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Russia scaremongering cranked up again

by Jerome a Paris Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 11:35:53 AM EST

The FT really overdoes it this morning with its main headline, as shown to the right, and the accompanying article.

A gas "grab"? Are they sending the Russian military to invade Nigeria and take over Nigerian gas fields? Are they starting a naval blockade to prevent Nigeria from exporting its gas? Worse, apparently:

A senior Nigerian oil industry official, who declined to be named, said the company was offering to invest in energy infrastructure in return for the chance to develop some of the biggest gas deposits in the world.

Wow. Investing? Now that's scary! So what should we do exactly? How can we force Russia not to control the gas on their territory, and not to invest in other countries? Should we invade them preemptively? Should we stop selling them armor-plated Mercedes cars? Not give visas to Russian leaders' girlfriends?

What exactly is the point of these headlines? Given that the Russians will just either shrug and ignore it, or ratchet up their own anti-Western rhetoric, what's the real purpose? If gas dependency were the real issue, the logical suggestion would be to reduce our gas consumption (our only real weapon against Russia), but this is obviously not on the table. So the goal must be domestic, and it must be political. And despite my best efforts, I can only think of two (related) things: fearmongering and distraction.

Fearmongering because that helps sell authoritarian policies, increase military budgets, and rally the populace against an external threat;

Distraction because it avoids a serious discussion of what a sane energy policy would be (hint: focused on demand reduction rather than supply increase, and on increased regulation rather than market liberalisation, to promote renewables and non carbon spewing technologies rather than banker- and trader-preferred gas-fired plants), and, as above, it puts the blame for increasing high energy prices on (easily identifable) evil foreigners rather than on domestic ideology.

But what do I know?

(there's more. A detailed deconstruction of the article below. )


Gazprom’s efforts are likely to cause concern among European governments anxious about their dependence on Russia for a quarter of gas imports. The country’s readiness to cut off supplies has alarmed EU governments.

Gazprom has cut off supplies to countries it was subsidizing and which did not want to pay the market price. Could we have the same standard applied to our domestic gas companies when they cut gas (or electricity for that matter) to poor families who no longer pay?

But it's become common wisdom that Gazprom cuts supplies to various European countries for no good reason, just to exercise its "energy weapon." That story has now taken hold, is repeated by all pundits and politicians, and I fear nothing will change it now (except maybe Ukraine turning fascist and Russia somehow "enjoying" some kind of street revolution with a "reformer" getting into the Kremlin, and offering Russia's gas reserves to Western companies. Then we might suddenly expect the Russianview point on gas transit to prevail, as it would become a preoccupation of the Western companies. Sigh....)

But back to our African story...

“What Gazprom is proposing is mind-boggling,” the Nigerian oil official told the Financial Times. “They’re talking tough and saying the west has taken advantage of us in the last 50 years and they’re offering us a better deal ... They are ready to beat the Chinese, the Indians and the Americans.”

Oh... "offering a better deal" what insufferable aggression. Being willing to pay more money to gain a deal? That's, like, war! It's unseemly that savages from outside the West would dare do that - and against our companies! What's the point of propping up these regimes if they can be swayed by more money from elsewhere?

And saying that the West has taken advantage of Africa over the past 50 years? Again, unprovoked aggression that cannot be left unpunished!

Any move by Gazprom to establish itself in Nigeria, long dominated by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil, would reinforce a global trend of state-backed energy companies challenging western rivals.

So it's a global trend - but it becomes, in the case of Gazprom, as "gas grab"... They are not even buying strategic stakes in our core industries like the Chinese, Middle-Easter and and Singaporean funds that have bought bank stakes recently (but they're saving our ass there, so we can't really complain), but we just have to say how evil it is for them to do it. It's just that Russian are, ..., I don't know, ... so matter of fact about the fact that this is political. At least the Chinese and Dubai sheiks are kind enough to pretend that their investment are only business decisions. If I may say, the Russians are disturbingly French in that way. Intolerable!

The Nigerian official said Gazprom executives had visited Abuja in mid-December with a range of proposals to revamp the underperforming gas sector.

