, “the risk of infection in contacts in most circumstances is still considered to be low.”

Officials at the World Health Organization said the new virus has probably already spread between humans in some instances. In Saudi Arabia last year, four members of the same family fell ill and two died. And in a cluster of about a dozen people in Jordan, the virus may have spread at a hospital’s intensive care unit.

 

United States, Arab League Bless new Syrian Opposition

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 13, 2012

The U.S. government expressed support on Monday for the new Syrian opposition alliance, dominated by the Syrian National Council (CNS) and in which there are several important groups, and said it will work with them to continue providing humanitarian aid to the population. The U.S. itself had intervened days ago to question the leadership of the CNS, and called for more Syrian groups to get involved in what seems to be the transition government that will take power after Bashar al-Assad is removed from power.

The deputy spokesman of the State Department, Mark Toner, provided a statement in which he praised the Syrian people for the formation of the so-called National Coalition for the Forces of the Revolution and the Syrian opposition (CNFROS), agreed during a summit held in Doha (Qatar). Besides including representatives from the CNS, this new group also opened its doors to radical Islamist members of organizations linked to American made al-Qaeda.

The statement gives U.S. support for the new coalition to “trace a path to end the bloody government of Assad and the beginning of the future peaceful, democratic and fair to all the people of Syria deserve.” “We will work with the National Coalition to ensure that our non-lethal humanitarian aid and assistance serves the needs of the Syrian people,” Toner said. The spokesperson also said that the U.S. congratulated the Government of Qatar for his “strong leadership” and support of the Doha summit from which the new opposition alliance emerged over the last few days. This new coalition will remain dominated by the CNS but will have as one its main aims to end the division among opposition groups.

One of the key groups that did not even participate in the Doha talks is the National Coordination Council (NCC), which has a strong presence in the Syrian territory and are more likely to negotiate with the regime. According to the draft of the final agreement, the CNFROS will under no circumstance negotiate or talk with the regime led by Assad. It also provides for the formation of a transitional government after it gets international recognition.

More blessings from the Middle East

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was the first group of countries to recognize the new Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. This is the typical modus operandi used by opposition groups who gain the support from western aggressors to disavow democratically elected governments. Hours later, the Arab League, which suspended Syria’s membership for months, also decided to hold a meeting to recognize the newly created alliance.

Arab foreign ministers called on the rest of the current opposition to join the newly formed National Coalition formed by the forces of revolution and the Syrian opposition, and urged them to work to solve all the needs of the Syrian society “without exception or discrimination. ” Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, among others, confirmed their support for the move to change leadership in Damascus.

“The GCC Member States declare their recognition of the National Coalition of Syrian opposition forces and the revolution (…) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian brotherly people,” said a statement released by the GCC Secretary General, to Abdellatif Zayani.

The text explains that the Arab League will aid the opposition and its western supporters by providing all necessary so the alliance carries out the aspirations of the Syrian people, with the hope that [the group] is a step towards a speedy transfer of power”. The complete support given to the Syrian opposition means that the combination of terrorist groups already operating on Syrian territory will now have economic and military aid from Syrian neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both countries had already recognized the rebels and expressed their desire to have the international community recognize the coalition.

The speed with which the GCC has responded to the formation of the opposition coalition, just a day before in Doha meeting is no surprise. Since the beginning of the western orchestrated Syrian revolt back in March 2011, this group has been very critical of the regime of Bashar al-Assad and has not hidden its preference to have him ousted. The nation of Qatar even offered to give Assad political asylum should he want to simply flee the country. Assad was very clear that as a Syrian man, he would live and die in his country.

Most Middle Eastern regimes, democratically elected or not prefer a weakened Syria because of Assad’s alliance with Iran. The move to supposedly help Assad flee the country are far from being good will gestures. Since Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father was the Syrian leader the rest of the Arab Peninsula have seen Syria as a potential powder keg but it wasn’t until now, after the West decided that it was time to take another country over, that the rest of the Arab nations threw their full support behind the opposition. Both the Arab countries and their western allies are looking forward to weakening Syrian and destroying the Assad regime to that it can be taken over by Islamic radicals. Once Syria falls, if it does, the West and the rest of the Arab countries will then focus their attention of the last bastion of opposition: Iran.