A Gazprom document, seen by the FT, says it can offer “strong technical expertise and financial resources”.

Pfah. Only Western companies have technical expertise and financial resources. The gall to pretend that they have the same! Quick, a good smackdown!

The Nigerian official said Gazprom was also competing with international banks to take over funding the government’s share of ventures with western oil companies, hoping to win gas exploration blocks and approvals to build LNG plants in return.

Aha. Not only they compete with the oil companies, but also with the banks. No wonder the FT is pissed off. The impudence of Gazprom is just breathtaking. Don't they know how these things are done?

Now, I'd like to finish with what actually are the first two paragraphs of the article, the "lede", in journalistic parlance:

Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy group, is seeking to win access to vast energy reserves in Nigeria in a move that will heighten concerns among western governments over its increasingly powerful grip on gas supplies to Europe.

A senior Nigerian oil industry official, who declined to be named, said the company was offering to invest in energy infrastructure in return for the chance to develop some of the biggest gas deposits in the world.

Now Nigeria is "blessed with massive reserves of associated and non-associated gas, estimated in excess of 160 trillion cubic feet. It is ranked amongst the 10th largest in terms of proven natural gas reserves in the world. That may sound like a lot, but it's less than a tenth of what Russia alone has, and just a couple percent of world reserves. And, more to the point, most of current production is flared right now (which caused considerable environmental damage) because there is no infrastructure to export it. There is a single large LNG project working for now, exporting about 28 billion cubic meters of gas per annum, most of it to Europe and plans to probably double this in the coming decade.

Another point to note is that Nigerian gas can only be exported via LNG (there is no pipeline to Europe, although there have been (unrealistic) talks of one via Algeria). Buidling LNG infrasturcture is incredibly complicated, is something that Gazprom is currently unable to manage on its own, and happens only when credible buyers get involved and agree to buy the LNG for a very long time under a pre-agreed price formula. Which means that, for buyers, it is irrelevant who the investor is, provided that it is able to source the gas and build the plant - the investment will be driven by contracts under Western law, and the only couuntry that can interfere with production is Nigeria itself, not the home country of the project investors. More to the point, if Gazprom, for instance, decided to breach an export contract form Nigeria, European buyers could go to the Nigerian government to strip Gazprom of its ownership rights should it stop production (which would piss off the Nigerian government anyway), or they could go to Western courts to seize LNG ships should Gazprom try to send them elsewehre than their contractual destination in Europe.

As we bemoan the lack of investment in upstream sector, it is ironic to complain about Gazprom's desire to invest in one of the toughest countries around, given that most of the production would go, for practical reasons, to Europe or the US, and would not really be under Russian control, as such, anyway.

Which brings us back to scaremongering and distraction... or incompetent journalism.

Display:
To encourage me to write a LTE to them...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 11:38:55 AM EST
Rip them a new one.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 11:44:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seconded.  Though we musn't forget what we're up against, where, with the inflammatory press "informing" opinion, in the amurkan heartland, Shock and Awe is an intelligent energy policy.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 11:47:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Amazing trash. So much the better it's FT Weekend, an outback for the morning hangover, where frivolous journalism is at home.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 11:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Dear Sir,

The headline of this week-end's edition of the Financial Times ("Gazprom plans Africa gas grab") is unexpectedly sensationalist and can only be described as  injustified scaremongering.

As we read how State-owned energy companies are not investing enough to increase oil&gas production, we should be glad that Gazprom is willing to spend its riches to develop gas production in Nigeria. Given how that industry works, on the basis of very long term contracts usually under English law, Russia could only invest provided that European gas buyers have agreed to price and delivery terms and  would then have very little political control over such gas, given that production is under the physical control of Nigerian authorities, and transport by LNG tankers protected by international law. While Western oil companies and bankers may not be happy to be crowded out of an important market, there is little reason for such events to have any impact on our security of supply.

More troubling, Gazprom has never cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time, and saying otherwise, however often this is done, still does not make it true. Or are you suggesting that gas companies should not be allowed to cut deliveries to delinquent customers?