What the Arab League members do not seem to envision, is that provided that both Syria and Iran fall, they might just be the next ones in line.

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Turkey will Officially Declare War on Syria

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | OCTOBER 4, 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish Parliament will debate on Thursday in special session a bill that would allow intervention in Syria. The debate will take place a day after the Turkish government ordered the bombing of Syrian territory in response to a shell launched from across the border that killed five people in a small ottoman town.

On Wednesday, NATO issued an official press release where it manifested it supported Turkey and condemned the “flagrant violation” of international law by Syria.

According to the source, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the chief of staff of the Turkish army, Necdet Özel and the representative of the Justice portfolio, Sadullah Ergin, held a one four-hour long meeting to discuss Turkey’s response to actions the situation in Syria, which Turkey itself has helped made worse by hosting al-Qaeda and other U.S.-led terrorist groups which are directed by the CIA and MI6 intelligence.

During the meeting, the Turkish head of state and his ministers decided that it was necessary to introduce a bill to make it official that Turkey intends to meddle in Syria’s domestic unrest, which again, Turkey has helped create and stir. The media say the bill was the result of these discussions and could be incorporated into existing legislation that allows “operations outside the Turkish border.”

This type of arrangement allows, for example, to conduct military operations in northern Iraq to try to pursue Kurdish groups. The project, which is signed by the Council of Ministers of Turkey, was sent this very morning by Erdogan to the President of the Parliament. Turkey has said that the bill is a preventive measure and that they do not expected to launch an attack on Syria, unless it is necessary.

According to local media, the text states that “the crisis in Syria not only adversely affects the stability of the region, but also threatens Turkey’s national security.” Now, the public knows well what happens when any country decides to act because it feels its national security is threatened; even though its concerns are unfounded. In the case of Turkey however, its leaders should be worried indeed, since they have helped launch attacks on Bashar Assad’s army, hosted Syrian rebel groups and allowed the infiltration of foreign agents through its land to destabilize Syria. All of these are clear examples of acts of war against Syria, and it wouldn’t be crazy to think that Assad may consider retaliation.

The tension between Syria and Turkey escalated on Wednesday, registering an attack on Turkish territory launched from Syrian soil. The attack killed a mother and her four children. A few hours later, Turkey responded by firing on targets in Syria. Neither Turkey nor Syria know for sure who launched the attack, but in Turkey’s case, the motto is shoot first ask questions later. The fact that Turkish planes are now bombing Syrian territory is enough of an aggression for Syria to consider similar actions against Turkey, which would set the region ablaze.

Meanwhile, the Turkish military continues bombing Syrian army positions on the border between the two countries, in response to the attacked launched from Syrian territory on Wednesday. Several Syrian soldiers have been killed in a bombing of the Turkish army in Rasm al-Ghazal region, near the town of Tal Abiad, on the border between Syria and Turkey, as reported a Syrian NGO. Tensions between Syria and Turkey, which supports Syrian insurgents, have seen a sharp escalation since yesterday, when several bullets hit the Turkish city of Akcakale, located just across the border from Syria, killing five Turkish civilians.

Syria accused Israel, the U.S. and American allies in the Arab world of directing the operations that seek to destabilize the country. According to the accusations the United States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are running military operation centers in Turkey, from where many of the terrorist groups now operating in Syria are carrying out their 17-month long attacks. The Syrian ambassador to the United Nations said last week that Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are “harboring, funding and arming the armed terrorist groups.” This accusations have already been independently confirmed.

In a letter to the UN, ambassador Ja’afari said that Turkey had established military operations in its territory which included members of the military and intelligence agencies from Israel, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.” He added that “those centers are being used to oversee battles that are being waged by the terrorists against Syrian citizens in Aleppo and other Syrian cities and the massacres the terrorists are perpetrating after entering Syria in large numbers”.

United States president Barack Hussein Obama himself has expressed its support for the terrorist groups now killing thousands of innocent Syrians after he signed a secret order authorizing the financial and military backing of the rebels. Washington official also said that the US is working with a secret command center located in Turkey, which is composed by military personnel from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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Peak Oil no More

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

So there is plenty of oil and gas after all. Prices will tumble along gently until well into the next decade. We are becoming more

The existence of massive abiotic oil reserves around the world has confirmed that Peak Oil is just a lie.

efficient in our use of energy, with 3pc extra savings annually. That is a faster pace than the rising real cost of fuel. Mankind will not run out of fuel for a very long time.