In any case, and admitting for a second that Russia might be unwilling or unable to make the requested deliveries of gas to Europe at some point in the future, shouldn't the solution be focused on what we can actually control, ie our own demand for gas, rather than going through increasingly complex and costly motions to ensure an ever growing supply of gas? We seem to live in a world where we expect as a basic right to have plentiful and cheap oil&gas at our disposal. It's high time to realise that, for geological and political reasons, this is no longer the case. Headlines like yours, which cannot but shape public perceptions, make it sound that the only problem comes from hostile governments in places like Russia and are an imprudent distraction from the real issue.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 11:57:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1st sentence "injustified" should be unjustified, though sacaremongering i highly apropos.

I would add a sentence about the "international banks attempting virtually the same business strategies as Gazprom."  "Or are you simply dispensing fearmongering falsehoods in support of the higher right of international banks to win the same rights as Gazprom?"

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:10:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
More troubling, Gazprom has never cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time
That reads very strange. I suggest

More troubling is the suggestion that Gazprom has ever cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time, which is not true and saying otherwise, however often, still does not make it true. Or are you suggesting that gas companies should not be allowed to cut deliveries to delinquent customers?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:14:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drop the "unexpectedly" in "unexpectedly sensationalist". Use the 13 saved keystrokes for something more useful :-)

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:18:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
As we read how State-owned energy companies are not investing enough to increase oil&gas production...
In the context of complaints that State-owned...

Just because we read about them doesn't make them less concern trolling.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:20:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
Given how that industry works, on the basis of very long term contracts usually under English law,
Given that the industry works on the basis...

Simplify.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:22:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your diary statements are more to the point. (but of course less polite) ie Gazprom is just being bog-standard Capitalist.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But of course I understand the editor/audience context and your desire to maintain a reasoned and unemotional stance

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 01:44:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
Russia could only invest provided that European gas buyers have agreed to price and delivery terms and  would then have very little political control over such gas, given that production is under the physical control of Nigerian authorities, and transport by LNG tankers protected by international law.
I would make that two sentences:

Gazprom could only invest provided that European gas buyers have agreed to price and delivery terms. In addition, given that production is under the physical control of Nigerian authorities and transport by LNG tankers is protected by international law, Russia would then have very little political control over such gas.

Also, dissociate Gazprom from Russia.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
In any case, and admitting for a second that Russia might be unwilling or unable to make the requested deliveries of gas to Europe
say Gazprom and contracted. Emphasize the company's obligations.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:28:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
good editing

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:31:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Dear Sir,

The headline of this week-end's edition of the Financial Times ("Gazprom plans Africa gas grab") is sensationalist and can only be described as unjustified scaremongering.

In the context of complaints that State-owned energy companies are not investing enough to increase oil&gas production, we should be glad that Gazprom is willing to spend its riches to develop gas production in Nigeria. Given that the industry works on the basis of very long term contracts usually under English law, Gazprom could only invest provided that European gas buyers have agreed to price and delivery terms. In addition, given that production is under the physical control of Nigerian authorities, and transport by LNG tankers protected by international law, Russia would then have very little political control over such gas. While Western oil companies and bankers may not be happy to be crowded out of an important market, there is little reason for such events to have any impact on our security of supply.

More troubling is the suggestion that Gazprom has ever cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time, and saying otherwise, however often, still does not make it true. Or are you suggesting that gas companies should not be allowed to cut deliveries to delinquent customers?

In any case, and admitting for a second that Gazprom might be unwilling or unable to make contracted deliveries of gas to Europe at some point in the future, shouldn't the solution be focused on what we can actually control, ie our own demand for gas, rather than going through increasingly complex and costly motions to ensure an ever growing supply of gas? We seem to live in a world where we expect as a basic right to have plentiful and cheap oil&gas at our disposal. It's high time to realise that, for geological and political reasons, this is no longer the case. Headlines like yours, which cannot but shape public perceptions, make it sound that the only problem comes from hostile governments in places like Russia and are an imprudent distraction from the real issue.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 01:15:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is good.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 01:42:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent LTE!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 03:07:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurrah to Jerome for taking the lead, and to all other editors. I have some suggestions for the last paragraph, if not too late:


Even were Gazprom someday unwilling or unable to fulfill contracted deliveries of gas to Europe, shouldn't we focus on our own demand for gas, which we can control, rather than on increasingly complex and costly [frantic and futile?] efforts to secure an ever growing supply? Instead, we seemingly prefer to assert the right to cheap, plentiful oil&gas without considering where or how it can be produced. It's time to accept geological and political reality: we have no such right. Headlines like yours,  blaming our problems on unfriendly or unpopular foreign governments, are an imprudent and irresponsible distraction from our real challenges.

Just my tuppence off the shilling.
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 01:00:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome, PIGL, and good work!

I too think the final paragraph could benefit from editing, and here's my take based on Jerome's and yours:

Even supposing Gazprom might, at some point in the future, be unwilling or unable to fulfill contracted deliveries of gas to Europe, don't we hold an appropriate preventive measure in our own hands by restricting our demand for gas? Instead, we make  increasingly complex and costly efforts  to secure an ever growing supply, as if we considered it our right  to have plentiful and cheap oil&gas at our disposal. It's time to accept geological and political reality: we have no such right. Opinion-shaping headlines like yours,  blaming our problems on unfriendly or unpopular foreign governments, are an imprudent and irresponsible distraction from our real challenges.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 05:34:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll use that, but I'll reinsert "frantic", which is quite appropriate. Here's a new draft of the last paragraph:


Even supposing Gazprom might, at some point in the future, be unwilling or unable to fulfill contracted deliveries of gas to Europe, we still hold the ultimate preventive measure in that we can control our demand for gas. And yet, we make increasingly frantic and costly efforts  to secure an ever growing supply, as if we considered it our right  to have unlimited cheap oil&gas at our disposal. It's time to accept geological and political reality: we have no such right. Opinion-shaping headlines like yours, blaming that situation on unfriendly or unpopular foreign governments, are an imprudent and irresponsible distraction from the real solutions in our hands.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 06:29:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
with some more tweaking:


Dear Sir,

The headline of this week-end's edition of the Financial Times ("Gazprom plans Africa gas grab") is sensationalist and can only be described as unjustified scaremongering.

In the context of complaints that State-owned energy companies are not investing enough to increase oil&gas production, we should be glad that Gazprom is willing to spend its riches to develop gas production in Nigeria. Given that the industry works on the basis of very long term contracts usually under English law, Gazprom could only invest provided that European gas buyers have agreed to price and delivery terms, and are convinced that Gazprom will deliver. In addition, given that production is under the physical control of Nigerian authorities, and transport by LNG tankers protected by international law, Russia would then have very little political control over such gas. While Western oil companies and bankers may not be happy to be out-competed in an important market, there is little reason for such events to have any impact on our security of supply, quite the contrary.

More troubling is the suggestion that Gazprom has ever cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time, and saying otherwise, however often, still does not make it true. Or are you suggesting that gas companies should generally not be allowed to cut deliveries to delinquent customers?

Even supposing Gazprom might, at some point in the future, be unwilling or unable to fulfill contracted deliveries of gas to Europe, shouldn't we focus on our own demand for gas, which we can control, rather than on increasingly frantic and costly efforts to secure an ever growing supply, as if we considered it our right to have unlimited cheap oil&gas at our disposal? It's time to accept geological and political reality: we have no such right. Opinion-shaping headlines like yours, blaming that situation on unfriendly or unpopular foreign governments, are an imprudent and irresponsible distraction from the real solutions in our hands.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 07:57:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. I just moved here from That Orange Place. Much happier...I look forward to more joint letters and such. Plus, I'm just not that interested in what happens in the USA anymore.
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 02:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome here! As mentioned in the Sunday open thread, ET is a place where people, birds, monsters all live in perfect harmony...

Looking forward to reading your contributions...


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 02:47:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I much prefer imperfect harmony.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 05:25:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Splitter


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 06:31:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the same standards (and at least Gazprom are negotiating properly) has  Iraq been described in an FT headline as a "Haliburton Oil Grab"

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:04:49 PM EST
if it's a grab from us is the message I get. But maybe I'm an extremist or something.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:11:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, but am having trouble dredging up something suitably sarcastic to comment on the Headline with.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:24:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"since when is 'grab' used to describe the highest bidder?"