That at least is the story today from the International Energy Agency. Their medium-term outlook for fossil fuel markets is a dazzling contrast with last year’s warnings that a combination of break-neck industrialisation in China and lack of investment in new oil fields (thanks to the credit freeze) would exhaust global spare capacity by 2013.

The IEA said then that we would need “four new Saudi Arabias” within a generation to cope with the rise of China, and there were no such Saudi Arabias in sight. Such are the perils of forecasting the volatile variables of supply and demand for oil.

What has changed – apart from human emotions? For starters, the global gas market has been undergoing a revolution as a result of a) liquefied natural gas, a technology that is only just coming into its own and allows countries such as Qatar to ship their once useless reserves of gas on frozen hulls across the world; LNG output will increase by 50pc from 2008 to 2013. Actually, this is not that new, but never mind.
b) advances in US gas extraction from rock, which have turned the US into the world’s biggest producer of gas. Europe is jumping on the bandwagon. “The development of unconventional gas in North America is of global significance,” said the agency. Indeed it is. The knock-on effects run right through the energy complex.

The IEA now expects spare capacity of oil to remain at a comfortable 3.5m barrels a day (bpd) in 2015, with consumption edging up by an extra 1m bpd each year to around 90m bpd (or 92m if global growth is stronger). All this is quite manageable. It talked of a “gentle nominal price escalation through mid-decade, with prices rising from $77 to $86″.

The alarmist stories we heard last year from certain City banks about collapsing supply (I will spare the names) were wildly wrong. The IEA’s upward revisions from 2009 come from the US, Russia, Colombia, Canada, Mexico, Norway, Egypt, and even the UK (+80,000).

Supply is rising from off-shore Brazil, the Caspian, Canadian oil sands, and biofuels, offsetting declines in the North Sea. Non-OPEC output will actually grow from 51.5m (bpd) to 52.5m by 2015. No crisis there … Latin America will jump from 3.9m to 5.1m, the old Soviet bloc from 13.3m to 13.8m.

On the demand side, America’s gasoline use is slowly “evaporating”. Consumption is falling by 0.6pc a year. This will continue after the new standard of 35.5 miles per gallon for light vehicles that came into force in April. Battery technologies for electric vehicles are on the cusp of a break-through, so long as lithium does not run short, (Half the world’s reserves are in Bolivia). Japanese researchers have built an 8-wheel prototype with a motor in each wheel that massively extends battery life because less energy is lost. “The transportation game-changer is just beginning,” said the IEA.

There are “demand risks”. Large parts of Asia, Latin America, and the Mid-East are at cusp of the “critical oil demand ‘take-off’ zone of $3,000 to $4,000 per capita income” when use explodes – ie, when they move from bicycles to scooters to cars, and install air-conditioning. Demand from emerging economies will make up 52pc of total global consumption by 2015. ( The rich countries have already hit the “S Curve” of saturation, followed by a long slow slide).

I am not an oil expert, just a curious spectator like many readers. I keep an eye on energy markets because they are a window into the global economy and the world’s strategic system.

I pass on the report without taking any particular view, and would be interested in your thoughts. My own suspicion is that Peak Oil has not been conjured away quite so easily as the IEA suggests, especially after BP’s debacle in the Gulf of Mexico.

At the very least, the marginal cost and risk cost of deep-sea drilling has rocketed. This must affect projects off Brazil, Angola, the Norwegian Arctic, and up in Russia’s `High North’. If the spill keeps gushing into the Autumn it may do to sea drilling, what Three Mile Island did to the US nuclear industry for thirty years.

Jeremy Leggett from Solarcentury and a member of the UK’s Task Force on Peak Oil argues that Big Oil has systemically overstated reserves for years to inflate share prices, shielded by captive regulators. Their deception compares to the systemic errors of the banks in the credit crunch, but ultimately on a bigger scale and with potentially more nefaste consequences.

I reserve my judgement on this. The energy market is infuriatingly opaque. But on balance, I think IEA was closer to the truth last year.