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:30:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
only if you are aflicted with "Bad loser syndrome"?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:35:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"in my circles, only sore losers use the word grab to describe the highest bid"

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:36:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I buy, you deal, he grabs.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:42:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
or perhaps I liberate the country, you join the coalition of the willing in the hopes of sharing the spoils, he Grabs.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:45:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraq, and the jihad against the "Islamofascists" is turning out to be highly unpopular right here at home.
But business needs an enemy.  What to do.  The gas people have been left out of the artifical price hike scamming they did with the oil.
by Lasthorseman on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:23:02 PM EST
A usual double standard: their coverage of the conflict over Sakhalin-2 was much more shrill than stories about Kashagan. Is it because Italian Eni is the largest sufferer in the last case, not Shell?
by Sargon on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 05:24:16 PM EST
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/1/5/174311/9641

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 05:57:44 PM EST
(from the notebooks of "Jacob Freeze")

Awesome and sublime are your insights, O Jerome, but when you say "Russia," aren't you really talking about a gang of ex-KGB thugs, Putin and the siloviki, the new Tsars and boyars of all the Russias? Tolstoy and Peter the Great are part of Russia, but they don't sit on the board of GazProm!

The "progressive" European bourgeoisie assumes that all these old soldiers of the proletariat are now entirely transformed into "economic men," rational actors only devoted to stashing zillions of petrodollars in Swiss banks, but this thesis is in no way immune to a sudden dialectic aufhebung!

Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.

by FPS Doug on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 03:07:49 AM EST
Question about FT:

ET seems to cite FT a lot.  I've found their website but haven't had the time to immerse myself in it.

Is FT simply part of the Right Wing/Ultrawealthy propaganda machine ala "Fox News"?

If so, what other kind of coverage/tone would you EXPECT from these folks?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 04:49:50 AM EST
They are a business newspaper. They provide a LOT of facts and analysis, and reading them in detail leaves you generally pretty well informed. However, their editorial slant, in open and less open ways, is that of the financial world and big business, and reflects the idelogical preferences of that world.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 06:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll give you one, Spanish version of coverage:  As bad as Fox is, it seems pretty provincial compared to the arrogant, elitist, insidious, venomous spin and writing style in the fool times and the eco-no.  The latter is so trashy in its bias brainwashing that it should be called the eco-no-Enquirer.  They seem worse to me than the WSJurinal and I haven´t read investor´s daily and the others in years.

Migeru´s word comes to mind: they are ´infuriating´.  

Just an opinion.  And I worry about Jerome´s well-being for reading it so much, but I´m glad he keeps us updated.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 04:40:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, there's a sucker born every minute.  If you're too stupid to see through the bullshit, natural selection dictates you take it in the ass.  Go Nature!  Rah!  (Seriously.)

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 09:03:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ah, still reading FT...no choice...
you see any reasonable men long time ago ceased to be informed by FT (WSJ, Economist, etc) fiction writers, and they (Western journalists) go further down.
They don't understand that negative advertising is advertising after all, the worst thing they can do to Russia is not to report about her at all but to comprehend such thing is above their abilities.
by FarEasterner on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 05:22:25 AM EST
They've gone beyond this, and undestand that a lie repeated enough times becomes conventional wisdom (it's no less of a lie, but it's believed by their target audience).

And we read them because, despite all, they still provide more information than any other kind of publication (once you know how to filter their bias), and because we need to understand them to fight them more effectively.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 06:24:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you considered that our process of editing LTEs might be observed? At some point of the interface with the FT - say after a few LTEs are published -some editor may follow the links to check background (if this has not already happened).

I am not saying this is a bad thing. It would then be clear to them that the LTE is carefully and seriously worded.


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 06:50:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never hidden the process - in fact I think I have even provided direct links on occasion to my texts, so this is not like it's done in secret.

But that's the whole point, isn't it: it's fully transparent: the blog has the harsher words, and also the process whereby this is transformed into a letter which follows their rules of behavior/writing. But the content is consistent, as that's the main thing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 07:34:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that it is fully transparent is, imho, why it becomes more powerful, because it contrasts with the opacity of other media.

However there is a difference between playing their game and gaming their system, as I'm sure we are all aware. The most important factor, as you noted elsewhere, is our understanding of a) the process by which the mainstream media consider, accept and edit content and b) the specific audiences they are addressing, and the language and form of argument that can attract attention.

The LTE is a useful door opener. But I hope the process can be one day extended to include more substantial articles. ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 10:22:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of my edits attempt to find word choices that shift the frame from theirs to ours. The audience are not the editors but the readers: the goal is to get them to read text that will make them go 'huh?' because it comes from a different frame than they're used to. The "serious" wording is to get past the editors, and the "careful" wording is to influence the readers.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 10:33:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A priori, what they write is carefully and seriously worded...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 09:22:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More troubling is the suggestion that Gazprom has ever cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time, and saying otherwise, however often, still does not make it true. Or are you suggesting that gas companies should generally not be allowed to cut deliveries to delinquent customers?

I'm late to this party...  But excellent work, J & editorial staff!  

:)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 11:40:39 AM EST
I think there's quite a bit more to this than has been reflected in this discussion so far.

More troubling is the suggestion that Gazprom has ever cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time, and saying otherwise, however often, still does not make it true. Or are you suggesting that gas companies should generally not be allowed to cut deliveries to delinquent customers?

Maybe Gazprom hasn't cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time.  But they HAVE cut off gas to countries with whom they have contractual agreement to supply gas at an agreed price over a set period of time.  That's what happened in Ukraine.  Two years ago, Gazprom infamously cut off Ukraine's gas, claiming that Ukraine refused to pay market prices.  Which was true, as far as that goes.  However, Russia (Kremlin, Gazprom, FSB, government, The Corporation, whatever, all the same) had a contract with Ukraine to supply gas through 2009 for, as I recall, US$65 per TCM (thousand cubic meters.)  Kremlin unilaterally dismissed the contract in a hissy fit for purely political reasons because things weren't going Kremlin's way in Ukraine.

Hers's a quick exercise in Russian contracts.  Go to toilet, take a healthy dump, then put your hands in and scoop out the deposit.  Squish it around.  You have a Russian contract on your hands.

THAT is how Kremlin views contracts.  English law?  Bullshit.  The FIRST thing Kremlin would and will likely do in case of contract dispute is claim that they are being persecuted under English law due to the Litvenenko debacle and ongoing fallout from that.  True or not is irrelevant.  

They can and will do one of two things.   One, they can cover with that and take Nigerian gas and do whatever they damned well please with it.  Screw Europe or anyone else with "contractual agreements."  Hell, UK won't even let slide one murder of a British citizen on British soil by a Rooskie spook, so how can Europe be trusted and why should they even matter?  That's how Kremlin sees things.

Two, they can simply forego any pretenses and ignore contractual obligations altogether.  In Nigeria?  Is it possible?  Nigeria is more corrupt than Russia, and that's saying something.  Nigeria's goombahs are in it for cold, hard cash.  Russia's goombahs want in because 1) they know perfectly well how corrupt Nigeria's guys are, and 2) they'll have their own gas supplies in Africa to be dealt the same way as Russian gas.  I.e., contracts as described above.  The latter is all about control of Europe, and that IS Russia's main point.  If they get into Nigeria, there's nothing to prevent wholesale looting and diversion from anyone Kremlin doesn't like.  Such as the free world, for example.

Kremlin is looking for energy hegemony, in my opinion.  I think that's what this is about.

Meantime, note to Kremlin: please, please, please oh please don't invest your temporary fortune into an energy resource that has to be phased out (else global suicide) or you'll just be losing your money, go broke again, and have nothing else of much value on the world commodity market.  Whatever you do, don't invest your cash wisely.

Now that they've been told not to do it or are being strongly contested in doing it, they will.  Thus maybe a little more to this squabble than meets the eye at first glance.

-----

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
W. Churchill

by US expat Ukraine on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 02:30:30 AM EST


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